Transcript has been edited for proper use of grammar
*Brackets indicate added words for understanding*
Welcome to Stratezine’s Guide to influencer marketing. My name is Hannah and today we are meeting with Kinkade from Infuse Hydration to discuss how they have used micro-influencers in their marketing strategy.
For those who are not aware, we are discussing micro-influencers on the platform Instagram, which is defined as having between 1000 to 100,000 followers. Let’s get started.
Okay Kinkade, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little bit about what you do for Infuze Hydration with influencer marketing?
My official role at Infuze [Hydration] is the head of marketing. We’ve been working with influencers both micro and macro for about, I would say, a year and a half. Besides that, I also manage the ads account and the social media accounts as well.
Awesome, and how long has Infuze [Hydration] been using social media in their marketing strategy? Has it been right from the start or later on?
Um right from the start. But when we first started, we didn’t have the product that we do now. So it was more just like posting pictures that other people had, that didn’t contain our product, because our product wasn’t on the market yet. So it was kind of just almost like a photography account. Where, it’s been about two years since we really started building the brand around our product with social media.
So was that really hard? Like doing it kind of from photography, and then trying to integrate the actual product? Or was it received pretty well?
It was received pretty well. But it also was hard to find a balance between all the different target audiences that we have, to be able to shift from one specific group of people to a broader group of people [in order] to gain the followers that we have now.
And when did you start using micro-influencers?
For, I would say about a year and a half, we’ve been using influencers.
What have been some of the successes and some of the failures that you’ve had, when using micro-influencers?
For successes, I would say is growing our brand, our brand image, and growing a social media presence. Where some of the failures that we’ve had is, we’ve never really seen an increase in sales revenue, or sales volume because of micro-influencers. But we have, like I said, seen the growth in branding, [and] presence.
So if success for your brand [when] using influencers is not defined by revenue, how else would you kinda measure success when using a micro-influencer?
A big one, like one of the main analytics that we have through social media is obviously followers. So if your followers, and engagement is increasing because of influencers, then I would say that’s a win.
Okay yeah that makes sense, yeah [You] definitely want to get followers. Do they [influencers] help boost engagement as well? Or is it mostly followers?
For sure, I mean especially when you like tag them, and they can share on their stories, and do these types of things. And the people that already love them on their personal page, comment, will comment and say, like comment how, how they look amazing in this photo, and how they want a bottle, and things like that. So it definitely helps to bring people that are already following them to our account.
Okay, that’s definitely good. With a follow up on that question, how do you find a solid micro-influencer? I know you talked a little bit about how you [use] both macro and micro [influencers]. How do you find a solid micro-influencer who you think will bring you that success?
First we, just based on their content. Is the content that they’re producing, matching the brand image that we want to maintain throughout our entire business? But also specifically on our social media platforms? And then if they kinda fall in line with that, then the next thing is, how is the engagement on their own platform? If they’re only getting very minimal likes with no comments, then we usually just skip right over them.
But, I mean if its, if they’re receiving a lot of engagement, and people are commenting interacting with them, if they’re also interacting with those people who are commenting, we know that they have the personal relationships that can help bring their followers to our account.
On that same kinda note, so a lot of micro-influencers, they generally only have a couple of main sponsors and things like that. So would you normally go for an influencer who has more sponsors, or who’s kinda starting out?
Usually more [sponsors], just because, then that’s when like they kinda know what they’re doing. And staying in contact with them making, like following up with them, making sure that they meet their post date, and these types of things is a lot easier to, to manage the process from the first message to their post, and follow ups like that. Where I would say a lot of people who are starting off, are actually reaching out to us personally and asking to be an influencer, or an ambassador for our account.
When they [micro-influencers] reach out, what are some of the key things you look for when they’re reaching out that you would accept? Versus, what are the things you notice that you tend to reject?
Okay, the big one again is the brand essence that they have around themselves. If, their content matches what we’re building on our personal level, [that being] the company, then I would be more willing to accept that.
When you are choosing influencers, you talk about micro and macro. What are some of the things that make you choose a micro influencer versus a macro influencer, for certain products or things?
