How to Do Influencer Outreach Right

How to Do Influencer Outreach Right

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The credibility of influencer marketing has taken a big hit thanks to the ill-fated Fyre Festival. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The disastrous festival in the Bahamas was one of the biggest news stories of the past week and certainly one of the biggest of the year in the media/entertainment industry. Fyre was supposed to be a new Coachella Festival for millennials but instead collapsed under the weight of its own mismanagement. As was widely reported, the event organizers convinced concertgoers to fork over hundreds and thousands of dollars to fly to the Bahamas with the promise of a weekend of luxurious lodging, celebrity-chef prepared food, and cool music. Instead, attendees encountered primitive living conditions and chaotic mismanagement. The event was quickly canceled and guests flown home.

In light of the fiasco, the role of influencer marketing has been heavily scrutinized and criticized. As it turns out, many concertgoers were lured to the event by social media posts from many notable millennial influencers including Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski. Fyre paid hundreds of influencers to promote the event on their Instagram accounts, but the influencers failed to disclose that their posts were promotional. In fact, the celebrity endorsers were given free flights, tickets, and accommodations for their posts, and their failure to disclose the paid nature of their relationship is in direct violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s rules. No wonder an Adweek article asked, “Will the effectiveness of celebrity influencers take a hit?” and the Bitly blog asked, “Will influencer marketing to down in flames?

But influencer marketing can achieve great returns if done in an inspiring way. Marketers shouldn’t abandon influencer marketing but rather understand how to avoid their pitfalls. Ironically the Fyre Festival actually demonstrated just how powerful influencer outreach can be. Here are some tips for doing influencer outreach well and with integrity:

  • Choose an influencer who aligns well with your brand and audience

If you have the budget, you might be tempted to incorporate a celebrity into your marketing campaign. After all, big-name celebrities provide instant recognition. But it’s more important that you work with an influencer who aligns well with your brand. An influencer’s name recognition is less important than their ability to build trust and a comfort level with your audience. A food brand might be better off working with niche food bloggers who are well known to their customers rather than a nationally known celebrity who has little to do with fine dining. An influencer who builds trust with your audience will build trust in your brand.

  • Be realistic

The Fyre Festival influencers did their jobs. They used their reputations and leveraged their many social media followers to create tremendous buzz for the event. But the Fyre Festival wasn’t prepared to handle all the attention they received. How about you? Will your product, event, or experience be ready to handle the attention that influencers are capable of giving you? Don’t hire influencers unless you can handle the demand for your services and products that good ones will certainly generate.

  • Be transparent

An influencer should be honest about the promotion, which, as noted, was a major problem with the Fyre Festival. The lack of transparency left Fyre’s customers feeling deceived by both the influencers and the festival. And the influencers’ posts also falsified the experience, leaving attendees angered when arriving in the Bahamas. The goal of influencer marketing is to build communication and a relationship between the brand, the influencer, and the consumer. When trust is broken between this group, the brand is deeply affected. These kinds of problems can be avoided if you make it clear to influencers that they are required to disclose the promotional nature of their content. Moreover, give influencers clear guidelines for how they are to exercise transparency, for instance, by using the hashtag #promotional in a social post. And monitor how the influencers represent your brand. If the influencers make mistakes and fail to exercise transparency, make sure they correct their mistakes.

  • Give influencers the right content

You want influencers to talk about you and share your story using content that reflects your brand. Doing so does not mean having to pay influencers. For instance, bloggers appreciate interesting story ideas and content. If you’re launching a new product or service, paying bloggers may not be right move. Rather, inviting influencers to test your product – like a resort inviting travel bloggers to spend a night checking out the experience – can be far more effective and generate genuine buzz.

The Fyre Festival’s underdeveloped strategy for use of influencers can be seen as a cautionary tale for all future brands when incorporating influencer marketing. However, influencer marketing can be successful so long as the audience, influencer, and content are well formulated and used to build a relationship with your audience.

Image source: http://powerdigitalmarketing.com

Wendy’s and a Chicken Nugget Super Fan Remind Brands of Twitter’s Power

Wendy’s and a Chicken Nugget Super Fan Remind Brands of Twitter’s Power

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Twitter has certainly taken its lumps for not monetizing its own business effectively — but the platform remains a great tool for brands to share their voice and interact with consumers, as Wendy’s has demonstrated.

