Non-Traditional Influencers: Save Money, Gain Effectiveness

Non-Traditional Influencers: Save Money, Gain Effectiveness

Please give a short description of your background.

I have built a social media network of over 15 million followers- a network on which I’ve worked with brands such as Nike, Adidas, Speedstick, Olympic Channel, Gary Vaynerchuck, ESPN’s Jay Williams and more. I’m the marketing director/part owner of a brand with 7 figure sales and over 100,000 customers in over 40 countries.

How did you get started doing this / what was your motivation?

It’s all been a constant learning process where I’ve stumbled upon technique after technique as I’ve worked to build my brands. First it was a basketball gym, then an apparel brand. Most recently, I went head first into building media entities when I saw the huge opportunity when I was working as a media/influencer buyer for my apparel brand. I noticed the great financial opportunity on the selling side, and the absurd value provided. It’s a huge win-win.

Would you say followers of your personal brand offered you a bigger opportunity for sales than affiliate customers?

I would say the single best conversion booster is building a highly engaged brand. Connecting first-hand with your target audience is so powerful. When you build brands the right way, strong relationships are formed and brand advocates are born, who buy your products, then essentially become an unpaid affiliate army, providing testimonials and referrals.

How important is your brand to you, and how important is it to you to manage it properly, rather than outsourcing it?

A brand, especially when there’s a large, engaged audience behind it, is not only the most powerful asset you can have, but also an asset that’s going to majorly increase your multiplier on your business’ value when (or if) you choose to exit your business. Having tried 5 different agencies to help scale our apparel brand, I can honestly say that once you understand your brand and your customer avatar, it’s very rare that any outsourced efforts will be able to create the same effect. Authenticity is everything and an outsourced group is rarely ever going to be able to duplicate your voice, your passion and your deep understanding of your niche. The best brands have in-house direction from people who genuinely love the products and brand they’ve created.

What was your revenue in your first year of business?

For my agency/social media network, I did $527,000 in the first 8 months (and just about $750,000 in the first 12 months). I officially began monetizing the agency in April 2015.
For the apparel brand, we did a couple hundred thousand in the first 12 months.

How much are you on track to do this year?

My agency should surpass 1 million this year.
My apparel brand should surpass 2.5 million this year.

Online Stores: Make Your Email List Explode

My largest online store has an email list with over 130,000 people, over 85,000 of which are now customers.
It wasn’t always that way. It took a consistent investment.
Not only was is this a major sales driver every day, it gives me a conversion without variable cost, which allows me to dump money right back into acquisition.
When your email list is strong, it’s substantially easier to scale.

The Primary Ways We Did It

1. Giveaways

The easiest and most cost effective way to get emails by the thousand when you’re starting out is to host a giant giveaway.
If the audience is cold and unfamiliar with your products, you can add a complimentary product that is popular within your target audience to your giveaway to get more momentum.

No need to get complicated.

Create a flyer. Create a landing page where you can collect emails. Run traffic to the landing page from the cheapest sources that are still targeted (think Facebook Ads & Instagram influencer buys). Collect emails. Repeat.

2. Acquire Customers (and their Emails) with Extremely Low Cost Offers

This part makes many people uncomfortable, but when you’re starting out, don’t sleep on acquiring customers with discounts.
Sure, you could be training them to wait for discounts. Or, even worse, you could be only attracting sale-hunting, low lifetime-value customers.

There absolutely is a fragile balance.

But, a previous customer is worth many times more than a giveaway email, and a giveaway email is worth many times what cold traffic is worth.

Some of these emails, if you treat them right, will buy over and over again.

If trained, these customers will be worth many times their initial purchase to your business. Give them an excellent experience with the first purchase, and watch them return for your higher margin products.

The cherry on top is that you may be able to make a profit on their first purchase, too!

3 Ways To Beat Instagram’s Algorithm

You’ve heard about it ad nauseum.

In the not-so-distant past, Instagram moved from a chronological feed to an algorithmic feed, based on a number of factors that are meant to improve the feed experience for Instagram’s average user (and of course, make businesses pay to play).

The good news is, just like when Facebook made video supreme, there are also ways to maximize your content to take advantage of Instagram’s algorithm.

Using appropriate hashtags and locations on each post is still a best practice, but once you’ve gotten some fresh eyeballs on your posts, it’s important that you’re prompting engagement with the below techniques.

Comments Are King

If you want your posts to reach a larger portion of your followers, or (fingers-crossed) reach many fresh eyeballs of the explore page, it’s all about how many comments you get, how influential your commenters are and how fast they come.

Until Instagram revamps their algorithm, comments are going to be significantly more valuable to your post’s success than likes.

There are a number of ways to work the system and make comments work for you.

1. Ask questions, play fun games that incentivize tagging friends, ask for 1-10 ratings or emoji descriptions… Have fun with it!

You’d be surprised at the weird and fun ways to make people excited to comment (boosting your post right up to the top of the feed – and sometimes right onto explore page virality).

Train your followers to comment frequently with consistent comment calls-to-action with every post. On our entities, we format all of our post captions to include a one line “teaser” or post description, followed by a unique comment call-to-action.

2. Take advantage of the current fad & big secret: engagement/like/comment groups.

Collaborate with users in your niche or users with similar amounts of followers and join a group. You can find these on telegram/kik and you can even direct message users who might be a good fit. Even the biggest pages in the world use these groups to boost the reach of their content.

For our pages including @BasketballVideos & @Sports, we collaborate with other pages in sports that have millions of followers to like & comment on each comment, and it makes a huge difference in the posts’ velocity.

If you’re just starting out, it may be in your best interest to try reaching out to large pages and actually purchasing comments or sponsored posts to get momentum.

3. Create giveaways or comment games with incentives.

A great way to get your important posts a giant boost is to offer a giveaway or follow to a random commenter, or require a comment for entry.

On Instagram, the main source of virality is the explore page, and the best way to reach it is through comments.

Brandon Harris is the President of NuMedia Agency, an agency with an owned network of over 15 million followers and ecommerce stores generating multiple millions in online sales. You can follow him on Instagram @BrandingHarris or contact him via email at sales@numediaagency.com.