Let’s be real — there are many naysayers and haters who still consider the term “influencer” a dirty word. What’s the deal? But more importantly, what does it mean to be an influencer? Eric Dahan is the co-founder and CEO of Open Influence. His company designs and coordinates influencer campaigns for major companies like Amazon, Netflix, Cartier, Google, and more. Eric is a part of Forbes 30 under 30, and he is the second male guest on the show. I’m so excited for you to learn from our important conversation all about attracting brand collabs, micro-influencers, and the future of the Influencer marketing industry. You’re going to want to grab a pen and paper and start taking notes as Eric shares his expert insight.
Attracting Brand Collabs, Micro-Influencers, and the Future of the Influencer Marketing Industry
Remember the Fyre Festival? That event has caused speculation of the future and death of influencer marketing. To which Eric responds, “actually, it’s a really good sign where if you could sell a festival that doesn’t exist, well imagine if you had a product that works.”
People used the Fyre Festival as a way to knock the legitimacy of influencer marketing. What their response was is one that is made in fear of change. “I think for a while a lot of people have been trying to bash influencer marketing because it’s new and there’s change and people just hate change no matter what that change is,” Eric shares. In reality, there are influencers across a wide variety of categories. In fact, not every influencer fits the image of the Kardashians. Not even close.
What Does it Mean to be an Influencer?
Typically, most people define an influencer to be someone with at least 10,000 followers. Sure, there are nano-influencers to account for but the general public defines the job by a certain number of followers. “Now, the way that I look at an influencer and define influence is influence not about popularity, it’s about trust,” says Eric. It doesn’t matter if you have 100, 10,000, or a million followers. All that really matters is whether or not your audience trusts you, especially when it pertains to your chosen niche.
The reason why people think the term “influencer” is a dirty word is because of a preconceived notion of vanity. These people tend to think that influencers are purely transactional. But from the perspective of a brand, influencers have access and influence within their communities and audiences. As such, brands want to leverage your influence by partnering with you.
What Open Influence Looks For in Influencers
Open Influence came about when Eric and his partner saw the way in which the influencer marketing industry was growing. Traditionally, brands would hire celebrities to serve as the face of a campaign if the look and feel fits. But the influencer marketing industry has really unlocked the potential for brands to look at these collaborations as a media spend, as opposed to just another endorsement. Open Influence helps brands navigate the influencer marketing industry effectively through developing and designing the right strategy.
As a result, Open Influence has built a system that analyzes every image and keyword. This helps them identify the relevance of an influencer for a specific campaign. They also look for the type of engagement you’re receiving, as well as how your audience responds to your content. Since numbers and analytics are huge in attracting and landing brand collabs, Eric shares that Open Influence “looks for an engagement rate north of 2%.”
However, he goes on to explain that it isn’t just about numbers. “It all comes down to relative and relevant engagement rates.” At the end of the day, attracting brand collabs comes down to a number of details. Most importantly, a brand cares about whether you will help them achieve what it is they’re hoping to achieve.
Advice for Attracting Brand Collabs For Micro-Influencers
There’s a common misconception in the influencer marketing industry that the higher your follower count, the more likely you’ll attract brand collabs. I’ve said this multiple times and I’ll say it again: there’s enough room for micro-influencers within this industry. It’s all about finding the right types of campaigns.
According to Eric, the Fortune 5000 brands just don’t have enough time in the day to approve a huge amount of content and influencers. “If they’re trying to get a million impressions and they’re doing that through micro, that means that those brands have to approve a lot of people.” That process can be very time consuming and ineffective for these brands.
But Eric thinks where micro-influencers hold a lot of power and leverage is with brands that are direct to consumers. “That’s been opening up the door for more micro-influencers,” Eric shares, “it’s also changed the strategy to more affiliate and straightforward type deals.” This allows for less micromanagement from the brand, but it also requires them to be more process-oriented. “Because if they’re trying to work with micro-influencers the same way they’re trying to work with mid-tier and larger influencers, they might get bogged down.”
Last but not least, Eric reminds us that the advantage micro-influencers have over mid-tier and larger influencers is the power of trust. “Micro-influencers have a really strong degree of trust with their audience, And there’s an immense amount of value there to unlock.”
Measuring a Successful Campaign
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely either attracted a few brand collabs in the past, or you’re interested in getting started in the influencer marketing industry. I believe that in order to show up professionally and to do an amazing job, you need to look into how a brand might define a successful influencer campaign. To which Eric shares, “it depends on the brand and how they measure success. Some brands are very conversion-focused, which I think truthfully, is great. But also does it capture the full value of what an influencer does?”
Influencer marketing is very different from traditional ads. What an influencer does when they collaborate with a brand is position that brand and establish a link of trust with their audience. Eric shares that what a lot of brands are currently doing is using your regular engagement rate as a litmus test for how interested your audience is from a brand awareness standpoint. They want to know if your audience cares and if your sponsored content is under or overperforming compared to your normal engagement rate. “So my word of advice to influencers,” Eric says, “is really focusing on creating the best content you can. Because sponsored content, on average, tends to underperform your regular content as an influencer.”
Trends, Growth, and the Future of the Influencer Marketing Industry
Eric shares a ton of expert insight into the influencer marketing industry in this episode. But one thing I had to pick his brain on was what he predicts in terms of trends, growth, and the future of the influencer marketing industry. Eric predicts that we’re going to see more influencers in more places. This has proven to be true with the emergence of new platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse. “There’s going to be social media influencers wherever people create.” He also makes a great point about how streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu are becoming more social with co-watching features, “so I think it’s only a matter of time before we see influencers there.”
Another huge trend Eric predicts is the ability of influencers to generate more direct sales on the social commerce side. You can start seeing glimpses of this with Amazon’s influencer program, Facebook Instagram shops, and TikTok and Shopify’s partnership. This is something that is currently huge in China, which Eric believes is ahead of the US in this department.
Eric also believes that in the future, these platforms will help influencers to monetize their content more directly. This means influencers will not have to rely solely on brands deals to earn their income. “From an influencer’s perspective, this is a big value proposition. It’s very interesting to say, ‘I’m not going to only be reliant on brand deals for my income, I’m going to start monetizing my content more directly,’ whether that be through a subscription, whether that be one-off. And I do strongly believe that’s the future we saw with a lot of online courses.”
The Ins-and-Outs of the Influencer Marketing Industry
Knowing how the influencer marketing industry works is key to attracting brand collabs and your success as an influencer. And what better way to learn than to hear from someone who has expert knowledge of working with both brands and influencers behind the scenes? Eric is a wealth of knowledge and this episode is a must-listen for any influencer or anyone who hopes to become one. Plus, if you haven’t taken the first step to start your influencer career, Eric has some advice for you. While you might think that the influencer marketing industry is overly saturated, Eric couldn’t disagree more. In fact, he believes that this is just the beginning of a booming and blossoming industry.
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