Interview with Danny from Kenji ROI – Amazon Growth Services
Here is the full transcript of the video:
DANNY: What's up guys, Danny Carlson here of the Actualized Freedom podcast and this is part two out of three of the influencer marketing series. If you haven't seen the first episode, we have Anthony Bui Tran from Seller Tradecraft talking about his Youtube influencer marketing strategy, so be sure to check that one out. I think that's episode 30 and today we have Nika Underwood on here. She has created more than 50 influencer marketing strategies for businesses. She is very versed in Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube when it comes to influencer marketing. So I'd like to welcome to the podcast, Nika Underwood. So maybe let's start out Nika, can you give the audience a little bit of information about your experience when it comes to influencer marketing?
NIKA: Hey Danny, I'm so honored to be on your podcast. Thank you for this opportunity. Yes, so I started doing influencer marketing few years back. I actually started with what they used to call Instagram brand, which is what they call a lot of these companies that use influencer marketing to break through in their market. That was Sugar Bear Hair, which is a hair vitamin. We were working with hundreds and hundreds influencers, including, like all the way up to Kardashians and Jenners. That's when I really learned a lot about it and then as I was learning, I started building programs for other brands – smaller brands on the side, because I've been doing marketing for about 10 years and I've had at the same time marketing job and building my agency on the side. So after that when, I had a specific strategy we were using specific strategies for Sugar Bear Hair, then I was trying new things with other brands. So I came to about, right now I believe, about 50 programs that I've built with influencers and I'm talking about programs, not just “Hey, let's buy 10 shout outs here and there”. I'm talking about real influencer programs where you have a big team of people promoting your product and so on.
DANNY: So most of the listeners here, they all know Instagram marketing or influencer marketing is important, but a lot of them have no idea where to even start. Like, should they just be reaching out to people through DMs? Who should they really be reaching out to? Can you give us a little bit of an idea of what one of these programs would look like? Like, what's the structure of one of these programs?
NIKA: Yes, so let's say that you're looking for Instagram influencer specifically. You would reach out to them through DMs. A lot of them are actually open for collaboration, so they will have their email address listed on the account. If they have that, it's better to contact them through email. A lot of them are very professional and take attention to details seriously. So, if you're DM-ing them and they said “Hey, email me for collaborations”, some of them just really won't even reply to you. With influencer marketing I believe, if I can call it customer service, is extremely important. Knowing how to talk to people, how to, you know, approach them, how to negotiate – every word counts. Because that's what's going to influence how much you're going to have to pay for it, an influencer, how good of a relationship you can build, if you can build it long term, and so on.
A lot of big, big celebrities work through agents obviously, so you can't message them. You can actually message them, you'll never get a reply. So a lot of them will work only through agencies, which means you may not even ever speak to them. The contracts will be signed without you ever seeing the person. All the communication is done through agents. All the photo approval is done through agents. But yes, when I'm building a program the first thing to do is, once we have the strategy and we know what kind of target market we're looking for, we're going to find the right influencers by, I prefer manual research and not using influencer networks, which seems to be a less preferred method, but I know it works in long term, building bigger and more serious programs.
DANNY: What are influencer networks?
NIKA: So yes, I don't know specifically by name, which ones are the biggest right now, but it's technically a website where you can log in, oftentimes pay for an account, and all the influencers or wannabe influencers, register on those websites. They connect their social media to those networks, and they can start pitching brands, or brands can access this list of influencers based on specific parameters they're looking for, and then start pitching influencers to promote their brand. What I've seen is, that most influencers that do register for those networks aren't real influencers. They are just people with Instagram accounts, and that's a big difference. Brands that are looking for influencers on those networks are really going to find possibly mass “influencers” that will promote their products sometimes for free or very low cost, which is what attracts brands to those networks.
