An in-depth guide to influencer marketing for both businesses and content creators.
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I get it. You love scrolling through Instagram and seeing beautiful photos. You love sneaking a peak at your Facebook timeline to click on that “click-bait” headline. Writers and photographers fill your attention-needs with new information and escapist inspiration. But how do you get these people with all these eye balls to talk about your business? What is influencer marketing? How do you get photographers, personalities and writers to tell people about your new app, restaurant or hotel?
– Cost for a billboard advertisement: $10,000 to $25,000 for four weeks.
– Cost for a one-page print advertisement in Cosmo Magazine: $250,000 to reach 50,000 readers.
– Cost for a PR agency: $5,000 – $10,000 for a startup; $20,000 per month for the average agency; up to $100,000 a week for premium clients.
Cost to reach 100,000 people on Instagram: a pair of socks or swimsuit.
There are several reasons artists and entertainers don’t work in exchange for product.
This week, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the internet. We grew into webpages, mobile apps and social media in the short timeline of my own life.
So shouldn’t our advertising budgets mirror our markets’ behavior? People went online and businesses have too. If you want to successfully and ethically promote your product on a blog, Instagram or Youtube, please review the following.
In this post:
- Why use influencer marketing
- Influencer marketing trends
- Influencer marketing strategy
- Types of digital influencers
- Influencer marketing best practices
- The difference between press and social media marketing
- What to pay for digital influencer marketing (Instagram, Blog and Youtube rates)
- What to do without an influencer marketing budget
- How affiliate marketing does and doesn’t work with social media marketing
- The value in micro-influencers
- 7 Step Influencer Marketing Roadmap
We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get at it!
Intro: Why Use Influencer Marketing
Definition of Influencer Marketing: focusing on specific types of individuals instead of a market as a whole.
What does this mean? You’ve thought about the wants and needs of individual real people (within your market) and use leaders — real, individual people — to drive your message.
What is the purpose of digital marketing?
- Reach real people within your target market.
- Meet call-to-action goals: app downloads, product sales, drive website traffic, get booked for services etc.
- Build an online community of existing and potential customers through social media, webpages, search engines and e-marketing.
- Establish credibility.
- Provide inspiration and information for your target market.
- Manage customer service.
- Listen to your market to provide better products and services.
Why use online influencer marketing? Successful influencer marketing builds YOU an online community which offers:
- Optimized PR campaigns.
- More affordable advertising than non-digital advertising platforms.
- Higher customer retention rates.
- More conversions and referrals from subscribers.
- Trackable analytics.
Sounds amazing right? Why wouldn’t you invest in digital influencer marketing! Most people do, but many companies do it wrong. SO how do you successfully run an influencer marketing campaign?
1. Know your Target Market
Marketing and advertising aren’t evil. If you’re helping people find the products, services and experiences that they need or would be interested in anyways, marketing and advertising connect people and products that make sense. Please don’t reach out to us (“influencers”) with items irrelevant to our audience; there is someone who is a right fit for your product — reach out to them instead.
With a clear understanding of your target market persona, campaign objectives and story — you can identify the right social media and digital marketing channels for your brand. Influencer marketing is only successful when it’s a natural fit.
Truly “influential” photographers, writers and talent are only going to share something with their audience if it’s an organic match.
Alternatively, you’ll get someone desperate for cash who will stuff your links into a hidden blog post that no one will find — or post a photo on Instagram that they’ll delete the next week. These more “affordable” routes don’t meet your goals.
2. Identify and Create your Own Online Brand
The #1 mistake I see companies make is spending a bunch of time (and money), trying to promote their product and not enough on making their online brand subscribe-able.
As an “influencer,” I don’t want to promote a crappy brand.
As a consumer, I don’t want to follow a crappy brand.
You need to have spectacular content on your platforms to optimize your advertising and PR — and to solve actual problems for your customers.
Is your business a go-to for useful information and/or incredible inspiration? Or are you just something for us to buy on occasion with a “thank you” and “good-bye?”
I’m sorry, but reality is that your photos are probably not very good. Yes, that was bold. But your blog posts are probably not dazzling. Unless you’re working with a professional photographer who has experience in curating content for Instagram, your photos are probably subpar. Unless you’ve hired an SEO smart creative writer, your emails and blog posts are probably a bore.
Would you assign accounting to someone just because they know how to count? Would you book someone for a speaking engagement just because they know how to talk?
Would you give your social media to the intern?
Many marketers and publicists are not photographers. Period. So learn to be one or hire one.
There’s a lot that goes into making your own content “follow-able” and it starts with hiring content creators.
I don’t care how much you pump into PR and advertising, if your online brand (and actual product/service) isn’t interesting, people will hear about your product and forget about it until they hear about it again through PR or advertising.
