Entrepreneur Edition with Influencer Expert Kayla Mueller – Part Two
August 24, 2022
When searching for influencers for your brand, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the number of followers they have. Pause and let the follower count drift to the background. Are they producing creative, quality content? Do (real) people comment on their posts? Are they already posting about your brand or engaging with it? Jackpot! Influencer expert Kayla Mueller shares how to get scrappy with your influencer marketing strategy by identifying who you want to work with, knowing how to measure ROI and staying away from distractions in part two of our podcast.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:00:00] This is The 19, a podcast that delivers marketing insights from Orange Label in 19 minutes or less. This year, the agency is celebrating 50 years of working with established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset. What does this mean for you? It means in rich conversations and stories with marketing and leadership experts aimed at improving lives.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:00:28] Welcome back to the 19 with Kayla Mueller, Senior Creative Strategist at Popular Pays, a Lightricks Company. In part one of the podcast, we discuss the value of influencer marketing. For part two, we’ll be sharing tips to identify influencers that resonate with your brand and insights on how to track campaign performance.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:00:51] What are some tips for identifying influencers that resonate with your target audience?
Kayla Mueller: [00:00:55] Influencer marketing, if you haven’t done it before, can be very overwhelming and the more work you put in, like the pre-work and the planning of finding the right influencer creator, the better it’s going to be all around for everybody. Brands, take a look and they’re like, this is the type of creator we want. Well, first, let’s look at sales data, like, who’s buying this? Who is your audience? Like, sometimes brand teams, agency are like, this is the target demo. And we’re like, Are you sure? Because if they are, that’s totally cool. We will go with that. That’s amazing. But if you have any sales data or, you know, hey, most of my audience is in California, for example, let’s just look at creators who are in California and like look at if most of their audience is there or if a product is only available in a certain place, let’s just focus on that. So I think just taking a step back, that’s like a theme in most of my answers is take a step back and like really think about it and be intentional. So once you know who that audience is and you’re engaging the right people. Search for creators so you can use software tools like Popular Pays. Where I work, you can work with agencies like Orange Label, you can work with both at the same time, and then you can even get scrappy.So based on like your resources and your time, you can look in the platforms yourself. You can search for people talking about your competitors. If you want to take that approach, you can search for people talking about a specific like category or vertical that you’re in, and they may be a thought leader there. So there are ways to get scrappy like in the platform just based on. Kind of what your resources are. Even I would search for like branded hashtags. You can do that in the platform. Anybody has access in TikTok and Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest to search for brands in there and like, see what’s popping up. Who’s already talking about your brand? I think we’ve definitely seen a lot of successful campaigns even outside of my team where people are already talking about a brand or product. So is that not a perfect fit, right, where you’re talking about a specific skin care, people already posting about it. They already have almost all every product in a line already. They’re telling their friends about it already. Why not work with them, build a stronger relationship with them in the brand, have them authentically promote it? I think the authenticity is going to be so key in influencer marketing, but most importantly, I would like test creators that have different follower sizes. Don’t just be so set on like, I need a mega creator. I need I need somebody who’s been on The Bachelor. I need that huge audience. I need that. And then also don’t don’t feel like you need to be super nano or micro and just be like, I need to work with that test a variety, like be open to that and then kind of go from there. But I think that is a huge thing for me is testing which type of creator is going to work best for your brand? Because I’ve seen some teams spend a lot of money on a creator and there’s not a match there. They’re not authentically into the product and like super like digging it because then their audience sees it. And something important here I think is if. If the relationship between a brand and an influencer and the way that things are communicated in the messaging, if that isn’t authentic, it can sometimes damage a brand’s reputation or a creator’s reputation. And I think there’s some fragility there to be mindful of. You know, it isn’t just, oh, we’re paying a post, we’re doing it. We’re that’s it. It’s, it’s like part of their reputation. It’s part of the brand’s reputation. And I know I’ve seen ads before where it seems like. You can kind of see through it a little bit. And that’s not a good experience. Have you experienced anything like that, Chelsea?
