Western & English Today

FALL 2018

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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Western & English Today 29 Here are some of Thea's top picks when it comes to authentic and effective influencers. SHALEY HAM @westdesperado GEENA MARCUZZO @cityraisedfarmsaved RACHEL MCGINN @racheljoi JESSIE JARVIS @mrsjjarv HANNAH FERGUSON @theclassicconcha MEGHAN GATES @saltlicklifestyle WHITNEY BENSON @westerncouture (pictured left) e digital space evolves quickly. Today's social media users are well informed and have become highly skilled at sniffi ng out disingenuous con- tent. Currently we are seeing a demand for more authentic interaction and connection. We have blown past the eff ectiveness of celebrity endorsements and even major social media infl uencers who boast millions of followers. is is why it's important to remember two key marketing principles: People like to do business with other people, and word-of-mouth marketing is still king. As a whole, we value the recommendation of a trusted friend or neighbor. A relationship like that is grown over time, as we get to know another person, and the people we trust most are those with whom we can identify and look up to, and who exhibit admirable traits we'd like to emulate. Hence the rise of the eff ectiveness of partnerships with "micro" infl uencers (generally considered those infl uencers with 100,000 followers or less). Working with infl uencers can be extremely eff ective when you're work- ing with the right people, on the right plan, and with the right objectives. e right partnerships coupled with solid strategy can boost your business or brand's awareness, connect you with potential new customers, generate content for you to use across platforms, and ultimately convert casual en- gagement into sales. An eff ective partnership strategy begins with eff ective infl uencers. e initial step and linchpin in your infl uencer marketing eff orts is fi nding the best infl uencer for your brand or business. Just like the perfect marriage, there is no "perfect infl uencer," just the perfect infl uencer for you. Chances are you've already been exposed to a bevy of infl uencers in the Western fashion and lifestyle space, and you might already have an idea of who you'd like to work with. When making your selections, keep your customer in mind. You'll want to choose to work with infl uencers who your core consumer will relate to when it comes to style and conversational tone, and will therefore look to for inspiration and guidance. Examine both the imagery and language that an infl uencer uses. A pic- ture is worth a thousand words, but there's another 2,200 available words that can help tell the story behind it in the caption. e success of your in- fl uencer marketing eff orts relies on the emotional connection between the infl uencer partner and your customers. erefore, through your partner- ship, you'll be simultaneously cultivating new customer relationships and deepening current customer attachment. Remember, an infl uencer is not a brand rep, social media model, or cli- ent testimonial. ough each of those people can fi t nicely into your com- prehensive digital marketing strategy, and can all be infl uencers in addition to playing those other roles, the title of an infl uencer requires something a little more. As simple as it sounds, an infl uencer is a person who has infl uence. It is not only someone who others look to for inspiration and trustworthy infor- mation, but who instigates action as a result of those two elements. Without audience action, there is no infl uence. Social media has played an ever-more prominent role in our everyday lives, impacting consumer buying trends as a result, so there has been con- siderable buzz around the topic of calculating and valuing infl uence. Deter- mining the precise amount of infl uence an individual wields is not an exact science. e previous status quo of audience size as the benchmark of infl u- ence has been swept aside as services providing accounts with fake followers have become more and more prevalent. Recently, even engagement rates have become less accurate due to the introduction of services that promise to boost engagement with automatic responders. So how can you measure infl uence? Take a little time to get to know the

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