V-cast with Shane Barker:Influencer marketing in a nutshell

Host: Richard Fallah, CEO at VBOUT.

Guest Speaker: Shane Barker, Digital Strategist, Brand & Influencer Consultant | Instructor: UCLA | Intl Speaker |Author: Forbes | RE Investor


In this episode, we interview Shane Barker, a marketing powerhouse and influencer marketing expert.

We will cover all you need to know about influencer marketing:

– What is it and who is it for?
– How to get started
– How to find the right influencers
– How to negotiate the deal
– KPI’s to track and more…

Who’s Shane Barker?

Shane is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products and a number of celebrities.

Shane is developing an influencer marketing educational platform that helps brands and influencers learn how to create successful campaigns and make it a win-win for both sides.

What does Shane Barker Consulting Company do?

We’ve been in the digital space for over 20 years, sneaking up on 25, building websites, SEO and content. Then after that, we jumped into the influencer marketing space. We have other companies that go into the parent company. What we mainly do is content marketing, writing for a number of different, big websites.

Being an author, I write for about 120 different websites so we have a great network that we’ve built up over the last 8 years. We also have a lot of editors and we write about influencer marketing, SEO or any kind of conversion-based stuff.

On the influencer side, I taught a course on personal branding and how to be an influencer over UCLA.

We do workshops for brands to be able to learn how to work with influencers the right way, and we’re working on a course that will be live in less than a month. If you want to be an influencer on how to put that personal brand together and how to take it seriously, you can get the big brands and companies to give you sponsorship and money.

What’s influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is having your product or service and finding people that have influence over social platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. These people build some type of community. For example, if I know Jennifer has good engagement, I should find out how to reach out to her, talk about our product and present it so it can be a win-win for both sides.

As people confuse between the Kardashian followers, a person who has 100K followers and another who has 10K followers, how do you classify influencers? What’s the area of influencer work focused on? Which kind of following range?

A common problem with brands is they think, higher percent of the time that you’re an influencer because of your follower count and you should have a million followers to be an influencer which is not true anymore.

In fact, if you work for influencers that have smaller account (i.e: 10K people), these people can be a thousand times more engaged than someone who has million people. For example, these influencers having 10K people can write a post, put it up and get 50 comments… so they have time to respond to these comments and this is engagement. Whereas for Kim Kardashian’s case, she won’t post up and reply to 10000 comments. As a result, you’re not going to pay Kim Kardashian a small amount of money and as it’s going to be like a half a million dollar and you will hope that it will get you the desired results. However, when you work with smaller influencers that has less following, sales and stuff will increase exponentially because engagement is there.

In addition, you don’t have to spend a lot of money because what you should only care about is the ROI. If you pay Kim half a million dollars, you will hope that you will get at least the amount you paid. When you work with micro-influencers and the budget is smaller, you will be putting money over 10 influencers because the idea is about who’s moving the needle.

This is not different from PPC or anything else. We want to try 10 different influencers: some of them on Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, bloggers who will write content and reporters. Every one of these puts a specific type of content and then we see what moves the needle.

So influencer marketing is not just hiring one person on Instagram doing one campaign for instance and saying that it doesn’t work. Doing one thing and sales comes in no longer exists. You should know that it’s a frequency deal and make sure that you’re hitting these influencers from multiple angles.

What type of company can find success in influencer marketing? Is it B2B, B2C or ecommerce…?

I think anybody can be a good play for influencer marketing; there are millions of people that have some type of community and influencers over that community.

Obviously, there are some companies that are better than others. You have some lifestyle type stuff, people with fitness, and those in the travel space who are obviously spending their time on Instagram. YouTube is good for a demonstration type product.

Therefore, it depends on what your product or service is and where you think you could potentially be a good fit and the key to this whole thing is knowing who your core audience is and whom you think is going to buy your product. It’s the same as PPC; if you don’t know whom to go after and you pursue the wrong audience, it won’t work.

Is researching for influencers and studying their profiles done manually or are there specific tools that allow you to do an aggregation and helps you make a decision?

There are a lot of tools; one of them we use is Grin that’s grin.co, a paid tool used for manage services. Another tool is influencer.co which allows you to find influencers.

Can you find influencers based on industry or geo-location search?