Just the engagement. I mean it’s super easy to buy followers and to buy likes, I mean it costs nothing and anyone can do it. So if someone has 100,000 followers but they get 100 likes, whereas someone has 2000 followers but gets 300 to 500 likes, I’m much more willing to go with the person that has a higher engagement than someone who just has numbers as far as followers.
I mean that definitely makes sense. We definitely are looking for the engagement for your success, for your brand. So when you are working with a micro-influencer, how do you determine things like pay or product that you’re giving them? Is it free? That kind of thing. How do you decide what you’re doing?
One thing we established from the very start is, we don’t pay for influencers both micro and macro. So if people ask for money we’re just like, ”right now we’re not paying anyone, but maybe we are in the future, and we’ll reach back out.” So one of the reasons is, we are looking for influencers that are willing to do it for product. And then every single person, we send the product that they need to be able to showcase [it] to get us the content that we need to use on our platform and our website. And then also to utilize their stories to explain the product and how it works.
So one of the big products that you guys have is of course the water bottles, which are awesome. I saw the post about the mint one and I was like ‘I’m gonna need that one.’ It looks really pretty. But is there other products that you give to influencers to use? Or is it really focused on the water bottles?
It’s focused a lot on the water bottles just because that’s our main direct consumer product. But besides that, we send every influencer one of our elixirs, which is our manufactured flavors that we make. We ask them to highlight how it’s zero sugar, zero calories, we have a natural line. So, we also, because that’s where a lot of our recurring revenue comes from. Most people don’t want to buy a different water bottle every single month, but people are always willing to buy more flavors when their flavor runs out.
And when you are working with micro influencers, what platforms do you find the most successful?
Instagram for sure. We haven’t used Snapchat. We have used TikTok. Not as much with influencers, but as far as ourselves we’ve used TikTok and we’ve seen a ton of success with it. But we have utilized a couple different influencers with TikTok, but we definitely don’t have it down to the, to the science that we have it on Instagram. It’s a lot easier to work with influencers on Instagram.
When you are using Instagram with influencers, is it their stories that are more successful? Or is it more their posts or IGTV? I know they’re certain kinds of posts that perform better, what works best?
As far as bringing people to our account, I would say stories always worked the best. Because the way that our product is unique, in the sense of it’s not just another water bottle. And if you just see a picture of it, then you think, ‘oh here’s another company trying to knock off Hydroflask.’
Where if someone can explain and show what the product does in a story, which are usually videos [that] are five to six slides, of people showing what the product does and why it’s different, then that’s when we see the most success.
Do you ever require a certain amount of posts or certain stories from your influencers? Or do you just let them do what they think is best?
We require one post on their feed, tagging us and using our brand hashtag. And then one required story. So, we allow them if they want to have a picture they can, but majority of people do a five to six slide explainer video on the product.
Because the stories, of course, are the ones bringing you the most success there.
So when you’ve worked with influencers, you’ve seen success and failures. Would you recommend other brands to use influencers, specifically micro-influencers?
Sure. I would actually, I would recommend using macro influencers as much as you possibly can. And when I say macro, I’m not talking like hundreds of thousands of followers. Instagram, as soon as someone has 10,000 followers, they allow them to do a swipe up story. Which drives the most sales revenue. With, But also, the more followers you get, the more people want money. So you kind of like have to balance that out with what you’re willing to pay. If you have a budget for influencer marketing, then that’s kind of a different story. But if, if you want to drive sales revenue, then I would say find people with at least 10,000 followers, so they can do a swipe up story. And obviously, the less clicks, the more likely someone is to purchase.
I can definitely see that 10,000 followers swipe up
Yeah, for sure.
When you talk about how you have paid influencers in products versus a budget. Would you say that you would like to use more of a budget in the future? Or are you saying like ‘no, we want to stick with product.’
I would more likely stick with product, and I would not be willing to pay anyone megabucks. Some companies might, but for us we, we’ve just seen, I personally don’t think that 100 followers is worth a grand. That just mathematically doesn’t really make sense to me personally, but it might to another business. So just finding, finding the people, and for us personally just, just utilizing product, and then if it’s a couple hundred dollars, and we know that if you spend 100 dollars and we know they’ll make us at least 300 dollars, that’s when we’re willing to spend money.
