Sorting out social media and social media influencers to sell your own perfume

Social media is a terrific marketing tool.

But it's a tool that can be hard to get a grip on.

If you are reading this because you believe social media could help your case, but you aren't currently deploying social media to support your brand, let's review a few of the issues that might be holding you back.

Issue # 1 — "Social media" is as broad a category as "print", "radio", "TV", or "direct mail." Within the social media category, new platforms are being introduced regularly. Some older platforms are falling out of favor while others have seen a dramatic demographic shift.

Because the use of social media is currently free, it's easy to forget that you are acting in the role of media buyer when you select the platforms you want to address. You make your selections the same way any media buyer would. Your goal is to maximize return on investment. You are concerned with the demographics of the platform, the reach of the platform, and what the cost to you will be.

Issue # 2 — What will it cost you to use free social media? If you promote using only your own social media assets, the cost is nothing more than the time and energy you put into conversations with your followers. But social media marketing has become much more than a conversation with your own followers, however large their numbers may be. Global brands, for all their money, power, and name recognition, have turned to freelance "social media influencers" for help in marketing their products. Brands pay cash for these services. Why? Because these freewheeling young kids do a better job of promoting. You may find yourself paying for their services too.

Issue # 3 — Social media influencers — These are the handful of generally young people who, through their social media conversations, have developed large followings of loyal devotees whose buying decisions can be influenced through these conversations.

No certificate is needed to be a social media influencer. No college degree or government accreditation is required. It is the ultimate entrepreneurial use of the free resources that the various social media platforms make available to anyone.

But there's money in the business of being an influencer. Top influencers currently earn from $100,000 to $500,000 annually. Being a social media influencer is both a career and a business.

Issue # 4 — The dream of becoming a social media influencer. Think of how attractive the idea is, if you have an Android or iPhone and are regularly "on" social media, to become a social media influencer yourself. Think of the stuff brands will give you, think of the fame, think of the money. Think how this career promises so many more benefits than those your school guidance counsel suggests.

It costs nothing to get started. You (the young person) already have your own smartphone and that's all (you think!) you need. With that phone you can make and edit videos and post them to all your social media accounts. You can do all this while attending school. And even if you don't make money, it's both cool and fun.

There are no barriers to prevent anyone from trying to become a money-making, social media influencer. Your success will be judged only by your performance and your presentation and your performance, as perceived by marketers, may be judged largely by your presentation!

But this leads to confusion over who can really deliver results. Major brands can afford to make a few mistakes and are better equipped than small marketers to monitor results. So this leads us to the next issue — "influencer marketing agencies."

Issue # 5 — Influencer marketing agencies — Marketers complain that they don't know what an "influencer" is worth. How much should they pay to have their product exposed by an influencer? Influencers, particularly beginners, don't know how much they should ask. To help solve this problem, a new sort of talent agency has arisen, the "influencer marketing agency." Their advertised service is to bring marketers who have money together with people who claim to be influencers and who want money.

Just as anyone can advertise themselves as a social media influencer, so too anyone can advertise their business as an influencer marketing agency. Presentation is all important, "performance" can be finessed.

If you are a small marketer of your own fragrance, you might try going to one of these agencies (that are popping up all over) to save yourself the confusion of finding and approaching a self-described social media influencer on your own. Will the convenience be worth what you might pay? If you do decide to go this route, it is wise to TEST on the smallest possible (buy practical) scale. But at times you just have to pick a starting point and go forward, learning by experience and perhaps getting burned just a little in the process.

Analysis

If you are the marketer of your own perfume, it is likely that you'll want to make some use of social media. You may have your own social assets — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever — but if you're going to do some heavy selling, it's likely you'll be led to consider working with an "influencer." This was a topic that was explored in the May 2016 issue of Perfume Strategies. The article made some suggestions but the fact is that, to data, there is no clear and simple path to using this tool. At present we can only keep our eyes open, be aware of what others are doing and, should a practical opportunity present itself, test this pay-to-post "influencer" tool on a moderate scale.