Q4 PREP SERIES: The Influencer Debate - Impactful Powerhouses or Overglorified Users

 

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In this webinar, our very own Director of Marketing and Operations, Andrew Maff and Lifestyle Blogger and Social Media Expert, Lacey Faeh go head to head to debate the topic of making influencers part of your marketing strategy, the pros, and cons of using social media influencers and answering your questions live. Listen in as they talk all about using social media influencers for your e-commerce brand.

 

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Angela:  So, like Andrew said, this is Q4 Prep Series, The Great Influencer Debate, and Andrew and Lacey are going to go head to head to help you guys decide are social media influencers impactful powerhouses or over-glorified users?

 

Lacey Faeh:  It's a good question.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah.

 

Angela:  So let's get started here, with our presenters today. Andrew is our director of marketing and operations here at Seller's Choice, and Lacey is our real-life social media influencer. You guys can go ahead and tell our audience a little bit more about yourself.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Hi, guys. My name's Lacey Faeh. I have alaceyperspective.com for the last nine years. I've been full-time as a blogger and influencer for four of those nine years. I mostly focus on fashion, travel, beauty, and lifestyle. Also digital consulting for a lot of other bloggers and influencers out there, and focusing on honing in on their digital brand.

 

Andrew Maff:  Andrew Maffetone, I'm the director of marketing operations here ... of marketing and operations. Said that wrong. Been in digital marketing for pushing 15 years now. I have been a big fan of inbound marketing and digital advertising in general, and really not a huge fan of the [inaudible 00:01:41] branding and influencer aspect of things, which is why I decided to take that role on today. And ... yeah, it's going to be fun. Thank you for having me, Angela.

 

Angela:  You're very welcome, Andrew.

 

So. You are in the right place if you're ready to improve your social media marketing strategy, if you are exploring the option of using a social media influencer to rep your brand, if you're looking to learn a little bit more about using social media as part of your marketing, and then if you're excited to have a great Q4 or you're just flat out awesome.

To start off, here's a little background about what exactly is a social media influencer. Social media influencer is a user on social media who has established their credibility in a specific industry. They have access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and their resources.

 

Andrew Maff:  Do you know where we got that definition from?

 

Angela:  From Google.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yes. Thanks, Google.

 

Angela:  Professor Google.

 

Andrew Maff:  We good? All right. So. Let's do this.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Let's

 

Andrew Maff:  Ma'am?

 

Angela:  Okay. So. Our first question is, should small business owners with a limited budget invest in using a social media influencer?

 

Lacey Faeh:  Do you want me to go first?

Andrew Maff:  Sure.

 

Lacey Faeh:  This is a question that I get all the time, and the unfortunate answer is that it really depends. On a smaller end, if you're not having a large budget and want to work an influencer, you're obviously going to not get an influencer with a larger following. And in turn, you have to get really specific on what their niche is, where are they located, what are you looking for. And if that influencer seems to represent what type of audience you're looking for and that customer you're looking for, then I would say they are definitely worth that next step.

Some influencers are willing to take their fee down a certain amount. I definitely discounted my fee in the past because I really want to support a local brand. So don't think that they're out of reach.

 

Andrew Maff:  I'm going to hold strong in at no. My only thought process behind that is, if you're a smaller business and you have a limited budget, I feel like there are better places you can put your money. Assuming that a smaller budget is ... several thousand dollars is what you have to work with, you are probably going to see a little bit more on a conversion aspect if you're using that for social media advertising or something like that. Something a little bit more directed towards actual conversion. Because when you're a smaller business, you have to be able to get to the funding to be able to focus on branding. And in the beginning, you're still kind of doing that proof concept. So I don't think I would put that money towards an influencer, because in reality, yes, you need the branding, but you really need to just make sure you keep your lights on in the beginning, more.

 

Lacey Faeh:  I agree, but depending on the conversion rate that you're getting with these Facebook ads, you may not ... they may get to your website, but to get them to actually go and click and purchase is the advantage of what the influencer has, is that they're trusting me. They've been with me for ... we'll use me as a an example ... nine years, and they kind of trust me as almost that friend. They think ... they know my dog's name. That's how close we have become in a relationship, that if I'm saying I use this lipstick all the time and it's amazing, I can get them not only past me and into your website, but actually click the button to purchase. And I don't think you can get that guarantee from a Facebook ad.

 

Andrew Maff:  But you can't guarantee your conversion rate, or your [crosstalk 00:05:28].

 

Lacey Faeh:  No. And any influencer who says they can is lying to you. They can give you examples of former campaigns. That's something that I often will do, is go, "Here's what's worked," in the sense that they'll tell me, "Here's how many we sold using your discount code," or whatever they may do with me. But no influencer ... any influencer who says they can guarantee X number is just giving you an example of what they had in the past, and you have the right to ask to see it.

