How Can Brands Capitalize On Influencer Marketing?

Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide to help you get your first influencer campaign off the ground:

Step 1

Set a goal.

How can you find directions if you don’t know where you want to go? Social media can be one of the most misunderstood forms of communication, IF you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve. Define a goal, or define multiple goals, and go from there.

Step 2

Research and analyze.

Ask and answer a slew of questions throughout this period. Based on your goal, who is your audience? Where do they hang out (digitally speaking)? What types of content and campaigns do they respond to best? What types of tools are your competitors utilizing? What does your budget look like for this particular influencer campaign?

Step 3

Plan, strategize, plan, strategize.

Take the data you’ve collected from Step 2, and begin constructing a blueprint for your influencer campaign. Begin to develop the content you’ll want your influencers to share, and how you’ll want them to share it. This will help transition you into Step 4.

Step 4

Discover key voices.

Find the influencers you’ll want to pitch to. It will take all of the information from Steps 1-3 to do this effectively. Depending on your casting net, remember: don’t over throw; take it slow. Suppose all of the influencers you pitch to want to participate, you probably just went way over your original budget.

Step 5

Sign and go.

Once you get your team of brand ambassadors set, take care of the legal side with parameters and contracts. Then, send each influencer their work-load.

Step 6

Measure, record, make changes.

Keep track of your influencer campaign’s impact, whether it’s through coupon codes or special URLs. Which ones are working? Which ones aren’t? What types of content do the best? Answer questions like these and revamp your campaign accordingly. There’s constant tweaking going on with social media because user behavior is always changing.

Websites vs. Social Media: What’s the Difference?

Although reaching customers through social media was once considered a flash-in-the-pan marketing tactic, industry leaders have changed their tune and now preach a common belief: social media marketing is absolutely a necessity. However, websites are still a healthy routine for brands to maintain.

So, what’s the difference?

Both websites and social media channels are sought after for information. The difference is in the type of information consumers expect to find on each platform.

Let’s start at the heart of the matter.

  • Google’s mission:to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” 
  • Facebook’s mission: “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

These missions share an ideal that information and connection are powerful, but the intended audiences are very different.

Google is about the world, as a whole; it was engineered to provide information, via robots (aka, an algorithm).

Facebook is about people, as individuals, and as human beings. Facebook utilizes algorithmic testing as well, but human response and emotion are the measurements, while Google’s uses robots.

These two core beliefs are the foundation of the Internet as we know it today.

More differences:

  • Websites convey a brand’s makeup, from specific products and services to mission statements and contact pages. On the other hand, social media offers smaller pieces of a brand’s story while creating conversations with consumers.
  • Websites could be, to some degree, considered static novels, waiting to be opened. Social media channels are short stories that are compiled in real time, to identify [and distinguish] a brand’s voice, culture, and place in the market.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two, is that social media platforms have the capacity to perform nearly every function a website can.

On the flip side, websites are not usually known for customer reviews, continued conversations, or even a warm body on the other side of the screen, so to speak. 

Maybe now the question is: what’s next? We’ll leave that one to the engineers; in the meantime, we’ll be moving steadily ahead with digital trends.

Branding Is Personal, Not Linear

One of the ways we source ideas for blogs is by having conversations with prospects or current clients, who have questions/theories about social media marketing. Common conversations include things like “why can’t I buy followers?” or “how is this profitable?” These are great, valid questions, and we love talking about them with our clients and collaborators.

“Brand” Defined

Recently, there has been a little shift in what our prospects and clients want to discuss. There is a new, consistent buzzword in town: “branding.”

Communication is fascinating because when we ask our clients, “what does the word ‘branding’ mean to you?” – the answers vary. We’ve heard things like “branding is when people see your work, and they know it’s yours, without having to see a logo.” Another answer is, “branding is our culture.” Truth is, we agree that both of these answers [among others] can be considered correct.

However, Google defines “brand” as both a noun and a verb. The noun is defined as: “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.” The verb is defined as: “an identifying mark burned on livestock or (especially formerly) criminals or slaves with a branding iron.”

Neither of those definitions  include what clients and prospects are talking about, but truth be told: communication is evolving, and key elements in business are evolving, too.

Brand Identity 

It’s 2016, and at this point, it is safe to nix the term “social media marketing” and swap it for “social media communication.” Marketing implies sales of products and services, while communication makes us think of people first. And that’s the key. People first. Think of our name: H2H – Human to Human, Heart to Heart.

Long gone are the days of studying a pre-made hierarchy of tools for success, and then practicing them until profitability. Social media communication is daily, it’s emotional, and it’s personal. Social media communication is not the traditional, corporate mumbo-jumbo a lot of folks are used to.

