The Influencer Marketing industry is on track to be worth $13.8 billion in 2021. Along with the rising value of the industry on the brand and agency side, comes the desire for new influencers to step into the game, as well as current influencers to up their game. This proves to be a challenge for influencers in various ways, and as a result, we notice influencers struggle with growth.
Whether they are trying to grow on social media and stay on top of popular platforms and trends, they’re trying to get their foot in the door with their favorite brand, or they’re trying to create multiple streams of income, there always seems to be a roadblock to encounter.
Then, you have those creators and influencers who makes it look easy peasy.
How? What are they doing differently?
Well, we can answer that. Here are 5 reasons why influencers struggle with growth.
Influencers Struggle with Growth Because…
They don’t have an established influencer brand
One of the first rules you should learn when it comes to being a creator or influencer is that your content needs to provide value. To be able to understand what value you are providing to your audience, you must first establish your brand.
- WHO am I?
- WHAT value do I provide?
- HOW do I want to showcase that value?
These are but a few of the questions you will answer when establishing your brand. Once you are able to successfully establish your brand, will you be able to work on growing it.
They are not actively & consistently seeing social media and/or website growth
You’re posting consistently on your social media profiles because it’s what you were told to do. By your industry peers, by industry leaders, by your audience, etc.
You should be active and consistent on your social media, as well as your website if you have one.
But, are you actively and consistently seeing growth?
Influencers struggle with growth because they are following the advice only halfway through. If you’re consistent with your posting but you’re not consistently seeing growth, there’s a deeper issue to explore. With a solid foundation of branding, strategy, implementation, and review, you will then be able to actively grow your following, income, and brand.
They have not leveraged important relationships
Relationships are key in the Influencer Marketing industry. Relationships with your audience, relationships with brands and agencies, AND relationships with platforms.
56% of brands and agencies prefer to work with the same influencers. Working with the same influencers allows the brand to build relationships with their influencers, and allows the influencer to build their brand loyalty and establish brand expertise with their followers. Additionally, it’s more likely for an influencer to secure a multi-month partnership with a brand if they have already worked with them in the past.
Think back to Reason #1 and how we discussed establishing your brand. Once you have established your brand, you will begin building relationships with your audience. Relationships that will span across platforms – thus building a multi-platform audience.
The relationships that you build will take you far.
They do not understand the influencer marketing industry
The Influencer Marketing industry has parallels to the advertising, journalism, and marketing industries.
Whether you are drafting a pitch (journalism), participating in a campaign (marketing), or creating content to post (advertising), you are a part of this industry.
Where influencers go wrong is that they do not understand the Influencer Marketing industry, and as a result, don’t act accordingly.
Their pitch process is non-existent, their content is missing the mark (for themselves, brands, and their audience), and their knowledge of how brands and agencies manage campaigns is lacking.
Once you learn how to successfully navigate these avenues, you can move forward with creating a brand that is built for longevity.
They have not created a foundation for longevity
And that leads us to our last point – longevity.
After implementing the 4 steps above, you will have created the foundation for longevity.
You will have:
- Established your brand
- Learned how to consistently grow your following and/or website/blog
- Built (and leveraged) important relationships
- Understood how to industry works – and used it to your advantage
Once you have done that, you will have built that foundation for longevity.
You can look up and comfortably say, “Here’s where I’ll be 5+ years from now,” and then create the plan that will get you there.
Whether you choose to become a part-time influencer or a full-time influencer, the goal is to create a brand (and stream of income) that can keep you going.
These 5 reasons why influencers struggle with growth will help separate yourself from those who continue to struggle and join the ranks of those who begin to see consistent growth.
If you’re struggling with growth and you’re ready to get over that hump, check out our admissions page and get started on an actionable, accountable game plan today.
The rumor is that blogging has gone the way of the dinosaur. However, people are missing the benefits of having a blog. While there are more social media apps that are receiving buzz and people are flocking to them (including the recent 2020 launch of Instagram Guides), blogging has maintained throughout with benefits such as:
- Larger brand deals
- Appealing to people outside of your current community
In this post, we’re going to talk about whether you still need a blog.
Benefits of a Blog
- Community – Quality content is created on blogs for both your readers/community as well as brands to see what value you can bring to them. Blogging is a great way to build long term community as it builds trust over time.
- Establish Expertise – Your readers will see how your value, knowledge, and expertise grows over time.
