Influencers: Pay them, deploy them and let them do what they do…

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I recorded a podcast episode on the Inner Sircle about working with influencers in today’s market. So many brands are missing this golden era and excellent time of opportunity by not engaging with influencers or by doing it all wrong.

First off, you should not be on the sidelines, plain and simple. Influencers represent targeted community infiltration at scale and that should be part of your mix. Find solid power users, who fit your target demo, analyze their posts, tone, energy, and community and then reach out and negotiate. Remember these are humans and often don’t know how to price themselves correctly. Most swing for the fences and unfortunately, often get their ask from PR Firms or brands that don’t counter well. As a result, they get the wrong sense of the true market. That being said, there is always room for compromise and conversation if you get in the sandbox and play the game. We find the best dollar value comes from multiple posts over many months, rather than “one and done” relationships. This happens because the human behind the Instagram profile values guaranteed recurring revenue for security.

Don’t just look at follower count, which is often BS or has a lot of fluff, that is not your target demo. We argue that you don’t even look at the quantity of engagement as this can also can be BS or just a lot of likes, that equate to nothing. Instead, find someone with fewer followers and less engagement, but who engages back with every single follower. This is someone who is creating a real bond with those users and therefore wields more influence over them. Bottomline – beware those who post but don’t engage and/or who only post staged, one-off product photos. Conversely, over-value those who really carry out on the dialogue and who integrate more with the products in their feed and Stories, like @calliegullickson did for OWYN above.

Once you do get in the game, source the right influencers and negotiate well, but don’t mess it up by trying to be too controlling over the message. Hire them for their storytelling and then let them do just that. The best example of the right way, was when Nike hired Casey Neistat to make a commercial for the #MakeitCount campaign. Rather than a big budget commercial, he and his friend Max just hit the road and went on an epic journey together to actually live the message rather than show it in a contrived way. The result was over 29million YouTube views and a campaign that went down in history as one of the best influencer engagements of all time. It doesn’t hurt that Casey is an all-time great storyteller and content legend, but worth noting this was way back in 2012 when he was not as expensive and was much less well known than he is now.  Go out and find your Casey Neistat people!

 

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On pivoting and keeping your eye on the future…

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I posted a vlog last week, in which I spoke about personal brand and trying to strike balance. After seeing it, someone recommended to me that I read Give and Take by Adam Grant. I jumped on it right away, because I am a huge fan of his and with my new relationship with audiobooks I knew I could tackle it quickly. I did just that, loved it, and highly recommend it.

Early in my career, I was a matcher more than a giver and definitely not a taker. If you read it you will know what I mean. For context here, I would always try and give to people, but the goal was to make relationships. My mentality was that it would come back around and balance out for me. I wasn’t greedy and just taking, but I was giving with the hopes of reciprocation. Nowadays, I give with no payback in sight and often find myself in random situations offering help that will actually most likely never come back around to me. That is the only true giving I have learned and the truth is the only thing I do get is that I learn new things, meet interesting people and sharpen my brain and reaction to scenarios. Who knows, maybe I’ll need that someday if my life or trajectory changes.

On that note, I wanted to talk about pivoting.  My suggestion is that you not be afraid to pivot and understand that life is long and the die has almost never been cast. You can always change your ways or your circumstances to improve your life if you want to. I went from matcher to giver for sure and I definitely value experience and relationships over material things which is a big pivot from 22-year-old Adam Brown.

Let me run it back:

I only applied to one college, The University of Michigan, and I got in by October of my senior year.  So I coasted after that and just partied and acted like an idiot in college, to be honest. It was fun, but I think I was very off my current personal brand and I wish I could change that up. Unfortunately, you cannot go backward but you can learn, pivot and lean forward.

At college, I decided I wanted to go to Law School so I looked for the best major that would afford me the easiest path to a high GPA and I chose Sociology.  I did the least amount of work possible and earned a 3.5+ GPA. Then, I went to Law School and left after 29 days. My Father (an Eye Doctor mind you) had always told me I needed to go into medicine or law, so I would always have the degree to fall back on. He was taught that way, as are many others, but I decided I had to change course for my own sanity. You only live once, right?

This was 1999, during the Dot-com boom and I got a job at 24/7 Media, knowing nothing about anything really. I went in and just worked my face off, earning two promotions within 11 months. I then left my first job in less than a year (don’t be afraid to do that, people) to become Director of North East Sales at Goto.com (the first PPC search engine, pre-dating Google) at 23, with no experience, but a ton of confidence. I would fly up to Boston and walk into Digitas and Arnold, with a suit that was way too big, very little business acumen to lean on, but no worries at all. I was making good money, working in an industry that was hot and I was flying high. Boy did things change pretty quickly!

I left that job 10 months later (just after 9/11/01) to work with my brother in the mortgage industry, despite having to start at the very bottom (so there would be no trace of nepotism) and commute to Long Island every day, which I did not love. That business flourished, drove big revenue and I learned a ton and met some awesome people along the way.  I was head down, developing skills in sales, management, HR, and business, which was amazing and important for my future, but I was also very insular and not paying enough attention to the rest of the world. After almost 10 years of heavy work, growth, and success, our business suddenly had to close down and while nearly every other person scattered and found new opportunities in that industry (many of whom have flourished over the past decade) I made the move once again to pivot and follow my heart and interests, which has led me here to Sircle and what I am doing now.

I am so thankful for my journey and I vow to continue to invest heavily in the now, BUT will always have an eye on the future. You need to play in the current sandbox well, but also know how to play in the new games too. This way you can find your passion and more importantly be prepared for when the market changes, as it always does. At 42, I have lived thru the Dot-come bust, the financial crisis of 2008 and have learned from the pitfalls of thinking things are great and won’t change. They will!

I own a very successful social media strategy firm, but I didn’t even have a Facebook account until 9/3/2010. You can change your trajectory whenever you want and with hard work, paired with real interest and dedication, you can master a new craft.  I help brands navigate social and digital media in the now, so they can focus on building their business today. The future, with AI, AR, VR, and voice, is going to be very disruptive and interesting and I plan to pivot and be ready…Do you?

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POV: Motion Graphics

When trying to create content that will tell your brand’s story in a compelling way, you need to have assets that stand out from the clutter. User attention span continues to dwindle, so you don’t have much time to make an impact. It is more important than ever before to be clever, creative and concise with your messaging.

Data shows that video outperforms still imagery, but most brands haven’t figured out how to create video content affordably in house. The main reason is that most are thinking longer form and/or live action video, and both come with a higher cost (financial and opportunity).  While we love live action at Sircle Media, the real gold, when it comes to social content, is in motion graphics.

The format can be fun and simple and can be crafted by someone sitting at a desk, rather than off running around with a camera somewhere.  If you have people on your team that are good at it, as we do here at Sircle, then you can be off to the races. Some of our best content, both from a likeability and data POV, are these types of assets. We find that they make stakeholders happy, whether they are brand (ART) or results (SCIENCE) oriented in nature.

A lot of time is spent on branding and packaging, especially with healthy CPG and beverage brands, which is where we spend most of our time and energy. We think it is only logical to bring some of that art to life. Even if your Art Director prefers real imagery and/or live video, remember that the brand is the most important character in your messaging. Bring that brand to life with motion graphics and thank me later.

 

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