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Our interview of Niklas Hartmann for “The Creative Influencer” podcast is available today for download on iTunes, Spotify, and premier platforms everywhere. Niklas is the Head of Influencer Marketing for ReachOn and ReachOn works with businesses to retain and work with influencers.
We flipped the script on Niklas. We had him tell us tips for Influencers to better position themselves when working with brands.
A transcript of the episode follows:
I am joined today by Niklas Hartmann. Welcome to the podcast. You are the head of influencer marketing at ReachOn and based in Frankfurt, correct?
That's correct, yeah.
So now just to set the scene, tell us about ReachOn. What is ReachOn?
So basically ReachOn as an influencer marketing agency that helps companies on their way to realizing successful influencer marketing campaigns. And we focus primarily on companies who are interested in that, that are interested in influencer marketing services. From the research of appropriate influencers to the approach and to the analysis of the campaign, we realize all these different steps of an influencer marketing campaign and this is what it's all about.
And I started this company in 2014, when I was 18 years old and it was really a passion of mine. It was really interesting to see influencer marketing developing from the ground up because as you probably know in 2014, it was really... Yeah, there were the first developmental steps in influencer marketing but it wasn't a really big industry as it is now.
And yeah, in the past few years we started working with dozens of companies and I wrote a book on influencers as well about how to become a successful influencer. This book was released in June 2021, and this is so a small or brief overview of what I've done in the past.
So now when you were 18 and decided to start this company, what did you see that everybody else didn't see?
Actually it's a kind of funny situation because the first time I really thought more thoroughly about influencers is during a college seminar in Munich. And next to me, everyone probably knows America's Next Top Model and next to me sat a girl who participated in Germany's Next Top Model. And she was always on her smartphone typing, checking her phone and her notifications, and I asked her, "Hey, why are you always on the phone during the seminar?" And she showed me her Instagram account in it was like, I think, yeah it was during one of my early seminars. And she showed me that she had like 400,000 followers during this year, so in the beginning. And this was a huge amount of followers back then. And this was really the first step into influencer marketing for me.
And then because I was always entrepreneurially focused, I decided there's a huge potential in this industry and I started to continuously educate myself on influencer marketing trends and also building my name recognition. I started to write many articles, guest articles on influencer marketing, which led to my book in 2021.
So we have a supermodel to thank for this?
I like that origin story. So you are based where?
I'm currently based in Frankfurt in Germany, but I plan to move to the US in early 2023. I'm currently preparing my visa application and the whole procedure that is necessary and yeah, I will soon join you in the US.
Okay. So I want to spend just a second talking about the difference between influencer marketing in Europe versus the United States, and is there really any difference between influencer marketing in Europe versus the United States?
So basically I think the biggest difference is how people approach influencer marketing in Germany or Europe in general, and the US. So I think in the US, it's people are more focused on the results of influencer marketing campaigns and how they can personally profit from an influencer marketing campaign, either as an influencer or as a company that decides to realize influencer marketing campaigns in comparison to Europe where many people, I won't say the majority, but a bigger amount of users decides to be an influencer on a semi-professional level. So just as a hobby or some kind of a side hustle.
And I think that's the biggest difference actually. And also how you approach them in... While writing them an email, the email etiquette is different because when you write European influencers you focus more on, I think on the company. The company's image and how famous or known they're in their niche. While in US influencer marketing campaigns, you focus more on the rewards or the benefits that influencers can generate or expect when realizing influencer marketing campaigns.
So I want to shift gears. You've written quite a few articles and quite a bit on the subject and there are three articles in particular I want to ask you about, because I think they will help the listeners. Because for instance, the first one is how to find reliable niche influencers and get them to work with you.
Now that's kind of, it's focused towards the company side, but it also lets influencers know what companies are looking for to help them be more user friendly. So let's start with this one. You start with a quote that more than seven out of 10 marketing professionals use influencer marketing. That's astounding. How fast has that grown?
I think in five or six years we've realized how important this industry is and which benefits companies can generate, but I think in five or six years it quadrupled or the whole industry size multiplied by five or six times. So it's really an enormous growth in the past few years.
And in addition, I also think that influencer marketing is not really, because everyone talks about how influencer marketing is new and such a new marketing method, but if we think back in the '80s or '70s, there were also opinion leaders. Not on social media, but also opinion leaders that shaped public opinion. So it's probably not particularly a new industry, but it happens or occurs on different platforms.
And I think this is the biggest difference in comparison to past so-called influencer campaigns, even if they were not called influencer campaigns then.