NIKA: But, that's not a way to build your program. If you're going to have a low budget, and hope for a picture on Instagram here and there, there are better ways to spend that money in marketing than influencer marketing. So that's as far as the networks go. Like I said, if I'm building a program, once we settle on which influencer were going to contact, it is really just a lot of manual, just contacting through Instagram, their agents, agencies, their emails, you know, finding other ways to contact. If we're really dead set on specific influencers, we'll contact them on every possible location that we can find them – through Facebook, Youtube, and everything else. You know, if we can find their mom or dog that they can talk to, we'll ask the dog to talk to them just to get the influencer.
DANNY: So, Anthony Bui Tran talked a lot about how he does things on Youtube, but he doesn't do anything on Instagram. Maybe let's talk a little bit about what kind of, what kind of relationships are you trying to set up with these Instagram influencers? Are you trading specifically for like a certain amount of posts or Instagram stories? How do you typically structure these kinds of relationships and how much are you paying them? Are you paying them a product? Like what does this all look like?
NIKA: So, depending obviously on the product and the influencer, sometimes, when it's a new brand, new company, it's really hard to get influencers to work for you for free, because they don't know the brand. Most influencers that are professionals will not put their name behind something that they don't know about, right?! So, with a brand new company it is really better to have a money budget, and not just hope that they're going to want your product. If you are really set on giving product in exchange for posts, what happens is that because no one knows you, and most bigger names will not promote you, you end up with a lot of, let's say, smaller influencers. The problem with that, and it's one thing that kind of ruffles the feathers of what they call micro influencers is that I just don't use them.
And here's why: they like to call themselves micro influencers and they could be accounts with, you know, two, five, 10,000 followers. We do vet every single accounts that we want to contact before we even contact them. So you can see if the followers have been bought over time, what kind of engagement they have, if they're using comment pods to increase their numbers. So, a lot of those micro influencers actually don't have genuine following, genuine engagement and they're really not influencing anyone. And what happens is that even in communication with them, they'll say: Well, you know, I'll promote you, I'll promote you to my friends and family, and so on. But when you think about it, think about people in your life. How many of them if you bought, let's say a new T-shirt, the shirt you're wearing right now, and if you told your family and friends “You absolutely have to buy this T-shirt, it is so awesome.”
How many of them are actually going to go and buy that T-shirt?! Just because you said: “Hey, you got to buy this, I have it.” You know, it just doesn't work like that. So those smaller accounts, they really don't have influence on anyone. Now there's other uses for smaller accounts, and this would be my recommendation to those influencers if they want to score like, you know, good deals and stuff. Don't present yourself as an influencer because you will not be able to deliver what every brand needs. However, a lot of brands need good content. So if you're someone that is small, as in follower numbers right, but you can create great photos or you can create great reviews, that's what you want to pitch. Because then you are valuable to a brand. You may not be valuable by your follower numbers but you can be valuable in other ways.
DANNY: Okay. So, Instagram is a bit of a tricky one, right? Because you can only have one link in your bio, or you can do like an Instagram story swipe up campaign if they have more than 10,000 followers. So how were you structuring that? Cause you obviously you want to link back to your own landing page, or to Amazon, or whatever. Right? You don't just want them to post a picture of your brand and tag and be done with it. Or do you?! How do you structure this?
NIKA: That's a great question. I actually don't count and hope on those influencers to make actual sales. Because most of them will not. And I can tell you that some of the celebrities, and that's people that are on reality shows and they have millions and millions of people, they do not sell. They barely send any traffic to wherever you want to send it. On the other hand, I've worked with girls that have less than million followers and they sent crazy amounts of traffic to, again, wherever you're sending it. So I normally, I really have this deep conversation with a brand that wants to build an influencer marketing that I'm supposed to do it for and explain in details what we can expect and what not. A lot of them think that if they find ten people to post on Instagram and they pay $20 per post, they're going to get, you know, some crazy x amount of clicks on their links. But let's talk about general marketing conversion rates. Let's say you have, you know, a small influencer with 10,000 followers and in general, you can expect what – 2% people to actually click the link…if they're having decent engagement and nothing is fake. So 2% of 10,000 is 20, right?! 20 or…
DANNY: 20. Yeah, I think so. Yeah.
