Influencer Marketing & User Generated Content

Influencer Marketing

I’ve always found the concept of influencer marketing uncomfortable.

When I was starting out back in 2010, it seemed that so much of people’s success came from ‘who they knew rather than what they knew’.

Wasn’t it Robert Kiyosaki who said ‘Your Network is your net worth’?

People were being catapulted from obscurity because they’d stumbled across a trending idea, created a course on it, had met an ‘influencer’ at a conference and next thing were being touted as the biggest thing in ‘X’ by the influencer and all his / her (mainly his back then) friends.

Then after 2 years of webinars and launches and scarcity and aggressive sales, poof! They were gone just like that.

In other scenarios, groups of people would get to know each other at conferences or events and suddenly all be promoting each others stuff to their audiences. You couldn’t go to one website without seeing the face and endorsement of one of the others in the group and vice versa. It was like the brat pack back in the 80’s. Remember them?

This strategy is actually a great strategy for helping you to get exposure and I wasn’t a stranger to it myself.

Early in my career I joined the lovely Chris Farrell membership program, traveled to LA to meet with him and sure enough we became friends and as he talked about me it increased my exposure. It was a happy side effect of a great friendship.

However, on the whole I found it very intimidating. I lived primarily in and around Asia (still do), didn’t get to many networking events and found it tough to make the relationships online, so I went another route which was to focus solely on my customers.

A slower but very fulfilling route to success!

So what am I saying?…

Well firstly as a lifestyle business owner, your primary focus are your customers.

End of story, there is no competition.

If your whole mindset is on how to make your products the best products for your customer, how to meet the needs of your customer in the very best way and how to give your customer the best experience possible at some point influencers will find you!

Jeff Bezos says ‘ “If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word-of-mouth is so very, very powerful.

So you should always focus more on your customers than you do relationships with other successful marketers or instagrammers etc.

Influencer marketing is another tool to help you get your message, service, product, ideas out there but it’s not the be all and end all.

However, getting your product or service in front of the audience of a respected influencer will without doubt speed up the rate at which you can attract new customers and serve more people.

So how do you go about it, in a non intimidating, organic way that builds relationships as well as helps you to grow your business?

1. Before we get to any tactics or strategies, check your mindset.

Do you have a closed, this is my idea, I can’t share it with anyone, everyone is my competition mindset?

Or do you have an open, there is enough space in this world, enough people online and enough abundance for me to have my slice of the cake while also collaborating and working with others?

Working with other people requires the latter.

I will never forget and have referred to it often through the years, a webinar I attended back in 2010 / 2011 hosted by facebook expert, author & speaker Mari Smith. She talked about social media superstars and their character traits, one of which was that they were hugely inclusive.

I get that you could be a bit nervous of being super inclusive, as what if your customers run off to one of the competitors you’re being so openly collaborative about?

Well that’s where the open mindset needs to step in.

Yes some customers may prefer someone else to you and have only found them through you, but they’ll also always appreciate the fact you were the introducer.

Many more will stick with you precisely because you’re so secure in your own knowledge of how much value you provide or how great your customer experience is and that you’re not in any way scared of increasing the value you add by bringing other people to the table.

Perhaps if the world worked more in this way, it would be a better place, but that’s for another discussion altogether.

So open your mind my friend and think collaboratively not competitively.

2. Create what my good friend Dan Morris calls a ‘universal spreadsheet’.

  • Who are the influencers in your niche / industry?
  • Who’s creating great content?
  • Who are your customers following?
  • Who are your customers engaging with?
  • Who holds great values that you can align with?
  • Who tends to promote and champion other brands / content?

These don’t all have to be the top influencers with millions of fans & followers. Fine if you want to include some of those folks for when you’re reaching dizzying heights, but you can also start with the next rung up from you and the next rung up from them.

Make a list of 10 – 20 influencers who fit with your brand & niche.

Add them to a spreadsheet detailing who they are, the best place to find them, any contact details you can find for them, how big their audience is and any relevant comments for your reference.

At this point you might also want to split them between the smaller influencers and the bigger influencers as your communication strategy might be slightly different for each.

3. Now get on their radar!

Start to follow them, like their posts, leave comments, share them with your friends and followers.

In fact sharing their content is a great way to start to get to know people. But don’t just hit the share button, be creative! Here’s some great ways to share other people’s content in such a way they can’t help but notice;

  1. Share and add your own commentary as to why this post struck a chord with you or why you wanted to share it.
  2. Link to other people’s content on your blog, in your emails, on your own posts on social media to add further insights to whatever conversation you’re having.
  3. Create regular roundup posts of people to follow and why and include them.
  4. Invite them onto a FB Live, a podcast or a video interview to introduce them to your audience.
  5. Send them a link to a post you recently wrote featuring them and telling them why or if you’re a product creator, send them a free product just to try out, and give you feedback.
  6. Try of you can to get to networking events where you can meet people face to face and form relationships
  7. Remember they’re human just like you and me. Don’t ask for anything when you make contact, in fact do the opposite try to add value to them first.

