Influencer marketing is changing everyday. What we expected to take shape in 2020 has been nothing short of a curveball. On Thursday, July 9, Find Your Influence partnered with Women in Influencer Marketing to present the webinar, “The Changing Landscape of Influencer Marketing in 2020 and Beyond.”
Joined by influencers/bloggers Jane Ko (A Taste of Koko) and Alicia Tenise along with FYI’s own Joslyn Adasek, the panel discussed the various changes within the influencer marketing industry in 2020, as well as what they expect on the horizon.
The entire 56-minute webinar is available to view here.
The panelists ran out of time and weren’t able to answer all attendee questions but were kind enough to offer their responses to share via this format.
How did they build their influencer platform? (Alieshia N.)
Jane: “I launched A Taste of Koko in March 2010 when I was finishing my undergrad in nutrition at the University of Texas Austin. I started the blog because I didn’t want to work a 9-5 in a hospital as a dietitian with my degree. I came up with the name A Taste of Koko, bought my first camera, and launched on Blogger (switched to WordPress a couple of years later).
I did claim my username on Instagram @atasteofkoko but I didn’t use it professionally for my blog until 2012 or 2013. I actually got early success with Pinterest back then as an early user who focused on high-quality photography – Pinterest sent me 1 million impressions within the first couple of years I had my blog!”
Alicia: “I launched my blog/website in 2011. The best thing about having a website is that you own it, and you don’t have to deal with pesky algorithms when creating your content. I’ve seen social media platforms rise and fall throughout the years, so it’s great to always have a website to fall back on.
I try to at least reserve my handle (@aliciatenise) on new social platforms when they launch, and play around with creating content on those platforms. Some platforms make more sense for my audience than others, but I would have to say Instagram and Pinterest are the two most valuable social media platforms for my blog at the moment, and both generate a good amount of traffic to my primary platform: the blog.”
What are some tips for aspiring travel content creators/influencers? (Alieshia N.)
Jane: “I didn’t start out as a travel blogger and never really traveled. I received a partnership request from a brand in 2015 because of my Texas-based millennial audience and once I did that partnership, they all came after that. I was even the face of a video for Miami Tourism on the New York Times! Since then I’ve worked with New Mexico, Riviera Nayarit, Germany, Michigan, and more.”
What platforms are you using to report campaign analytics on both the agency and influencer side? (Aerolyn S.)
Joslyn: “The FYI platform provides analytics for brands, agencies and influencers across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. Our platform aims to help brands grow and scale influencer marketing programs.”
Jane: “All of my projects ask for screenshots of the analytics on the in-feed post and Instagram stories.”
Which do you feel is more effective – finding the agency rep’ing the brand or reaching out to the brand directly through IG DMs? (Carie T.)
Jane: “Neither – we don’t really pitch as we haven’t found it effective. It’s difficult to get a hold of a brand and agency at the right time when they want to start a campaign. 100% of my brand partnerships are agencies/brands reaching out to me with a campaign pitch.”
Alicia: “I try to avoid brand communication via Instagram DM whenever possible. Admittedly, I get a few hundred DMs a day, mostly from followers reacting to my content and asking questions. And an overwhelming amount of emoji replies to my Stories! There’s no way to really organize DMs, and I find it hard to have serious conversations via DM since it’s easy for conversations to get buried.
“I don’t pitch too often, but when I pitch brands, I try to find a press contact for the brand. It’s always a bit tricky because some brands use influencer marketing agencies, some use PR firms, some do things in-house. Sometimes pitches work, sometimes they don’t because of timing, incorrect contacts, or other factors.”
What did they find to be the most useful in terms of growing their influencer platforms (hashtags, etc.)? (Deja)
Alicia: “Being authentic, consistent, and recognizing what content performs well and what doesn’t. A good hashtag strategy can expand your reach, but you’ve got to back it up with quality content so that folks hit the follow button.”
Jane: “I started in 2010 so I have 10 years of content! I have always focused on high-quality content and providing value to my audience (restaurant recommendations, city recommendations, etc.) since day one and that’s how I’ve grown my brand.”
How do you prefer to be reached out to by brands? Is it helpful to have some creative direction or parameters? Or do you prefer to make a recommendation based on the budget they have? (Kelly J.)
Jane: “Definitely email! I answer every email and for the brands I do want to work with, I’ll cc my manager from Find Your Influence to jump in and share my media kit. 90% of the agencies and brands that reach out to me do present me with a brief that has creative direction so I do prefer that. I never want to have to reshoot a project because the brand wasn’t happy with the creative direction.”
Alicia: “Email, email, email! I even have it in my Instagram bio to email me for collaboration inquiries, and I’m surprised at how many brands ignore that and still pitch me via DM. I get hundreds of DMs a day from my followers, and there’s no way to easily organize DMs like you can organize emails. If an influencer has an email in their profile, they probably want to be pitched via email as well.
