Over New Year’s I attended Renaissance Weekend down in Charleston, South Carolina, to be among the world’s most innovative, accomplished, successful, and disruptive experts from across a panoply of academy, experience, and expertise.
After we discussed all the sundry social media platforms, overlooking Pinterest completely, all roads led back to how to best break through all the noise online, in order to get the sort of attention that used to be as simple as throwing money at Google‘s, Twitter‘s, and Facebook‘s ad networks.
When I think of ad-blocking, I assumed that only a small cadre of tech-sophisticates actually used them. I don’t think I was as painfully-aware as to how ubiquitous ad-blockers are until recently when I discovered that they’re a scourge that can render even big-buck Madison Avenue ad campaigns completely ineffective.
As a result, advertising, PR, and marketing agencies have land-rushed alternative opportunities that circumvent ad-blocking software, ad-stripping tools, and even premium versions of platforms like Hulu+ that allow you to sidestep commercials.
Among the tools include sponsored website links, native advertising, sponsored posts, sponsored reviews, product placement, and influencer marketing.
While many of us in the business have attributed the success of online advertising to a general lack of discernment, I no longer believe these consumers just don’t know any better—there’s just an understood dynamic tension between give and take, between value offered by the publisher minus the pound of flesh that publisher expects in return.
In other words, if your content marketing material fills a vacuum or is best-of-breed and brings something truly unique or useful to the table then all is forgiven. In the Renaissance Weekend panel I was on, Social Savvy—Mastering Social-Media Platforms, we discussed some things that worked and some things that didn’t.
Outside of influencer marketing, offering free branded tools really works. Things like calculators, free tax software (for tax season), and other financial apps tend to be ways financial services companies get through the noise to reach people who are online, be they service provider or consumer.
When it comes to influencer marketing, however, even pay-a-lot-per-posts can’t get away with anything. There’s an unspoken agreement between the online influencer, oftentimes being sponsored by a proper online influencer agency, and his or her friends, followers, fans, and subscribers.
Getting paid by a company who makes bikinis or affordable women’s clothes to do unboxing, hauls, and try-on videos for your subscribers is one thing, but it doesn’t give you license to also hawk credit cards or anything else that jarring or inconsistent with your slice of fame or brand.
When my colleagues on the panel were talking online influencer marketing, they were talking about paying each influencer a minimum of $400 per post with actual budgets, per-influencer, oftentimes spiking into the tens of thousands of dollars.
And influencer marketing, circa 2017, is infinitely more sophisticated than it was nearly a decade ago. Brands are partnering with agents, talent scouts, and influencers to really become the face of the brands. Actual spokespeople.
While Dan Krueger, Gerr.is, and I, Chris Abraham, are advocates of Micro-Influencer Marketing and Earned-Media Marketing, which is to say pitching A-List to Z-List online influencers in a traditional public relations method of targeting influence so precisely that the influencers we reach are ready, willing, able, and keen to write a review of our clients’ products and services based solely on worthiness rather than on pay.
But even in our wheelhouse, the long-tail, the micro-influencers, there’s a lot of value even if you’re budgeted to pay. If you’re willing do go down the list a little bit and do your homework, “some 42% of influencers say they charge brands between $200 and $500, on average, per post; 37% charge less than $200, on average,” according to MarketingProfs.
Whether you choose to use online influencer marketing, go down the micro-influencer marketing rabbit hole, or go with sponsored links or native advertising, the state of the sponsored content biosphere is mature and everyone’s doing it in a desperate attempt to really get some attention of some interested parties—so so should you, too.