Since leaving our jobs and making Little Grey Box our full-time gig, both Matt and I have learned a LOT about the world of influencer marketing. A little while ago I started sharing what we’ve learned, putting together guides for newbie bloggers and creatives. I guess I kind of assumed everyone knew about influencer marketing, what it is, why it’s valuable and how to do it well. But the more I spoke to brands and some agencies, the more I realised it’s still a relatively new field. I also realised Matt and I have learned a lot about what goes into it, why it’s a valuable tool and how it can be done right (and very, very wrong).
So, this post is the first in a series aimed at sharing what we know, to help brands work with influencers, bloggers, and creators. This information is also really useful for creators as it helps you see things from the brands perspective and understand your value which strengthens your business and what you offer. Today, I thought we’d start with why brands really need to work with influencers, bloggers and creators.
1. Our audience trust us
This is the most important thing on this entire list. Matt and I have worked really hard to establish trust with the amazing people who read and watch Little Grey Box content. We know they rely on us for useful, practical and honest travel advice. We say no to a lot of opportunities that don’t align with our values and what we know our audience deserves. For that reason, they trust us. That means, when we do endorse something or recommend it, they know we really mean it. Studies show blogs are in the top five sources of trustworthy information and 81% of the online population trusts the advice they get from bloggers! This means if a blogger, influencer or creator with a trusted voice recommends your brand or shares what you offer, their audience is more likely to remember it and act on it. Like I said, the most important part is our audience trusts us – that’s invaluable.
2. We’re extremely creative
Our platforms are our own and we aren’t bound by many of the same constructs as mainstream advertisers might be. We’re not trying to make everyone happy, we’re creating content we know will appeal to our audience and be valuable to them. We love to create interesting, engaging content and have to stay on top and ahead of current trends. This makes our content entertaining and appealing to the person viewing it. For brands, that means the viewer is genuinely engaged with the information and more likely to take it on board and act on it.
3. Our platforms offer a direct line to a specific audience
When you run an advertisement on television, for example, you’re casting a very wide net, hoping you’ll reach your target audience. With bloggers, influencers and creators, you get a direct line to your target audience. Not only that, but it’s an audience who are engaged. Most people don’t come to Little Grey Box by accident, they find themselves here because they’re after travel advice. Most of our readers come from Google search engines, meaning those people were specifically looking for information on a destination. Your brand could be part of the information they see, putting it right in front of people who want to know about it.
Creators are super targeted, even more so if you start working with micro-influencers. For example, imagine you’re a brand that makes vlogging cameras. If you can find a blog that exclusively does reviews of vlogging cameras, even if they have 10,000 subscribers, that’s 10,000 people who care very much about vlogging cameras and are extremely interested in finding out about your product. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, it’s a very targeted approach and a direct line to the people who genuinely want to know about your product.
4. We may be experienced in things brands aren’t
I can tell you right now I have no idea how to run a hotel but I do know how to create useful and engaging written and video content, take beautiful photographs and engage on social media. No one person can be expected to do everything, so why not outsource and let those with the skills, knowledge and experience necessary, help you out?! If Instagram is a weak point, find a great Instagram influencer and have them share your brand message for you.
If video content isn’t your strength, find a YouTuber whose vids you love and have them come out to create some video content. Remember, it doesn’t just have to be about social outreach, you can buy video, written or photographic content from creators and use it on your own channels. You can also buy it, use it and have them share it too! While they’re there, ask them questions, watch them work and learn from them.
5. We’re great wingmen
A brand can have a fantastic message and a great product to offer people but all that hard work can be wasted if it doesn’t get through to the people who will use and value it. That’s where bloggers, influencers and creators come in – we’re you’re ultimate wingman! If you work with a creator to help them truly understand your brand, vision, message and product, they’ll be able to translate that into something their audience can understand. We can also help a brand establish a relationship with our beloved readers. For example, a photo shared on Instagram might be a great way for the brand to peruse the comments and engage with those who loved it. The same goes for blog posts. Think of us as your matchmakers, putting you and the people who may love your product, together!