However, if you online platforms are subscribe-able, people will hear about your product, connect with you and hear about your product every time they hear from you (which has to be more than just promoting your product or service).
Your actual product or service could be AMAZING, but if we can’t see that in a first impression with your online brand, then this will be our behavior:
- *Hears about product.*
- *Goes to check out product.*
- *Leaves without purchasing or downloading product >> potentially forgets about product.*
However, if you have a super incredible product that we’d be likely to use and make a strong first-impression and are useful outside of purchases, our behavior is as follows:
- *Hears about product.*
- *Goes to check out product.*
- *Learns more by checking out your site, downloading your product, asking friends about it, Google-ing it (hey look, you’re right back at online branding).*
- *Might subscribe to you online. If I subscribe to you online, it’s because you inform me, inspire me and provide a relatable space. You become a go-to instead of just a one-time product or service.*
- *Make purchases/ or refer a friend to your product or service when they’re in need.*
By having a purposeful, meaningful, subscribe-able online brand, you create a community. This optimizes your investments in PR and advertising to keep existing customers and reach new people.
Otherwise, you’re spending all of that money on a publicist and advertising space, but people don’t stick.
So what’s your brand? Two influencer marketing examples of very different content styles.
BRAND STYLE: Bright, Lifestyle + Personable
Take Brock and Chris’ personal brand @YummerTime: it uses a lot of white, pinks, green and teals. It’s a lifestyle, fashion and travel brand. Their pictures may be of different places and products, but the content style is consistent.
BRAND STYLE: Dark, Edgy and Creative
Similarly, New York photographer Jose Silva @JNSilva sticks to moody photos — whether sharing a city, park or person. You’ll consistently find night photography and artistic (but dark) color blends.
With a little research you’ll note consistent styles and influencer marketing trends in photography, videos, tone and designs across Instagram, Youtube and blogging.
3. Understand the different types of people that make a campaign effective.
So who makes your influencer marketing campaign successful? A combination of people with different skill sets and talents.
- The people in front of the camera (models and/or someone with a voice – online personalities)
- People behind the camera (photographers, videographers)
- People with a marketing platform (social media platforms, emails, websites)
- Creative directors (influencer marketing agencies, the photographer and or personality)
- Campaign strategist (in-house marketing team or influencer marketing agencies which identify talent, manage budgets and track analytics)
This means that you can have a photographer popular on Instagram, who may not align as a personality with your market. Or you can have a personality that’s popular on instagram that would not produce photos that would be popular on your platform.
Sometimes, you get lucky and you find people that can hold multiple roles. Personally, I get hired as on-camera talent, as a photographer, a writer and social media influencer. Tripods can only do so much, and I typically need to book a model or a photographer to work with me if I’m booked for one role over the other.
You are paying for all of these services every time you run a campaign. Even if you can find one 360 person to provide multiple services, you’re still paying for all of these services.
Here is the key point:
You need someone to shoot professional photos and videos of a person your market identifies with.
What does not work:
- Paying photographers to promote a product that they don’t personally relate to or worse that your market doesn’t relate to.
- Paying models/ personalities, photographers, bloggers and/or hubs to promote your account when your account doesn’t have incredible quality photos and content.
Here’s the next key point:
When someone promotes your account or product, no matter how big their audience is, or how great their photos are — no one will subscribe to YOUR account, if you don’t have great photos and content.
You account has to be subscribe-able.
Do I sound like a broken record on replay yet?
This is where creative directors and strategist come in. It’s their job to understand your company’s brand and objectives. It’s their responsibility to implement and a campaign that makes your audience happy and shape your online brand.
Take for example, my recent partnership with Hilton Hotels. I had the honor of shooting with phenomenal natural landscape and underwater photographer Sean Ensch.
Sean has a darker, grander editing style. Check out his version of our photos:
Sean has technical skills in underwater photography beyond my scope. He is one heck of an underwater photographer! He is a specialist. I can’t shoot the way Sean shoots. However, Sean can’t organize a campaign the way I do. He’s also not a writer or “personality.” We both contribute to the creative direction in unique ways because we have very different styles, skills and value.
His photos are much moodier than mine. But I don’t see moody when I think of sharing my love for the Bahamas. The way I see it, I’m there because I love the Bahamas. People who want to go to the Bahamas love the bright waters and white sand. So my interpretation of Sean’s original photo is very different.
I edit the content to stay true to my own branding.
(Note, my version of this photo is adapted from a photo that originally looked similar to the one Sean posted — it’s not the exact same photo). Also, I wasn’t trying to deceive anyone because the Bahamas is largely sunny, it just happen to shower when we went out to get photos.
If you’re working with different content creators, your creative director must neutralize the style of all of your content to fit your brand.
The photographer, copy writer, model, editor and strategist together define the outcome of your content.
