Approaching Social Influencers

As I shared with you in a recent article, I have learned that social influencers rule the world . . . or at least the small piece of the world in which they reign (read that story here).  My goal now is to harness this great power – for the benefit of my small business as well as yours.

Replicating Success

My direct experience with social influencers was limited to one feature in which I had no impact on the course of events. (In other words, I had absolutely nothing to do with the success I reaped.) 

A social influencer made a video showing her followers how to create and package vanilla extract (using my label template) as a suggested Christmas gift (watch the full video here). 

However, my logic in formulating an approach to being featured by another social influencer is to try to repeat (as closely as possible) this past success.  I have a play book so to speak, but I need to do all the work this time to get the players in place. . . .

STEP ONE : Make sure your product or service is set up for affiliate marketing.

Since paid placements with social influencers can get pretty pricey, my route of choice is affiliate marketing, in which “an online retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals” (Oxford Languages).  Make sure whatever venue you use for sales supports affiliate marketing.  All of the big ones (like Amazon, Walmart, Etsy) do.  If you sell your products or services through your own channel and don’t already have an automated commission structure in place, you may want to consider utilizing a popular third-party for that purpose.  (The reason the third-party should be a popular one becomes clear in step four.)

STEP TWO : Decide on the right product or service for the time period.

Given our current, heightened focus on hygiene (which I think will last for years to come), I’m thinking DIY hand soap might be an equally popular Christmas gift for neighbors, teachers, mail carriers, etc. 

Always think about holidays.  Of course, Christmas is an obvious one (and you can’t start your planning too early), but lots of other holidays have great potential.  Last week’s Super Bowl Sunday (whether people are quarantining or not) increased sales for many different types of businesses, and this week’s Valentine’s Day is another cause for lots and lots of cha chings.

Relating your product or service to current events is another boon. 

STEP THREE : Seek out a social influencer who is a good fit for your product or service.

A social influencer typically has a brand all of their own, and you want to be sure your two brands are a good match for one another.  For instance, my son’s favorite social influencer plays Roblox on YouTube.  I have an in-depth knowledge of this individual (having overheard many hours of his videos, getting to know him and his favorite games), which is a great bonus, but he unfortunately would not be a good fit for my hand soap labels.  Don’t get me wrong; he’s a resourceful guy, and I’m sure he could make it work, but I’m also sure he gets heaps of partnership offers and would be apt to pick a more ideal choice.

I focused my search by narrowing in on the related item.  I searched google for “diy hand soap recipe” and found a number of influencers who had posted one.  I looked for one that had a good following and had posted the story a while ago . . . and, therefore, could justify re-posting the story in the fall with a Christmas tilt.  

STEP FOUR : Make sure they’ve used affiliate links for your platform before.

Since you’re approaching a quasi-celebrity, you want your proposal to be as easy for them as possible.  Therefore, scan through their previous posts, videos, etc.  Do they ever include affiliate links?  If not, they’re probably not going to start doing so for you.  If they do, what types of sites do they promote?  Have they worked with your third-party before?  If so, you have a much greater likelihood they’ll consider your product or service.

STEP FIVE : Temper your expectations based on the individual’s following.

The problem with the truly famous social influencers is that they are most likely not going to respond to unsolicited proposals.  They already get a ton from big brands, so your average small business isn’t going to be able to influence them.  However, the possibility always exists that you will just happen to be suggesting a product that they were planning to promote in the near future.  Kismet.  Probably not . . . but never entirely dismiss good old fashioned luck working in your favor.  If you’re dying to work with a certain famous someone, give it a go; just don’t get your hopes up. 

(Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/influencer-marketing-report)

If you can get a macro or mega influencer to include your affiliate link, you’ve hit the jackpot . . . though your likelihood of doing so could be just as slim unfortunately.

The mid-tier is your sweet spot.  You want the person to have enough followers that your product or service will have a substantial audience but not so many that they’re completely inundated with requests just like yours.

I certainly wouldn’t disregard micro or nano influencers, but you’ll need to focus on quantity in order to get a similar bang for your buck (in this situation, your effort being your “buck”).

STEP SIX : Spend some time getting to know your chosen influencer.