 

Andrew Maff:  But if I have $5,000 and I go, "Okay, I'm either going to, A, put this towards a influencer where I may have a conversion rate that, on average, they see." ... which most influencers I've worked with won't even give me that number. So I can't even get an average out of most of them, because some of them may not even know. Especially if they're strictly an Instagram influencer, because they have no way of tracking that. A blog, maybe a little bit different, if you have affiliate codes and things like that.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Facebook is easier too.

 

Andrew Maff:  I'm talking about more if I have $5,000 to spend, why not put it towards a social ad that's been working? Or a Google ad, or a bigger email campaign, or a billboard, at that point.

 

Lacey Faeh:  But why not do what all smart marketing managers do and diversify and do both? Five grand is enough to get one decent sized influencer and be able to push ads to the influencer. I've worked with large companies before that have done both, where they took my ad, boosted it within ... Facebook now has a partnership angle you can do with businesses, so they can see what's going on on my end, and they also are getting an advantage as well as I am. And any good marketing manager would [inaudible 00:06:55] diversify, and time those campaigns simultaneously.

Why are you laughing? It's true.

 

Andrew Maff:  Good point. Okay, so you're saying doing a-

 

Lacey Faeh:  Potential [crosstalk 00:07:08].

 

Andrew Maff:  Doing a brand [inaudible 00:07:10] post with an influencer.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Alongside of a digital ad campaign.

 

Andrew Maff:  Okay.

 

Lacey Faeh:  It's two different types of digital ad, if you really look at it simply. One is a Facebook digital ad, one is me and my platforms. It's a multi-platform digital ad, really. In theory.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. So at that point, you're basically paying for the content, the video, the image [crosstalk 00:07:30]. You're boosting yourself.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah. You're also getting ... you're paying for the content creation. It's going to look much more warm, friendly, personal, versus whatever your graphics team tosses together.

 

Andrew Maff:  All right. Lacey one.

 

Lacey Faeh:  One point for Lacey. You should have a little score thing. Ding.

 

Angela:  Next question. [inaudible 00:07:54]. Can an influencer provide any extra value, as opposed to just getting good customer reviews, or customers [inaudible 00:08:06] the products themselves? If I give customers a coupon code, versus giving it to one individual, or an influencer, is there really much of a difference?

 

Lacey Faeh:  I feel like I need the question clarified. Are you saying that if we're doing a campaign and there's discount codes, is it worth paying the influencer to promote the discount code versus them just putting it on their own social?

 

Angela:  I think it's saying is it worth getting an influencer to promote a product, or can they just get by with getting good customer reviews and offering the extra value to the customers.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Gotcha. Well, if you have good customer reviews rolling already, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And that's coming from me. Don't go to an influencer if it's already working for you. But I would say, on the other side of things, if you have maybe one or two reviews that are good, an influencer who can vouch for it, kind of it's own version of a review, can be really helpful when sharing a discount code. Also, I'm getting ... let's say, for example, if we're doing stories, and you're swiping up, I can tell you, "Here's how many people swiped up. Here's how many people tapped on yours. Here's how many impressions over to your profile." So what I give you is not just, "They used a coupon code," but I have almost my own version of review saying that me talking about your product, "Here's how much engagement I got mentioning it, and here's what can happen if you continue to work with an influencer."

But I would say the reviews ... if you're already getting tons of reviews, then keep going. But if you feel like you plateaued, then maybe give an influencer a try and see if it works. If positive reviews is what your goal is.

 

Andrew Maff:  I don't know if I'm a little confused by the question, but my thought is, if you're getting reviews from a product or something along those lines, that's social proof. And if you are using an influencer, that's forced social proof. It's still social proof. So if you have enough reviews and you have enough ... whether it's copies of the actual review itself, or if you are lucky enough to get imagery. I know [inaudible 00:10:05] and even Amazon can take images. If you can utilize those things, you're using your own customers as influencers, and you don't have to pay them $5,000 to post an Instagram post and get you nothing.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Exactly. I think we're kind of both saying the same thing. If you've got good reviews, and you already have proof of concept, keep going and use those to your advantage and market those great reviews you've got. Don't spend the money on an influencer if it's already there.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. I would agree. If this person is ... whoever sent that question in, if you're there can you clarify?

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah, feel free to clarify.

 

Andrew Maff:  And make sure that we actually answered that question or not.

 

Lacey Faeh:  I think we're answering it, but it also is kind of vague. Are you looking to gain more positive reviews? Maybe there aren't some, maybe you're trying to bring that review balance up. Then maybe an influencer who's saying, "This is great," and then their people who buy it say it's great, helps you out. It kind of depends on what your end goal is.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. And the coupon code thing is where it's throwing me. I'm not really sure, but if you're saying why give an influencer a coupon code when I could just take that coupon code and throw it up on my own social and boost that, that's ... it's few and far between. Maybe they have an audience that you can't reach. But I would rather-

 

Lacey Faeh:  Well you're also using a ... sorry. Most companies use coupon codes with influencers to be able to track things. Because then it's like, "Okay, use laceyperspective to get 15% off." They then can see how many people physically typed that in into their [inaudible 00:11:29] cart. So it's a way that you can test me out and see what you get on the other end. But doing it ... just posting it on your social, it's like, marketing strategy-wise, what are you trying to gain? Are you just trying to get this coupon code to be used, or are you trying to test a theory? You know?

