How did a small business quadruple revenue in less than a year using influencer marketing?
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, influencer marketing consultant Shane Barker recounts how he helped grow Zoe Rodriguez's online fitness business ZBodyFitness from $400,000 to $1.6 million in sales in less than a year through the exclusive use of influencer marketing tactics.
This week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast is brought to you by our sponsor, IMPACT Live, the most immersive and high energy learning experience for marketers and business leaders. IMPACT Live takes place August 6-7, 2019 in Hartford Connecticut and is headlined by Marcus Sheridan along with special guests including world-renowned Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith and Drift CEO and Co-Founder David Cancel. Inbound Success Podcast listeners can save 10% off the price of tickets with the code "SUCCESS".
Some highlights from my conversation with Shane include:
Shane worked with fitness consultant Zoe Rodriguez on an influencer marketing campaign that took her revenue from $400,000 to $1.6 million in just about a year's time.
The development of a good influencer marketing campaign is more time intensive than most people think and involves research on the front end to ensure the influencer is the right fit and can deliver results.
Shane uses an influencer marketing software called Grin that enables him to search for hashtags and find influencers that are a good match.
He also uses GroupHigh to identify blogging influencers.
Once Shane identifies an initial list of potential influencers for a campaign, he goes and reviews their profiles, looks at engagement levels and what other products they've worked with, and what the reactions have been to gauge how effective they would be for his campaign.
He also looks for influencers who are excited to work with the brand he represents, have done their homework, and have specific ideas for how to structure a campaign that will resonate with their audience.
Shane puts together written agreements with all influencers that he works with that specify how the campaigns will be structured, what hashtags will be used, and requires that all FTC regulations be followed. The contracts also specify that the brands will be able to use the content created by the influencer in other ways.
One thing to watch out for when developing relationships with influencers is fake followers. Shane reviews how an influencer's followership has grown and if there are specific spikes, he will ask what they are attributed to. If the influencer doesn't have a good answer, it might be because they are buying followers - something you should definitely steer away from.
Influencer marketing is regulated by the FTC, which requires that influencers be transparent in letting their audiences know when they are promoting something for which they are getting compensated.
Not all companies/products are right for influencer marketing. There needs to be some sort of "wow factor" to really generate big ROI.
Resources from this episode:
Save 10% off the price of tickets to IMPACT Live with promo code "SUCCESS"
Listen to the podcast to learn how Shane used micro-influencers to get insane marketing results for his clients - and how you can too.
Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm Kathleen Booth, your host, and today my guest is Shane Barker, who is a branded influencer consultant. Welcome Shane.
Shane Barker (Guest):Hey. Thanks for having me. I'm excited about being on the podcast today.
Shane and Kathleen recording this episode
Kathleen: Yeah. So branded influencer consultant. Can you tell my audience a little bit more about exactly what that is, what you do and how you got to do this?
About Shane Barker
Shane: Yeah. So I've been in the digital space for 20 plus years. And I kind of started off in SEO and digital marketing and it just kind of progressed to a point where about six or seven years ago -- I think we're gonna probably talk about this a little later on the podcast -- I had a client that reached out to me and said they were looking for somebody to help them with some social media marketing. And so we did a call. Well, it ended up turning into influencer marketing.
And so that kind of is how I jumped into this space, and that's how I've really ... It's catapulted me to where I'm at today. And this is probably seven years ago of the influencer and brands that would reach out to me and talk about wanting to figure how they can work together, or how they would find influencers. Or influencers, how do they work with brands?
I also do the digital strategy side of things. The influencer side of things has been interesting because I actually teach a class at UCLA, which is a personal branding/how to be an influencer course. And so because I was one of the originals talking about it, and once again it was just kind of an original thing where they came out to me and said, "Hey, would you want to teach a class at UCLA?" And when UCLA knocks on your door, you don't say no.
So I was out there teaching a course. So it's been really interesting, especially over the last few years because of how it's morphed and how it's changed and like anything in marketing, it's become more mature and it's kind of ... I'm excited to tell the story here on the podcast.
Kathleen: Yeah. One of the reasons I was really excited to have you one is that, I don't do influencer marketing, I'm much more on the content marketing side of things, but I have dabbled in it.
So one, I would say, serious dabbling instance that I had, was for a client campaign back in, I want to say it was 2015 or 2016. And that one campaign was so successful that we won the first ever client campaign of the year award that HubSpot gave out.
And it was an accident. We didn't mean to do influencer marketing but we kind of stumbled upon this perfect opportunity, and it was amazing to watch what happened. I think the client's social media, lead from social media, grew by 12,000% in one month, because of this campaign. It was so crazy.
And I remember, "Well, damn. That worked pretty well, but I didn't honestly know what I was doing." So, I'm really interested to kind of pick your brain and learn ...
I know you've had some really great successes with it and to learn what you've done in those cases, but also as you say, how it's evolving. Because it is changing a lot in recent years.
Shane: Yeah. This is funny about influencer marketing is, it really comes down to once you find the perfect product or service and you find those perfect influencers, and you put out the perfect message ... Of course, everything, now this doesn't have to be perfect, but when those moons align, it is absolutely crazy.
It can be one of those things where your equation, where you look at this and go, "Wow, my client's going to be happy. And now I've got a great case study. And I'm winning HubSpot Awards." And so, that's always a good thing.
Influencer Marketing for Zoe Rodriguez
Kathleen: Yeah. So let's talk about some of the actual campaigns you've run that have really yielded great results. I know when you and I first spoke, you talked about one particular client, I believe her name was Zoe, who did really well with it. Can you maybe take us back and tell that story?