Once you’ve set your sights on your target (or targets), it’s time to become his or her biggest fan.  Get to know the influencer better.  I wouldn’t just recommend spending a concentrated period scanning previous posts, though that is a good idea, too.  You need to become a follower and immerse yourself in their world for a period of time.

STEP SEVEN : Plan how you will send your pitch.

Instagram messages are the worst as they limit your number of characters per message and automatically insert pictures for any links.  Facebook messages and e-mail are good.  You also want to be sure you’re using a venue in which your message will actually be received. 

STEP EIGHT : Create your pitch.

You have your strategy and you personally (kinda) know your social influencer(s) of choice.  Now the time has come to draft your case.  

  1. Introduce yourself.
  2. Give a specific and thoughtful compliment – what exactly do you love about their personality, blog posts, videos, etc.?  (Bonus if you can tell them that you’ve actually purchased something based on their recommendation.)
  3. Introduce your business and your product or service and explain why you think it’s a match for this individual. 
  4. Include pictures – two should do the trick; maybe a high-quality close-up photo as well as another of your product or service in use.
  5. Describe any tie-ins to an upcoming holiday or current events.
  6. Highlight the benefits for them.  You can include the affiliate commission rate and any sales expectations (based on how well the product has does in similar or even very different promotions).
  7. Give you and your product credibility – include company AND product ratings.
  8. Offer a coupon code or some type of discount specifically for this influencer, if possible.
  9. Make yourself available for follow-up questions.
  10. Thank them for their consideration.

In the near future, I’ll be putting together a couple proposals so you can see a few real-life examples in action.  Stay tuned!

How I Learned Social Influencers Rule the World

It was a normal Tuesday evening a few days before Halloween.  I was answering customers’ questions on my computer, and I heard the usual “cha ching” sound, letting me know I had a sale.  I went to my purchases page and saw a vanilla extract label template was sold, and I sent the customer the customary thank you message that includes some basic instructions.  Then, I heard the “cha ching” again and experienced a little deja vu, since the order was for the same product.  Moments later, one “cha ching” interrupted another, creating an odd “cha cha ching” sound.  All purchases were for the same product.  At this point, I’m thinking to myself, ‘I don’t feel like I’ve had a lot of sales for that item before.’  A quick look at my product statistics confirmed that — since release — that item had only one or two sales per week.  Interrupting my research, “cha ching.” 

I started receiving questions about the item as well, and so I responded with answers to their questions along with a question of my own: “How did you hear about this item?”  I learned that a social influencer on Instagram posted a video about making your own vanilla extract and included my label template. 

I checked out her page (Daryl-Ann Denner at instagram.com/darylanndenner) and saw that she had over 600,000 followers (at that time; now her tally is getting close to 800,000!).  I found the video and watched as Daryl-Ann and her mother (a very likable duo) show how to make vanilla extract and talk about my labels in the process.

(Complete video: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/18125117938087853/)

I have to admit, I felt a bit starstruck.  I acknowledged the silliness; a product of mine was shown on someone else’s Instagram page; big deal.  Enter perspective.  Still, this person had over 600,000 followers, and she included me in her little world.  And in her world, when Daryl-Ann Denner says vanilla extract is a “Best DIY Christmas Gift,” her followers listen.  In that first 24-hour period, there would be over 300 “cha chings” for vanilla extract labels.  Since then, the total count has grown to 2,829 orders at the time of this writing (October 27th through December 29th).  The total sales since originally releasing the item on January 1st, 2020 is 2,865, so a whopping 36 sales had occurred in the ten months prior to the product being featured.

I don’t believe any advertising could have yielded anything close to these results.  So, that’s how I learned that – as the title of this post suggests – social influencers rule the world . . . or at least the small piece of the world in which they reign. 

So how, as small business owners, do we benefit from this recognition?  Obviously, I would love to replicate this success.  And sure, it would be wonderful for another social influencer to simply stumble upon one of my products and decide to feature it, but I don’t think I’m lucky enough for lightning to just strike twice.  I also don’t know if I have the ability to compel lightning . . . but I’m definitely going to try.  I will be spending a good chunk of time researching and doing some trial and error of my own on the best ways to approach social influencers.  If I come up with a winning combination, you will be the first to know!  Stay tuned!