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8 Points on How to Strengthen, Grow and Optimize Your Influence from POMA 2018

By Influencer Marketing

I recently had the privilege to present to the Professional Outdoor Media Association on the topic of How to Become a Better Influencer in the Outdoor, Hunting and Firearms Industry” in Lincoln, Nebraska, June 14, 2018. 

Influencer marketing is changing in the outdoor, hunting and firearms marketplace due to increased interest, fakenews, and social media algorithm changes. If you’re new to influencer marketing, this talk showed you how to leverage this highly effective marketing tactic more efficiently for yourself and the brands you manage. I presented the latest trends, tools and insights, and how to track and charge/price accordingly.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to build a small pocket of influence with hundreds of marketing professionals and executives in the industry. I also work with some of today’s most popular influencers. This has provided me a unique insight into the workings of influencer marketing in the outdoor, hunting and firearms industry. 

Below are eight points (and my slides) I gave to an audience that included writers, influencers, marketers, photographers and content creators on how to strengthen, grow and optimize their personal brand’s influence.

1. Define your Niche

What is your area of specialty and interest, what is your focus? What area of the outdoor are you most passionate about?

For example, when I switched my agency focus to firearms, hunting and outdoor—I made our agency stand for something that stood out among other “all purpose” digital agencies. This allowed me to do a few things:

  • I repelled prospects from other industries I didn’t want to work with, while attracting prospects and qualified leads from the outdoor industry.
  • Broke through the clutter with a defined message and industry expertise.
  • If you’re a photographer or writer who covers all things hunting and fishing, I strongly suggest you narrow your focus on what you’re most passionate about. For example, you may only want to focus on Wolves, Big Horn Sheep or Mule Deer Photography.
  • Let your personality come through, don’t be afraid to be you.


2. Set Goals

I’m big on the SMART Goal method (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). You may want to grow your audience by a million followers in one month—but that may not be realistic. Set your goals and work towards them on a daily basis with consistency. Make sure you have a goal post.

Always remember to write your goals down! If you don’t write them down they don’t exist.

 

3. Know Your Audience

Over time, you’ll get a good feel for your audience. You’ll understand what makes them tick, what problems they have and why they find you interesting.

  • Take at least 10 – 15 minutes and engage once a day.
  • Influence is nothing without engagement.
  • Use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook’s built in analytics to help you understand age, location and interests.


4. Be Helpful—Don’t Sell

In order for influencers to persuade, you must become a solution provider.

When I started doing inbound marketing for my digital agency, I looked to help my prospects first. That in turn earned their trust and allowed me to position myself as a solution provider and a partner in growth. It’s always a service, never a sell.

Furthermore, if you love the brands you represent and believe in them, your audience will naturally love them too because you’re not necessarily selling someone, you’re adding value to their lives.

For more information on how to perfect the art of persuasion, check out Adversaries to Allies, By Bob Burg

 

5. Be Authentic and Honest At All Costs

Never sacrifice your audience’s trust at the product or brands expense. If the product breaks or is faulty, you may find yourself in a tight spot. So always test the products you’re considering before signing that contract. Posture your clients by being brutally honest if the product doesn’t work and outline what the ramifications are.

 

6. Build a Website and Blog!

This past week, we saw Brownell’s YouTube channel removed from YouTube—and then, fortunately it was reinstated. 

With all the anti-hunting/anti-gun social media channels out there—don’t rely on these third party channels. So many influencers are building their livelihoods on these third-party apps that can shut you down right now and for any reason.

Blog – When considering influencers to work with, I look to see if they have blogs that are updated consistently. Blogs provide content that work for your brands 24/7/365. They also build links and gives your visitors the ability to share information more efficiently.

Affiliate links – Blogs are also great for placing affiliate links that help you generate more revenue.

Contact Information – Make sure you have your contact information available within your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter profiles so brands can contact you. So many influencers out there give no way for people to get in touch with them.