Defining a brand identity starts with you: the business owner, the leader of the brand. No one knows your brand better than you. It’s true. Believe it, and accept it. And more than anything else, embrace it.

A good book to start this process with, is called Emotional Branding, by Marc Gobe. It includes some great brain fuel to get business owners in the right frame of mind to really dive in to their brand, and the story they’ve already begun to write!

Funny enough, a couple of negative comments on this book are what spurred this post. That, and the fact that everyone we talk to, is seriously concerned with the idea of “branding.”

One of these comments, from a small business owner, talks about how the book did nothing for them, and that they “kept reading and reading this book hoping that the next chapter would let me in on the secret of emotional branding. How do I start branding emotionally? After reading this book, I still don’t know, and I’m not sure the author does either.”

What’s interesting about this comment, is that it sums up so many common frustrations of small business owners. It is evident that small business owners, like this one, crave a template or success model to follow when it comes to branding [and social media]. However, to be blunt, it doesn’t actually exist. “It” being a success model to follow.

Metaphors are a great way to get points across. So, here’s one for this post: think of branding like you would humans and health.

Humans are all unique and different, all complete with their own makeup and predispositions. Right? Is there a single success model for a healthy 90 years on this earth, with no illness, disease, or injury? No.

Branding is similar in the fact that each brand is unique, complete with its own stories, quirks, and results. Combine that with the fact that branding is more human than ever before (via social media communication and the rise of digital), and you’ll find the same scenario: there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to branding.

At the end of the day, branding is personal, not linear. Think socially, not scientifically, and then you’ll gain some traction.

Driving Your Brand Forward

Let’s keep this last part simple. These are the top three ways to drive your brand forward, based on our 7+ years of social media communication experience:

1. Listen to your tribe, and to your clients

Once you’ve established your brand voice, you can start experimenting with your creativity. Talk to your tribe, and to your clients. Listen hard, take notes, and collaborate with your team on moving the brand forward. After all, you might have the wheel in driving the business, but your best navigation system can be found in those who are personally invested in your brand.

2. Nurture your own voice

Following up on number one, stay focused on what matters most: your voice. Think about things like the future of the brand, the brand’s integrity, and what sets your brand apart from others in the space. These ideas will create opportunities for your brand to not only stand out, but yield authenticity.

3. Don’t compare your brand to others

This is a big one. If you can’t admire another brand without wanting to replicate it, do whatever you have to do to stop that process. Whether it’s unfollowing them on social media or staying away from their website. One of the most lethal habits of failed branding attempts is to want to be like someone else.

We’ll leave you with this quote from TED speaker, Faith Jegede:

“The chance for greatness, progress, and change dies the moment we try to be like someone else.”

Human To Human Recommendations Are King

During a recent consulting session, we were having a great conversation with an attorney about the powerful value of social media marketing. Being the type of client who didn’t need convincing on why social is imperative, we mainly analyzed consumer behavior as well as what the future might hold for social, and the digital world beyond.

As the conversation went on, we dove into the H2H Social theory that social media is the new search, when it comes to hyperlocal marketing. The attorney looked a little bit puzzled, so we followed up the claim with a real-life example.

We gave the attorney this scenario (feel free to ask yourself the same questions): let’s say you’re out of town on business. You’re in San Francisco, for the first time ever. You have a black-tie event to attend, and need the best in the biz to style your hair for the occasion. What to do?

Question 1

Option A): Google it.


Option B): Ask your Facebook community for a recommendation.


Question 2

To break this down further, we posed this question: does Google have the ability to experience businesses as a human, and/or a scale to rate customer service, from a direct experience? No. Do other humans you know personally (via Facebook or other social channel)? Yes.

Question 3

Who do I want to take advice from, for a place that offers great service and good results? A robot, or a human I know and trust?

Going back to the H2H Social belief that as much as AI will soon be capable of, it will never fully replace the human condition; emotions, preferences, and nature/nurture responses based on each individuals life experience.

To conclude this post, we wanted to share an excerpt from human economy expert, Bryan Kramer. In his book Shareology, Kramer explores where we came from as humans who share, and where we might be headed. With it, Kramer explains that social media is at the top of the list for communication tools, especially for brands.

Kramer writes:

“As far as brands are concerned, one of the biggest shortcomings of the Digital Age is the disconnection between their (brands) own self-recognition as an entity and the individual humans they’re trying to serve. Brands most often turn to technology first to make quick connections at scale but forget what makes people want to interact with them in the first place- a human-to-human connection. This is especially true on social channels.”


Why Social Beats Search, When It Comes To Business

At the dawn of the Internet age, information was the most important form of content for businesses. For that reason, traditional search engines, like AOL, Google, and Yahoo!, flourished. However, as the digital world evolves, more and more content must be sorted through to find what’s real and what’s valuable. There are times, as a consumer, when I search for information on Google. But, when the results show up, I find myself being more and more skeptical and asking the question, “but is this ‘top-ranked’ business really the best option for what I need?”