Chelsea Ragland: [00:05:04] Yeah, I think where there may be kind of a disconnect or you can kind of tell that they’ve just signed off and are just reading from the script, not really engaged, yeah.
Kayla Mueller: [00:05:15] Absolutely and I think the like the future where we’re headed is short form video, short form video, 15 to 90 seconds, whatever that’s going to look like. But really authentic content, I think like the very scripted posed perfect look is kind of fading away a little bit for many creators, not everybody. But it is really interesting to think about like the authenticity and how people hear about things.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:05:49] Yeah, that’s so true. Just in how it’s delivered to the audience and starting with who the creator is and their relationship to the brand.
Kayla Mueller: [00:05:57] Absolutely.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:05:59] Awesome. So we’ve spoken about this a little bit, but there are so many steps to influencer marketing, from identification an outreach to results tracking. What are some of the biggest challenges marketers face when activating an influencer campaign?
Kayla Mueller: [00:06:14] You kind of answered part of that question in the way that there are so many steps and that can be in of itself what is so complicated and hard. As I mentioned in my previous role, I was manually kind of managing complete campaigns on my own, trying to negotiate with creators, trying to plan when they were posting, when they were getting product, all of those things. So I think I also would never go back plot twist if you haven’t noticed, because software just makes everything easier. But yes, I think sometimes marketers have a hard time identifying who it is they want to work with. Again, sometimes there’s that ideal. They want to make the client like find this perfect person. And by being more open to the types of creators, it can be really helpful. Like if a campaign can even have like somebody doing like a really cool dance with something, and then you can have something where it’s like a teacher talking about something or like, just like making it relatable to a lot of different audiences is something that I think is important. We’ve kind of mentioned this, but I think sometimes brands are so prescriptive on what it is they want a creator to do, although it can be really hard, like you’re the one managing the budgets, you’re the one trying to make the brand happy, like let creators do what they do best. Obviously, within brand guidelines, there’s a lot of processing set up to make sure different rounds of edits, etc., to make sure that everybody is on the same page. But the more authentic, the better.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:07:43] Yeah. Kind of let creators create.
Kayla Mueller: [00:07:47] Exactly.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:07:48] What are some of the best ways to track influencer ROI?
Kayla Mueller: [00:07:52] That is a really good question. I get that all the time. You take a step back and think of the kind of main goal of influencer marketing is often awareness. It’s often just getting the word out about something, but that isn’t going to cut it anymore. Things have evolved too much for us to just kind of say, Oh, people are just hearing about it. You know, we’re getting impressions. People are seeing this. That’s not enough anymore. We have tools now. We have Shopify, Shoppable, just even like different clicks you can measure in organic content to make things more measurable. It’s still advertising. We still need to prove the value. We still need to sell in why influencers are a good investment and we need data to support that. We even work with some partners on brand lift studies or different aid amplification tests where we’re taking top performing organic content and promoting that on behalf of a creator. We see huge success there. We can use pixels there. We can really dive more into who’s engaging with the content and delivering it to the right people. So back to the example of somebody just in a specific location, maybe that’s the only state where a specific product can be purchased. Like then we can deliver the ad just to people in that location. So just being really smart about that, I think the platforms are going to keep making that easier for people. I think it can only help them as well, honestly, because they’re making more sales directly on their platform. So I’m excited to also see how the way we track success in ROI changes over time as well.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:09:29] Yeah, I know it’s changed so much even so far.
Kayla Mueller: [00:09:33] Mm hmm.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:09:34] How can smaller businesses and companies tap into influencer marketing?
