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’re meeting with Brianna from Purple to discuss how they have used micro-influencers in their marketing strategy.
For those who are not aware, we’re discussing micro-influencers on Instagram, which is defined as having between 1,000 – 100,000 followers. Let’s get started.
Okay, thank you again for sitting down with us. Brianna, why don’t we start off with having you tell us about your company and your role there?
Yeah, sure. So I work for Purple Innovations. We started out as a mattress company and then expanded into seat cushions and really comfort. So we’ve got bedding, and all of that.
I’ve been with Purple for two and a half years. My role here is the influencer coordinator. So I spearhead our influencer strategy for the year, and work with influencers on a very personal level.
And how long has your company utilized social media in your marketing strategy?
So really, Purple took off because of some viral ads. And that was in 2016, as well as our Kickstarter. Now, in terms of really leaning into the rest of social media, I would say, end of 2016, beginning in 2017.
And when did you guys start using influencers? I know, your ads kind of started off that way.
Yeah, so we didn’t really lean into that [influencers] until 2018.
And when you use your influencers, like what do you have them do specifically? Is there any like specific things that every influencer needs to do? Is it more customized to each influencer?
So that’s really going to vary on the campaign, as well as their tier. So in terms of micro, typically what an evergreen campaign is showing off, you know, our hero product, the grid, we want them to show what that looks like, what it’s like sleeping on our product, what it’s like having the product, and how their life has improved.
Having that honest testimonial, just to share that for brand awareness. We have more campaigns throughout the year that will be different. So if we’re running a campaign for national Dog Day, it’s going to be for pets, it’s going to be for our pet bed. And so that’s going to look different than, you know, any kind of New Year new you sleep campaign.
And what kind of success does your brand experience after working with a micro influencer and how you measure that success?
So really, there’s three key ingredients that I would say I look for. Reach, obviously. So if they’re kind of at the top tier of micro, as well as engagement, and authenticity. So I want to see if they have good content, if it performs well. And really, I think it’s industry standard for micro, it’s got to be about at least 3 percent engagement.
Okay, so when you talk about good content, like how do you find influencers, who you feel like are good for Purple?
So someone who is going to speak to their vertical, so that’s kind of broad, but the verticals that we want to tap on, it’s going to be health and wellness, fitness, if they are in that vertical? They’re performing? Well, they have content that speaks to that as well as like, just general like, is it bright? Does it look quality? If it’s going to be dark and too close, Then we’re not gonna use it because something that is really booming right now is repurposing that content. Can we use this in a future ad? Can we share this on our social channel organically? And if it performs well, then we can boost it into an ad.
Why do you choose to use micro-influencers? I know you’re using decently big names, especially in the community you guys are in. But why use micro instead of trying to go for more macro?
So I love working with micro-influencers. I actually love working with nano too. If they have like 10,000 followers, they’re great. But something that I’ve noticed is, micro is going to have a more engaged audience there. They’re going to have less ad sponsored posts.
And typically it’s that threshold, or they’ve established who they are, they’ve established themselves as an influencer brand. And their audience still trusts them. Now, when you go into the macro level, so you know, more of that kind of celebrity status, you’re going to see a significant drop in engagement. So that’s really the trade off. Do you want reach? Or do you want engagement? And for most of what I like to run, I want to see engagement, I want to see people being like, “Whoa, I’ve always wanted a Purple. What does that feel like?”
So when we are looking at influencers for Purple, what kind of engagement leads to sales? Like you said, like 3 percent? Is that like, low? Is that great? Because you know, 3 percent seems a little low. You know, in math terms.
It seems really low. But that’s the industry standard. Because if you think about it, a celebrity, right, they’ve got 5 million followers. However, they only get 2000 to 3000 likes, and then they only get about 500 comments. It’s because [their following] is so large, and with the way the algorithm is, as well, people will see it, however, they’re not going to comment on it, they’re less likely to like it, they’re less likely to save it, or send it to a friend. With micro without engagement, we’re seeing if someone caught likes and comments it, then they’re more likely to follow through, click that link in bio and where they’re micro, they’re going to have that swipe up. So they’re going to follow that link and check out what, their trusted influencer is sharing with them.
So you kind of briefly talked about nano-influencers. So with the swipe up feature, of course, a lot of our brands that we’ve talked to find that really important, is that kind of a big deal for most brands, would you say to make sure that their influencers have that option?
