Bringing Creatives Together with Influencer Marketing

Bringing Creatives Together with Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is one of those buzzwords that has been floating around for a few years but has really gotten hot in the past 12-18 months.


Everyone has this innate craving to be known – to be considered an influencer in their industry, whether it be interior design, cooking, art, or even… social media marketing (yes, I’m calling myself out on that one). Being an influencer is one thing, working with influencers to help promote your business is another.


You don’t have to me some mega-company like Chanel or McDonald’s to use influencers, likewise you don’t have to use big celebrity names either. Find those who are passionate about your brand/company who have a good-sized following (it doesn’t have to be a million followers) and start there.


When I attended the 2017 Southern C Summit, James Nord of Fohr Card spoke on this topic, which is something his company specializes in – bringing creatives (read: influencers) together.


James talked about how traditional digital media is trending towards obsolescence. Consumers are expecting more. They want to be inspired.


Take a look at Instagram, for example. Think back and look at how the posts have changed over the past 2-3 years. You see more creative posts involving more people. Companies are sharing more user-generated content. Brands are featuring their most passionate fans, or as Mark Schaefer calls them, your alpha audience. You see accounts with Instagram take-overs from industry influencers.


Enlisting these influencers, or creatives, is often driven by passion, not profit. The influencers doing these campaigns and posts for these brands/companies, are not doing it for the money (well, maybe a few are) – they are doing it because they love that brand.


Example: me and Sprout Social. I have been a loyal Sprout Social customer since 2012. Actually, more like a raving, passionate fan/customer. I could go on and on about why I love and continue to use their program when, honestly, there are less expensive ones out there. Sprout saw my passion for their company and invited me to be a part of their inaugural All-Star Influencer Program. I do not get paid for it. Yes, I’m asked to post about them a few times a month, which I was doing anyway, but in return for being that passionate customer, I’ve been featured on their Sprout Insights blog, gotten some awesome swag, and even had one of my largest consulting clients referred to me. I do not have a million followers. I do not live in Los Angeles or New York. I’m just a passionate, committed customer who has a good-sized following.


In his talk at the Summit, James Ford shared with us lessons learned from his Drink with James video series (which I highly recommend)…

15 Influencer Marketing Items to Consider


1. Why are people following you?

You or your client must be doing something right if you have a continual growth of your community. If people are following you, you have to deliver great content.


2. Have a business mindset.

If you are wanting to grow your following (or your client’s), you have to think about it everyday – it will be like a part-time job. It’s intentional, much like knowing why you are using social media in the first place.


3. Invest in your business.

Make sure you have the right products, equipment, education. Continually be growing as a leader in your industry.


4. Be consistent.

Your social feed is your landing page (think Instagram). People who visit your accounts need to know what to expect. This same principle applies to branding. All accounts need to flow across each other.


5. Differentiation

You have to be yourself, but you also have to be different. What makes you better than your competitor? What can you deliver that they cannot?


6. Build relationships

Influencers for your brand are not built overnight. They are cultivated through a relationship. This is very important. In fact, building a relationship with all of your followers (as a whole) is important. They are your reason why you have anyone looking at your social posts anyway.


7. Figure out what it’s worth

If you want to be an influencer, figure out what you should charge. If you are looking to use an influencer in a campaign, figure out what they charge and what you’re willing to pay (cash, trade, free product). A model James gave in his talk, for example with Instagram, take your following, divide it by 1,000 and then multiple it by 10. But also think about the niche. Real life example, @memarketingservices has 1,224 followers. Divide that by 1,000 and that equals 1.22, then multiply by 10 and I could charge $12.24 per post to a company who wanted me as an influencer. For Twitter, it’s the same formula, but you divide by 10,000.


8. Work the negotiation

Not all influencers want to be paid. Shocking, I know. Some actually do it simply for the exposure. And that can be big.


9. Cold emailing

The thought of cold-calling sends chills down my spine, but cold emailing isn’t as bad. If you are going to cold email a person or brand about an influencer campaign, do your homework first about them and have a great pitch.


10. Know how to have your photos taken

James suggested the subject have some alcohol first so they’ll relax, but I’m not going to advocate for that. You do what you think is best. However, whether you are the influencer or you are working on an influencer campaign, having the right photo is key. Work with a photographer – educate yourself – look at other posts for inspiration (but do NOT copy).