4. Identify the type of “influencer” that aligns with your market and goals.
For successful influencer marketing, pinpoint the rhetoric behind why an influencer is followed and why their audience would follow your brand.
These are the types of social media influencers that people follow:
- A person that produces beautiful photos and videos (photographer + videographer).
- A person that meets an industry standard of “being” beautiful in photos (model).
- A person with a voice which makes him or her uniquely interesting and retable or informative. The audience feels like they know this person (TV personality, blogger, YouTuber, comedian, pet, etc).
- Comedy and photography hubs that feature people’s photos or memes.
Let’s look at examples at some of my favorite influencer marketing types:
Brazil-based travel photographer Paulo Del Valle can charge as a photographer with or without Instagram influencer marketing. He has a unique content style and brand. He’s not just taking selfies. He’s invested in professional equipment, has a set of skills. It can take him hours to produce a single shot. You could hire Paulo to create content for your platform whether or not you want him to to personally promote your actual product on his platform (which he is also great for). You need content like Paulo’s on your platform.
Paulo is followed as a photographer. Follow Paulo, we like him.
People love to look at and listen to model and actress Caitlin O’Connor. Caitlin is booked for on-camera talent with or without social media platforms. Host of The Chive, Caitlin doesn’t always spend as long as Paulo on taking a photo (often time she does too). She produces both professional photos (with need of a photographer), or takes social photos such as “selfies.” People follow Caitlin because she is sexy and interesting. She’s not just a model, but an on-camera personality.
People follow Caitlin for different reasons than they follow Paulo. We like Caitlin, follow Caitlin.
Here’s one of my favorite authors. Gloria is a blogger… particularly, a phenomenal writer (sorry, but no, not all bloggers are actually very good writers — some are followed for doing cool things and having great pictures or videos, and not for doing cool things and writing great content). Glo has a powerful, memorable voice. She overlaps in some ways as a photographer and model with Paulo and Caitlin; but offers share-able blog content in addition to her Instagram. We like Glo, follow Glo.
Not every type of person on Instagram is great behind and in front of the camera. Not every person popular on camera is relate-able to your market. Not every person that is relatable can create photos that will work on your platform.
Many “influencers” have overlapping roles. We’re artist-entrepreneurs. You can work with one person to meet more than one goal, but each role in Section 3 needs to be filled to run a successful influencer marketing campaign.
5. Booking the “Influencer”
Let’s review what you’ve done before asking someone to promote your product:
- Identified who you want to reach and how you will reach them through different online platforms.
- Established a brand that is beautiful and useful to the people you want to reach over and over.
- Identified the team to tell your story.
You’ll need to set a budget for online marketing. Notice I said marketing, not press.
If you’ve ever had someone on Gawker, Vice or Jezebel cover your business in a less than flattering way, you’ll understand that earned media is not the same as paid media. Press means that an advertiser doesn’t get to determine the number of social posts an “influencer” posts. Press means that an advertiser doesn’t get to provide feedback to the influencer’s storyline.
Press means that an influencer can review your product or service and tell everyone that they hate it.
On the other hand, as a media publisher and brand ambassador, advertising is when we evaluate your business and say “hey, I actually like your product enough to work with you.” But that’s just it: it’s work and that’s why you pay photographers, writers and personalities to work with you.
What are you paying for when booking an “influencer?”
- Photographer/ Videographer: equipment, insurance, skill set, shooting time, editing time
- Model/ Talent: costume, makeup, prep time, shooting time, grooming
- Community Moderator: time invested in engagement, writing social posts, scheduling and planning social posts, and other digital maintenance
- Creative Director: Driving concepts that fit your brand and/or our own audience
- Management: operations, customer service, emails, analytics, invoices and research etc
Some “influencers” have teams that include assistants, managers, accountants, publicists and more. Others, do all the grunt work themselves. Regardless of how many people go into running their business, someone is getting all of those jobs done.
How much should you be paying for an instagram post?
It depends on the quality of the content you’re purchasing, how the photos will be used and the reach of the content.
If you’re paying a content creator, it’s $100 per 10,000 followers to create + share on their account.
- 50k followers: $500
- 100k followers (about 2k likes per photo): $1,000
- 400k followers: $3.5k – $4.5k
- 1 Million followers (about 30k likes per photo): $12k
If you’re paying a content creator for photos and videos for your business platforms, social media rights only (not using the photos for your website or print advertising rights):
- $100- $250: medium-sized business
- $1,000: enterprise
- $10,00: premium enterprise
My friend shoots content for the Vogue Instagram account. They don’t tag him to give him “credit” because they pay him to produce remarkable content. The rates that Vogue pays isn’t what a startup would pay. You get what you pay for.