Google’s ranking is based on an algorithm, or in another word, a robot. SEO (search engine optimization) companies have perfected the science of writing pages upon pages of optimized content in order to convince Google’s algorithm, that that particular brand is number one.

But, at the end of the day, are those brands who hire the SEO companies actually number one,when it comes to good business?

Sure, review sites like Yelp! are good because they usually showcase real people with real experiences. But, one of the first things any marketing agency will tell a client to do to get started, is have their employees and their employees’ family members go on those review sites, and create pseudo-consumer accounts, and then leave positive feedback.

Still, as consumers, we’re trusting robots.

What sets social media apart from traditional search engines and essentially, robots, is the fact that you’re dealing with real humans, and not only that, you know those humans, personally (most of the time). Instead of typing “best Italian food in __(insert city)__” into Google and searching, you’re probably more likely to post a status on Facebook to your local connections, and ask, “where’s the best place for Italian food in __(insert city)__?” I’m not sure about baby boomers, but for millennials and beyond, this is the new search, when it comes to discovering local businesses.

At the heart of the matter, as much as social media is looked at as a “digital trend,” it’s really more about human connection than any other form of digital communication. Social media is bringing back the value of being committed to good business. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are holding businesses accountable- because nobody wants a negative review showing up to one customer’s network of 500+ local, potential customers.

Good business and human connection are still the number one driving forces behind productivity, and revenue. With that, you can only get true human connection for business in one place on the Internet, and that’s social media.

Ultimately, here’s the difference between social and search: When you want a recommendation for a good business, who do you trust more? A robot, or a human that you know and trust?

Originally published on March 30, 2016

Social Media Success Is Right Outside Our Smartphones

Social media marketing is a digital trade, yes. But, is the success of your brand’s social media presence defined by digital efforts only? Absolutely not! Here’s why, and how, you can capitalize in your online efforts through offline culture.

Putting The “Social” In “Social Media”

What would social networking look like if we never left our inner circle, or office? Sure, we might connect with people through relevant hashtags, and maybe even through online community groups. But, our efforts certainly wouldn’t be maximized. Why? Successful social media marketing is fueled best by social interaction, offline. Never underestimate the power of face-time (not the smartphone version), and good old word of mouth marketing.

Belonging Is Necessary

We can all agree that marketing has always been directly linked to psychology. Right? Really, the only difference between psychology and marketing is that one focuses on human behavior, while the other focuses on human buying behavior. In the early 1900s, psychologist, Abraham Maslow unveiled a pyramid of five human needs, which must be met for ultimate success. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a sense of belonging is necessary for humans to be motivated. In the same vein, there is a direct link between belonging and being social. Giving customers [and potential customers] a physical sense of belonging yields motivation to return to your brand, and more importantly, it makes them proud enough of their relationship with your brand, to want to tell their friends about it. This cannot be achieved by online efforts alone.

Ideas For Offline Social Efforts

First off, we have to get out of an office setting; more so, we need to get into a social setting. The answers to your offline efforts are exactly that: offline. Depending on each brand’s industry, find a social space where your customers and/or peer are likely to gather or hang out. Then, the sky’s the limit:

  • Talk to people! The key here is to ask a lot of questions, and be a great listener. Eventually, the tables will turn, and you’ll have the opportunity to talk about your brand, and how you help customers. This will usually lead to your new connection asking, “do you have a card?”
  • Host an event! Depending on your industry, figure out a way to bring people together, in person. Planning is crucial for this one, so don’t “just wing it.” If all goes well, make the social event a annual or bi-annual happening; this will give customers a sense of belonging and something to look forward to, once or twice a year.
  • Join local community groups! Whether it’s your local chamber, or a industry-specific group of professionals, getting out and talking to people in those communities will yield more brand awareness, and possibly, new customers.
  • Partner with other businesses! As our name indicates, we’re big believers in collaboration. Try piloting a co-op marketing event with one or two other businesses. Again, you’ll be reaching a valuable audience you might not have face-time with otherwise.

REMEMBER to point people to your online efforts! With all of the above ideas, don’t forget to tell people that you’re available online. Have cards made with your social channel information, so people can easily find you. After your offline interaction, sending them to your social channels will keep the conversation going.

Back To Basics: The Value of a Social Media Follower

Social media marketing is a rather funny industry to work in. We don’t mean “funny” as in haha/hehe; more like “funny” in the sense of “why is something so simple, so difficult for some folks to understand?” Maybe it’s a matter of habit, in any industry, for professionals to take what they know for granted, and assume that because they “get it,” that everyone else does, too. The good news is, we love what we do, and with that, we love talking about it. So, what could be seen as a frustration by others, we find quite fascinating!