Shane: Yeah. Definitely. So her name's Zoe Rodriguez. She has a company called Build a Better Booty. So do the math on that. She's a fitness instructor. And so she's been doing that ...
She reached out to me, I think about six years ago now, and she was the one that said, "Hey. I'm looking for some ... I do my own content. I'm really looking to do more advertising. I really wanna increase my sales."
And so, just to be extremely honest, when she reached out to me, I thought, "Oh, here we go. We have some kind of a fitness person selling fitness products." I wasn't super excited about it 'cause I was just thinking, "Oh. Here we go. It's a lot of fitness people out there. There's nothing really to disrupt the space." A push-up is a push-up. A sit-up is a sit-up. Right?
So I wasn't really too excited about it. Except when I did the call with her and we were talking about ... I said, "Well, tell me a little bit about your products that you have." And she says, "Well, I have three main products. One is sexy arms. One is sexy legs. And one is sexy booty. Or build a better booty."
So I was like, "Oh, okay. That's kind of interesting." And I said, "So which one is your best seller?" And she goes, "Well, build a better booty." And I said, "Okay sounds good." I said, "Well, what are your sales right now?" And she goes ... She goes, "Really not that good." She goes, "I've only sold maybe like 10,000 of them." And this is at $20 a piece. So I'm like, "Okay. That's $200,000." I said what about-
Kathleen: So really not that bad.
Shane: Right. I'm like, "Okay." She's like 22 years old. Her overhead is a gym membership. But in her mind she was like, "I've really got to figure this out 'cause I'm just not doing good." And I was like, "She just doesn't know what she has."
So, I said, "Well, what about sexy arms?" And she goes, "That one's even worse. That one's 5,000." And I'm like, "That's another $100,000. We're still doing well."
And I go, "Well, what about the other ones? The sexy arms?" And she goes, "Yeah. That one's 5,000 too." And I'm on a call with this girl, 22 years old. Overhead is literally a $100 gym membership in West Palm Beach. I mean, nothing else other than that.
She had no marketing team. She was doing all the content. She had really built up her social media following through Instagram from zero to, at that point, she was at 180,000 followers.
And so on this call, $400,000. That's awesome. I have a lead magnet on my website that I'm asking for an email address and I can't seem to get an email address, but yet she has $400,000 in cash that she's pulling in. And she's like, "I don't know what I can do better 'cause I just can't seem to be doing that well."
And I'm like, "Last time I checked $35,000 a month is not too bad for what you're doing," considering she was just documenting her life and what she was doing in regards to her. Before and after pictures were the big seller with the influencer marketing.
It blew me away. So I instantly thought she was probably ... Like I was gonna get on the team and be a part of some Russian credit card fraud ring or something. It didn't make sense to me. I honestly thought there's gotta be something not right about this. Anytime something seems too good to be true, I get nervous.
So I really looked into it. And there was nothing wrong. I was looking at what she was doing, I looked at her before and after pictures, I looked at her content, interviewed her a few more times, and finally realized that it was gonna be a good fit for us. And she was-
Kathleen: Yeah, there's just an insane number of women who wanna have better arms, legs, and booties apparently.
Shane: That's it. That is it. Who doesn't, right? There's always that, especially because you know in the media and all that kind of stuff. So there's hot times when everybody does ... And this is the thing, is if everybody started fitness and continued with fitness, then we would just all be fit. You would never stop, right? Everything is awesome. The thing is, is we always fluctuate. We have this and that, or we have things that happen in our lives; we eat more, we eat less, we get focused, we don't get focused. So there's always a time for fitness to come back in your life.
So that's where Zoe came in, is that she would come out with these new programs.
So obviously right around bikini time for women, it's like, "Ah I gotta get ready." So you'd have this major push. Or the first of the year, or whatever that is. There was these every four months really, we had these cycles where people would wanna come back on and wanna get serious again. "I wanna get in a group, I'm motivated."
And Zoe had a very female-centric audience. So she'd built that from the beginning. And on her Instagram she's not shy about posting pictures of her body. So she'd have guys that would say stuff and then she would instantly slam them, and then the whole group would slam a guy for coming in and saying something inappropriate, then they would block him.
So she had this very, very I guess kind of organic kind of authentic group that she had built, that really was supporting her and her journey. But was also really excited about her transformation.
'Cause she was a runner, so she literally had no booty, right? And then she started doing her squats and lunges, and a year or two later, she had a big booty.
So the girls were like, "Oh my God, this is me today, and this is what I wanna be like in two years." So they saw that. And once again, that was for fitness before and after pictures that people can recognize and look at and go, "Okay," and were relatable.
Anyways, so we rebranded everything for Zoe. We redid her website, her logo, all of her e-books. She had done a good job with what she had done, but we were obviously gonna come in and revamp all that.
And the end of the story is we took her from $400,000 to $1.6 million in just about a year's time.
Shane: And that was just rebranding and all the stuff we did. And everything was done through influencer marketing.
We tried SEO, we did some PPC, and nothing performed anywhere close to as it did with influencer marketing. Because once again, Zoe had a great story, she had built this audience, and people really thought of her as a very genuine person that talked about the ups and the downs of losing weight. And she would eat some food and take a picture of her food baby. She was just really authentic with what she had did, and wanted to see people be successful.
And it was interesting because Zoe was not only a brand, as in ZBody Fitness, but she was also an influencer because she had a good following.