Yeah, depending. So I like to work with two. So I recently just launched a holiday gift guide campaign on a platform that we use. And really, when people applied, we had some really great nano influencers reach out and want to be a part of that. Now they don’t have the swipe up, a lot of the time, they won’t have that swipe up. And so for this particular campaign, that didn’t matter, because my goal was to create content. I wanted them to share images, videos, we had some boomerangs, and where they’re so small, also, you can send them product. And they’re also willing to do more for you. And so that’s also to test if they’re a quality influencer, is this a worthwhile partnership. So without that swipe up, depending on what you need, it really is okay, you can work with that nano, see how it performs on their feed. And then that helps them grow. At the same time your building brand awareness. And then who knows, a couple months, they might have that swipe up. And so you can tap into that partnership again, and get that swipe up.
And so when you are partnering with influencers multiple times, is there a benefit to that? Does it hurt sometimes? How does that work?
Yeah, so I really see influencers, as testing grounds, just kind of a rule that I like to think of is 1,2,3 campaigns, and see how it does. If the first one just kind of bombs, people didn’t engage with it, they didn’t turn out very good content, then it’s like that wasn’t too much of a loss. We just tested it out to see how it worked. And then we move on to the next if we do two to three, because primarily, we also don’t pay a lot of influencers. We like to do a lot of product trade, if they’re in that micro tier. And so if it performs well, and we’re at three, and they have all our product they’ve shared with their audience, we’ve established that trust, really, that’s the perk of it. So they have a trusted audience. They know that this influencer likes Purple, they have worked with them before, then we can either move them into our ambassador program, or we can move them into an affiliate program.
So when we kind of talk about payment with the ambassador and affiliate programs, could you explain just a little bit about the difference between the two?
So typically, with our ambassador program, they’re going to have a referral link, they’re not going to get that kickback, but they can share that link with their, you know, friends and family following and they might get five to 10 percent off their order. So then they get to share what they like about the brand, the product and then their customer or their audience gets to share that as a customer with that discount. Now with the affiliate, they’re going to have that kickback. So they’re going to
To be more incentivized to share because they’re getting paid.
And you briefly said, you guys don’t really do payment, you do more product trade, is that product trade kind of with like discount? Or is it free products, or does it kind of depend?
it is free product. So it’s pretty cool.
If you can work with us it’s great, because also, we just want to get testimonials. And that’s really important as a brand. When we’re establishing ourselves in the field, we’re shaking it up, right? No other brand has the grid technology. So when influencers are like, “Oh, I’m moving, can I have a new bed?” No, I’m not gonna send them a bed typically. Usually, it’s like, “hey, let’s try the Purple pillow. Let’s try the harmony, test out how that goes, then we can talk about it.”
So it kind of moves up as they are working with you longer. So it kind of starts below and then goes up. That’s super awesome. So what kind of products generally like perform better for Purple? With influencers?
I would definitely say our mattresses, and the Harmony pillow. Those are the two that just work really well. Because if someone just shows the classic, content that I get a lot, and then I like to reshare it because it performs well on our socials as well, is just someone pressing their hand into their mattress grid, and you see that instant response, you’re going to see how it moves, and it’s not going to stay in one place. It’s gonna move with you. That’s what we like to say because that is how it feels!
So we definitely have that, show how it feels to your audience that works with them. And that works for us as well.
What kind of platforms are the best platforms for you guys to use? And what platforms do you guys like to avoid?
I would say Facebook does not perform as well for micro however, that is always something that we can kind of negotiate in. If we’re working with someone and they haven’t established Instagram, then it’s like let’s also just try Facebook, let’s just see if that helps them, that helps us. And then I would say right now we are really branching into TikTok just because everyone’s there, people want to see more, we want to show how it feels and show off the way our beds and products are different. It just organically goes together really well. So I would say right now, we are really leaning into Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.
So you actually work with micro-influencers on their YouTube channel or on your YouTube channel or kind of both?
Yeah, we can work um, you know, maybe next year we’ll adjust. But right now, it’s primarily we’re doing videos that feature, or they’re dedicated to us.
Okay, so one of the popular things, with I know products especially, is unboxing videos. Have you noticed that those are successful? Are those fun? Do they work with influencers?
I would say with the unboxing, it’s typically our bed if people want it, because it’s rolled up in this, we like to call it the mattress log to show the bag, and those are great we did a campaign when we first launched and started using influencers, in 2017, 2018. We really took it to the next level, the end of 2018 is when we really branched out and and went for it. We saw that with kind of unboxing of your mattress, but It’s just a different industry, you know, it’s not gonna be like Ulta. And you’re like, “I have these 12 products that fit in this bag.”
