Build A Successful Influencer Marketing Program
hims & hers is a multi-specialty telehealth platform that enables access to treatments for a broad range conditions, including those related to sexual health, hair loss, dermatology, mental health and primary care.
Similar to other organizations in the consumer space, hims & hers has found that influencer marketing is a successful way to connect with their target audience. While the brand has found success with one-off partnerships, it recently shifted towards an “always-on” strategy where influencers serve as ambassadors and voices for the brand.
In the article below, Bette Ann Fialkov, head of entertainment and culture at hims & hers, shares four elements that are key to a successful always-on influencer marketing Program. Before her role at hims & hers, Bette Ann has had a long career in influencer marketing (14 years!) where she’s held positions at Google, Lyft, and more.
Use data to find influencers that align with your brand
“Finding the right influencer to partner with is especially important when building an always-on strategy. At hims & hers we discovered that while audience size may be important, identifying shared missions and goals are the real key to finding good influencer partners. A lot of brands are just looking at follower counts, audience demographics, and engagement rates, but you need to go one level deeper to find the authentic story.” — Bette Ann Fialkov, head of entertainment and culture at hims & hers
That being said, finding influencers who are aligned with your mission and goals is trickier than just glancing at a follower count. So how do you do it?
Search through past content using relevant keywords. A reliable way to find aligned influencers is by searching through past content for relevant topics, missions, or themes. This is especially important if your brand is touching on a topic that is sensitive or requires a high level of authenticity.
For example, in 2020 hims & hers wanted to launch a campaign for its minoxidil hair loss product. However, it felt that it was critical to find a way to promote its product while also destigmatizing the conversation around hair loss. The brand conducted some research using hair loss terms, and eventually discovered that J.Lo had experienced hair loss. By partnering with her, they were able to bring an impactful and authentic story to life!
Tap into your network. If your search isn’t turning up anything, check in with your network — after all, influencer marketing is all about relationships! Ask the agents, marketers, and others in your industry network if they know an influencer who is passionate or interested in your mission/theme. You may even find someone who already has a strong affinity with your brand.
Don’t rely on one type of influencer for your influencer marketing program- aim for diversity
“Influencer marketing is unique because it offers nuance and specificity. Influencers often directly relate to their followers, which opens up the door for brands to reach their entire customer base — not just one persona.” — Bette Ann Fialkov, head of entertainment and culture at hims & hers
According to Fialkov, it’s important to develop a multi-tiered approach to influencer discovery and partnerships. Don’t just partner with influencers who have big followings, but include lower tiers (nanos, micros, mids) in your roster as well.
The reason for this is two-fold: First, small influencers are impactful. In fact, in Traackr’s new Influencer Marketing Impact Report, data shows that nano and micro influencers are posting more and seeing improved results this year.
Second, small influencers can help amplify campaigns with big influencers! For example, during her time at Lyft, Fialkov and her team launched a brand campaign with LeBron James. The goal was to have a celebrity (LeBron) as the face of the campaign, with micro and macro influencers involved to bolster awareness. According to Fialkov, LeBron was successful in creating the initial splash for the campaign, and the small influencers (who shared similar messaging and content) helped continue the momentum and create a truly viral moment.
Of course, diversity means much more than just having broad tier coverage. It’s important to have influencers from all different life stages, situations, and backgrounds! Not only does this aid with inclusive representation, it ensures that all of your customers can relate with someone.
Fialkov’s tip for effectively sourcing diverse influencers comes down to understanding the value of your product. As she puts it, “there are many stories that tie into a product, so start with a holistic understanding of why a customer would care. Once you identify those elements you will discover just how many stories and perspectives there are to share.”
Set up a system for paying influencers fairly
“In today’s age, being an influencer is a business. Since this is a full time job for a lot of people, I really think the days of bartering are gone. If you want good relationships and good value, pay your influencers fairly!” — Bette Ann Fialkov, head of entertainment and culture at hims & hers
While bartering may be a thing of the past, it doesn’t mean you have to come to the conversation unprepared or with a blank checkbook. Here are three things you can do to ensure you compensating fairly while respecting your budget:
Provide value through products or experiences. While influencer gifting/product seeding is still a valid strategy, it doesn’t actually guarantee you any content. That being said, some brands that have high value products do ask influencers to commit to posting before sending them product. But if your brand is on the affordable side, consider producing an exciting event influencers can attend that incorporates your products. The more creative and valuable it is to the influencers, the more likely it is you will get them to post.
Ground offers in data. To make influencer compensation results-oriented and transparent, approach it with a performance-based compensation strategy. This means moving away from paying influencers purely on audience size, to a model that rewards influencers’ impact for your brand. A simple way to do this would be to assess each influencer’s average engagement and video view rate and then run cost per engagement (CPE) and cost per video view (CPV) analyses.
Pre-negotiate your rates. One hidden cost of influencer marketing is the conversion of influencer content to digital ads. Most brands pay influencers for sponsored social posts, but don’t think through the cost of utilizing that content elsewhere. According to Fialkov, hims & hers avoids this issue by including a pre-negotiated rate for digital ad content in their influencer contracts. That way if they end up converting a sponsored social post into an ad they already know the cost.
Don’t force your influencers into a mold
“You are partnering with influencers to tap into their creative genius, so trying to fit them into a ‘branded mold’ never works. They won’t be happy, and you won’t see the full power of their work.” — Bette Ann Fialkov, head of entertainment and culture at hims & hers
As a brand with a clear vision, it can be easy to slide into micromanaging the creative and production process. However, Fialkov suggests fighting that urge and taking a step back. It’s not necessarily that you can’t provide any input, it just comes down to when and how you provide it.
For example, Fialkov’s team at hims & hers has found that the setup and creative briefs for a campaign are critical. In their briefs, the team avoids dictating the exact content they expect and instead provide keywords that are important to their messaging. After they’ve had time to consider the brief, their influencers then walk the team through what they plan on creating. This gives the team an opportunity to give feedback before production even starts. This has not only helped them be more aligned with their influencers, it has actually reduced the amount of edits they need to provide, and saved them time!
In the end, there is no single path to a successful influencer marketing platform. The exact formula that works for one brand, may not be successful for another. Instead, the best influencer marketing programs — like the one that hims & hers built — come from agile and sophisticated teams that embrace creativity, drive decisions with data, and utilize customer knowledge to create tailor-made strategies. If you want to stay up to date on the amazing work that the hims & hers team is doing, follow them on TikTok or Instagram at @hers and @hims!