So at that time is when we were getting pitched by the tummy tea, and "drink tea and you can lose weight," all these kind of -- I'm not gonna say gimmicky, but probably gimmicky -- products. You're not gonna drink tea and lose weight.
So we're getting pitched on that side of things, and Zoe was very adamant about not taking on any products that weren't gonna be good products. You have this miseducation of, "Hey you go and drink tea, you'll lose five pounds."
I've drank a lot of tea in my day, and I've never lost five pounds.
Kathleen: I drink tea all day long, and let me just tell you, all it does is make you pee more.
Shane: We've been doing research our wholes lives on this, and this hasn't worked. So that's kinda the deal is, is her audience knew that she wasn't going to promote a product that she didn't believe in.
So we didn't promote a lot of products because we wanted to make sure, once again, that it was aligned with her audience and it made sense to do that.
We got her up to over just under half-a-million followers on Instagram. But we spent about $300,000 in influencer marketing.
We did this before software. I always joke around, we used these things called Excel spreadsheets. So if you have any millennials that are listening, they might not even know what that is. Now there's software that can do that, but these Excel spreadsheets is what we used.
And I had this crazy system, 'cause I was talking with influencers and negotiating with influencers through email, through WhatsApp, through all these applications. And I would have to remember who I told what, and there was just a lot of moving pieces to the whole project.
But the cool part about it, is that I was one of ... Not first people, but ... Well I have to say I probably was one of the first people that started talking about influencer marketing and how we were doing it. And what was the successes of it, and the failures, and what we had seen, and how things have gone great, and didn't go great, and what that was.
So I just wanted to kinda educate people. Because it just blew me away. I thought for sure we'd have some good PPC sales, which PPC's a little difficult because of, once again, the before and after pictures. Facebook doesn't allow a lot of that, and Google don't allow a lot of that, because of the potential of a, not racy picture, but they can be somewhat questionable sometimes.
Shane: They're real strict when it comes to those regulations, when it comes to putting the ads up.
So anyways, but yeah, influencer marketing was really how we really went to the next level. And we've also bundled some of her packages. 'Cause since she sells an e-book, it doesn't cost anything to send a PDF file, right? So she had a really fixed cost there in regards to hey it's $5,000 to get the videos together, the content and everything, and now here we go.
And it's like well what if we, instead of charging them $20 for an e-book, why don't we charge them $50 and give them all five e-books? Give them a 50% discount, and what is that? That's the same email, except we're adding four more attachments to it.
So we learned that as well, so we were able to get the cost from $20 to $35 was now the average. So there was just some things that we did that made sense.
You can't necessarily do that if you're selling shirts. If you sell five shirts, you have X cost for each shirt, so you can't do that. But with a PDF file, it's zero cents after I've already paid for everything. So it's like why not get that out there?
So there was some cool stuff that we did there. And then we built out her email list and all that with Infusionsoft, so that was pretty tricky, some of the stuff we did there on behavioral marketing. But influencer is what drove it. That was 99% of our business, was done through influencer marketing.
Developing An Influencer Marketing Strategy
Kathleen: So now, as you mentioned, she herself was somewhat of an influencer even when you first started working with her. But you worked with other influencers to really amplify her reach.
Can you talk a little bit about in that case, and then also sort of generally, when you look at doing an influencer marketing campaign and you know you have a client that wants to get in front of the bigger audience, what is the process that you use for identifying who those influencers are, or who you want to bring on board for the campaign?
Shane: Yeah, for us, the one thing that people don't realize with influencer marketing is it is very time-intensive if done correctly.
So a lot of people think, "Hey I just go grab an influencer that's got a million followers, we negotiate a deal, I give them some free product or send them money, they put up a picture, and then millions of dollars come in, and then I go and retire." There's a lot of steps in between there before the million dollars and the retirement.
So what we look at is now there's a lot of software, back in the day we would just go look at influencers and kind of look at the engagement we thought was good, and kind of look at some things. There still is the eyeball test that needs to happen. But we use software, like Grin is one of the softwares that we use, where you can go in and-
Shane: Yeah, Grin is a good one. G-R-I-N.co, is the website. And you can go in there and look for hashtags. So you can look up yoga instructor, you can look up whatever. You can do city searches, you can do that kinda stuff where you're really gonna try to find that person.
Like as an example, you have a yoga product, you wanna find a yoga instructor, you put hashtag yoga in there, and you can put Los Angeles area, and then you have a list of people that will pop up for that. And they have the engagement-
Kathleen: And that's just for influencers, is that right?
Shane: Yeah. That's mainly like let's say YouTube, or mainly on Instagram is where I do most of my influencer marketing.
And then there's other platforms that you can use for if you're looking for bloggers, GroupHigh is another one we use if you're looking for bloggers. So that could be for food bloggers, or any type of blogger that does an unwrapping, unveiling, does blog posts, anything like that.
And then there's other platforms out there for YouTube as well. And then there's for Facebook and Twitter and all that as well.
But most of my influencer campaigns I do are on Instagram, just 'cause we've had some great successes there, for that lifestyle, like everybody looks at. "I wanna be like that, I wanna do that, I wanna have that life. So I'm willing to buy that product or service."
Kathleen: Yeah. So you use these platforms, and are you ... Influencer marketing runs such a wide gambit.
You have these micro-influencers who, for example on the case of the campaign I ran, it was a LASIK eye surgeon looking to reach potential patients in a very hyper-local area. So we were going after somebody who had local reach, which is a very different ballgame than if you're trying to really go national or even international.