Kayla Mueller: [00:09:38] I would say don’t be afraid to start small. I think nano micro creators are awesome. And guess what? They’re going to work their butts off. I should not say that in a podcast. They’re going to work so hard because they want the brands to have a good experience with them. I think they have a super engaged audience. I mentioned this before, but also tap existing customers, tap people who have been using the product or service. We have a tool where we can actually search people who have talked about a brand before and then we can even pull up that post. So it’s really cool for brands. I think that’s super authentic. Even if you have to be really scrappy with kind of some investments in influencers, you could do a product swap like there’s there’s no harm in that and saying, hey, can we send you stuff? Like I think I think that can still be really effective if it’s done the right way. You don’t want to offend somebody. And I’m a huge advocate for paying creators what they deserve for their work. And I’m always trying to support creators in everything I do and in my job. We have a tool ourselves where we can allow brands to happen and manage creators like pretty independently. So I think like a software solution is really helpful, especially for some of these smaller businesses that might not just have a whole team that can say, here’s a budget run. This where they can go in, they can even negotiate with creators. They can send creators messages in bulk they can manage the shipping and tracking info right in our platform. Like it’s just kind of thinking of how to be mindful of everybody’s time because regardless of how much budget a brand has, at the end of the day, there’s people who need to give approvals, there’s legal teams that need to look at things. There’s a whole process. Also, one last note here is that regardless of the reputation of the brand, how big a company is, you can always run organic content and then promote it with page. So I’m a huge proponent that I always say it all the time. You can just run a test and see how content does organically and then turn it into an ad. We’ve been running a bunch of TikTok ads. I think it’s amazing. It’s so cool and it’s so fun where we’ll partner with like 50 creators on something, see how it does. I think we recently did this with Schick, like men’s razors. We had a broad audience, we ran it, we said, Do your thing. When we had some that really came out as like top performing content, we already had it built in the contract with those creators that we could promote the content if we wanted. We pay the creators for their image and likeness. Huge. That is huge. You have to respect the creators. Nobody wants to be a creator and just see their ad out in the wild and they’re not being compensated for that. So I think that’s a huge piece there. I clearly could go on and on about this. That is a huge opportunity for brands, even if you have a thousand dollars to put towards paid amplification towards the best performing content, I think that’s huge. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:12:32] Yeah, that’s a great tip, just kind of starting with organic, seeing what performs and then putting paid behind it for those TikTok spark ads or otherwise.
Kayla Mueller: [00:12:41] Absolutely. Totally, Chelsea. We’re even running some tests now where we’ve done it before, but we’re getting like an updated test where it’s testing the same asset, the same copy, everything looks the same, but but it’s on behalf of the brands channel and then on behalf of the creator. So we’re testing that plot twist. Creators have outperformed historically, but we’re going to see how that looks. I think this month we’re running that test. So I think it’s really important to just kind of continue to prove the value because then we can go back to those key decision makers, stakeholders, people who run company, and we can say, look, this outperformed that, so keep working with us and then even take that content and promote it on the brand page too. Like we always want people to repurpose content. So yeah.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:13:28] Great. When we think of influencer marketing, we often think of the sponsored Instagram or TikTok posts. Are there untapped platforms or content types you’ve seen taking off?
Kayla Mueller: [00:13:39] Digital is always changing. No surprise there. That’s why I like my job so much. I do think Instagram and TikTok are key players right now. Placements are changing all the time. The way algorithms work is changing all the time. I know that’s a hot topic right now, but there’s also a potential in Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter. Like I think it’s important that brands are really mindful of like where their audience is and where it makes sense for them to be. I’m more on the conservative end there of of being like sometimes it’s okay to see how other brands work on a platform. And you can tell there’s nothing secret about how brands are performing on channels. You can go and look them up and see for yourself because sometimes things crash in like a few months where a platform seems like such a big deal. You have to do this, everybody’s doing it. It’s a lot of time and work to get to learn a platform and come up with a whole plan and everything like that. My thoughts there. I think sometimes people hop on something so quickly because of FOMO, they don’t want to miss out. They think they’re going to sound so smart and strategic by doing that, but I don’t know if it’s always the best.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:14:48] Awesome. We’ve been hearing more and more that influencers now have a seat at the boardroom table. How has the role of influencers on brands marketing strategies evolved in recent years?