You go on then to talk about what are niche influencers and I'd like to ask this question because everybody has their own answer. The difference between nano, micro and macro influencers? How would you define a nano influencer?
Yeah, there are always heated discussions about this subject. So everyone has a different opinion on the size of the followers. I personally believe the easiest way is to distinguish them is to just add a zero at the end of the number, because I would personally say that if your nano influencer, if you have less than 10,000 followers. Micro is like until, well it depends, some say 50,000, others say 100,000. I would actually make a cut at 50,000, because I personally believe there's a different kind of professionalization that happens when you work with influencers which have a higher follower size than 50,000 followers.
So after, if the number rises about 50,000 followers, I think you can also talk about mega influencers. Some say it starts at 100,000 followers, but I personally think that it's difficult to distinguish. But I personally believe 50,000 followers is the starting level where it becomes interesting, and it's also the kind of engagement level that is really beneficial for companies as well because you have the best alternative.
You also have a high engagement rate, but the follower size is not so huge or that people do not feel personally connected to the influencer themselves. So you can still forge a great bond with the influencer without necessarily having to work with an influencer that has really the tremendous size of followers.
So which kind of leads into a topic I was going to ask about later, but now the transition is perfect, is from your perspective, how do you measure engagement? Everybody has their own measures that they fall back on, but what do you look at to see if your influencers are engaging?
Well, you have to distinguish between at the start and at the end of the campaign, because at the start you can just analyze the insights. For me personally, I think that engagement means the kind of Story views and Link Clicks the person or the influencer has realized in the past.
So I wouldn't work with an influencer if they didn't send me their insights. This is really important for me because without analyzing the insights, you don't get a clear picture of how beneficial the influencer can be to a future campaign.
And Story views is definitely one of the most critical measures or KPIs you should consider because it can give you a clear picture on how engaged the audience really is. Because let's take an example. For instance, you have 200,000 followers and you only have 15,000 Story views is the first sign that the influencer hasn't really forged a bond with the audience and should work on increasing the amount of Story use.
And then also how many people click on a link when an influencer adds a link button to a Story, which is really essential as well because in my personal opinion, on Instagram especially, Instagram Story campaigns are the way to go because influencer campaigns, if you work with influencers and realize a Reel video or a Feed Post,
It's beneficial for brand recognition or name recognition, but it doesn't really help increase sales, increase leads.
And this is really what companies focus on. They want to see the return on investment, what they can expect from a campaign, how they benefit. And for me, Story views are one of the most significant KPIs. And, as I said, the good amount of Link Clicks. It really doesn't matter how many likes they get because it's so easy to fake the amount of likes and really becomes even for professionals, hard to detect if the influencer has a huge audience that is really engaged or this was some kind or some small or even major percentage of the followers bought?
And so Story views, Link Clicks and comments, this is the last KPI. Comments are really interesting as well because I don't mean comments like, "Nice picture," or, "You've done well", such generic comments. But if you really see below an influencer's post that many people wrote a thorough or engaging comment that really focused on the influencers short image video, the content he or she created, this is a sign that it's an engaging influencer.
Transitioning back, you had a section in one of your articles on how do you find reliable niche influencers? So let's look at it from two perspectives. Let's look at it from your perspective looking for a company to find an influencer. And then how an influencer could best make themselves be found. What advice would you give?
I would definitely, what I see what most people do wrong is that they don't add their email address in a profile description because it becomes much more... You're exhausting for influencer marketing managers to always open the profile on the Instagram app and check the email button, click on it, write it down, note it down. It's really, really not the way to go for influencer marketing managers interested in it.
And also what most people don't show the initiative for, but is actually quite helpful, is to write influencer marketing agencies themselves. So you could just do a quick Google Search. Search for influencer marketing agencies. If you're a small influencer, it might be best to write to smaller influencer agencies at first. But sending them or submitting an application to collaborate is definitely the way to go to increase your revenue as an influencer.
And in addition, I would also say that that working with fellow influencers is also interesting, because some companies or brands decide to only do a single collaboration with an influencer. So you don't really compete with other influencers concerning this particular company. So you could ask them for recommendations on who they should work with. You could just ask if you have two friends or two colleagues in your niche you really know well, you can ask them, "Hey, could you recommend me some friends you've worked with? Do you have a contact person I can approach?" I think that's also really beneficial.
So to sum it up, I would definitely say showing initiative and researching, wire Google, wire whatever opportunities you have, even if it's an influencer marketing conference, you should show initiative and submit your information. Do not wait for agencies or companies to come to you. Do the work and approach them yourself.
