When it comes to social media marketing, no brand can avoid it – even ones renowned for having a profound silence in that area such as Apple, rely to some extent on people bringing awareness to their product – #iphoneonly anyone? In 2015, I spoke to a family friend that owns a digital marketing company in Singapore who said that in the previous year, just under 30% of his budget was directed at social and he expects that by 2016, 50% of it will be placed there. It is now, as we are all aware, 2017 and social media marketing is going no where. I’d like to make clear at this point that I wear two hats, I’m both a published writer and a blogger (duh to the last one) but my day job also includes consumer behaviour analysis and brand strategy. I’m not here to tell an experienced marketing manager how to deal with influencer outreach and ROI because that’s not my speciality. However, I will share with you as a blogger what it takes to do work with us successfully and how it can apply to almost every company looking to do so.
1. Your product and the influencer
Sorry if this is patronising but bear with me: the product has to appeal to the influencer’s demographic completely. Just because a blogger has hundreds of thousands of followers or they are a microinfluencer with an impressive engagement rate, it doesn’t mean a brand is guaranteed any measurable returns from working with them. What the brand can expect is awareness and a boost to their image because the bloggers they’ve partnered with are relevant to their target market. The reason why no one can promise an increase in follower count or engagement through a blogger’s post is because no connection has been established between brand and audience. The only relationship that has been established is blogger and brand, and blogger and audience. The audience has merely been made aware that the product exists in this world and possibly how to purchase it. Number of followers or level of engagement cannot directly translate to a tangible impact for a brand, especially one that is short-term.
2. Discount codes are ineffective for brands*
(And I will suggest an alternative in a future post so hold tight!)
So why do brands use them? Because they are one of the few and easiest ways to measure sales conversion from a blogger’s post or campaign. When social media marketing advocates promote this channel, they often refer to this for a gauge on ROI. Let me tell you that it is entirely unreliable and inaccurate.
For the last month or so I’ve had a particular fascination with this tool and decided to do some poking around. From asking a small sample of fellow bloggers and friends/followers on Instagram, none have said that they’ve used a discount code from social media. I have however, had a friend who is a beauty fanatic and would post money-off codes for huge beauty websites from her modest and personal Twitter account. She could generate a few tens of dollars every month but those who used her codes were random and these e-commerce sites are very established.
Personally, I have never used a discount code unless it was for a free taxi ride home and that was not from social media. The only time I’ve been tempted to use one is because I was browsing on Na-kd, a site that I found from social media. I have been on the look out for a coupon online, just in case I had to pay for shipping (ew who likes paying for that?) and it wasn’t until three girls that I follow posted it – not counting the numerous influencers I’ve stumbled across that also have them – that I even considered adding it to my total and checking out. And status update: I still haven’t checked out my £36.51 basket.
Using myself as a case study (lol, I know – self absorbed!), notice that the brand that I was interested in was Na-kd, a fast fashion and affordable website, because this leads me to say…
3. Brands need to work with bloggers for the right reason
Who uses social media, e-commerce, m-commerce, basically anything to do with technology and sharing images? Millennials. And that was something most of you already knew. If you categorise as one, just take your friendship group and ask yourself how many of them made a luxury purchase in the last month? And out of that group, how many of those individuals made multiple luxury purchases? And out of that, how many made those purchases completely on a whim? Luxury sales are rarely made without consideration and you didn’t need me to remind you of that either.
High end brands should not work with bloggers for the primary motive of sales. I won’t deny that it can have a positive effect for example, when I was working part time at Club Monaco I suggested off-hand that we should invite a high-profile UK blogger for a shopping experience. Completely coincidentally, Lydia Millen actually chatted about the brand on her Youtube channel and in the subsequent weeks, certain items began to run low on stock or even sell out. I would not attribute that entirely to her influence, although she did a brilliant job of advertising Club Monaco and to my knowledge, without the brand’s sponsorship. And as much as I love that clothing brand, their pieces do not come cheap and a lot of comments on her video are exclamations of how expensive the items are.
What she has done is brought a positive reputation to Club Monaco because she’s on-brand, beautiful and stylish. She’s excited her audience who now want to purchase it but they may not necessarily be able to afford it. Even if they could, they may have to save up. Remember when I said that discount codes aren’t effective? These usually have an expiry date as we all know no sale can go on forever because that’s damaging and unproductive. So let’s say a hypothetical group of people want to use a blogger’s code, they may not want to set aside a mini savings fund to afford an expensive bag or pair of shoes and be pressurised by the end-date of that discount if one even exists. I’d like to think people, even fashionable consumers, have financial priorities outside of owning everything that an influencer posts.
Therefore, if a brand so much as identifies as being luxury they should never rely on a blogger to give them anything but credibility because our audiences do not typically have the spending power that high-end products require. Let me correct myself – the most active social media users do not typically have the spending power that high-end products require.
Shot in Amsterdam
Self-Portrait dress from Oprent
The Ordinary Co ribbon choker
House Thirteen rings
PART II: TO BE CONTINUED
*Discount codes are ineffective for brands when used alone, for a new brand or one that identifies as a luxury brand.