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The Right Way to use Social Influencers for Startup Marketing

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Over the past ten years, the pull of bloggers and online influencers has skyrocketed. The sheer reach many influencers now have online and the “captive” qualities of their audiences mean that it’s no secret that brands can benefit hugely from forging partnerships here.

Key takeaways

  • Don’t jump into influencer marketing without fully researching the space and each target influencer that you’re considering working with
  • Put a process in place from the start to the end of the journey covering everything from influencer selection and deal negotiation to publishing and payment arrangements
  • Allow influencers the freedom to lead with genuine content – don’t let your brand or creative dominate too heavily to ensure genuine content

Introduction

The burgeoning ecosystem of bloggers, vloggers and online superstars can represent a fantastic opportunity to speak directly to your core consumer in a truly authentic way and in their everyday lives. This is a particularly important plus in an age when more and more consumers look to their friends and online connections for recommendations, advice and affirmations, rather than to traditional media.

However, as with any marketing channel, influencer engagement can actually be damaging to your business or brand, if not undertaken with full awareness of the landscape and the pitfalls to avoid. Here are some tips I’ve picked up from working with influencers over the years that will guide you through this ever evolving landscape and help you to ensure your campaigns speak to consumers successfully.

1. Research

Before kicking off any influencer engagement activity, it’s important to research and define what qualities you want your core influencers to possess. Know which influencers your target consumer follows on social media and which voices resonate the most strongly.

Once you have decided on the core group of influencers that you’re keen to target, ensure that you then research every aspect of their online activity and the history of their posts. It’s also worth evaluating their followers and not taking follower numbers at face value; are their followers all “real” or does it appear that there may be “fake” or bought followers in the mix? This is usually easy to spot – lots of “egg” profile pics on twitter profiles or jumbled names on instagram is often an indicator.

Other things to look out for here are whether the influencer has promoted any of your competitors in the past. If they have posted recently regarding the benefits of a competitor product, then any post that you work with them on may appear insincere to their followers and therefore have much lower impact.

As well as core channels, investigate all of an influencers social real estate – whilst they may be a perfect candidate to work with on instagram, their behaviour on Twitter could be completely off brand. The last thing you want is to work with someone who may end up gaining attention for all the wrong reasons.

2. Don’t run before you can walk

Don’t try and work with the number one Youtube star from the offset – it’s much more sensible to test out your strategy and execution with micro-influencers first. Test your content and the effect it has on traffic and then start scaling up once you’re happy that everything is working as it should.

No matter who you’re working with, micro-influencer or Zoella – treat them with respect and as you would any brand spokesperson, celebrity endorsee or member of the press. I find the most fruitful relationships with influencers are created when they feel part of your team, they have lots of information about your business and how the campaign fits into the wider business vision and have the freedom to do their best work.

3. Let influencers be authentic

The idea at the very heart of influencer engagement is that these individuals have been successful in engaging a certain audience online through great content. Therefore, it’s key to allow the influencer to guide you in terms of what content their followers will respond to.

Time and time again I’ve worked with clients or brands who are prescriptive in terms of the creative or campaign copy that they want influencers to post. 90% of the time this results in content which looks awkward on an influencers social feed, sounds inauthentic and therefore doesn’t have the desired effect amongst the end consumer. It also makes for a bad working relationship with the influencer in question and frustration on all sides. It’s best avoided.

4. Mix and match

To gain the traction and reach that you’re after, consider mixing and matching a group of influencers, rather than simply ploughing your budget into one online “A-lister”. Go for a blend of influential individuals who all compliment your brand and campaign message – e.g if you’re a fashion brand speaking to a creative, style led audience consider influencers from a range of worlds who resonate with this group e.g music, fashion, art etc.

A rich mix of influencers who all speak to your brand’s core message and core consumer individually as well as collectively can be powerful in creating a really meaningful message.

5. Process & KPIs

A robust process across the entire influencer relationship from engagement to payment will enable you to scale more efficiently and effectively.

