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.
Every year for the past four years TIME has produced a list of the most influential people on the internet. The reason we are so encouraged by their lists is that they don’t simply include people with the highest followings. For the longest time, Webfluential have preached that high following does not always equal influence. Influence is a much more meaningful metric. Influence is the thing that causes action. These are our top picks from a digital point of view.
Easily the most controversial of YouTube stars, this fraternal duo have lost ad sponsors and been given a bad rap on the knuckles by YouTube for posting a disturbing video in the infamous Japanese “suicide forest” allegedly including a body. Never the less, both Paul and Jake sustain eternally loyal fans. Their accumulated net worth is around $24 million according to Forbes and with apparel lines and record deals on the table, they show no signs of slowing down.
Japanese actress, comedian, and fashion designer Naomi Watanabe
Watanbe has over 8 million followers on Instagram, and is Japan’s most famous Instastar. Her comedic persona mixed with her over the top fashion sense and her image-positive rhetoric has established her in as a role model not only in Japan but also, globally. With fashion endorsement deals from the likes of Gap and others, as well as her own fashion line Punyus she is one to watch and learn from.
Sia Cooper (a.k.a. @DiaryOfAFitMommyOfficial)
Cooper is one of those Instagrammers who unknowingly hacked the Instagram Algo change in January this year. Her habit of consistently commenting on some of Instagram’s top accounts is the cause. When the algorithm change came into effect, her comments showed up as one of two “sticky” comments on accounts like Kim K and Chrissy Teigan. She told Vogue that she gained 80,000 new followers after the algorithm’s change. She is now one of the most recognised Instagram accounts on the platform.
Personal Trainer Kayla Itsines
Easily the most influential fitness and health influencer, Kayla shook up the lives of thousands of people with her Bikini Body Guide ebook. Her app, Sweat, is the highest-grossing app in Apple’s fitness and health category, bringing in $77 million this year alone. No doubt one of the most effective marketing strategies Kayla used was activating user-generated content by asking her customers to post before and after posts of their transformations which they did and continue to do in multitudes. Just check out the hashtag #bbg for proof.
Basically, Virtual Influencers are a thing. But not just a thing, a huge thing. Lil Miquela is simply the most influential of a slurry of avatars. Her effortless style, vulnerable captions, and blatant self-awareness create an endearing personality who has caught the attention brands like Prada. We are fans.