Kamari's Note: I got into the PR/Marketing game at a weird time. People were starting to write blogs - myself, included - and brands were starting to send them free stuff. Fast forward a decade, and the entire thing has blown up and people are becoming millionaires all around us. So, I decided to share some quality opinions about how to navigate this world with a little truth. This is part two. (Here is part one)
Ok, I'm going to get really brutally honest here, because I love me some brands and love me some influencers, and I'm praying for the day we all finally come together and do business the right way. So, if you own a business or do marketing for a business and want someone really cool and influential to promote your stuff, listen up.
Paying influencers to promote your stuff is wack. Wack. Wack. Wackity. Wack.
If you are a marketer or entrepreneur and your strategy is to pay people, then send them a canned message and have them stage a photo, you are officially washed. Washed like a rained out baseball game. You did not knock this one out of the park. You just let everyone down in one fell swoop. In the iconic words of Tyra, we were rooting for you. And now, we’re just not.
I know that is harsh, but rest assured, I have made this mistake a million times over as a marketer. And I’ve made the mistake of letting brands pay me to post canned promotional content. I too have been washed.
But, enough is enough. Instagram/Facebook has ruined everything with it’s algorithms, everyone has to use #ad or be carted off to prison, and consumers - meaning the REAL people who we talk about like they’re bots - are over us.
If you actually want to do smart influencer marketing, here’s a few things to consider:
Find The One. Fall in love. Get married.
While some people try to say marriage is also washed, the reality is every marketer trying to build their brand’s awareness needs to reconsider the Love Game. Identifying those niche influencers who genuinely and honestly are obsessed (keyword here: obsessed) with your brand is the absolute way to go. While you may have written your list of target demographics and checked it twice, if there’s someone in the world who isn’t exactly your “ideal match” but literally worships the ground you walk on - give them the time of day and bring them on board as a true ambassador for your brand. The upside - you won’t have to kick them under the table to say nice things about you, their followers will never doubt their genuine love for your brand, and they will offer you the BEST direct feedback on how to grow and improve your product/service. Love those who love you and stop chasing behind someone who is just not right waving your canned messages and multi-thousand dollar contracts. They’re just going to cheat on you with the competitor anyway.
Be a partner. Not a sponsor.
As much as many influencers talk like they’re looking for a “sponsor” for their content, deep down in their core, they’re looking for a partner. Partners help build each other up and glow up together. Sponsors literally throw money at you and leave. If this evokes a committed marriage vs. strip club analogy, good. Because that’s what sponsors do. There’s no love in sponsorships, but rather a means to an end. And frankly, every one feels icky after they watch a sponsorship go down. Example, recently, Lisa Vanderpump (WHO HAS MY HEART. GOD, I LOVE THAT BRITISH QUEEN), let all of her followers down when she posted an Instagram advertisement promoting Fit Tea. As a Brit, human, entrepreneur, multi-millionaire, and all around entertaining woman, everyone was let down by this. No one wants to see a sponsor throwing money at Lisa Vanderpump. “She’s too good for this,” her fans collectively screamed in horror while vowing to hold a lifelong grudge against Fit Tea for cheapening her in that way. Now, imagine what would have happened if our Lisa Vanderpump decided to become a partner at Fit Tea and help them amplify their product line and begin creating more premium teas that fit the lifestyle of a refined woman like herself. We all might have actually stroked our beards like an emoji and thought “Hmm, maybe Fit Tea has some hope.” Bottom line, sponsorships are cheap (yet, they cost your brand a lot). In the words of Jay-Z: “You know what’s more important than spending $30,000 at the strip club (read: sponsoring random influencers)? Credit.” Get your social credit up and become a partner - not a sponsor.
Do campaigns. Full blown campaigns.
Ah, the sweet sound of lazy marketers grumbling. “Campaigns are expensive and why pay for a campaign, Kamari, when you can just have someone do a one-off mention of how great you are.”
Here’s why: You’re single and out with some friends. After brainstorming new places and apps to meet potential mates, someone makes a suggestion. “I know someone who would be great for you. Having been single before, I know what it’s like, and this person changed my life. I’m sure they would change yours… They’ve paid me to share this message with you.” At that point, unless you’re literally willing to do anything for a date, you’re probably not sold. In fact, you’re probably horrified. Did your friend just try to sell you a date in ten seconds and then tell you they were paid to do it? GTFOH. GT ENTIRE FOH. You’ll never take that friend’s advice again. Now, imagine if that same friend mentioned that they’ve been working with someone for a few months now and said person is truly wonderful. And you recall actually hearing this friend tell stories about the person in the past - and in all of the stories the person actually did sound kind of great. So when you friend wraps it up by saying “You should consider giving the person a try,” you probably will be kind of open to it. Why not? Because your friend did a full blown campaign over months of priming you to this one person, so by the time they make the sale, you’re already into it. I don’t think I need to explain then, why influencers need to be given campaigns with brands versus one-off mentions.
The bottom line is in the world of marketing, people are humans. They’re not consumers. They are not followers. They are not idiots. If you really want some of the most respected and popular people on the Internet to spread the news about your brand, show them respect and genuine interest.
And then, thank me later.