There are multiple levels of marketing for a crowdfunding campaign, from a website that introduces the product, the site blog which serves as a window into the company, and the social media accounts for direct communication. It’s important to have a foundation in place before you even start thinking about your campaign. As you collect emails of interested and potential backers, you have to prepare a lot of internal assets to promote to the public and press.
But there’s another whole level of marketing: influencers who can introduce and promote your product to various audiences. This is important because not all markets intersect. A person who likes crowdfunding might not follow a particular influencer on a social network. The followers of that influencer might have never backed a crowdfunding campaign before. You can always use money on ads, AdWords, or buy content placement on sites, but you will likely never get the best return on investment (ROI) because of the large amount of money you need to spend.
In a way, influencers are way to share your product with a different audience. You can promote your product and campaign directly with a larger number of people. But does it work? That depends on different factors.
At Crowdtoolz, I performed a test using Famebit, a site that allows you to create campaigns and attract influencers from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube. You set your requirements, price, and the end date for the campaign and then wait as proposals come in.
Did it work? Let’s find out.
Famebit is a good platform with a horrible website
I’m not sure who developed the Famebit website, but it needs a lot of back-end work. It’s easy enough to setup, but navigation needs help. Desperately. It’s definitely not the most user friendly site to use. This is partially because it has a tendency to crash at least once an hour.
The sidebar navigation requires a lot of clicks to get anywhere. Multiple campaign management is very annoying and there’s no easy way to tell which campaign you’re actually using. On top of that, you can’t see messages and questions you sent until the influencer answers. Overall a swift kick in the ass for better stability and an improved user interface would go a long way to making the site easier to use.
Influencers Love to Brag
After submitting two campaigns, I waited for proposals from influencers. The two cases we used were Qi Aerista and Revl. Since the products are for different audiences, it would give me a general conclusion about which kind of products might do well on each social platform. The campaigns were concentrated on were for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Famebit lets you set a price range for proposals and I set it at $100-250 with a total budget of $500.
The proposals came and ranged from reasonable offers to “you gotta be kidding me.” One of the first things I learned was that influencers love bragging about how many followers they have. Some proposals were obviously generic copy and paste. It was also obvious that some “influencers” sent proposals to every single campaign available regardless if their audience was remotely a match for our products.
Proposals came from around the world. Many were from the United States and Canada, but went as far as Greece, Italy, and Morocco. The funny thing was that some of the international influencers were attempting to charge more when they had fewer followers and but promised more reach. It was also obvious that some people were more interested about getting free products than actually working with Crowdtoolz.
It’s Not About Followers. It’s About Reach and Engagement
I was amazed at the variety of proposals that came in, and a lot were YouTube “influencers.” I say this because I was trying to promote a Wi-Fi tea maker and action camera. I didn’t understand why a video game streamer, make-up tutorial artist, or “model” would want either – other than to get something for free.
There were a lot of good proposals however. With our two campaigns, I looked for influencers who had the audience I thought would have the engagement we’re looking for. While the goal was to get a good click through rate, I focused a lot more on possible exposure and reach.
It’s notoriously difficult to get people to click a link on social media. Rather than spend massive amounts of money on one influencer, I spread our budget across a mix of less popular and more popular influencers to see what the ROI would be.
Which Social Networks to Choose?
I chose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube as the networks to potentially promote on. Looking through the proposals, it became very clear that there are disadvantages for each social network.
Unless your product specifically and directly correlates to a specific influencer’s Facebook audience, it’s a total wash. While some accounts had hundreds of thousands of likes, the reach and engagement were paltry. Influencers loved to state they have tons of likes, but looking at the page (always review their social networks) it was clear people looked, liked, and left. There was barely any sharing going on. It was unfortunate that Facebook pages couldn’t properly market our products. People like memes and photos, but they don’t like clicking through links.
I assumed Twitter would be a hit-or-miss. It might be possible to get clicks, but the message would have to be very direct and specific. It would also have to be in the voice of the influencer. I knew that writing their message would come across as insincere. I figured that it would be good to at least try Twitter to see the response.
Instagram is the bread and butter of promotion. Still, many influencers talk about their followers. Looking at most of these accounts, they had nothing compelling on their feeds. Also many of these accounts didn’t match the voice or tone of the two products. If I provided an image to the influencer, it would stick out because it would be obviously be an ad.
Instagram want companies to use its ad platform instead because you can making actionable links with the “Learn More” or “Shop Now” buttons. For Instagram influencers, you have to get them to add the link in their bio or give them the shortest URL possible so that people are more likely to type it out.
