In this article, Reece Douglas from Social Plug shares her insights and best practices to implement influencer marketing to drive more website traffic and conversions. We’ll cover:
- Q: You’re creating a market play for connecting influencers with brands. So can you share a little bit more about it?
- Q: Have you identified all the competitors in the market yet?
- Q: What do you think some brands and influencers missed in the process that would make their influencer marketing campaign more effective?
- Q: New fintech using influencer marketing, specifically SAS and tech companies. If they are new and don’t have a lot of budgets, what is some of the advice you have for them for influential marketing?
- Q: What inspired you to go from a tv production background to influential marketing and to creating the social plug?
Q: You’re creating a market play for connecting influencers with brands. So can you share a little bit more about it?
To give you a bit of background, I started as a tv actor here in England. I used to spend a lot of my time forming collaborations with brands. Unfortunately, as an actor, you spend a lot of your time in the green room. It’s not as glamorous as it seems.
When I started to build a following on Instagram and Twitter, I wanted to collaborate with more and more brands. Then I found that I had premium brands as big as Canada Goose that collaborated with me.
But I was confused because I noticed they were all female when I looked at my audience demographics. But yet, all the collaborations that I was having with brands asked me to promote male products on social media and other platforms.
So essentially, straight away, they were making a fundamental mistake in influencermarketingstrategy because they were marketing to the utterly wrong target demographic. I noticed a considerable gap in the influencer market because I could see how big an influence marketing was. But yet, all the brands, even at that size, have been doing influencer marketing wrong.
So I started my marketing agency back in 2017, and I initially collaborated with brands with celebrities because the audience aligned, but I noticed something that changed the game for me. It happened when I was working with celebrities.
They were overcharging, the content wasn’t great, and I wasn’t getting the results I anticipated. But when I moved my target to micro-influencers that had more engaged communities on social media and other platforms. I noticed that they got ten pieces of content that I could remark on.
I noticed that working with micro-influencers at scale was an absolute nightmare. I didn’t have the data, insights, and influencermarketingstats that I needed to be based on audience demographics or how engaged they were with the content.
The results were much higher because their engagement was higher on social media than with the celebrity.
I noticed that to set up a social media influencer campaign and brief influences to tell them what I needed them to do, what content I needed back, making sure that it was posted on time. Looking at the results of that campaign was logistically a nightmare for me. So I knew I needed a technical solution.
So as of April this last year, we launched a social plug. I’ve managed to raise over 50,000 pounds. I have a tech team here in Manchester, specifically focusing on building startups. So I’ve got a solid tech team behind me, and essentially, what we’ve created is almost like a marketplace.
We build a community of content creators to help brands create content at scale and speed. We can do this for local and online businesses, which is quite niched. Many people focus on e-commerce, but with our technology, you can engage with local companies, which are certainly struggling during the pandemic.
So we feel like we’re in a nice place, and as we look at social media, the amount of demand from brands is ridiculous in terms of the amount of content. You’ve got to keep up with all these platforms. All these different formats, and what essentially we do here at the social plug is, we allow our brand to upload a brief.
Within that brief, it might have an offer, and that offer for influencers might be a free pair of shoes or a free meal, and in exchange for that product, the brand asks the influencer to create a specific type of content. Once that content is uploaded onto our platform, brands can choose to revise it, accept it, or decline it.
Then upon accepting it, they have some choices they can either publish it through the influencer’s feed, they can publish it on the story, or their feed, and we’ll measure the impact of that based on how many people are reached, how many people have engaged with it. But as a service bolt-on, we can take that content and use it for social media management.
We can use it for your email collateral, but I think we see an excellent ROI for brands. To give you an example, we created a specific type of content for one of our clients last week, and they specifically focus on wide-fitted shoes.
We put a collaboration up where we offered influencers a free pair of shoes and asked for specific content back. What we did is we took that content, and we made it Ad-ready. We added a banner to it; we added some copies and images.
We edited that influencer video to turn it into a social-first advert. We passed that back over to the clients of sticking that ad funnel and just offered 130 pounds to spend. They’ve generated over 1700 pounds. Just to give you an idea of the power of influencer-generated content.
We’ve already had this brand come back to us now and say that they would like us to produce more content for their ad funnels, and they’re moving more away from branded content and more towards influencer-generated content. Because it’s performing three times better than a brand, we’re able to do that at scale and speed for local and online brands.
From a brand perspective, I didn’t mention that if you were to collaborate with, let’s say, 50 influencers, our platform would bring to your attention what content is working the best.
How do you address and discuss the brand, or how do you talk about it? This has two benefits; it helps provide a narrative for the brand regarding what’s resonating with their audience.
Then also, it’s brought to our attention what content is performing the best. That’s then obviously turned into paid social, in which we scale that piece of content to reach more hyper-targeted audiences.
Q: Have you identified all the competitors in the market yet?
Yeah, there are a few that I’m familiar with like Tribe is a massive competitor. When I say competitors, I don’t see them as competitors. I think the market’s that big there’s enough space for us all to eat. And Tribe is more focused on customers.
So if you’re a massive corporation like Mars Bar or Nike, they say your customers are your creators. So that platform is very much set on. But I feel that expecting a lot of creators to have a product from a brand is not great for small businesses. You have to be a brand customer to shout about it, which is fair.