So have you ever actually spent money with an influencer? I know you’re pretty much like no, we don’t do that. But is that ever something that you would like to do or have done in the past?
We have and I tracked it very thoroughly in the sense of, who we paid, like how we tracked sales coming from them. And usually, the month that we did pay, we paid maybe three or four influencers. And all the money always came from one, and they were usually a micro-influencer. Cause I believe that micro-influencers, I do think that their followers trust them more in the sense of, ‘okay, they’re not just posting, not 100 companies reaching out to them, and they’re just posting whatever they can, because they have to,’ It’s more, ‘these people actually love what they’re posting about’. So people trust them a little more.
Yeah, no definitely with that smaller audience there’s bound to be a little more trust there. So have you ever had to go and get approval? I know you’re the head of that [marketing], But have you ever had to request approval? And if you have, what were the steps to get approval for it?
So when I first started with Infuze [Hydration], I actually was an assembly person, so I was just making product. Then they asked me, ‘Hey, we need influencers and we want you to kinda handle that marketing.’ So I stopped in the assembly and started doing that. And a different person was in my position right now. And so I didn’t have to receive approval because the direction was coming strictly from him. Where he was like, “This is what I want done.” But there were a few things where I’d have to ask him, ‘Is this okay?’ And with those processes, it was me experimenting with what worked. And then asking, this is what we’ve seen work, this is what we’ve seen fail, can we move strictly towards this? And then kind of giving that data in the process of, this is what we were doing, I’ve tried this a few times, it worked better can we strictly move towards this in the new direction?
So when you gather data to present is that mostly just from Instagram? Or do you use other sources as well?
It’s Instagram. The analytics come with a business profile and they definitely work, and provide a lot of information. And then also, the main way that we would track it [data] was giving each influencer a personal coupon code for 10 or 15 percent [off]. And then tracking sales that came from each influencer.
That definitely is going to be interesting to see if other companies are doing the same thing that you guys do [with data]. So my last question for you today is a fun question. What is one of the fun things that you did with an influencer that you loved and why?
One thing that we’ve done with an influencer? I mean a lot of companies do it but, giveaways. We’ve tried giveaways with five different companies, we’ve tried giveaways with like these giant influencers. But I would say giveaways with micro-influencers have always been my favorite. Just because when people can really see like ‘okay this is what the product does, this is what their product does, this is why I would like it, this is why the the influencer likes it, and then being able to see the growth in our profile strictly from one post has been pretty cool. Because, we’ll gain hundreds of followers overnight, just from one person who posted a giveaway. So it’s kind of cool to see the growth that comes with just a, a simple post.
That’s really awesome. I definitely love being in giveaways, they’re really fun. I love trying to win them so, I can definitely see why you’d get a lot of followers for that.
On that note, just as a follow-up question, do you ever see numbers drop after? I know sometimes if I’m not really interested in a brand after following for a giveaway, I’ll go back and unfollow it. Is that a problem? Or [does that just happen] occasionally and it’s not a big deal?
It occasionally happens, but it hasn’t been a big problem. If you are stay true to the brand that you’ve built, and the people that are doing a giveaway match your brand, then people are going to be less likely to unfollow you because they enjoy seeing what you have to post. If you’re just having some random person doing a giveaway, but their, the content that they’re posting doesn’t match with what you’re posting, then they’re they’ll follow you for a day. Once the giveaway is over, then it’s like, ‘I have no desire to see what these people are posting about, because I have no interest in anything that they’re posting about [the influencer].‘ So if your brand matches their personal brand [influencers] and your content matches their content, I believe people are going to be more likely to stay around.
So basically do as you said earlier, make sure that the micro-influencers that you pick are in line with your brand.
Thank you everyone for listening today. For those who are interested in more information you can reference the show notes for today’s episode. Stay tuned next time where we will be sitting down with Meriah from Scout Social to discuss their experience with micro-influencers!