What Is Influencer Marketing?

In a world where consumers are increasingly wary of traditional advertising, marketers are searching for alternatives to expensive and ineffective traditional marketing campaigns. Even if you are having success with more traditional marketing, sometimes you need an extra tool in your kit to push your marketing to the next level.

We’re talking about influencer marketing.

Chances are you may have heard of influencer marketing, but unless you’re an industry expert, you may not know much about it. Let’s break it down with a short example.

Think about how effective word-of-mouth recommendations are to you in your purchasing decisions. If your friend tells you their personal experience at an awesome restaurant, you’re much more likely to visit the restaurant than if you’d just heard an ad on the radio or scrolled through sponsored content on social media.

Influencer marketing harnesses the power of word-of-mouth marketing by placing a focus on influential people. These people are connected trendsetters who have engaged social media followings and credibility. By recruiting them to represent your brand, you can get your message out to their entire following.

Influencer marketing enables you to amplify your brand’s voice. More people will see and respond to your marketing, because the message is going through an influencer your prospective customers already like and trust.

Here’s the best part of influencer marketing: it works. Here’s the proof.

Earned media values have significantly increased with the use of influencer marketing, as shown in this study from 2013-2014. Earned media values reflect influencer sales, as opposed to paid media (traditional advertising) sales. The highest earner was consumer packaged goods in the food industry, with $14.29 earned for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Other high earners were travel and beauty products.

And marketers understand this changing tide. 60% of marketers, according to one article, said that they planned on increasing their influencer marketing budgets for the next year.

How Can Influencer Marketing Help You?

There are several areas in which influencer marketing excels.

  1. Public affairs

If you’re in public affairs, you’re trying to get your message out to the political movers and shakers in the community. If you don’t want to spend all your time attempting to contact individual lawmakers yourself, look no further than influencer marketing. A good public affairs influencer will already be connected with the politicians in your area. You can harness their network and focus more of your attention on your message.

  1. Political campaigns

For political campaigns, it’s imperative to find an influencers that are followed by your target voters. If they already trust the influencer, then it’s a much easier lift to gain win votes through this connected individual, especially if your target voters are active on social media. The influencer can rally voters through preexisting social networks.

  1. Brands

As we discussed earlier, influencer marketing can help your brand to bypass the white noise generated by traditional advertising. From the right trusted influencer’s mouth, your brand will stand out. You can harness their networks to grow your brand’s reputation.

How do I get started?

First, you’ll need to correctly identify influencers that serve your target market. This can be done using market research to find activists, trendsetters, or authorities in your demographic target.

Once you identify the influencers, you’ll want to connect with them on a personal level. They need to buy into your brand. If you have a product or service, let them try it for free. If you have a cause, get the story in front of them and let them know why it’s important and why they should care. You can connect over social media, blogging, or best yet, face to face.

Once you have influencers on board, you’ll need to create content or promotions that your influencers can easily share. This could be articles, product giveaways, limited time offer coupons, or just give the influencer a sample so they can publicly review it.

If all this seems a bit daunting, try hiring a public relations or marketing firm (cough, cough).

8 Social Media Holidays You Need to Take Advantage Of

Did you know that every day is a holiday if you check out the National Day Calendar? This can be a great source for fun and engaging content for your brand’s social media feed. Below are just eight examples of holidays you can recognize on social media. Make sure you hashtag the holiday so your audience can join in on the fun!

1. Star Wars Day – May 4

“May The Fourth Be With You” is the rallying cry for this popular social media holiday. Big brands and fans alike take to social media to express their love for the franchise. Below, GameSpot shares a video related to Star Wars and asks a question of its fans.

2. Talk Like A Pirate Day – September 19

Talk Like a Pirate Day only happens once a year, and it’s your chance to have a little fun with your copy! Here’s a good example from Marketspace Vendor.

3. National Sarcasm Awareness Month – October

The best way to celebrate National Sarcasm Awareness Month is to make sure everyone knows you’re being sarcastic, so be sure to hashtag it #nationalsarcasmawarenessmonth, like Elly Jays did, so you don’t alienate any of your followers.

4. National Black Cat Day – August 18

National Black Cat Day piggybacks off of Halloween’s popularity, and it gives you an opportunity to post pictures of cute cats on your feed! A post like WOOD TV8’s can even help to find homes for adoptable pets.

5. National Men Make Dinner Day – First Thursday in November

Here’s another chance to have some fun! National Men Make Dinner Day is a golden opportunity for any food brand or cleaning supply brand. Below, Marigold takes full advantage of this holiday.

6. Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day – December 8

December 8 is Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day, a perfect day for your imagination to run wild and to learn about history. Ancestry.com takes full advantage of the holiday on Twitter as seen below.

7. Library Shelfie Day – January 26

Library Shelfie Day is a great one to celebrate with social media because it always involves posting a photo! Libraries across the country posted shelfies, along with other companies or site with a book collection. Below, we can see the University of Waterloo’s more historic take on a shelfie.

8. National Tell a Fairy Tale Day – February 27

National Tell a Fairy Tale Day is great because it facilitates teaching and learning, and you can target parents. Scholastic’s Twitter post below is a great example.

Armed with a calendar containing all of the “national days,” you’ll be on your way to creating engaging and fun content for your audience every day of the year!

Which Social Media Site Makes Us Feel the Worst (Probably Won’t Surprise You)

It probably comes as no surprise that one third of all respondents in a consumer study run by Hubspot said that social media makes them “feel awful” or close to it. In a world where everyone and their grandma has a strong opinion – and a Facebook page – posts about current events and news are ubiquitous.

62% of US adults are getting their news through social media. These news articles are primarily being shared on Facebook. In fact, Facebook is the favored source of 66% of all adults who consume news primarily through social media.

Given the current political and social climate, many of these news stories tend to be negative. In contrast, respondents said that positive content from friends and family can provide an escape from negative news stories. Non-news posts made by family and friends are familiar to the viewer; they make them feel at home and less unsettled by the goings-on in the news.

So, how can your brand stand out among the negative posts and unpleasant emotions associated with Facebook? The key lies in identifying why people are drawn to your brand. What positives can you bring to their life? Be familiar, like the posts they see from friends and family. Have a cohesive brand voice and be conversational with your audience. Keep your content upbeat, and even if posting about something unpleasant (ie a hurricane), stick to the positive impacts your brand is making (ie, donating to the Red Cross).

If you keep things upbeat and familiar, you’ll begin to stand out from all the negatives and keep people happy to view your content.

Building Out Your Communications Team: Hire Staff or Engage a Firm?

Your company is growing. The work is mounting, and you know increasing bandwidth is the next step. If increasing bandwidth includes bolstering your communications team, do you hire staff? Or do you engage a communications firm?

Or maybe it’s the opposite. Company sales are slumping. And you know that if you could just get your story out there, the new work would begin to flow. Again, do you hire staff or engage a firm?

You’re facing a valid question, and the right decision will depend on a number of things:

  1. How important is it to have someone on site, all the time?

Do you need to be able to pop in to his or her office on a moment’s notice for a discussion? If you only need to meet with your communications team once or twice a week to touch base, or are comfortable communicating electronically, having a full-time staffer in the office doesn’t provide a significant advantage over hiring a firm.

  1. How sure are you of the actual duration and the scope of work?

Here’s the thing: if you hire someone to do a full-time job, you’re going to want to get 40 hours of solid work out of them every week, right? Hiring a firm that has the flexibility to ramp up or shift down based on need can give you more flexibility.

  1. Do you need multiple skill sets?

Communications encompasses a variety of skills and expertise (paid search, public relations, events, web development and design, etc.) Does the person you’re hiring have the necessary skill set to get the job(s) done? Are they comfortable doing press releases and doing web design if needed? A good communications firm will have specialists on staff that can handle various aspects of communications. This specialization means the quality of work may be higher than if you hire someone that doesn’t have all of the skills you need.

  1. Do you have the necessary skills to get the person up and running?

Onboarding a new hire is a lot of work, especially for smaller businesses and organizations that may already be understaffed and/or overworked. Larger organizations may already have the capacity and economies of scale to identify and vet candidates, hire, and train. If your organization is already stretched thin, it may be too much work to go through the hiring and training process.

Sometimes organizations will retain a firm then convert to staff. In fact, a communications firm can help you make sure you hire the right person, set strategy, and conduct the on boarding.

Bottom Line:

If you’re still not sure, err on the side of caution. Begin with a firm because you can always terminate the program if your needs change or if any issues arise.

Bringing on and training an employee can be time consuming, and once that person is a full-time employee, parting ways can be difficult if your needs change or if it’s not working out for any reason. What once seemed like a solution can turn into an HR nightmare very quickly.

Of course, these are just some issues to consider when deciding whether to hire a firm or hire in house for your communications needs. To properly weigh your options, it’s best to consult a professional to take a deeper dive into your organization’s needs.

Should You Hire A Public Affairs Firm or a Public Relations Firm?