Yes you can do that and if you don’t have heavy budget, there are actually products that allow you to take a look at influencers and pull reports on them. HypeAuditor is one of them for instance; this tool allows you to check these influencers, their follower counts and if they have fake followings. You can even use Instagram to do hashtag search. One of the major things a lot of brands miss out on is going into their influencers audience. For example, if the influencers have a thousand followers, you should look at these followers. If they follow you, it obviously means that they like your products or services.

You should also be careful about using a software that although they are good for analytics and pulling a list, you have to do an eyeball test and look at these individuals content, because if it says that they have a high engagement rate and you find that they have 10000 emojis for example, that’s not engagement.

One of the things people miss on influencer marketing is that it takes time. It’s not just taking one influencer, sending them a product and then counting the money; rather, the idea is that it’s a frequency deal and so when you’re going to look at these influencers, you should really think of it as a long term thing. For example, I want to find the person that says “Hey, I know what you guys are doing, I followed your company for a long time, I love the fact that you guys give 10% back to this non-profit, etc…”; they’ve really done the research. It’s same like if I’m applying a resume to work for you and you check it, you won’t immediately decide if I’m good fit or not until you do an interview with me. As a result, I think that the vetting of the influencers is an important process a lot of people miss on.

When all these different influencers don’t respond after approaching them, is it because of trying the wrong channel or not going through grin.co or influence.co? What’s your recommendation on getting answers?

It really depends on what’re your sending. If you’re sending out 10 emails and you don’t get any response, that’s not a huge set of emails going out. If you send 100 and you get no responses, I would look at what you’re pitching, how you’re phrasing it and if you’re including all information.

For well-known influencers having a good following and working with a lot of brands and as a person doing the pitching, you should give the most out of information to what they need. Nobody has time going back and forth with 20 emails to find out what kind of campaign you want to do, what your budget is and when these campaigns are going to be launched…

In one or two sentences, can you give an example of what a perfect pitch for an influencer looks like?

What I would do first is look into the influencer and investigate what they are doing especially that they put all their stuff out, like when they had a baby, started their company, got married, where they went traveling, etc… So I would say for example “Hey Jennifer! First of all, I wanted to say congratulations. I know that you had a baby 3 months ago, you got married about a year ago and you’re in Bali, so I’m assuming you came back from vacation and you guys looks like you had an epic time. I wanted to introduce myself; my name is Shane Barker, I own XYZ Yoga products and we have a patent on the product that’s going to be coming out in about four months. We’re looking to partner with influencers. There’s a number of different ways that we can work together. It can either be a paper play, or an affiliate-type model, but what we want to do is looking for long-term ambassadors. So why don’t you reach out and see if you’re interested in it and talk about next steps?”

That way, I hope I have built some rapport because I’ve talked about them, since the problem is that most brands send out a thousand emails to thousand influencers doing cold outreach. For example, if you say “Hey, I like blondes and I have a million dollars” I will definitely get a few people that respond that they have blonde hair. Therefore, the idea is that you should be specific and go after particular influencers saying “I know why you’re a good fit and this is what we’re looking to do” and then, you set up a call with them and say “We’ve worked with influencers and seen this kind of success here but we’re also interested in the kind of content you’re producing and how we can put that together. What would you see if we had a budget of $2,500? What kind of content would you see working well with your audience? Because I’ve got an idea of what I think will work and we’ve seen some stuff in the past but I’m reaching out to you because your content is phenomenal and we want to know what we can do to develop once again a great strategy for your audience.”

What’s the average point to a spend per influencer? And what negotiation process looks like? Can you walk us through a perfect negotiation and price range?

The price range is always difficult to say because every influencer is different. You can look for websites that tell you how much you should pay for an influencer having X number of following. It really comes down to what looks fair and what you think but you should be very careful paying somebody on their follower count because sometimes, you might fall into the trap of paying someone having fake followers. Some brands pay influencers based on their follower counts. For example, they tell them that if they have 10,000 followers, they will pay them a thousand box, if they have 25000, they will pay them 5 gram and if they have a million followers, they will pay 50 gram. As a result, what happens is that some people go and get fake followers because they want to get the big payout.

So the idea is to look at what the media kit will tell you like how much traction are you getting from each of their platforms and put together a strategy of all the different things they have access to, whether YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, their blog or whatever that may be and then figure out if it’s worth it for the price you’re willing to pay.