Wendy’s is part of a feel-good story that has gone viral: on April 5, a 16-year-old named Carter Wilkerson tweeted Wendy’s asking how many retweets it would take to win free nuggets for a year, and within minutes Wendy’s responded “18 Million.” To give you some perspective: Twitter has about 313 million active users — so that 18 million is roughly 5 percent of the Twitter population. Carter took to heart Wendy’s reply and challenged the Twitterverse to retweet his plea for a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken nuggets (“HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS”). And then the fun began, as people and brands responded to his tweet. As of April 13, Carter has received 2.7 million retweets (and counting).

Since I’m a bit of a data nerd, I was curious about how much it would cost Wendy’s to give away free nuggets for a year to Carter if he achieves the feat of getting 18 million retweets. Since prices are variable due to locations, I’ll give a range of $5-$8 for the 10-piece nuggets. Multiply that amount by 365 days, and Wendy’s will be shelling out between $1,825-$2,920 for this little gamble. For a company whose revenues were $1.453 billion in 2016, a few thousand dollars is a miniscule amount given the visibility Wendy’s is receiving.

Carter is on track to break the previous retweet record of 3.3 million for the famous Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie of 2014. Of course, Ellen DeGeneres has many more followers than Carter Wilkerson — 66.8 million followers compared to Carter’s 45,200 followers (as of April 13), a number boosted by his newfound fame. And Ellen DeGeneres had a lot of re-tweeting help from her A-list celebrities. So what Carter Wilkerson is accomplishing is astounding.

How has Carter been able to garner 2.7 million tweets? Just do a search for “Wendy’s 18 Million,” and you can find the answer through the dozens of news media articles written about him and Wendy’s. This kind of viral attention is social media on its best day. What I think is interesting is that other brands are now creating publicity for Carter, and, by extension, Wendy’s, including Hollister Co. & Amazon, both of which have tweeted about Carter’s dream of free nuggets.

Time will tell whether Carter reaches his goal of 18 million, but it’s clear that he and Wendy’s have reminded brands and people that Twitter can be a PR powerhouse. How are you integrating Twitter into your branding and media strategy?

Responding to Customer Reviews: Four Tips for Apple

Responding to Customer Reviews: Four Tips for Apple

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Apple recently permitted its developers to respond directly to customer reviews on the App Store. This update is welcomed by App Store users as previously some negative reviews went unanswered by developers at Apple. Moreover, Apple is catching up to Google, which has permitted developers to respond to user reviews since 2013. This significant news from one of the world’s most valuable brands underscores the importance of businesses responding to user reviews. Based on our experience working with businesses to improve their brands on social, I offer these four tips for Apple and its developers:

  1. Respond to all feedback

Although this suggestion may seem obvious, in some circumstances feedback gets missed whether it be positive or negative. It is important to thank consumers who have provided positive feedback and also offer support or solutions to those customers who are unhappy. Do respond to positive feedback — failing to respond to happy customers might come across as ungrateful. And, of course, reply to negative feedback. Ignoring criticisms obviously look arrogant and insensitive.

  1. Reply in a timely manner

Your response rate time is crucial especially on social media. Facebook even designates certain pages as very responsive, which gives consumers the understanding that they are being heard. Creating a responsive dialogue with your consumer base allows insights for both parties that can elevate your brand. Even if you don’t have a complete answer to a problem right away, at least respond with a “We are looking into this issue and will follow up with you more completely.”

  1. Provide honest feedback

Many times, consumers provide suggestions or requests that are not feasible in your current structure. It is best to explain your position in an honest manner rather than promising too much or leaving a request unanswered. Through honest feedback you are able to build credibility.

  1. Keep your responses concise

Sometimes it’s difficult for employees to respond concisely because employees usually possess a lot of context and detail about an issue that might seem helpful to know. But providing too much detail can be harmful because you might alienate a customer who lacks your technical expertise. If a comment truly does require a complex explanation, first respond briefly and offer to communicate with the customer offline. If you do so, your social spaces will be perceived as very user friendly.

User reviews are significant to a brand’s perception — so ensuring that they are handled in a thoughtful manner is vital. Thus, Apple’s introduction of customer review responses is an important feature to the company and should encourage other brands to be more responsive. The above tips should help any business manage review etiquette. Contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Image source: Ryan McGuire