NIKA: So if they click on your link and end up on your website, how many people of those 20 are going to buy? So it's really important for me to explain to them that most of the time influencer marketing is actually not going to bring them direct sales so they can have the right expectations.
DANNY: Yeah, that makes sense. So you're more going for a branding play on Instagram?
NIKA: Yeah. I'm sorry, it's 200 clicks. Let's say you do get 200 people, let's say your conversions are 2%. So that's 4 people. You may make 4 sales. The problem is, most of the accounts will not get those conversions. And when you talk about influencers, if you think about numbers and how many people they will get to buy things, if people actually had that influence, everyone would be in a multilevel marketing company and be actually successful, because they would have influence on people around them to actually buy things from them. And you know probably how many people are not successful with selling to their following.
DANNY: That is a very interesting point. Likening influencer, the Instagram influencer space to MLM multilevel marketing that is, now that you mentioned it, there is so much crossover between those two things. It's hilarious.
NIKA: Put together with also affiliate marketing, which is almost the same thing. Actually, let me correct myself. It's not the same thing and you shouldn't be the same thing, but the way people treat it, it turns into the same thing. I've seen so many brands say: “Well I want to do influencer marketing. I'm just going to offer them 10% of sales.” That's not influencer marketing. That's affiliate marketing. Right?! Or you're building a brand ambassadors because you're not paying anyone anything. Real influencer marketing it's really getting people that are influencers in their communities and their industries. We're talking millions of people, we're talking about celebrities, models, you know, singers, rappers, we're talking about people with huge numbers that actually do influence certain group of people that can promote your brand.
DANNY: Okay, so you mentioned brand ambassadors. So from the sounds of what you're saying, your goal is never really to get people to click off of Instagram onto your own website or your client's website. It's more to just build a brand and kind of have them as a brand ambassadors, and to build a social proof so that, maybe the people watching on Instagram they see some ad later on, and then they're more inclined to buy. Is that kinda what you're going for?
NIKA: Yes, so the goal would be to click, right, but I don't have those high expectations because I know how most of those end up being and how the clicks work and so on. So yeah, that would be a great goal and that's like, what we want to do, but to be realistic, just being seen on Instagram is very useful. Right? So, one of the big brands that I've built big programs, technically was really, you know, the goal was to get clicks, and in reality we just really built up the brand. Cause now everyone is seeing it on Instagram, right. I think if brand is really kinda being honest with themselves, they are better off building something of a combination of maybe brand ambassador and affiliate program. And I think one of the best examples of that is the 1st Phorm (the supplement company) because they have, they do have a program that's called Legionnaire program.
That's technically an affiliate program and brand ambassador program together, where they actually teach people how to properly promote products and build this community around them and not just sell, and then they pick the best to move them into their sponsored athletes, which then technically become influencers. Right? So it's just very, I feel like people are mixing everything together and that's why, you know, you'll have people saying: “Well, I'm doing influencer marketing, I'm just buying people's shout, you know, they're shouting me out on Instagram for $20. Well that's really not influencer marketing. You know, that's just buying shout outs.
It's like $20, like whatever it is.
I'll tell you, one of the best things is when you have like several hundred influencers and you…there was a program, we had several hundred influencers, I literally didn't care if they had a single click, that was not our focus. All we wanted to do is for them to create great content and put it on their social media, and you know, be nice to people that ask about the product. And it helped so much more than thinking about numbers. Now I know that not everyone can afford that. But if a company says: “Okay, this is our budget for influencers and we just want to grow”, and obviously you want to track some things, but you do see how sales grow over time, especially if that's your main focus, you can actually see how much influencer marketing is growing your, you know, bottom line. And then, again, if you're doing links that you can track, like stories or Facebook lives and so on, then you can actually track specific ROI. Although I don't even like to talk about ROI of influencer, just build the program, trust me, it's gonna work. You know, that's the bottom line.
