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What to Look for When Searching for Your Ideal Brand

You’ve worked hard to build a following. Whatever platform(s) you’re focused on, it doesn’t really matter.

The important part is reach.

Once you’ve got a significant sized and engaged audience, brands will pay you to promote them and their products.

Maybe you’ve already been approached to do sponsored content.

Whatever the case, here are some steps you can take that will help you in finding your ideal brand.

Step 1: Shop around

You own your niche, right? So you’re the one who knows which brands operate in your territory.

Make a list of them and do some research.

  • What does their current marketing look like?
  • Are they using other influencers for paid content?
  • Do you like what you see?

While you’re at it, do some Googling and search some of the keywords for your niche.

Are there any new companies on the right-hand column or with paid ads at the top of the search?

If so, they’re already paying to advertise online.

You can introduce them to the potential of influencer marketing!

Step 2: Know your competition

It’s easy to focus on your audience. But do you know the top competitors in your niche? If not, find out.

Just like you did with potential companies, research your competition. Be as methodical and rigorous as you can.

If you haven’t already, follow and like them. You can even reach out to them directly.

In general, when you’re working in the same niche, you’ll have lots in common, and lots of understanding.

Treat it as a business relationship. You want to learn as much as you can, and who better to learn from?

It’s up to you how much you reveal about yourself, but try to be as open as you can, in order to foster a trusting relationship.

Who knows, maybe you’ll be approaching them for a lucrative marketing deal in the near future?

what to look for in a brand

Step 3: Provide value

Just like you bring the value to your following, you need to know how you’ll bring value to the companies you work with.

Think of ideas for how you would incorporate their current marketing into your own image and brand.

You know your following. What would generate the biggest response?

Are there imaginative and unique ways to blend your targeted brand with your own?

Get creative, but be organized. You’ll be bringing value to yourself once you get some offers.

Step 4: Show that you’re prepared

You’ve identified your best prospective companies and come up with some interesting ideas for how you could help their marketing campaigns.

Now get into the details and find out the answers they’ll want to know:

  • How many followers do you have?
  • Page likes?
  • Posts?

Gather as much information as you can to show how large your total audience is, how engaged they are, as well as any segmentation that you’ve noticed.

Focus on and learn your niche.

Try to keep your content as focused as possible to drive up engagement and show how valuable your reach can be.

Take on the role of an influencer. Don’t be afraid to claim the title. Put it in your bio or your about page.

Again, be creative. You know what will resonate with your people and what won’t.

Step 5: Consider agencies

If this all seems like a lot of work, you’re right.

Finding the right match at the right time is equal parts luck and preparation.

There are a lot of options, depending on your niche, and it can be overwhelming.

Agencies already have relationships with companies and influencers, and they’re the experts at finding pairings that work.

An agency can go a long way in bridging the gap between where you are now, and where you want to go with monetizing your social influence.

In general, brands take the initiative because they’re the ones with the money.

But if you have a big following, there’s no reason you can’t take the first step.

Once you’ve understood the relationship, you should be more comfortable knowing what steps to take.

You’ll end up making money (sometimes a lot of it!), expanding your influence, and growing your audience all at the same time.

 

Share your comments below and let us know how these tactics have worked for you!

Announcing Agency Pages

Today we’re very proud to introduce Agency Pages. Supporting agencies has always been a fundamental part of our strategy to becoming the complete open platform for the influencer ecosystem. We now support influencers, businesses/brands, and agencies. While we’ve had an agency account type for a while, we’ve always know there was a much better set of features we could deliver. Today we take a big step down that path.

First of all, what the heck do we mean by agency? There are so many different types of agencies that have signed up for influence.co in the last year that it’s been hard to narrow down which types to focus on. We finally decided to orient our agency solution around three basic types of agencies who are at the center of the industry:

Talent management and modeling agencies – these companies all have long rosters of talent many of which are now powerful influencers as well.

Digital marketing agencies – these companies manage all or part of their clients’ digital marketing strategy. This might include PPC, SEO,  social media, email marketing, ad buying or even just creative production. These agencies are now tasked with managing influencer marketing campaigns on their clients’ behalves.