You have people like the Kardashians who, gosh, I just finished recently watching the two Fyre Festival documentaries about all the money that was paid to influencers for that. And that's crazy, crazy, crazy money.
And there's so much in between. So when you're trying to wrap your head around this, you've got these software platforms that will help you find people.
So are you looking and trying to match their audience demographics with the demographics that your client is trying to reach? And then from a budgeting standpoint how do you even start to plan for that?
Shane: Yeah. So we do. So we look at the software, and we'll pull a list.
So let's say we want 50 influencers, and let's say it's all in Los Angeles area, as an example. So what we'll do is we'll pull let's say 250. We go and evaluate them. I'll take a look at them.
And what we'll do is I'll actually go and look at their profiles as well. 'Cause there's a lot of different ways to game software. You can add likes and comments and emojis, and all this other fun stuff. So we actually go and look at the content. 'Cause for us, we're looking for a long-term relationship.
So that's where we use software as a way, we pull them down. And then we go, and I go ahead and take a look at their profile. There's engagement rates, and we wanna see what other products they've worked with, and how people have reacted to sponsorships that they've done. Maybe they've worked with companies that are similar to ours.
And then I actually interview the influencer. Because the biggest issues, and you kinda touched on it, is like how much do I pay somebody? Is it $5, is it $5,000, is it free shirts for life? What is this? How do I structure that? Well it's hard to answer that, because that's like saying ...
It's hard to give a templated answer for everybody. 'Cause each one of these influencers is different. And they all have a different way they run their business, and they have different costs, and they have different things. So I can go to one influencer and say, "Hey I work with Adidas, and we wanna give you three pairs of shoes. They're worth usually $150, and we want you to do X, Y, Z for it." And they go, "Wow, this is awesome, let's do it."
And I can send that over to somebody else and they go, "My production cost is $5,000. I don't want your $150 shoes. That doesn't make sense to me."
You just never know. So it's everything is negotiable when it comes to this.
So usually what I'll do if it looks like the right influencer, and we outreach to them and they say that they're interested, I usually jump on a call and say, "Okay, tell me what you know."
Adidas is a bad example, 'cause Adidas is a household name. But let's say it's X, Y, Z shoe company that nobody knows about. So, "What do you know about our shoe company?" And, "Hey I know a lot about your shoe company, you guys do this, I love your guys' mission, I know you guys give 10% to these communities."
So then it's like, "Okay great, I've got an engaged person." Influencer that knows our product, that's excited about it. I wanna hear it in their voice.
The first question, if I jump on a call and they go, "So how much am I gonna get paid in this thing?" Like, "Oh got it, so it's about money." Which could be a factor.
But for me, it's a little bit of a hip check. I wanna go and check the temperature. 'Cause I wanna find the person that has looked into my company or the company I'm representing and that is excited about it, and then ask them, "What are you willing to do? This is what we're thinking. What we wanted to do is this is the kinda campaign we were thinking. And this is what we were thinking is maybe we'd do three Instagram stories and we do a YouTube video and you do a blog post. You tell me what that's worth and what that would take from a time perspective. You tell me if you think that's a good campaign, and then just tell me what that would cost."
And they go, "Hey listen, let me tell you why you don't wanna do this, is because I know my audience, and this is what I think would be good." Or I'll tell them, "Hey listen, we have a budget of $5,000. And tell me what you would be willing to do for that price point and how many touch points we would be able to do. What's the frequency of this? I gotta be able to talk about it once a month, twice a month. I do a big YouTube video that'll be a five minute video that can index. Or I'm gonna do a blog post, it'll be a 3,000 word blog ..." Whatever that is.
Everybody's gonna have a different thing that they'll recommend that they think would work.
And I don't wanna get in the way of that. I don't wanna tell them, "This is what we need to do because we think this is best."
No, I wanna keep it down and let the influencer tell me, "Hey I know my audience. I don't think if we did a video, I'm not that big on YouTube, so why would I wanna do a video? Maybe I'll do a shorter video for Instagram."
I let them come up with the plans. And I give them a little bit of parameters of, "Hey this is kinda what we're looking at budget-wise, what would it make sense to put together a plan like that for you? And does it make sense for us to work together?"
So I always, like I said, I come with some basics. I come with a brief and some ideas, but I'm always open to what the influencer wants to do. 'Cause they say, "Hey listen, I've never done this before, and this is kinda crazy, but I was thinking we could do this, this, this, and this." And I go, "God, that sounds epic. Let's do it." That's something outside of the box that we haven't heard or we haven't seen.
With the brief you wanna have certain hashtags you use, and you wanna have certain things that you follow so you understand I wanna understand exactly what you're gonna be getting for this price point of $5,000. A basic agreement you put together, make sure that everybody's following FTC, and all these guidelines and stuff that we have.
But at the end of the day, you wanna develop that relationship with the influencer. Because if it's an influencer that just cares about money, and all they're doing is a thousand sponsorships a year, then the audience is gonna be very disconnected.
And that's not what we're looking for. We're looking for the influencer's excited, the influencer that gets what we're doing, and the influencer that says, "Hey this is the perfect fit, and I don't work with a million companies, it's not just a money thing for me, so this has gotta be a good fit for my audience."
And that's the one that you guys did for LASIK. That was obviously a good fit for their audience.
You can have the best product in the world, but if you go to the wrong influencers. And that's the problem is most people look at numbers. So they go, "Oh this influencer has a million followers, this is gonna crush. This is absolutely gonna crush."
