This is a guest post by John LaMarca, Director of Marketing for social community ‘6Tribes’.
I lead marketing for a new social media startup called 6Tribes, which connects like-minded people around the things that they’re passionate about, using the concept of tribes.
We’ve had great success over the last few months in growing some of these tribes using YouTube influencers. I’ve learned a lot about how to get the most out of these partnerships, so I thought I’d share 6 things that I’ve learned.
Do The Right Thing
Whatever you do, don’t micromanage your YouTube influencers, let them do their thing, their way.
Now, I’m not a micro-manager by any stretch of the imagination, but it is tempting to request that an influencer’s sponsored content contain all of the relevant information about your product that you’d like prospective customers to know.
The thing is, they know their audience better than anyone. They’ve built that audience, and the relationship with them, on trust and by being true to themselves, so you need to let them integrate your brand in a way that is holistic to their content.
Audiences are sceptical of advertising, and will often tune out messages from brands, but when they see content from an individual they like, trust and follow, they are more likely to be receptive to that message.
In an ideal world, your influencer won’t be getting paid to promote your brand, but instead give a brand they love access to the engaged audience that they’ve built.
The Social Network
Ask them (nicely) to promote you across all their other relevant channels, be it Instagram, Twitter, Vine or Pinterest.
In the world of social networks, this is equivalent to multi-channel marketing. Plus, this cross-promotion is beneficial to them as well, as more video views will help them secure other brand partnerships.
A Very Long Engagement
To get the most from your marketing spend, it’s important to plan for long- term engagement.
Great, you’ve managed to land an amazing influencer who creates wonderful content for you and puts lots of lovely people in front of your brand, or in the case of 6Tribes, into your app.
Well, what happens to those people after the initial activity that resulted from the campaign?
Of course you’ve worked hard on your product to ensure that this new audience will stay, but it’s vital that you come up with a plan to give yourself the best chance at long-term engagement.
At 6Tribes, we have lots of different tribes based on interest or lifestyle, such as Car Spotters, LGBT, Twisted Humor, Deep Thinkers, Anime & Manga or Animal Lovers.
We’ve had the most success when we’ve actively planned for long-term engagement by doing one or all of the following:
1) Get the influencer to become an active member of your community
At 6Tribes, we often have an influencer join or create a tribe in the app, and then participate in some way, such as a live Q&A.
This integration can also be promoted in the sponsored content, and it’s a great way for the audience to gain access to their favourite YouTube stars.
It also shows the audience that they not only believe in the product and want to promote it, but they are also willing to become a user themselves, which is great for the brand.
2) Pass the torch
At 6Tribes, we have tribe leaders who look after their communities. When we’ve run successful influencer campaigns, we’ve often worked with those influencers to hand-pick a tribe leader to hand over the reins to after the campaign is over.
This person is generally the most engaged and active user in that community, so it’s a great way to keep engagement in the community high.
3) Complement and amplify the influencer campaign
This can be achieved by targeted promotions on other marketing channels, such as Facebook or Instagram ads.
I know that this sounds like common sense, but many marketers are so focused on the influencer campaign that they forget to use other channels at the same time.
For a social media network like 6Tribes, putting more people into the tribe at the same time has an exponential effect on engagement, which leads to greater overall retention, and keeps the VCs happy when it’s time to get your next funding round.
A View to a Kill
Bigger isn’t always better. Choose an influencer with a highly engaged audience. It doesn’t matter if they have 300K subscribers if only a smaller percentage actually engage with the content.
There are plenty of metrics available beyond what you can see for yourself, for example in the case of YouTube, video views, so ask the influencer to provide whatever stats they have available about their audience.
Of course, it’s not just about metrics, you should also look at how the influencer engages with the audience in terms of style and tone, and if their community aligns with your brand.
The best influencers find a way to seamlessly integrate the sponsorship into their content, like this excellent video from Loey Lane, a social influencer focused on positive body image, who has helped us build out our Radical Self Love tribe.
Before you begin working with an influencer, you should consider whether you’ll want to work with an agency or try to work directly with the influencer.
There are some great agencies out there like FameBit that offer curated or self-service packages. They have access to some of the most popular and up & coming influencers, and enable you to easily work with several influencers all at once, but you’ll have to pay for that access.
If you decide to contact influencers on your own, make sure that you do your research on them and can communicate why you’’d like to work with them, what you have to offer, and what you expect in return.
It can be more time-consuming this way, but it can also be more rewarding as you’ll be able to communicate directly with them and hopefully build a longer-term relationship that can bring success to both parties.
Play it Again, Sam
Now that you’ve had some great content created, use it as another marketing asset to promote your brand. And don’t forget to engage with the content that’s been created for you: commenting, liking, and reposting are all great ways to increase the lifespan of your sponsored content.
Let the influencer integrate your brand in a way that is holistic to their content 2. Ask influencers to promote your sponsored content across their other networks 3. Plan for long-term engagement 4. Choose an influencer with a highly engaged audience 5. Decide if working with an agency is right for you 6. Engage with the sponsored content and add it to your stable of marketing assets