I also work with the FYI Talent team and forward emails to my manager, who negotiates things on my behalf. I’m not able to do that with DMs!
I think a bit of creative direction can definitely help, but we’re creators ourselves. We know how to create engaging content for our audiences. A little room to interpret a creative direction is always appreciated! Depending on the brand’s budget, that depends on what I can execute. Food/wine shoots usually cost me more since I’m buying food/props/etc for the shoot. Fashion campaigns are pretty easy, I just need to style the look and find the perfect backdrop.”
As an influencer, what would you ladies say is the best way to keep track of your partnerships, especially in this quickly changing environment? Do you have any novel tools or platforms you use? (Victoria T.)
Jane: “I use Asana for project management and have my dashboard organized monthly – Jan., Feb., March, April, etc. Under each column are all the paid partnerships I’m working on, deliverables, mandatory tags, and the deadlines.
I also use Dropbox – there’s a folder for each year and then within each year is a folder on each brand partnership. In each of those folders are the signed contracts, briefs, approved content and then the screenshots after each post has gone live.”
Alicia: “I use a few tools to keep me organized. I use Asana to keep track of paid partnerships. I can create a new project in their system, and I’ll upload the campaign brief, signed agreement, and any other documents I need for the campaign in the designated project folder. That way, I can pull up that info easily without having to search for them in my emails or pull them up on an influencer platform.
I also use CoSchedule to manage my blog and social editorial calendar. It connects right to my WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts (you can use it for Instagram and Pinterest as well, but I use other apps for those). What’s great is that I can see all of my blog/social content on one calendar: both scheduled and published posts. I can also schedule social media posts to amplify my blog posts right from CoSchedule, and it will automatically publish those posts at the most optimized time.
Lastly, I use Planoly to manage my Instagram. Oftentimes I submit drafts to brands, and once I receive feedback/approval from the brand, I’ll copy and paste the exact approved copy into Planoly and will schedule both my Instagram and Instagram Story content. I’ll also do this with organic content as well, but it’s extremely helpful when working with brands!”
Also, What is an ideal influencer marketing partnership and how is it constructed in terms of deliverables and keeping track with brands?
Alicia: “Every influencer marketing partnership is different, but I prefer long-term partnerships with brands. I see that I drive the most sales when I post about a brand at least three times. Yes, I still get traction with the one-off posts, but the more loyal you are to a brand, the more that your followers notice!
I do wish that brands let influencers try out the brand before committing to a long-term partnership, however. It’s hard to sign on to a brand for a long period of time if you’re not familiar with the product.”
Jane: “It depends – that are many brands that I would love to do a long-term partnership with because I authentically love and use that brand in my home and I wish the agency/brand would be responsive to that when I say that.
I also echo Alicia on brands allowing us to use their product if we’re not familiar with it before signing a partnership agreement. I wish there were more open conversations where I could share what I think a partnership would look best.”
Thoughts on what will happen to TikTok in the US with privacy concerns? Are you ditching your channel? (Jenny H.)
Joslyn: “FYI is moving forward with implementing the option to negotiate TikTok content into our platform over the next few weeks. That said, as TikTok doesn’t have an API for us to tie-into, our platform will not actually “connect” to the TikTok platform (instead influencers will be providing screenshots and self-reporting for analytics), therefore, there are no privacy concerns from a SaaS platform perspective at this time.
If/when TikTok builds an API similar to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, we will evaluate any and all privacy concerns prior to committing to develop any connection with their API.”
Jane: “I’ve claimed my username on TikTok and have posted some videos but I’m not getting any traction. I won’t ditch my TikTok channel but will try to allocate some hours every week to posting videos there if I can.”
Alicia: “Like Jane, I also have a TikTok, but I haven’t seen much traction there either. I think I’m hitting my limit of how much content I realistically can produce. At the moment, I have a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and a newsletter. Finding the hours in the day to create video content has been difficult, but I’m hoping to find more time in my day to promote that platform.”
And thoughts on creating YouTube channels for brand integration and how long should videos be?? (Carie T.)
Jane: “I did launch a YouTube channel when I first started the blog and I wish I stayed with it but it was just too hard to create content for a website and video content for YouTube. Integrated brand partnerships and the ads on YouTube pay higher (I think), so if you are able to create content that resonates with an audience, go for it!”
Alicia: “I have a similar experience as Jane. It’s really difficult to manage both, and I wasn’t able to keep up. When we shoot projects, my photographer says we need to either produce video content or photo content. It’s hard to shoot both at the same time unless you have a third person assisting.
If you can keep up with a YouTube channel, I would 100% go for it! I’ve heard that YouTube prefers videos that are at least 10 minutes long for their algorithm. Also, you can implement SEO practices with your YouTube video titles and descriptions as well to gain more traction and appear in more search results.”
Thank you to Jane, Alicia and Joslyn for their time on the panel and to the attendees for asking amazing questions!
Interested in working with Jane or Alicia on your next campaign? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.