At Targeted Persuasion, we get this question all the time. The truth is, it depends.

What are you trying to accomplish? What’s the difference in a public affairs firm and a public relations firm? Aren’t they the same?

Not really.

A public affairs firm focuses more on the political sphere. Its primary aim is to build and develop relations between an organization and politicians or governments. Public engagement and policy advocacy are well within a PA firm’s wheelhouse, as shaping public opinion around policy is a specialty.

Public affairs firms also perform some of the same functions as a public relations firm, especially when seeking publicity for organizations and responding to media issues and inquiries.

Public relations firms perform much broader functions. While public affairs can certainly be a component, the larger aim of PR firms is to manage the spread of information of and about an organization to the public.

If you are trying to shape public opinion around a policy, then I encourage you to seek out a public affairs firm.

Here’s why your choice of a public affairs firm matters:

  1. Public Affairs Firms Understand the Political Landscape.

Politics is a public affairs firm’s specialty. They have a background and previous experience working with local politicians in their city and state. This intensive background translates to a deep understanding of the political landscape in the area.

Public affairs firms are comfortable using polling to shape messaging and determine strategy. They can take your issue and know exactly what to do with it- who to go to, where to air the concern, and how to go about informing the public.

Remember, one tweet can sink your battleship before it even leaves port, so leave the messaging up to an experienced captain. Protect your message and put it into the capable hands of a public affairs firm.

  1. Public Affairs Firms are Comfortable Working with Lobbyists and Elected Officials.

A public affairs firm has relationships with lobbyists and elected officials already built out. This means that you can use their networks to advance your cause, rather than trying to build those contacts from scratch yourself. This will leave you ample time to work on the meat of your project, rather than worrying about setting up meetings with officials.

  1. Public Affairs Firms Know How to Craft Messaging to get the Public to Take Action.

Public affairs firms have a toolbox filled with ways to get the word out to the public about your issue. They have tried and tested petitions, town halls, and action alerts, each of which engages the public in a different way. Depending on your needs, the firm will craft messaging to get the public on board with your issue, leading to a successful campaign and the results you wanted.

Public affairs firms and public relations firms may seem indistinguishable at first glance, but the differences become clear. If you’re trying to get the word out about a campaign relating to policy, a public affairs firm is the clear winner. They understand the political landscape, they are specialized in outreach to local lobbyists and politicians, and they know how to craft attention-grabbing messaging. Use a public affairs firm to advance your campaign and you won’t be sorry!

5 Top Tools for Social Media Marketing

Are you tired of logging into six different social media profiles to post the same story from your organization? Save some time and headache with these five publishing tools for your business’s social media accounts. Many of them are affordable and come with extremely useful (and profitable) bells and whistles. Our top five picks are highlighted below!

1.PowerPost

PowerPost is our priciest entry on this list starting at $599/month, but its powerful software includes a centralized platform that you can use to create all drafts and use to post to six different social media platforms. You can customize each post from the dashboard and tailor it to each social media platform- ie, 160 characters for Twitter.

The dashboard can be a collaborative space for your whole team- anyone with the credentials can log in and work with the rest of your team simultaneously.

An analytics dashboard is also included so that you can view the engagement metrics for each and every post, enabling you to see what kind of content resonates with your audience. This tool is valuable because it can lead to increased profits as you increase click-through rates from your customers.

2. Buffer

 

Buffer is the most inexpensive entry on our list, with its free individual plan. You’ll only get one social media profile with this plan, but the plans including multiple social profiles are only slightly more expensive. Like PowerPost, you can manage all your accounts from one dashboard, and you’ll also have access to an image creator for your content.

Buffer’s main selling point is its automated post scheduling. Buffer’s software tracks engagement and posts automatically at times optimized for maximum engagement. It’ll take all the brainwork out of timing your posts, and you’ll hopefully see valuable returns in engagement from your audience. All you have to do is add posts to your Buffer queue and it’ll post them automatically.

Automated re-shares are also included- Buffer’s analytics can tell which content performed best, and it’ll re-share these top posts automatically.

3. Socedo

Socedo is moderately priced starting at $100/month. Its main strength is in its warm lead generation abilities that can vastly aid your sales efforts. Socedo’s software crawls Twitter and picks out chatter data including keywords that you set as relevant to your sales.

Socedo also syncs directly to customer relationship management systems such as Salesforce. Socedo’s analytics measure clickthroughs on your targeted posts, and will feed you rich data on these leads that can be transferred to your CRM of choice, allowing you to directly turn social media data into warm leads.