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Because I've done coupon codes before, and I would say that I have not seen tons of success with my followers with coupon codes. But it also ... if it's 5% off, I wouldn't type it in. If it's a really good gift, then maybe you do.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. And this ties into a different argument, but in some cases I've seen companies that try to label themselves as a premium product, but then give an influencer a coupon code for 20% off. You shouldn't be discounting your stuff if you're a premium product.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah. Depends on your target market, for sure.

 

Andrew Maff:  I don't know. We got confused by a question. Next one.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah. But we answered it five ways, just in case.

 

Angela:  Both of you get a point on that round. Next question is, can I use an influencer as part of my marketing strategy in any industry, or are there more specific industries where influencers are better?

 

Lacey Faeh:  I just had this conversation with someone here in your office today. I think that every couple years a certain industry cycles up with influencers that become more popular than others. I would say five, six years ago, fashion obviously is really where they really came alive, and that was because of celebrities starting there, and then smaller influencers building from that. Travel is doing really well right now with influencers, as well as beauty, which I think are the top two, in my mind at least, and what I've worked with successfully.

Some people ask about how travel works with influencers. A lot of it is being paid to write reviews for hotels, or partnering up with a DMO, so working with ... for me, I'm in D.C., working with VisitDC, and them paying me to take over their Instagram and write about it, and where I went, and that kind of thing. So that's a market that's been really doing well lately, and I know a lot of influencers have popped up from there.

And then the beauty industry, that's just kind of where I've noticed the money for influencers has been. It's been on more beauty than the fashion side of things. But there's also influencers for the digital space, like in the sense of just tech, even. There's so many niches of influencer out there. I'm more talking about the overarching ones that everyone knows and loves as they scroll through Instagram.

 

Andrew Maff:  I'm going to say that there's influencers out there that can work for certain audiences, but definitely not all of them. To give an example, we worked with a couple different companies that do large commercial construction equipment. Even if there is an influencer construction person out there, his audience probably is not the ones who can make that buying decision. Another one is we did one with transcription headsets and dictation stuff, and it was super boring electronics. And that's just not ... there's no influencers for that market. They cater to radiologists and doctors and all these other types of people that would use that kind of stuff. And that's understandable, but that's not a product that you see an influencer using and you go, "Oh, wow, that must be a great product to buy." It'd be like if Lacey sneezed and she used a tissue. I'm not going to go, "Wow, I've got to go get that tissue." No, it's just ... she used a tissue.

 

Lacey Faeh:  I did work with Kleenex once. That was an interesting campaign. Sorry. I know. I'm sorry, I did. I worked with a weird mix of different brands, but it kind of ... as my brand has shifted, so has the brands that have approached me. And vice versa, me pitching to them.

I think another thing that I want to make sure that you guys know is that each influencer that you work with should know their demographics. I can tell you what my girl looks like in my mind. I can tell you what age range I normally see and click through to stuff. I can tell you where they're located [inaudible 00:15:25], my top five cities, my top five countries. These are all things that they should be able to give you. And if they can't, then that's definitely not who you want to work with. All of influencers should have a media kit to give you as well, as well as a pricing sheet. Two things that you should expect from any influencer you work with, truly of any size. I have clients that are 5,000 Instagram followers, and have been doing it for maybe a year or two, that I am making sure we're creating a media kit and a fee sheet as well. Because no matter what, you should have the basics of your numbers, just like any business should have.

 

Andrew Maff:  Obviously I would agree, and I would just say that a lot of the influencers I've worked with don't have ... you also consult on the side. You do a lot of digital marketing on the side. So that's also ... you know that that stuff is important for a business, makes it ... selling to the business a lot easier. A lot of influencers that ... at least some of the smaller ones that are like, let's say, less than 500,000 followers, they don't have that kind of stuff.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Well, I think that ... something that ... the influencer industry is only 10 years old. And at that, it's barely there. There's only a handful of us that have been even touching doing this for 10 years. And the one thing that I think-

 

Andrew Maff:  I don't agree with that.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Do you think it's older than 10 years?

 

Andrew Maff:  Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

 

Lacey Faeh:  If you're counting celebrity, but the word influencer, people who are your everyday people being paid to promote in their daily routine on an Instagram or on a blog post ... [inaudible 00:16:51] bloggers have existed. Those are just writers.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah, but if you think about people that use to speak at conferences and had a book to seel, they were an influencer. They weren't a celebrity. You could have said they were a celebrity in their space, but fact is, celebrities are influencers, not all influencers are celebrities. But if you look back to Michael Jordan when he started his shoe line, he was an influencer. He was using what he had. He didn't have the benefit of social media where now it's easier to become an influencer. And you can be a influencer in your space, and your space could be wheelie chairs. Now back then, it wasn't that easy.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Okay. I see [crosstalk 00:17:27]. But I would say then, I guess, I'll clarify in the sense of digital or social media influencers. That industry is only ... Instagram is not even 10 years old.