It's not always that. So that's what people get confused about. Influencers have always been paid in the past because of how many followers they have.
So now we get into the fake followership. Because guess what happens? If I have 15,000 I get $5,000. But I have 20,000 I get an extra $3,000. And if I have a million, you guys are willing to give me $50,000. So guess where I wanna get to extremely fast? Probably a million.
So that's where we run into this whole situation of the fake followers. And people go, "Oh this is terrible, and this is that." But you're telling somebody, "Listen, I will give you some more money if you can somehow get to this number." And they're like, "Let's do it." So now I gotta get to that number, it becomes this situation.
So that's where we've jumped into a situation like this. And like the festival, the Fyre Festival. Everybody looks at it and says, "Oh my God we gotta be so careful, we gotta be this."
That can happen in any situation. In any situation where somebody says, "Hey we have this, we have investors." How do you double-check that as an influencer and make sure? Do you go send in a private investigator? Do you go and you ... I mean it's hard to say.
Influencer marketing didn't cause it. Influencer marketing was the one that got the people there. So it works.
But the problem is, is the festival wasn't done correctly, and there was all kinds of logistics and things that weren't thought about on a last minute thing, "We're gonna go to this island." In theory it's like the perfect influencer thing. People go, "Oh that's the lifestyle I wanna live, I wanna come in on a private plan. I wanna drink caviar, and eat this, and do this, and hang out with celebrities."
Kathleen: They just didn't expect white bread and cheese sandwiches.
Shane: Or no restrooms or no water on an island, last time I checked. So that's not necessarily influencer ...
The thing is, is actually that was a successful campaign, because influencers drove people there. So it actually was a win, in theory, for influencer marketing. But the publicity behind it is now these celebrities have to be held accountable.
And I get it, but what happens if I was to go represent a product today, I go represent some kind of a Tupperware company, whatever it is. Some company. And then the CEO goes and kills somebody? Or does something stupid. I can't really stop that.
I can look into it and give it a little test and do some research and say, "Well it makes sense, the island's there, and there seems to be some celebrities, and they've got some investors." It's just a difficult thing.
And people go, "Well how do I know if I'm working, if this influencer doesn't have fake followers? Or how do I check on that?" It's once again, just go and look at them, and talk to them. And say, "Hey look, tell me the past campaigns that you've done. Show me some reporting that you've done in the past, show me some campaigns. Why are you at 15,000 followers and then you went up there?"
Shane: "Oh was on TV, and I was on this, and I became this, and my book came out." "Oh, okay. That makes sense." Or, "No, I just got more followers." That's a little fishy, but okay. So that's what you just have to look at.
It comes down to educating yourself when it comes to influencers. Really anything. Anything you do. But influencer marketing, I've written 100 articles, and there's plenty of other people that have written 100 articles where you can go get a general idea of the questions you should ask, or the emails you should send out. You get a basic idea, and then you have some knowledge when it comes to that. And then you can go in there.
Any situation you go into and you're not educated, you're gonna be a little nervous. Whether it's SEO or PPC it's like, "I just don't know, I'm not really sure. I've heard this is the thing to do."
Just educate yourself a little bit, and then go in. And if it doesn't feel like the right situation with the right influencer, the cool part about it is guess what? There's millions of influencers. Absolutely millions. So they'll be like, "Well yeah, but this person seems really good. We have to give them this high amount."
No you don't. You don't. Because now with software you can go and look at analytics, you can look at the demographics, you can go look at the stuff and say, "You know what? You seem great, but I have this person over here that's willing to do twice as much work, their demographics are the same as yours, so is the followership. And they seem to be more excited about the project than you were." Not a big deal. That's the exciting part about influencer marketing.
People are like, "Oh, is it gonna go anywhere? Something's gonna happen to it." No.
There's people that weren't influencers yesterday that are influencers today. And that's always gonna continue to happen. We're gonna have this evolution of more and more people that can represent your product, which is very interesting.
The problem today with the whole thing is that you have brands and influencers that just don't know how to work together. And that's what we do at UCLA is try to bring those people together.
Kathleen: Yeah, I love that. And going back to the conversation about the Fyre Festival, it's interesting because that has really elevated the conversation, and I think more people are talking about influencer marketing.
And as you say, it's such a funny example, because in some respects it was a huge success. They paid these people to get the audience there, and they did it. And the debate subsequently has been a lot around the ethics of influencer marketing.
We had this debate internally in my team. And my position was "Look, I don't see how if you're one of the models that was hired to post something on Instagram about this, I don't see how you could realistically vet it, you couldn't. There was too many smoke and mirrors, and you can only vet it so much."
Where I think the fault really lies is A, their agency, which totally knew that the whole thing was not gonna work. The agency I do think holds some responsibility.
And then I would say if you're an influencer like Ja Rule, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say this on the podcast, who was deeply involved in the planning. If you're that involved and you know it's not gonna happen, I think you own it partially.
But it would be a shame for it to give influencer marketing a bad name. And if anything I think what I'm seeing in all the marketing literature I'm reading this year, is really that influencer marketing in general is taking off, as opposed to at risk because of something like the Fyre Festival.
But it does speak to me, to the larger questions about how do you do it right as a brand? And how do you do it right as an influencer?
I know you were just speaking to some of those points. I guess some of the questions I have, one of them is I come from a content marketing world, where everybody's really forced on lead generation as a key metric of success. How many new contacts did we generate? How many marketing qualified leads did we generate?