So do you mean not to only focus on Instagram but also other channels if these influencers are present somewhere else?

Yes. Instagram is awesome but the thing is that it goes away. I mean once your post is done, it goes down and then 3 weeks later, you’re at the bottom of the push, you’re not getting as much traction from it unless you’re doing some paid ads. You can focus on getting huge traffic from a blog post if you become number one for a great keyword; for instance, let’s say we have a Yoga instructor that’s in Los Angeles, and she has a great content and we become number one for XYZ Yoga Mat which is what’re coming out with. That gets us five thousand searches per month and for that search, it can continue producing revenue for us so it’s about putting this as a strategy; it’s not just one post on Instagram or one post on YouTube. You want to go the individual and say “Listen, this is what I think we can put together.”

Some influencers have multiple platforms but don’t understand how to put that together so you as a brand, have to say “What do we need to do to make this a collaborative effort?” Something like “Hey, it’s a video” “Hey, it’s this”, “Hey, it’s that”… It’s about what would that cost be for us to be able to put that type of a campaign together and that’s where it becomes valuable because you will never know what’s going to go. Do multiple things on multiple platforms and that’s when you have the likelihood of things going well.

What are the metrics or KPIs that should be looked at after the campaign’s launch?

It depends on what the brand should think of in regards to what they are looking for: Is it going to be sales? Mentions? Increase their social media following? Are they able to use the content that their influencers created on their social media or website? Should they do social proof and give them as a testimonial?

These are the negotiations of the contract. For example, I know people who partnered with Mayweather and spent a huge amount of money on that. Although they know that they cannot break even but agree to put him on the website and show video of him using the product. The purpose is to leverage that for celebrities and let them know overtime that these are the type of caliber people who partnered with their company.

The influencer thinks of how much he’s going to let them use that content. For example, if they use it many times, he will check if it’s worth to invest in paid ads.

As a result, there’s a lot of things that brands and influencers don’t know what to negotiate and that’s where we help on the education side.

From a call to action perspective, do you recommend to create an isolated landing page to drive traffic from the influencer to that page or send traffic to the website page immediately?

It’s good to isolate it. For example, you can use coupon codes in order for people to use it or develop out a landing page that anybody who goes to that page will be generated because of traffic by the influencer. It’s better to segment that or have some kind of affiliate relationship there because you will know who’s moving the needle. If not, it’s very hard to attribute; for instance, if you have 10 influencers posting stuff on the same day and your sales doubled or tripled, the problem is that for me as a marketer, I won’t know which influencer is moving the needle. It’s about how to attribute that back; if I have them using a certain affiliate link or using a coupon code, then I can know who’s moving the needle and take my budget from John, Mike or Emily and put it into Renée, Tania, Jose, etc…

Do influencers agree to work on a referral code model or usually want a hybrid of some kickbacks and initial fees based on your experience?

It depends on the influencer. Generally, all influencers want it to be an affiliate relationship or free product. If I was an influencer and had a Yoga space with half a million people, I would want an affiliate relationship knowing that I can move the needle. What I would say is “Hey, I want you guys to cover for my videographer or photographer and all that stuff which usually costs a thousand dollars. I want 50% of all sales that come through.”

I know that I can sell 500 Yoga Mats and there might be a risk, but there’s also a reward as well. It just depends on how well they know their audience and how much they think they can move the needle.

Because this product is perfect for my audience and that’s what an affiliate relationship makes more sense.

Who’s your favorite marketing influencer?

I’m a fan of Neil Patel because he started in content, writing heavy stuff and is doing a lot of inbound marketing. Now, I’m a competitor of Neil somehow, watching him and trying to crush on certain keywords. So Neil Patel is a great fit to look at because of the inbound marketing model that he built through content which I thought was kind of phenomenal.

If somebody is starting influencer marketing today, what’s the first thing they should do? Should they reach out to you?

I have a course coming out so they can reach out to me, but it really comes down to the foundation of what you need to build there. If you want to be an influencer in the marketing space, it’s never too late. Some people say that they should have started a year ago, if some do real estate, they think that they must have bought the house five years ago. It’s like “Buy a house today and it’s still going up in value.” If you want to be a marketer today, start doing your marketing stuff and get your website up. If you want to be an influencer and build a social presence on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram, start with your website first and all the other social media channels should be driving to your website.