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Your Top Influencer Marketing Questions Answered

by Rebecca Maslar

Your Top Influencer Marketing Questions Answered

Listen Time: 22 Minutes

Influencer marketing is growing every year. And with good reason! Data reveals that influencer marketing campaigns bring in $5.78 for every dollar spent. That’s some great ROI!

Gone are the days of influencers being relevant to just teen girls or specific industries, today, influencers are drawing in audiences across multiple industries. And, despite what many think, influencer marketing can work for any industry–including B2Bs–when planned and executed correctly.

Listen in as we tap into Cait Weingartner’s expertise and experience in both driving strategies for influencer marketing campaigns and as a former creator herself. In her seven years at Collectively, Cait has developed creative strategy for 200+ influencer-centric campaigns and long-term partnerships for clients like Meta, QuickBooks, Target, L’Oreal and Converse.

Learn:

  • Whether or not influencer marketing is right for you
  • Which KPIs to track to gauge the success of influencer marketing campaigns
  • How to choose an influencer that’s the best fit for you (Hint: It’s more than the number of followers that matters.)

Listen Now:

About Cait Weingartner

Cait is a seasoned social media and marketing executive who has built Collectively’s Strategy practice from the ground up, bringing together her experience across social and digital to push the creative side of influencer marketing and drive innovation within the industry.

She’s also a retired Creator herself and ran a successful lifestyle blog for almost a decade with a front row seat to the evolution of creator marketing from the days of blogs and sidebar ads, to brand partnerships and sponsored content collaboration.

Since she joined Collectively nearly 7 years ago, she’s developed creative strategy for 200+ influencer-centric campaigns and long-term partnerships for clients like Meta, QuickBooks, Target, L’Oreal and Converse

About Collectively

Collectively is one of the largest and most respected influencer marketing agencies operating globally. Started in 2013 by Ryan Stern and Alexa Tonner and now a part of The Brand Tech Group—their model serves as the gold standard for Fortune 100 brands aiming to deepen customer relationships and drive relevance, awareness, and sales through social media creators.

As a values-centered agency, Collectively is focused on creating a truly unique place to work for employees while delivering the industry’s most innovative influencer work. We combine strategy, creative, and technology to provide our clients with the most sophisticated influencer marketing programs and the best tools, talent, and ideas for any social initiative.

Episode Transcript

 

Courtney Tyson
Episode 19 is focused on influencer marketing. We’ll talk about how it’s evolved, what brands should consider and what they should avoid in order to be successful working with influencers. Here to educate us and share her wealth of expertise is Cait Weingartner VP of strategy at Collectively, a full-service influencer marketing agency. Welcome, Cait.

Cait Weingartner
Thanks for having me so excited to be here and talk more today.

Courtney Tyson
We are so excited to have you. Thank you for being here before we get started. I’m going to share a little bit more about you with our listeners. So Cait is a seasoned social media and marketing executive who has built Collectively strategy practice from the ground up. Bringing together her expert experience across social and digital to push the creative side of influencer marketing and drive innovation within the industry. What’s really cool about Cait is that she’s also a retired creator herself. She ran a successful lifestyle blog for almost a decade which gave her a front-row seat to the evolution of creator marketing from the days of blogs and sidebar ads to brand partnerships and sponsored content collaboration. So she joined Collectively nearly seven years ago and since then she’s developed creative strategies for over two hundred influencer-centric campaigns and long-term partnerships for clients like Meta, QuickBooks, Target, L’Oreal, and Converse. And with all that said, Cait congrats on your success in this space. Can you tell us a bit more about Collectively and your role in the agency?

Cait Weingartner
Yeah, well thank you for that. Great. Great intro. Um, as you mentioned um, Collectively is a full-service influencer marketing agency. So think of your you know media agency or a creative agency. We do the same thing but we focus on influencers with that definition is Incredibly broad. We consider influencer marketing to be everything from activating a celebrity, you know that really is in that in between spot that’s gotten so blurry between influencers and traditional celebrities. It can be casting talent into a brand’s television commercial or for a brand-led photo shoot. It can be a product collaboration that is in partnership with the influencer and has their feedback throughout the research and development process and then it also can be sponsored content across the whole social ecosystem. So we focus on one thing but that one thing is very broad and it has a lot of things within it. Um, Collectively was founded nearly ten years ago by female founders. We are now a global company with a presence in both the U.S. and the U.K. and we have really amazing top-tier clients like the few you had rattled off and as you mentioned I joined seven years ago which feels like both yesterday and a lifetime ago.