11. Know the FTC rules.

If you are an influencer for a company or you are working with one, you MUST disclose the relationship. If not, there could be legal ramifications for all parties involved. You can also use a hashtag to disclose such as #brandnamepartner.


12. Do NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT buy followers

Not only is this a Terms of Service violation on EVERY platform, Instagram is working on a ratings tool, much like the Twitter ones floating about.


13. Know your growth rates and what to look for

You want to make sure you are getting positive ROI (return on investment) on your influencer campaign. Below are some benchmarks to look for.


14. Speak outside your niche (go off-brand)

There are certain times and places to go off-brand. You want to stay consistent, but there will be times it’s okay to stray off the path for variety sake. Just make sure it’s relevant.


15. Look ahead

Once this campaign is done, where do you go next? Was this a good experience? Would you do it again? Constantly be planning for what’s coming.


Still considering influencer use? Here are some statistics to consider:


  • Influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. (source)
  • Twitter users now trust influencers as much as they trust their friends.
  • Influencer Marketing is more effective than advertising since 47% of online customers use ad block technology.
  • 73% of Millennials see it as their responsibility to guide friends, peers, and family toward smart purchase decisions. (source)


Have you thought about using influencers for your company/brand or have you been tapped as an influencer yourself for a company? We’d love to hear how that experience went. Share below in the comments!




earn the art & science of pinterest

Learn the Art & Science of Pinterest

Pinterest is for yourself, not your selfie.


When I attended this year’s Southern C Summit, I had the privilege of hearing Nikki Bazzani from Pinterest present. It was great to be in the room with someone who could give answers from the source. Her presentation was about the art and science of Pinterest, and yes everyone, there is a true art and science to it.


Here is what she shared, and every business owner using Pinterest needs to take note of this! FYI, Pinterest is second largest search behind Google 😉


It’s no surprise that every story is rooted in an idea. And every idea is a pin. Those pins are what helps us discover and ultimately do what we love.


Pinterest provides a wealth of content for anyone who is looking – the mom looking for new recipes, the marketer looking for an infographic, the bride looking for ideas for her wedding, the husband looking for birthday ideas for his wife. A good number of businesses have an audience on this platform, and they should with 150 million active monthly users pinning away.


But where do you start? How do you use Pinterest for your business, much less create that perfect pin that will capture the attention of the pinner scrolling through?


Before you put together a pin for Pinterest, keep these things in mind:

  • Text is allowed – call out unique things, get that pinner’s attention.
  • Vertical images are optimal – use – 600px x 900px (Don’t go higher than 1560px high. Pinterest is going to start not showing/decreasing visibility of the really long pins. Keep them at 900px high.)
  • Be authentic to both you and your brand.
  • Be helpful instead of clever with text overlay and descriptions.
  • Avoid looking like a banner ad.
  • Content and detail in description is encouraged (200-400 characters). Use keywords. You can have 500 characters max.


Knowing those few things, there is a psychology behind creating a pin, much like the psychology advertisers use in creating their ads and how you see them. Here are three principles to stick to.


3 Good Principles of a Pin

  1. They are visually arresting
    • The pin is a canvas, so use it. Play with text color (bright that pop), texture, pattern. Use black and white. Play with space. Add your products, logo, etc.
  2. They are inspiring
    • Motivate pinners with helpful tips, lists, and how-tos. Show the pinner what they are going to find when they go to your site.
    • Motivate with variety.
    • Motivate with novelty.
    • Motivate with trends and cultural reference (check out their Pinterest 100 trend report here).
  3. They are actionable
    • Make it easy – tell them what to do.


Once you have your pin planned out, that’s not the end of it. You have to nail it. Think of the pin as your piece de resistance. Ask yourself these eight questions…

    • Does this pin appeal to my desired audience?
    • Is this pin a stand-alone idea?
    • Is the idea novel, inspiring, entertaining, or helpful?
    • Would I save this pin?
    • Does this pin pique my interest enough to click and get more information?
    • Can I visually grasp what the idea or product is in less than 1 second?
    • Is the pin designed for mobile?
    • Does it stand out in the Pinterest feed?


