While it’s impossible to lump online influencers into one pile, there are quite a few things that Kristen Matthews and I came up with when we chatted last week.
It Takes a Client to Make a Campaign
If you haven’t read last week’s article, What Clients Want and Expect from Influencer Marketing, According to Creator Relations Master, Kristen Matthews, you should start there.
Because without clients there’s no influencer marketing campaign. However, in many ways, you–influencer marketing professional–are the broker between the client, the brand, the CFO, the CMO, and the online influencers.
$250 is the Cellar for Creator Compensation
$250-per-post/Instagram/tweet/video/podcast is minimum-wage in 2018. If you can’t budget the minimum equivalent of $250 of value per influencer–be it in retail value of the products and services you provide them or cash money to their PayPal account–you will not be either effective or successful in online influencer marketing circa 2018. And this is the basement. This is not premium. This is the influencer version of the minimum wage. It can easily scale to $25,000.
Top Shelf Only for Influencers
If you want to stick with earned media influencer marketing, you had better eschew with hotel tester bottles of product or the crap you put into Subscription Boxes or give out at Races, Conferences, or Cons, and dropship that one-gallon bottle of 100% raw virgin skinny coconut oil for skin and hair that retails for $190 if you even want to get into the ballpark. Throw in some health and beauty products and maybe you can compete.
The Sucker Born Every Day Isn’t an Online Influencer
You’ll only get exactly the amount of value that you put in, be it in the form of merchandise, compensation, respect, access, exclusivity, fandom, discounts, or even sweet residual profits from affiliate codes and profit-sharing.
Strike! No Scabs Allowed!
While it’s not quite a work slowdown, influencers put in the sort of energy and time commensurate to how much you value their time, influence, and the amount of work they’ve invested in becoming successful as a creator and online celebrity, no matter how long tail or niche.
Posts, Blogs, Hauls, and Unboxings are Only 10% of the Work
What looks like cinéma vérité or the work of someone who just threw everything together and is using their smartphone to just capture some stuff they bought while they were at the mall, every time you tap an influencer and bring them on board, be it through the offering of a bunch of squat-proof leggings or summer bikinis or testing the latest pair of Mizunos or effortlessly whisking a spoonful of Virgin Coconut Oil into their morning coffee, these people are professionals. They have thousands of dollars tied up in cameras, lighting, microphones, software, production laptops, hair and makeup, studio space (even if it’s “just” their “bedroom).
Why Underpay When You Can Overpay?
You’re not only paying for their time now, you’re also paying for all the time years they’ve done this in the past without anybody’s interest. You’re not only paying interest but you’ll also make quite a lot of points if you’re willing and able to pay off principal.
How Hard Do Volunteers Actually Work for Pizza and Beer?
How many times have you asked your friends to help you move? How has that compared to when you, or someone you know, has hired a bonded professional moving service? And then compare that to hiring someone between the pros and your mates: dudes off Craigslist? Something like that? If your friends get to your house and you haven’t even packed yet, they might just leave. Or hate you forever. Or just dawdle around until you pack your sad ass up yourself.
Make Things Super Easy for Your Influencers
On the other hand, if your movers show up and you haven’t packed, they’ll pack for you–but you’ll be charged for every box and every hour. It’s on you for not being prepared. The same for professional influencers. The more you put on them, the less you premasticate and prepare and package for them, the more you’ll need to either compensate them for doing your work; or, you just need to experience the butthurt of possibly receiving a bad review, or a short review, or a review that doesn’t comply to your contract, or a review that quickly get stripped of the links or pulled and deleted with extreme prejudice the moment the their obligation to you is over.
Doing Well Without Pay? Try Paying and Be Amazed!
One of the things that Kristen Matthews confessed to me is that she’s having trouble convincing an activewear company she’s working with to transition from pure earned media influencer marketing to paid influencer marketing. The yoga and sportswear company is having enough success right now from just drop shipping clothing to influencers–they’re happy with the KPIs (key performance indicators) they’re garnering from the current campaign.