So you found your influencer, you're confident that this is somebody you want to work with. How do you decide what is the appropriate compensation to pay them?
Well, it depends on multiple factors, but what I find really beneficial is to start with a cost per thousand. So how much influencers should get per thousands of views on Story or Reel or Feed Post. And I think, well in the past or even right now, we pay between 25 to $60 per 1000 people reached. So to calculate it, for instance, if you have an influencer who has 10,000 Story views, you would pay around 200 to 600 bucks.
And then it depends on the quality of the profile. So is the influencer on the upper level of engagement or on the lower level of engagement? How strenuous is this kind of collaboration? Is it just a product he or she has to put in front of the camera? Or does he have to wallpaper her a whole room? Which actually happened as well for one of our clients.
And I think there are multiple factors, but 20 to $60 is the first indication on what you should pay. And then it also depend, what really or what many people underestimate is how important your negotiation skills are. I can't emphasize it enough. As we can see with your question, many people don't know how much should you receive? Or how much should you pay? So there's a huge span that influencers offer you, and are willing to work for.
So if you're a smart negotiator or from the company's perspective, you don't only offer them a monetary compensation, but you also offer them some kind of bonuses. Let's say you are a travel influencer, you pay for accommodation and food during a five day trip to Bali or to Hawaii, I don't know.
Then you can com-binate, you could combine this with influencer's monetary compensation and achieve better deals. And from an influencer's perspective, I would say you should definitely tell the first price because the first price is, it's really important for brands to get a feeling for how much you want. And brands orientate themselves on this price.
So if you start with a higher price as an influencer, it's easier for you to achieve a better end price as well. So these are probably the best tips I could give a brief overview.
So shifting to completely different article, you have Influencer Marketing 101: Eight Key Components for a Successful Campaign and I wanted to walk you through some of them because it is kind of the overview of what both the influencer and the company should be thinking about.
And the first one is develop a suitable strategy. How many times do companies come to you that say, "I want to get into influencer marketing," but they don't have a strategy?
Well, if it's not really a company experienced in influencer marketing, I would say like 80% of the time, it's really common. Because people have realized that it's really an important or crucial marketing method they should focus on. But they don't have an overview of how the procedure really is, how the process works.
So we have to really help them along on this journey, and give them some tips to develop their strategy. And it's really not only Influencer Marketing 101, but it's Marketing 101. Like your target crew, your prospective customer base, who have you sold to in the past? These are the common questions.
Everyone knows the marketing and they help people to understand what they should focus on in the first step, because as I said in this article, every following step depends on the strategy you've developed in the first step.
Yeah, and I think your comment that it is, so much of it's traditional marketing, there are... I mean in the contracts I'm seeing, they always include, "You have to have a call to action." Now that from a marketing perspective is like Marketing 101, you have to have a call to action, but so many influencers don't think of it.
So one of the points you have is a call to action. From your perspective, is that any different in an influencer campaign versus a traditional marketing campaign?
No, I think it's the same process. You need to really focus on one call to action, because that's the next thing many people do wrongly when they start a new campaign. We all know lending pages on the Internet, we all know marketing perspectives online or offline. And if you think about it, you really need to focus the attention of your user, of your viewer, to one single action they should take.
You don't have to promote 10 different actions. You should tell them exactly what they should do because we all know it, but there are 10,000 advertised advertisement messages we see every single day. And you need to focus, because otherwise you won't distinguish yourself from the crowd.
And you need to figure out what you really want to achieve? Do you want to generate leads for a particular product? Do you need to explain it more thoroughly so people understand it? So you need to arrange a consultation. Is it something they should download? Then you should say, "Download now". And you should always not only say, "Download now", or, "Buy now". You should also make it easier for them to tell them how easy it is to buy it, how easy it is to download it.
Like, "Download it in 20 seconds", "Purchase it in three steps", just to tell them, "Hey, this doesn't take a huge amount of effort. It's easy, it's quick. People don't have to do much." And it's really the attention span in general concerning advertisement is low, and it's even lower concerning influencer marketing campaigns.
So you should focus, you should be brief and you should clearly tell them what to do. I think that explains that it really, really well.
Yeah, I mean I agree and I thought you explained that well. So thank you. Then you mentioned it earlier, but you have written a book, which if you go on Amazon is in German. So it's...
Yeah, I can give you some overview, just one sentence. I will, it's actually already translated in English. I have it on my computer as a PDF file in English, as well. Everything is perfectly translated, but as you know, the publishing industry, it takes a bit longer to produce such a work and this is the reason why it's not already available on Amazon.
