From Influencer Campaign to Product Collaboration: Going Beyond the Post

If you follow our blog, you’re probably already aware of Fraser’s stance on social media influencers – we believe they can serve as powerful messengers for many brands. And when done right, an influencer campaign can deliver far more than compelling content – it can bring in tangible results. Sometimes even unexpected ones.

For Jonathan Louis, a nationwide furniture manufacturer based in Los Angeles, influencers have not only helped transform their social presence, but their posts have translated into sales – and, most recently, sparked an entire new product line.

Flash back to summer 2015. Fraser was knee-deep in curating a powerful force of bloggers and Instagrammers for Jonathan Louis’ first-ever influencer campaign. Our goal was to identify and collaborate with leaders in the lifestyle, mommy and interior design sectors to authentically promote our clients furnishings with real people in real homes.

During our quest, we identified Justina Blakeney – designer, artist and author of the New York Times best-selling book, The New Bohemians. With more than two million followers online and named a top designer by Harper’s Bazaar, NY Mag and Lonny Magazine, Justina is one of the leading design personalities on the web. In fact, her award-winning blog, The Jungalow, has been named one of the best design blogs by Domino Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Marie Claire Magazine and Refinery29. Fraser knew Justina’s style was the ideal fit for Jonathan Louis: edgy, playful, distinctive and completely unexpected.

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Our hunch was right – the two brands together created a truly authentic connection. Fraser worked hard to develop a strong relationship with Justina and her agent on behalf of our client, and helped identify the perfect piece of furniture that represented the artist’s unique aesthetic. Jonathan Louis delivered a bold, peacock blue sectional that screamed Jungalow Style, and once Justina published her living room reveal featuring her latest Jonathan Louis piece, her followers went wild. Thousands of likes, comments and shares later, plus a feature in House Beautiful Magazine, we realized we were on to something. Something even bigger.

A few months after Jonathan Louis’ highly successful campaign with Justina Blakeney, which resulted in a significant lift in both social followers and web traffic for our client, the concept of a mutual furniture line sparked as a “what if” idea over coffee. From there, it quickly grew to become an organic, hands-on collaboration between furniture manufacturer and designer. Our influencer strategy took on a whole new identity as our client and Justina embarked on a new project – namely, brainstorming patterns and hitting the fabric stores for their new line. Fraser documented the journey on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, piquing genuine interest and excitement among both Jonathan Louis’ and Justina’s followers along the way.

pillowsThis past fall, at High Point Market, the interior design industry’s most renowned furniture expo, Jonathan Louis and Justina Blakeney revealed one of the most highly anticipated furniture launches of the season: “Justina Blakeney Loves Jonathan Louis.” Following the unveiling of this striking collection of sofas, sectionals and accessory furniture, hundreds of new followers swarmed Jonathan Louis’ Instagram profile – many of Justina’s most loyal fans – and are eagerly awaiting the collection’s retail release in early 2017. Even weeks after the reveal, social media buzz and customer demand continues to grow, and both brands – and Fraser – couldn’t be more thrilled.

We always advise our clients to “go beyond the post,” when it comes to social media. That means “mingling” regularly on social media – engaging with customers, influencers and even other brands via one-to-one conversations and forging key relationships. Our successful work with Justina Blakeney is just one example of how an influencer strategy can go beyond content. Because when you find an authentic connection and nurture that relationship, the possibilities for a brand can be endless.

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YouTube Influencers: 5 Things NOT to Do

Daily Bumps Family

YouTube influencers. There’s little doubt that this phrase has become one of the industry’s hottest buzzwords. You’ve heard of them, maybe you’ve spotted a billboard promoting a “YouTube Star” on the freeway, or perhaps you’ve tuned in (or even subscribe) to a few YouTube vlogs yourself. From cooking, sports, beauty, and everything in between, it’s safe to say that there is a YouTube channel for practically every category under the sun – and the people that power these channels serve as way more than your average TV show hosts. These folks are brands within themselves – real people whose raw authenticity serves as the not-so-secret sauce that continues to reel in millions of highly devoted eyeballs every moment of the day. And not surprisingly, many of these “stars” are breaking records in user engagement and views, likely by the time you finishing reading this post.