- Ownership – We do not own social media therefore we need a place where our viral content, solid content, or most engaging content has a place to reside. And can easily be found. Your blog is your piece of internet real estate.
- SEO – The long term SEO benefits allow your content to be searchable years from now when people are looking for a particular subject matter.
- Evergreen Content – Do you create evergreen content? Evergreen content is content that is always relevant, timely, and helpful. Having evergreen content is beneficial for your blog because you will be able to drive traffic any time of the year. Depending on your niche, your website traffic will ebb and flow. Evergreen content will balance out those waves, and in the long run, create a consistent source of traffic and income.
- Leverage – Thanks to evergreen content and SEO, you will be able to leverage your blog in multiple ways, including monetization, community-building, building your personal brand, and scaling future brands.
According to this Forbes article, the first thing that matters most to blogging is to understand your readers. It also states, “Blog posts show up in Google results for years to come, while social posts create a quick spark about a brand. Combine blog and social together and you’ve got a strong brand awareness strategy via influencers.” This gives you more leverage when working with a brand. We discussed landing brand deals in a previous post
How blogging helps influencers secure brand deals
We hired an influencer (for 4 figures) who has 2K followers on Instagram, but a large blog audience & good presence on Facebook. She has 11k monthly page views on her blog & 27K Facebook fans. Her strong point isn’t Instagram. It’s her blog + Facebook. That makes her just as valuable as someone with 27K on Instagram.
Don’t neglect all of your other platforms just because you want to stick to Instagram & Instagram only.
A successful strategy involves growing EVERYWHERE. Not just Instagram. Instagram is one of the most utilized platforms in terms of landing brand deals. However, blogs/websites are still very much important to the brand & people do still read them. More than everyone realizes, actually.
Whenever a brand is searching for influencers for a specific activation, they create “influencer decks” which are presentations outlining the influencer, their stats, platforms, and a reason (we call it rationale) as to why the influencer should be selected. In these decks, it’s helpful to include relevant links to specific blog posts where the influencer has discussed that topic. For example, if we’re looking for influencers for a dish detergent campaign, we are going to include links to when the influencer may have blogged about keeping their kitchen clean, their favorite detergent, etc. We are looking for brand affinity and product usage. It’s much easier to find those examples via a blog, as opposed to combing through Instagram posts that were shared 2 years ago.
Now it’s up to you to decide if you still need a blog.
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One of the biggest struggles influencers face on their influencer journey is growing their social media following. With the access to the coveted “swipe-up” feature on Instagram being unlocked once you hit 10K followers, there’s no wonder why influencers make gaining 10K followers the desired goal. Today, we’re going to briefly chat about how to grow your Instagram following in 2021.
Whether you are looking to hit your first 10K on Instagram, or grow another 10K followers in 2021, here are 3 ways to help your growth:
1. Build relationships with your current following.
Whether you have great engagement or not, the people who currently follow you should feel connected to you in some way.
When mastering the Instagram algorithm, the FIRST group of people who are going to see your posts are your current followers. Having that relationship with them means them wanting to share your posts with others, like, comment, save & share.
The influencers who start learning early on with less than 10K followers, tend to feel more comfortable & at ease when they start to grow because they’ve been doing this for a while.
2. Build relationships with non-followers.
No one knows you exist unless you’re going out & engaging with them. There are SO many ways to go about finding & engaging with people who don’t currently follow you. The best way to manage your Instagram growth strategy is by following the tips below. There are some methods in the “red zone” that we don’t recommend. “Yellow zone” methods should be used with caution & discretion. “Green zone” methods are organic & we 100% suggest you try them!
The “red zone” is where people are buying likes and/or followers. While this may seem like the quick way, it’s also the most likely to get you banned from working on future brand deals. The followers may not be in your target demographic thus making them irrelevant to the brands you want to work with anyway.
The “yellow zone” are activities such as loop giveaways or follow loops. Loop giveaways are where you pay a fee to participate with a group of other influencers and you all post the same photo at the same time on the same day and you each are assigned 1 person in the loop to tag. While they may boost a temporary spike in followers or engagement, these people are more after the prize being offered than your regular content.
The “green zone” has a few organic methods that will not jeopardize your account.
- Gary Vee $1.80 method – The $1.80 is where you take 10 hashtags in your niche and comment on the top 9 photos in each hashtag. Thus, leaving your “2 cents”.
- 3-in-1 method – In the 3-in-1 method you are liking 3 photos and leaving 1 comment on one person’s page. This one gives you the opportunity to build more of a personal online relationship with this person.
