Influencer marketing is huge right now, so brands are reaching out to experts and celebs to produce sponsored posts. For several years, ApexDrop has been facilitating influencer marketing at every level imaginable, and we can tell you that the return on investment (ROI) at the celeb level—and even the maven level—is questionable. After years of running these campaigns, we’ve discovered the easiest ways to waste your money on influencer marketing.
1. FOCUS ON THE WRONG TIER
We’ve built countless portfolios of influencers at a multitude of different levels and even used cutesy marketing names for our influencer tiers (see right - the infamous Apex "Tier" drop). It’s not uncommon to run campaigns with one to two Stars, three to five Mavens, 10 Prosumers, and 20 Up-and-Comers all at once to spread out the risk. For the majority of brands though, there’s actually a sweet spot in the lower tiers, right around 5-30K followers in between the Up-and-Comers and Prosumers space. (check out Rise of the Micro Influencer). It’s where ROI is huge in terms of real, personal, and targeted audience engagement. It’s a result of two crucial characteristics of Prosumers and Up-and-Comers: first, they still have something to prove and second, their audiences are small enough that they can target consumers regionally.
2. FOCUS ON INAUTHENTIC POSTS
Is anyone falling for that Insta-girl’s posts with the 20% off coupon for detox tea that she just “can’t get enough" of? Influencers have a hard enough time staying authentic and relevant (see my letter to paid influencers). The influencers with authentic voices have helped thousands of brands grow quickly so there is no need to ruin their efforts by pressuring them to falsely pitch your products. Align with honest and authentic influencers that stick to what they love, not brand hoppers and sellouts.
3. FORGET ABOUT CONTENT VALUE
Interestingly, content produced by Prosumers, rather than by Stars, has very little difference in quality. Getting a Prosumer to do a license free photoshoot for a gift can save you thousands of dollars and the quality is 80-90% of a studio shoot. You'll want to make sure you get your content license-free, so you can keep using the content in all formats - for life. For example, one of our clients that makes a trendy jumpsuit called One Piece, is reposting our micro-influencer content right next to celebs like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber wearing the same exact gear. (There are even regrams on OnePiece's Instagram page of micro-influencers that had more likes and comments than Justin Beiber's content!) Celebs are great for cool points but micro-tiers can build real credibility and affordable quality content.
4. PAY INFLUENCERS TO FAKE IT
Paying influencers is not necessarily wrong (see 8 Rules to Paying Influencers). Just keep in mind it's really a paid endorsement and not influencer marketing. The influencer service agency I helped found called ApexDrop, focuses on the trade collaboration space, meaning we generally help brands send gifts as compensation rather than paying cash up front. We do this because it's an affordable and authentic way to build a relationship with an up-and-comer or prosumer. The biggest drawbacks to this method is there is much less brand control with the content produced (hence the authenticity!) and it is much more difficult to setup and maintain these relationships. The average influencer in the Maven category charges $6,000-$10,000 and the Celeb tier is typically custom priced. With the recent onset of fake followers, and with no real pricing standards in the industry, it's hard to know whether you can realistically get ROI (return on investment) or ROR (return on relationship) from these investments. The sweet spot is to find hungry and passionate influencers that can’t wait to connect with your brand. After all, you can help them grow too. ... aligned micro-influencers will cross promote organically ... BONUS: Unlike higher-tier influencers, where the relationship is based on money alone, aligned micro-influencers will cross promote organically and continue to work with you when they love your product. That’s exactly what should happen when you work with an influencer that loves your brand and loves sharing things they love with their network!
5. PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET
You can go "all-in" and work with a couple mavens or stars with huge risk, or you may consider investing strategically with large groups of micro-influencers (i.e 50+ at a time). Thinking like a stock-broker, smart marketers realize they need to diversify their risk. With large groups of micro-influencers, receiving a couple posts that aren't perfectly brand aligned or effective isn't a huge deal. But when you're investing money in a higher-tier influencer and it doesn't work out, there's usually no way to recoup the investment.
MARKETERS VS EVENT PLANNERS
To too many of us marketers, influencer marketing is like being forced to plan an event, like a huge wedding. You haven't been trained for this but you've been given some money, a few resources to help, and are told if you can't make it great the marriage will fail. My question for you is this ... If this was you and it was affordable, would you use the money to hire a wedding coordinator to help?
WE SHOULD TALK
Maybe there is a lot riding on you to grow your brand and you're wearing too many hats? Some brands benefit from delegating this responsibility to a team of experts. It's not for everyone, but ApexDrop offers affordable 50+ micro-influencer campaign services to quality brands. We handle the entire process from influencer discovery, activation, native content creation, and ROI/ROR measurement. We work with brands that appeal to millennials primarily and our specialty is Instagram (although our micros naturally cross-promote everywhere!) The best part is we guarantee results or your money back. I'm excited to share that ApexDrop recently helped a small handbag company launch with micro-influencers - and we measured over $27K in ad value for $5k spent. If you'd like a copy of this 3-Page PDF case study and value breakdown, please email email@example.com with “SEND CASE STUDY” in the subject line (no message necessary) and I’ll get right back to you. I look forward to hearing from you!
ApexDrop has helped thousands of authentic micro-influencers connect with quality brands through contextual product gifting (also known as trade collaborations). Imagine having an affordable and easy way to get your products featured by hundreds of influencers immediately on Instagram, but without all the extra work. ApexDrop offers an unparalleled service in campaign management from start to finish and can assure that their clients receive quality posts and authenticity. For more information, schedule a call with an ApexDrop Influencer Specialist today www.apexdrop.com/contact