The continually evolving digital landscape has caused a rise in the popularity of influencer marketing, changing the way brands advertise and launch new products. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever for influencers to digitally share what they’re excited about—and savvy marketers have taken notice. Brands across all industries are turning to influencer marketing as an alternative to traditional advertising, which can be expensive and inefficient.

Instead of focusing on their target market as a whole, brands are identifying “influencers,” or individuals who have influence over potential consumers, and building campaigns around them—and the timing couldn’t be better. Consumers are increasingly distrusting of traditional advertising (83% of Millennials and Gen-Z trust the recommendations of their peers above all other forms of advertising). And it makes sense—you’re more likely to trust the recommendation of your good friend Sally than a commercial.

You may be asking, “Who are these influencers, what do they look like, and how do I find them?” Great questions! Recruiting and selecting influencers for your campaign can be tricky business. It doesn’t matter how much strategy and thought goes into the campaign—if you select the wrong influencers, it can be detrimental. With different brands looking for different qualities in their influencers, it’s important to do your research. Here are three qualities we always look for in every influencer:

  • They’re connected and engaged via social media 24/7—it’s a central component of their native social lives
  • They’re experts at producing compelling content across all social channels, including Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube
  • They’re great communicators—able to clearly convey the core value of products and services

Some influencer campaigns are sales and acquisition based, while others are focused on brand awareness. Before selecting influencers for your brand, get crystal clear on your goals and what you expect from your influencers.

Here are four factors to consider:

Macro vs Micro Influencers

Celebrities and macro influencers (AKA Instagram celebrities) typically have hundred of thousands to millions of followers. While these types of influencers have the highest reach, they don’t necessarily have the greatest amount of influence. Because of their high follower count and/or name recognition, they’re always being approached by brands, which means they’re typically promoting many products at the same time, making them appear less authentic and more salesy. However, due to the sheer size of their following, they may be perfect for a brand awareness campaign.

Micro influencers typically reach an extremely targeted audience. While they tend to have fewer followers than Instagram celebrities, they normally enjoy a higher level of engagement, likely because they appear more relatable. They aren’t strangers—they’re your sorority sister, your lab partner, your class president. Micro influencers can have immense influence because they have a more authentic relationship with their social media followers.

Brand Fit

Influencer Marketing

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s incredibly important to select influencers whose personal brands align with your brand. For example, a brand selling weight loss products shouldn’t try to partner with a body-positive activist. It would dilute the validity of the brand and the influencer alike. Where as a skincare brand would partner well with a micro-influencer student who is studying dermatology. Finding an influencer who embodies the brand doesn’t just lead to his or her individual success, it ensures the success of the entire campaign. Aerie, the body-positive female retail brand does an incredible job selecting appropriate influencers. Their spokesmodel, Iskra Lawrence, is known as a body positive activist and aligns perfectly with the brand.

Digital Footprint

The right influencers are able to successfully reach and influence hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people at once. This influence is created through an engaged social media following, a strategic and unique posting style, and an informed knowledge of the overall digital landscape. Additionally, your product should align with what the influencer typically shares on their social channels, otherwise their followers are going to recognize the branded post as an ad and tune out. You wouldn’t see the woman on the cover of Forbes posting about her paid sponsorship with fitness tea.

Short-Term vs Long-Term Relationships

Many brands work with a variety of influencers on a short term basis, exchanging product and/or compensation for a fixed number of social posts. However, more and more brands are looking to create long-term partnerships with influencers who may become something of a spokesperson. This strategy creates the opportunity for your brand to develop a meaningful relationship and for influencers to generate authentic content over time.

Keep in mind, not all influencers are created equal. Your brand must be selective when choosing which influencers to partner with. Never make the decision solely by looking at an individual’s follower count. Trust me—you won’t get the results you’re looking for. In order to launch a successful influencer campaign, you must take the time to properly vet potential influencers, making the best choice for your brand.

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How can YMC help?

Want to leverage micro influencers on campus but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

“What is the difference between Millennials and Gen-Z?” That’s a question that has left many marketers scratching their heads. There are differences between the two generations. Big ones, in fact. Marketers need to be conscious of these discrepancies because even though Millennials seem to be the hot topic of conversation, Generation Z is growing their presence and influence. Currently, Gen-Z possess a buying power of $44 billion a year, and they will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.

Experts say that when it comes to Gen-Z, marketers aren’t going to be able to target them as one homogenous group. So if it’s not smart to bunch Gen-Z together, it’ll be out right foolish to target them with Millennials. Here are the 4 key differences between the two generations that can help you make the right distinctions when targeting these groups.

Gen-Z is More Individualistic and Creative

Gen-Z is social, and they pride themselves on this uniqueness and their collective ability to create change.They’re also not fans of societal norms. In fact, the only norm they conform to is their generation’s tradition of embracing what makes them different from it. They defy gender norms, racial inequality, and any other social construct that attempts to box them in. Everything about Gen-Z screams individuality. And as they claim their independence from what the world wants them to be, they are constantly on the hunt for new artistic and creative ways to express that independence.