 

Andrew Maff:  Oh, well, social's only been around ... so yeah.

 

Lacey Faeh:  So I would say, when I started my Facebook page and my Twitter page was my only means of promotion of my site. And so I guess what I should be more specific in is that it's social media influencers, versus influencer. Absolutely. But it's still a very young industry, and most people don't know they're running a business until they accidentally stumble into running a business. And a lot of influencers out there are younger and have not been doing it as long as a lot of us that have been in this game for a while have. And so they're the ones that are still learning as they go, and that's why people like me now get paid to show them, "Hey, by the way, this is a business. It's not just a fun Instagram picture."

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. Okay. We both had examples locked and loaded for this, so let's cater to that real quick.

 

Lacey Faeh:  You go first.

 

Andrew Maff:  Okay, so mine. Ali? No, Arii. A-R-I-I. I don't know ... I'm sure everyone saw this article, because it was everywhere when I saw this.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yes. It was a while ago.

 

Andrew Maff:  It was June? July? I can't remember. When it came out. But it was out, and it was basically this influencer who had 2.6 million followers, I think it was, and she got an agreement with some company to release a clothing line under her name, and all she had to do was sell 36 t-shirts and they would pick it up and they would go and create the whole line for her. How they came up with 36 t-shirts, or what those shirts are, I have no idea. But she did not ... she sold, like, four, and was unable to post it. And her engagement was tolerable. It was decent for that many followers. Tens of thousands, if not a couple hundreds of thousands of likes per post, which for that many followers, makes sense. But no one purchased. So what is the point of using someone that big, who has that big an audience, and then can't really turn around and say, "Oh, you're going to make nothing off of this." So many people will see your name, but at the end of the day, you're not going to make anything.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah. I think that my answer to this is there's a lot of people gunning for the influencer industry because it's not understood. And my example is I heard about this, but when I found out who it was, I had never heard of this person before. And she's ... I'm not saying she's new in the sense that she's been doing it for a year, but she's definitely not been a long-term established influencer. She's mostly one of those young, pretty Instagram girls that happened to start making money, and then was like, "I want a clothing line," which maybe an influencer that doesn't think they deserve one themselves.

But what I heard was there's a lot of ... what I heard and read through a lot of people, and ... we have Facebook groups of influencers that all kind of share information, and what I was told was on her end, the agent that was repping her and things like that were not communicating properly to her, and there was go-betweens that were not answering questions, because she had worked with other brands in the past where she was selling things, and things were going well. No company would come to her if there wasn't some proof. No [inaudible 00:20:33] going to blindly go, "Hey, have you ever sold anything? No? Let's make a clothing line." There had to have been some sort of proof of concept before a brand went to her to create a line.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah, but if she had the proof of concept at one point, even some agent miscommunication, she still posted, still had the product available, and no one bought it.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah. I don't disagree. There's no way I can combat this, other than there are people in the influencer industry that don't know how to run a business. They just smile and look pretty, and those are the people that ruin it for people like us who are trying to build a relationship with our followers as well as building a business.

 

Andrew Maff:  Okay. So then let's talk about the people like us. You know you're click-through rate, I assume. Do you know your conversion rate after a click-through [crosstalk 00:21:21]?

 

Lacey Faeh:  For each campaign it's different.

 

Andrew Maff:  So when someone comes to you and says, "Okay, my average order value is X. Your click-through rate is X, your conversion rate average is Y." Are you able to tell them, "If you spend 10K with me, you'll see X in return?"

 

Lacey Faeh:  Absolutely not. Each campaign is completely different. When I worked with Target is going to be very different than when I worked with Banana Republic, than when I worked with Ritz-Carlton. People clicking on booking a hotel room is a lot smaller of a number than people buying a $20 pair of shoes in Target. So every single campaign I have is completely different. I can give an idea of someone I worked with that's similar, and kind of give you an example of what did and didn't work. But by no means ... there's very few influencers ... probably the ones with the larger numbers who are the ones that are successfully now with their own clothing lines, or their own brand, or whatever they're doing outside of the influencing space, probably have better numbers to show you because they have a business outside of it.

But I personally ... I've worked with such a variety of brands that it really is different for each one. So I can give you a similar to. Like, "Oh, you're a candle company. I worked with another one before four years ago." But my following may be more active clicking through now than they were four years ago. So it is truly so every-changing that I can give you my best educated guess, but I wouldn't be able to say I can guarantee you with five grand you're going to be making this much from me.