Be clear from the outset on  the number of posts you expect, rough content/ message of posts and the cadence of posting. Although it’s important to allow influencers creative freedom, it’s also important that they understand expectations and can align messaging to your brand sentiment.

Final word

Influencer engagement can be a hugely impactful, cost effective and genuine way of communicating your brand’s core values to target consumers. It’s a tool that will only become more prevalent with the rise of social media platforms globally – best to start experimenting with it now and grow along with it.

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About the Author

This article was written by Nic Forster of the Path Forward. The Path Forward was developed by Forward Partners, a VC platform that invests in the best ideas and brilliant people. Forward Partners devised The Path Forward to help their founders validate their ideas, build a product, achieve traction, hire a team and raise follow on funding all in the space of 12 months. The Path Forward is a fantastic startup framework for you to utilise as an early stage founder or operator. The framework clearly defines startup creation as being comprised of three steps. The first step of this framework involves understanding customer’s needs.Nic is Head of PR & communications at Forward Partners. Over the course of a 10 year career in communications, he has working with global brands including Orange, Warner Bros., BBC, and amazon.co.uk.

Entrepreneurship

Top 10 KPIs for your Tech Startup

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Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are data points that measure your company’s performance. They help you answer specific business questions such as:

  • Is the business financially viable?
  • What is working well and what needs to be improved?
  • What is driving customers to purchase your products?
  • How can the company improve its profitability?

Let’s look at 10 KPIs that are useful to track for ecommerce, marketplace and SaaS based businesses.

Monthly Active Users (MAU): This demonstrates how many users visit your platform, website or service every month and are “active”. That could mean they engage with the blog, click on the pricing page or interact with the contact form. This is done by the number of users that visit your platform in a certain time period (albeit monthly in this case). For an ecommerce company like Drover, a peer to peer marketplace for leasing cars to drivers, seeing the MAU increasing means it is attracting new users to the platform.

Conversion Rate (CR): According to BigCommerce, even if you are doing everything right –  you’d only expect to make a sale only 2% of the time. Clearly there are ecommerce companies that exceed that, however. Conversion rate can be calculated easily, as per the below:

Conversion Rate: # of sales / # of visitors

Provider to Consumer Ratio: This is important when tracking the growth of a marketplace business. This is defined as the number of customers a single provider on the supply side of the marketplace can serve. This varies radically across different marketplace businesses, according to Phil hu: AirBnB 70:1, Uber 50:1 and eBay 5:1.

Average Order Value (AoV): AoV is crucial to determine how much revenue you can generate over time. This describes the average size of an order on your platform. Naturally, the higher the average order size the better.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This is a single most important metric that runs across most business models. The amount it costs to acquire a new customer. Ideally, your CAC should be zero – that is every new customer is referred by another potential customer or customer base grows organically. However, that is rarely possible. To bring new customers onto the platform, you’ll have to spend some money. It is really important to track this over time, and see by how much you’re able to decrease it.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This represents the total amount of revenue that you expect to get from each customer. To calculate the CLV, it depends on how long the customer is retained on the platform, how many repeat purchases does the customer make and what is the average order size. To get a general idea, CLV can be calculated based on the average order value multiplied by the average number of repeat purchases per customer.

Churn Rate: This metric measures the number of customers your platform loses over a given period of time (daily/monthly/annually). Churn rate is critical for SaaS based businesses, where customers pay subscription recurring payments. If the churn rate is high, clearly it means the customer base is unhappy.

Monthly Revenue Rate (MRR): MRR describes the predictable revenue stream of your platform. To calculate MRR, you need to understand the total number of customers per month, and know how much revenue does each customer creates, as per the below:

MRR = Amount of revenue per customer * Total # of customers

Contribution Margin (CM): Contribution margin is the margin that is left after you deduct all variable costs of producing the product or service from the total revenues. A common mistake entrepreneurs make is lumping fixed costs of building a product or service and variable costs together and deduct that from the revenue to understand profit. However, fixed costs remain permanent in the business, no matter how many products or service you produce, it is the variable costs (such marketing spend) that you can change in your business. Some of the most common ways to use the CM is to understand which products or services to continue building and which ones to kill or how to price the products or services.

Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is a great metric to understand if customers are likely to refer you to other users such that your platform can grow organically. To calculate NPS you must ask a specific question:

How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend of colleague?

And ask the user to answer with a number between 0-10. You can read more information about tracking NPS in this guide here.

Customers that give you a 6 or below are Detractors, a score of 7 or 8 are called Passives, and a 9 or 10 are Promoters.

To calculate your Net Promoter Score, detract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. It is that simple. So, if 50% of respondents were Promoters and 10% were Detractors, your Net Promoter is a score of 40.

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About the Author

This article was written by  of the  Path Forward. The Path Forward was developed by Forward Partners, a VC platform that invests in the best ideas and brilliant people. Forward Partners devised The Path Forward to help their founders validate their ideas, build a product, achieve traction, hire a team and raise follow on funding all in the space of 12 months. The Path Forward is a fantastic startup framework for you to utilise as an early stage founder or operator. The framework clearly defines startup creation as being comprised of three steps. The first step of this framework involves understanding customer’s needs.

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Entrepreneurship

Myths & Facts about Entrepreneurship

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Today, there is a pervasive and nearly deafening mantra insisting that you quit your job and become an entrepreneur. The collective says you should do it today because every day you wait brings you closer to a life of poverty and regret.

A central theme in the entrepreneurial world is challenging the status quo and questioning conventional wisdom in search of new and better ways of doing things. If you’re just going to follow the pack, you may as well just get a real job and call it a day.

Entrepreneurship can be incredibly rewarding. Starting your own business may be the best decision you ever make. But it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot to consider before you take the plunge and a lot of myths to expose, starting with these.

Let’s take a glance at some of the Myths of entrepreneurship:

1. You’ll be Happier

Entrepreneurship can be incredibly rewarding. Starting your own business may be the best decision you ever make. But it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot to consider before you take the plunge and a lot of myths to expose, starting with these.

2. You’ll have more freedom, control and work-life balance

If you’re on your own, chances are you’re going to find yourself wearing all sorts of hats and working 24×7 for a very long time. Work will become your life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but not everyone feels more freedom and control that way.

3.You’ll be more fulfilled

Do we know what just about everyone loves to do? Great work that accomplishes goals they can be proud of. One can do that working for a big company, a small company, or their own company. Fulfillment has nothing to do with business ownership. If one wants to manage, lead, or run a business, it’s better off learning the ropes in a good company before starting your own.

4.There are no jobs; technology and outsourcing killed them all

It is shockingly untrue. If technology destroyed jobs, then which one will you call the most lucrative and fastest-growing industry on the face of the earth.That’s right: technology. If you can’t find a job, chances are you lack in-demand skills or education, in which case, yes, you might want to consider starting a small business which does not require much of exclusive skill sets in particular.

5.Entrepreneurs Live a Glamorous Lifestyle

That’s again untrue. Most entrepreneurs do not live a glamorous lifestyle; if they do, their investors should cringe. Entrepreneurs are notoriously frugal, hard working and opportunity-obsessed with little time for outside activities. These qualities are not hallmarks of the glamorous life.

Now,Let’s look at some of the facts of entrepreneurship.

  1. Most successful entrepreneurs succeed by exceptional execution of ordinary ideas: See Jiffy Lube, Starbucks and Charles Schwab.
  2. Most successful entrepreneurs concentrate on minimizing risk rather than taking huge risk at the time of starting their companies.
  3. Successful entrepreneurs use their innovative passion in many ways, such as buying companies, creating new ventures within larger companies and re-strategising nonprofits.
  4. More than 80 percent of new ventures are boot-strapped from personal savings, credit cards, second mortgages and the like. The median start-up capital is about $10,000. Waste Management began with a single truck; Sam Walton started with $5,000. So, in short access capital is not required to startup.
  5. Being first to execute well and delight customers is not at all important for success. A lot of startups have entered quite late in a particular startup industry and have done well.

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About the Author

This article was written by Utkarsh Sharma.

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