DANNY: Yeah. So my last question when it comes to Instagram influencers is, when you're reaching out to these people, give me a few examples of when you would be just offering someone some product and when you would be offering them some money and what you'd be getting in return for that.
NIKA: Okay. So, it will depend on the brand. Some brands don't even have to reach out. They have dozens of people contacting them every day and say “Oh, I want to promote you.” So that kind of gives you a little leg up on the negotiation. Depending again on the product you're selling. So you have to kind of calculate how much the product is costing you to manufacture. How much is it going to cost you to ship that to the influencer? How much is it going to cost you manpower to handle everything from negotiation, signing the contract, approving photos and so on. It's a lot of work so you have to know how much it's costing you to be able to kinda estimate what you should pay. Now I actually, there's a basic calculation that I use and people really get upset about this, because most influencers say “Well, I'm charging $100 for every 10,000 followers.”
It's like $10 per thousand. Right? And I actually…my math starts at a dollar per thousand followers and this is purely marketing math. It goes back to how many people can they send to the website, how many sales can they make. Now, not every person is a dollar per thousand account right? I've worked with accounts that have 3000 followers that created such a great content that I paid them more, than I did to the account with 300,000 followers. It's really, really important to know what you're getting out of them. If you're doing, let's say, Youtube videos, it depends on how good of a video they can create – is how much you're going to pay them. Some people are beginners, but they have maybe three videos on Youtube. But when you see what they can do, they're worth any money they ask for because you're going to get such amazing content,then you can reuse later. You can reuse it in your marketing, you can use it in your ads. You can use it as review on your website. There's just so many uses you can get out of the content that your brand ambassadors, influencers, whatever you want to call them actually, they create great content. Now, if he was just paying straight for a post, I have barely ever, ever worked with someone that I would just want to pay them for one post. So it has to be a package. So minimum would be like let's say, three to five posts. Stories they're extra depending on, sometimes I will negotiate for them to throw in a couple of stories, but it's not important to me unless they can show that they really get a lot of engagement and clicks on their stories.
DANNY: And so what are you asking for typically, like three to five posts over a specific time period?
NIKA: Minimum, three to five posts is a minimum, but my goal is to get them to constantly work with me. So I actually tried to explain that at the beginning that this is just a trial. Three to five posts is a trial, to see how it is to work together. But my goal is always, always, to build a relationship with influencer because, when people see that this influencer is committed to a company, they start believing in the company more. When you go to an account that has billion reviews, you know that, like almost every second, third post is a review of a product, how much do you trust that person? You know, they obviously will review and promote anything. And this is another reason why I don't like to work with influencer networks is because the people, the accounts on those networks will, not all the time, but almost always will take any promotion they can get.
Right? So I'm very, very picky. Very picky, I want to work with people that don't work with a lot of companies. If they do work with a few companies, I want to make sure they're not in any way competing with my client's company or a product. It's great if they're complimentary. That's actually really good, because it just looks more natural. And at the end of the day, a lot of times I do ask them, depending on the product, I do ask them to actually use the product. At times they would review and say something they didn't like about the product and they'll be like “Hey, do you think I should change that?” No, no. Unless you're lying about something, you know, there's just people that sometimes you'll use a product and you know, you'll get results that company promises, but you may have something you didn't like about it. You may not like how you apply the cream or you know, things like that. Just say that! It's not a break for the company, it's not going to ruin a company if you say, well, I don't really like the consistency, but I really do like the product.
DANNY: Yeah. It's just real and authentic. Right? Which is obviously very important when it comes to influencer marketing and creating real content. People can smell out. Like, that's why MLMs is, a lot of people think it's really scammy and stuff, it's because people, a lot of people don't really understand how to do MLM without just coming across as really scammy and just lying to their friends and family and stuff. Unfortunately.
