The Journey Continues: Influencer Test (Part 2)

Last month, I wrote about how I wanted to investigate if Influencer Marketing was nothing more than smoke and mirrors (Part 1 Marketing Influencer: Friend or Foe?). I compared it to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and how, thanks to Toto, she and her companions uncovered that the Great and Powerful Oz was nothing more than a lost magician manipulating everyone via empty promises. Which led me to ask the question: Were social media celebrities really worth their exorbitant fees, subscriber numbers, and consumer leverage? Or had these guys’ “heads grown way too big?” So we decided to run a Test: two different Influencers (Armed Forces and YouTube), two unique clients (Fitness and Menswear), two distinct demographics (18-45 vs. 40-65), and two contrasting areas (Banner ads vs. Vlogger). It took brains, heart and quite a bit of courage on everyone’s part but we clicked our heels three times and set off.

The first test launch was Fitness.

As I mentioned in the previous post, negotiations with the Fitness Influencer were steady for over a month; conference calls and emails were constant. Weekly update calls were scheduled to review figures and status reports on which placements were generating clicks and (hopefully) revenue. But nothing was happening. Add to that, a week of trying to confirm the type of tracking link that could be utilized on the Influencer’s website, and be tracked by the client’s analytics team. And it was right at that point that I realized we were WAY off the yellow brick road. Simply viewing the banners in their specified locations was becoming a challenge. ‘Impressions per hour’ became the catchphrase, and still, no revenue was being generated. No traffic. The client’s management team and I asked for clarification: were we going to see any revenue-generating traffic? Or was this a “display branding” campaign? As the second week closed on the Fitness Influencer, the latter of those two options was becoming the reality, despite previous reassurances of an agreed upon ROI.

Test two was Menswear.

Yet, back at the Emerald City, the Menswear Influencer was shining up his tin suit and prepping for the parade. This YouTube celebrity asked for bullet points that might be showcased on the video and blog post. Flexible terms were offered, extended, discussed and agreed upon swiftly. The Managing Partner kept all conference calls focused on past victories, previous client’s return business, and future collaborations. Our client was gently ‘guided’ by highlighting that the video’s focus was not to be an infomercial for the product but rather conform to the winning, subscriber-expected recipe of the celebrity: educate the consumer on style metrics, and do this while wearing the client’s merchandise, looking great, and speaking to the masses with tongue-and-cheek humor. The entire transaction was nothing more than a handshake. Literally…oh, and a PayPal receipt. Very smooth, Tin Man, very smooth.

The video was shot. Links were … well, linked. Network at the ready. And the YouTube video launched. Well, what can I say, the video EXPLODED! In four hours the video generated 75,000 views on YouTube, which resulted in a flood of new visitors to the Menswear site (quadrupling their regular daily traffic that normally comes to the site). Orders began coming in and so was revenue. Long-time subscribers to this YouTube celebrity were adding comments. The video directed consumers to a logo emblazoned landing page. And the momentum didn’t stop. Figures were checked and doubled checked to confirm that THIS affiliate in one day had quickly moved his way up the channel ranking to secure the coveted Number One Publisher slot and not let go.

Please reread that last sentence:  A content niche affiliate in ONE day outperformed the “kings” of the affiliate channel: coupon and loyalty sites.

So what did I learn? Well, no wait, Auntie Em, we aren’t in Kansas … yet.

Next month…Final outcome Blog Post #3