YouTube is another platform that has great potential. For our campaign, many YouTube proposals had potential but all of them wanted the product to test and demo on video. It makes sense. You can’t make a video with the idea of a product or stock footage. It comes across immediately as a paid post. I think when products are close to retail or there’s a prototype available to ship, YouTube can be a valuable avenue for promotion.
The Cost of an Influencer
Eventually after spending a day reviewing the initial proposals, I sent messages out to a number of influencers. The first statement usually was “we don’t have review units.” After that, I explained that we were looking for product exposure. I also included a counter offer for every single proposal. Mainly I was curious if influencers were willing to negotiation. The majority of the responses were fine with adjusting their price. This means you should negotiate every time.
Some influencers didn’t respond, which was expected. I guess they think highly of themselves or don’t want the money. In the end, I ended up paying $50 to $250 for each accepted proposal.
After looking through about 250 proposals, it was clear that Facebook was worthless. There simply wasn’t enough engagement or content matching to make it worth spending the money.
I made a decision to try out Twitter for a less money, as an experiment to see what type of engagement and CTR would be.
Instagram was our focus. The proposals for Instagram made the most sense but since we didn’t have a review unit, we could only rely on existing photo and video assets. Also, Instagram actually had the ideal audience I was looking for with our campaigns.
I wanted to use YouTube the most, but since proposals required a actual product, I had to give up the platform. There were a lot of compelling proposals with good influencers, but there was no way to get them the needed materials since the campaigns we were promoting weren’t production ready.
The Worth of an Influencer
After using Famebit for several days, it immediately became clear who had been doing influencer marketing for a while and who had just started. Some of the influencers answered questions within minutes, gave suggestions for their audience, and could write original copy with few edits needed. Others ignored messages for days or wanted all the content upfront so all they had to do was post and forget about it.
Famebit offers ratings for influencers and I suggest you use them. Someone with no ratings who is proposing $150 for Instagram better have a damn good reason to charge that much. But these influencers usually end up being a total waste of time. I was lucky to get some really excellent influencers who understood what I wanted and could adjust their messaging accordingly. Honestly, spend more money on a good influencer if you need to, you’ll get a great post.
Results of Famebit
We tracked out Famebit campaigns so that every influencer had their own unique URL to share. Famebit also offers their own tracking, but it’s worthless. It doesn’t always recognize the URL and updates every 24 hours which isn’t fast enough.
Wi-Fi enabled + perfectly brewed tea every time = 😍 pic.twitter.com/UGvIa9VzhP
— Common White Girl (@CommonWhiteGal) December 7, 2016
On Twitter, two separate Tweets were sent out; one with a group of images and one with video. In total there were 39 clicks. 87 Retweets and 321 Likes on the photo Tweet. The video Tweet received 115 Retweets and 367 Likes. The CTR was very low, but with these two Tweets, it showed that the video was more engaging than the three photos because it showed the product in action.
So stoked that my friends over at Qi Aerista already hit their goal on their Kickstarter! I couldn’t be more excited to get my smart tea brewer. This brewer connects to an optional app so that you can set a timer, change the temperature to your liking, and get a notification when your tea is ready! If you’re a huge lover of tea like me, you should definitely check this out, and it’s obviously not too late to support them! There is a link in my bio to their Kickstarter where you can send some support and watch a detailed video on how easy it is to use! #Kickstarter #QiAerista #Sp #tea #smartbrewer @qi_aerista
The Instagram video received 2234 views (by campaign’s end) with only 23 clicks, but I never expected Instagram to be a big traffic driver. Since actionable links are only available in the bio, it’s a lot to expect viewers to click the account name to get to the URL. However, I was satisfied with the number of video views.
As I expected, the Qi Aerista smart tea maker targets a very specific audience. Overall, using influencer marketing was only successful in creating exposure for the tea maker. Qi Aerista isn’t something that works well on Twitter or Instagram. This isn’t the fault of the product or the influencer, but the medium. Twitter and Instagram are very visual and Qi Aerista doesn’t have that eye-catching presence.
Qi Aerista’s ideal platform is YouTube with food vloggers or tea fans who are already knowledgeable about tea and can appreciate what the tea maker can do. Otherwise, casual audiences see a product that doesn’t necessarily replace their hot water pot or kettle.