These may take a little longer, however, they have the best organic reach and more sustainability. You’ll have to schedule some time out of your day for these 2 “green zone” methods but the results will become consistent.
When learning how to grow your Instagram following, remember this isn’t “one-size-fits-all.”
What works for you may not work for someone else. So, create a strategy that makes sense for YOU.
We would be doing you all a disservice if we didn’t encourage you to utilize ALL of your platforms for growth.
We have seen multiple examples with our clients where we’ve had them focus on different platforms throughout the year so they can build a strong presence everywhere.
For example, a photographer began to utilize TikTok to share short-form videos with photography tips. Utilizing the generous algorithm, her TikTok profile grew to over half a million followers within 6 months. As a result, she grew from less than 30K followers on Instagram, to over 100K followers in less than a year.
If you do this correctly, then you will notice your other platforms sending new followers to your Instagram!
Trust your Journey
As we mentioned before, please, TRUST where you are in your journey. Whether you have 1K followers of 60K followers, your journey is your own. When strategizing how to grow your Instagram following, remember STRATEGY first, CONTENT second, CONSISTENCY third.
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MSL U.S. Makes Commitments Towards Equality in Influencer Marketing
Focused on creating opportunity and supporting equity and education
for BIPOC influencers through its leading influencer marketing offering Fluency
NEW YORK, Aug. 13, 2020 – MSL U.S. today announced four key commitments to measurably improve diversity, inclusion and equity for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) influencers. Key actions to be taken through 2021 on its Fluency platform and beyond seek to create a more reflective influencer marketing industry.
Influencers are among the most visible, creative and impactful media platforms today. The industry is projected to be valued at $15 billion by 2022, cementing its place as a core communications channel for brands. A survey from the Influencer Marketing Hub found that 82% of consumers would take the recommendation of an influencer while data from Nielsen report that African Americans are 44% more likely than white peers to engage with brands on or support them in social media. A lack of diversity within influencer platforms means companies are missing large potential audiences.
“With the most sophisticated influencer management and engagement platform and tech stack, and the most expansive database of U.S. influencers, MSL, and the companies and brands we work with across Fluency, have a unique opportunity to meaningfully improve diversity and inclusion in marketing communications,” said Bryan Pedersen, Chief Innovation Officer at MSL. “We want to lift up influencers of color first and foremost because it is the right thing to do, but also because it’s what influencer media is – a representation of communities with shared experiences and interests.”
As part of its commitments and actions, MSL is partnering with The Influencer League, a community dedicated to educating, equipping and empowering influencers to reach their full potential, from growing followers to monetizing content. Brittany Bright, TIL’s founder states: “This is important work and it is exactly why I founded The Influencer League in 2019 – to empower influencers of color and create real change in the marketing industry. We are excited to partner with MSL and continue to advance inclusion and equality for BIPOC influencers.”
Increase the discoverability and the number of diverse influencers within the Fluency platform and improve how we measure and optimize diversity in influencer engagement through true tracking metrics.
- In 2020, introduce new technology within Fluency to include secure, opt-in collection of influencer demographic data that is not provided through the social platforms tracking diversity data and improving discoverability of diverse influencers in planning and execution
- Continually add diverse influencers to the Fluency database in the United States – through 2021 add at least 10,000 vetted BIPOC influencers to Fluency through ongoing community engagement, including a new partnership with The Influencer League, an organization focused on empowering diverse influencers
Actively support equal access to opportunities for diverse influencers by recommending – as a matter of course – more diverse and reflective influencer representation in our clients’ marketing efforts.
- Prioritize demographic and psychographic analytics in the planning processes to make data driven decisions about diversity-based influencer inclusion and goals
- Incorporate education on the value-add and impact of influencer diversity – across race, gender, sexual orientation and experience – in all client and internal Fluency and influencer marketing channel training
Create the best practice approach to drive pay parity in the influencer marketing industry.
