More and more companies are allocating their dollars toward influencer marketing, and with good reason. Adding influencers to your brand’s marketing mix is a great way to increase brand awareness, traffic and ultimately sales—it’s no wonder the industry is projected to reach as much as $10 billion in revenue by 2020.
Brands continue to have questions about working with influencers and the potential benefits of such partnerships for their businesses, so we reached out to one of our favorite influencers directly, Bailey of the Instagram account @sailor_bailey, to help answer them.
Bailey describes herself as a modern-day woman living a balanced and healthy life one day at a time; she is a Colorado native who loves the outdoors. She additionally boasts 71,600 loyal followers on Instagram and has impressive engagement rates. We caught up with Bailey at a local coffee shop in Denver and asked her to enlighten us on the ever-evolving world of Influencer Marketing.
What's the best way for a brand to develop a partnership with you? And is there a specific way that you like to be approached?
First of all, they need to study who they want to work with. They should do a little research. Doing a little research and getting to know the influencer that you want to work with first is a great way to develop a partnership with them.
As for being approached, it's the same thing, you know, showing that you can relate to them. Mention what you like about the content that they're producing. Even if you use something relatively small, this is a great way to connect with them and just show that you care. I can tell you that as an influencer we get a lot of emails that are just kind of junk. It’s almost like they're from a robot versus a real human being. I think emailing is the best way to approach versus direct messaging or instant messaging.
How do you continue to foster authenticity but also meet the brand's objectives?
I think the influencer needs to research just as much as the brand. If the brand is going to get to know me a little bit and put value in me, then I need to return that effort. I'm getting paid to do a service. Therefore, I need to educate myself on the product, whether it's with the brand directly or searching online.
Also, authenticity for me is basically anything that speaks to me or sparks creativity or joy inside of me. While I'm researching the brand it’s usually what sparks my creativity and makes it more authentic in my book. Because, you know, if I'm forcing myself to try and think of something in any way to relate to the brand, it's not going to come off as authentic. But if it's something that I'm feeling inside of me while I'm researching, looking at some of their photos and what they're all about, if they're organic and non-GMO, then I connect with that and connect it to me.
What were some of your most successful brand partnerships and why?
I've had a couple over the last few of years that have been long-term.
Those have been the most successful because my audience isn't going to connect with it if I’m only doing one post for instance. My audience starts to really learn about the brand, and they relate me to that brand when I have a partnership with a brand over time.
The best partnerships and the most successful have been the longer ones whether that be three sponsored posts and a blog or a six month or a year commitment. It doesn't really matter. As long as it's more than one or two posts, it usually goes a lot farther in creating results for the brand. Also, the blog posts I realized recently (because there's a lot of brands that are wanting to do a sponsored post on Instagram) that it is best to also combine that with a blog post. That's been a lot more successful in my experience, with my audience, because they go to my blog and actually read about the brand.
What are some of the top two or three things a brand should know before pursuing an influencer partnership?
I think that one of the main things is that they should really keep in mind is really that social media marketing is about branding and creating brand awareness. Sometimes as an influencer there's a lot of pressure to sell, sell, sell. They really want to see those website clicks and conversions. I think what they need to understand is that if you're just doing one or two posts with an influencer off the bat, you're not going to get a huge return in terms of sales right away. It's going to be more about branding and getting your brand out in front of new eyes and also creating trust with an influencer’s audience. If the ultimate goal is sales, they might want to consider doing something a little bit longer term. The audience needs to see some repetition and connectiveness before the sales start flowing in, generally speaking, and that takes time.
What are some of the unique ways that you have partnered with a brand?
Recently, I did a sponsored post along with a blog post talking about the product and an upcoming visit to a retail store. Then I went to a retail store and shot some Instagram stories. It was fun for me because it was a challenge, and it was different so it really stood out with my audience.
How effective is utilizing Instagram Stories in your opinion?
I would say my most loyal people watch my stories. I do have a really loyal audience, and it's always the same people that watch my stories. I feel like it makes a connection. It makes followers really connect with you because you're showing the not-so-glamorous side of yourself. I think it is smart to be more vulnerable than you would maybe with a post. I love them.
Thank you for the insight on the best way to maximize your influencer marketing strategy, Bailey. If you want to learn more about Bailey, check out her healthy recipes and blogs and follow her on Instagram.
Shahla Hebets is the founder of Think Media Consulting, a digital marketing consultancy firm. Think Media creates smart, relevant, and authentic digital marketing, social media and ecommerce strategies that drive revenue for health and wellness brands.
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