Because many of these businesses don’t have content creators, so I feel that we facilitate the lower end of the scale for companies with massive budgets that don’t necessarily have thousands of customers. We’re able to accommodate small brands as well.
Q: What do you think some brands and influencers missed in the process that would make their influencer marketing campaign more effective?
I think with influence marketing, how the industry’s developed over the last five years, I see a lot of brands, and they have a huff about them. They say it doesn’t work, I’ve tried it, I’ve been burnt, and I said, what do you mean it doesn’t work?
What do people tend to do with infant marketing? Is the first thing they ever do is find the most followers? Who can I see with the most reach? I think that’s the most significant fundamental mistake.
Because as I mentioned before, when you collaborate with celebrities and make huge influences with a massive following, what you’re finding is that not only do they charge a fortune, but when your audience gets to that size, it becomes segmented.
When brands go and say I’ve collaborated with an influencer with a million followers, I’m finding that I have got no return. When you’ve got a million followers, all of those followers are following you for different reasons.
You spend 2000 pounds on one influencer, and when you look at their audience, they’re segmented; 60 of them are male, and 40 of them are female. These audiences have different interests, so when you whittle it down, I imagine that only twenty thousand people out of these one million followers appeal to your target market.
Facebook’s organic reach regularly declines when they post it on their feed. So what we’re finding is that the influencers have to promote their content to reach their audience.
So you know the question is if you’re spending so much money to reach a macro influencer? How much of an audience resonates with you? And out of that resonation, how many of those people have seen that piece of content?
So what I see with social influence marketing now is to take away the facts of celebrities first and foremost to collaborate with micro-influencers at scale and use influencer marketing as a content generation platform rather than a solution for all your marketing issues.
If you want to tap into influencer marketing to create content for your social feeds or your adverts, or if you want to tap into influencer marketing to get these influencers to post on their feed, I don’t think posting on the feed is adequate.
I think you should do that as a brand awareness campaign, but then with branded content that facebook’s brought out, there’s now a way to turn influencers content into an actual advert. Publish it through them, and I see influencer marketing showing a clear ROI for brands.
I believe in sales. There’s a process that is awareness engagement and conversion. To expect all three just from one influencer post is unrealistic in my eyes. When brands just collaborate with a hundred influencers manually and get them all to post, hoping for some significant return, I don’t think it’s realistic.
Q: New fintech using influencer marketing, specifically SAS and tech companies. If they are new and don’t have a lot of budgets, what is some of the advice you have for them for influential marketing?
Recently, we worked with a company called Bound, which helps secure currency risk with businesses. So, for example, if you’re a Swiss SKI company and you’ve got customers paying in all different currencies, now depending on your profit margin for this ski company.
Let’s say it’s a 20% profit margin for every customer that makes a transaction through them. Depending on which currency customers are paying in, that fluctuates throughout the year. Bound secures that currency conversion rate at the lowest rate for you for a year, and they’re a technical platform.
They’re not a bank or brokers, so they turned to me and said, Reece, how do we raise awareness for this? How do we get what we do out there to the market in a sexy way? So what we did was that although there wasn’t an offering for influencers, it wasn’t like a pair of shoes or a meal. It was a very dry financial offering.
They offered to pay influencers 50 to 100 pounds and what we did was that we had a case study that they’d run with a successful ski company, and they wanted a testimonial video that the client was too shy to do. Because they just didn’t like being on camera.
So they asked for a specific type of content from a financial content creator to discuss the benefits of Bound and how it can help secure your business at a time of risk during forex for currency fluctuations.
So what we did is we put that brief up on our platform, and content creators came back to discuss why they’ve seen the problem in the market with currency fluctuations? How can they relate to it? Then what they did was almost like an educational tip piece.
They said on the video that if you can connect to businesses struggling with currency fluctuations, I found a solution for you, and then they addressed what Baum was and what they offered. They took that video and are using that for their paid funnels.
Q: What inspired you to go from a tv production background to influential marketing and to creating the social plug?
I got my first tv job when I was 13 years of age. I am 27 now, and this was unlike the nation’s most-watched series here in the UK, a highly recognized series. It went up after I did that for five years, and because it was such a recognized show here in the UK, I’d built quite a large social media following.
I had all these brands asking to send me products to promote on my feed. So as a child, it was like Christmas every day. So I was getting all these parcels sent to my house. I couldn’t keep up with what I’d ordered, but I started to feel bad because all these brands were male-focused, and my audience was 80% female.
So all of these brands didn’t realize they were asking me to advertise to the completely wrong audience. Getting me to promote male coats to a female audience doesn’t make sense. So I got to a stage and was like, okay, all of these parcels coming through my door are tremendous, but the postman’s getting pissed off, and I’m not making any money from it.
So I needed to find a way to monetize, which is why I created the agency. The agency enabled me to collaborate with local and online brands and, at first, my celebrity friends. But as I mentioned before, I wasn’t getting the return on the content. So I moved my focus to micro-influencers, and that’s where I started to see a return.
I think my first case study ever run was with a jewelry company. I guess they invested two thousand pounds, and we increased their revenue by over one and a half thousand percent, and that’s when I thought we’d got something here. But I knew that logistically, I couldn’t scale it just because of the process involved in doing this myself as an agency.
That’s when I turned to a tech team in Manchester. This is a great solution I’ve got here, but I can’t scale it manually. I need a technical solution, and straight away, they looked and were like yeah, we can see what you’re doing here, let’s run with it.