PR agencies – long responsible for working with people who get the word out about companies or products, PR agencies have refashioned themselves as knowledgeable players in the influencer industry.

We spent the last few months talking to a lot of agencies that fit those characterizations and some very common themes emerged quickly. First and foremost was that no one in the industry seemed to be catering to the agencies themselves.  Because we don’t run campaigns as a business (or make money off campaign budgets) we don’t view agencies as competition. We view agencies as critical to a healthy marketplace where brands can run campaigns themselves or work with others to do it. If we end up with every digital marketing agency running their clients’ campaigns on top of influence.co, nothing would make us happier.

The other big themes we heard were:

  • Its very hard to onboard and manage multiple client profiles whether they be talent or businesses running campaigns
  • You need to be able to easily switch between clients to perform actions for all of them (like apply to the same campaign for 10 different influencers)
  • An agency team needs to work together and share resources such as lists of influencers
  • It’s important to get all the communication between influencers and businesses if you’re a manager in the middle representing either side
  • Recruit new influencers and business clients is hard. How can a platform like ours help do that.

These problems are what we set out to solve and I’m very happy with the simple and elegant solutions we came up with.

The new design of Agency Pages let’s you show off your talent roster and clients. The best way to find new clients is to brag about who you already work with. When you build your Agency Page you’re basically building a client display. We designed this intelligently to let you add your roster all at once and allow them to sign up for influence.co in their own time. No more emailing your clients to badger them to sign up for a platform before you can show them off as your client.

Second, Agency Pages let you add your own team members. We heard loud and clear that it doesn’t work to have everyone on the team know and use your central Instagram account login – they can log into influence.co with their own accounts. Once they are a team member they can collaborate and work on lists with each other. Shared lists live in the agency account so if a team members leaves your company they won’t take all their influencer work with them.

Lastly, and most importantly, any team member can quickly become any of your verified clients in the system and act on their behalf. Want to have one of your influencers apply to 5 campaigns? No problem, just do so on their behalf. Want to set up and run a campaign for your new business client? Your account manager for that client can do that for them. Team members have full ability to manage your clients’ profiles and act on their behalf.

While there is a lot more we have planned, we think this is a powerful start to supporting one of the most important members of the influencer marketing industry. We look forward to having you try it out.

Go Pro Now!

 

Niel Robertson

CEO, influence.co

 

Announcing Business Pages and Business PRO

Today we are excited to announce broad availability for our Business Pages and Business PRO accounts.

When we started influence.co we were compelled by the idea that influencers had nowhere to show off their best work. LinkedIn’s format wasn’t visual enough, Dribbble oriented towards design portfolios and the idea of building your own media kit or website was a daunting and expensive one for most influencers. We set out to build a simple digital media kit site. 1 year and 45K influencers later, we’re pretty convinced that was a good idea!

What we noticed along the way though is that brands and businesses were crowbarring themselves into the influencer-centric format we had designed for these pages. In our experience, when you see customers you never expected trying to use your system for something you didn’t think of, you should lean in and ask a lot of questions. And we did. What we found out was this:

  • Businesses had no easy way to tell an influencer who they were or who they had worked with before and no easy way to establish credibility when doing outreach.
  • Businesses were spending hours each day reaching out to influencers hoping they contacted someone who was both a good fit for them and also liked their products and services.
  • Influencers didn’t want to wait around for businesses to contact them and would rather find brands they liked and apply to them.

So we launched Business Pages. Business Pages give brands and businesses a very simple way to showcase their products and explain who they worked with before. Immediately we saw a huge number of Business Pages being created. We also saw a lot of influencers contacting businesses through them asking if they had projects to work on. So we took the obvious next step and allowed businesses to create a campaign, describe who they were looking for and accept applications right from their page. In only two months time we went from a standing start to 1000s of applications a month.

