Influencer marketing, was the advertising and P.R. buzz-phrase of 2017. Here we are more than halfway through 2018 and the practice has only been growing and evolving and showing no sign of abating. Demonstrable success stories — where the right influencer met the right brand — got the ball rolling, and the best marketers have been growing ever-more imaginative since. While a long-teased notion, one of the key codes to social media’s long-promised marketing potential has been cracked.
StatSocial, our social media audience insights tool, is crucial for any marketer — veteran or newcomer — seeking to integrate influencers into their campaigns. If you’ve gone to bat at the influencer plate before and struck out, StatSocial can get your eye squarely on the ball. If venturing down the influencer marketing path is a new strategy for you, it need not be a blind experiment. The literally thousands of insights StatSocial will put at your disposal — knowing the likes, leanings, loyalties, and personalities of any social media audience about which you’re curious, and of which you can dream up — will have you knowing more about the influencers with whom you’re considering a partnership, and the audiences to whom they’re communicating, than the influencers know themselves (unless they use StatSocial already, natch).
We’ll help you get your message to the audiences who will be most receptive to it. This we’ll do while helping you to preserve and stretch out your marketing resources.
On platforms from Instagram to YouTube to Snapchat to any and all social media, including blogs. The growth potential contained within this direct marketing approach is enormous, as social media users pay attention to quality influencers as never before.
These days young people, long a highly desirable demographic to countless brands, largely engage with entertainment, news, and celebrity via Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and Snapchat as much if not more than they do through TV and movies. Studies have shown that despite PewDiePie and Colleen Ballinger being multi-millionaires, and likely more famous than most of those starring on the major network’s current primetime schedules, young people are considerably more receptive to endorsements made by YouTube personalities than they are to those coming from the mouths of so-called “mainstream celebrities.”
Boomers and Gen-X-ers, are each active on social media to a huge degree. StatSocial can help guide you to a diversified array of influencers across all platforms, so — if appropriate for your brand — no generational stone is left unturned.
For those who are entirely new to social media, or have maintained a corporate presence across platforms, but have not really used it as a means of aggressive marketing, StatSocial is the first tool you should have in your kit before branching out. If you have used social media to market your brand in a proactive way, or have even been successfully employing influencer-based strategies for years, StatSocial can still enhance and expand your reach in ways you never believed possible.
So why the influencer marketing buzz?
Because it works.
Experiments in enlisting the services of “internet celebrities” to endorse one product or another have been going on since the ’90s. Sometimes these partnerships were discreet and other times they were overt (the former is no longer an option, which we’ll get into below). The internet was a much smaller playing field back then, but for certain products (say those that were tech-related, or those related to genre entertainment) the people most inclined to be excited by them — if anyone was to be excited at all — had already begun to congregate here.
Fast forwarding through the boring history lesson… Past the internet’s “gold rush” stage and the bubble burst, and the subsequent rise and crystallization of what they once called Web 2.0, driven as it was (and still is) by a then new user-generated content model, then the rapid exponential growth in the capabilities of mobile technology, and the coming and going of certain platforms, and the coming and staying of certain others… Let’s leap ahead to about 2007. By that time one of the platforms that came and still remains was YouTube, a platform that revolutionized the internet as much as any. First launched in 2005 and purchased by Google in 2006.
So many memes have come and gone — gratefully there are websites dedicated to cataloging them all, so that review will be skipped here — but in 2007 a particularly profound video appeared on YouTube. Its mere existence commanded that it go viral immediately. It was bizarre, infectious, and enigmatic and it spread like wildfire. That video was by a performer who went by the name of Tay Zonday, and in it he was singing his original composition “Chocolate Rain.”
The video has received over 115 million views to date.
Within months of the initial “Chocolate Rain” phenomenon exploding, Dr. Pepper enlisted the services of Mr. Zonday to help launch their then new Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper. The clip contrasted the simple production values of the original, and the eternally boyish appearance of its then 25-year old star, with the high, glossy production values of a bling-centric Hip Hop video.
