Influencer marketing has been growing in recent years, with US spending set to increase almost 34% this year, projected to exceed $3 billion according to eMarketer. With increasing user privacy concerns and market saturation, many brands have turned to influencers to help get their products in front of new, relevant audiences. Influencer marketing has proven effective too – 89% of marketers surveyed said ROI from influencer marketing strategies was as good as or better than other channels.
But influencer marketing is a much different strategy than other marketing efforts. There are tons of considerations and research to be done, such as: how to find the right influencers for your product, how to tell if an influencer has a real and engaged following, how to approach influencers about being part of your campaign, and how much creative license to give influencers in their product promotions.
We took all these questions, and many more, to our friends at Hey Wanderer. This team has been creating beautiful, helpful, and relevant content for their following for the last 10 years. We hope you’ll find their perspective and insights as helpful as we do!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your brands and how/why they each formed.
Hey Wanderer is our blog that is focused on DIYs, travel, and homesteading. It was initially formed under a different blog name but that’s been around since 2011. Savannah and I had just become friends and realized that we had a mutual love for crafting. We decided we wanted to make things and sell them on Etsy.
At the time I followed a lot of bloggers who had Etsy shops, and I thought they had successful Etsy shops because of their blogs. So we created a blog as a way to drive traffic to our Etsy shop. However, we started blogging at a time when Pinterest was newer and not oversaturated. So we were fortunate enough to have several posts go viral on Pinterest which caused our blog to be very successful within about 6 months of blogging. We abandoned the Etsy shop and focused on blogging.
Out of Hey Wanderer we formed another brand, Stock Tank Pool Authority. STPA was formed because back in 2017 we did a blog post and YouTube video about how we turned a stock tank into a pool. That performed so well that we started doing more stock tank pool posts. Eventually, we realized that stock tank pools could have enough content to be their own website/blog. No one else was blogging specifically about all aspects of stock tank pools or really had stock tank pool content so we decided to fill that void.
Q: On what channels do you have followings? Why these specifically?
Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok, and Facebook. We have Twitter for Hey Wanderer and we have a small following there but rarely post there.
We joined Instagram immediately after forming Hey Wanderer. It wasn’t even close to what it is today but even then we knew it was a platform that could be useful. It took us a really long time to get good at Instagram and build our audience.
For STPA this account grew really quickly because people love seeing pictures of really decked-out stock tank pools. We joined YouTube because this is another platform where you can grow quickly. However, it’s the most time-consuming content to create and we aren’t very consistent about posting here. For both STPA specifically, sometimes content is best done in video form especially when you are showing complicated DIYs.
We joined TikTok more recently and didn’t have high expectations but we’ve actually had several videos go viral on both STPA and HW. We decided to join TikTok because I learned from Instagram + Pinterest that you don’t want to be late to the game in regards to social media. Social media is the place to be an early adopter because it’s better to get in there before anyone platform is over-saturated. You can at least try it out. I certainly wouldn’t advise being spread too thin when it comes to creating content. If TikTok wasn’t doing so well for us, I wouldn’t necessarily keep at it.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a social influencer?
We both enjoy the freedom of working for ourselves.
Q: How did you get started with brand partnerships?
We got started working with brands not long after we started blogging. We were fortunate enough that brands were reaching out to us.
Q: How many partnerships do you currently have/are willing to have?
We don’t have a particular number in mind but now we are particular about what partnerships we do. So it’s more about whether or not the brand is a good fit for us. There have been a few times when we probably had too many campaigns going at one time for our sanity. That doesn’t happen too often though.
Q: How often do you promote paid partnership posts and why?
That is usually something that is worked out in the beginning of a brand partnership. The brand will ask you to promote the content so many times and on different platforms as a part of the agreement. We don’t usually promote the post further than what is asked.
Q: Do you see differences in engagement rates for your own posts vs paid endorsed posts?
It varies. Some branded content does really well and sometimes it doesn’t perform as well as our own posts. However, sometimes our own posts don’t perform as well as we expect. We did a campaign recently where the IG picture did significantly better than our own posts.
Q: What does the promotion/post process typically look like for you? Do you have full or little control over the look and feel of your posts, what products you promote, etc? Do companies weigh in on how the posts themselves look and what products are included?
It depends on the brand, the campaign, and the fee that is being paid. Sometimes a brand sends us a bunch of product and gives us the freedom to create whatever is the most organic for us. Other brands have a themed campaign that they know exactly what they want us to say and require that we send them all of our content for approval before we post. Usually, all the expectations are put out there before any content is created so everyone is on the same page.
Q: Do you have a sense of the average fees influencers charge companies for partnerships?
It has changed over the years. There was a general scale that influencers used to have any idea of what to charge. At first, it was based on your following and over the years it has changed to your engagement rate. But not everyone goes by that either. For example, you might charge $1 for your average likes.
