Ask An Influencer: Q&A With Lifestyle Blogger Jess Estrada
Jess Estrada, the founder of Fresh Jess Media, the lifestyle blog Fresh Jess, and an influencer marketing pro, has been focused on helping brands, small businesses and non-profits alike bring their online presence to life since 2008. That was when she, the then-Events Director of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, created her site as a way of spreading the word on Seattle events to friends and colleagues.
Since then, Jess’s brand has grown exponentially. Her work and blog have been featured in Gilt City, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine and on the websites of brands like Quiksilver, West Elm and Microsoft.
At our recent Social Influencers webinar, Jess dropped some serious knowledge about influencer marketing – what it is, why it matters, and how to make it happen. You submitted some eloquent, deep-dive questions for Jess on Twitter…and we got her to answer them! Read on for tips on how to get connected with your own influencers.
How can brands get influencers to share and amplify their content?
I don’t like the phrase “get influencers to do _____.” We’re humans and make real choices about what to share with our audiences. We don’t blindly share what’s dictated to us. Look at it more as working with influencers to tell your brand story in a unique way.
For the most part, influencers have a lifestyle topic or two that they are considered influential in, like food, fashion, or tech.
The influencers who are already talking about your content topic are the ones most likely to share your story. Like any good marketer, you have to consider the “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) factor. Some influencers might be happy to share content if you give them exclusive, behind-the-scenes access, or free products and services. Others (typically “semi-pro” or professional influencers) might ask for monetary compensation, or that you go through an affiliate network that they’re signed to.
There are moments when your company is at fault and the people you influence get angry about it. What’s the correct way to act in moments like this?
Be honest and as transparent as possible with the influencer because they’re going to be the same way with their audiences.
The influencer should be quick with an apology and/or explanation, especially if their audiences are reacting negatively.
As a multi-faceted blogger, do you look for big brands in each topic of interest or just focus on one and build a strong relationship there?
More than anything, if you’re an influencer looking to work with brands, reach out to ones you genuinely love.
Make a list of your top 5 “dream” brands you’d love to work with – regardless of topic area. Those are the ones I’d try building relationships with first. They’re not all going to pan out, especially if you’re a new or upcoming influencer reaching out to a brand. That’s okay.
While every influencer has a topic or two that they’re strongest in, they’ve got way more interests than just those two topics. Have some focus, but don’t limit yourself either. That might sound ambiguous, but if you’re aware of where your influence is, you’re likely to share more about those topics anyway. Share what moves you. That won’t always be in your strongest topics of influence. Your audience will get a much more well-rounded notion of who you are.
What was the blogging affiliate network that you joined for sponsored posts and travel?
I am signed to Mode Media. They’ve been so great to work with on the influencer side, and, in my opinion, have the best, most organized approach to connecting brands with influencers like me.
I also work regularly with PR firms representing different brands.
How does an influencer pursue being contacted by brands?
I always encourage other influencers to proactively pitch brands with their ideas of how they can share or amplify that brand’s content to their audiences in a unique way. I’m not so good at regularly doing that myself.
Follow the same principles as brands do when they’re pursuing influencers:
- Do your research. Which influencers have they worked with already, if any? What kinds of campaigns have they done with influencers?
- Be patient. Not all brands will respond. Others will take time. All relationships take time to build.
- Be creative and customize. Know your audience and bring some ideas to the table of brand stories/experiences they’d be interested in.
- Specify your goals. They should tie back to your genuine affinity for the brand and willingness to share brand content.
- Keep it real. Not all brands will want to work with you and that’s alright.
I’d also create a media kit that shows all the numbers, past brand work, and other key pieces to show why you would be a great fit for a brand partnership.
Here’s a great article from Independent Fashion Bloggers on how to create an influencer media kit.
We are a small brand so we can’t afford to pay influencers. Is there a way to still make it worth while?
Don’t count yourself out!
I love working with small brands whose products and services speak to me.
If their product or service is awesome enough, I might write about them, even with no form of compensation. I simply think they’re doing something cool.
Other times, I am compensated with free product or services, promotion on their marketing channels, and exclusive/behind-the-scenes content.
Good influencers understand that sometimes working with smaller brands helps build their portfolios and brand partnership experiences, and that it’s healthy to work with them even if there isn’t a lot of compensation in place.
That being said, really do your research and reach out to influencers who are already talking about your industry.
Any tips for identifying your own niche at the beginning of the blogging experience?
What are you interested in?
Take a good look at the news sites, articles, blogs, and Tweets that you naturally gravitate towards. That’s a good place to start.
I tend to go against the grain by not sticking to one specific niche but I’ve always categorized myself as a lifestyle blogger. I love to help people and have always shared what I’m genuinely interested in.
My definition might not be as black and white as “I cover fashion,” but one quick glance through recent blog posts will give you a good idea of the things I am currently writing about.
Your interests will change with you over time. Recognize that, and know when it’s time to establish yourself as an influencer in a different niche, add more topics to your current niche, or re-evaluate blogging altogether.
Being on the receiving end of influencer outreach yourself, which tactics should marketers steer clear of?
Blanket media pitches.
Your approach is everything, and since most outreach is over social media or email, your words are crucial. When a brand uses overly insistent or pushy language in requests for coverage on my blog or social media networks – especially from brands I’ve never engaged with before – that email gets deleted before it’s been read all the way through.
Doing your research is essential here. Read a few of the influencer’s recent social media updates or blog posts, then mention them when you’re introducing yourself and your brand. Explain why your brand feels that its voice and audience are a good fit for your product and service. Then provide the “ask” in detail – what/how would you like to work, and the WIIFM factor.
In smaller cities with only a handful of influencers, shouldn’t influencers unite as a team?
Ideally, yes, no matter what size the city or town they’re in.
It’s great for networking and relationship-building to meet other influencers and learn about what they’ve been through.
You might even find brand opportunities where you can team up with another influencer. Two audiences are that much more appealing to brands than one.
I can’t say unity is always a desired thing. The flip side of a community sense might be a perception of competition. It’s really up to the influencers to create that community or not.
How can you find influencers in a small niche, in a small geographic area?
- Search geographic area and topic keywords in Google
- Look at hashtags on Twitter and Instagram
- Use tools like Simply Measured and Klout. Tagboard and Followerwonk are also great tools.
- Expanding your geographical area to include a nearby major city, state, or region
- Asking around, if it’s the city you live in or you know someone there
- Searching for lifestyle bloggers who might be open to covering your content, depending on what topics they’re already sharing with their audiences
These days, brands are striving to spread their content as quickly and vastly as possible. However, brands can’t do this on their own. The most powerful brand messages today aren’t coming from the brands themselves, but from consumers with loud voices online. These people who have the ability to reach broad audiences and drive action are called “influencers.”
In this guide, co-written by Klout, we’ll show you how to identify, engage and measure the impact of partnering with influencers, including:
- How we define the term “influencer”
- How to use Klout to identify influencers for your brand
- Strategies and pro tips for working with influencers
- How to determine if your partnerships are actually successful
Click the button below to download the full guide!
I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.