The marketers behind this campaign took what at that time had to be a risk. They brilliantly harnessed a bona fide internet sensation, striking while his iron was red hot, and exposing a product to millions in a way that commanded viewers’ engagement. Simply inspired.
While not the numbers of the memetic masterpiece which inspired it, this commercial all the same received a very impressive 15 million views. We’d imagine that whatever it cost, Dr. Pepper considered the whole venture money well-spent.
Zonday is in reality an exceedingly articulate, self-aware, and thoughtful man, whose real name is Adam Nyerere Bahner (and who at 35 looks exactly as he did 11 years ago). Bahner, who expounded on the topic of now vs. then in a recent CNN interview astutely observed that in those pioneering days, social media operated on a “novelty economy.” He contrasted that with today, where he opined that it is now driven by a “loyalty economy.”
Which brings us to the topic at hand.
That was 11 years ago, what have you (meaning influencer marketing) done for me lately?
We’ll provide two examples.
First, the story of the birth of a super-influencer, and an immensely successful campaign with which he’s involved. Then for contrast, a contemporary campaign featuring another influencer, with an approach that could not be more different from how brands have utilized the gentleman in our first example.
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New Orleans born, Palestinian-American Hip-Hop producer, DJ Khaled was known and quite successful when he first started using Snapchat. During a month long break from touring he decided to use the app to broadcast an array of content ranging from the most mundane of his daily routines to ruminating in a manner meant to motivate his audience, expounding on what it takes to be successful in this life. Which, incidentally, by any measure, Khaled already was. What he could not have predicted is that Snapchat would make him vastly more wealthy and famous than he’d ever imagined he could be. Snapchat users, whether they were Hip Hop fans or not, fell in love with Khaled.
He is now frequently referred to as the “King of Snapchat,” and the one who really first figured out the marketing potential of the platform. He had, after all, managed to use the platform — whether accidentally or not — to market himself into being a bona fide superstar. This has led to extremely lucrative partnerships with likes of Weight Watchers. A zaftig gentleman (becoming less and less so), his diet and exercise programs and his weight-loss progress have been recorded and shared with his millions of social media followers.
Nick Offerman’s ‘Yule Log’
A couple of Christmas seasons’ past, an oft-cited example of influencer marketing genius came courtesy of Diageo, the British alcohol producer behind the Scottish Lagavulin and Oban whisky brands. They partnered with Nick Offerman, former co-star of ‘Parks and Recreation,’ noted among his fans for being a skilled woodworker, boat builder, and generally masculine in useful and traditional ways. He’s traded on this manly image as schtick, and in turn Diageo traded on it to create a very dignified, contemplative, yet virile holiday message. Forty-four minutes of Nick sitting in front of a fireplace, saying nothing, and looking into the camera thoughtfully. Every once in a while taking a sip from his glass of whisky. To date the clip has received over three-million views.
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Back to StatSocial
The Offerman and Khaled examples are more conventional celebrity endorsements than an influencer-led initiative needs to be, or bluntly can be for many brands. Smaller influencers can work just as well, if not better, if they have the right audience. StatSocial — a social media insights platform by design, and the best one, well, also by design — is the tool for zeroing in on that audience precisely.
The examples of how these two influencers have been used by their partners juxtapose nicely. They show two radically different approaches. Khaled got over by being Khaled. It was the window into his life, and his outsized but sincere personality that sucked people into his orbit. The Offerman promotion was arch and high concept..
Both illustrate influencer partnership success.
To the newcomer, or those whose previous adventures in influencer marketing failed to impress
For a long while now, since long before the start of this decade when the buzzword influencer became common parlance, the social media sector has been glutted with would-be experts, gurus, ninjas, rock stars, disruptors, and, well, you get the idea.
Businesses — particularly those that have been around for a while, or for which a digital strategy wasn’t all that necessary until very recently — know that in some way they should be employing social media in their marketing. They don’t, however, understand how social media works in a marketing context.