 

7. Create a Good Mix of Content

  • Instagram video consumption has increased 40%
  • Photos generate 36% more likes than videos

We all know content is gold. Your content must add value to your audience. Create a good mix of high-quality video and photos. (Source: SproutSocial

Make sure to always tag your content with a #sponsored or an #ad tag to remain in compliance with the FCC. Influencer marketing is still like the Wild Wild West, so make sure to stay up to date on any changes.  

 

8.  It’s not About You.

At the end of the day, if you’re not adding value to your audience, you’ll start to see your followers level out. When you truly grasp this—your entire mindset will change. (Source: Julie Solomon)

“Influencer marketing is not about you, it’s about them.”

 

POMA

About The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA)

Whether you’re a hunting and fishing industry communicator, industry professional or an avid outdoor sports enthusiast, POMA is working hard for you. POMA is dedicated to seeing the traditional outdoor sports story is told honestly and fairly so hunting, fishing, the shooting sports and trapping will endure. Learn more on their website and sign up today! 

Photo Credit: Tony Bynum

 

Learn More About POMA

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and grow in the digital era of marketing.

Influencer Marketing Firearms Hunting Industry

What I Discovered About Influencer Marketing in the Firearms & Hunting Industry

By Firearms and Hunting, Influencer Marketing

 

Buffalo Bill Influencer Marketing

Buffalo Bill for Savage Arms

Influencer marketing in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry has been a tried and true method of connecting with hard to reach demographics since the days of Buffalo Bill.

Often referred to as Pro Staff or Ambassadors—top hunters like Jim Shockey, Brian “Pig Man” Quaca, or shooting professionals like Colion Noir and Julie Golob and hundreds of others—have been commissioned by the industry’s top brands to exert their influence over their vast number of social media followers.

Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than a brand itself. And it makes sense if you think about it in a more personal context. You don’t usually trust a person at a party who comes up to you and brags about him/herself and spouts fun facts about his/her personality to convince you to be a friend. But you often believe your mutual friend who vouches for that person. An influencer is a mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. (Source: Kissmetrics)

In this post, I answer five questions about influencer marketing that will help you understand how to integrate this powerful tactic into your marketing strategy.

1. What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use the influencer to get the word out for you instead.

Influencer marketing typically involves content marketing and social media as the mechanisms to propel those messages. Whether they are producing the content themselves like Mia Anstine for Beretta or you are writing it for them and putting their name on it—influencer marketing almost always involves the tactics of content marketing with social media as its primary distribution channel. (Source: TapInfluence)

2. How do you find the right influencer?

Did you know that just 3% of people generate 90% of the impact online? Considering this alarming statistic, it should come as no surprise that leveraging the power of this select group of influencers serves as a highly valuable strategy for businesses looking to expand their reach. (Source: HubSpot)

In the hunting, outdoor and firearms world, the industry is full of shooting, firearm hunting experts, and proponents that blog and create videos. A few are popular celebrities like Luke Bryan or nationally syndicated radio host Dana Loesch. Below, I used Followerwonk and Buzzsumo to identify top Instagram accounts of industry advocates that have large audiences to get an idea of the numbers we’re talking about.

  1. Dana Loesch / 444K
  2. Ted Nugent / 374K
  3. Matt Staser / 132K
  4. Michael Waddel / 141K
  5. Eva Shockey / 76.2K
  6. Colion Noir / 229K
  7. Fred Mastison / 51.5K 
  8. Jim Shockey / 63K
  9. Greg Kinman / 53.5K 
  10. Mark Kenyon / 44K 
  11. Steven Renella / 32.7K 

But how do you go about finding and choosing the right influencer? Do you go for a big name like Matt Staser in the hunting category who has over 147K followers on Twitter—or someone less known but who has a very niche group of fans—otherwise known as “power-middle” influencers? Both have pros and cons and will ultimately depend on your product’s contextual fit and marketing budget. There is growing evidence that “power-middle” influencers (2.5K – 25K followers) are shown to have a 16x higher engagement.

