How to Find Influencers to Partner with Your Brand

Did you know that influencer marketing was worth $13.8 billion in 2021? That’s according to Influencer Marketing Hub, which also reported that 59% of brands had a standalone budget for content marketing. Since 75% of those surveyed intended to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing, your company or brand may not be far behind.

Influencer marketing can tap into engaged audiences like no other. But as the number of influencers on social media grows, scouting them for marketing campaigns becomes more of a challenge. In this post, we’ll take a step-by-step look at how to find the best influencers for your brand.

Before you look at how to find influencers for your brand, you need to lay the groundwork for your campaign to succeed. Arm yourself with your brand’s current social media analytics and complete the following tasks to guide you in your influencer search:

1. Know who your target audience is

Make your influencer search laser-focused by getting a clear understanding of who you already speak to. What has your audience come to expect? And what, or who does your target audience already connect with? Audience insight reports make it simple to dive deeper into your audience’s demographics, psychographics (meaning their opinions, interests, values, and attitudes), and online behavior. They can be especially useful for brands that cater to niche audiences and interests.

It’s also a good idea to research who is already talking about you on social media. You can do this manually or get a more comprehensive look using social listening tools that track conversations about your brand in real-time and help you find influencers that mention you in their social media content. Doing this preliminary research will save you time down the line and may even lead you to potential influencers off the bat.

2. Define your influencer marketing strategy and campaign goals

With established goals, you’ll be better able to select influencers who can help you achieve them. These goals may include:

  • Boosting brand awareness
  • Creating content
  • Generating leads or sales
  • Driving website traffic
  • Increasing social media followers
  • Boosting signups to an event or newsletter subscriptions

Defining your strategy might involve choosing which social media channels to focus on. For example, if your goal is to draw more customers to your Shopify store, you may try to find Instagram influencers to take advantage of the platform integrations. But if your goal is to answer questions about a product or service, you may look for YouTube influencers who can create longer, more detailed content. As you develop your strategy, the perfect influencer for your brand may be different on different social platforms.

How to find influencers

From doing the tedious legwork yourself to getting the help of third-party software, there are many strategies for finding social media influencers. But thanks to the initial prep work you just did, you’ll know which of the following influencer search methods is right for you.screenshot of hashtag tech influencer on instagram

Method 1: Finding social media influencers using hashtags

Influencers rely on hashtags to make sure their content reaches audiences outside of their followers. In turn, you can use these same hashtags to find influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms. Searching hashtags relevant to your brand, campaign, or niche audience will give you a plethora of influencers to look at. But this time-consuming method can leave you with a long list of potential influencers and no way of sorting through them.

Method 2: Using an influencer database or influencer list

Many of the free influencer marketing tools you’ll find online offer databases that let you search through influencer profiles. Meanwhile some paid platforms —like Followerwonk, Upfluence, and Buzzsumo — have influencer databases on the limited, free versions of their software.

Klear on the other hand offers a premium influencer database which is really worth paying for. While this method gets rid of the time-consuming process of combing through social media, you’ll still have to manually evaluate influencers and establish communication with them across platforms.

Method 3: Using an influencer marketing platform

Managing relationships with several influencers across the same or multiple social media platforms can get messy when you are trying to manage conversations through DMs. Influencer marketing platforms, also known as influencer marketing hubs, let marketers search for, evaluate, reach out to, and collaborate with influencers all in one place.

Meltwater’s social influencer marketing platform lets users find the perfect influencers for their campaigns with AI-powered searches. It also allows for communication, payment, and campaign tracking directly on the platform, features you should look for in any influencer platform you consider.

How to find Instagram influencers

TikTok and YouTube are gaining ground, but Instagram is still the top social media platform for influencers, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. Here are some tips for marketers looking for Instagram influencers specifically.

Find Instagram influencers using in-app features

As we mentioned earlier, hashtags are a simple way to find influencers on Instagram. However, you can also check out the app’s Explore page. This method will work on any account that has an algorithm tuned to your brand or target customer. If you don’t have this account, it may be a good idea to make one to help with your audience research.

Create a new Instagram account and use it as you imagine your ideal customer would. Start by visiting and following your brand’s page. Soon enough, the account’s Explore page will lead you to other pages, and influencers, you may be interested in.

Use an Instagram influencers list

Do a quick Google search and you’ll come up with dozens upon dozens of ready-made lists of Instagram’s top influencers in every industry imaginable. These lists are great for getting an overview of the Instagram influencer landscape and looking at current influencer trends. One downside to these kinds of lists is that they become out of date quickly. Plus, they may not show you the best influencers for your campaign, just the most popular ones overall.

Use influencer marketing tools

Influencer marketing tools and platforms like Klear are the most comprehensive options for finding Instagram influencers. Focus your search not only by social media platforms but also by audience and metrics. With these tools, you can spend the time you save elsewhere, like co-creating with your chosen influencer.

How to choose the right influencer for your brand

Perhaps you have a few relevant influencers in mind that you think would be a perfect fit for your brand, but to really be sure they are right for you, you’ll need to evaluate them against some key metrics. Start with a Google search to gauge their reputation and see which platforms they are on, but don’t stop there. Here are some questions to ask to ensure that you pick the right influencer to work with:

1. What is the quality of their work?

Working with Instagram influencers means giving them the creative freedom to make content for your brand, so you want to make sure that the content they already make is high quality. Take a look at the content they share on the platform.

Does it feel genuine? Does it aim to provide real value to the audience? Are the captions well-thought-out? Is it captivating? Is there a storytelling element to what the influencer shares on Instagram? These are just a few ways to gauge if an Instagram influencer’s style is right for your brand.

2. Do they have an engaged community?

From likes and comments to reposts and retweets, look into an influencer’s engagement rate to have a better understanding of if their audience is an active one. Look at the comments their followers leave, what questions they ask, and how well the influencer responds to them. A passive audience is no good for a brand partnership; you want the influencer’s community to spread your message to others, expanding your reach to other social networks and online communities.

3. How large is their reach?

An influencer can have a high follower count but a low reach, which looks at the unique number of users who saw their social media post. For well-known and new brands alike, this metric is important for assessing just how many eyes an influencer really draws in. Reach is closely linked with measuring brand awareness and the ROI of influencer campaigns. Even influencers with smaller reach can produce great results.

While macro-influencers, who have between 100,000 and one million followers, can get more eyeballs on your campaign, micro-influencers, who have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers, can introduce you to niche audiences and markets. Some influencer marketing platforms can also help you evaluate influencers on this metric. Klear’s AI-powered technology, for one, detects bots and fake followers to grade influencers on their actual reach.

4. Who are they reaching?

Having an engaged community is one thing, but if an influencer’s audience does not care about your product, the ROI from a partnership will be minimal. Find an influencer whose followers are interested in topics that will lead to them converting to your brand. Influencers also have different audiences on different social media platforms. You may have to tweak your strategy depending on what channel you are targeting.

5. What other brands have they worked with?

Looking at the brands that influencers have worked with in the past can help you decide if their audience is part of your target market. Just keep in mind that if an influencer has had a long-term partnership with a competitor, their association with that brand may stick.

Start your influencer outreach

Now that you have found and evaluated the influencers you want for your upcoming influencer marketing campaign, what is the next step?

1. Reach out to them

Your first outreach to an influencer could make or break your potential partnership with them, so your first impression needs to be a compelling one that demonstrates the value you offer. Many companies kick things off by sending PR packages or free samples to influencers they hope to partner with.

Consider following them on Instagram or TikTok (or whatever social media platforms are most relevant for you) and engaging with their content. Leave a meaningful comment on a post where they mentioned your brand and express how much you appreciate their support. The more you meaningfully engage with their content, the better the chances of getting a positive response when you pitch them a campaign.

2. Craft a compelling pitch

Next, you want to craft an enticing pitch or proposal that highlights why you are reaching out, an overview of the campaign you have in mind, the deliverables you would need, the compensation you offer, as well as specific next steps and deadlines.

While it’s not out of the question for brands to first reach out to influencers on social media platforms, direct business and pitch materials to their email address of choice. This is another area where influencer marketing platforms can help you avoid guesswork and save time.

3. Follow up and stay in the loop

Once you pitch your ideal influencer, stay on top of communications and follow up. In-demand influencers get many messages a day, so yours may get lost in their inbox. Often, a friendly reminder or follow-up can turn radio silence into a yes. As your campaign moves forward, keep that level of attentiveness and attention to detail.

