Have you ever bought something online that was so incredible, you just had to share it with your audience? Imagine if you could monetise your recommendations? Well, Webfluential has done just that. Now with the Webfluential Performance Marketplace, you can get a commission on your favourite ASOS item, suggested Emirates flight or online course from Coursera.
Social commerce – the premise that an audience buys goods and services because people they trust have illustrated the value and social proof of the goods and services through social media – is now a booming economy. As a result, Influencer Marketing is on the rise, with brands scurrying to source the right match of influencer to distribute their messaging to a hungry and trusting audience.
Webfluential has always championed the best interests of the influencer, and for those on the platform, provide value in other ways when campaign work is not available, such as AI driven personality insights, content insights and recommended brands for an influencer to pitch ideas to.
Today we’re launching the Webfluential Performance Marketplace – a way for our influencers to work with leading global brands and earn commissions on sales, on a constant basis – and thus take a step towards true financial independence as a full-time creator.
We’ve teamed up with over 20,000 brands that sell goods and services online so that Webfluential influencers will be able to share a unique link for each merchant that can be posted on their channels and included in their articles. When sales are rung up, the influencer earns a sales commision, in cases of up to 50% of the value of the sale. This is as easy as installing the Google Chrome extension and linking it to the creator’s Webfluential account.
“We’re very excited about merging the influencer marketing and performance marketing worlds together for our influencers. We believe that creators will become an increasing part of the story that brands tell, so by opening up our network of influencers now reaching over 1.3bn people globally, merchants can expect a lift in sales,” says Murray Legg, co-founder of Webfluential.
As an example, influencers can write an article about taking a holiday to their favourite destination, booking the travel on Emirates, the accommodation on Booking.com and the photography equipment on BestBuy. Each of those merchants offer influencers a commission when sales are booked through their performance links.
If Nike’s goal with their latest instalment of the “Just do it” campaign was to stir conversation and get attention, goal accomplished. Featuring ex-NFL quarterback and political activist Colin Kaepernick, the campaign has created controversy as well as a 31% increase in online sales of Nike apparel.
Nike has become synonymous with sports. The Nike swoosh and the tagline ‘Just do it’ are some of the most recognizable symbols in the world. Nike has become one of the most successful and valued brands, largely from their courage to tell effective stories that communicate what their brand is and what it stands for. This innate ability to tell authentic and awe-inspiring stories helps bond customers to the products they sell.
In 2016, during a NFL preseason game, Kaepernick decided to not stand for the national anthem in order to protest racial injustice in America. Kaepernick’s bravery to fight for a what he believes in was met with controversy. Kaepernick started a movement, with other NFL players following his lead by also kneeling for the national anthem. This lead to conversations about racial injustice being sparked online and in the media. While many applauded Kaepernick’s bravery his effort was met with backlash mostly from the right wing, citing anti-patriotism. Since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, Kaepernick is yet to find a new team and has since sued the NFL for conspiring to prevent him from signing with another team.
Creating a brand’s story
Everyone has a story to tell. It is human nature to be captivated by a great story. A brand’s story is a vital aspect of creating their identity. By creating a great story a brand is, in turn, creating value, brand visibility and ensuring that their product is desirable. When a brand’s story is successful it will give their customers something to utilize in their life as well as something to identify with. This means that their product will not only have a use, but also a meaning.
Nike has gone from just another shoe company to a dominant force in the world of sport by creating a brand image, visibility, and logo that is of extremely high value. Nike not only provides its customers with a superior product but by always being brave enough to stand up for controversial conversations such as HIV, ageism and now racial injustice, they have provided their customers with meaning to live by.
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl the great Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist once said, “Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.” It can, therefore, be said that meaning is everything, in life and certainly in business.
Telling a brand’s story with influencers
One of the best ways for any brand to reach their customers is through the use of influencers who help spread the brand’s story. Influencers have engaged audiences who pay close attention to the brands that are mentioned.
Nike has always made use of influencers, and by doing so they have created superior marketing. Athletes like Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, and Lebron James have embedded an image of influence and celebrity in the consumer’s mind. Nike’s products that leverage influencers convey the idea of greatness and create idols that customers want to strive to become. When consumers translate these influencer’s ideologies and stance on pressing issues the brand becomes incredibly valuable. The Nike swoosh is now strongly associated with power, fitness, athleticism and social justice.
Why brands need to take risks in storytelling
Sometimes taking a stance can be risky. The risk of causing controversy and losing customers can be incredibly daunting. In today’s age marketers often talk a big game about becoming involved with cultural conversations, often falling short, by watering down their message and not really taking a stand on anything.