Kayla Mueller: [00:14:58] Influencers are crucial to marketing strategies because they drive brand conversations. That’s the stuff that gets in the Adweek emails and brands like agencies are recognized when influencer marketing really can make a bang. Like was it Ocean Spray? People were talking about that for months.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:15:20] Like, Yeah, Fleetwood Mac.
Kayla Mueller: [00:15:22] Exactly. And that stuff can happen and it’s great. But also people get I think they get distracted by trying so hard to be viral. Virality is amazing and cool and kudos to any social media who can make viral content come up with a viral creative idea. Kudos to you. I celebrate that. That is really fun and that’s really cool. But sometimes trying to be super trendy and viral isn’t always the right approach for your brand. So I always try to warn people that that trending isn’t always what the goal is like building longer term relationships with creators can help be like essentially like a sales team for a brand in a way, right? Where they’re a voice like if something happens. So you think of the PR world of a brand, something not so great. You’re going to have like an army of people defending that brand or saying why they love it or like there’s different kind of PR type situations there, even tapping creators. I know Chelsea, I think we’ve talked about this before where having a whole team of people to kind of service like a sample. So it’s beyond just asking people like you work for a brand, you’re so it’s in your head that that’s what you do. And sometimes you might need new ideas. You have a whole group of like ambassadors to tap and say, Hey, we’re thinking of launching this product. What do you think? Or Do you like this packaging or how much would you be willing to spend on this? Like they’re literally a sample group for you to involve, and if anything, that builds more of a relationship with them, like admiring your brand because they know you care about them, I think that’s really cool. But yeah, I think influencer first planning is really important. Just building those relationships throughout the year can only enhance like credibility, authenticity and just help all around.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:17:16] Big time, that’s so great. And what would you say is next on the horizon for influencer marketing?
Kayla Mueller: [00:17:21] Very good question. I think I could lose sleep about this one because there’s so many different things here. There is a lot of opportunity for creators to fill content gaps for brands, even in the current state right now of the world. I don’t know how else to say that some budgets are being reduced, some teams are slimming down, and people are really mindful of how they’re investing their marketing spend. For example, if your team doesn’t have like a design team anymore, how can you work with creators to design assets for you? How can you use UGC content and repurpose that on your website? Like how can you use it in your sales material? Just being like very smart and agile about how you’re investing your money in influencer marketing and content creation. I think short form video is another huge thing. I probably don’t even need to expand on that. That’s going to continue evolving. There’s only going to be more apps editing tools. I know our team was recently acquired by Lightricks and they own Facetune, Videoleap, Photoleap. All these amazing like in-app tools to make everybody feel empowered to be a creator. So, that’s really cool to think about that. Even templates and Instagram reels, all of those types of things are really cool. So I see also a shift to using like more templates. So having brands create templates where creators are just dropping in their assets and there you have an awesome branded video.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:18:55] Yeah.
Kayla Mueller: [00:18:56] The creator can post like that is so cool to me. I didn’t even think of that like five years ago as a tool for how people can work. I think as platforms evolve or come up and things change, the market, advertisers, creators and just consumers in general are going to make it really clear what’s sticking and what isn’t. But that’s why we’re all here for the ride. So I’m really excited about it.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:19:18] Definitely. Thank you so much, Kayla, for speaking with us today. This has been so valuable.
Kayla Mueller: [00:19:24] Absolutely. Thank you guys for having me. This has been really fun.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:19:30] Thank you for listening to part two of The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with Kayla Mueller, Senior Creative Strategist at Popular Pays, a Lightricks Company.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:19:39] To learn more about Popular Pays, a Lightricks Company head to PopularPays dot com. For more on Orange Label’s influencer and social media marketing services, visit Orange Label Advertising dot com or send us an email to R-R-E-I-T-E-R at Orange Label Advertising dot com.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:20:01] A special thanks goes out to our contributors Senior Studio Manager Kelsey Phillips, Micah Panzich, who edits our show, and Senior Content Writer Ashley Ruiz. Be sure to subscribe on the 19 on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify. And if you like what you heard today, leave us a review.