NIKA: Yeah, it's because they start just promoting pictures. There are a couple of companies on Instagram, I believe it's one of those, I don't want to say fit tea because there's actually a company I think that's called fit tea, but you know, the teas that are like making you skinny in 21 days or something, you know, and what they do is, I've seen that so many times. You have suddenly this flood of photos of their product on so many Instagram accounts. It's a photo of a product. Like, I don't want…I never, ever, ever allow my influencer to post a photo of a product from the website, or something that we put out. It makes no sense. You have the product in hands, use it, take pictures with it, you know. So you know, you flood the market with photos of your product with no person in it, they're not using it, no one's talking about it, they're just saying “Oh my God, this tea is awesome, try it!” Why?! Did you try it?
DANNY: Totally. It's got to be native to the platform, right? Now, speaking of platform, you also mentioned that you like to leverage Facebook for influencer marketing as well. What are some of the key differences when you're talking about influencer marketing on Facebook instead of Instagram?
NIKA: Well, one of the favorite things for me is Facebook lives, right? Because you can then run ads. So a lot of influencers that we've done that with, we'll just run ads to their lives after they're done, or we'll help them promote it and so on. That's just something that you have to be sure, that they can handle a live video, because not everyone can, right? So some people can create great photos, some people can create great doctored videos, so to say, you know, with post production and everything, and some people are great on live. And then, instead of watching a Youtube review that has a lot of editing, you're watching a person live that you actually follow, like a celebrity or something like that, that is talking about the product, how long they've been using it, and it just almost, you feel as if you have them sitting in your living room and telling you “Hey, this is what I use.”
And we always tell them, like “Say everything you think about it” . Don't make everything golden, and fabulous, and perfect because you know there is no product in this world that everyone loves just the same. So, if you are a person that's very genuine about your review, more people will believe you, and that's the goal. It's like when you go to a website and a product has five stars, and like 4,000 reviews and the product is five stars, it's impossible! And I know a lot of companies will just like, turn off the 1s and two stars and so on. Leave at least some of them there, it makes no sense – there's no product in this world and that everyone loves.
DANNY: Yeah. I mean, people can smell out the bullshit from a mile away when there's too many five star reviews. Right?
NIKA: Yeah. And I don't understand brands don't understand that! Oh, just do a review but say like, this, this and this. I don't want you to say what I tell you to say. I may give you talking points, as in you need to mention this, this and this. Like you need to mention the product is made out of this, or product is made in USA. You know whatever is the selling point the brand is going with, but I need you to say the truth as well.
DANNY: Yeah. And it's, it just comes across like a Chinese company who is just like, gaming the system or something like that. And for the real marketing nerds out there, how are you structuring this exactly? This is the Facebook live on this influencers, on their personal Facebook page and then you are, once a live is done, you would just go into your Facebook business account and run ads to that live that is completed?
NIKA: Yes, yes. So they just add us as Admin to the ad account and we just run ads. So good for them, good for us. We can then use the audiences from that. Like I said, if they're good at a live they're going to get great engagement during the live. You know, people will share it, if we throw in a giveaway that's going to go great. We've had a live with, it was an apparel company. Just people like Hey, start a live, they don't know it's a giveaway. Then you say Oh, it's a giveaway shared on live. And then it just goes crazy, you know, and almost goes viral before it's even over, you know, so it just, you got to get the right person that's really engaging on a live video. And like I said, yes, after it's done, you can run the ads. Obviously you can download that video and reuse it for any purposes that you want, which is really important to stress out in contracts, how you may use the content that they create, but you can run ads, reuse those audiences, create lookalikes and, you already know how the Facebook ads stuff goes. It's a lot of stuff that you can do with it.
DANNY: This on their ad account, the influencers ad account? They add you as an admin and then, so you can operate on any of their audiences and just like, you're running the ad spend but you have access to all of their custom audiences and like that.
NIKA: Yes. No, obviously we're paying for the ads, right? So it's not like, “Hey, we're running your credit card into the groun.” We do pay for the ads, but yes, we build our audience through their account.
DANNY: Okay. So, just a technical question here: If you had your own custom audience, are you then going to export it from your ad account and then import it into their ad account and then target that custom audience?