Even small-scale influencer campaigns involve a lot of moving parts, so we recommend consolidating them into one platform as much as possible. This makes it easier to not only manage campaigns but also maintain your brand’s relationships with influencers.

Follow these tips and guidelines closely to get your next influencer marketing campaign off the ground in no time. Fill out the form below to learn more about how Meltwater’s influencer marketing platform can make the process even easier.

By: Khalipha Ntloko

Source: How to Find Influencers to Partner with Your Brand

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B2B PR Tips: How To Leverage Earned, Owned, Paid, and Shared Media For Lead Generation

You’re always looking for positive ways to promote your B2B company. In your search, you’ve likely come across the following terms: earned media, owned media, shared media, and paid media. Whether you realize it or not, chances are you’re using at least one of these top PR strategies.

However, if you’re a bit fuzzy on what these terms actually mean, or if you just need a refresher course, read on — it’s coming your way.

In this post, we will:

  1. Define Earned, Owned, Shared and Paid media
  2. Discuss how to leverage each of them
  3. Give you some B2B PR tips on how to combine all four methods to generate leads
  4. Define the Top 8 tips to bring big ideas to your B2B PR strategy.

1. Earned, Owned, Shared, and Paid Media Defined

Earned Media

“A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

In a nutshell, earned media is:

Publicity gained from word of mouth, online reviews, and blogger, press, and influencer relations. It’s a third-party endorsement of your brand.

How to Leverage Earned Media:

We’ll start with earned media because it can be one of the trickiest to master. The reason is that you have less control over this type of media. You can’t simply ask someone to plug your product or service. As the name suggests, you must earn it.

How can you do this without sounding, well… sleazy, clingy, desperate?

Simply put, you need to to be a friend to get a friend.

If you want to get noticed by bloggers who will promote your brand, start by reaching out to those whose work you truly admire. These are the ones that whose email updates make it past your trash file. The ones who get you thinking about your industry and who inspire you.

Reach out to these bloggers via social media and leave comments on their posts. Next, join HARO (help a reporter out). This service notifies you when a reporter is looking for an industry expert to quote in a piece.

Lastly, make it easy for others to like you by responding graciously on social media sites, leaving positive LinkedIn endorsements for those you’ve collaborated with on projects, and promoting thought leaders on social media.

Owned Media

Owned media is content that you have created and that you own. Examples of owned media include:

Blog posts, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, case studies, ebooks, and your website.

How to Leverage Owned Media:

Owned media is your PR paradise. You have complete control over how to create and use each piece of content you create. However, there has to be a method to your madness.

“Think like a publisher, not a marketer.” – David Meerman Scott, marketing and leadership speaker

Here are a few tips to get your owned media going in the right direction:

  • Create a purpose for each piece of content. Are you trying to get new leads? Nurture existing leads? Increase brand awareness?
  • Include plenty of visual content, such as videos, images, GIFs, infographics. Mix it up a bit.
  • Write for both search engines and people. When you write a headline, ask yourself if you would click on it. Better yet, ask someone else.
  • Attach analytics to each piece of content in order to gauge interest in the topic you’re promoting.

Shared Media

Shared media, also known as social media, has become one of the most popular and cost effective PR platforms. It includes:

Postings to social sharing sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

How to Leverage Shared Media:

With new changes to social platforms coming in almost daily, it can be hard to keep up. However, there are a few good rules of thumb that remain unchanged.

This one isn’t too difficult to figure out! However, it has changed over the years. While you might think of paid media as print, TV, or radio advertising, it has evolved into something much more digital and direct.

Today, effective means of paid media include:

  • Native advertising
  • Social media campaigns
  • Google Adwords
  • Retargeting

How to Leverage Paid Media:

Paid media is the one method many don’t want to acknowledge. Perhaps it’s because they see so many other effective PR methods that are virtually free.

However, paid media is equally important. One reason for this is because paid media is a better bet when searching for new buyers that never heard of your brand.

Paid social media campaigns for example can reach those who are interested in your industry, not just in your personal brand. These prospects may not be searching for you online, but now Facebook has made them aware of your presence without their ever navigating off the same page they use to communicate with loved ones.

Likewise, paying to have your blog posts distributed via native advertising allows your expertise to reach a wide audience. Learn more about how that works in my recent blog post on native advertising.

Each PR method can certainly be used as a stand alone product. However, they really shine when combined into a single effort. Let’s take a look at how that might work.

