By Brandon Harris
Influencer marketing continues to evolve, with new brand success stories popping up every day. Typically, the advice comes from the executive (buying) side of influencer marketing. As someone who has been both an advertiser on behalf of several brands and an influencer building social media entities, I wanted to share some advice from some of the largest influencers in the world, who I've worked with in the past. They've seen thousands of campaigns and learned the best ways to manage social media, what makes influencer campaigns successful and much more.
Each creator owns or manages millions of followers, with several managing over 10 million. Here's what they thought you'd find most valuable:
Keep in Mind That User Attention Spans Are Short
Your content needs to draw the audience in right away. Josh Millan of Whistle Sports told me, "It is essential to create engaging content that will grab the attention of the viewer in the first 3-5 seconds. Our goal is to empower our audience by producing and distributing participatory content that creates a two-way conversation with our audience." Go for attention with a frame of action, humor, bright colors or a pattern interrupt. Then go for engagement, then conversion.
You Must Provide Value In One Way or Another
Whether it's great information, lots of humor or a unique perspective, you have to be different to stand out and grow. According to Landon Boucher, an influencer I've worked with who has an incredibly-engaged personal following, "Most people don’t realize how much time creating a good social media page takes. To gain a big following, you must be willing to do what others aren’t willing to do ... which is dedicating time and effort to mastering your craft. Be different. Be appealing. Offer something."
Whether it's great content or tangible value like giveaways, create value for the users. It's about them, not you. This month, I've run a five-winner giveaway on my personal Instagram that has gained me 20,000 followers by amplifying it on influencers' accounts, then requiring engagement and tagging to enter.
Using Hashtags Effectively Can Make a Big Difference
Joey Hickson of Integrate Social Group told me, "Hashtags help you reach audiences that you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Try to use 3-10 hashtags that are common but not generic. I recommend posting them as the first comment rather than in the post caption, so it’s not as in-your-face. If you prompt engagement and use appropriate hashtags, your account should grow organically."
Though it's tough to measure the impact of exact hashtags, my reach has gone up since I moved away from #business and towards second-tier hashtags like #influencermarketing and #instagrammarketing.
Corner a Niche
When you're able to brand yourself as the face of a niche, growth will come organically.
"The best advice I can give people who are trying to build a mass audience on social media is that you have to be extremely unique and corner a niche that there’s market demand for. And that’s on top of one of the hardest things to come by, which is excellent content. I feel those two things are the root of what’s needed, and then the branding tricks and strategies are just complementary," Grayson Boucher said.
"The Professor" used his ultra-unique Spiderman Basketball series to explode on YouTube and Instagram. He took a popular, trending character, combined it with his trademark streetball style and created a viral masterpiece. You can corner a niche and use trends to popularize your content as well.
Reach out and connect with people you want to work with. I always reach out and provide free value first, like a tip or a custom video. Usually, that's enough to get a response.
Keep Pushing What Works Until It Doesn't
Test often and see if any particular things lead to extraordinary results.
Brandon Armstrong's account provides a perfect example. He told me, "When you find your niche, exploit it! Keep doing what works. When I saw the power of the viral impressions I was doing, I scaled my efforts, and it netted me over one million followers." Armstrong tried different themes until he started doing impressions of NBA players. He's leveraged that to build his fanbase and a career. I'm always testing new content formats and looking for any that get powerful results, so I can scale them like he did.
Using Influencers to Amplify Branded Giveaways Can Be Explosive
Don’t be afraid to invest in shout outs/sponsored posts from the influencers in your niche. "The reality is that you’ll gain more followers from a short giveaway post on a monster account than from weeks of great content," said Mike Brown, president of an apparel brand I currently work with.
Give away something your market loves, tie it to a current event or celebration and include your brand's popular products in the giveaway so you're not detracting from your brand. Test influencers, content and post times. I've found that 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EST is primetime for my own brand and their basketball-related influencers, but it varies based on locations, age groups and more. Test and you'll find an influencer strategy that helps you create an exponential growth pattern.
Brandon Harris is the president of NuMedia Agency, an agency with an Influencer Marketplace (GetSocialPosts), an Instagram Course (Scale Your Social), an owned Instagram network of over 15 million followers and e-commerce stores generating multiple millions in online sales.