Nike took the risk and their message was amplified even more because of that. “Most brands try desperately to stay out of highly charged political issues. In this case, Nike is almost inviting the controversy,” says Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Nike almost definitely looked at the risk that was involved in taking such an enormous stance. Kaepernick is a polarising figure who divided the NFL, and indeed the entire country, into two groups, those who supported kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and those who stood to show their patriotism. Rolling the dice on Kaepernick would have been hard for many other brands, but Nike is not just any other brand. Nike went all in, assimilating Kaepernick’s bravery of believing in something even if it means losing everything, and their slogan ‘Just do it’.
When the campaign went live it was met with mixed reviews. The company’s stock price fell by roughly 3 percent that afternoon, critics who opposed kneeling during the anthem threatened to boycott the brand and there was an uproar on social media as people posted pictures of burning Nike products. However, Nike’s bravery was met with an even higher praise. Many have applauded Nike for taking a stand on important social issues. The campaign had incredible support from Millennials, Gen Z and people in key urban demographics. The hashtags #JustBurnIt and #ImWithKap were both trending on Social media.
This campaign, as controversial as it is, has overall strengthened Nike. According to Marketwatch.com, After an initial dip immediately after the news of the campaign broke, Nike’s NKE, +0.73% online sales actually grew 31% from the Sunday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday, as compared with a 17% gain recorded for the same period of 2017.
The news generated plenty of online buzz, with social engagement around Nike and Kaepernick rising sharply this week, according to 4C Insights, a marketing technology company. Mentions of and comments about Nike on social-media platforms rose 1,678% on Sunday and Monday, according to 4C data. Mentions of Kaepernick spiked 362,280%, the data showed.
By using an influencer’s unique story, Nike not only increased sales and the overall value of the company, it magnified and deepened an important social justice conversation. There is a clear demand from Millenials and Gen Z for brands to take a stand on cultural issues. Being able to assimilate your brand to an authentic story that customers will gain value from is paramount.
Your brand might want to consider following in Nike’s footsteps, taking a risk, being authentic, letting influencers tell their stories, or conversely risk increasing your irrelevance.
Recommendations over what to buy have increased in popularity with the increase of choices in product and brands. Online reviews have become a ‘go-to’ prior to purchase for products big and small. The “Try-before-you-buy” mindset has completely shifted the way people buy things. For help when choosing what products are on trend and which brands to trust, consumers are turning to YouTube.
Video is such a rich media that consumers are able to gain much more information from a review. From actual colors of an eyeshadow to hand feel of a handset device, video not only has more visual queues for consumers but also the feedback from a creator they admire.
In recent years, digital video has become useful for more than just market research and approval ratings, but also for shopping inspiration.
In short, brands are able to influence consumers at the very beginning of their journey to purchase! To get some more insight into this phenomenon Google spoke to three leading YouTubers about the biggest trends in YouTube Shopping.
“Watching a shop with me video is like shopping with your friend — except your ‘friend’ is just someone you admire and feel like you know, and you’re not actually there with them in person. Still, you get to see what stores they visit, what they try on, and what they buy. And you get to hear about the deals they find along the way. Most of the time the videos are about clothes shopping, but I’ve featured everything from groceries to home decor to beauty in mine.
While the majority of my audience loves shopping, there are people who watch purely for entertainment. Even then, though, I’ve heard from fans who had no intention of buying things in stores but ended up changing their minds when they saw how easy and fun it can be. I also get a lot of messages from fans who have felt really inspired by these videos — people saying I gave them wedding outfit ideas, helped them rekindle their love for sparkly items, and showed them that fashion is still accessible on a budget.”
“Haul videos — which showcase what someone bought on a shopping trip — aren’t new, but creators keep making them, and our fans keep tuning in for them. I think that’s because they give people an opportunity to watch someone who isn’t an actor or model interact with things they might have seen on a website or in a magazine. The format has evolved a bit over the years, though. In the past, creators would just quickly mention a product they’d bought and then move on. Now they take the time to describe each item, say where they bought it, and explain why they chose it.
I tend to find my viewers come looking for haul videos around new holidays, seasons, and trends. It’s at these times that they’re searching for inspiration and ideas on what to buy, which is why a lot of my haul videos have themes, like back to school or one of the four seasons.”
“In first-impression videos, a creator either buys a product for the first time or buys from a store they haven’t shopped at before. They’re essentially really authentic on-the-spot product reviews, which is what sets them apart from other shopping inspiration videos, where creators have often already interacted with a product, or at least formed an opinion on it.
A lot of my first-impression videos feature apparel, although other creators make them for makeup, skincare, shoes, electronics, and more. I like to look at the item I’m showcasing, talk about how it fits and the fabric it’s made of, and say whether or not I’d buy it again. I’ve established some credibility among my fans as a fashion creator, so they value my opinion and watch my first impressions to see what I think about something.
Seeing a real person try out these products in real time can help inspire a viewer’s next purchase, especially when this ‘real person’ is a creator who they trust will tell the truth.”