Of course, there are more ways your can always make your pin more helpful…


Show lists and multi-products.


Instructions and How-tos –  let the pinner know what they are getting.


Detailed descriptions – use all the space you can.


Text overlays – just be careful not to use too much.


Tasteful branding – use your branding, your logo, list your website.


Once you start using Pinterest for your business, there are a lot of opportunities for you to grow your brand there. For example, take advantage of group boards. Look at Tribes through TailWind (an AMAZING Pinterest management tool). Pin from brands you want to work with, pin to support small businesses.


Monica Lavin of Lavin Label, who had partnered with Pinterest, also shared her experience and some helpful tips on how to get the most out of this platform.


Monica’s Tips:


  • For every 1 pin you pin, re-pin 2 pins from other people.
  • Pin throughout the day (You can use Tailwind or Co-Schedule to schedule pins).
  • Look at pins that are doing the best – create new content similar to that. Re-pin pins that are not performing well.
  • Take advantage of Promoted Pins!
  • Use Rich Pins from your site.


Here are some best practices for all of us to take –

monica lavin pinterest



Are you using Pinterest? If so, what are your success stories? Remember every idea is a pin. Those pins are what helps us discover and ultimately do what we love.


Images courtesy of The Southern C Summit



Another Hard Lesson Learned in Business

Another Hard Lesson Learned in Business

I have a confession to make. I screwed up this week. Royally.


I’m not a perfect person (or business owner or mom or wife or friend), nor have I ever claimed to be. I do, however, believe in walking the talk, and that’s where I failed.


As a social media professional, I have given umpteen talks about being cautious about what you post on social media – both as an individual and as a brand. Words can be taken the wrong way, interns can totally mess up a business’ image, accounts can get hacked – we’ve all heard the stories.


I have one to add to that list because I, Mandy Edwards the professional, did it to myself.


One of my business’ mantras is to always conduct itself with transparency and with complete honesty. We’re always upfront about everything, so every question can be answered. And this can be for better or for worse, but I have found through long, tough experience, transparency and honesty will get you a lot farther in business than lies and cover-ups.


So in that spirit, for better or for worse, I share this with you so you can learn from my mistake. See, you can be fresh out of college and new to this, or have been in this business many, many years like myself. Mistakes happen to everyone but how we handle them, I feel, says a lot.


This past week, I had a few business “events” (as we will call them) not work out like I had hoped, which left me in not a good place. At about the same time this last “event” fell through, I found out about yet another business “event” that I missed out on, which was what I call, the straw breaking the camel’s back. This all took place around 10:30-11:00pm (nothing good happens after 10pm – we should all just go to bed). Being the self-admitted hot-headed redhead I am, I sent out three cryptic angry tweets, one vague Facebook status, and an Instagram quote on my business account, which I re-grammed onto my personal account. Oh, and a ranting blog post as well. No organizations, businesses, or individuals were named in any of it. But I knew better. I knew better.


Feeling somewhat vilified, I go to bed and wake up six hours later feeling like the most horrible person in the world (and still felt that way for two days). Within a couple hours of waking, all the tweets (and the few replies) and the two Instagram posts were deleted. The Facebook status was getting a lot of response from a lot of business owners so I left it (it was joking about how being a business owner needs a guidebook on handling the emotional rollercoaster that comes along with it). The blog post got buried deep in the website thanks to backdating.


But in those 6-8 hours it was all up, even though it was the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, people took notice. The ones I was upset with took notice. Everything was taken down, but I still didn’t feel right. I felt bad because I knew better. I knew I messed up. I knew I did something I shouldn’t have – I didn’t walk the talk. I failed myself.


So I did what I thought was best – I publicly admitted (without the details) to my followers what I did and owned up to it. If I can’t be transparent and honest in my business in a time when there’s so much fake-ness going on online, then how can I be a good steward to my clients? I own up to them if I mess up, so I feel I owe the same to you.


I also reached out and messaged an individual who was upset about the posts and apologized to them. My fingers were shaking as I typed it. I felt like I was going to be sick. But I knew I had to – I felt the Lord telling me it was the right thing to do. I knew I was in the wrong and I had to own up it.