Today we launched the last piece of the puzzle: Business PRO. Business PRO takes all the features of Business Pages and turns them up to 11. With Business PRO you can:

  • Require applicants meet criteria like follower count minimums, location, engagement rate, blog reach, etc.
  • Contact up to 300 influencers a month outbound
  • Create campaign reports on your influencers to see if they have posted for your campaign and display all the content they have created
  • Export reports to CSV and Excel
  • Be featured on our brands page (which drives 150-250 applicants in the first week)

All of this ads up to a major evolution of our business. Not only are we providing a great (and free) service for influencers but now we can do the same for businesses. Those that want more advanced features can simply upgrade to PRO. Having both influencers and businesses is a virtuous cycle. The more campaigns that are available, the more influencers keep their profiles up to date. The more up to date profiles there are, the easier it is for brands to find influencers. Round and round! We’re really excited to see where this takes us.

If you want to see some of our favorite business pages, check out our features page here.

If you want to learn more about Business PRO check out our pricing page here

Introducing Collections

Influencer marketing is a time-consuming activity. It requires finding influencers, reaching out to them, managing content production, approvals, reporting, and finally payment. At influence.co our singular goal is to make every influencer marketing easier for everyone involved. Today we launched another way we think we can do that: Collections.

A Collection is a simple concept but it can have incredible time-saving features. Collections are small lists of influencers we love, all from a single category we think is useful. We spend so much time looking at influencers every day we realized we should save everyone some time and share our favorites.

We are starting with simple Collections like our favorite Dog Influencers or our members with large Pinterest followings. Over time we will show you some more powerful ways small curated collections can be valuable.

All our Collections are built on top of our powerful list functionality. We actually build lists in our own accounts and then effectively make them public. This means you can copy a Collection to your own list and then manage it as you like. Add more influencers to it, delete from it or compare influencer stats in one place. And when you’re ready you can email everyone on a list with only a few keystrokes. As we build out Collections we think this might be best starting point for finding influencers on the platform.

Take a look at the new Collections page and the first few Collections we have pulled together. We expect to update the Collections page every few weeks with new ideas and new requests. Don’t hesitate to send us requests for Collections at info@influence.co. We have access to lots of data about our influencers on the back end that may not be available in search yet and might be able to whip up a Collection for you.

The influence.co Team

How to Use the Instagram Paid Partnership Tag for Influencers

Instagram found itself in some hot water recently. A study by Mediakix found that 93% of Instagram’s top 50 celebrities have violated the FTC Guidelines in regard to sponsorship disclosures. This week, they released a new feature that attempts to make things right. The new sponsored post disclaimer tool allows influencers to easily tag posts as sponsored and to highlight the brands who have commissioned them. In a blog post, the company said  “A healthy community should be open and consistent about paid partnerships.”

This latest update is not widely available yet and is only available to some business accounts. In the coming weeks, the feature will be released more generally. “During this initial stage we want to educate and gather feedback from our community and launch partners,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email to WIRED. “After this feedback period we will unveil a policy that will include enforcement.”

The new branded content section is available from “Advanced Settings”, the same place where influencers can turn off comments for a post. Within the branded content section, influencers will be given an option to “Tag a Business Partner”.  That business partner’s name will appear where the location of a photo is usually displayed, with the same being true for sponsored Instagram stories.

As more influencers and businesses adapt to this new tool, users will see less and less of the #ad or #sponsored in Instagram captions. The feature is designed to make it easier for influencers to tag business partners and easier for their followers to understand if a post is sponsored.

While Instagram does not currently have a way to enforce that influencers and brands use this new tool, users who do will receive an added bonus – access to additional metrics on how the post is performing. The sponsoring brand will be able to see these post metrics through their Facebook insights.

As predicted, 2017 is the year of disclosures and FTC compliance and this is a move by Instagram that is welcomed by many influencers and brands. Instagrammers have no need to worry, the focus on disclosures is a mark that the industry is here to stay. Those of us who have been around Influencer Marketing for a while remember when the FTC started to crack down on bloggers in 2010/ 2011. And influencer marketing on blogs is still big business today. 

How to Understand Engagement Rates

Did you know that engagement rates on Instagram are becoming the second most important statistic next to follower count? An engagement rate is simply the total number of engagements (likes + comments) divided by current follower count. influence.co uses the last 45 days of posts on Instagram to calculate engagement.

Whether you are a professional influencer or a brand marketer, you should know how to interpret engagement rates. This general overview will help you better understand how the different engagement rates rank influencers. 

