“In the 21st century media economy, people don’t trust their traditional sources, and they’re looking for information from friends, from social proof and from micro-influencers. It’s an incredibly powerful channel. It does require a kind of different relationship to brand stewardship.”
—Gunnar Lovelace, founder and co-CEO, Thrive Market
Part 1: Impactful data, panel introductions
- Some 49 percent of people say they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions.
- Influencers sharing your content can lead to a 3 times to 10 times increase in conversion rates.
- Influencer marketing can generate 11 times ROI vs. traditional advertising.
- Meet the panelists.
Part 2: The nuts and bolts of an influencer platform
Highlights from Gunnar Lovelace, founder and co-CEO, Thrive Market; Serena Poon, founder and CEO, Serena Loves; and Jonathan Marshall, vice president at VMG:
- After being rejected by all of the top VC firms in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, Thrive Market turned the traditional VC model upside down by raising its first $10 million of capital from 150-plus influencers and mega-bloggers.
- People respond to authenticity when you’re talking about something you love.
- You can’t do it with a single junior hire, but having five junior hires that really care about the people they’re reaching out to and building relationships with is one of the best ways to really scale an influencer program in an authentic way.
- People don’t want to see or read something that feels like an ad.
- At the end of the day, the influencer is just a gateway to get to their people, so you have to imagine what is it that they’re receiving and sending that’s actually going to resonate with their audience.
- Building the relationship is the most important. I want to know they’ve spent a little time learning about me. What we do for brands takes a lot of time.
Part 3: Highs and lows, creative freedom, collaboration
- Thrive Market went from not being able to get timely checks cut for vendors to convincing the USDA to accept food stamps online within 90 days of launching a campaign.
- It’s a combination of being a best friend, a cheerleader and a therapist.
- You need to identify an influencer who can get behind the brand and articulate why your product is better than someone else’s.
- I don’t believe that competition works against you; I think that collaboration is everything.
- Be very cautious about how you use product endorsements: watch the frequency and how you communicate.
Part 4: Lightning round, Q&A
- Discover what each panelist thinks will be the biggest influencer ingredient trend in 2019.
- Learn one insider tip from each panelist about influencer marketing.
- How do you add more value to the brand relationship outside of traditional compensation?
- How do you handle such a huge pool of influencers? How do you scale?
- The squeeze page and CRM: how to convert a visitor into a customer.
- How do you become more efficient or recognize when you need help?
- Tips on equity distribution.
This session—Using Influencer Marketing to Create an Engaged Community of Customers—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.