- In 2020, partner with The Influencer League to conduct and announce the results of study examining BIPOC influencer pay comparisons, as well as their industry experience
- Recent data from a survey conducted by The Influencer League in 2020 shows that 94% of Black influencers are compensated below average market rates
- In 2021, establish first-of-its-kind benchmarks for influencer pay, integrated into Fluency for use across all programs and engagements
Give BIPOC influencers access to leading learning resources that support their career development and professional journeys
- Sponsor full 2020 tuition for 1000 BIPOC influencers to attend The Influencer League’s six-week Masterclass covering influencer branding and core value, social media growth, working with brands and monetization strategies
- Provide individualized support around data analytics to all influencers of color who seek it; formalize the offering to include open-access online resources by 2021
Eighty-two years young, MSL is Publicis Groupe’s strategic communications and public relations network spanning more than 100 offices worldwide with more than 3,000 talented professionals. With a mission to reimagine what PR can accomplish and what a PR agency looks like, MSL U.S. is focused on leveraging the power of communications to grow business and build reputation by influencing conversations, culture, choices and change.
About The Influencer League
The Influencer League is a digital platform dedicated to creating opportunities for Black & POC influencers and content creators. Its mission is to provide influencers with an exceptional education that will enable them to reach their full potential in the influencer marketing space while cultivating a sense of community among their student body. With an enrollment that exceeds 500 students located in 12 countries, The Influencer League is an emerging influencer marketing education platform for influencers of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
Contact: Michael Cowen, firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 220-3953
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10 Tips for Pitching to Brands
As an influencer, there are a few things you need to consistently have on your to do list in order to be successful. One of the most important things on that list is pitching. We discuss pitching a lot here at The League, because it is one of our 5 education pillars (Influencer Branding, Social Media Growth, Blogging, Monetization & Brand Deals). Being on the brand side of Influencer Marketing has been extremely insightful because it has given us first hand experience with dealing with pitches from influencers. We know what our client wants to see from influencers, and we know what we want to see from an influencer, in order to receive a response. The difference between a response and being ghosted are these 10 tips for pitching to brands.
Align Your Content
The FIRST thing you should do when wanting to pitch to brands is to make sure your content aligns with their brand.
When scouting for influencers for a campaign, we always have to keep the brand first in mind, and find influencers who fit well with the brand. It’s easy to skip over an influencer whose content doesn’t feel like the right fit. One of the most common reasons an influencer can not feel like a “good fit” is their lack of relatable content.
If you’re a fashion influencer but your content is comprised of mostly selfies and makeup looks, it can be hard to gauge whether you will be a good fit for a fashion campaign. For example, if Olly is scouting for influencers for a new campaign, they are going to be searching for fashion, beauty, lifestyle, health & wellness influencers to promote their products using the #happyinsideout tag. These type of influencers are likely to consistently share content that is high-quality, bright and fun. They also smile. A lot. So, take a good look at their content. What type of content do they share on their social channels and does your content align with theirs? Pro Tip: The best way to gauge whether your content aligns with their brand is to check out other influencers they work with.
In your pitch, be sure to include an example of a previous post of yours that aligns with their brand.
Write an EFFECTIVE Subject Line
People who run influencer campaigns get tons of pitches in their email on a daily basis. Because there are hardly any set rules to follow when pitching to brands, this part can feel a bit overwhelming. Unlike digital publications, most brands do not openly have submission guidelines for influencers to follow. When deciding on an email subject line for your pitch, you have 2 options:
- Keep it short & sweet
- Make it fun & engaging
Email subjects that are short & straightforward are easy to recognize in a cluttered inbox.
As an influencer marketing manager, it’s easy to see when a new email is from an influencer if it is titled, “Influencer Collaboration Request.” I can set aside time during my day to open those specific influencer emails.
The other route to take is to make your subject fun & engaging. Try making it intriguing enough to where the receiver feels like they HAVE to open it to know more.
For example, “130 hours, a dog, a toddler & a Toyota Highlander” is a lot more interesting than, “Influencer collaboration with Toyota.”
HOWEVER, “[Influencer Name x Toyota Collaboration] WILL suffice.
The choice is yours, so don’t fret! Try AB testing your subject lines. If you are pitching on a weekly basis, try sending half of your emails with a straightforward subject line, and the other half with a fun subject line. Keep count of which pitches you receive responses to the most.
Know WHO You’re Pitching
Do Your Research! The most common advice when it comes to pitching to brands is to send your pitch to a “PR person.” This advice is faulty for numerous reasons:
- If someone works for a PR agency that runs influencer campaigns (in addition to 10 other services), everyone in the agency is a “PR Person” yet not everyone runs influencer campaigns.
- Everyone who DOES manage influencer campaigns DOES NOT have the title of “PR Person.” The titles very GREATLY. Some titles do not have the word “influencer” in it at all.