You’re not necessarily gonna have a Purple haul because it is a premium brand. So when people want to spend their money, it’s not always going to be easy to spend 3,600 dollars on a mattress, it’s an investment. It’s more like buying a car than going down and getting a coffee.
Completely understandable. So my next question is,
What do you wish you knew before working with a micro-influencer?
When I first started into the industry, there weren’t a lot of
clear cut rules. There still aren’t. And so it was that testing of like, Okay, what is standard, like industry standard? Okay, about 3 percent some people might perform a little lower, but they have like 100 percent of their audience is in the US and you’re like, great, they might be less engaged. However, you know that people who can buy our product will have eyes on this product.
That’s something that was unexpected. like I said those rules, Are they in the West? What kind of engagement do they have? And also what makes good content? Is it having a professional photographer come over, and take all these photos? Or is it someone with their iPhone, and sharing it.
And that’s been something that we’re still testing. Because back in 2018, we actually did a whole series of influencer sponsored content and with micro-influencers, and actually the content that was a little fuzzy, and it wasn’t professional, but it just showed that real life lifestyle, and it outperformed the one that was a professional photographer.
Interesting. Now, I bet that’s always fun to see those differences.
Yeah. So and that’s what people connect with. I mean, that’s why we have influencers is that trusted online friend, that you’re like, “Hey, I like the product they recommend to me, so I’m going to keep trying it.”
Absolutely. I definitely think that a lot of the time, the influencers I follow are smaller, I definitely follow, you know, Beyonce, and everything. We all, obviously, but the smaller ones I’m more likely to buy from or comment on, just because they kind of feel closer to home, I guess. So yeah, I can definitely see that.
Absolutely. You feel like they’re less of a brand, and more of a person, but they have a brand voice. And that’s that fine line between you get to macro, where you’re like, oh, they’re definitely a brand. And they’re, they’re making various strategic branded choices. And although I love working with macros, and we can see that if we want to get reach and impressions, then they have their place. But I find the most ROI for me is from micro, really.
What is the approval process for an influencer? I know you’re kind of in charge, but has there ever been an influencer that you’ve had to get approval from higher up for? What was that process?
Yeah, so that is typically when it’s celebrity, that top tier, like mega tier of influencer. If it’s gonna cost, depending on the cost of it, then I’ve got to go through some hoops to get some approval for it. Like I was here, and we worked with Jerry Rig Everything. And that is you know, millions of followers on Facebook, millions of followers on YouTube, millions of followers on Instagram and TikTok, so it’s like, all of these platforms, they’re an established brand with an established following. They’re going to cost more like once you reach that threshold, they’re going to cost and so those are ones that I’ve got to present. Is this worth, you know, 70,000 dollars? Or are we going to see a better value from someone who is more micro, and they are going to maybe charge us 10-15,000 dollars. But we might see that return on value because they might swipe up more, they might actually follow through and less of you know, get lost in the noise of sponsored posts.
So when we talk about the difference in macro and micro and celebrities and nano, who is one of the influencers you’ve worked with, that you absolutely loved and why?
Okay, well, actually, this is interesting. So do you know Angie Thomas,
She is a New York Times bestselling author, she wrote The Hate you Give.
I love her. I could work with her every day. She was just someone who tweeted, this was back in I want to say March. She just sent out a tweet like, “Hey, give me some mattress recommendations.” So I was like, I know her. I’ve got to message her. So all these people are messaging her or excuse me commenting, and they’re saying like, “get Purple, get Purple.” And because I just sent a funny gif to her, she was like, “Hmm, okay, I guess I’ll try Purple.” And I was just able to cultivate this relationship with her organically. And, and because of her influencer status. She’s got that micro I think on Twitter. It’s like, just under 200,000 followers. She’s verified. I think it’s about the same following on Instagram. And she’s just so genuine. And because we built that relationship, people will still message her like, “hey, do you still like your Purple pillow? Like give me the down low?” And she’ll be like, “I love it. I love their mattress.” She created her own hashtag called Angie’s Purple.
and it was simply just because she has an engaged audience. She has a very good personality
where you want to work with her, and she was super easy to work with, she was like, absolutely. Do you want like I said, “Can we do a Twitter giveaway just because your audience is interested on what Purple’s like, we want to see if we can reach them?” And it was like, yeah, of course, zero payment, I just sent her, you know, one of our, I think a couple sets of sheets of like, hey, you’re great. Let me send you this, let me send you this free product, try this out. And she’s been awesome. And so we kind of work together, you know, kind of quarterly on keeping in touch, you know, taking posts of how she feels about us, making sure that we’ve cultivated that relationship. And I’m like, I would work with her every day. She is the best and she’s super funny. If you don’t follow her, follow her on Instagram, she plays like Twitch and her PS five. She’s super fun.