 

Andrew Maff:  So then for smaller brands, why bother putting something into where you're kind of giving an educated guess, as opposed to just scaling up a campaign that they're already running?

 

Lacey Faeh:  Well, I would say that when we are talking about pairing an influencer campaign with an ad campaign is, the influencer end is much more name recognition that you're paying for, versus the other side where you're knowing that you can have Facebook push through your conversion rate. I can't, while talking through my stories, be like, "If I say these couple words, I know I'll get a better conversion than if I say something else."

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. That I get. That I understand [inaudible 00:23:21] piggy-backing off of your current brand awareness, versus the company's brand awareness. But if a company is funding the ad itself ... not the ones of the influencer, but funding their own to their own site-

 

Lacey Faeh:  Digital ads. Yeah.

 

Andrew Maff:  ... and they know their conversion rate, they can at least have a much better educated guess on a conversion value than if they worked with an influencer.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah. There's no other way to put this. Like I said, the bigger influencers who have a team of agents that rep them, that are constantly keeping an eye on every single campaign ... I have a spreadsheet ... I'm a much smaller influencer. In the end, I'm on the middle end of micro. I think micro is, what, between 50 and 200 thousand on Instagram is the number people will randomly pick? So I'm kind of floating in the middle of it. But there are people with a team of agents that have all of the information of how things have worked for each campaign they've had, and those are the people that are pitching really big brands. But if we're talking about your average eCommerce person, who's a small to mid size, you're working with a small to mid size influencer.

So the same issues you're having as a business, we are [inaudible 00:24:32]. You're still trying to figure out who my customer is, how am I going to get name recognition, how am I going to get that conversation rate. I'm doing the same thing for you. I'm just a different version of a digital ad.

But I would say for influencer, with the ones that are on the small to medium size, you're going more for brand recognition and name recognition than you are going ... obviously you want sales out of it, and it is expected to have it. But I'm saying don't go in saying, "I'm going to spend 5K and in turn sell X number of items."

 

Andrew Maff:  [crosstalk 00:25:02].

 

Lacey Faeh:  And also a long-term relationship with an influencer is really important, because if you want ... one-time shot working with someone like myself, you'd be like, "Oh, this worked." And if we do it again, you'll start to get an idea of how it's going. I, this year, have three year-long contracts. And because I'm locked for a year, this brand can now track every month what's working with me, what isn't working with me. We can shift to a different product that maybe they have in their host of products that would work better with me. And we have a monthly touch base where I'm like, "Hey, every time I bring this up when it's not a sponsored moment but I'm using your item, this is getting loves. We should try this the next month."

What has been the most popular right now in the influencer space is longer term campaigns, versus one-offs that are just not as successful anymore, because a lot of influencers are being called out for not being genuine. Like, "Oh, you don't use that one product, it just appeared." And then it's hashtag ad. And for me, if it's a product you've now seen me use month after month after month, you're trusting me and that brand more. So going in with a one-time, I would say try not to if you don't have to.

 

Angela:  I'm going to give that round to Lacey again. She knows her stuff. Okay. This is more of a statement, rather than a question, but influencers can boost your SEO to noticeable heights.

 

Lacey Faeh:  You can go on that one first.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. So it's just a statement?

 

Angela:  That's a statement [crosstalk 00:26:32].

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah, and what are your thoughts [crosstalk 00:26:36].

 

Angela:  What are your thoughts?

 

Andrew Maff:  No, that I could agree with. I think that that's a backlink strategy. If there's any of them, that's basically the common sense one. YOu're obviously getting backlinked from, ideally, a blogger that has decent domain authority or whatever it is you're using to track that. I would agree with that. The only thing I would say is, I would rather spend $5,000 on getting several backlinks from companies that are willing to do blog exchanges or anything like that, than to just work with an influencer for a backlink. Because that backlink isn't going to get you that much traction. Plus, bloggers don't post for keyword ranking, they post interest pieces. So your blog picks up and does well for a couple months, and then it teeters off and it falls away, while new stuff starts to pile on top of it, unless you have some of this gift ones or anything like that. I know those can interchain.

 

Lacey Faeh:  I would say we definitely, if you're strategic about it, do use keywords as a way to drive some of your content. If I'm having a really great consistent month over month, then I want to keep that moving. I'm going to try to find a way to get my content towards a couple key words that I know will do well. But that's also a strategy that a lot of influencers are still learning and figuring out. But there was definitely times I've worked with brands where they want to basically just drop a link in a post that I already have. I personally don't like going too far back into my old content to drop a link in for them to get a backlink out of it, but if they want to work on something that's newer, where I can still have control over my content but there is one, or two links [inaudible 00:28:25] that you want, that's something I've negotiated before.

