Influencer marketing is becoming an increasingly popular trend in the business world. While it’s unlikely that most small businesses can afford to hire big name social influencers to promote their brands on social media or video platforms, creating a brand as a social influencer has become a business in and of itself.
These social influencers serve as sort of a modern marketing agency and media outlet in one. They create valuable content while also promoting brands within their niche.
In fact, several new businesses have popped up in recent years with the sole purpose of connecting these influencers with the brands in their niche. FameBit is one example. But there’s also Grapevine and Content BLVD for YouTube influencers, Revfluence for social media and more.
Brands can use these platforms to more easily find relevant influencers to work with. And influencers can use them to monetize their content. Some have even made a career out of it.
Agnes Kozera, co-founder and COO of FameBit told Small Business Trends in an email, “Some influencers use FameBit as a ‘side hustle’ to make some extra cash to fund their creations, but some of them are actually able to quit their day jobs and make a living entirely from partnering with brands on social media. It’s all about how active you are in sending proposals to brands.”
But it’s not something that just anyone can use to get rich quick. In order to use FameBit, influencers must have more than 5,000 followers on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Facebook or Tumblr. So you have to spend some time building up a following and creating valuable, consistent content before you’re able to make a career as an influencer, at least through FameBit.
Justin Tse, or JTechApple as he’s known to his fans on YouTube and other social platforms, is one of the influencers who uses FameBit to connect with brands. Tse says that he spent a lot of time building up his online following before ever connecting with brands through FameBit, and that posting consistently has been key to his success.
Tse says that he was unsure about sponsored content at first. But now he estimates that he shared about 50 brand collaborations in some form or another in 2015.
He said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “I really didn’t start participating in formal sponsored brand collaborations until 2015. Before then, I was rather hesitant to reach out to companies directly for promotional purposes because I was unsure if my reputation was relevant enough to garner interest. However, upon my discovery of FameBit, I found it does a great job of bridging relationships with brands that have products relating directly to my channel and are actively looking to work with content creators like myself.”
But of course, posting sponsored or brand related content is not without its drawbacks. Technology vlogger and content creator David Di Franco is another influencer who’s used FameBit to connect with brands.
He told Small Business Trends, “Bringing any kind of sponsorship into the mix always causes a few people to become upset. However, I don’t let that bother me, especially considering the positive outweighs the negative. Also, I think it’s becoming more obvious to viewers that content creators need to make a living, too. With advertising revenue all over the place nowadays, it certainly doesn’t hurt to explore relevant branding opportunities.”
There are some things that influencers can do to make sure that their sponsored content doesn’t alienate too many of their followers. It can actually be a benefit to both the influencer and the brand to make sure that the sponsorship side fits in seamlessly with the influencer’s normal style and topic area.
Since many people are unlikely to continue watching or following an influencer that just puts out straight advertisements for irrelevant brands, it’s up to the influencers to work brands into their content in a way that makes sense. That means both finding brands that are relevant to their existing content, and sharing sponsored content in a way that feels natural.
Beauty, fashion and lifestyle vlogger Shawnda Patterson, also known as BronzeGoddess01, told Small Business Trends, “My audience reacts well to sponsored content because it is organic. For example, I love bath goodies and my subscribers know that. I’ve probably mentioned that a thousand times on my channel. If my viewers see me doing a review for bath bombs, body washes or a bath sponge, they know that I was genuinely interested in the products. As long as the sponsored content is true to what the vlogger is about, it is better received and, in most cases, welcomed.”
However, Patterson also says that it’s important to be transparent about sponsored content. She always states clearly when she’s been given an item to review or compensated for sharing content related to a certain brand.
Of course, the way that influencers share content and connect with brands is an evolving concept. But it certainly seems to be catching on in a big way. Currently, FameBit has about 30,000 creators on its platform with a combined reach of 1.5 billion followers. In addition, branded video content where creators find brand opportunities on FameBit has been viewed 350 million times, with a total of 1 billion minutes viewed, according to Kozera.
And while it may seem like this marketing concept is out of reach for small businesses, Kozera says that there are options out there.
She says, “Influence marketing doesn’t need to be expensive in order to work. In other words, small businesses don’t need to work with the biggest stars to see results. They can see success by enlisting the trust of smaller but equally passionate influencers that fit their brand culture and image and who have loyal tight-knit communities. Ultimately, working with many smaller influencers can have a better and greater impact than working with one big star.”