Secondly, if you send your pitch to a general PR email address, then you risk it not falling into the right hands.
Research the brand and try to find out if they run their campaigns through an agency, or if they keep everything in-house, then find the format of the company emails. They are usually along the lines of email@example.com or JDoe@company.com. If Jane Doe worked for a brand, her email may either be JaneD@company.com, JDoe@company.com or Jane.Doe@company.com.
Know WHAT You’re Pitching
WHAT do you want to promote for the brand of your choice?
Nothing is worse than receiving an email from an influencer & it simply says, “I would love to work with your brand. How can I do this?” There’s no backstory, no brand affinity established, no products mentioned, and no mention of WHAT they influencer wants to do.
Do you want to create a blog post? YouTube tutorial? Share a static post on Instagram? If so, what will it be about? Think of that key factor that is going to set your idea apart from everyone else. If you know exactly the product you want to promote, or you have organically promoted the brands products in the past, include a description of the product in your email.
Typically, a campaign brief includes key messaging that covers the product description.
For example, if you plan to pitch a clothing brand, say to them, “I would love to create a clothing haul on IGTV titled ‘5 prints you MUST own this Summer. I recently purchased this top and shared it on my Instagram (include screenshot & link to post). This top is my favorite because of the cotton-blend material, and how easy it is to wash!'”
Explain how the Brand Will Benefit
Just like with the art of negotiation, you should NEVER be the first to mention how you will benefit from this partnership. It comes across as if you are reaching out to the brand with the intent of being compensated, and not because you are an avid supporter and fan.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t benefit as well. It simply means that you will introduce your rate AFTER you’ve received a response from the brand. When pitching to brands, make sure it’s clear that they will benefit from this partnership. Key metrics that brands look for are:
- Engagements (Likes, Comments, Shares)
- Link Clicks
What can the brand expect as a result of partnering with you? Prove that by providing screenshots of your most recent (relevant) posts or stories.
Are they necessary? Yes & no. Depending on who you ask, a campaign manager may not ever take the time to check out your media kit for a number of reasons.
- Media Kits are not 100% trustworthy and need to be constantly updated
- Larger brands typically use influencer databases where they can vet an influencer, review their stats, and see their previous brand deals.
- If they’re receiving numerous media kits per day, it can be difficult to keep up with everyone.
Outline everything clearly in a short, concise email (3 SHORT paragraphs MAX) instead. If the campaign manager is truly interested, they WILL want more information, so use that second email to send your media kit over!
However, it never hurts to send your media kit in an initial email. Instead of adding it as an attachment which could potentially be blocked, add a LINK to your media kit to the email.
Follow Up – But Don’t Blow Them Up
It is a best practice that after you submit a pitch, to follow up with the person you emailed within a week. If you still do not hear anything after you have followed up, then they probably do not want to work with you at that particular time. That DOES NOT mean give up on pitching. Double check that you are sending your pitch to the correct person & try again in a few months.
For example, an influencer sent a pitch to a brand manager one day. No response. Instead of giving up, she sent a follow up email 8 days later, and immediately received a response.
The follow up email does not need to be anything fancy. Simple reply to your initial email with a quick check in along the lines of, “Hi! I hope your day is going well. I’m sending this email as a follow up to the email I sent last week. I’m eager to work with and I look forward to your response. Please let me know if there is any additional information you need from me.”
This is one of the most important tips! If you have typos, spelling errors, etc. in your pitches, you risk it going ignored. If you cannot submit a simple pitch without errors, then it will be hard to be trusted to complete the sponsored posts without the manager having to do some serious editing on their part (which is more work for them). There have been times where my influencer team & I have decided not to work with someone again because of the minimal attention to detail they gave their assignment, their captions, and their blog posts.
Make the pitch short and sweet. As I mentioned before, people who run campaigns get a lot of inquiries. Make a large statement in a few words. Review this thread on how to format your pitch!
If your Pitch is Rejected, Build a Relationship, Pitch Again Later
Just because one of your pitches does not get a response, does not mean your others will not.
Before you pitch, make sure you have a well-crafted message, your content is relevant to the brand you are pitching, and you have found the correct contact person.
If you’re really passionate about working with this particular brand, try to provide your idea from a different perspective or different angle. If you get rejected, re-evaluate your pitch, and make necessary adjustments so that you are ready to pitch again in a few months. By following these tips on pitching to brands, you will be well on your way to scoring the collaborations of your dreams!