Every 365-days, Shashi Bellamkonda invites me to guest lecture to his Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies communications class, Social, Mobile and Search Marketing, XCPD-732. Fresh-faced students on a Saturday morning? Yes, please!
Micro-influencer marketing is one of the services that sets my agency, Gerris Corp, apart from other Digital PR firms. Most firms focus only on outreach to A-listers. While this is effective for getting a lot of eyeballs on the initial post, the story is quickly buried due to the high frequency of posts.
As the number of social networking platforms increases, we have found that connecting with influencers is the most powerful way of accessing their entire network, including their social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and even Reddit and SnapChat.
And the best way to get heart-felt, passionate, and authentic reviews without paying for them is to simply introduce the passionate to the object of their passion and then give them the unique opportunity and the pathway to go nuts in support of it.
Once an influencer receives the baton from us, they tend to actively and aggressively promote their posts across their fans, followers and social networks themselves, meaning that once you have them at their HQ — their home — you also have them on all their sundry platforms as well.
So we focus on reaching the long-tail. We contact thousands of influencers in your target demographic, and individually interact with everyone who expresses interest. This results in hundreds of positive ratings, reviews, posts, and social media shares about your brand, and algorithms take notice organically boosting your rankings and your SEO rankings on Google.
An Earned Media Micro-Influencer Marketing Primer
In my humble opinion, modern influencer marketing is traditional public relations pitching corrupted by huge Madison Avenue advertising money. Big celebrities and even bigger bucks. It used to be thousands of dollars-per-post, but now brands and agencies are signing partner contracts with digital, social media, and online influencers. These partnerships can include multi-year contracts, which are getting tighter and more exclusive the more these same influencers are being dropped by advertisers such as YouTube, Google AdWords, and Instagram.
Now there’s micro-influencer marketing.
Instead of swinging for the fences and spending thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars on only a handful of A-D-list celebrities with high Q-Scores, micro-influencer marketing is much more egalitarian. Prices are much more affordable at this level, from $50-$250-$2,500/post. If you’re bold and go into the very deep pool of influencers, then you not only find some amazing values on some very dark horse influencers, but you might even be their very first! Their very first brand or agency! So many very influential people are just deep enough in the pool that they’ve never been kissed and are days, minutes, or hours away from calling it quits. They’re tired of blogging and tweeting and instagramming for only their grandparents, sisters, brother, sisters, and greater influence squad. One giant smooch from one agency or from one brand, can reset their very own Doomsday Clock.
And then there’s earned media marketing.
Let’s refer to public relations before the corruption by Madison Avenue. The good old fashioned PR pitch to the good old-fashioned, scruffy, died-in-the-wool, bourbon soused, reporter. That’s not over. It’s not. Seriously. Earned media micro-influencer marketing still works — it’s alive and well, but it isn’t easy and it always demands your awesome.
When I do my earned media micro-influencer campaigns, I do get a lot of rejection, and I also get a lot of outstretched hands. However, most of those money-grubbers actually used to say, “No, what you’re pitching isn’t a very good fit for me. Since I am a business person and a professional, it would be stupid to say no, so I would be more than willing to work together for $250.” Online influencers at all levels are smart, savvy, and clever. If you’re doing an amazing job doing earned media “long tail” micro-influencer marketing and your pitch — what you’re offering — meets whatever minimum cash or value equivalency threshold that shows them respect for their time, their energy, and the opportunity cost, then you’ll have success.
It’s called value marketing
“Value in marketing, also known as customer-perceived value, is the difference between a prospective customer’s evaluation of the benefits and costs of one product when compared with others. Value may also be expressed as a straightforward relationship between perceived benefits and perceived costs.”
I always say, “give ’til it hurts.”
Skinny Coconut Oil did a brilliant job at this. Kaylyn Easton, CMO of Skinny & Co., was endlessly generous with the hundreds of bloggers who responded to our outreach of thousands. She drop-shipped very generous assortments of products to everyone. If we made a notation that one particular influencer had exceptional celebrity appeal or a notable Klout score, then Kaylyn would send something extra special, like a box with an extra large bottle of their cold-processed, alkaline, organic coconut oil. With her support, we easily were able to meet everyone’s customer-perceived value. The product was exceptional, coconut oil is really hot, the brand is strong, and people felt they were getting a lot more than just a little individual squeeze pouch of sports gel or goo that you find at 5Ks and marathons.
In fact, the influencers oftentimes felt so spoiled and loved that we were able to get them to do YouTube unboxings for the first time and all sorts of other gifts to us.
All for value for value.
Yes, you heard me right, we pitch thousands of bloggers in search of the perfect match. We’re researching influencers now with the goal of collecting 6,000 long-tail micro-influencers for our next campaign at Gerris. This is pretty normal. In our outreaches, “pay me money” means no thank you but I’m nobody’s fool. While we at Gerris might ultimately end up paying for posts in the future, we take money requests as challenges to make the pitch and the gift/offer sweeter and better.
I have been doing micro-influencer marketing campaigns since Autumn 2006.
Back then we called it blogger outreach and blogger engagement. Even now, it’s still a little blogger marketing. Most YouTubers, Instagrammers, and the Twitterati worth their salt have their own online headquarters where they do their business, collect their best work (in the form of embeds and embedded streams), reveal their sponsors and brand-relationships, and offer their agency alliances, contact information, bios, and even pretty portraits.
Feel free to own the yacht but hire a crew if you’re not yet seaworthy. If you get my drift and want to adopt the yachting lifestyle yourself but either don’t have the mad sailing skills yourself, don’t yet posses a world-class crew, and don’t know yet where to go, then you should give me a call or reach out me by email — so I can help you pilot your vessel now, in the tranquil blue-green shallows of the Caribbean, as well as in the roughest seas and into — as well as out of — the storm.