So I feel like yes to the statement, but it just really depends on your strategy.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. And I would say it depends on who you're going after. At that rate, I would care less about their Instagram following and more about the organic reach of their website, whereas if I'm going for more of a branding play, I would flip that.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Right. Blogs are looked at more as resources now, as I'm gathering. People are not ... like I had mentioned earlier, Google Reader, and people would just be scrolling through and reading blog posts, and that was what it was before Instagram existed as a new way to scroll. But now blogs are more of a reference point for me, like [inaudible 00:29:04] I'm sitting in Instagram and I'm saying, "I'm making my coffee this morning and using my favorite collagen powder. Swipe up to see my blog post of why I love to use it." That blog post could be five months old. But I'm still getting use out of it in other places. So for me, my strategy with my content on the site now is much more focused to reference point that people can continuously go to, versus "here's an outfit post," where this shirt may already be sold out.

So I think that that's another strategy on the eCommerce side [inaudible 00:29:33] medium small businesses is, when you're looking to partner with them, especially on a blog post, is think about ways that it can have a longer lifespan.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. I think for smaller businesses actually, I actually might have to say that if you're looking for a backlink strategy, that, although it will probably be more expensive, it might be easier, just because smaller businesses, getting a decent backlink from bigger businesses is harder than just paying an influencer to post something. So yeah, I think we kind of agree on that one.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Wow.

 

Angela:  Oh, another tie. You guys agree.

 

Andrew Maff:  [inaudible 00:30:16].

 

Angela:  You really [inaudible 00:30:17].

Okay. So here's the last question for you guys to debate, and then I have two more just general influencer questions. So this one is, I'm an Amazon seller. Should I be using an influencer? So they're exclusively selling on Amazon.

 

Lacey Faeh:  This is a perfect time for me to use my example.

My example hasn't been used yet. It's because it's a really great one. So, I'm sure for many of you that are on Amazon have heard of the infamous Amazon coat. It has been-

 

Andrew Maff:  Stupid coat.

 

Lacey Faeh:  It's ridiculous. The seller is actually based in China, and they don't actually just sell coats. The coat was one of ... I think two out of their whole list of products that they have. In the Upper East Side in Manhattan, just over the bridge here, they got very popular in the small mom group, and then one of the influencers, named [inaudible 00:31:10], she's something [inaudible 00:31:12], wore it on Instagram on January 10th of this year. And January month alone, they sold five million dollars worldwide of this coat. Not saying that she was all five million. And of that five million, 70% were in the United States, so that makes it even smaller. But just a bunch of moms in Upper East Side, and then this one influencer mentions it, and it wasn't in partnership. It was just because she saw her friends wearing it and walking around with her kids, and there was five million dollars sold. They expect by the end of this year on another additional 10 to 15 million. And they discounted during the Prime day and made a couple million on Prime day.

And this is a single coat. They actually are now going to start their own line of coats because it's doing so well. And now they're strategizing with influencers. And the hashtag, on Instagram, Amazoncoat has exploded. There's fan pages for it on Facebook and Instagram. There's one with a couple thousand followers. It's an Instagram page which is reposting people in this coat.

 

Andrew Maff:  Now ... I hate this one so much. Okay, so yes. Whatever. Here's the thing.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Not whatever. Five million dollars is not whatever.

 

Andrew Maff:  Okay. What happened, though, is A, no one should underestimate moms on the Upper East Side.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Right.

 

Andrew Maff:  But B, it picked up, it picked up well, and the big thing that everyone was talking about was the fact that it was ... at the time, the big thing that everyone was talking about was that she wasn't paid to do it. So the company got it for free, and it was on Amazon. So all of the Amazon sellers out there flipped out. And they were like, "Whoa, I should totally be doing this. That's amazing. This company paid nothing and made five million dollars, and I could do that too." And yet no one really has been able to replicate it. And really, what the problem was, is that a product went viral because a lot of other ... another community of Amazon sellers got involved to look into what was going on here, and it started to get a lot of publicity of stories of different publications posting about [crosstalk 00:33:13].

 

Lacey Faeh:  Forbes wrote about it, New York Times wrote about it, it started to explode.

 

Andrew Maff:  Exactly. So it's not just the one blogger.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah, I'm not saying that.

 

Andrew Maff:  It's the fact that Forbes wrote about it, New York Times, [crosstalk 00:33:21].

 

Lacey Faeh:  But that's what I'm saying-

 

Andrew Maff:  They all wrote about it.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Right, that it was that diversification, but I'm also saying ... I wouldn't say it hasn't duplicated. No, there has not been one that's become a popular viral. I also think, because it was a clothing item, makes it a little more universal, versus a really niche product on Amazon. But Amazon fashion, where they're now allowing you to ... they're sending it to you, you're allowed to try it on, send it back if it doesn't work, that kind of thing, that came to be because of the Amazon influencer program, which I'm also a member of. And you can make your own Amazon page, and curate your favorite things. And clothing, those fast $12 shirts and stuff that Amazon has [inaudible 00:33:57] and products, are what has started to go really well, and it's because that coat is actually a knock-off of a designer coat. [inaudible 00:34:06] almost identical design. So I wouldn't say it didn't duplicate, it's just duplicated in different forms.