6. We know what our audience love and hate
Because we establish such close relationships with our audiences, we know what they do and don’t like. For example, I know Little Grey Box readers love to laugh, they love fun content that gives them the information they need to plan their travels without it being boring or dull. If a brand came to me with a campaign idea that didn’t offer the things I know readers love, I could confidently tell them and we could work together to come up with a campaign that does. I mean, after all, the brand wants my audience to find out about their product, so it makes sense they’d take on board what I know about them to help them get the best outcome possible. The end result is content that’s better received by the intended viewer, meaning it is more impactful and useful to them.
7. Brand awareness
When it comes to return on investment, working with bloggers, influencers and creators can offer a number of things, like brand awareness. You may have an amazing product but it’s no good if nobody ever hears about it. A lot of brands rely on more traditional methods, like press releases, to build brand awareness. In fact, I receive loads of press releases each day, so many it’s impossible to read them all and absorb the information. I’m also so used to seeing tv adverts that I tune them out now or avoid them altogether by watching through streaming services.
You can build your exposure and brand awareness by working with creators. A blog post, YouTube video, Tweet or photo posted on Instagram by a creator with your desired target audience can be seen by tens of thousands of people. Have you heard of Kim Kardashian’s makeup line, KKW beauty? How about her fragrances? I recently learned that ol’ KKW did ALL of the marketing for her Kimoji Hearts fragrances through social media. They all sold out, she made millions and didn’t spend a cent on traditional advertising methods. Now, granted, KKW has some serious social media clout, but the power of modern marketing is real! I didn’t see a single ad for her fragrances, heck, I don’t even like the Kardashians, but I knew about those fragrances before they went up for sale. Influencers create brand awareness, plain and simple.
8. Increase in sales
First things first, we’re fantastic at driving traffic to a brand’s site. If I’m writing about a hotel in Tokyo and the reader has come through from Google search, looking for recommendations on great hotels in Tokyo, there’s a very good chance they’ll click through to the hotel I’m raving about to check it out for themselves and see if it’s what they’re after. What’s more, there are studies proving influencers drive sales, with one showing 61% of people who read a recommendation from a blogger made a purchase. Through the stats we see on Little Grey Box, some campaigns have a quick burst of sales while others continue to serve over time, year after year. Either way, influencers, bloggers and creators increase sales.
9. Long-form, long-term content is very valuable
That last point leads me perfectly into this one. There are clear benefits to working with influencers with a strong social media following, like Instagrammers. But long-form content, like a blog post, has a very important place too. Many people won’t read the description box below a photo posted on Instagram and, if they do, they won’t read the whole thing. Even if they do, the amount of information that can be placed in that box is minimal. A blog post, on the other hand, can contain a great deal of detailed information. For us, the people who read those blog posts have come to Little Grey Box specifically looking for it, so they tend to read the whole thing!
What’s more, the content is long form and long-term, meaning we don’t delete it unless absolutely necessary. Where an Instagram image is fleeting, liked and forgotten, a blog post remains and, in our experience, the views on it tend to grow over time. Meaning, a year from now, new readers could be coming to the site, reading about your product. That’s a pretty good ROI, if you ask me.
10. We’re budget friendly
There’s a big difference between budget-friendly and free and if you want good quality content, you’re going to need to pay for it. That said, we’ve always found our pricing to be far more affordable than working with an agency to create a television ad, for example. Brands can get content that appeals to their target market, is of great quality and conveys their key message without totally blowing their advertising budget. The feedback I’ve heard from clients is that what we offer is more affordable and effective than traditional advertising methods.
While my idealistic heart would love for every influencer, blogger and creator to be a shining example of a good work ethic, that isn’t always the case. I’ve heard some really bad stories from clients and marketing teams who have had a terrible experience with creators. So, it’s important to choose a creator who aligns with your brand and do your due diligence. To help with this, I’ll be sharing my tips on how to work with creators, how to approach them, ways to work with them, how to brief them, how much to pay them, what you can reasonably expect from them and my must-know tips on getting the most out of them. So, keep your eyes out for more insider tips in my ‘Brand Advice’ series. If there’s anything I’ve missed that you’d love to know, don’t hesitate to ask and I can look at creating a post about it.