Working with social media influencers

We're very fortunate to be in the business we're in. We've got a highly desirable product that's great fun to work with and an incredibly dedicated and interested customer base of first time buyers looking to upgrade their cooking experiences through to private and professional chefs working in some of the best restaurants and hotels in the world and a wide range of collectors who enjoy the craft and skill that goes into making Japanese chef knives.

In the time we've been running Cutting Edge Knives, we've worked with a number of influencers across a range of platforms and have learned some lessons about engagement and return on investment that we feel are worth sharing.

As such, we have a couple of ground rules for anyone looking to collaborate with us or request freebies or discounted products because it's easy to fire out cold emails and messages to companies in the hope of scoring some free goodies in exchange for a mention on Instagram or Facebook/whatever platform.

Our hope is to provide a fair exchange of goods and services and be up front about just how successful the average influencer campaign actually is.

1. Follower count is less important than true engagement

You may have many thousands of followers on Instagram but we've found that when we look a little deeper, engagement for many accounts is still low. If you're not generating significant discussion and interaction on your posts then we'd almost certainly prefer to find someone with an audience a tenth of the size but better and more relevant engagement.

As an example, 100k Instagram followers generating less than 1000 comments and likes (only 1% engagement) per post is unlikely to generate any measurable return for us unless you're influential in a specific market (see #3). 

In a world of bots and being able to buy 25000 followers for less than $300 etc it's an easy way to see the value in the headline follower count because once you break down the figures based on how many people see the initial post in their feed/timeline (probably about 40% of follower count thanks to Insta/FB algorithms), who then opens it to read more and who actually takes action the numbers dwindle pretty fast.

2. Show us the stats

If you're a genunine and relevant influencer then of course we'd love to have a chat about previous ads/collabs and promotions you've run for people or businesses and what sort of engagement, ROI/ROAS those campaigns have had and how your influence might help us expand our business too.

Ultimately influencing is an advertising business and we already pay for ads through Google and other platforms and get extensive analytics and feedback on what our hard earned cash is generating so we'd expect the same from you.

If you're charging a fee for advertising on whatever your brand platform of choice is, please let us know up front how you charge and what sort of returns we can expect from our investment and how past clients have benefitted from working with you. Bonus points for providing testimonials that can be validated.

3. Do you or your audience cook?

Are you a keen cook, perhaps a professional with reach and influence in the industry in which we work and sell our products?

Ultimately, the one consistent thing we know is that when we spend our money on things like Google Adwords - we are definitely reaching the people we intend to reach so if we work together we'd certainly expect the same type of engagement from a relevant audience.

After all, if you don't have a follower base who are specifically interested in cooking, homewares and Japanese knives then we'd probably be better off spending that marketing budget on Adwords.

4. Ours isn't a product bought on a whim

For some products, typically low cost items - quick Instagram/FB posts might work. There's less of a gamble if you buy something a person is promoting when it costs less than a tenner. 

Our visitors typically make several visits to our site and read a number of pages and view multiple products before committing to their purchase because it's a high value item so fleeting posts that disappear on an Instagram or Facebook timeline don't work for us. 

5. We don't do discount codes in exchange for influencers

This one is tricky, on the one hand - discount codes generate engagement and they provide a really easy to track (initially) means of knowing how many sales a campaign has generated. 

However, our experience is that those codes simply end up on voucher code websites and people who've never seen the original Instagram post a month or a year back were finding the codes and getting a discount that we'd never intended which of course impacts our bottom line. 

6. No freebies - But we're happy to give commission on sales

This is the bottom line I guess. There's not much value in us giving away what is ultimately a product we'll be able to sell if it's not going to generate a significant ROI.

If you're a true influencer, rather than give away our product we'd be more than happy for you to buy the items you like at normal price and if you then promote them and drive sales from the engagement you're able to generate then we'd be more than happy to pay a 10% commission on every sale we can attribute to whatever campaign/ad/post we work together on. 

That way, it's a fair deal - you know your audience better than we do and if you think we're a company or brand that would fit with them then any ad you run will ultimately result in you owning a product you love (our knives) as well as a positive ROI for all involved. 

Wrapping up

We're always interested in hearing about opportunities so if you think you can ultimately generate a return on an investment in you or your advert then we'd love to chat but in an ever more competitive advertising market, we're keen to get the best value on the money we spend. 

If you've got a proposal for a marketing campaign then don't hesitate to contact us.