With the dilemma of misunderstanding comes a fantastic opportunity: practicing the art of communication. These questions/misconceptions are teaching us how to simplify things so that they make sense to any particular business owner on any given day. It seems like a no-brainer, but communication isn’t universal. It’s custom. Every individual, every brand, every  voice, has its own way of being connected to. Teaching and coaching has shown us that, time after time.

Okay, back to the point of this post!! That whole introduction came because recently we’ve been faced with something that hasn’t surfaced in quite some time. And that is: a brand’s desire to grow in quantity of followers as opposed to quality. There are times that we are curious if it would just be easier to accommodate their desires with Fiverr, or one of the hundred other sites you can buy fake followers from. But, we can’t. We know too well that it’s a trap, and it completely shatters any real social media marketing strategy a brand might have in the works.

Basically, if all a brand cares about is an empty follower count, we refer them elsewhere.

Here’s why, in three simple takeaways:

Quantity Is Void

Engagement > Followers. Why? A brand can have an empty number of followers (let’s say 100,00) at the top of your Twitter profile. Good for you! But, what does it matter if your message isn’t reaching anyone? Those 100,000 followers you bought, they are robots and they cannot favorite, retweet, or reply to anything you post. So, ultimately, you’re posting to yourself. In more blunt terms, you’re sitting in a corner, trying to sell your brand to a wall. (insert dunce hat)

You Aren’t Fooling Anyone

What’s more mortifying than Exhibit A (above), is that everyone will see, and know, that you bought fake followers! Consumers are intelligent and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to get them to follow, engage, and/or click. Fake followings can be spotted from a tweet away! If a consumer goes to a Twitter profile to check out a brand, at first they might say, “wow, 100,000 followers!” But if those first three tweets show up in your profile (via mobile app) with no engagement, they’ll know it’s fake, and thus will not be joining your fan club (aka band of fake Twitter followers).

Measuring Results Will Be Impossible

How can you measure your success without real numbers? You can’t.

Your social media analytics, in addition to follower count, will be void. When you try to hire a marketing firm to figure out “what do all these insights mean?,” they won’t be able to give you a real answer. Sure, you can speculate, do some rough math, and maybe come up with some sort of rendition of truth, but there really wouldn’t be any way to tell how your brand is actually doing on social media.

Ultimately, the key takeaway from this post is simple:

Social media marketing is a commitment, not a campaign. You can conduct campaigns within that commitment, but setting a follower goal to reach within a time-frame, that is not an applicable strategy for social media. Your commitment will breed engagement, and therefore lead you to brand ambassadors, who are basically sales people that you don’t have to pay.

Now, which is more valuable to your brand: A void number at the top of your social media profile OR a sales person you don’t have to pay?

Note: Growing a real following takes time, so be patient. Those brands you have follower-lust for, they’ve been in the game for years and years, and their numbers reflect that. Strategize, execute, and nurture consumer relationships. That’s what social media marketing is all about!

Brands, Consumers Shift From Search To Social

Even we, as self-proclaimed social enthusiasts and diehard supporters of the industry, weren’t expecting to see this kind of science. Not yet anyways. However, in the wise words of one of our favorite philosophers:

“Numbers don’t lie, check the scoreboard.”

Shareaholic reported that in Q4 of 2014, 31.24% of all website traffic was driven from social media.

Although the idea of the demise of Facebook is alive and well, so is the company’s resilience. Along with StumbleUpon, Facebook was the only platform(s) to grow its traffic share in Q4 of 2014. On top of that, Facebook’s 24.63% share of traffic minimizesPinterest’s 5.06% impact. Twitter, surprisingly, only holds .82% share.

You can dive more in to Shareaholic’s data-driven report here.

So, we just have one question for all the C-level marketing execs out there, not taking social seriously: When is enough, enough? Google’s founders are on record saying that one of their biggest regrets was not anticipating the rise of social. Now, there are traffic numbers that are not only growing year over year, they’re capturing the space. This is not to mention the fact that a single platform, which happens to be social, owns 25% of all website traffic.

With this post, note that we are in no way suggesting that search is dead. The only hope is that the social media industry will, at some point, be valued and respected the way search is, because it deserves to be. It is the ultimate in communicative marketing.

We’re going to leave you with this quote from Monica Dimperio:

“Gone are the days of Sterling Cooper & Partners. The new Don Drapers are digital natives who can pull off a multichannel influencer activation with an offline component in their sleep.
These folks have adopted [digital platforms] from the get-go, so they know the content, curation and influencers to work with. Soon, that will include paid media. These people will get you results because, frankly, they know things you don’t.”