Over the past few years, Fraser Communications has collaborated with several major YouTube influencers, including Dulce Candy, The Eh Bees Family and The Daily Bumps, each bringing impressive results to our clients. From nearly half a million views on one video alone, to thousands of engaged comments and significant web traffic spikes, each influencer has delivered unique value that is unsurpassed by other mediums.

Whether you are part of the nearly 75% of marketers investing in influencer marketing or not, it pays to know a little bit about the enigmatic force behind YouTube’s best and brightest. After all, research shows that YouTube, which boasts more than 1 billion monthly users and is the internet’s second largest search engine, has the best ROI compared to any other social platform. It’s no surprise that brands want to work with YouTube influencers more than ever – and why it’s becoming one of today’s highest-ranked ways to reach and engage with customers.

Impressive numbers and promising outcomes tend to result in brands taking rapid moves to align with the “hottest” YouTube influencers. But in this fast-paced online ecosystem, it pays to stop for a moment and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Let’s take a deeper dive into YouTube marketing territory – namely,with 5 things NOT to do:

1. Leave your strategy on the backburner.

You’ve invested in building your brand, so it’s absolutely critical to work with influencers that align best with your business. Choosing the right influencer that more seamlessly fits with your brand is far more important than choosing the “hottest” YouTube star of the moment. Create your strategy and seek influencers who make sense for your brand and identify with your consumers’ personas.

2. Ignore an influencer’s engagement rate.

Massive numbers in the form of subscribers and views are definitely worth something, but not considering an influencer’s engagement rate is a huge mistake. For example, an influencer may have 1 million subscribers but very low engagement, say 50-100 comments or likes per session. If you compare this influencer to one with a smaller subscriber base but higher engagement rate, the latter is likely yielding a more devoted fan base, potentially creating a stronger opportunity for marketers.

3. Choose an influencer based on their latest videos alone.

Working with a platform like YouTube gives brands a chance to evaluate influencers on many levels, one being their engagement – namely, comments and likes – before they even step foot into negotiations. Through careful review of an influencer’s audience feedback, brands get a real-time look at their followers and conversations to help determine if they could be a good fit. And don’t make the mistake of only looking at their top videos. Many influencers “pin” certain videos to the top of their pages, resulting in inflated views and comments. Take a deeper dive into older or more buried videos to get a 360-degree view of their content and how they connect with their audiences. It’s also wise to check out influencers’ interactions on other social media platforms.

4. Disregard an influencer’s unique personality and ideas.

Coming to the table with a strategy is important, but keeping balance with an influencer’s ideas and style is just as critical. Remember, an influencer’s biggest asset is its engaged audience, and they’re already experts in knowing what types of content makes them tick. Marketers who are flexible and open-minded with influencers can expect a more seamless, genuine integration – and, ultimately, stronger results.

5. Look at content one-dimensionally.

Aligning with a YouTube influencer has many perks, one of which is receiving great content with a long shelf life – one that could potentially exist forever. But content creation goes far beyond vlogs. When choosing influencers, make sure you look at their social media value beyond YouTube. Many also boast significant followings on other platforms, like Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook – and some curate their own blogs – all of which open up doors for increased content opportunities for your brand. When negotiating, it’s also important to consider obtaining rights to their content for repurposing on your own social channels and web properties.
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Have you worked with a YouTube influencer? Thinking of aligning with one? Share your questions or insights with us. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Confessions from a work-at-home mom.

The 405. For us Angelenos, it’s a dirty word, isn’t it? But I must confess – on my worst mornings, what’s even dirtier is Waze and its insipid little voice, self-contentedly guiding me on a two-hour secret cobblestone path between the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles.