To find your perfect influencer, you can start with good ole’ fashion research. Or you can pay for the latest and greatest influencer marketing software to help you find that perfect influencer as well as track ROI. Here are a few to check out:

You can also use sites like AlltopBuzzsumoFollowerwonk or Kred to start your search. While someone with hundreds of thousands of social media followers certainly could expose your brand to their followers, if they are not a snug contextual fit, their post or tweet would be moot as far as driving leads and customers. (Source: Kissmetrics)

true-influence-drive-action3. How to start with influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing starts with your ideal influencer image—and if your product fits within the context of what your influencer typically talks about and how they align with your buyer persona(s). You wouldn’t hire Justin Beiber who has over 88M followers to tweet out a picture of your Deer Scent Product next to a fallen Buck (although that may be kinda funny).

Create your ideal influencer based on age, gender, location, vertical, personality and average audience size. Next figure out, where can your brand’s content can be amplified. Do you need the visual component of Instagram or Pinterest or something more substantive and instant like Facebook or Twitter? Are you looking for social media followers, website traffic or both? Define your goals and begin your search.

According to Social Chorus, the best way to reach out to influencers is to start by getting their attention on social media through likes, retweets, mentions and shares. Then you’ll want to reach out via email. Keep your email simple, introduce your brand, why you’re interested and describe what you both can expect to gain through the relationship. You can negotiate your engagement by direct sponsorship, sponsoring their giveaways, content collaboration, shout outs or commission.

 

4. How to measure influencer marketing?
Below are three ways influencer marketing can be tracked during a campaign.

  1. Trackable links: Most software programs have their own conversion tracking technology that enables you to track how many online sales each influencer drove for you. However, trackable links can only be posted on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. 
  2. Promo codes: Not only do promo codes help you track the impact of your campaign, but they also build urgency and an extra incentive for viewers to buy your product.
  3. Correlation: This entails correlating the time of posting with increases in sales or installs.
    (Source: Ready Pulse )

 

5. Brands doing it right.

As I looked across the industry, here are some examples of brands that base a large majority of their strategy on influencer marketing:

Hunting Outdoor Influencer Marketing

Photo by Yeti

 

Yeti
Yeti’s influencer marketing program is known as probably the best in the outdoor industry. “We do a lot of endorsements, from celebrity hunters to fishermen, and always try to engage them as ambassadors of the brand and then tell their stories in as many places as we can.”
—Corey Maynard VP of Marketing (Source: Adweek)  

Cabela’s
Cabela’s has about 20 “authenticity experts” who are asked to chime in on their areas of expertise (hunting, fishing, camping, etc.) to make sure their messaging truly matches the outdoor and hunting space. These are people who volunteer to participate because they are passionate about their own experiences, social media, and Cabela’s brand. (Source: Convince and Convert)

 

Mountain Ops
Mountain Ops uses several hunters/huntresses or “wilderness athletes” to inspire and help you get in “outdoor shape.” 

Hunting Influencer Marketing

Photo by Mountain Ops via Instagram

 

Glock
Glock may be the first in the industry to start using Facebook Live. This is a great example of mixing influencer marketing, content and live video.

 

Consumers have always valued opinions expressed directly to them. Marketers may spend millions of dollars on elaborately conceived advertising campaigns, yet often what makes up a consumer’s mind is not only simple but also free: a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source. (Source: McKinsey)

So, is influencer marketing a right strategy for your brand? Here are a few statistics:

  • 78 percent of brands increased their content output in the last two years, but average content engagement decreased by 60 percent. Content marketing needs influencer marketing to succeed.
  • 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.
  • 74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions.
  • 81 percent of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective.
  • 59 percent of marketers will increase influencer marketing budgets in 2016. Make sure you pick the right influencers for your brand. They’ll be in bigger demand.

(Source: Ion)

In the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, I’d say there is overwhelming evidence that influencer marketing is a good way to move the needle. Combined with inbound or content marketing, influencer marketing could be the strategy you’re looking for.

What about you, what are your thoughts on influencer marketing?