Ever wonder what it's really like to work with influencers and content creators? If you've ever asked yourself how much you should expect to spend, how to ensure you get the results you want, and even how to find the right person, my guest Harley Jordan of Millennial Escape is spilling on the tea on everything you need to know.
Plus, as IG's original reels girl, she's sharing a few of her best tips + tricks for using Reels to increase your reach + grow your following on Instagram.
Today's episode is packed full of tips + tricks for using Reels to grow your reach and following on Instagram, and what it really looks like to work with content creators to promote your business, from the perspective of an actual content creator. Harley shares how she prefers to work with brands, the type of content that resonates with her audience, and even what you can expect to pay when working with content creators + why it's high time brands show some solidarity for the content creators of today.
When I asked Harley what she credited to growing her Instagram audience from 0-12k in just 6 short months, what was her answer? Reels! We start our conversation with her best advice for creating reels + then we'll get down to the nitty-gritty of working with content creators.
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What were some of your struggles when you started making reels + how did you overcome them?
I remember the first transition reel I made. I sat in my kitchen for four hours making this stupid 12-second video, and my husband walked in at the end of his day. It was 5pm my lighting was disappearing. I was annoyed. I was sweating. Like it was bad. And he was like, Are you good? Are you okay? I said, No, I hate this
So, I've been there I've done that. The editing and transitions are really just the extra spice here, the extra spice in your reel, it's not necessary. But getting your face out there putting your face out there is the part that I really have to recommend.
I was a competitive cheerleader, I've been on a stage my whole life. So I can't say is the hard part for me. But that's what I can be your cheerleader to do get your face on that frickin reel.
What tips and tricks do you have for us about mindset and getting out of your own way when creating reels
Your views, your likes, your saves, your shares, your follows—they don’t tell me anything about your worth. They don’t matter. They’re all your vanity metrics.
What I really want to know is whether your business is growing? That’s so much more important. Are you having fun doing this? Or are you driving yourself into the ground? Do you have a work-life balance? Are you creating too many reels and compromising work-life balance?
If you can just put yourself out there for your seven-second video, without putting too much emphasis on what others are going to think or what others are going to say, then you’re golden.
Let’s be real. All of us have such a love-hate relationship with reels. But the ability to reach predominantly outside of your own audience is such a wild opportunity for business owners. You could spend all the money in the world on ads, but if you can show up on reels and bring in new leads and income for free, that’s such an amazing opportunity.
I could give you the hacks, I could tell you hook your audience within three seconds, use trending audios, etc… but the biggest thing any business needs to do is just give context in your reels. We know this is going to someone that doesn’t know us yet, so how can you provide that context of who you are and what makes your business special?
If you scroll through the feeds of people that are doing reels regularly, you’ll notice it’s the same thing over and over, just with a little twist. That means you have to repeat yourself because nobody’s paying attention to you as closely as you are.
If you’re not tired of your message, if you’re not tired of your content, you’re not doing it right.
What’s are your best tips & tricks for creating reels?
Giving context and hooking someone within the first three seconds is the most important thing.
Go into the reels tab, scroll, and find some kind of audio that resonates with you and is something you can relate to your business. Make it that simple.
Your reel has a lifespan of three weeks to a month. If you’re spending more than 30 minutes on a little video, it’s too much. How much time would you spend picking out a box of cereal? Not 4 hours.
As a business owner, what is going to fit into your work-life balance? What is going to fit into your schedule? Is that three reels? If it is three reels, be consistent and do it every single week. That will bring in the traction that you need. You don’t need 1000s of new followers. You don’t need to put in so much effort you never see your family.
It’s about progress over perfection.
What’s the difference between an influencer and content creator?
Think about your OG influencers—the girls that post really pretty pictures and are essentially models. Back then, they probably grew on another platform like YouTube, so we got to know them and then once they got to Instagram, they could hold a product by their face and sell. They were essentially a celebrity and we bought into their life and times.
Now, that’s not the case. The number of influencers you have that are amazing at bringing in that type of influence and also have the engagement to boot is so few and far between.
But you know what? So many people can be a creator. So many people can put out content that brings in views.
So the question is, are you looking for awareness, where you get that massive, huge spike? Are you looking for direct buys?
A lot of the time, influencers don’t have the following. The people with the most connected audiences I’ve seen have 5000 followers, they have outrageous out-of-this-world story views, and they can sell things like hotcakes, but they’re not the people you’d expect on Instagram.
So what are you looking for? Are you looking for that salesperson? Or are you looking for a content creator? Because honestly, I’ve got to tell you, you can’t have both.
Can we expect direct ROI from influencer marketing?
Finding a direct ROI is really hard.
We know as marketers that conversion and sales come between the 8th to 12th, unique exposure 80% of the time. That means your one-off influencer promotion is not what’s going to make sales. It’ll bring awareness. It might bring some follows, but this is really only the start of that sales funnel.
It’s just like any other marketing or advertising you do. You don’t do one print ad and expect insane results. You do a print ad every single week, all year.