My guess is that in some respects you could do that with influencer marketing, but I'm sure that there are other metrics as well.
So can you talk a little bit about if I'm a brand and I'm gonna go pay somebody $5,000 for a bunch of Instagram posts or some stories, when you talk with brands, what do you generally advise them that they should be looking for in terms of an outcome?
Measuring the ROI of Influencer Marketing
Shane: Really I usually flip it on the brand and say, "What are your KPIs?" Like what are our goals? What are you looking to do?
Let's reverse engineer this. Like, "Oh hey Shane, I wanna spend $5,000 and I wanna do a million dollars in sales." And I say, "Well that sounds extremely unrealistic, so let's go ahead and reset those expectations."
Shane: Right? So it really comes down ... When somebody reaches out to me about an influencer campaign, I have qualifying questions that I send with any client.
So what I wanna do is find out what are you looking for? How realistic are we? 'Cause the problem is, and I've done it, I've written an article about, "Hey, for Zoe every dollar you spend you make four dollars." And people go, "I want that plan." Well of course, who doesn't want that plan?
Kathleen: Yeah, who doesn't?
Shane: Yeah. Even one for two I'll take. Or 1.25 I'll take.
But the thing is, is that I wanna just do a little to find out what their expectations are. So when it comes to brands and saying, "Hey listen, I'm gonna spend $5,000 on this." Well what are you goals? So is it sales? Is it gonna be mentions? Is it gonna be you wanna increase your social media following? What are your overall goals? What would you consider this to be a win?
And that's what I think is important. Another thing I like to tell people, don't spend all of your money just on influencer marketing. This is a piece of your marketing tool set. Don't just put all of your ...
People come to me and say, "Listen I got $5,000 or my business is gonna go down." You know what I'd tell them? Take your family out to dinner, go on a vacation or something. Do not put all of your money in this last ditch effort of this thing that you read about and it seems to be going great for everybody.
Influencer marketing isn't for everybody. Influencer marketing, it's no different than issues that we have with PPC or SEO or anything like that. The idea is, is that if you find the right influencers, and you invest the time, and you go do that.
Same with SEO, if you go after the wrong keywords, it doesn't matter what product you have. PPC, if you go after the wrong stuff, then you're not gonna have your target audience or your lookalike audience and you're not gonna sell stuff.
Influencer marketing is no different. The idea is that you need to go in and do the research and make sure that you're, once again, trying to find those right influencers. Trying to find out. And then talking to them as well and saying, "Listen these are our goals. My budget's $5,000, I would love to be able to get $10,000 in sales. So what kind of campaign do you think that we would have to put together that your audience would buy $10,000 worth of product?" Now if you're selling a one dollar product, then that means that there needs to be 10,000 transactions. And you have to go, "Well I don't know if that's gonna be possible in $5,000."
'Cause one of the things you look at too is that people don't realize that it's not a, "Hey Kim Kardashian, hey can you put this picture up?" And she puts it up, and she charges you $1 million, and then all of a sudden you just make $1 million. It's a frequency deal.
Back in the day, it used to be a little easier 'cause you'd just put a picture up and people didn't even really know what influencer marketing was, just said, "Hey if Jennifer's doing it, I wanna do it."
Now it's a little different. We have more of an educated audience that's kinda like ... If they're following you, and you're not just taking on any sponsorship and you're genuine with your recommendations. I think then people obviously people are gonna be more likely to buy those products.
But it really comes down to what is the brand looking for? And does the influencer think this is gonna be a possible outcome?
But what happens in most influencer campaigns is people just run into it blindly. They're like, "Let's just see if this thing works and we'll just do some stuff, and let's just see what happens."
It's no different than content. You don't just go into content and say, "I'm just gonna write this article today." I think we all did in the beginning. But now we look at-
Kathleen: Right, there was a time.
Shane: Right, we all did that. But now what we do is we look at keywords, we look at competition, we look at what kinda competition for that specific keyword, what is working? We have all this software we can make a better educated decision.
And the same thing with influencer marketing. What are your goals and do those goals line up and are they realistic with the influencer? And is the influencer gonna be able to tell you, "Hey, I can tell you if you've have this amount of sales and we can do that through a coupon code. Or through an affiliate link." Or whatever that is.
It's just, once again, most of the time a brand's read an article and an influencer's looking to get paid, and they come together. And they have this beautiful little baby called an influencer marketing campaign. And all of a sudden they go, "We didn't even talk about the future or whether we're gonna live together," whatever, right?
Shane: There are some steps before that, that you have to ask, to make sure you guys are on the same page. And if you're not on the same page, then don't work with that influencer.
But that's one of the biggest disconnects, is that they just assume that you do one post. It's not that. It's a frequency thing.
An influencer, if they post three, four, five, six, seven, ten times, now their audience has seen it more and more, they say, "You know what I really think that John uses this product. Or I've seen good results from what he's done here with this product or this service. Now it makes sense for me to go and purchase it." So it's a little bit of a longer term play now.
And then also in your contract having like when John posts this content, now in my contract I'm gonna put now I get to use that content however I want. I can use it on my website for social proof, I can use it on my flyers, I use it wherever I'm gonna use it. And then I also wanna do some PPC ads. There's some other stuff that goes into that.
So once again, don't just do a campaign with somebody who's got a million followers giving them ten grand, don't talk about it, have them post one picture, and expect for a miracle to happen.