Here is a great article from our good friend Brian Dean from Backlinko on Blogger Outreach

I love his example of “Send an ‘I Love Your Blog’ email!

Notice how he’s not asking for anything. Just making contact and getting on the radar.

Staying with Brian he’s also written a superb guide for connecting with bloggers and influencers via email outreach.

4. Influencer Marketing specifically for an ecommerce business

Please note when building a long term brand, all of the above applies even if you have a physical products based business.

Going back to my gardening example, it’s going to be far easier to pitch a garden tool to an influencer if I’ve already made contact, am on their radar and have shared their content.

However, you may also want to get in front of some of the bigger influencers who you haven’t got a cat in hells chance of ever making any personal contact with.

So how do we get the attention of those guys & gals.

These days influencer marketing has become an industry in its own right.

According to Business Insider ‘the influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022!’

$15 billion!!! That’s crazy numbers and just shows how much as consumers we’re influenced by our friends, peers and the people we follow!

This means that rather than just sending out a DM to someone who likely gets a million DM’s a day, companies specifically to put influencers and brands together have been formed.

I daresay they’re not cheap, but of you have a growing physical products business and you’re making sales and want to take it to the next level then this may be the route for you!

Here is a list of 23 Instagram Influencer Marketing Agencies You Should Know from the folks over at Influencer Marketing Hub

If you want to start by reaching out to influencers yourself before going down the agency route, here is a huge list of Influencer Marketing platforms for 2020, making it easier for you to find, contact and manage influencer campaigns.

Lastly, if you want to delve deeper here is an ultimate guide to Ecommerce Influencer Marketing by the folks over at Volusion (ecommerce software providers).

Here are 10 fab examples of influencer marketing campaigns which I hope will spark your imagination!

1. Subaru

Subaru’s goal is to get the millennial buyer’s attention, they used Devin Graham, a Youtube influencer, to publish a video of him and his friends while taking turns on a slip and slide (while on a parachute) that propelled them off a 500 foot drop. Subaru’s #MeetAnOwner campaign was employed to increase brand awareness and for Instagram users to follow the campaign and showcase their own Subaru car.

2. Coola

@Coola the makers of healthy sun care products enlisted the help of @peachymama to showcase their new Sun Silk Creme product. @peachymama is a growing account with 11.9k followers showing that you don’t have to only approach mega influencers to get your products seen!

3. Ideal of Sweden & Glacial

For world water day 2020, fashion phone accessory brand Ideal of Sweden partnered with Glacial the makers of fashionable, sustainable water bottles to ‘celebrate nature and move towards a more sustainable approach to consumption and promote the shift towards multi-use plastics.

Here you can see them utilising the power of Instagram influencers by creating their own hashtag #yellowforchange, which engaged people who use their products and love them and creating paid partnerships with specific influencers.

4. Lyft

Lyft provides more than 1 million rides a day, partnered with over 1,000 influencers all across the spectrum, from celebrities to macros to micros. This includes Chicago’s Baderbrau Brewing marketing a beer that lets people request discounted rides. The 12-ounce cans will each feature a discount code that users can enter into the Lyft app as they request a car. The goal was to make it seem like everyone was taking Lyft.

5. Walmart

Walmart is a multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores that started in 1969. They needed a way to change their image and boost awareness targeting younger internet users using Instagram. Walmart launched the #FightHunger campaign as a way to team up with users to give back to their communities. This campaign worked because they got 89k engagements in one month and donated over 1million meals.

6. Canon

Now that many of us have 10mp (and 12) in our pockets, Canon needed to seek out the photography enthusiasts. They partnered with photographers with high-engagement as well as bloggers who rely on photography to entice their followers. Canon had to make sure that when the best photos made their rounds on Instagram, there was a #canonusa hashtag next to them. And now there are almost 3 million posts on Instagram using their hashtag!

7. Daniel Wellington

By using minimalist designs, Daniel Wellington creates watches that can be sold to a younger generation of consumers. DW uses influencer marketing as its ONLY form of marketing. Everything you see is a real photo of a real person wearing a Daniel Wellington watch, using the hashtag #dwpickoftheday. This works because it helps cut marketing costs.

8. Aerie

Aerie is an apparel, underwear and swimwear company who celebrate women of all shapes & sizes. They engage in multiple campaigns to promote women’s health and awareness to body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Here they are being showcased by one of my favourite Instagrammers & entrepreneurs Jenna Kutcher who has over 900k followers on IG. Note the link to their IG account and the personalised hashtag #aeriereal

9. American Express

American Express is a multinational financial services corporation. Amex reached out to influencers who flaunted a luxurious and lavish life. Influencers used #AmexPlatinum and #AmexLife hashtags barely mentioning any of the perks of having the card. They simply shared high-quality images of their luxurious lifestyle and associated their ability to live that way using Amex.