Influencer marketing is similar. But you do it for awareness, zoom out and you have to look at your business as a whole. Did I get more awareness on my social channels? Did I get more follows? Are my sales up? Is my traffic up? If yes, then good chance that is happening from this partnership.
I’ve heard from friends that instead of clicking an influencer's link, they will just go to their browser and type that companies name into the search bar, so you'll have no data to confirm that traffic came from that influencer.
Why you should outsource content creation to a content creator
TikTok recommends 3 videos a day and Instagram recommends at least 1 reel a day, but even if you do the 2-3 videos per week. That’s a lot of content.
How can you outsource content creation to content creators, instead of treating it like a one-time sales marketing push for the month? Maybe you can put this person on retainer instead. Maybe this is the person who creates your reels so that you can put that content on your own feed and potentially in your ads.
Remember, the average consumer needs to see things multiple times before they take action. It’s the same thing for that creator’s audience. They need to hear the creator talk about your product multiple times. So creating that deeper relationship with fewer people is going to take you so much further.
How to set up your content creator for success
It all comes down to finding the right people and being clear about what you want. You don’t hand off something within your business and not consider the details of it. Go in with a mood board, objectives, and tell them exactly what you want so that they can make that happen for you.
Consider what you want from the content. Are you looking for a specific type of model? Are you looking for someone with pink hair, or someone with amazing editing skills? Are you going to use this content on ads or are you just going to use that on your feed?
Just like you would anyone on your team, you have to set them up for success, but you also need to leave a bit of room for their own creativity. That creator knows their audience best, so let them interpret your vision for their audience as well.
How does a brand owner ensure they have a positive partnership with a content creator?
The worst experiences I’ve had with influencer marketing are where both sides are unclear about what’s happening. There’s so little detail because you don’t give that creative direction and I’m left floundering for ideas. Yes, I want some creative direction. Yes, I know my audience best. But that’s a conversation for the brand and the creator to have together.
We want to give you an amazing experience, so give us the tools to do that.
How do you prefer people to reach out to you when they do want to work with you?
This is a business interaction, so I definitely prefer email. If you’re talking to an influencer, chances are their inbox is slammed. There are some days where I get 300 story replies, and that story reply is probably about something silly, like pancakes or my cat—something unrelated to my business.
Send an email. Know a bit about me, follow me, know what I specialize in. Make sure you know who I am before you reach out because if you know nothing about me, that tells me you didn’t do your homework in determining if I’m a good fit for you.
What brands should avoid doing when working with content creators
Giving really salesy points to put into content that I know will not sell in the slightest with my audience is something that is really tough. I love when brands tell me what they want and I want everyone to be happy, but when you expect me to be really salesy, or guide the conversation in a really salesy way, my views tank.
It has to have a really lifestyle content feel to it. Drinking from the bottle instead of holding it in front of your face, for example. It’s much more successful when I can naturally incorporate the product into something relatable or funny using trending audio.
Remember that the creator you’re working with does this as their job, so if they’re recommending something to you, it’s because they’ve tested it and they know it works.
What are the typical costs + budget when working with content creators?
Consider the hours it’s going to take to do any project, just like a photographer. If I’m going to travel X amount of time to get to the beach to shoot certain content, then it is going to cost more.
Generally between 1% to 5% of the creator’s follower count is a general price range for posting promotional content.
So if the creator has 30k followers, you’re looking at $1,500 for a reel.
Where it falls on the spectrum is going to depend on time spent as well as your creator’s engagement rate. The typical views they get. If they’re making reels that are popping off every day and are going viral, then expect to pay even more than 5%.
Creators are worth something. This is their job and you need to expect to pay them. Five years ago you could get away with sending a free T-shirt in exchange for 12 posts, but that’s not how this works anymore.
Think of it in terms of how you would purchase any other advertising. For example, billboards in LA cost a minimum $5,000 a month, simply because of how many eyeballs are going to be on that billboard in a day. The only thing they use to determine that price is traffic—how many cars are passing the billboard? It’s the same with radio advertising. How many plays are you going to get, how many people are going to hear it? That is how they charge you. So paying for the number of eyeballs that are going to see the creator’s content shouldn’t be a shock.
Something to keep in mind if you’re looking to use this content for ads, is that you don’t own the rights to that content. Just like when you hire a photographer, the copyright to those images stays with the photographer unless they hand it over to you. This is the same thing. Just because you paid the creator to create the content doesn’t mean you own the content. Make sure that you’re having those conversations. Make sure it’s in the contract so that there are no surprises.
Usage is expensive, too, because it says that I have partnered with your brand and I will not partner with any other brand. Because my likeness is valuable and my recommendation has my know, like and trust behind it. So if I’m promoting two protein powders at the same time, that doesn’t make sense. Your usage costs are also incorporating exclusivity.
What is the future of creators?
If you were a man, this would be called an entrepreneurial effort. But because you’re a female, it’s called influencing. It’s called just taking pretty pictures and creating content. No, this is a whole business you’re building here creators.
The creator economy is planned to hit 30 billion by 2030. Creators are going nowhere. Instagram and even LinkedIn are investing heavily into creators and the tools they’re giving them, so this is going to be part of the marketing ecosystem for the foreseeable future.
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