I’ll admit that Facebook and Twitter were not strong platforms for Revl. YouTube would have been the perfect platform, but the lack of review units made it impossible to test with YouTube influencers.
Way too cool! 😍 🙋🏼🙏 super excited about this new action/adventure camera! @revlcam 🙌 Revl Arc is the first 4K action camera with built-in stabilization. It’s shockproof, dirtproof, and waterproof up to 33 feet without a case. Also it makes it super easy to share videos, all you have to do is connect the Revl Arc to your smartphone. With Revl app you can find best moments, add your favorite music and share instantly. I recently read on TechCrunch that it has built-in sensors, which are used to detect activity and help make smart recommendations about what recorded footage is best. For example the editing algorithm can use captured telemetry data from an hour-long ski run and pull out and feature the clips where the skier was doing a jump or rail, leaving boring footage in the background 🙆🏼👏 and it’s all done through the app! 📲 click the link in my bio to check it out and pre-order yours! #revl #revlcam #revlarc #actioncamera #nextlevel #tech
I ended up choosing this influencer because her content and audience was exactly the same as the target audience of Revl. It only resulted in 37 clicks, but the reach was exactly what I was aiming for. Also 79 comments showed actual engagement with the video. People were curious to know more about the camera.
😍 Mi sono innamorata di questa action camera REVL che registra in 4K: basta a tutte quelle ore spese nei montaggi video, è la prima action camera che realizza praticamente tutto da sola! 🙃 Stabilizzatore, impermeabile fino a 10 metri e possibilità di fare le dirette! ⚡️ Vi lascio il link in bio per saperne di più. Se siete degli amanti dello sport non ne potrete fare a meno! Garantito! ⛷🏂⛸🚵🏻🏄🏼 #revl #revlcam #actioncam
I thought it was important to try at least one international influencer and chose an Italian influencer. Compared to her other content, it wasn’t as successful with likes and resulted in just 19 clicks. Language and location probably had something to do with the poor results. I’m not sure what the interest in action cameras are in Italy, but Revl did get a good amount of reach.
I’m obsessed with this smart action #camera from revl! As many of you know a good camera is super important to me. This one is 4K, has built-in stabilization, is #waterproof up to 33 ft, and automatically creates videos or #livestream!! Literally insane! You can buy it here: http://bit.ly/revlcam #bestactioncamera
The purpose for this post was to see the results of a one-off audience. Since the Revl is focused on the action sports audience and this influencer is part of the traveler audience, I was looking for what the reach and engagement would be. Three clicks is very low, but actually expected because the existing assets didn’t have a 1:1 match with her existing content. It was close, but stuck out from her normal content.
Is Influencer Marketing Worth It?
With the right influencer, the perfect product, and the correct platform, influencer marketing is an excellent way to attract an audience. It might not result in the best click through, but the audience exposure is excellent.
Of course, the total budget for the test was merely $500 and aimed at platform testing more than full promotion. I’m very happy with the results that came from each influencer because it gave us a lot of great data that can be applied to other campaigns in the future.
Products won’t perform well on every single platform. You, as marketers, have to have realistic expectations about your product and each platform. I’m not totally convinced that Facebook is a strong platform for low level influencers (those with low reach). If you really want a Facebook presence, it will likely be associated with an influencer’s other platform like a YouTube video posted to Facebook as a separate link. It’s hard to have compelling clickable content through a page and Facebook Ads will perform better in the long run.
For Twitter, short and engaging video will work well. The video has to have multiple focus points, either on the product or some action that draws the eye in. Images also need a quick compelling story. Since you can attach multiple images to a tweet, you can create a short visual story.
Instagram is all about interesting photos and videos. As long as there’s something interesting to see, people will view and like the content. The best photos include a person, which naturally draws the eye. When creating your assets, make sure you think about showing the product in a lot of different environments and use cases. Just having something sit in its natural environment is boring. Think a little more outside the box and make assets that are a little quirky, but still focus on a use of the product. It will generate curiosity.
While I couldn’t test YouTube, I feel it’s the platform with the most long term conversion potential. With the right influencer, a video can create a conversion trend that can live for much longer than other platforms. Whether the content is a preview with a prototype or a review with a retail unit, the trust that vloggers have created with their audiences is extremely valuable. It could result in a lot more conversions, but product availability is the most important thing.
Famebit is an interesting platform and makes connecting directly with influencers easy. Outside the annoying website issues, going from campaign start to campaign completion doesn’t take much time. With the right budget and influencer, the end results could be even better than media coverage.
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