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Earned-media micro-influencer marketing primer

Earned media (or free media) refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising, which refers to publicity gained through advertising, or owned media, which refers to branding. Micro-influencers are everyday consumers who have 500 – 5,000 highly engaged followers around relevant topics.

In my humble opinion, modern influencer marketing is traditional public relations pitching corrupted by huge Madison Avenue advertising money.  Big celebrities and even bigger bucks. It used to be thousands of dollars-per-post, but now brands and agencies are signing partner contracts with digital, social media, and online influencers. These partnerships can include multi-year contracts which are getting tighter and more exclusive the more these same influencers are being dropped by advertisers such as YouTube, Google AdWords, and Instagram.

Now there's micro-influencer marketing.

Instead of swinging for the fences and spending thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars on only a handful of A-D-list celebrities with high Q-Scores, micro-influencer marketing is much more egalitarian. Prices are much more affordable at this level, from $50-$250-$2,500/post.  If you're bold and go into the very deep pool of influencers, then you not only find some amazing values on some very dark horse influencers but you might even be their very first!  Their very first brand or agency! So many very influential people are just deep enough in the pool that they've never been kissed and are days, minutes, or hours away from calling it quits. They're tired of blogging and tweeting and instagramming for only their grandparents, sisters, brother, sisters, and greater influence squad. One giant smooch from one agency or from one brand, can reset their very own Doomsday Clock.

And then there's earned media marketing.

Let's refer to public relations before the corruption by Madison Avenue. The good old fashioned PR pitch to the good old-fashioned, scruffy, died-in-the-wool, bourbon soused, reporter. That's not over. It's not. Seriously. Earned media micro-influencer marketing still works -- it's alive and well, but it isn't easy and it always demands your awesome.

When I do my earned media micro-influencer campaigns, I do get a lot of rejection, and I also get a lot of outstretched hands. However, most of those money-grubbers actually used to say, "No, what you're pitching isn't a very good fit for me. Since I am a business person and a professional, it would be stupid to say no, so I would be more than willing to work together for $250."  Online influencers at all levels are smart, savvy, and clever. If you're doing an amazing job doing earned media "long tail" micro-influencer marketing and your pitch -- what you're offering -- meets whatever minimum cash or value equivalency threshold that shows them respect for their time, their energy, and the opportunity cost, then you'll have success.

It's called value marketing.

"Value in marketing, also known as customer-perceived value, is the difference between a prospective customer's evaluation of the benefits and costs of one product when compared with others. Value may also be expressed as a straightforward relationship between perceived benefits and perceived costs."

I always say, "give 'til it hurts."

Skinny Coconut Oil Blogger Review ProductsSkinny Coconut Oil did a brilliant job at this. Kaylyn Easton, CMO of Skinny & Co., was endlessly generous with the hundreds of bloggers who responded to our outreach of thousands. She drop-shipped very generous assortments of products to everyone. If we made a notation that one particular influencer had exceptional celebrity appeal or a notable Klout score, then Kaylyn would send something extra special, like a box with an extra large bottle of their cold-processed, alkaline, organic coconut oil. With her support, we easily were able to meet everyone's customer-perceived value. The product was exceptional, coconut oil is really hot, the brand is strong, and people felt they were getting a lot more than just a little individual squeeze pouch of sports gel or goo that you find at 5Ks and marathons.

In fact, the influencers oftentimes felt so spoiled and loved that we were able to get them to do YouTube unboxings for the first time and all sorts of other gifts to us.

All for value for value.

Yes, you heard me right, we pitch thousands of bloggers in search of the perfect match.  We're researching influencers now with the goal of collecting 6,000 long-tail micro-influencers for our next campaign at Gerris. This is pretty normal. In our outreaches, "pay me money" means no thank you but I'm nobody's fool.  While we at Gerris might ultimately end up paying for posts in the future, we take money requests as challenges to make the pitch and the gift/offer sweeter and better.

I have been doing micro-influencer marketing campaigns since Autumn 2006.

Back then we called it blogger outreach and blogger engagement. Even now, it's still a little blogger marketing. Most YouTubers, Instagrammers, and the Twitterati worth their salt have their own online headquarters where they do their business, collect their best work (in the form of embeds and embedded streams), reveal their sponsors and brand-relationships, and offer their agency alliances, contact information, bios, and even pretty portraits.

And we've really perfected it as others are still foundering and floundering about. If you're interested in earned media micro-influencer marketing please email mecall mepop on over to Gerris Corp, or pop me a note and we'll schedule a call.   Also, if you want to hear me talk all about earned media micro-influencer marketing, listen to my podcast as a guest on Through the Noise.

Here's a recent deck I put together for a guest lecture I did at Georgetown: