Clearly define your objectives. Consumers follow brands that have a purpose. When an Instagram user decides to welcome a specific brand into their newsfeed, it’s because they feel like it adds value to their life on an ongoing basis. The last thing they want is to be inundated with advertisements or product offers. Being a part of their newsfeed is something that is earned over time and is a privilege for businesses. Setting an objective for your Instagram page is the first building block to cultivating a relationship with your audience.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Evy Wilkins, the VP of Marketing at Traackr where she focuses on connecting the company with its prospects, customers and community globally. She’s spent the last 10 years working with emerging technology companies to develop their brands, thought-leadership positions and demand generation machines. Evy has helped define the practice of authentic, relationship-driven influencer marketing that’s at the heart of Traackr’s technology. Prior, Evy worked in global biodiversity conservation and donor relations. A native of Minnesota, Evy’s lived in Europe and Africa. If she’s not doing the heavy lifting in the office, you’ll find her doing the same in the gym.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been interested by the intersection between business and our society. I spent the first phase of my career with non-governmental organizations, personally focused on communications and donor relations for international environmental groups. When I decided to transition to the private sector via graduate business school, I became fascinated by the evolution of marketing and how the practice has adapted, not only to new technologies, but also to new social norms. In the Mad Men era, marketing was one-sided and consumers, for lack of alternatives, received most of their information about products from the companies themselves. What I noticed 15 years ago was that organizations were starting to take stands on important issues in their marketing strategies–simultaneously highlighting shifting societal trends or even sparking them on their own. From my naturally optimistic perspective, the overall evolution of marketing has been for the better. I see the rise of influencer marketing as one example of how businesses are evolving to bring more honesty and compassion to the way brands impact our lives.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
At Traackr, I spend my days working with our amazing community of customers and thought leaders who are redefining marketing within their organizations. Together we are defining the future of social media and influencer marketing, tackling big questions on how to structure marketing teams internally to deliver results in a social media driven world or how to discover and validate influencers in the complex social environment. I also cowrote a book on influencer marketing 🤓.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I’ll share one of the more interesting professional social moments I’ve experienced. A few years ago, I was hanging out on Twitter in the evening and saw a tweet asking a question about creativity at work from Beth Comstock, who was still at GE at the time. I responded, thinking for sure she would not respond and to my utter disbelief, she did! We had a short Twitter conversation during which I felt like I was meeting a celebrity. I imagined Beth was sitting on a plane, jetting from one corner of the globe to another, responding to me! The interaction reinforced all that I love about social media — the ability to connect with people you have never met and have meaningful exchanges.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if it’s funny per se, but the solution certainly was! I used to suffer intense imposter syndrome. I was afraid I didn’t know how to accomplish anything and that because I didn’t already know how, I would never succeed. One day in the midst of a minor panic attack, my partner said, “Come on, there is someplace we have to go.” He wouldn’t tell me where we were headed. Soon we pulled into a Target parking lot and we made our way inside. He still wouldn’t tell me what we were doing there. Eventually we stopped in the toy aisle and he picked up a Captain America’s shield and without a word walked to the cash register, paid and we left. Outside he gave me the shield and told me it would protect me from my fear of failure. I started laughing and realized how the problem was all in my head. I can’t say I’ve never felt imposter syndrome since then, but I certainly have the tools now to squash it.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
It completely depends on your business challenge (e.g. awareness, education, sales), and which platform your audience is on. It’s less about which platform is most effective and more about what type of content and format will appeal more to your audience, as well as your desired action. If you’re evaluating social media when working with consumer products, social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitch are all potentially important. If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn can move the needle.
Instagram and Facebook, for example, have a more obvious call to action in regards to promoting a product and convincing your audience to purchase. YouTube, on the other hand, is typically used to educate and show tutorials to an audience before making a decision to purchase a product.
At Traackr, we work with a variety of global brands across industries on building their influencer marketing programs. Luxury haircare brand amika, for example, worked with Instagram influencers who were great at photography and putting together educational content on YouTube when they relaunched their product line in Sephora. This ultimately drove the influencers’ followers (amika’s target audience) into Sephora to buy their products. This campaign was a great example of matching goals to the content to achieve it.
Guess Jeans has also seen a lot of engagement and mentions on Twitch, which is traditionally a platform for streamers in the gaming industry.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
- Clearly define your objectives. Consumers follow brands that have a purpose. When an Instagram user decides to welcome a specific brand into their newsfeed, it’s because they feel like it adds value to their life on an ongoing basis. The last thing they want is to be inundated with advertisements or product offers. Being a part of their newsfeed is something that is earned over time and is a privilege for businesses. Setting an objective for your Instagram page is the first building block to cultivating a relationship with your audience.
- Establish a voice. The foundation to creating a solid brand presence on Instagram is to have an authentic voice along with some great visual aesthetics. Instagram users are visual creatures. In fact, 94% of people respond more to content with more visuals. If you don’t have these basics down, the harder it’ll be for you to succeed.
- Tell a story over time. Each individual post should be thought out. If you want to have an eye-popping Instagram page, it’s important to treat each post as part of a unique story that will intrigue your audience. Ask yourself: what type of story can you tell over time? Without a story tied to your post, your audience will start to get bored if they start seeing the same content all the time, resulting in less followers and less brand visibility for your business.
- Be interactive. Instagram is more than just a social media platform — it’s a community. Many brands and consumers join the social media platform for a variety of reasons. From sharing ideas on what outfits to wear to bonding over memes, users are constantly interacting with each other within the subsets of their communities and with other brands. Thinking beyond your own content calendar by focusing on how to insert yourself into other conversations can have massive results for your brand visibility. There are eight million business profiles on Instagram’s platform with over 80 percent of accounts that follow a business, and being interactive on another brand’s page is a surefire way to get on others’ radar.
- Think outside of the box when it comes to influencer partnerships. Going back to amika’s Sephora relaunch, they found a way to think outside of the box on their influencer marketing strategy. By teaming up with beauty influencers who shopped at and talked frequently about Sephora, they were able to drive their target consumers into Sephora stores, which resulted in exceeded sales goals. It is also important to maintain an authentic relationship with influencers in the process. Oftentimes, many brand marketers make the mistake of working with influencers they have no relationship with on one-off campaigns that result in a lower ROI. Inauthentic influencer marketing or pushing influencers to do something outside their natural affinity is a guaranteed way to lose their audience.
- Diversify your influencer portfolio. An old assumption of influencer marketing is the more followers an influencer has, the bigger and better reach. However, this statement has proven to be false. Working with household names, celebrities or influencers on the basis of a high follower count is a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t deliver. Recognizing the value that each influencer has — no matter the size of their following — is an important factor when diversifying your portfolio. For instance, celebrity influencers with millions of followers can raise brand awareness, whereas working with micro, nano and mid-sized influencers is where you can achieve higher engagement and potentially conversions. Marketers shouldn’t put all their budget into one influencer, but instead spread out their content and partnerships to achieve a better ROI.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I have three movements that I’d love to contribute more too. 1) Empowering women and establishing true equal rights. 2) Redefining our society’s relationship with food by helping people understand how nutrition impacts their health. 3) Inspiring people to embrace their creativity, try new things and solve tough problems.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Going back to my interesting social media story, I would love to meet Beth Comstock, talk to her about her work to empower people to embrace their creativity in the workplace and beyond; and explore ideas for how we can do even more to evolve the way people work and approach innovation.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!