 

Andrew Maff:  If you're an Amazon seller and you have money to spend, and you're wondering if you should spend it on influencers, if you've already diversified and you have your own website, or your own Walmart or Ebay or Jet or one of those guys, and you've already done that, then I would be open to the conversation of ... now it has nothing to do with the fact that you're an Amazon seller. You're an eCommerce seller. But if you are only an Amazon seller, it is like pulling teeth to track what is actually working versus what is not. You have affiliate links. I know you can send in affiliate links and those can work, and the influencer can actually track it. But on a Amazon seller's end, you can't really see where your sales are coming from unless they were native on Amazon. So if you [inaudible 00:35:00] your storefront, you're using one [inaudible 00:35:03], sometimes those stupid things break and you can't track those. Coupon codes sometimes don't work for whatever frigging reasons. So it's impossible ... not impossible, but it's very different to track.

So I would say, yeah, you can go the influencer route, but there's so many other places you could spend your money.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Well, difficult to track in the sense of ... for this coat in example, January did really well when an influencer posted it, and in February maybe one didn't and they didn't do five million. That's a pretty easy way to track that the influencer was helpful in sales, versus the month that it wasn't.

Andrew Maff:  Yes, but Amazon sellers want down to the penny numbers of what they did.

 

Lacey Faeh:  I get that. Totally.

 

Andrew Maff:  And if you said [crosstalk 00:35:38] you did five million in the last month, you did four million, what was that drop in? And they want specifics. And the thing is, you can't get specific tracking on what's working or what's not. I don't think I would suggest it, unless you've already diversified. Then that's a different story.

 

Lacey Faeh:  So on the Amazon-influencer partnership world that I'm in, what they have ... when they give us our monthly emails, they tell us what products have been working on the pages and what haven't. They told us dupes of this ring has been selling well, and it's pushing us to start putting it on our Amazon page of our curated favorites. So Amazon in their own way is starting to try to manipulate ... don't want to use that word necessarily, but manipulate the system of influencers so that I know ... well, I know for a fact that I'd make a crap ton of money if I focus on jewelry, because last month that did well off of all the influencer pages.

So we're definitely getting strategy from Amazon of what's working for us. I'm not saying that that's necessarily ... I'm not going to sit and divulge it to every small business that comes at me that's on Amazon, but it's something that I know can be helpful to me and a company, that if they approach me, I'm like, "You fit this niche that I know is doing well right now. A partnership with you will be perfect. Here's what's worked for me in the past."

So I would say that the fashion end of Amazon is where we can test the more viral stuff easier, because it's such quick, cheap movement. And it's easier for me to integrate it in my everyday life. Like, "Oh, I'm still wearing this ring that I got on Amazon." That's so much easier for me to keep posting and mentioning, versus something that's really really specific.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. But if you had an affiliate link that's for a specific product, it's usually not to their storefront, correct?

 

Lacey Faeh:  You can.

 

Andrew Maff:  So to the storefront I guess it's a different story, but if you go straight to a product, which is what most of them do, which is what the coat did, they don't have ... your whole product line is not available. So I would rather drive traffic to the site, and let people see your entire product line, as opposed to just driving them to this one product. Because if it's a coat, what if I don't like the color? Or if it's not set up with variation. Or, kind of like the shoes, but I want to see what else they have. That is not as easily searchable on Amazon, unless you send them to a storefront.

 

Lacey Faeh:  True. But in the influencer space, when someone's swiping up because of an item I'm wearing, they want that item. They're not going to swipe up and then go, "Oh, never mind." Because you saw it with me live on my Instagram story, in a video. You've seen it at multiple angles. That's why there's so many girls now doing video. And guys as well are doing so much video, and that's why video is where everything is going now, hence Instagram Stories, and iGTB's attempt at what they did there, is because you can get a 360 view of products now. And that's the advantage of influencers, and talking into my [inaudible 00:38:21] of Instagram Stories, and you're able to see the full thing I'm wearing. And then if I'm swiping up, I'm swiping up because it looks good. I'm not going, "Just kidding, I don't want it anymore," unless you're sold out of that color or something. But if so, that means you sold out. That's a good thing.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. I stand by no, unless you've already diversified, in which case, then maybe.

 

Angela:  Tough one there. I might have to give it to Andrew on this one.

 

Andrew Maff:  Good. It's a pity point.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yeah, it is. [inaudible 00:38:51] to go backward.

 

Angela:  Okay. So these next questions aren't really ones that you guys can debate, they're just general questions about influencers that Sylvia emailed to us. The first one is, what is the best way to reach out to an influencer?