This software is best for increasing your sales easily, so it can affect your profits profoundly if you use it correctly.

4. Likeable Hub

Likeable Hub will help to remove most of the brainwork of coming up with content to post on your business’s social media accounts, making it ideal for a small business owner who can’t dedicate their limited time to social media marketing.

Likeable Hub’s idea library contains content ideas tailored to your industry. You can choose with one click and review and edit the posts; then they will be automatically published from your queue. This service starts at $299/month.

5. CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a drag-and-drop marketing calendar that allows you to visually plan your social media marketing. It works great for a marketing team, with multiple users able to sync themselves with the marketing calendar.

Another plus is its ability to sync both content creation apps such as Google Drive and WordPress, and distribution apps such as Facebook and Twitter. This will allow your team to create content separately, and then everything can be synchronized easily on the CoSchedule calendar.

CoSchedule has a feature called ReQueue, which fills social media calendar gaps with re-shares of top performing content, which it measures with engagement analytics. This way, even if your team drops the ball on scheduling, content will continue to be published during dry spells.

CoSchedule starts at $40/month for individuals, but since its strengths lie in its collaborative abilities, the pricing can range upward to $2200/month for established marketing teams with 25+ users.

Hopefully our helpful guide contains all the features that you need to know about in order to choose the best social media marketing tool for your business. There is a lot of variety out there, from tools catering to lead generation to tools containing pre-chosen content that publishes itself. Good luck!

4 Weird Psychological Lessons Marketers Should Use

You have to understand your audience in order to run an effective social media campaign. With a few basic psychological principles, you can get inside their heads and understand why they engage with content the way they do.

  1. People share content to enhance their relationships with other people.

Social media isn’t a vacuum– it exists to connect people with each other. There are five key reasons people share content online, according to a New York Times study.

  • To improve the lives of others.
  • To define themselves.
  • To grow relationships.
  • Self-fulfillment.
  • To advance causes they believe in.

Users are harnessing the power of people. They want the content they share to work for them and perform a function, whether it is to brighten their friends’ days or to share a fundraising call for a favorite charity. Keep this in mind when you’re marketing- provide content that will increase the social value of the people who share it and engage with it.

  1. Color can change people’s behavior.

According to the study Impact of Color on Marketing, “People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62 to 90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone.” But it’s not so much about the color itself- it’s more about whether the color supports your service, product, or brand.

To make strategic color decisions about your brand, think about common associations you’ll want to have– green for environmentally friendly, yellow for slow, etc.

  1. Make yourself trustworthy.

Social proof is likely to influence consumers’ behavior. A power company’s study showed that homeowners were likely to mirror their neighbor’s energy consumption habits, whether that was less or more energy. When someone sees that their tribe is engaging in a certain behavior, they’re more likely to trust the group and engage in that behavior.

So what does this mean for marketers? Create shareable content. When people see their friends sharing your content and saying how much they love your product, they will be much more likely to purchase. You could also publicize testimonials and good reviews as social proof of your product’s integrity.

  1. Emotions are contagious.

According to Psychological Science, when people are psychologically aroused by heightened emotions, they are more likely to share, boosting social transmission.

In addition, the more positive the content, the more often it was shared, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania. To use positivity as a part of a social media strategy:

  • Share feel-good stories from your customers or industry.
  • Use humor in your content (but make sure it’s appropriate!).
  • Ask your audience to share positive stories about your brand.
  • Share an inspirational video.
  • Add happy emojis to your content where appropriate.

Emotional contagion will help get your message shared by your own users, just by putting a smile on their face!

 

We hope these psychological strategies will help you create content that will be more shareable. It’s pretty cool what psychology can do.

Media Relations Matter

If you are anything like me, you work hard to move the needle. And I’m always looking for ways to layer on different communications tools that can effectively work within existing campaigns.  

Too many organizations and businesses keep their story inside their four walls, totally missing opportunities to expand their reach through earned media.

Why do media relations matter in the first place? Like it or hate it, media is influential in shaping public opinion. Whether you are trying to persuade elected officials or you want to tell your story to a broad audience, media can help influence on your behalf. And for the most part, media is trusted. As a trusted ally, media can help legitimize your message.

Earned media matters. Now let’s talk about the best strategy for engaging local media.

When determining the type of media you’d like to pitch, think first about whom you are trying to reach. At Targeted Persuasion, we’ve found that we get older and politically engaged segments when articles run in the daily newspaper, and we can hit a large portion of the population through the right local television station. We usually aim for the station that has the largest viewership first.