Let’s start with a great piece of owned media, say a blog post. In a perfect world, this blog post would attract your best leads and prospects all on its own. However, the truth is that it’s unlikely to be noticed unless you put a little effort into its promotion.

Next, you’ll want to promote the post on social, or shared, media. This isn’t a one-time deal, either. Rather, you need to promote the post over the following days, weeks, and even months in order for it to gain decent traction.

Once you see that your piece of content has been well-received, you’ll know that you’ve hit a hot topic. You can then begin to promote it using paid media, in the form of Twitter or Facebook campaigns.

Carefully gaining traction in this way adds to your credibility as a thought leader in your industry. It’s then that you’ll start to see your earned media come through for you.

Top 8 Tips to Bring Big Ideas to Your B2B PR

1. Work Backwards from a Clear End Goal

Start with your end vision. What would you like to accomplish as a company? A great way to bring an idea to life is by starting with the end-product. A key component to your vision might be to write down that dream headline that you would like to see when your vision comes to fruition.

For instance, would you like to get press coverage for your involvement in charity? Then start big. Imagine the successful headline that will put you on the front page. It could be something like, “Local B2B Firm Meets Goal of Feeding 1,000 Hungry Families.”

Have you already thought of your dream headline? Once you have it, work back from there. Set smaller, more manageable goals that will help you reach that big headline. You’ll find it easier to get more people on board and involved when you have a set end-goal to pursue.

2. Invite Influencers to Contribute to Your Content

Influencers are a big deal in niche industries, and can amplify your content’s reach. While it may be difficult to get an influencer on-board for a full guest post, it’s a much easier task to get a blurb or pro tip from an influencer that you can then leverage within your content.
Imagine the power behind such blog posts as,

“15 Pro Tips From the Security Industry’s Leading Experts” or “[Influencer’s name] Weighs in on the Biggest Problem Facing the Security industry.”

Once you have this content locked down, you can leverage your influencer involvement to promote it. Build anticipation for the content by talking it up on social media before it is released. Once it’s out, tag the influencers involved on social media so that they can share it with their audience. Share it several times to ensure that the maximum amount of people get a chance to read it.

3. Make Your Content Recyclable and Magnetic

Your content shouldn’t have an end-date. Once you hit publish, there’s plenty you can do to extend its usefulness. For example, make it easily shareable. Create click to tweet links of several important snippets of your content that people can easily share on Twitter. Create social media images with influential parts of your content that others in your industry will be interested in sharing.

4. Find Content That’s Already Popular…and Make It Better

It can sometimes feel like your competitors have all the successful content. But you can use this to your advantage. Use programs like BuzzSumo and SEMrush to find what content is currently blowing up within your industry. Then take that piece of content and give it an all-star upgrade. Amplify its value with a more modern design, in-depth content, and even additional pro tips.

Once you have a superior piece of content, it’s time to distribute it like crazy. Use social media and email marketing to get as many eyes on it as possible.

And don’t forget to use this content to shine a light on new content. Include a link to just-published content within your popular post. Think of it as the virtual equivalent of hanging out with the popular kids. The goal is that some of that fairy dust will end up on the new content.

5. Focus on Big Pieces of Content

One large, high-quality piece of content is going to outperform 10 other lower quality pieces of content put together. To accomplish this, your content creation should begin with a solid content strategy that aims at truly high-quality content, as well as promotion of that content. In-depth content such as eBooks and guides may take more time to put together, but in the end, will lead to increased credibility and owned media potential.

6. Leverage Special Content for Visitors Who Share

Sharing isn’t just for kids. When readers share your content on their social networks, this is PR gold. But how do you convince readers to share?

Instead of your traditional gated content that requires the user to input his or her contact information, why not make special content downloadable in exchange for a social share? People get the free e-book (or video, or case study) once they share their download announcement on social media. This gives them the content they want, and boosts the recognition of your brand at the same time—a clear win-win situation.

7. Test the Waters for Big Events

Events are a key way to establish yourself as a thought leader and industry authority. But this is sometimes easier said than done — it can be overwhelming to jump feet first into a large-scale event. Make it easier on yourself by testing the waters first with a smaller event.

It doesn’t have to be a large, fancy affair. Make it more intimate and less structured. Invite a wide range of people to participate — perhaps include an industry analyst, someone from the media, a business customer, and an author, to speak on a current industry topic or trend. This kind of environment can foster many thought leadership quality discussions that you will have been responsible for creating.

