Who has over a million social media followers and can claim tens of thousands of pounds for just one post, but you have never heard of them? Welcome to the world of social media influencers. Whether we like the idea of them, or want to work with any of them, we can’t ignore them. Particularly if you want to get your drinks brand in front of the right target audience. Jackie Fast gives her own personal take on what it is like to be seen as an influencer, thanks to her time on BBC’s The Apprentice, the challenges of becoming one and, in this frank account, gives her five top tips on how to work best and get the most out of social media influencers.
Jackie Fast knows only too well what it is like to try and sell a brand using social media influencers. As she is one. Not always, as she so openly admits, to great success. But she is ideally placed to offer this advice on how to work with social media influencers.
We live in a world of irrelevant television commercials, ad blockers and sensory overload making traditional marketing much trickier to reach savvier customers. This is further amplified by the fact that social media has equalised the playing field with new drinks products launching every day. As such more drinks brands and wineries are turning to social media influencer marketing to build their brands and drive new sales online.
But in this world of #fakenews is it all that it seems?
Why Use Social Media Influencers
The benefits to using influencer marketing are easy to understand:
- Cheap compared to traditional marketing channels
- Transparent with a clearly defined audience
However, with the rise in value of the influencer so too has been the rise of their tricks of the trade. Influencers are now able to buy their audiences online for as little as £10 for 1,000 new followers on Instagram. Making matters murkier still, they can also buy likes and comments making it impossible to tell an influencer’s true engagement within your product category. Although social channels are constantly changing algorithms to eliminate these short cuts, they have yet to figure out a solution to ensure true engagement is happening. So what you are seeing isn’t necessarily what is actually happening.
Furthermore, the rise in online persuasion has shifted the ask for collaborations driving the power of balance to the influencer. Brand promotions have exponentially increased in value with some influencers charging six figures for just one post. When Instagram first launched, celebrities such as premier league footballers were in the hundreds, they now have vastly surpassed this with top-earner Kim Kardashian now charging a whopping $1m per square.
In wine, the influencers are plenty and whilst credibility might stop Jancis Robinson from marketing herself out as an influencer and charging brands for 5-star reviews, the other 6,214 Instagram ‘wine influencers’ in the UK with an English speaking audience are charging anywhere from £50 to £1,500 per Instagram post.
Just Because You Have an Online Audience…
Having recently amassed a significant online following by being on last year’s BBC’s The Apprentice (I went from 500 followers to 16,000 on Instagram in less than one month) I know first-hand the pitfalls of influencer marketing.
Timing the launch of my luxury Ice Wine brand REBEL Pi with the announcement of being an Apprentice candidate I aimed to capitalise on my 15 Minutes of Fame. As my online audience grew with each episode it became ever more apparent my own influencer marketing for my own brand was a catastrophic failure. With fans sending me over 2,000 DMs after each episode, I failed to be able to convert any of this new fan-dome into actual ice wine sales.
Being a marketer, and now an ‘influencer’, I was distraught. Not to mention I had made a significant investment based on the rational that my luxury ice wine would sell to my new online audience.
After the highs and lows of the show, over 25,000 new followers spread across multiple social channels, and thousands of column inches about my The Apprentice antics I was finally fired by Lord Alan Sugar with a sales tally of one bottle of REBEL Pi Roussanne ice wine sold.
Although devastated, the greatest advantage of social media is the ability to connect directly to your audience – which I did with aplomb. “Why didn’t you buy a bottle? If you are interested in supporting me, why don’t you buy my REBEL Pi ice wine? Do you not think it’s cool/amazing/fun/exciting?”
My questions were relentless and ironically all came back with the same answer…
“Sorry, I’m only 14 years of age.”
Not only was I bad at my own influencer marketing, what I was doing was actually illegal.
Assuming you are very clear about your target demographic unlike I was, influencer marketing can work exceptionally well – especially in the drinks industry, but you need to approach with caution. Far too often the rigour that one would take when utilising traditional marketing is thrown to the wind because social media has less financial risk underpinning delivery.
However, a waste of time and money is still a waste of time and money.
To ensure you can spend more of your time outside drinking rosé (or ice wine), here are my Top 5 Tips if you are thinking about using influencer marketing this summer:
1 Budget-friendly drinks products work better than luxury
If you are relying on influencer marketing as the bulk of your marketing budget, then you should ensure that your product is something that people feel comfortable buying online. Although luxury brands can work, there is a significant amount of additional costs involved to ensuring that the images look as luxurious as the actual product is. Budget-friendly drink products are not only easier to purchase at an impulse, they also tend to be more flexible when placing them into different shooting situations (lighting, Instagram Stories, etc).
2 Don’t waste time on finding influencers
Use online platforms such as Upfluence and Socialbakers which will help you identify influencers, how much of their audience is real, and the influencer’s fees per post quickly rather than getting carpal tunnel by endlessly scrolling through content.
3 Be very clear on the brief
Ensure that when you decide to do influencer marketing, you are clear about the messaging. It is the influencer’s job to tailor your message to suit their audience, but if you are just looking for ‘sales’ it will not resonate. Be clear about what makes you different from your competitors, what kind of feeling you want to emit, and provide key hashtags and handles so as not to waste an opportunity.
Clothing products do this very well by gifting or trading a discount on future purchases per post. As drinks are products people want, especially if they are new, initially try to barter with your influencers rather than pay cold hard cash.
Keep your eyes peeled for collaborations online to get ideas of how you’d want your product to be featured, and what kind of content you’d want the influencer to write about. You don’t have to recreate new content each time, repurposing to new audiences is perfectly acceptable.
Now go enjoy the sunshine whilst we keep our eyes peeled for your new #ads!
- If you want to talk more to Jackie Fast about the role of social media influencers, or find our more about her luxury Canadian ice wine brand, REBEL Pi then email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.