by Jenna Kutcher
Remember when “Influencers” weren’t even a thing? Like when advertising on the internet was mainly in the form of pop up ads and spam emails? I can’t say I miss those days — I love the Influencer Marketing world we live in today. You probably know that I’m an influencer and I make money from sponsored posts, but the reality is if you have ONE follower you are an influencer, and ANYONE can grow that following to build a business and earn a paycheck as an influencer. How? With the right strategy, I know you can do it.
That’s what I’m talking about with Ali Grant. Ali knows influencers. She launched her business Be Social in 2012 as one of the first agencies working on influencer outreach and collaboration. I am so excited to ask Ali some of YOUR biggest influencer questions like: How many followers do I actually need to start making money? What are the secrets to NAILING a pitch for a brand collaboration? And really, how can we handle the sponsored post fatigue our audiences might be feeling?
True story: I wanted Ali and Be Social to represent ME when I first started out, so it is totally full circle and such an honor to have her on the show to talk about the influencer world.
What is Influencer Marketing?
We jumped right into our conversation about influencer marketing with a look at influencer marketing as a whole, and where the industry might be headed. To Ali and her company Be Social, “An influencer is someone who has a point of view and tells a story about it. You don’t need to have millions of followers. You could have one follower, and you could have a point of view about something, and you could influence that one follower.”
While the industry may have started as brands working with people with massive followings, it’s really evolved to allow influencers with a smaller audience to work with brands, too. There are so many influencers now, giving brands so many more options, which is also forcing influencers themselves to evolve and be different with their point of view and story.
Ali hears the question all the time: Is it too late to be an influencer? Her answer: Not at all. There’s opportunity now and there will be years from now. Don’t be deterred thinking the market is saturated or that you’re too late to the game.
What Brands Need to Know
Ali plays the role of middleman (woman!) between brands and talent. She educates both brands and talent about how partnerships work, what to expect, and what really goes into a successful collaboration.
One of the most important things Ali shares with her brand clients is that they’re hiring a specific talent for a reason — Whether it’s for their storytelling style, their content, their overall vibe. If the brand then tries to control the messaging, it’s a terrible loss to the brand because the talent can’t speak in their own voice. Ali encourages brands to empower the Influencer to share the message in their own way.
What Influencers Need to Know
“This is a business,” and that’s what Ali promotes with the Influencers she represents. Influencers need to think of their Instagram, blog, and other platforms as a business and complete the campaigns on time and deliver assets on schedule. Asking for extensions, missing deadlines, and other missteps are a hit to your professionalism as an Influencer, and if you really want to make a living in the industry, you’ve got to take it seriously.
Another important lesson Ali shares with talent is that it’s okay to take a beat, slow down, and not say YES to everything. If you want to do this long term, don’t get distracted by shiny objects and big dollar amounts. Consider the brand with your future goals in mind. Does the brand make sense for you and your followers? Be critical of the partnerships you take on.
Where to Start Today
If you’re dreaming up the Influencer life for yourself, and an inbox filled with collaboration requests excites you, there are a few action steps you can take right now to move the needle forward. Ali says, “The industry is all about relationships.” Start with a long wish list of brands that you want to work with, and that align with your own brand that you already use organically.
With your list in hand, find contact information for those brands and introduce yourself. If you’re just sitting back and waiting for those brands to come to you, it may never reach you. Do that investigative social media work I know you’re so good at and scour Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn for an email. Reach out to say hello, maybe include a media kit if you have one, and allow the relationship to evolve from there.
So maybe you don’t land a $10,000 collaboration deal on the first try. But maybe you do receive a gifted product that you can share about on your platforms and show the client what it would be like to work with you.
Important Components of a Pitch
Pitching a brand for a potential collaboration is about two things: Providing your stats and sharing content ideas. Your engagement rate, followers, pages views are all important to a brand and they’re used to seeing this information in a media kit.
If your numbers aren’t huge, don’t forget that content is important, too. Give the brand some idea of how you will share about them. What unique angle can you take to get your followers excited about their product or service? Content is expensive to create so brands love to see what you can create for them.
Avoid a blind pitch. Know the company, have a specific reason and purpose for reaching out. Generic pitches come across as inauthentic and are more likely to end up in the trash folder.
More from this Episode
Questions about pricing yourself as an Influencer? What are brands really looking for right now? What platform are brands looking at more these days? How can you grow your career in this space if you don’t want to be the face yourself? What does Ali look for that proves someone has true influence? All of these questions, plus more deep discussion about the world of influencer marketing, just press play on the player above.