When we need to reach a younger group, we’ll seek out local influential social media stars. Based on the content and target, we will often reach out to independent print and digital news outlets. However, don’t discount the ability of your local paper and broadcast affiliates to reach younger audiences. Many of them have beefed up their social and digital presences. If you can craft a message that resonates, readers will often share with their friends further expanding your reach.

This is a very brief overview, and obviously the devil of any media outreach strategy is going to be in the details. Next week, we’ll take a more in depth look at earned media strategy and how to craft your message.

In the meantime, if you have a story that you want to tell, it’s never to soon to start the discussion. Email us today and find out how Targeted Persuasion can help.

Your campaign checklist

Whether you’re an advocacy organization working on a grassroots campaign or a business launching a new product, it’s important to have a toolbox ready to go to effectively launch your campaign. These tools working together can take your campaign to the next level. Here are just some of the items you’ll need.

1. A robust email list.

Have you been keeping a list of partners, influencers, customers, and supporters? How can you supplement your list to make sure you’re reaching everyone that cares about your product, service, or cause?

2. A well-designed website or landing page.

When people click on that email or social media link, where does it take them? You need a sleek and easy to read website where customers and supporters can quickly ascertain the benefits of your product or cause and how to purchase or contribute.

3. A follow-up plan.

Once someone had donated, purchased or participated, your communication doesn’t end there. That person needs to become a life-long customer or advocate. Do you have a follow-up plan for keeping these people engaged?

These are just some of the tools you’ll need to make your next advocacy or advertising campaign a success. To see how the complete toolbox works together, check out this case study from a real-life (and extremely successful) campaign that Targeted Persuasion ran earlier this year.

8 Tips to Create a Marketing Email

When you’re starting from scratch, writing a complete and effective marketing email can be overwhelming. We’ve compiled a list of tips to ensure that your emails are effective and engaging.

  1. Stick to the point.

Keep your email short and sweet. Only give relevant information- stay away from fluff! Your subscribers have limited time to spend reading your copy. Make sure your point comes through. What’s the goal of your email? Keep that goal in mind for every sentence you write.

  1. Provide value.

If you’re not providing something of value to your subscribers, they will unsubscribe. Who wants to get marketing emails that don’t help them at all? If you’re releasing a new product, describe how it can help them. If you’re having a sale, give details and a big link to your site. If your email doesn’t provide anything of value to your subscribers, rethink sending it until it does.

  1. Make it easy to read.

The easier your copy is to skim, the more information your subscribers will see. Try using bullet points, italics, and bold key information. Don’t go overboard here, as excessive use of bolding, italics, and underlining can do more harm than good.

Paragraph breaks will also do wonders- giant blocks of text are daunting to read, and you want eyes on your main points- so make them easy to find!

  1. Know your call to action.

You should have a clear goal for what your recipient will ideally do when they receive your email. Your call to action should be clear and visible- there should be a big button or link moving them closer to this goal.

Selling a new t-shirt? Provide a picture of the shirt and a big “buy now!” button linking to your website. The easier it is to follow through, the more recipients will do it.

  1. Personalize, if possible.

People are much more likely to read information that is addressed to them. If you have their name from a subscription list, set your email marketing service to address the email to them. (If you aren’t sure what email marketing service to use, check out our top five picks here).

  1. Control your tone.

It can be difficult for humor to come across in a text-based format, so avoid using humor or sarcasm unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s appropriate for the situation.

We know that you’re probably excited about the information you’re sharing, but avoid using too many exclamation points and excessive punctuation. It can appear unprofessional, and even hysterical, if you overuse the exclamation point. A good maximum is one exclamation point for every three sentences.

  1. Revise, revise, revise.

Once you’ve drafted your email copy, congratulate yourself. And then go back to it. Read it over. Check and double check your spelling and punctuation. Errors will appear unprofessional to your subscribers and undermine your credibility.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re sticking to your goal for the marketing email. If a paragraph doesn’t support your goal, delete it or edit it until it does.

Another tip- get someone else to read it over, or read it aloud to yourself. This way, you’ll be able to catch mistakes that you may have missed when writing it or reading it silently.

  1. Add artwork.

You’ll want to add a few well-placed, tasteful graphics appropriate to your messaging. Avoid stock photos, as some recipients may find these off-putting. Keep in mind the medium – you’ll want to avoid larger images that may inflate the size of the email too much. They should also fit well with the formatting of your email.

Hopefully our list gave you some helpful dos and don’ts for your email marketing. Good luck!