Then, if all goes well, you can start planning a larger-scale event that will no doubt garner more attention.

8. Become Part of a Niche Community

While it’s great to participate in larger industry communities, don’t ignore the power that the smaller niche communities (such as on LinkedIn) hold for your content promotion. Oftentimes, participating in smaller, niche communities can give you more of a chance to engage with and provide value to others in your industry.

Participation in these communities allows you to establish yourself as an industry expert, create brand awareness, and share your valuable content. There’s even a chance that your content may be chosen for syndication by other blogs and publications in your niche. In short, these smaller communities are a great stepping stone on your way to bigger, thought leadership opportunities.

Key Points to Remember in Your B2B PR

  • Include influencer input in small ways to attract more attention from a wider audience.
  • Use popular content from competitors to create even better, more in-depth content.
  • Prepare yourself for hosting a large event by starting with a small, intimate one.
  • Get involved in smaller, niche communities where you will have more opportunities to engage and be heard.

Just because you are a small B2B business doesn’t mean that your B2B PR ideas have to follow suit. Use these 8 B2B PR tactics to start thinking big and you’ll amplify your content’s influence and achieve thought leadership success.

By: Wendy Marx

Source: Leverage Earned, Owned, Paid, & Shared Media

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The Top 50 Digital Marketing Trends for 2021

Advertising market trends

1.Programmatic Advertising

What is programmatic advertising? It means advertisers automate ad buying to target more specific audiences. This type of automation results in faster and efficient bidding. Advertisers then, have to spend less time and effort planning the ad bidding and buying.

How does programmatic advertising work?

Step 1 – a user clicks on the webpage

Step 2 – the publisher puts the ad impression for auction

Step 3 – the ad marketplace holds an auction where advertisers bid for the impression

Step 4 – the advertiser with the highest bid wins the right to display their ads

2.Marketing Personalization

If something we learned from 2020 is that to succeed at marketing in 2021 you need to personalize your marketing activities, including content, emails and ads. Great examples of personalization are Netflix and Amazon, with their tailored content and products suggestions.

The more personalized the content, the higher the customer engagement and loyalty.

3.Google Ads Smart Bidding

This system allows Google to manage advertisers’ PPC campaigns through Google’s AI system. The system then optimizes the advertiser’s budget to maximize their ROI. Advertisers can choose many criteria for their bid optimization, including device, physical location, remarketing list, ad characteristics, interface language or browser. Anti Ad-Blockers

Many websites have ad-blockers, preventing ads to be served to users. This causes serious revenue damage, which can range up to 40% loss from adblocking. Therefore, one of the trends we are seeing for 2021, is the popularization of anti-ad-blockers.

Anti-ad blockers are useful software solutions that bypass ad blockers. Not all the solutions work for all the ad blockers. You can also opt to work with an ad network that serves ads that bypass ad-blockers. However, not all ad networks work with all the ad blockers.

4.IoT Advertising

To be connected nowadays goes beyond, smartphones, laptops and tablets. There is a world of connected devices, from smart cars to smart houses. These type of connected devices are called the Internet of Things.

Companies have tried to use the Internet of Things for advertising. For example, including ads in smart cars systems, or include sensors in spirits bottles. As more connected devices are developed, more opportunities for IoT advertisement will appear.

Social media market trends

5.Influencer Marketing

What’s an influencer? An influencer is a person that, as a referent, can carry a brand message to their market. Influencers are not only celebrities, but Instagram or YouTube personas, that have their niche of followers. Their audience can go from a few thousand to millions. Influencer marketing has become more popular recently because of the following reasons:

  • It’s organic
  • It’s authentic
  • Connects with the customer

Many companies are leaving traditional advertising in favor of pairing with influencers that carry the word about their products or services. For example, GoodFoods, partnered with 60 influencers to produce content and recipes using GoodFoods products online.

How do you find the right influencer for your company is another story. Luckily, there are AI solutions that allow companies to rank and score influencers by niche, followers and ROI potential.

6.Social Messaging Apps

Messaging apps are not only for communicating with your friends. With more than one billion monthly users active on Facebook Messenger, companies are taking the opportunity to connect with their audience through messaging apps.