Flashback to yesterday: I was only thirty seven songs into my Boyz II Men Pandora station and three-quarters of the way through my carafe of now-cold coffee when that blank, robotic voice suddenly instructed my tired wheels to commit minivan suicide by crossing the city’s busiest intersection sans traffic light.

“You want me to WHAT?” I blurted, eyeing my clock and realizing I’d been on the road for more than an hour and a half and was still nowhere near the office.

But let’s stop right there. Because, no, this post isn’t about my hang-ups with Waze, though I could go on (and on).

This post is about work productivity – a phrase we’ve all heard before. From seminars to webinars devoted to the topic, everyone wants to improve productivity, right? To be frank, while online tools and team-building tips are important, sometimes we all just need… time. And every day, precious hours that could be spent strategizing, writing or collaborating are stripped away from annoying time-sucks – you know, like freeway congestion.

Yesterday, in between dropping off my kids, driving to the office and then back to pick them up, I calculated my freeway time at 4 hours total. That put me in the office for a mere 5 hours – so basically, a nine-hour workday with only half of those hours actually doing something other than swearing at a smartphone app and inching along an endless road of insanity.

Enter the idea of working from home – a concept that’s growing in popularity, but still raises eyebrows. (Are you really working, or are you shopping at Target in yoga pants answering random emails on your iPhone to prove your existence while catching up on OITNB post-lunch with your cat on your lap?)

The truth is, working from home has its challenges, but luckily, none of them have anything to do with productivity. My current commute on most days averages about .46 seconds. That’s the time it takes me to walk to my home office, shut the door and crack open my laptop. Sorry, Waze, you lose on this one again. Within minutes, I’m deep into whatever assignment I have at hand for the day, plowing through PowerPoint decks, strategy documents, social media copy, new business write-ups – all uninterrupted. Do I miss the company bagels and lox? Yes. Do I love the fact that I can get more work done during the two hours it usually takes me to drive to the office to begin with? Double yes.

Working from home sounds almost perfect, but it isn’t. Here are some top challenges I’ve faced (aside from missing a bagel here and there), and how I work to overcome them.

  1. You can feel isolated. There’s nothing wrong with some quality “alone time” to knock out major assignments, but there’s no one around to exchange questions or thoughts. Set up a call with a colleague to review initial drafts together; new ideas can spark from both sides and keep you motivated.
  2. Your home becomes your workplace. Work can be stressful, so when you clock out for the day, you want to come home to a safe haven. But working from your kitchen table makes it hard to disassociate the two. Devote a space just for work and nothing else – even if it’s a corner in a room devoted to your computer, a corkboard and some file folders.
  3. You forget to take a break. I don’t hear colleagues chatting about the lunch truck around the corner or hear the ding of the microwave from someone’s nuked leftovers in the kitchen, so I often forget about lunch altogether. (Refer to #1 – isolation!) By 2:30 p.m., I’m cranky and ravenous. Set a lunch break timer, eat a healthy lunch and take a brisk walk to change up the scenery and get some fresh air.
  4. You lack face time. Lots of assignments can very successfully be accomplished from home, but sometimes, being physically present is necessary. Business pitches and meetings are obvious occasions, but things like brainstorming sessions tend to fare better when done in person versus having the team talk to a black box while you scramble to make yourself heard in a room of loud voices and jokes that you only halfway hear.
  5. You’re the last to hear about things. Sometimes, objectives and strategies go in different directions, and you may be the last to know about changes. Having someone to check in with on a regular basis helps keep you both accountable and on track.

As a mom of two young girls who lives over the hill and far away from the office, I honestly couldn’t ask for a better arrangement. I feel lucky to work at a progressive company that values productivity on multiple levels, embraces change and has empathy towards employees’ stress levels and lifestyles.

So there you have it. If I had to summarize this post into a few words: I hate Waze, accomplish great things from home but still need to see my colleagues and enjoy a bagel here and there. With lox, please.

 

Don’t be “that person” at the party.