Q: Do you have any tips on how to amicably part ways with a company you decide to no longer work with?
I don’t have much experience with this. Usually, the campaigns/partnerships we do are very short-term. We did receive a product one time that was broken upon arrival and after doing research realized this was a common occurrence for this product. So we decided to back out of that partnership because we didn’t want to promote a faulty product. We were upfront with the brand and told them why we no longer wanted to do the campaign.
Q: What do you see as the biggest benefits for both companies and influencers with partnership campaigns?
For influencers, it gives us a way to make a living providing content to our followers. For brands, they can target a very specific audience. Most influencers have a general idea of the demographics of their audience and what they like and don’t like. So it can be great for a brand to get its name out there to a specific demographic.
Q: Of the partnerships you’ve formed, is there a higher percentage of you initiating a campaign with a company or the company reaching out to you?
I would say it’s a mix and maybe a little more that brands reach out to us. There are several platforms where you can apply to work on a certain campaign and we used to do that more in the past. We don’t do that so much anymore. We will occasionally reach out to a brand if there is an item we are in the market for and we think the brand would be a good fit for us and our audience. We don’t do that often.
Q: What are some of the main questions companies ask when vetting you as a partner?
At that point, it’s more that they are trying to gauge our interest in working with them. When you’re applying to work on a campaign, they will ask- what makes you a good fit for this campaign/brand? What is your idea for this campaign? They want to know your followings on different platforms and your engagement rate, but they usually already have access to this through whatever platform you are using. Some will ask for a media kit and/or for a screenshot of your Google analytics or your Instagram insights, but this is mostly when you’ve approached a brand on your own.
Q: What are the key aspects you consider when evaluating a company for a potential partnership?
Is this a brand/product I would use if I wasn’t a part of this campaign?
Q:What are some of the biggest deterrents to you when considering partnering with an organization?
The biggest deterrent is if the organization/brand is not a good fit for our brand. We actually get asked a lot to do partnerships for brands that have nothing to do with anything that we regularly write or post about.
Q: For companies who are looking for influencers to partner with – what’s your most important piece of advice?
Vet your influencers well- everything is not always as it seems. It’s easy for people to buy followers and likes. Even with the software that’s out there that can detect bots and purchased followers/likes. What it can’t detect is the influencers who are massive groups together who all engage with one another but it’s not genuine engagement. So their likes and followers are from real people but they likely aren’t truly engaged with the actual influencer.
The easiest way to spot this is by looking at the comments. Does the influencer always get around the same amount of comments? Are the majority of these comments coming from other influencers? Are there likes always about the same? For example- Hey Wanderer has about 25K followers. Some pictures have 10k likes and some have 600 and everything in between. You will see the number of comments vary and they are from a variety of people.
Once you find influencers that you trust (and they really do exist), give them free rein to post in a way that they think will work the best for their audience. Our best campaigns come when we aren’t micromanaged and we have more creative reign. It is also helpful for us to have a general idea of the outcome the brand is hoping for. Are they wanting sales or brand recognition? Having an idea of what they want can help us create content that is mutually beneficial.
Q: How have you seen brand/influencer partnerships change and evolve and where do you see them heading?
When we were first in this world almost 10 years ago, it was a little different. I think brands were doing more repeat content with bloggers. Back then the word influencer wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. So a brand would hire you to do 3 separate posts over a longer period and it was pretty simple. They’d send a product and let you do your thing. Then it became more of a one-off thing. Instagram became pretty important and brands were basically paying for a photo on your account with their product in it. Then it turned into brands doing themed campaigns where they would get 20 influencers to post about this one theme all on the same day.
I think brands are starting to find the influencers that they trust and love and kind of going back to the old way. I think you’ll see more influencers doing repeat content with a brand that they love and who have a mutually beneficial relationship with that brand.
We learned a lot from these ladies who have spent so much time and energy on creating amazing content for their followers over the years. Some of our key learnings for brands are:
- You should spend plenty of time vetting influencers, using some of the great tips from Hey Wanderer. Work to make sure they have a realistic, engaged following and that your brand is a fit for their brand style.
- Don’t try to dictate too much or micromanage how the influencers promote your product. Let them have creative rein to promote it in a way that feels natural and aligns with their brand.
- Let influencers know your overall goals/what you hope to achieve through their post(s).
- Work to build long-term relationships with influencers and invite them to post for you more than once. Influencers are trusted voices to their followers. If an influencer believes in your product they’re a great resource for spreading the word and helping to increase your reach to consumers who might also be loyal to your brand.
Find Hey Wanderer and Stock Tank Pool Authority content here:
Stock Tank Pool Authority:
Have you run campaigns with social influencers? What did you learn from those experiences? Let us know in the comments below!