If you’re paying for testimony + reach (not professional photos), the average is $1/ 1k followers.
You’ll notice that most lifestyle personalities have lower engagement than photographers on Instagram. Photographers on Instagram have significantly higher engagement and therefore a higher reach.
These are average rates, premium brands pay / charge higher rates.
How much should you be paying for a blog campaign?
This varies greatly on the following variables:
- brand alignment
- market niche
- SEO, creative or both
- original photos, copy only or stock images
- original graphics (or none)
- social media reach
If someone really loves a blogger’s content and has an existing audience to shoot it out to, they might hirer a blogger irrespective of their reach. Like Instagram, bloggers offer a variety services:
- Content creation: writing and photography
- Expert Klout
- On-camera talent
- Web + Social space (advertising space)
If you love someone’s blog content, but they don’t reach a million followers, you can hire them to create smart, beautiful content and share that to a million people through additional advertising.
Alternatively, if you know that someone reaches people that would love your product, but you’re not crazy about their content, you can pair them with a photographer or writer that makes a better fit — or pay for a partnered role as a guest blogger.
If a blogger can offer all four services, expect to pay/charge more.
How much to pay a mid-range blogger:
- Standard 300-500 word blog post (SEO smart w/ graphics), no photos: $300-$750
- Blog Post (SEO smart w/ graphics) + original photography: $750 – $1,500
- Blog Post + photos + social media: starting at $2,500
Personally, I work on a minimum spend.
This means that I can spend less time on managing emails, accounting and operations — and much more time creating art for myself and my audience. By offering packages, I optimize my workload and can provide my clients with a better rate (and better work). Most seven-figure bloggers work on a monthly retainer which actually works in the clients’ favor because the agreement is a safe-range despite how much a blogger continually grows.
How much to pay on Youtube:
Like blogging and Instagram, videos demand a cohesive team. A writer, producer, actors and managers go into creating great content. Not to mention you may have to rent equipment and a place to film. The larger the audience and the more klout the influencer holds, the more value they offer your company brand.
For YouTube, expect to pay $1,000 per 10,000 followers.
- $1,000 for 10,000 followers
- $5,000 for 50,000 followers
- $10,000 for 100,000 followers and so forth
What if I don’t have a budget to hire a photographer, writer or personality?
You have to learn to create great content yourself, or hire a content creator instead of spending your budget on advertising. You should consider your online brand as important as your product. If your product wasn’t amazing, would your advertise it? No. You’d make a better product first, so make a better online brand.
Prioritize your budget on getting the right content on your platform as more important than advertising through “influencers” … or really advertising almost anywhere. With a subscribe-able platform, you can execute media swaps — trade shares with existing parters to grow your audience; and cross-promote with your other advertising and publicity initiatives. You may also want to re-structure your advertising budget and press campaigns to invest in your online influencers.
Social media influencer marketing isn’t right for every business model, but a great online-brand is non-negotiable.
IF influencer marketing is the best way to reach your audience, you should re-direct your advertising budget to focus on influencer marketing.
How does affiliate marketing work with influencer marketing?
Definition of Affiliate Marketing: commission-based influencer marketing for sales or ad views.
Affiliate marketing is not the same as social media marketing. Influencers develop affiliate marketing to drive sales for partners; usually, when they are already using the product themselves and there is an effortless fit into their existing content.
Why doesn’t affiliate marketing work with social media marketing? Content creators only get paid if their audience uses the “influencers” links, so why would we want to drive traffic away from our social media platforms to your social media platforms, where people won’t be using our links and we won’t get paid for our work?
Affiliate marketing works on webpages and e-marketing to direct sales, not to build a social media community.
6. What are the best practices of “influencer” campaigns?
There’s a lot of ethics that go into influencer digital marketing. You don’t get into blogging or photography for the money — but loving your job doesn’t mean it isn’t work. This concept is difficult for some businesses and some people in your audience to understand.
Anytime dolla’ bills gets involved, things get fuzzy. That’s life. Companies want to maximize their return on investment. Some bloggers, photographers and personalities are desperate to meet grueling, unrealistic competitive standards. Before you know it, dishonesty cuts through the system.
Then this happens:
Unfortunately, some instagram accounts pay for followers and pay for “likes” to “boost” their engagement.
People buy followers + RTs on Twitter and as well as on Facebook. You can even buy fake app downloads and fake blog engagement!
It’s a double-edged sword.
Obviously this is problematic:
- You aren’t reaching real people who make purchases, download your app and share through word-of-mouth your amazing product.
Unfortunately, some brands try to take advantage of photographers and models by asking them to work for free.
- If artists can’t make a living off of their work, they’re more likely to lie about their audience or hide the content they create for you.
How do you identify “influencers” with a fake audience?
You can identify someone with a real, engaged audience because of their