It hardly reflects poorly on a brand’s management for them to be lacking in such knowledge. No matter a company’s products, goods, or services, no matter the size of their business, and whatever the stage in the business’ growth they are, there are a million moving pieces with which management has to concern itself. Naturally, good leaders delegate. They hire experts.
Management comprehends the business they’re in. Be it cameras, or clothing, or baked goods. They don’t necessarily understand all of the ins and outs of how the machines that bake and box their cookies work. If for some reason the person they’ve hired to supervise that side of things hasn’t a clue what they’re doing, though, they’ll likely know inside of a week. While not ideal, the problem is all the same quickly identified and rectified.
The would-be gurus seize upon the fact that many of these well-run businesses are at the mercy of experts when it comes to what is still uncharted territory for a lot of them. Success and failure in the social media realm can be difficult to measure without a tool like StatSocial. One that, over time, will tell you not only that your audience is growing, but what kind of audience it’s growing into. In addition to the demographics you’d expect, we can tell you what any audience you choose to analyze likes, and to what degree, and how that compares to the affinities of the average social media user. From laundry detergent to sports teams, from casinos to makes of fishing tackle (and so on, and so on).
If a brand wants big, sweeping topline stats we have those, and they’re more accurate, up to date, and detailed than what you’ll find anywhere else. They’re 70mm, Technicolor, and 3D. If you want minutia, then you are in for a treat. Pop some popcorn, dig your heels in, and set about uncovering the heart and soul of any audience that tickles your curiosity. StatSocial has been up to that task for years.
StatSocial is not a tool for weeding out the “bad guys.” Our platform reports statistics. It is impartial. What it will most help any marketer to do is tune in the signal and block out the noise. Influencers that would be great for many brands may not be right for you. StatSocial can save a lot of time and energy, helping to rule out influencers quickly, so you can focus on the ones who you believe would fit best with your needs.
How well do you know your own audience?
Do you know who your brand’s current fans are? Do you want to expand your audience to appeal to a more diverse swath of humanity than that to which your brand is already appealing? Or do you believe it behooves you to double-down and really shoot for being the go-to brand for the type of audience you’re already attracting? Marketers will have their own questions, but before dedicating time, energy, and resources to any marketing plan you should understand the audience you’ve already got.
Spending time with the mountains of insights StatSocial provides regarding your existing social audience — particularly if it’s of any appreciable size at all — is an essential preliminary step to take before proceeding down any social media marketing path.
If your company is profitable, or you otherwise don’t have to implement a “Hail Mary” marketing plan yesterday, then taking a moment to go on a fact-finding mission, researching as much as possible, being thorough in your due diligence — with StatSocial one of your primary references — is just good sense.
Trial and error is perhaps an unavoidable part of implementing any new strategy, but we know that the cost of error can run up rather quickly. Consult with experts and colleagues, observe and research any influencer with whom you think your brand might be a good fit. But do know that these steps are just kicking the tires and going for a test drive. Only with StatSocial can you actually look under the hood.
A broad and clear example of the kinds of things you might see when looking under the hood
Below is one of literally thousands of possible examples of how StatSocial could inform how a marketer might proceed if they were to seek an influencer partnership.
The best place to start, as stated above, is learning about your own audience. Once you get past the basics — age, sex, earnings, education, geolocation — investigating for which influencers your existing audience is already showing the strongest affinities seems a natural. This graphic is an edited image, mocked up to illustrate a point. The stats reflected within this hypothetical are not necessarily accurate to the corresponding influencer.
For clarity, the above graphic is edited to fit within the context of this entry. Our incredibly tidy, sightly, and easy-to-use web platform is more pleasing to the eye — and we encourage you to head over to StatSocial to check out some samples, and see for yourself.
A thing to note in the above is how one piece of information contained within our insights might change an entire marketing plan, or at least broaden its parameters. A marketer may have made certain assumptions about their brand’s audience to which, say, Mike Pence or Joel Osteen could add a compelling and unexpected nuance.