I was going to suggest you do publish it because you sent me the English translation of chapter 12 and chapter 12 is, Top Influencers Reveal Their Inside Tips. And from an influencer's perspective, there's some things in here that are obvious and then there's some things that are not obvious. So from your perspective in writing this, what couple of tips can you throw out that we haven't talked about that influencers could use to build their following? And to make it easier working with brands?
So I would definitely say even if you are really hardworking, it doesn't really make much sense to just focus on publishing new content every day. Every single day, working on improving your craft. It's really crucial, but what's even more important is the collaborative aspect. So the amount of people who view your post or your Reel or your Story in the beginning, is dramatically low.
So first and foremost, you need to understand, "How can I quickly increase my reach on Instagram, on TikTok?" Or whatever your platform you plan to use. So for this reason, I recommend to work with other influencers in the same niche and probably the same follower size. So it doesn't have to be exact, the same number of followers. But if you have 10,000 followers work with influencers in a range of eight to 13,000 followers. And you should approach them, you should write to them and tell them the clear benefits of working with you. What can you offer them? So it's really beneficial to work with you.
And if you realize many, many campaigns or many joint campaigns with other influencers, you can quickly increase your reach. Let's say you have 10,000 followers and you approach or you write to 100 influencers you've researched in a week. Then you can work with 10 or 20 influencers in the same range of followers as you are, and quickly turn the attention or shift the attention to your profile based on the steps you've done in the last week.
And many influencers do not think how they quickly can increase their reach, because it's really important to make money with this, to invest also the money you've gained or you've earned, in increasing the follower size for the future as well.
So I think the collaborative aspect is really essential. And then also learning how to negotiate, because you can be the best influencer with the best content. If you don't have a clue on how to negotiate with other brands that would like to work with you, you will lose a lot of revenue opportunities.
And you need to have a plan on what am I willing to do for a monetary compensation? What kind of values do I represent? Do I really promote everything that companies would like me to promote? Do I have some values that I wouldn't betray? Or what are you willing to do on social media? And the next step is also, for how much money are you willing to do it?
So what kind of money do you expect to get? What do other influencers get? This is not really often talked about, as we've discussed before, but I think it's really important that influencers get a clear picture on what they should demand for their work.
And many people also underestimate the work influencers do. So in my personal opinion, it's like a mix of customer service, photography, radio creation. It's like you also have to do the bookkeeping if you don't have an agency that works along with you. And I think there are so many tasks you have to do, people should be willing to pay a fair price for it. But it's not, as I said, not commonly talked about.
So I recommend reading further information about this, for example, in our whitepaper or on the Internet so they get a clear picture, "This is what I can expect to get for my work."
And to sum it up, negotiation skills and working with other influencers is really crucial.
Which, you mentioned a whitepaper, there is a whitepaper available for free?
Yeah. On our website. It's basically, I think it's really interesting for influencers as well, because it's really the whole process from a company's perspective. But if you think about it, influencers know their personal perspective as we are all aware, but they don't really understand how the process in a company or an agency actually takes place or works.
And I clearly explained in this whitepaper, these factors influence the price of influencers. This is like the range for each platform from Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, These factors influence the price. For example, does the influencer realize a campaign at a special day, let's say Halloween or Christmas? They can demand much higher prices than because the demand is higher in comparison to just a normal week in April.
And also how, as I said before, how strenuous, how exhausting is it to realize the campaign? Do you have to wallpaper something or just put it in front of the camera? And is the influencer's attendance expected? This is probably the case if a brand invites him to an event. Then you can also demand extra monetary compensation.
So these factors I explained in this whitepaper, and I think it's helpful. Especially for influencers to really get an understanding of how it works from the other side's perspective.
So what is your Internet address so people could download the whitepaper if they wanted to?
It's reach-on.com. And you can immediately see in the menu, it's called Whitepaper and the whitepaper is called Influencer Marketing: How to Negotiate with Influencers. So I think it's really beneficial for influencers to get a better understanding on how brands and agencies work with influencers.
And is that domain name the best place to find you on the Internet?
Basically. You can also check me out via my LinkedIn profile, just type in Niklas Hartmann and you will find my profile. So either on LinkedIn or my website, is the best place to get to know me.
Okay, well thank you. This has been great.
The Creative Influencer is a weekly podcast where we discuss all things creative with an emphasis on Influencers. It is hosted by Jon Pfeiffer, an entertainment attorney in Santa Monica, California. Jon interviews influencers, creatives and the professionals who work with them.
Contact Jon and his team today.