Kristen Says: Pay Your Influencers, Dammit!
Kristen is rightly frustrated, though, because if she could convince this company to financially sponsor some key influencers and compensate other key creators, makers, reviewers, haulers, try-on-ers, and unboxers, she’s sure that they’ll be able to achieve a next-level campaign. While she doesn’t like to brag about her success, for clients that work, they make $6 for every $1 they spend.
That’s a pretty great ROI.
So, if Kristen recommended to me that I should put aside a budget to be spent on choice influencers who are on the fence and just need to be honored financially for their time and all the work they’ve spent on getting there (will you pay down their principal or just their interest?), then I would go back to my CMO and CFO and even the CEO and see if we can update the earned media influencer budget to reflect the State of the Influencer Marketing Union.
What’s the Cost of Getting a Deal?
What’s happening all over the Influencer Marketing world, and Kristen Matthews agrees, is that you literally get what you pay for. What the client wants is a minimum of 550 words in all the posts her influencers write, because the client is smart and wants the search benefits of these reviews in addition to the buzz marketing effect these posts have on the influencer’s friends, followers, readers, watchers, lookers, Friends, and Subscribers. But if you underpay or under-respect even people you’re actually under-paying–or paying at all–they will dash off a post instead of putting the time and attention that you believe you’re paying for based on the contract they signed but didn’t actually read (and what are you going to do, sue them?
“So Sue Me!” (Would You Dare? I Mean, They’re Influencers!)
Wouldn’t that be a PR disaster? They’re online influencers, after all. They’re all guns and bullets to your reputation, sort of like a potential Yosemite Sam to your brand). So, as you disrespect them (hey, I didn’t disrespect them, the accepted my lowball offer and signed an agreement!), so they disrespect you back. It’s the equivalent of spitting in your Club Sandwich because you’re a dick to the staff at the Country Club. Everyone there might kiss your ass to your face but online influencer are happy to take it to the street.
Not in a way that will blackball them from ever working with Big Brands ever again, but in little plausibly deniable ways that will just take up all of your time in needing to do audits of all of your influencers and then follow up with all of them, making sure they get all their tracking codes right, and making sure they write carefully- and copiously-enough to make your clients happy (see What Clients Want and Expect from Influencer Marketing, According to Creator Relations Master, Kristen Matthews).
Be Kind, For Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle
This needn’t be a war. As long as you start budgeting your influencer marketing campaigns similarly to how you budget your advertising campaigns instead of how you budget your marketing campaigns, then you’ll do just fine. And, I can’t say it enough: $250/post is just the starting fee for neophytes and beginners–baby bloggers.
Grease That Palm!
If you want to cut in line or not be immediately dismissed or wait-listed until everyone else has been serviced, you need to at least grease the palm of the maître d’hôtel, the Maître D’ to get the table you want, when you want it. Or, you need to already be a VIP or have spent enough money in the past and the present to be allowed into the Champagne room. I guess it’s sort of like an Airline Loyalty Program. If you want a 1st Class Seat, you can either pay for it or you can cash in miles and loyalty in order to get it. Or you can maybe get a free seat in coach. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay for coach anyway. And who knows how terrible that experience is.
The Middle Way
If I were you, I’d just aim at Business Class. It’s like being someone’s guest at dinner: it’s rude to order the Surf and Turf and a Magnum of Brut ($25,000/post) but you really shouldn’t choose the Children’s Hot Dog and a seltzer ($250/post) either.
Next week, I will actually interview Kristen Matthews about what she herself, wants and expects from her clients, influencers, and creators. Wish me luck! That’s going to be a good one. Because I have a feeling that about 80% of this post, in particular, was just me mansplaining.
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 possess a world-class crew, or don’t know yet where to go, then you should give me a call, reach out me by email, or even schedule a call with me— 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.
Good luck and Godspeed!