NIKA: No, no, no, no. So what I'm doing is I'm building new audience. I'm not reusing mine. I already have mine, I'm going to retarget mine in my own thing, like you know, is it email nurturing, is it ad retargeting… I'm building new audience. So, influencer marketing for me is mostly number one is bringing new audience. I don't want, for example, my influencers to go on the brand's Instagram, and talk to people and say, you know “Hey, you should buy through my link” or whatever. Like if there's an affiliate side to it, right? No, your job is to bring new people to the brand and make it more visible, right? Don't touch my audience, don't mess with that like, just bring new people. And that's kind of like, you know, people don't realize that, again I'm going to compare it to affiliate marketing when someone allows you to be their affiliate. They don't want you going on their Facebook page and poaching people there. They already got this customer. They want you to bring new customers. So, in influencer marketing, really what you kind of want to do is, get all these influencers to spread the word about your brand in their community and bring that community to your community. Right?
DANNY: Yeah. I love that. I love that tip about Facebook live here. We're coming towards the end of our time here. Is there any, is there any overarching tips? If someone was really fresh and they don't have any Instagram or any influencer marketing campaigns built out at all, what do you think is the first step that they should do? How should they even start?
NIKA: You're talking about the brands that want to build an influencer marketing program?
DANNY: Yeah. This would be people who have a physical products brand. They have the products, they're already up there and they just want to build an influencer marketing program from scratch.
NIKA: So when it comes to building from scratch, my first thing would be like, if you don't have a serious budget to invest, don't do it. Just go with Facebook ads, go with Google ads. Kind of dabbling in it is not a solution. Because just, you're going to waste too much time on it and too much money when you really could get the better ROI from Facebook ads. Now, if you do have the budget and you plan to reinvest all the money into marketing over time to build your brand, which most people should do and most people don't. They just drain the business, they drain the money out of the business instead of reinvesting into marketing and really build it properly. And so what you want to do is, you want to first figure out obviously, who is your target audience. And here's a tip: you've seen so many Instagram accounts with the girls that are like, always in bikinis, and on beaches, gorgeous girls, you know, like, perfect bodies. They're doing, you know, maybe fitness models and so on, right? And most of their accounts are full of pictures of them in bikinis. Like that's the, we kind of called them bikini you know, bikini models.
DANNY: I'm sure none of the guys listening follow any of those accounts.
NIKA: Yes, so that was exactly my point! So a lot of these beauty brands or, a lot of brands that target females want to get these bikini girls to promote their stuff, except their audience is mostly men! And this is the tip for influencers, these bikini girls, stop trying to promote beauty products, stop trying to promote stuff that that's just targeted at women… Promote car tires, promote whatever guys are buying! Like gun cleaning oil, that's what you need to promote. That's your audience, you know? So brands need to figure out exactly who their audience is and then who has that audience. If you figured that part out, your negotiation later… yeah there are like very important things that you need to put in negotiation and how you talk to them and what you offer, and what's you counter offer. But if you have figured out who has your target audience, you are already like 99% of the way there.
DANNY: Awesome, Nika. There's been a ton of golden nuggets in here. I'm going to be compiling this episode, the one with Anthony Bui Tran before, and the next one that I'm going to do, into a big influencer marketing video with all these great tips and out of this one is going to be a lot of really good golden nuggets pulled out. So thank you so much, Nika, for hopping on here. And where can people find out more about you online?
NIKA: So, I'm just going to point them to my website, which is NikaRoseWolf.com. That is Nika, N I K A, rose, like the flower wolf, like the animal .com. And they can find me there and from there, you know, find me on social media and so on. I'm easy to find. I really appreciate this opportunity, I love talking about Instagram and influencer marketing. And I can't wait to hear the other two interviews, I'm super excited.
DANNY: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Nika. And for those listening, you can check out the show notes here. All the links mentioned and everything on kenjiROI slash blog and just look for this episode here. And there's also the video version on Youtube or the podcast on Actualized Freedom. So, see you guys in the next episode and keep kicking some ass.