I love that! Well, you kind of talked about how she kind of did it organically? How do other influencers reach out to you? How do you reach out to them?
So I will say, I am more likely to take a chance on a micro-influencer, if they follow me on social if they reach out organically. So I get dozens daily of just Instagram DM’S, Twitter DM’S, messages on even Facebook sometimes just of,
influencers saying, “I’m moving, I need a new bed”. And I’m like,
Okay, but what sets you apart? And the other thing is, if they’re not following me, then I’m less likely to work with them, I might send them like, “Hey, you can apply on our platform.” And I do that because I want to work with people like Angie who love the brand, follow the brand, are genuinely excited to work with a brand like Purple, because there are other brands out there. They’re not going to get a bit of sleep, but they might get a free bed. And what I want to work with is someone who’s lasting. I think it’s worth more of my time to work with someone who sends me a message. And whether that’s email or a DM I mean, they all somehow find their way to my inbox. But I want to know
who they are, what is their brand? Or, you know, what are they wanting to do? And why do they want to work with Purple? Because it’s like I you know, maybe it’s a celebrity saying, “Hey, I’m moving, can I get a new bed?” and you know, maybe if it makes sense to send them a bed and maybe get an Instagram story out of it? Sure. But I want to work with someone who’s in it for the long term. And I think the best way to really put down the foundation of that relationship with a brand, follow them engage with their posts that helps you, that helps them, it’s got to be a true partnership.
I think that’s awesome. I think that’s definitely something that some of the other influencer marketing managers that I’ve spoken to are like, well, we got a lot to sift through so I think that’s a good standard. My last question for you today, Brianna, is when you are doing influencer marketing, I’m sure that there’s plenty of hard things. What is something that you would say to someone who is just starting out? What advice would you give?
Go above and beyond and follow through. I’ve worked with a lot of influencers, and they kind of go in my dismiss pile the next time, If I asked them to post on a day and they miss it.
And then like okay, like that’s the bare minimum. And not only that, but working with the brand voice, staying in contact. And when I say go above and beyond. I mean I want to have an exceptionally good experience as well. So if someone is messaging me, “Thanks, I’m so excited, thank you. What do you think?” Instead of like, I know that a lot of influencers, when I say I will send them a bed, they immediately want the premiere four because they think, Oh, that’s a $3,700 bed. That’s the one I want. And I’m like, but have you done your research? Or are you just looking for the most expensive product?
I want someone who will easily send content. I don’t have to track them down. Like, ”Have you posted yet? Hey, by the way, your review day was three days ago, and you should be posting on Monday. Are you ready?” I don’t want to babysit them. I want someone who’s going to stay in contact with me. Who’s going to follow up if they have questions. Reach out like this is a partnership, talk to me. I want to talk to you, to make it easy for both of us. So when I think of someone that, you know for follow up campaign, I’m like, Yes, they’re the top of my list. They were awesome last time let’s definitely reactivate them.
So to all those new marketing managers, look for someone you can build a relationship with.
Yeah, it’s better for both parties easily. Like I had someone who was a micro-influencer, and she was very difficult. She kept pushing her deadline back and just being like, ”Oh, sorry, this has, I, something’s come up.” And I’m like, okay, like I can be accommodating. And it was a headache, I actually had to bring in my superior, and loop them into the conversation. And then when they finally got the content, they wanted payment, and it was like, you barely performed, and now you want your paycheck. And I was like, I’m happy to send it. But you have to do these things first, and then they were really quick to do it. And just to get that paycheck. I was like, you are off my list. I can’t. It was way too much work to work with you.
That is definitely some good advice. Make sure that you’re working with a partner, not someone who’s just looking for a paycheck.
Yeah, I think that’s important.
Once you get into macro, usually they’ll have an assistant and you’re working with them and it’s less personal. But that’s, I mean, that’s the pro of working with micro is you’re it’s you’re working with that person, they’re hustling, you’re hustling as a brand, you want to make sure you’ve got the best, make it easy for both parties.
I love that. Well, thank you again so much for sitting down with me today, Brianna. I really appreciate all of your insight.
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 for more of Stratezines tips.