Social messages give businesses the chance to send messages to customers directly, answer queries, and conduct direct sales. It works as a live chat for customers to reach you, then you can provide assistance, remind them of abandoned carts, send event invitations, and more.

7.Stories on Social Media

Instagram and Facebook allow users to share stories, and since their appearance, they became really popular with users. Here are some statistics:

  • 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day
  • More than half of Instagram users become interested in a brand after seeing it in an Instagram Story.
  • Half of the users say that they are interested in purchasing a product because they saw it in an IS.

8.From Social Media to Social Marketplace

Social media platforms have added eCommerce features in 2020. The goal is to provide users with a seamless journey from discovery to purchase. We can expect the trend to grow in 2021, with brands using social media platforms as a marketplace. The next section explains what tools they will likely be using.

9.Social Commerce & Shoppable Posts

As mentioned above, social media platforms are investing in adding ecommerce features to social posts. For instance, Instagram shoppable posts:

How do you do it? You can add tags to the products on your stories or posts, the tags will take your customer to a page where they can purchase the product.

10.Facebook May Have Reached its Peak

According to the recent 2020 Facebook performance update, there is reason to think that the network is entering plateau.

The network is showing less monthly and daily new users. Why there are less users is not clear, but the network is completing its second decade, and there are other competitors appearing.

11.Focusing on the social media channels that work

With so many social media channels available, companies can feel overwhelmed to try to keep relevant on all of them. Therefore, reducing their social media channels to focus on what it really works for their audience is likely to be a necessity for 2021.

12.The rise of UGC (user-generated content)

User-generated content will become a central part of marketer’s strategy in 2021. Advertisers are using AI to create ads that work with user-generated content. Brands like Lush cosmetics use Instagram hashtags to drive UGC to work for them.

Another example that uses user generated content is Aerie. They usually #regram — taking a post from another user account and reposting on your own — as a social media strategy.

SEO market trends

13.Content Marketing Is Still King

Content is king, we are used to hearing. The reality is that search engines like Google, prioritize well-written content and useful links when ranking sites and presenting search results to users.

In recent years, the changes in Google algorithm prioritized, even more, the relevance of content for SEO. The effects on marketers were fast to follow:

88% of marketers are realizing that creating content that is useful to their audience presents their organization as a credible source.

Moreover, investing in content marketing can be a cost-effective way to attract customers to your site and engage them.  

“Content marketing has lower up-front costs & deeper long-term benefits than paid search, says @JuliaEMcCoy.

With search engines prioritizing well-written and useful content, it is safe to say that content marketing is a trend that will continue well into 2021.

14.Branding focus

Consumers are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options they have every time they research something online. With this marketing landscape, having a distinct, unique, and recognizable brand is key for success.

As most companies moved online last year, the problem of too many options is even worse. In 2021, you’ll see more companies focusing on branding strategies than on hard selling. One of the reasons branding is so critical now for survival is that search engines prioritize ranking brands over sites. More in the following section.

15.EAT

E.A.T is one of the most important criteria Google uses to rank brands and sites. It stands for:

  • Expertise: your pages need to have quality content written by an expert in the subject.
  • Authority: you need to build your brand’s authority on the subject.
  • Trustworthiness: your site needs to connect with other authorities on the subject.

These criteria measure the quality of a web page. It works because all websites need to have it if they want to get ranked in a search engine. The higher they measure in these three criteria, the higher the rank. E.A.T measures how a page fulfills the purpose of helping users. As Google says in their terms:

“Websites and pages should be created to help users”

16.A/B Testing for SEO

A/B testing is used across industries, not only in marketing. But it is safe to say that currently, much of modern marketing is about testing and analytics. Long gone are the days of measuring a campaign’s success by trial and error.

By applying A/B testing to SEO, you actually test the content beforehand. Then, you can identify which version of the site is generating more results.

What can you use A/B testing for? 

You can use A/B testing to experiment with:

  • Meta titles and descriptions
  • URL structures
  • Headlines
  • Calls to action
  • Sales pages
  • Product descriptions

17.Interactive Content

Interactive content is one of the trends that grew faster last year. With our lives moving online, consumers wanted to replace as much as possible personal interaction with the brands. Examples of interactive content include:

  • Quizzes and polls
  • Augmented reality solutions
  • VR ads

The key is engaging the user and offer an immersive experience. Online retailers, for example, let you know what is your exact size with online calculators. Beauty brands use AR to let you try hair color with a virtual assistant to check how a specific hair color will look on you. The possibilities are endless to make the experience more memorable for the user.

