Social media influencer marketing — most marketers have a vague understanding of what is, but not how it works. It’s still in the early stages, and the many unknowns make it intimidating— and potentially risky — for brands looking to try it out.

Where do you find influencers? How do you pay them? What platforms should you use?

In this episode of The Commerce Marketer Podcast, we have Joe Gagliese of Viral Nation here to answer these questions, and more, as he lays out what you need to know about building both B2B and B2C influencer programs.

Gagliese founded Viral Nation, an influencer marketing and talent agency, at a time he describes as “the wild, wild west” of influencer marketing: 2014. He had a hunch that he could monetize hockey players’ social media accounts, so he tapped his network of connections and approached a number of NHL players with endorsement opportunities.

But they just weren’t interested.

“It’s hard to get an athlete or celebrity excited about $20,000 for an Instagram post when they’re making $17 million a year on a contract,” he said. “So, we left the celebrity space pretty quickly.”

His breakthrough client was a parking lot attendant whose Vine videos we getting hundreds of thousands of views. Gagliese contacted him and the two figured out how to work endorsements into the videos, and the attendant became his first influencer — today, he’s an agent at Viral Nation.

This experience shaped Gagliese’s views on “micro-influencers” and “macro-influencers,” and he goes on to describe the advantages and risks associated with each. He explains how brands can achieve the greatest impact by balancing the two types of influencers, and then he describes the importance of balancing multiple social media platforms instead of just one.

Gagliese shares some of the best practices his agency developed over the years, from what to include in contracts to why compensation should be based on engagement. And for brands just beginning the influencer search, the most important piece is how audiences engage with influencers’ posts.

“Be able to make sure that the influencers are authentic and ‘activating’ their audience,” he said. “Do deep dives into the audience and make sure they have the right demographics for your brand.”

Gagliese also discusses the opportunities and challenges related to finding B2B influencers, ultimately suggesting that brands should consider developing someone within your company.

“But the problem is that bigger organizations just don’t do it,” he said. “You’ve got to start making videos, getting out there, putting out content, or else it’s not going to happen.”


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