At Tribe Dynamics, we measure the Earned Media Value (EMV) of social media content created by influencers in the Beauty, Fashion, and Lifestyle spaces. EMV is our prescribed metric that quantifies the estimated value of publicity gained through user engagement of digital earned media. We work with some of the fastest-growing brands in the industry to track and analyze online conversations about these brands and their competitors. Our clients often look at the influencer marketing and prodigious ascension of brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills, NYX, and Tarte, and ask us, “How can I do that? Where do I start?”
Over the next several months, members of our research and reporting team will be contributing to a series of articles outlining the building blocks for successful and meaningful influencer marketing. Through a set of core principles and guiding steps, this series aims to share the knowledge we’ve acquired over several years of tracking and analyzing the highest EMV-earning brands.
Step 1: Recognizing Influencers as Valued Consumers
By Deborah Ghim
Navigating the wide world of influencer marketing can be intimidating work. With so many conversations happening in this rapidly growing space, it’s difficult to know how to begin speaking for your brand. The first step of any strategy is to identify and acknowledge your potential brand ambassadors. Here, often the best strategy is also the simplest: listen to those who are already talking about you.
Early this year, natural skincare brand Derma E saw its EMV significantly bolstered by established blogger Carli Bybel, who praised the brand’s gentle, unscented Psorzema Body Wash in her widely followed Youtube videos. In her “January Favorites” video, Carli featured the product as the first item in her beauty and skincare roundup. Confiding in her 4.7M Youtube followers, Carli detailed her personal struggles with eczema and touted Derma E’s Psorzema Body Wash as the only cleanser that helped her condition. In March, the influencer reported that she was now on her third tube of Psorzema, demonstrating genuine loyalty to, and authentic endorsement of, a literally life-changing product.
Chances are, there already exists a community of influencers who buy, use, and share their thoughts about your products. These consumers are particularly valuable because of their natural affinity to the brand, and the resulting authenticity of their content is the foundation on which strong ambassadorship can be built. We recommend that brands enter these conversations sooner rather than later, and most effectively by acknowledging influencers and their opinions in a personalized way. Brands can start the dialogue on their owned media accounts, reposting influencer-created content and making sure to credit creators by tagging them. Derma E, for example, thanked Carli Bybel on its owned Facebook page for featuring its body wash, demonstrating its appreciation for the influencer and likely strengthening her relationship with the brand. As of April 2016, Derma E boasted a 445% year-over-year growth in EMV.
Once a brand has successfully identified its valued consumers, it can further engage these influencers by sending them new products of interest. Product sends are successful outreach initiatives because they recognize loyal influencers, while also facilitating new content creation. In anticipation of the summer heat, haircare brand Bumble and bumble recently gifted vlogger RisasRizos products from its Bb.curl line to help protect her curly hair. This thoughtful gift prompted RisasRizos to purchase the entire line and create a dedicated YouTube review, in which she singled out the Bb.Curl Anti-Humidity Gel-Oil. The influencer also discussed the products that did not work well for her, injecting the content with an authenticity that ultimately strengthened her positive reviews.
It’s important to view these interactions as sustained conversations, as opposed to brand directives, with considerable room for give-and-take. After making initial contact, brands should allow for feedback, and then follow up with genuine interest whenever possible. In this case, we’d recommend that Bumble and bumble thank Risasrizos for her consideration by gifting her additional bottles of the Anti-Humidity Gel-Oil, demonstrating the brand’s propensity to listen, as well as its appreciation of her insight. Thanks in part to its influencer initiatives, Bumble and bumble drove $3.6M EMV in Q2 (between April and June), a 37% growth from Q2 2015.
We’ll say it one more time: listen to your community. Influencers differ from traditional spokespeople in that they are independent thought leaders who have gained their significant followings by the strength of their authentic voice. Identify the individuals who are using those voices to talk about your brand, and engage them in ongoing conversations about their consumer interests. The more that a brand can do to make its influencers feel valued, the more likely they will be to reciprocate in kind. A long-term relationship rooted in mutual appreciation will translate into organic content creation that cuts through the white noise — and speaks volumes about your brand.