Cait Weingartner
I lead a really brilliant team that’s focused on developing influencer program strategies that really push what’s possible and surprise our clients with unexpected ways to partner with influencers and are really rooted in consumer insights performance data and cultural and content trends. I’ve always said that we have the best job around because of the balance between kind of left and right brain thinking. It’s a mix of research and creativity. There is a new you know thing to be exploring or you know dreaming up every single day. Um, and our work takes so many different shapes and forms. But it’s always about problem-solving and you know finding those new solutions to create amazing work for our clients.

Courtney Tyson
That’s great. It sounds like a very fun job, very hard in that you know you’re really having to come up with the ideas that work. Um, but it sounds exciting. So I think what’s really great about or very cool about you. Cait is that obviously you’ve been at collectively for a really long time but you’ve had experience as a successful influencer yourself. So like we’ve said you know you’ve had this front-row seat to influencer marketing and how it’s evolved. I would love for you to share with us more about how influencer marketing has evolved over the years.

Cait Weingartner
Yeah, well, it’s grown up a lot. Um I started my career in general post-college and in the early days of social media marketing and you know as I mentioned was a blogger myself as a side hustle. Blogger versus influencer because that really wasn’t even a thing just yet like we’re talking about the pre-Instagram days back in 2010. Um, I finally decided to merge my two worlds and I joined the Collectively team because I saw the parallels you know.
Starting to begin between the early days of social and what was shaping up to become influencer marketing at that time influencer was really still just a bright shiny new thing in the marketing space influencers were often just tacked onto brand campaigns like we got to call it the last minute as an extension and scale was really the name of the game in that era where brands were really obsessed with both a volume of influencers they were activating. We’d be like we must have a hundred people on this program and also we’re really fixated on vanity metrics like follower count and things have evolved over time into a much more sophisticated marketing channel.

I would say one of the biggest evolution areas have been measured in data we are able to really get so much more granular on content performance and audience insights to really understand what is working and what’s not and look for performance trends and optimization areas really quickly. We’re building out our influencer strategies today really augmented by. Performance data consumer insights and category research to have a really strong point of view on what is going to be most effective for our clients to deliver on their marketing goals and it’s also gotten a lot more complex. You know as I kind of touched on earlier that definition of influencer has become really broad and blurry it is everything from. celebrities to people. You just love following but would probably never consider themselves to be a content creator. There are also new platforms and content formats emerging on a daily basis like hello be real or you know, ah the millions of features that Instagram seems to be trying to cram into that app.

Cait Weingartner
And we’ve also seen TikTok really accelerate the speed of content trends where brands are really trying to just keep up and remain relevant.

Courtney Tyson
Interesting. So just to kind of recap. It’s interesting to think about how you know influencers I guess before even they were influencers right? They were kind of like this an extension to a strategy but they weren’t this strategy and now its kind of strategies are being formed around them and there are tools out there that kind of help you know, build up those strategies and inform them as well. Um, so let’s talk a little bit more about what brands should know and consider when considering influencer marketing. Is it for everybody? What should brands be considering when thinking about entering this sort of strategy?

Cait Weingartner
Oh, that’s a really great question. Um, I would say yes it can be for everybody but no, it can’t be for everything. I think it’s really important to start with a clear understanding of your goals and be both realistic and specific. So for example, one influencer post probably isn’t going to be able to build both awareness for your brand new product or brand that no one knows about generate conversation and like rich engagement on that content and drive. You know to your website for conversion. That’s just a lot and there’s also just not how the consumer but consumer journey work or the marketing funnel. Um, it’s also really important to understand that influencer marketing is different than traditional advertising and you know the content that a brand is producing themselves I think is the most important thing to really understand and get comfortable with from the beginning. Collaboration is really between two brands the influencer has their own brand. Um, that needs to find the creative balance between what you want to talk about and your brand’s you know priority messages and you know what you want to be selling ultimately, um, and the influencer’s own personality unique content style, and their community. So recognize that you don’t have complete creative control and focus on finding the right influencer partners and then setting them up for success within that content production with a smart strategy and a solid brief.

Courtney Tyson
So finding those right influencers, getting on board with them, and kind of creating like a joint venture relationship, right? Understanding what you need from them and vice versa and understanding who they are or what works for them because that’s what’s up ultimately going to work for you and your brand.

Cait Weingartner
Exactly.

Courtney Tyson
You know we talked about what brands should consider when looking into influencer marketing. But what about you talked a little bit about the relationship with that influencer. Um, let’s talk about measuring campaign success. So once you’ve entered into this relationship with this influencer, talk about tools out there now that kind of help you measure. What is the best way to measure campaign success?