Less than 0.5%: Horrible engagement. Usually represents an account with fake or purchased followers or a very large audience who’s mostly lurking (e.g. NSFW content where people would be embarrassed to comment or like). Brands tend to avoid these accounts at all costs.

0.5% – 1%: Poor engagement. Usually represents really big audiences where most people are onlookers or an account with poor content that is heavily promotional (e.g. a nightclub’s Instagram where every post is about which DJ is playing that night) or highly diffuse in theme. Brands will only work with this engagement rate for very large accounts.

1%-1.5%: OK. Not good but not bad. If a brand has a choice of two accounts with other items being equal (follower count, rate, category) they will tend to avoid this range. Usually reflects poorly thought out grids, mediocre photography, or highly varied subject matter.

1.5%-3%: Fine. Brands will generally accept engagement rates in this range without question and focus on other items such as aesthetic fit, rates, and audience size in their decision process.

3% -5%: Great. Highly engaged followers due to excellent content, highly responsive owner of the account, excellent photography or aesthetics. Brands tend to overpay for posts on accounts with this engagement rate.

5% – 8%: Excellent. Everything about this account is working well from aesthetics to content focus to photography to the influencers engagement with their audience. Brands love to work with these accounts as their audience really listens to the recommendations they make.

8%+: Rare. These accounts, especially with bigger follower counts are rare and usually reflect superior photography or an account owner with a level of celebrity that engenders such engagement. Brands pay top dollar to be on these accounts but these account owners rarely do collaborations.

As you can see, engagement rates are a very important statistic to know as an influencer and to take into consideration as a brand marketer.

Announcing Campaigns for Business Pages

Today we introduced a powerful new feature for our business pages: campaigns. For the last two months we have been experimenting with how businesses can accept influencer applications and how influencers approach the application process. With over 1000 influencers applying to nearly 25 brands so far it safe to say we’ve learned a lot. Here are some highlights:

  • Brands need to be specific about campaign timeframes, payment, location, and overall expectations to attract top influencers to apply.
  • Brands should be diligent about responding to campaign applications even if an influencer is not a great fit. In each interaction something can be learned on both sides.
  • Using email as the only location that applications are shown is tedious once you start getting 50-100 applications.
  • Many businesses want to run multiple campaigns at once due to geographical constraints or multiple offers as paid versus in-kind only.
  • Being able to communicate with multiple influencers on a campaign at once is critical
  • Applications are the first step in a workflow from discovery to posting and then to reporting (and payment)

With all of this in mind, we revamped our whole approach to recruiting influencers on influence.co. The good news is the direction our learning pointed us is squarely in line with our philosophy: brands and influencers deserve a place to show off their work (and who they have worked with) and find each other to collaborate with. For the subset of influencers and brands that want more advanced features to do this, we offer our PRO version. That’s our model. Nothing less, nothing more. We don’t run campaigns and we never take a cut of your budget.

Throughout the rest of June you’ll see us launch our new Business Pages (what we’ve been calling brand pages up to now). The first feature in this launch is offering the ability for anyone with a brand page to create a specific campaign for influencers to apply to. Think of this like a hiring page on your website or a company page on LinkedIn. From here we’ll be launching features to help automatically organize applications to campaigns, communicate with influencers throughout a campaign, see which influencers have posted, calculate metrics and generate reports of the content created, and provide much finer controls about who can apply to campaigns in the first place.

We hope this gets you as excited about these changes as we are. I encourage you to check back frequently this month to see what’s changed. If you have a business who wants to run an influencer campaign, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jennifer on our team. She runs our business and agency programs and can help you get set up and going. All for free. Yup. Free. Jennifer can be reached at jennifer@influence.co.

The influence.co Team

Recap: French Riviera Tour

influence.co partnered with Follow Me Network, H.Wood Group, Krave Studios and Bikini.com for a 10-day tour of the French Riviera attending events at Cannes Film Festival, the Monaco Grand Prix and Ibiza Opening Week.

It was the 70th anniversary of the iconic Cannes Film Festival, and the models we collaborated with provided followers with an exclusive view through their eyes. Here are a few of our favorites.

