A view from Matt Donegan

How to recruit vloggers/influencers on a budget

Companies with small budgets can find the next wave of influencers building online followers relevant to their brand from social sites still in their infancy....

In the continued search for a solution to the ad-blocking epidemic, which last month saw more than 200 million people use some form of software on their computer to block display advertising, one beauty brand believes it has found the answer.

L’Oréal is striking deals with online influencers across YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and other social sites.

Getting video bloggers to talk about and review its products is helping the company avoid paying for display banners and videos, which are prone to being removed from viewers’ computer and phone screens by ad-blocking software.

The strategy is a savvy one. After all, according to GlobalWebIndex figures, 44% of internet users are already watching vloggers each month, which is a pretty impressive reach for a medium still relatively new to the digital scene.

Unsurprisingly, the youngest internet users are the most enthused, with as many as 53% of 16- to 24-year-olds watching vlogs each month.

According to GlobalWebIndex figures, 44% of internet users are already watching vloggers each month, which is a pretty impressive reach for a medium still relatively new to the digital scene.

But this isn’t just a millennial trend. With equally strong figures for the 25-34 age bracket and even 35- to 44-year-olds, L’Oréal believes that by recruiting YouTube stars to deliver branded content, it is getting targeted reach with earned media that people actually want to view.

For example, when Zoella, the UK-based vlogger, did a spontaneous and unpaid review of the latest offering from The Body Shop, sales of the product doubled during the following four weeks.

However, L’Oréal is paying its growing band of influencers and they don’t come cheap.

In late 2013, the going rate for a branded Vine that got three million loops was a mere $400. Nowadays, a branded Vine with that kind of exposure goes for $10,000 to $15,000, and prices only keep going up.

L’Oréal is currently working with five YouTube vloggers in the Middle East with a combined subscriber base exceeding 22million people. Whereas French make-up reviewer, EnjoyPhoenix now appears weekly on L’Oréal’s Maybelline YouTube channel and boasts 2.5 million subscribers of her own.

This kind of targeted reach is arguably worth paying for but how can brands who don’t have L’Oréal’s deep pockets get a slice of the influencer world?

The simple answer is to find the next wave of influencers that are building online followers relevant to your brand and recruit them from social sites still in their infancy.

On Snapchat, Periscope and Instagram for example, there’s still a massive supply of influencers with huge followings. With few marketers running influencer campaigns, the cost of buying an influencer promotion is still below its real value (in terms of reach and ROI). With all these new ways of working with influencers it's important to have a metric beyond views and subscriber numbers.

When looking at micro influencers, Snapchat is reportedly considering a revenue sharing scenario for the future, in which brands would pay users for their content.

For example, a user’s image may be added to a gallery sponsored by Coca-Cola and in return for contributing to its gallery, that user may receive compensation on a flat-fee, per view or revenue share basis.

Social networks will need initiatives like this to keep users engaged and grow their user base. This will certainly help brands on small budgets tap into the power of influencer marketing. In the meantime however, it’s up to brands themselves to discover influencer talent, invest and build relationships with that talent in order to help them grow their following.

This investment may take the form of offering influencers use of your in-house design or video production facilities to enhance the quality of their posts, in return for talking about your products.

Or why not incentivise them with content opportunities such as experiences, free review products, overnight hotel stays or trips abroad.

However you decide to work with an up-and-coming influencer, both parties need a clear understanding of what is expected from the other.

At the end of the day, native content is still advertising so be clear on the goals that will allow ambassadors to promote your brand effectively to their digital friends.

Matt Donegan is managing director at social influencer marketing platform Social Circle