“Influencer marketing” isn’t new. It has been around for at least a decade in its latest form, which is “Hey, let’s get bloggers to talk about our stuff!” Lots of companies wonder if it’s the right move for their product. Let’s talk about that.
The nice folks at Skinny and Co sent me some amazing products made from raw coconut oil. Most are skin and body things like moisturizers and scrubs and the like. Some is food grade coconut oil, which I already use in my cooking so that’s cool. The products are amazing. Raw. Chemical-Free. No fillers, etc. Cold-pressed. All good stuff to have.
I will use them as my example for this post. (But hey, the stuff is pretty good. Get some HERE – totally an affiliate link!)
Does Influencer Marketing Help Your Company?
I shot the following “unboxing” style product review. I’ll tell you a few things before you push play. I didn’t do any prep for this. I just took the box over to my desk and started pulling stuff out of it. This isn’t how the *real* product review people do what they do. But I’ll talk about THAT in a moment, too.
Can’t see the video? Click Here
What’s good about my video is that you can tell there’s absolutely no BS. I’m not GUSHING about the products. I’m not pretending to be any kind of an expert. I create a kind of “regular guy experiencing this thing” vibe for my videos. That’s because that’s what I am: a regular (weird) guy experiencing something. Call me a student of the Steve Garfield school of reviews. I prefer to show you my real experience with something, not a prefabricated set design piece. I want you to FEEL like me in that moment. Like, “hey, this is interesting – what is it?”
Here’s the question, though: will this sell coconut stuff for Skinny and Co? If you see some blotchy-skinned furry weirdo smooshing amazing-smelling “facial oil” onto my face, does it make you want to buy?
My Take on Influencer Marketing
Let me bullet this out for our sanity:
- All bloggers aren’t created equal – The most difficult part of “influencer marketing” is that you can’t count on the SIZE of someone’s audience to match their ability to influence it. I’ve got a pretty strong reach, but it sure isn’t in the soap-selling world. Zero people come to my website for beauty advice. (This might work, though. I’ll explain later.)
- The program works so much better if there’s a next action – A lot of times, marketers at companies trying to do an influencer marketing program are wary about what to ask for when it comes to for the review. There are usually two predominate approaches: ask for too much or don’t ask for anything. The right approach is to always think of a next step people watching/reading a review might take. Maybe a nice next step. In MY video, I recommended people pick up the travel kit because it’s a small sampler and a good way to better experience the product. A “next action” for people is pretty core to bothering to try and do influencer marketing.
- It’s not bad/wrong to ping the reviewer if no review is up – I probably received this package a few months ago. Maybe even longer than that. I tell people who send me products that I might NOT review them if I don’t recommend them (which by the way, I DO recommend this Skinny and Co stuff. It’s good. I paused writing this to put the “body butter” on my elbows because I have “office chair elbow” right now and it’s awesome!). So make sure you follow up, oh marketing person who went to the expense of shipping out the product.
- Negative reviews can be valuable, too – I guess I wouldn’t rush out and encourage negative reviews, but I think it’s important that companies allow for “real human response” when it comes to looking at influencer marketing projects. If something doesn’t meet with the reviewer’s tastes or expectations, that information is useful. It also helps buyers who might not always agree with the reviewer. For instance, it’s silly to take beauty advice from me. BUT I can tell you something smells nice or feels nice or that I appreciate certain qualities. In some cases, this might even drive a few unexpected sales.
- Everything’s better with tracking – The number one place I think most influencer marketing projects fall down is that there’s no way to track who drove which traffic and sales to them. I wasn’t given any kind of special “Chris Brogan” code so any click to Skinny and Co will only be tracked if they’re running analytics, and probably not all that well recorded. If you’re going to spend money trying to earn more customers, I’d spend the effort to make sure you can better track incoming clicks and sales.
A quick note: I’m in NO WAY throwing the team at Skinny & Co under the bus. I’m grateful that they sent me this stuff. My points are for the larger world and NOT a criticism of a single company. If it makes you feel any better, MOST companies that send me things have zero way to track whether or not I was influential. (In the absence of numbers, I just tell people, “Why yes. I WAS influential!”)
Should Your Company Try Influencer Marketing?
I think it’s a really powerful way to get some attention that you might not otherwise get. There’s no mechanism inside Amazon, for instance, to surface products that others think are neato because the site is built product-first (as it should be). How else will someone who is searching for the right raw, cold-pressed coconut oil products find Skinny and Co?
I also believe that there are many creative people out there who serve communities that listen to them and keep their eyes and ears open for interesting new things for them to try. I also find that it’s important to consider whether or not one of these creative people (like me) might in any way influence a potential sale.
We’ve done some influencer marketing consulting at Owner Media Group and I continue to be tapped for influencer marketing projects quite often. I believe it’s a marketing tactic that won’t be going away any time soon, but it definitely needs a bit more nuance and work to make it help you earn more customers.
Try it. But measure, too! (And if you want help, get in touch!)