10. Pepsi

Pepsi have used influencer marketing with style for years. Michael Jackson anyone?

But did you know that Pepsi collaborated with Instagram? Using hashtag #summergram, Instagram together with Pepsi, brought to Pepsi’s consumers the latest technology. The campaign used unique graphics on more than 200 million Pepsi bottles. Those who purchased just had to scan their bottle to unlock a Pepsi-branded reality filter to use in their Instagram story.This is a brilliant idea, modern and easily catches the attention of the younger generations who use Instagram a lot.

Summary

Clearly the influencer marketing model has evolved over the last few years, certainly since I started online.

But it doesn’t have to be big and scary.

You’re more likely to have to pay for editorial coverage or someone showcasing your product these days, so bear that in mind, but it doesn’t mean the old traditional route of creating great relationships and doing reciprocal promotions is over.

Keep your mindset open, be inclusive, network, create relationships and focus on building a long term brand with your customers your primary focal point and you’re sure to succeed!

User Generated Content

User generated content is exactly what it says it is. Content generated by customers, your audience or users of your product or service.

It is absolutely invaluable, creating trust for your brand that you will never be able to create on your own!

Think about when you are considering a purchase. Who do you trust more, the company selling or a friend who recently bought the same thing?

Exactly!

What you’re looking for is solicited & unsolicited reviews, pictures & conversations on social media of people who have purchased your products.

An ecommerce brand that’s absolutely got this down is ‘Live a Great Story

They sell t-shirts, stickers, accessories etc all with the words ‘Live a Great Story’. Their entire brand is based on people buying their products and taking pictures of themselves ‘living a great story’!

One of the best examples of user generated content and viral sharing I have ever seen.

So how can you encourage your users to share pictures of themselves with your products?

1. Firstly make it super easy for people to share content on the social networks and create your own custom and easy to remember / use hashtag.

2. Then ask your customers to share photos of themselves using your products or talking about you!

When they first buy, in one of your follow up emails, ask them that if they love the product or service you’d love them to share a photo tagging your social media account as they do!

Perhaps you’ll offer a discount code on further purchases or instant access to a loyalty club, or something that’s not on offer elsewhere as an incentive.

But simply asking is a very powerful way of getting what you want in life!

3. Run a giveaway with the entry requirement being to take a photo with one of your products or talking about your service to enter and tag you in the photo.

Host it on your website as a never ending weekly giveaway for the best photo!

4. As soon as you get some photos, you need to showcase them on your website and across social media and even include them in the email you send out asking new purchasers to do the same.

Social proof is a powerful thing.

5. Post your reviews. When a customer leaves a review on your site, simply screenshot it and post it on your social networks.

6. Support a cause. Single Grain gave a fab example on their post 8 Ways to Encourage More User Generated Content.

Aerie, a lingerie & sleepwear brand ran a campaign “pledging $1 to the National Eating Disorder Association for every Instagram user that posted an unedited photo of themselves wearing a bathing suit.

What a great way to raise brand awareness, support a worthwhile cause and empower their customers all at the same time!

Here are some more great examples of brands who leveraged user generated content to further their reach;

1. Starbucks

Starbucks hold contests like the #RedCupContest to incentivize their customers to participate online for a reward. Users will have to buy a red cup first and take a picture.

2. Travelex

Travelex launched a 12-month photo contest campaign, and used unique hashtags each month to encourage their fans to participate.

3. Dove

Dove is well known for using real women in their ads and campaigns but an impromptu shout out by a singing legend is above and beyond!

Here singer Anastacia changes her ‘Outta Love’ lyrics to ‘I’m Outta Dove’ in her bathroom while quarantining during the current health crisis.

Now there’s an impactful piece of User Generated content if I ever saw it!

4. Amy Porterfield & Marie Forleo

Wondering how to utilise user generated content for a digital or service based brand, well look no further than these two pros!

Here Amy Porterfield is promoting Marie Forleo’s upcoming B-School via a treasure hunt for a signed copy of Marie’s new book ‘Everything is Figureoutable’.

Winners will upload a photo of themselves with the book & tagging Amy & Marie in the process.

What a fun way to get some exposure and to promote a quality brand as an affiliate!

5. ME!

Ok so this was a one off (to date), but here is my good friend Dan from @wanderingworthy, promoting me on his story!

As I write we’re currently in a race to see who can get to 10,000 followers the fastest. It’s just a bit of fun and he started way ahead of me, but in the process we’ll undoubtedly promote each other as we talk about and tell people to follow us to beat the other!

Who said this can’t be fun! 🙂

Summary

When just starting out the best way to get a user generated content campaign off the ground is to call on family, friends or people you’ve met and networked with in facebook groups or on Insta.

Ask a select group if you can send them one of your products for free whether it be physical or digital and if they would then take a photo of themselves wearing or using it.

It will only take a few photos for you to start getting the ball rolling!

So start today, get some messages out to family & friends right now, offering a free product or consult for a photo and a review!