 

Lacey Faeh:  Please don't DM, and email me. My email is normally ... most of us have an email button sitting on our Instagram profile. Obviously on our website. You should have it sitting at the top right of your website, or on a contact page. But I've had a lot of businesses approach me via DM, and I'll reply with my email address. And if I don't hear from them in an inbox, I don't take it seriously. Most tiny businesses make that ... my DM's get [inaudible 00:39:34] really crowded, and you're going to get lost in there. And in an email, that's kind of where business is done for me. And in Instagram, that's normally where my interaction with my followers are. So to me, those are kind of two separate worlds. So just please don't DM us.

 

Andrew Maff:  Well, I would say DM them, because not everyone feels that way. Some people, they actually prefer it through the DM. But I would say, like in your case-

 

Lacey Faeh:  Engage with me in DM, sure.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah, start it. But if you say email, then email.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Yes. I would say ... well, no, I would say that what has caught my eye before is I was wearing a product and I didn't know that company was following me, and they DM'd me and said, "We spy the hair tie," or something. And I was like, "Oh, yeah, I'm such a big fan." And they're like, "How can we work together?" I was like, "You can find my email in my profile." And then we had a bit of a conversation. That's fine. But [inaudible 00:40:23] I got DM'd four paragraphs of a pitch. And I'm not ... I'll literally just reply with my email and no even words or anything. Just like, "You can do this again."

But if you want to start ... that's a great way to start getting on a bigger influencer's radar, is starting to engage with their content. I have some brands that I had no idea who they were, and they were consistently commenting on images, replying to stories, nothing pitchy, just kind of like, "Love that dress," or, "That looks like a great trip," or whatever, where they built a relationship with me. Then when their email came to my inbox, I didn't ignore it, because the name ... I almost had my own version of name recognition starting to happen, where I was like, "Oh yeah, these guys, they're really fun." And that's happened a couple times, and I've definitely discounted my fees for people like that, because I felt like they were already supporting me, of course I want to support them.

 

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. So it's kind of like comment on the influencer's pictures a handful of times, and then DM them.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Absolutely. Especially if you're a smaller business. That's a great way to get on their radar.

 

Angela:  Last question. What is the easiest way to make them an affiliate?

 

Lacey Faeh:  So make them a long-term partner?

 

Angela:  Yes, I'm guessing.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Okay. For me, when I'm pitched for longer term stuff, I say no more often than yes, because if I'm going to be stuck, for lack of words, stuck with this product for a long period of time, it needs to fit into my content really naturally. And if it doesn't, then it's going to feel forced, and my followers know when it's forced. And any influencer's followers. We all know what it looks like. We all know, we say hashtag ad, we doublethink before we do anything or ever read what they just wrote. So for me, to be a long-term affiliate or partner with a brand, do your research on them before you pitch them. Because if you're pitching me on something that's a men's shave kit, that's ... obviously you have never seen my content before and noticed that I'm a female.

So it's something that has been happening a lot, where we just get cold pitches, and you can tell no one ever did their research. So just like I do my research on you, you need to do your research on me. And so to get me longer term ... if you can say, "I've seen in the last two weeks on your Instagram Stories you've been using this type of shampoo, and I saw you worked with this brand last year," you did your research and knowing your a fit with me, then I'm more likely to say yes to longer term.

So just like we're expected to come at you as a business, in a professional manner, we should hope for the same.

 

Angela:  Any input on that?

 

Andrew Maff:  No, it's a good point. I would say ... I like the research side. Make sure you actually research who the influencer really is and what they post about. A lot of people with these products that fit into everything, like nutrition. "Yes, you're a lifestyle blogger, or you're a fashion blogger, or you're a weightlifter. You can be anything. I can work with anyone, because I sell nutrition." Don't ... it doesn't always work. It still needs to fit in somehow. So I would definitely say knowing who you're contacting in the first place, before you even contact them.

 

Lacey Faeh:  And think about the influencer almost as a potential customer. Am I the type of customer you're looking for? Because if I am, my followers probably are. So I think that's another way, is look at your analytics. What are you gaining as a customer? And that's a great way to start narrowing down influencers, is if you're more female heavy, between ages of 25 and 34, and they live in this market, if I fit that, then I am more likely to say yes to working with you, because I'm already probably going to be interested in your product. So think of us as customers first, and then the influencer second.

 

Andrew Maff:  Okay.

 

Angela:  Great. And that's all I have. The only question I have ... tell us who you think won.

 

Andrew Maff:  We're done. Thanks, everyone, for joining us. Make sure ... we'll send out a replay later on stuff. I'm sure we'll send you a [inaudible 00:44:18] or something. And then, we will see you all next time, but we're going to put this up on YouTube and on our blog and all those other fun places, so if you ever have any questions, make sure you comment on whatever medium you're watching this on. And then, of course, I will allow so-and-so here to plug her stuff.

 

Lacey Faeh:  Shameless plug, you can follow me on Instagram, and it's @laceperspective. It's also the same across the board for Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest. And then the blog site is alaceyperspective.com.

 

Angela:  Thanks, guys.

 

Andrew Maff:  [inaudible 00:44:49].

 

Lacey Faeh:  Bye.New call-to-action

 

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