Imagine yourself at a cocktail party. A woman comes up to you and starts talking right away. About herself. Her genius kids. Her impeccable house. Her amazing career. Her amazing life.

“Let’s be friends,” she says.

You excuse yourself and go get a drink. A mutual friend joins you at the bar, starts a casual conversation and mentions a few very nice things about Ms. Amazing on the other side of the room. Now you’re listening.

WELCOME TO THE MARKETING PARTY.

In marketing speak, the first scenario is kind of like a brand saying, “I’m the best. Buy my product because I rule the world!” You become cautious. Guarded. Because, let’s be real, no one wants to talk to the loud woman at the party who only talks about herself.

The second scenario is akin to influencer marketing. Your mutual friend (the “influencer”) is essentially connecting a brand (Ms. Amazing) with you. And it often works. Because most people trust their friends’ opinions when they vouch for others.

INVITING THE POPULAR KIDS.

Today’s consumers are more independent. They want to do their own research on products and services and learn about it from people they trust. We all know word-of-mouth marketing works. In fact, it can generate twice the sales of paid advertising. That’s nothing new. But when you combine word-of-mouth with influencers and social media, positive recommendations (and criticisms) can spread like wildfire.

Influencers are everyday people, but they are powerful in their own right. Active blog curators and social media mavens (particularly Instagram), influencers command followers ranging from thousands to millions. Many followers monitor these influencers so closely that they often read their blogs multiple times a week and are eager to buy what the influencer is wearing, driving or eating.

PICKING THE RIGHT THEME FOR YOUR PARTY.

Blogger Megan reveals her latest find from Jonathan Louis in her “Master Suite Retreat."
Blogger Megan reveals her latest find from Jonathan Louis in her “Master Suite Retreat.”

Aligning with influencers means having the opportunity to directly connect with their audiences through their voices. And because influencers have such loyal followers who truly know their personalities, likes and dislikes, they have to be careful in selecting what kinds of brands to work with. An interior design blogger, for example, would be hard-pressed to explain to her audience why she’s partnering with a dog food brand. Collaborations need to be genuine and authentic – and when they are, both parties win.

GETTING THE PARTY STARTED.

Blogger Gladys of The Mother Overload posts about the importance of talking, reading and singing – both with her toddler and her baby-on-the-way.
Blogger Gladys of The Mother Overload posts about the importance of talking, reading and singing – both with her toddler and her baby-on-the-way.

To be clear, influencer marketing isn’t about recruiting random bloggers, handing them a creative brief and letting them go. It’s about finding the right mix of influencers who are passionate and eager to share your message, because it’s something that they believe in already – whether it’s a deep-rooted philosophy or a wildly patterned footstool. Finding that sweet spot will deliver the outcome you’re looking for: authentic voices speaking honestly about your brand while inspiring their audiences to take action.

Through Fraser’s research, experience and careful vetting, we’re excited to put influencers’ power to work for many of our clients, including Jonathan Louis, bewaterwise.com, and First 5 California. Each client’s audience helped determine out approach:

  • Jonathan Louis – We selected and partnered with key influencers in the design and lifestyle space, leveraging their expertise and credibility to spread the word about the brand’s stylish, durable furniture.
  • bewaterwise.com – We invited bloggers in the green or conservation spaces to a press conference.
  • First 5 California – We joined forces with dozens of mommy bloggers across the state to serve as trusted voices for providing tips and resources to support the Talk. Read. Sing.®
Dinah of DIY Inspired finds creative ways to ‪#‎talkreadsingwith her little ones through these ‪#‎DIY musical instruments.
Dinah of DIY Inspired finds creative ways to ‪#‎talkreadsingwith her little ones through these ‪#‎DIY musical instruments.

Our innovative tools and expertise help us pinpoint the right strategies and influencers to get the job done efficiently and effectively, and it’s no surprise that more of our clients are catching on and wanting to be a part of this different approach to marketing.

Now, let’s get back to that cocktail party. And I’ll have whatever Ms. Amazing is having.