Now, why should this matter to you? Well, these young adults are more likely to engage with companies that align with their values and urge to be creative. Marketers should capitalize on opportunities to tap into Gen-Z’s passion of individuality and creativity.

Gen-Z is Less Price Sensitive

Millennials watched their parents run the world bankrupt and then forced them to deal with the ruins. Generation Y knows what it’s like to have everything and then lose everything; the Great Recession of 2008 taught them that. So it’s no wonder why Millennials are so price sensitive.

However, this is not necessarily the case for Gen-Z. Sixty-seven percent of Millennials surveyed said that they would go to the website to get a coupon, whereas only 46% of Gen-Z polled said they would do the same. One theory behind why Gen-Z are less price-conscious stems from the fact that most of them are still being supported by their parent, leaving them less inclined to be price hunters. However, another theory could be related to their desire to express themselves; sometimes it can be hard to put a price on one’s identity.

TRUE Digital Natives

A part of our misconception between Millennials and Gen-Z is that we tend to assert the same level of technical savviness to both generations. We often call Millennials the “digital natives”, but forget they still grew up with landlines, dial-up internet, floppy disks, and cassette tapes. Yes, they’ve seen the extremely rapid progression of technology, but this was still a process for them.

Gen-Z, on the other hand, is made up of the toddlers Apple first began testing usability with. All they’ve ever known is high-speed internet, free wifi and smartphones. 92% of Gen-Z has a digital footprint. They’re comfortable on almost every platform and are more tech savvy than their Millennial counterparts. That’s why we have to acknowledge that they are the true digital natives and are craving digital media.

They’re Techies, but They’re Softies

Millennials have caught a bad rep for being too plugged in since the rise of the digital revolution, and Gen-Z was expected to be just as bad, if not worst. However, Gen-Z has learned from the Millennials’ mistakes. In fact, 53% of Gen-Z value more face-to-face and personal interaction over messaging or emails. Granted, face-to-face doesn’t have to mean in person for Gen-Z. They have become accustomed to using platforms like Facetime, Snapchat, Skype and Google+ Hangouts.

Nevertheless, this desire for more human interaction is bound to gain significance as marketers try to figure out the best way to target this generation. Be prepared to find other ways besides emails and direct messaging to target Gen-Z. They value video content over everything else.

Remember to be both mindful and intentional when targeting Millennials and Gen-Z. It’s not a safe bet to assume that they are one in the same. Economist and historians have separated these two groups for a reason. There are obvious distinctions between them that marketers need to be aware of if they want to target the upcoming Gen-Z population effectively. Their individuality, buying behavior, tech skills, and need for human connection will guide how marketers reach and engage these influential young adults.

WANT MORE? CHECK OUT THESE BLOGS

HOW CAN YMC HELP?

Want to engage the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

Calvin Klein is no stranger to stirring up controversy. With their history of overtly sexual advertisements – mainly during the ’90s, the brand truly takes “sex sells” to heart when it comes to promoting their image. Given their recent surge in popularity, primarily among Millennial consumers, it seems like their controversial tactics may be working.

One of the keys to Calvin Klein’s success is directing their advertising efforts towards Millennial consumers through collaborations with pop culture icons such as Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber, and Nick Jonas. However, the brand is currently under fire for their newest ads, that many argue are overly explicit and provocative.

In one photo, 23-year-old Danish actress Klara Kristin is seated on a couch, legs open, and the copy reads, “I seduce in #mycalvins.” Probably the most controversial of the campaign is the up-skirt shot of Kristin, accompanied by the copy that reads, “I flash in #mycalvins.” Outraged by these racy advertisements, people are turning to social media to express their concerns: do the ads promote and perpetuate misogyny, peeping toms, pornography, sexual harassment and rape culture? Many would agree that they do.

However, some Millennial consumers argue that the ads express a unique empowerment through the first person point of view. The line, “I ___ in #mycalvins,” conveys a sense of autonomy that gives the subject a voice and the power of decision. Kristin actually defended the photo in an Instagram post with the caption, “I love this photo @harleyweir took of me… all this discussion about it makes me think about how alienated and scared some people are to the female human body. Be and love yourself and your sexuality #girlpower.” Kendall Jenner has also voiced her opinion on the campaign. In behind-the-scenes footage that Calvin Klein posted on their Instagram, Jenner answers how she would define a strong woman: “I think a strong woman is independent, don’t need no man, can like walk into a room by herself and not be bothered and can go anywhere by herself and not need a million people around her–I think that’s a really strong woman.”

Amidst the heated debate, people cannot seem to agree on whether these ads are positive or negative. However, I believe that they’re neither one nor the other, but instead more complex in nature. On one hand, they can certainly serve as statements of empowerment and bodily ownership. Calvin Klein may be trying to make the statement that society should not be afraid to openly express sexuality. However, we cannot disregard in our analysis the historical objectification and hypersexualization of women in the media and its effect on society today. There’s the running critique that some women take their objectification upon themselves and mistake it for empowerment. I agree with this opinion to some extent, but I think the key here is balance. Yes, women can certainly feel powerful and confident by expressing their sexuality and celebrating their bodies. However, we should also feel empowered by the many other facets of our identities, because we are more than just sexual beings.