 

Ready for the @philippplein78 fashion show. This @stello gown is unbelievable styling by @josecorella #FMNCANNES2017

A post shared by JENNY WATWOOD (@jenny_watwood) on

@jenny_watwood in @stello dress at @philipppliein78 fashion show

De Grisogono #LoveontheRocks 💋❤️

A post shared by Amy Jackson (@iamamyjackson) on

@iamamyjackson wearing @labourjoisie styled by @kstewartstylist at De Grisogono Event

👑about last night | @bowenero @followmenetwork #cannesfilmfestival #fmncannes2017

A post shared by Brittani Nykhole Bader (@brittanibader) on

@brittanibader wearing @bowenero at the Chopard & Rihanna event with special guest Bruno Mars

The highlight of the tour was attending amfAR, the 22nd Annual Cinema Against AIDS gala in Antibes, France, on May 21st. This year’s event raised more than $30 million for amfAR’s AIDS research programs and search for a cure.

Special thanks to all our brand partners and the models we worked with; @jenny_watwood, @iamamyjackson, @erinmichellexo, @tikacamaj, @melissariso@kelliemstewart, @brittanibader, @ashleysarahaas, @anatanaka, @rachellvallori. Hair and make-up by @missriso.

Understanding Content Ownership

One very important detail of brand collaboration is often overlooked: content ownership. You may be surprised to find out who has rights to and owns the content you create on a brand’s behalf.  Historically, the brand or marketer who was paying for the content, whether directly or indirectly would own the content in its digital form with the rights to reuse it digitally. Many brands re-share influencer’s content in their consumer newsletters, on their blogs, and on their social media channels.

But the re-purposing of content can be beneficial to brands and influencers alike. For brands, it extends the life of content and makes influencer marketing a very efficient source of content from a budget standpoint. For influencers, when the content is properly attributed to them, it increases exposure by placing them directly in front of the brand’s audience. It also demonstrates credibility for the influencer and augments their clout with other brands.

Over the last couple of years, brands have begun to extend the traditional definition of ownership. This is happening in large part because brands see the effectiveness of influencer marketing and influencer created content on their target audiences. Influencers started to see their images stripped of watermarks and appearing in ads. Brands demanded influencers send them every photo, even if they weren’t used in the campaign and requested raw video files that the brand could edit into other productions. These uses of content and requests for additional content are in many cases legally acceptable based on common contracts in the industry. Many times the brand does not even have to credit the influencer who created the content. This expansion of content use and sharing has made content ownership a hot topic and one we thought worth digging into more deeply for you.

We reviewed a number of contracts and spoke to influencers, agents and lawyers to help you better understand contract language and avoid unpleasant situations.  We came across contracts that explicitly address content ownership and those that are poorly written and harder to understand. At the end of the day, these are only guidelines and it is up to every influencer to protect themselves by carefully reading every contract they sign.

Most contracts refer to ownership of content in one way or another but we found that language can vary highly. The most common terms we found that refer to content ownership are: ownership, intellectual property, work for hire and social media content. Pay special attention when you see these terms and talk to a lawyer if you are confused about their meaning.

Legal language is broad and at times, very hard to understand. Here are a few examples of language that we saw in contracts.

Example 1 Ownership of Work Product. All work product or Content created by Influencer in connection with the Program shall solely belong to brand and agency and agency ownership rights shall not be affected in any manner by the termination of this Agreement for any reason whatsoever.”  

As you can see, this is fairly straightforward. Ownership clearly belongs to the brand and agency who are contracting the influencers.

Example 2 “Influencer agrees that all videos, content and other work product created and submitted to Agency or Client (“Work Product”) shall be considered a “work made for hire” for Client and may be used by Client in perpetuity for any lawful purpose, without restriction. To the extent such Work Product is deemed not to be a work made for hire, Influencer hereby sells, assigns and transfers all right, title, ownership and interest therein, presently known or hereafter ascertained, without any restrictions as to use, to Client, and its successors, assignees and/or licensees. Without in any way limiting this sale and assignment, Influencer hereby waives any and all moral rights he/she may have in the Work Product so that Client may use, modify and revise the Work Product without restriction or attribution to Influencer. Influencer understands and agrees that other than the fee set forth in the SOW, Influencer will not receive any monetary compensation for the use of the Work Product. Except in connection with the services, Influencer shall not use the Work Product for any purpose without Client’s prior written consent. All Work Product is subject to the approval of Client and Agency. Agency and Client shall have the right to use Influencer’s name, likeness, photograph, voice, performance and biography in connection with Agency and Client’s usage of the Work Product.

