The world of Influencer Marketing is a fairly new one – to ME – but it has been evolving for years now with no sign of stopping anytime soon. What can I say to that except, “Whew!” This can be your most fascinating and confidence-boosting career.
Here’s the thing. I’m a successful Influencer. If you had told me five years ago that this would be the case, I would NEVER have believed you. Sometimes, often, I still have to pinch myself. I love this world I have cultivated which combines my journalism background with my photography background, and then with other marketable hats I wear. I’m a mama of two. I’m a pet owner. I am skilled at Social Media Marketing. I have growing followings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and others. And I track total and unique page views on analytics. I measure engagements and algorithms.
Influencer Marketing looks different for everyone. Not every writer is a photographer, and not every photographer is a writer. Not every writer/photographer is an Influencer, and it’s starkly apparent that not every Influencer is a writer/photographer. Some are chefs. Some are stay-at-home parents, and some are work-at-home parents with a side job in Influence. Many are fashion experts and some are techies. In fact, there’s no one way to get to this place, which is still a place in fluid motion, and once you’re here – you can go in other directions. You can change against a changing landscape – either with or against the currents. What do we all have in common? Sometimes, nothing, and mostly, everything.
It’s this passion to influence and to use our lifestyles and expertise to spread information in a certain way. Some of us are teachers and some of us are bakers. Some of us don’t see another person all day long, and some of us are celebrities.
In fact, Influencer Marketing isn’t just for celebrities anymore! What is Influencer Marketing? It’s a modern type of marketing that uses leaders, experts, and authorities (which we all are about something, to some extent) with large followings – to promote brand messages, products, services, and more. Like I said, it’s about people with influence – and prebuilt social media followings – to get your own word out for you. It’s also about creating connections with relevant brands, but they can’t do that alone. That’s where a PR Firm comes into the picture! Wondering what PR Firms do?
A PR Firm shares a goal with a marketing agency – and that is to promote companies and people through editorial coverage. “Earned” or “free” media are stories appearing on websites, newspapers, magazines and TV, as opposed to paid ads. PR is about managing how information is spread between a person/business and the public. How do they do this? They write and share press releases, they write speeches, they write pitches, they create special events, they conduct market research, they network for businesses, they do web copywriting and blogging, they have crisis strategies, and they work on Social Media Marketing. Like an Influencer, PR Firms wear many hats. They must find innovative ways to reach the public.
And that’s where Influencer Marketing comes in because Influencers have access to large, engaged, trusting audiences. It’s a new and natural overlap, don’t you think? Influencer Marketing is yet another vehicle for PR Firms for Social Media Strategy.
I work hard to craft every social post – whether it’s 1,000 words or 140 characters. I study how to better myself as an Influencer daily. That means that I respond to every work email promptly and I offer apologies for when I make mistakes, and I WILL make mistakes. You will make mistakes. It’s a matter of picking yourself up and putting yourself out there. Again. And again. It’s about making sure the growing pains don’t hurt too much, when you do/get too much at once, and it’s about riding the waves of the slow seasons. And knowing it comes back around. It’s cyclical and temperamental and thoughtful.
With the care you put into Influencer Marketing, you probably never once settle easily into thinking you have nothing else/new to learn. The landscape is always changing, and it’s ok to expect that care in return. In fact, you should.
Social Media Influencers can expect to get several emails from PR Firms/Marketing Agencies daily for Influencer Campaigns. This is a relationship to cultivate; a two-way street. I spoke with a few top Influencer colleagues to make this list.
- DO your research. Maddie of The Whimsy One offers this advice: “I would ask that they have knowledge of a brand before they offer to work with them. I’ve had more than one firm reach out to me about baby products and one of the biggest topics of my blog is our battle with infertility.” Rea from Blissful Snapshots said, “I’ve had PRs emailing me about a campaign, and after taking so much effort doing what they want, they then email me to apologize because my country (or location) is not part of their campaign. So do: take time to read the blogger/influencer’s about me page or even get to know him/her first which is a basic thing to do rather than send mass emails to all.” And be personal!