Cait Weingartner
Yeah, there’s really a lot of nuance to the influencer space and a lot of different KPIs that can be set to really measure the impact it can be you know awareness measured by impressions through to more lower funnel KPIs like site traffic or conversion, and with that you know. KPIs in mind. There’s a lot of nuances that can really impact your approach and performance from the partnership types. So is it a one-off you know one time type partnership with an influencer? Is it someone that you’re activating continuously over time and thinking of them as an ambassador? Are you know sending them just products and you know not compensating them and just letting them try your brand and you know not necessarily having as much control or high expectations for them to publish and there are also considerations that can impact performance around you know what type of influencer. That is it. You know, family and parenting where maybe those audiences are more active on Instagram and Facebook versus a Gen Z you know, kind of cool girl who is probably hanging out and creating videos on Tiktok and Youtube. Um, so we really start by thinking through what that overarching story should be across all pieces of content with those goals and KPIs in mind and really go into specifics defining you know what those goals are and who are the right influencers I’ll hammer on this.

Cait Weingartner
Again I know I just mentioned this a few questions ago but it’s a really big one. You should be thinking about their audience size and what they’re going to deliver for you based on those goals and also just consider who your target consumer is consuming content from. Um, brands often get too hung up on those follower accounts and don’t spend nearly enough time really looking through each influencer’s social post in their content style seeing how their community engages in what they like and also what’s going on in their personal life and there’s their own story that can really form a natural connection to the brand.

Cait Weingartner
Other considerations. Are you know what are we asking them to do how and where should the brand be integrated what platform should content be published on and when should it go live So with all of these kinds of core strategy elements. There are a lot of different measurement opportunities depending on those brand goals from looking at the content engagement. There’s analysis there to measure click-through-rate or the quality of the site traffic or using that influencer content and combining it with paid media for really targeted reach that can get you closer to conversion.

Courtney Tyson
So in a sense, it’s working with the influencer understanding their style and how it’s gonna meet what you want from them and kind of strategizing around that um, let’s talk about the pitfuls to avoid with influencer marketing. What would you say are some of the major pitfalls to avoid when diving into this?

Cait Weingartner
I think it is one not being intimidated by you know meeting to do a million things at once and spend you know all of your budget on influencers and activate you know one ah hundred influencers all the time like really recognizing that one of the best things about influencer is. Its flexibility and how easily it can be scaled but also just realizing that it’s a great space to test and learn. Um, I think getting started getting started I often see brands really just not take enough time to really vet those partners that they’re working with and thinking of it as. Ah, relationship versus a transaction which we’ve touched on before I think it’s it’s really understanding that these are individual people that you’re working with and they’ll all likely have their own story to tell about your brand and really understand as individuals. What’s going to work best for their audience and that’s probably different you know influencer 1 versus influencer 2 it’s about thinking of it as a collaboration and allowing them to help shape how the content comes to life and having you know, really recognizing that there also needs to be a clear value exchange for this partnership so set-asides and budget to compensate influencers for their work. Um, give them. Time and space to create the content and not try to just jam a million marketing messages into each post. Um and also just create a relationship that has open lines of communication for questions and feedback from both parties..

Courtney Tyson
It’s an interesting thing. The thing about you know you as a company if you’re in influencer marketing. You want to have those really great relationships with those influencers right? Because ultimately they’re going out and they’re representing your brand and so they’re in a sense building relationships for you and your company and and and representing you so that’s why it’s important too.

Courtney Tyson
You know, make sure you understand them and they understand you. Everyone’s on the same page, right?

Cait Weingartner
Yeah, and I mean audiences these days can also sniff out you know, an ad versus something you know a situation where influencers just doing it to get the money versus something that is genuinely aligned with their interest so spending that time making that extra effort really finding.

 

Cait Weingartner
The right partners versus just you know any partner or you know the biggest part the biggest influencer you can find that’ll accept the partnership will really go a long way.

Courtney Tyson
Sure Yeah, it’s me being someone who is easily influenced by influencer marketing I can definitely l sniff out when it’s a paid ad or if it’s something that that influencer truly believes and it truly does utilize in their daily life or has an impact on their life right?? Let’s talk a little bit more about you know the economy. There are obviously talks about recession. A lot of companies are refocusing their marketing budgets I’ve read that companies are still spending on influencer marketing. Why do you think this is still a priority and companies should continue to prioritize influencer marketing?

Cait Weingartner
We really saw this in a big way starting in the back half of 2020 after the world really came to that screeching halt during the early days of covid and it continued all through 2021 and today I think influencer marketing is really now being seen as a critical piece of that marketing mix. We are involved earlier in the planning process alongside other agency partners versus just being tacked on at the end as an extension and we’re also definitely getting a bigger slice of that budget because of both. Efficacy of the channel and also the reality that you know traditional advertising channels just aren’t as effective anymore, especially with Gen Z and younger audiences you know we’re on our phones while we’re watching Tv we’re you know, multitasking. We’re not watching live Tv and seeing the commercials we’re paying more for memberships to avoid ads.