You really wanna have that overall strategy and make sure you have the 10 things that you're gonna be doing to get it up to that point when it launches and the things that you do after that to continue the success and do whatever it is, Facebook ads that's gonna push it towards that influencer's following, whatever that is. There's a lot of things that go into that, to continue to get the results, to squeeze the juice out of that lemon.
Regulations & Influencer Marketing
Kathleen: Now one thing that I think a lot of marketers who have not done influencer marketing, or don't do it very frequently, might not be familiar with, are the regulations around it. And you mentioned FTC regulations earlier.
Can you just briefly give a quick overview of some of the things that you have to be careful about when you enter into these relationships?
Shane: Yeah. The thing is with the FTC, is the FTC what their thing is, is they're obviously going after the bigger influencers because what they wanna do is make a story about it, and let people know hey, you have to be transparent in the things that you're doing.
So what they've done is gone after Kim K and all these bigger influencers. 'Cause the idea is it's a trickle down. They wanna have the story about Kim K got sued for $50,000, whatever the numbers are and whoever they went after.
The idea of that is 'cause they don't want you to fool the public. They don't want you to go in and when you're representing a product, or a service, or whatever, they want you to be authentic and tell your audience at least let your audience know, "Hey listen, this is an ad. I received free product, or they're compensating me for this."
And there's a number of ways to do that. There's hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored.
The FTC has tried to tighten up the regulations, in the sense of having the verbiage be a little better, so it's a little better understanding. 'Cause it's still a little bit of gray area with it. So that's where people are like "Well I don't really know, do I have to write hashtag ad and sponsored? Do I put it at the beginning? Do I put it at the end? Do I have to say it? Do I have to get it tattooed on my forehead?"
What do I need to do, so that people know that this is an ad?
And if you're going through Facebook and Instagram you can see "in partnership with," or whatever it is, there's ways to tie that in. I just think that if you're at least disclosing that you are in some type of relationship, this is a paid thing. Or even if it's not paid, that's another thing people don't realize. Even if you got a free shirt and you're marketing that shirt, talking about that shirt, that's still, you received some type of compensation for that.
Now do I think that the FTC's gonna come through? The FTC's not gonna be able to come through and sue a million people and expect to be able to do that, and expect for those people to have money to fight it and pay the fines. They go after the bigger influencers.
I'm not saying if you're a smaller influencer don't follow the regulations, by any means. Follow the regulations. But you just have to be careful what you're doing. And once again, it's not too difficult. You hashtag ad and hashtag sponsored, and there's some other stuff. You can read the FTC regulations, they have them on their website.
And then if you have an attorney friend or something or even have an attorney just say, "Hey, looking at this, do you think we're gonna be okay?" Most of the time you'll be okay if you can justify that, "Hey listen, I was being transparent with my audience, and the way that I did that was through this, this this," you should be fine.
Who Is Influencer Marketing Right For?
Kathleen: Okay. So having gone through this whole conversation I think I'm intrigued. It sounds like there's a lot of potential to leverage influencers more in different campaigns. I guess the next question that pops into my head is, who is this right for?
So if you're a brand that's looking to accomplish something through marketing, we've got B2C, B2B, B2G, you name it, nonprofit. Are there certain types of companies and certain types of campaigns that influencer marketing is well suited for and are there certain that it's not? Or is there a way to use it for everybody?
Shane: Yeah, there's definitely products and services that are better catered for influencer marketing. With a lot of the stuff that I work on, I work on very unique products that I think are gonna have that wow factor. So if it's a T-shirt company and they're like, "Hey we have this really cool T-shirt, it's got Bert and Ernie on it." I'm like, "Ah okay, nothing really too exciting about that." I guess we'll go try to find the Sesame Street fans-
Kathleen: Unless you can get Bert and Ernie to shill it for you.
Shane: Then there we go, right? And they're influencers, so there we go.
So there are certain things that make more sense where it's like I think it's gonna have that, I call it the wow factor. I think just about any product or service I think could do influencer marketing, some it doesn't make sense when you have ... I've had insurance agents that are top insurance agents for MetLife and this kinda stuff, "Hey we're looking to get more clients." That becomes more difficult because there's a lot stricter regulations. They're like, "Yeah, we have to have three attorneys to look at our post before it goes live." And I'm like, "You just lost everything because it took you nine days to come out with this Instagram post on what you were doing nine days ago. Nobody cares today." For the most part.
So there are things that if you have a cool product, and it doesn't even have to be necessarily a cool product, but the cool part about it is that there's tons of influencers. And you never know ... The hard part is finding the influencer that's gonna be best for your product.
But there's an influencer for everything. Literally there was a guy, I spoke at the first influencer conference in Mexico, in Mexico City. And there was a guy that was up there speaking with me, and his Instagram is literally about the color pink. That is it. That is it, like he's-
Kathleen: That's very specific.
Shane: He's at 80,000 ... Very specific. Yeah, and that's all it was. So anything pink would get ahold of him, and instead of going after drinks or something, it was just pink. So everybody that followed him, and I don't know if everybody that followed him loved pink, but obviously they had some kind of thing for pink. Or it was just he put out pretty crazy content, he was always showing pink hair, and pink this, and pink that.
So there we go. And now you have a pink product and you go, "Who knew that we were gonna find this guy? And here we go, now we have an audience in theory." ... Can represent your audience, you just have to figure out what that is.