There are few things that stand out to me from this example. One, “in perpetuity”,  which means the brand can reuse the content the influencer is creating over and over, in any place they want, at any time. Two, “Client may use, modify and revise the Work Product without restriction or attribution to Influencer”,  this means the brand can legally remove watermarks and edit images and video, etc. and not have to attribute back to the creator. Three, “Except in connection with the services, Influencer shall not use the Work Product for any purpose without Client’s prior written consent”, in essence, the influencer couldn’t reuse their own work at a later time without written consent.

For many influencers, these red flags don’t appear until after you see your image in an ad with no mention that you created it. Beyond frustration and hurt feelings, understanding who owns your content and for how long has major implications for you as an influencer.

Some influencers will increase their rate by two to ten times if a brand wants to own their content in perpetuity. For example, if you normally charge $250 for a blog post that you license to a brand for 90 days, you could charge $500 – $2,500 for the same post if the brand wants to own your content in perpetuity. If a brand owns your content not only can they use it any way they like, but you can’t. You can’t use a stock image in a blog post or a clip of a song you don’t own in a video. According to a few people we spoke with, half the value of an agreement is based on usage, where the content will be used and for how long.  

As we researched this post, we found that influencers who work with an agent or other representative often times do not assign ownership to the client as in the examples above. In those cases, the influencer continues to own their content and the brand is granted a license to that content for a short period of time.

Even if you don’t work with an agent, you have the right to edit or refuse to sign a contract you are uncomfortable with.

As an influencer advocate, here are my suggestions of four things every influencer should do before agreeing to work with a brand:

  1. Read every contract very carefully. Each contract will have a section that outlines ownership. If you run into confusion or language you don’t understand (which is very common) it is a good investment to have a lawyer look them over. I suggest  Hashtag Legal as they provide legal services for social media professionals, creatives and influencers. If you do not see ownership specifically mentioned, edit the contract to make you the owner who assigns rights to the brand for 90-120 days.
  2. Know which ways you are comfortable with your content being re-used and over what length of time. If you come across contracts that fall outside those parameters suggest changes and make edits so you are fully comfortable with the legal language.
  3. Have a variety of rates that include brands owning raw video files and high-resolution images and other types of content you are creating on their behalf.
  4. Create your own or work with a lawyer to establish a standard contract that you use or that you can add to any brand contracts you receive.

The way content is re-used by brands has changed and expanded. Many influencers are not comfortable signing away all rights to their content only to see that same content appear in other forms for which they are not credited. The best way to prevent that from happening is to be educated and aware of what you are agreeing to up front.

Product Update: How to Use Lists

The ability to create lists is one of our newest and most useful features. Whether you’re searching for influencers to work with or brands you want to connect with, creating and updating lists within influence.co makes it easy to organize and track users. After releasing this feature last month, we recently expanded its functionality to better serve our users.

You can now build up to three lists with your free account (or unlimited lists if you are PRO) of profiles you want to reach out to. Get started by creating a shortlist of brands you want to work with or influencers you want to connect with.

You can compare vital stats on list members, take notes on those you’ve added and send contacts directly from your list.

Plus, users can now make lists public and share them with colleagues and teammates, even if they don’t have an influence.co account.

 

If another influence.co member shares a list with you, you can copy that list to your own account and your public lists can be copied by users you share them with. Check out this list I created with our SELECT tier influencers.

To get started creating and sharing lists, select “My Lists” from the main drop-down menu under your profile picture.

You can easily create a new list from directly from your lists page.

To add a profile to a list and track them simply click the “Save to List” button on any profile. You can click “My Lists” from the menu and go back and review at any time.

Log in to your account today to get started with Lists!

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