DON’T treat all Influencers/content the same. Carrie Wells from Our Potluck Family said, “Quality content is worth the extra money to them – there’s a big difference between a post with a few unedited selfies and high-quality photography.”
DO reach out personally. Don’t write a form letter – write a personal one. Make sure you spell the Influencer’s name correctly, as well as their blog name. Reach out with details you have personally read on their blog/social media platform. My longtime good friend Dion Roy over at AMP3 PR, a Fashion PR firm in NYC in NYC (whom I’ve mentioned before on this blog), gets this right, “We are not believers in a blasting out a pitch or press release to our network of bloggers and seeing who bites. Instead, we spend 80% of our day crafting very tailored, targeted outreaches to our influencer contacts who we’ve determined are the right fit for a particular campaign. Ten very personalized and well-researched emails will get you much further than a blast to hundreds, and our influencers are quick to let us know that the human approach is appreciated.”
DON’T discount entire demographics. Lana of My New Happy said, “I wish they would expand their upper age range for Influencers. I’ve been turned down for many things because I’m too old – and I’m only 50. Obviously some campaigns are for younger people, but in general, 50+ has more money and time to spend on products and services. PR firms are missing out on a huge market.”
DO pay for their services. Influencers work with Influencer Agencies – which are popping up like crazy in today’s market. A PR Agency can also benefit from Influencer, but not if asking them to do social media campaigns for free!
DON’T lowball the Influencer. Janine from Confessions of a Mommyholic had this to say: “I would say definitely don’t lowball the influencer in their asking price. Plus, understand the ins and outs of influencers not using Follow Links. Too many conversations I have with PR people end, because of them not wanting compensate for the work or looking to buy links.”
DO provide enough details, planning, and organization BEFORE contacting your Influencer. Tammi of Velezita said she had been contacted and chosen as a Brand Ambassador by a brand she respected. They had hired a new person to handle the campaign and had no plans, ideas or knowledge of the budget – and just wanted to be pitched. “She wanted me to host a large group in my home to give them all free jeans. Nothing more than that in it for me. Then she failed completely at follow up. Brands can’t expect us to move mountains for them at our expense.”
DON’T be rigid. As Carrie from Our Potluck Family said, “Give flexibility with content – not too many guidelines/guardrails!”
DO help them help you. Kristen of Just Kristen – A Thought Leader On Social Media, Technology And Parenting Teens – offered this thought: “Meaning, so many brands/PR firms I work with don’t share the content that THEY are paying me to produce. Boggles my mind.” That makes perfect sense, right?
DON’T treat Influencer Marketing as anything other than the legit, beneficial career that it is. Dion also adds “In most cases, blogging is not a hobby, it’s a full-time job for these influencers, and if you’re going to ask them to participate in a campaign with specific requirements like the use of a certain hashtag or the date/time you want something posted, you should expect to compensate for the influence they will offer to your client or brand. For many PR companies, I think the lines got blurred. We’re so used to pitching editors and journalists who work for media outlets, and with them, it’s all about earned editorial coverage, where paying for play is a big no-no. PR agencies need to adjust to the idea that with influencers, they’re self-employed, and in these campaign scenarios, it makes sense to pay for the time they’re going to put into reviewing your product and creating unique content. With influencer marketing, the roles of PR, marketing and advertising merge.”
And that’s how to be successful at pitching Influencers!
I never get too comfortable, unfortunately. The rules change, the technology changes, and the social media platforms rise and fall, and shift their algorithms. There are some things that don’t change, though. And that’s the importance of technique, manners, fairness, and diligence. I’ve long since given up on too much daily job comfort, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find other benefits. I hold comfort in knowing I’m in the right line of work. It’s exciting! I feel satisfaction from doing a good job. And yes, I still do a happy dance at my desk when I get an email with a “Congratulations” in the subject.
My heartbeat speeds up. I live for the weekday thrill of dropping the kids off at school and getting lost/thriving in details and information. How can I work on two campaigns with one shopping trip or photo shoot, and how I can wow my clients more than I ever have. There are a lot of guardrails to manage, but I think it’s important to create a life’s work of deep caring, intensive striving, and owning our mistakes. We can do that best together, and in harmony with our PR Agency friends.