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Making Friends With Influencers

There are smarter ways to tackle influencer marketing

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Griffin Thall
Griffin Thall
CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets

Griffin Thall is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets, the direct-to-consumer accessories brand that grew into a multi-million dollar business and started from a college graduation trip to Costa Rica. The brand’s extraordinary success is in large part due to their ability to tap into marketing on social channels, like Instagram.

Doing Influencer Marketing the Right Way

Influencer marketing is super intuitive. You need to really know your brand inside out to choose the right ambassadors and encourage them to create the right type of content. But, just because it relies in part on gut feeling, doesn’t mean there’s no smart way to go about influencer marketing. Actually, being clever when it comes to your influencer relationships can have a crazy impact on your growth.

Choose Your Influencers Wisely: Quality Over Quantity Every Time

Don’t go for the influencer with the biggest following. Someone could have a million followers and their posts will definitely drive traffic to your site, but that traffic will be mostly irrelevant. When you go for someone with a smaller following but a super relevant aesthetic and vibe, their followers are likely to be more active, engaged, and interested in your products. You also want to go for people with serious talent in photography and video, because that’s the content they’ll be associating with your brand and your products. And, remember, even the biggest influencers started with zero followers.

Since there’s no software that can really do the choosing for you effectively, it helps to build a couple of personas for your brand and go from there. So let’s say surf, yoga, travel, and fashion, and then find a person in each of those industries who you want to be your brand voice, someone who is the best at that segment.

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If you look at Pura Vida’s page, you can kind of see that any influencer that we’ve tagged has a purpose. And I think that’s what’s really special about Pura Vida — we’re not just googling top Instagram influencers or top Instagram models. Most of the people we work with are not red carpet fashion model types. They’re just normal people that live all around the world and love to travel.

I think that’s what influencer marketing really is — finding people that can live your brand better than you can, because at the end of the day, the people running the brand are always at the office. If I could surf and travel everyday, I would love to, but I’m answering my emails all day working for Pura Vida. So the reason we engage with influencers is because they can tell our brand story in a more visual way than even the owners of the brand can.

Treat Your Influencers Like Your Friends

Once you’ve identified people who are a great fit for your brand the next step is reaching out, basically just complimenting them on their work and letting them know they’d be a good fit for your brand. You have to find ways to build the relationship, to send them products, follow up, and really become their best friend.

You absolutely cannot rely on a manager or an agent to set you up and maintain your influencer relationships. You need to text them, call them, and ask them how their day is. If they posted a funny story about their breakfast, maybe ask them how the avocado toast was. I can’t stress enough that the only way to win is by becoming friends with your influencers.

The text messages on my phone are 50% influencers and 50% regular friends. I’m talking to them whenever I wake up and whenever I go to bed. It’s about either a trip, or it’s about a collaboration. They might want to know the price of a flight or to come visit the office. There’s so many different deliverables floating around that it’s impossible to keep it to just a single business transaction.

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The reason our influencer network has proven to be so successful for Pura Vida is because of these relationships. I can personally say that I’ve met 90% of our influencers in person and have either gotten food with them, been traveling with them, or done something where it’s not just about a photo or a handshake.

To make sure these friendships are working as well as they can on the business front, you need to give your influencers experiences that are so great they’ll naturally want to share. That can be anything from trips to new products, and if these are consistently positive experiences over time, your influencers will develop loyalty and understand that they shouldn’t just take a couple of hundred bucks to do a post for another brand.

Collaborate on Product

With influencers, you need to balance the emotions and ego involved to get the best outcome for them and their followings as well as for your product. One of the most effective ways to do this is by inviting your top influencers to collaborate on a product line.

Create exclusive products with influencers that align with your brand. For example, we just did a bracelet pack with a girl named Hailey aka @DreamingOutloud, sent her on a trip to photograph the pack, she showed off the experience, posted an Instagram story, and even did an in-person event to create a buzz.

The goal is to really align with a true leader in their space — whether it’s yoga, surfing, travel, music, whatever it is — to create products with them, do a sneak peak of the products, launch it, and do a follow-up. It also creates a ton of anticipation when the product sells out and brand fans start asking you to restock it. It’s a formula we’ve created that really works.

Conclusion

  • Following is secondary – Always go for talented photographers and the right aesthetic before looking at follower count.
  • Be a friend – Take a genuine interest in your influencers’ lives, do not entrust these super important relationships to agents.
  • Create amazing experiences – Send your influencers on trips, give them free product, do pop-up events in their town. In short, give them authentic reasons to post about their experiences with your brand.
  • Give your influencers an outlet – Collaborate with your top influencers to create products that sell themselves with crazy buzz and built-in promotion.

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