The theme for the night’s panel was influencer marketing, a growing trend in which companies work with an individual with wide social reach, tapping into their following to gain customers. Panelists included Genevieve Brazelton (Improper Goods), Marcus Harvey (Portland Gear), Candace Molatore (a local influencer), and Nesrin Danan (a photographer and influencer).
As one might imagine, influencer marketing is frequently tied to social media platforms, perhaps most significantly Instagram, where visual storytelling thrives (of note, Instagram is the one platform that both influencers on the panel use). But as those in attendance quickly learned, the success of influencer marketing is not as simple as a few snaps and hashtags.
According to Brazelton, it’s essential to have clarity around your goals for the collaboration, and someone who can execute them for you. It’s also important to match styles, so looking for people who already champion your brand might be ideal. From the influencer perspective, Danan agreed, stating that she was already a fan of a particular perfume—and had already paid full price for it—before she asked about doing work for the line. By contrast, when she did contract work with McDonald’s, she ended up losing followers, and it was clear to her audience that the promotion was forced.
Clarity goes hand in hand with realistic expectations. When a member of the audience noted that their work with an influencer didn’t pay off as much as they had hoped, Brazelton emphasized that the financial gains won’t be immediate—it’s all about the long game. Likes and retweets don’t necessarily translate to dollars, at least not right away, but your influencer’s reach helps your brand get exposure, which could lead to more sales down the line.
Armed with these guiding principles, one might wonder the best way to go about starting a partnership with an influencer. As Danan mentioned, sometimes these relationships begin organically, with an influencer who already loves your product initiating contact. Other times, though, you may have to take the first step. For that initial outreach, Harvey stressed the impact of a DM as opposed to more traditional channels like email. Emails can easily be missed, but a DM is harder to overlook when it comes through on a social media platform. Emails might come across as formal and impersonal, but DMs are inherently more personal.
The panel provided several smaller insights into their personal experiences, both as influencers and as business owners who have enlisted their services. For the full details, be sure to check back for the full audio recording, courtesy of Justin Hawkins of Work Undone.