In our sermon in church Sunday, our Pastor made a statement that made me reflect on all of this. He said the words we speak reflect what’s really in our heart. It made me think, did I really mean those rash things I said as a result of a hurt ego and wounded business pride? No, but it’s a statement that’s made me more aware of what I will say in the future.


As a business owner, I royally screwed up. Someone recently called a good friend and mentor of mine a “loose cannon”. That’s the best way to describe what I was the other night. It’s not fun writing about this. Believe me – I’d MUCH rather write about 10 tips to increase your Instagram engagement or creative ways to use Facebook Live during the holiday season.


I just hope that if you are reading this, you see this as an example of what not do “in the moment” when you’re upset or so angry about something you need to vent. Social media is a great medium for a lot of things, but venting or releasing your feelings over something is not the place.


Mark this off as a lesson learned.



3 Ways to Serve Your Clients

3 Ways to Serve Your Clients

Today’s society is all about “what can you do for ME??”  It’s a me, me, me world. “Look at me!”  “I’m great!”  “I get results!”

Those are a lot of the phrases that are seen everyday on Facebook and Twitter. In business, and I hate to break it to you, it’s not all about you. It’s all about your clients. You wouldn’t be where you are without them. Clients are your livelihood – they are your life-line.  Businesses grow and fail daily because of clients.

About a year ago we had a sermon at church about serving. I rarely ever bring religion into my business, I try to keep it separate, but this sermon really resonated with me. As soon as I the minister started talking, I was jotting notes to build this blog post.

Serving a client goes beyond actually doing what you've been hired to do. Click To Tweet  Serving has to do with respect, being moral/ethical and keeping your head in the right place.

Today’s business world tends to puts the focus on the company – the one who is providing a service – but that focus is wrong. It needs to come off the company and onto the client. That is a basic customer service principle. It’s all about the customer and not you.

When serving your clients, your ego has to take a backseat. Nothing drives me more crazy than seeing a post on Facebook from a social media “expert” bragging about what THEY did for the client. I’m sorry, but shouldn’t the way you conduct yourself and handle your accounts be the telling factor in how good of a job you do? Those who feel like they have to brag, in my opinion, have their heart in the wrong place. Let me stop here a second. I know there are people who tout different things on social media about themselves, but there’s a difference in obvious bragging/attention-seeking and sharing what worked for someone.

When you approach your clients, there are 3 questions to keep in mind (and these came from Creature of the World by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson & Eric Geiger and the sermon I previously mentioned).

How can I be concerned about you and your needs?

Ask them what you can do to help make the relationship a successful one – what do you need to know.

How can I disadvantage myself for your advantage?

You may have to inconvenience yourself for your clients – step out of the comfort zone.  That’s not always a bad thing. Those who go the extra mile will do far better.

What would it mean to consider you more significant than me?

This is where ego comes in.  You have to set it aside to have a great client relationship. They come before you.  Every time.


When you really put your client first and show that you value that relationship, things will work easier and better.  Be a servant to them.  You are there to provide some sort of support to them and their business.


How do you serve your clients?

Connecting with Customers & Clients via Social Media

Connecting with Customers & Clients via Social Media

Pinterest just hit 100 million users. Instagram tops 300 million. Facebook boasts over 1 billion. If you think you don’t have an audience on social media you’re wrong. If you’ve been told that social media just won’t work for you – you’ve been told a lie.

You do and you can.

Recently I gave a talk at a University of Georgia Small Business Development seminar about connecting to customers with social media. This is a frequent question that comes up when they consult with smaller businesses.

In my talk, I gave them 16 actionable ways they can connect, starting right now –

  1. Use Twitter Lists.
  2. Use Facebook Interest Lists.
  3. Use Mention or Google Alerts.
  4. Tag people and/or businesses in your social media posts.
  5. Start the conversation.
  6. Don’t fear the non-response or negative response.
  7. Be in it for the long-term.
  8. Don’t broadcast.
  9. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  10. Support the businesses you are targeting.
  11. RESPOND.
  12. Share your warm & fuzzies.
  13. Make use of white papers/webinars/free resources.
  14. Use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.
  15. Look up local events and opportunities on MeetUp.
  16. Advertise on Social Media.

Also included were 2 case studies – JetBlue Airways and Denny’s. View the Prezi below for the full presentation.

What other ways would you add?

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