If you have a really cool patented product, it becomes easier because it's cool and everybody wants it, and this kinda stuff. If you don't, you can still find out ... You can still find an influencer that can rep your product, but you just have to look at the demographics of their following and say, "Hey do we think this is a good fit? How can it be a win-win on both sides? And what do we expect the outcome to be?"
Influencer Marketing Tools & Software
Kathleen: Great. Well lots to think about here with respect to influencer marketing. Now you named a couple of platforms in the beginning that can be helpful.
If somebody's listening and they're a marketer with a business that's just starting to dip their toes in the water of influencer marketing, are there any particular sources or platforms that you recommend that look at?
Shane: Yeah. Obviously my website is ShaneBarker.com. I write about it quite a bit, and write about it for a lot of other websites as well. So there's that.
Obviously Grin is who I use to put campaigns together. So they've got a really, really robust platform that they've put together. I've watched them grow over the last few years.
GroupHigh is one that we use for bloggers, so if you're looking for bloggers or anything like that, that has been a really good one. If you're looking for anybody that's in your niche and stuff like that. That's been great.
So we're doing a one day training there, kinda hands on training to show them all the stuff we've kinda talked about on the podcast, but more hands on and just kind of explaining everything in detail, and how we do outreach, and how do we negotiate, and that whole process, kinda breaking it down deeper.
Kathleen: Great. All right, I'll put links to all of that in the show notes. So if you're listening and you wanna learn more, check that out.
Kathleen's Two Questions
Kathleen: Now before we wrap up, two questions I ask all of my guests, which I'm curious to get your take on. The first one is we talk a lot about inbound marketing at this podcast. Company or individual, who do you think is really doing inbound marketing well right now?
Shane: Yeah, I mean inbound, it's so funny 'cause when you talk about inbound marketing I'm probably gonna be, the people that I'm gonna recommend are my competitors, right? So that's ... This is a humbling moment for me.
I would say Neil Patel, he's kinda one of the originators, I would say in regards to building out content and doing that inbound extremely well. And now he has an agency and stuff that he's done. So I've always been impressed, I kinda looked up to him in the beginning when I jumped into doing content marketing in the inbound side of things, as somebody that just put out some good content. He seemed to get it right, and he kinda paved the way. Now I'm just trying to catch him on some keywords right now, which Neil if you're listening to this I'm coming for you, and I will beat you, just so you know.
Kathleen: Watch out, Neil.
Shane: Yeah. Yeah, there goes the warning shot just so he knows. There goes the warning shot. But I think Neil's been doing a great job.
And there's a lot of other marketers that do a phenomenal job. Robby does a great job, he does some really cool stuff. So anyways, there's some cool stuff that I follow, a lot of guys that I follow that I work with directly, that like I said, have done a phenomenal job on the inbound side of things.
And we don't do too bad ourselves. All of the leads that I get are all inbound marketing. So we don't have any sales team, I don't have any outreach or anything like that. I don't know if that's something to brag about, but all of that comes from inbound. So it's been a nice little machine.
Kathleen: That's what I always say when you hear stuff like that, "Hey, this stuff actually works."
Shane: Yeah. It takes awhile, but it's a good investment for sure.
Kathleen: That's great. Yeah.
Now second question, digital marketing is changing so quickly, how do you personally stay up to date and on top of everything?
Shane: Yeah, there's different sites or different things. I always try to keep up on when it comes to SEO, Search Engine Journal is one that we always take a look at. There's a lot of the search engine ones, that I think they're always getting the updated information, so we'll kinda see some cool stuff there.
It's funny, so as much as I have my podcast, and I do podcasts and all this, I don't really listen to too many podcasts, so I probably should. I know there's a lot of great things that are happening there as well. I don't tap in as much as I probably should, because I had ADHD for God's sakes, so it'd be great, I could do a video, do 10,000 other things at the same time. But those are probably my picks for your two questions, for sure.
Kathleen: Okay, great yeah. And I like for us, Search Engine Journal as well, that's a really good one.
Connect With Shane Barker
Kathleen: Great, well if somebody is listening and they want to reach out, ask a question, get in touch, or learn more, what is the best way for them to connect with you online?
Shane: The best way to get my attention is to send me money through PayPal, so I'm gonna give you my email address. If you send cash that's an instant, "Hey, Shane's gonna pay attention to you."
No, you can actually, this is my direct email is just Shane@ShaneBarker.com. And I answer all questions. So if anybody has any questions, and this has come back to bite me a few times where I've had like 200 emails come through and I'm like, "Oh this is awesome. I did say for free, didn't I?"
So if anybody has any questions about influencer marketing, you can go to my website, obviously you can look it up on Google as well. But you can send me direct questions and I'll make sure to answer them and get something out, usually within 24 to 48 hours.
I just got back from Singapore, so I'm a little tired right now, but I'll say 48 hours.
Kathleen: All right, awesome. Well again, if you're listening and you wanna reach Shane, you can get in touch with him that way, or you can check the show notes and I'll have links to his email and all of his various social properties and websites will be in there. So check that out, and we'll put you in touch.
And in the meantime, thank you so much Shane for joining us. This was really interesting. I learned a lot about influencer marketing, and definitely now motivated to go see if I can find some influencers to test some new campaigns with.
Shane: That's it. That's it. Let me know if you have any questions.
Kathleen: I will. And if you're listening and you enjoyed this or if you learned something new, please take a minute and give the podcast a review on Apple Podcast or the platform of your choice. It really makes a difference. And if you know somebody else that's doing kick ass things on marketing work, Tweet me at workmommywork, because they could be my next guest. Thanks.
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