Either might potentially represent avenues of influence to cultivate. While we’re certain that Vice President Pence is not available for influencer marketing partnerships, and we’re also pretty sure that Reverend Osteen is not likely to stare into a camera sipping whisky for 44 minutes, these are still insights most marketers would want to know about. They are but the tiniest yet broadest examples of the kind of StatSocial insights that could open up entire marketing avenues for a brand, finding it in a partnership with an influencer of a sort they’d never have previously considered.
It should be added that there are many lenses through which our data can be viewed and sorted. Many of our metrics highlight not just the largest raw number of an audience’s members who share an affinity, but the largest proportion. Simply by sorting a list of affinities this way, StatSocial can reveal an audience’s heart. In keeping with the point above, it can also help lead you to a more specialized influencer, perhaps less obvious to some marketers, who would be the perfect fit for your brand.
To close, a two-fer: First, a crucial thing to keep in mind — for a couple of reasons — before embarking upon an influencer marketing campaign. Second, another small, scratching-the-surface example, this time of the kind of insight you might seek out when sizing up how influential an influencer actually is.
We assume if you’re reading this you’re already well aware, but no harm in repeating it. As of April 2017, as this manner of marketing started to become irrefutably commonplace, the Federal Trade Commission made it clear — via “educational” letters sent to a number of high profile “influencers” — that the same transparency of association long required of radio, television, and print, in the interest of truth in advertising, also applied to the internet.
An influencer is, as always, free to praise, say, a favorite brand of platform clogs. If it is found out, however, that the influencer received remuneration from the clog manufacturer for his or her endorsement? It could be like the 1950s payola and quiz show scandals all over again.
An additional thought on how these transparency regulations increase the importance of thorough due diligence: When it comes to transparency the onus is ostensibly on the influencer to disclose to his or her audience the nature of his or her relationship to your brand. Should this influencer turn out to be disreputable, or problematic in any of a million ways we’ll leave it to the reader to imagine, that will ultimately reflect poorly on your brand. That you partnered with this individual voluntarily, in what’s a crowded and highly competitive influencer marketplace where your choices were plentiful, it could suggest that either you were hasty in choosing with whom to associate, or that you jumped into a partnership without doing your homework first.
This transparency regulation can make utilizing StatSocial to research a potential influencer partner easier than it already would have been.
Let’s say for giggles that — due to the FTC’s regulations — you were able to learn that an influencer about whom you’re curious was partnered with a brand of ice cream. Let’s call it, Price Scheme. Over a six month period numerous posts were made directly from this influencer touting the virtues of Price Scheme, they mentioned the brand in their vlogs and on their podcast. Across numerous platforms, this influencer also shared content from Price Scheme’s social media pages, and so on.
Using our StatSocial platform you can check for yourself with what ice cream brands this particular influencer’s audience exhibits the greatest affinities. As before, the below graphic is edited for this entry, and we encourage you to head over to StatSocial to check out some samples of what the platform really looks like.
Sometimes there may only be four, or however many or few items on a list. Here there are only four as we’re making a point. It could be 40. If Price Scheme isn’t on the list, then that’s a red flag.
Or, even more alarmingly, perhaps the audience you’re examining isn’t very into ice cream at all! WHAT KINDS OF PEOPLE ARE THESE?!
Indeed here, in this hypothetical, it seems this audience is quite enthusiastic about the ice cream brands it likes, making Price Scheme’s absence all the more conspicuous.
Maybe Price Scheme is not a good brand. If that’s the case, then do you want to associate with an influencer who would partner with a shoddy brand and try to foist it on his or her audience? Or, perhaps the influencer loved the product, and his or her audience just didn’t care for it. Just as possible, the audience never tried it.
The insights available through our platform are suitably ample, and easily enough navigated that whatever questions arise as a result of one insight can be followed up in countless different ways by searching through the hundreds of other relevant insights StatSocial makes available.
It’s highly unlikely that this is the last StatSocial will be commenting on this topic, as this is the marketing side of social media — the side with which we’re intimately involved — truly beginning to take shape.