Cait Weingartner
Um, and people have ad blockers in their browsers. So those traditional kinds of tried and true channels just aren’t working um and there’s no better way to just reach those consumers by kind of it. Um, sneaking in where they’re already consuming content. There’s also a really big element of flexibility that’s built into influencer marketing and I think that’s where brands kind of move money around and will focus on influencers and pull money from other channels in times of uncertainty. Um, it is. Super scalable as I mentioned you know you could have a thousand dollar campaign or a million dollar campaign and it’s also much more agile than other channels. You know you’re not spending a year producing a thirty-second television spot that all of a sudden you know something happens and it’s no longer relevant or isn’t going to land with the audience and you have to start from scratch.

Cait Weingartner
We can really move quickly to capitalize on trends or optimize even to you know, apply learning is based on performance and tweak to really lean into what’s working and avoid what’s not and also our channel that can. Really easily kind of keep the like the lights on for brands in between those campaign moments with just you know more influencer-led always-on content. So it’s less about hey this is a great gift for mother’s day and it’s more just about you know. Everyday use of how your brand or product are are seamlessly fitting into their lives.

Courtney Tyson
Yeah, I mean obviously I couldn’t agree more as I said before I am easily influenced by influencer marketing. It works for me. Obviously, I’m a part of a younger generation. But I even see my parents you know on their phones on Instagram looking up products and and and. You know, celebrity people that they followed throughout their lives who are now still influencing them It’s just been so interesting to kind of watch that evolve and happen and I’m excited for more companies to kind of dive into the space because I love when they utilize influencers to tell their stories. But I also love to see how folks use products and. Real reviews of products I want to know how everyday people um you know liked the sheets they bought on Amazon right? because that’s important to make me buy it so I’m all for this I think it’s a great concept and I’d love to see more companies diving into it and utilizing it more. Before we conclude here, Cait is there anything that you would like to plug on behalf of you or Collectively?

Cait Weingartner
Um, I love two points, you just made there Courtney. One, influencer marketing isn’t just for you know Gen Z or Millennials like there is a way to reach every possible demographic through the right influencer strategy I think often it gets written off as you know, not working for older generations or men or you know b two b brands. But really, there’s a way to do it and make it work for anyone. Um, and I think secondly I liked your point around it being like there’s an interesting element of both discovery and ??

 

Cait Weingartner
Reviews and you know testimonials built into it and thinking about that because that’s you know, really where the just the word of mouth. We love learning about new products and that’s how advertising worked before we had you know technology and screens and all that good stuff. It was just you know.

Cait Weingartner
Asking for recommendations from people that you trusted and then going off of those recommendations. So I like to think about that and its simple, simplest form. Um as to what is going to work with influencers. But as far as plugs go um.

Cait Weingartner
The season of you know Q4 is on the horizon holiday planning is likely already underway um, so it’s a really great time of the year for brands to start experimenting with influencers for Q4 priorities or holiday campaigns to really you know. Start learning about how the channel works and what type of influencers and content best resonates with their target consumer and really look to use this moment as a testing phase for 2023 planning throughout all of next year I would say you know don’t be intimidated. You know whether you’re doing it yourself or giving us a call and looking for an agency partner to help you execute. Um, there is a way to do it and you can start small, really focus on just finding those right partners, and also lean on those influencers for their input and ideas.

Cait Weingartner
Aiming to show up alongside the content. They’re already consuming as seamlessly as possible versus disrupting that with what is an obvious ad so put your own kind of personal preferences and biases aside and really put yourself in the shoes of your audience and go from there.

Courtney Tyson
That was ah I think a wonderful recap and you said exactly what I wanted to say is that you know your messages do not be intimidated by influencer marketing. It. It is for everybody, right? Maybe not everything like you said, but it’s for everybody. It is flexible. It is scalable. It is agile. Everyone to try it. It works. It’s been working forever. It’s evolving even more so don’t be afraid and I would highly encourage our audience to check it out. Um, Collectively work with Cait’s team to um, educate yourself and dive on in. Cait been a pleasure chatting with you and learning from you today. Thank you so much for being here.

Cait Weingartner
Um, yeah, thank you so much for having me This is great.

Courtney Tyson
This has been wonderful. Um, so thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us, and thanks to our listeners too. That’s a wrap. Thanks for your support as always make sure to follow us on Twitter at @Smartroutepod to keep up and engage with us. We’ll see you next time for our twentieth episode. Thanks again.

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