18.The Rise of the Featured Snippet

What is “position zero”? The term refers to the topmost position in SERP results. This position is usually occupied by the featured snippet. 

What is a featured snippet?

This is the useful summary of information Google presents first on the page to answer your query. Why is it important? Well, this coveted space answers a user query without the need to click a link. If you get to rank in this space, you found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Moreover, featured snippets are used to answer voice searches. Since a third of Internet searches are done using voice search, you can get your content to answer the question.

19.SEO Is Not Dead – It Uses Structured Data

The term structured data refers to any data organized so search engines can crawl and categorize it. Structured data can give your site’s SEO a boost, since your content will be more useful and easily to categorize. Structured data can get you in the coveted position zero, as a featured snippet or a Knowledge Graph Box.

Structured data generates “rich snippet results”, the snippets with images, pricing and statistics:

Rich snippets are great for driving traffic and clicks, especially with mobile users.

20.Cumulative Layout Shift

This metric measures how visually stable your page is. To put it simple, the CLS score helps you understand how likely your page is giving an unpleasant visual experience to users.

According to Google, a good score for mobile and desktop pages is less than 0.1. A score greater than 0.25 is considered not good.

What can cause CLS?

  • Many different fonts in the page
  • Ads that shift the content

Why is it important? Unsurprisingly, a high CLS causes conversion rates to drop and bounce rates to rise. After all, few users will stay and purchase on a site that gives a rugged experience. That’s why we are likely to see more sites analyzing their CLS in 2021.

21.Pillar Content

Unlike what you may think, in 2021, the usual under 1000 posts won’t get you anywhere. According to experts like Neil Patel, posts that are around 3000 words long attract the most traffic and engage more readers. The length offers readers the opportunity to explore subjects in-depth. A content creator that produces long-form content regularly can establish itself as an authority on a subject.

A study found that long-form content helps more with SEO, as gets three times more backlinks than short articles. Want more proof? When you search a query on Google, chances are that the top 10 results are longer articles. Some benefits of pillar content include:

  • Longer time-on-site
  • Reduced bounce rate
  • More backlinks and social media shares
  • Higher Google ranking

22.Image and video SEO for visual searches

This was a game-changer. Instead of trying to describe what you want to search, you can upload an image and get more specific results.

You just upload the image of what you want to look and Google offers similar images:

Visual search is so convenient and useful that many companies jumped into the trend. One example is Pinterest Lens, a visual search tool that lets you take a picture of an item to search for similar products, view pin boards about it or find out where to buy it online.

The success of this tool shows how much visual search is engaging users. Since the beta version, Lens recognizes 2.5 billion home and fashion items and it drove Pinterest searches to skyrocket.

But not only Pinterest is taking advantage of this, Google and Bing also launched similar visual search engines.

23.Semantic Keyword Research

All content writers have heard it: Write for people, not for Google. A blurb of 4000 words won’t get the results you want if it is not matched to user intent. When Google analyzes your content to check if it matches a specific query, it doesn’t take only into account lone keywords.

The engine makes a semantic analysis to discover what exactly wanted the user to achieve with this question. When you write with the user intent in mind, these semantic keywords give Google a better idea of what your content is about and how it can help users.

24.More Investment in Analytics

As we explained before, today’s marketing is all about metrics. Therefore, more companies are investing in better analytic tools that go beyond the basics of Google Analytics. Better analytics result in better business intelligence and support decision-making.

25.Increased Security

As more people conduct activities online, the need for more security to protect the websites is greater. A secure website makes a user feel safe to hang around.

Data breaches happen to everyone, small and large websites and platforms. Therefore, most consumers think that how you manage their sensitive data can be a deal breaker when consuming your content, products or services. In 2021, increasing web security is not an option.

26.Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

You have responsive sites that work on mobile as well as on desktop and you have mobile apps. Now, this new trend, Progressive Web Apps, is basically websites that work like mobile apps. For web developers, this can be a one-in-all solution to have a website and an app all in one.

As the number of mobile users increase, more companies will leverage this type of web app.

other engines have appeared with the intention to provide users with more privacy. One such example is Privado.com. This engine focused on private searching, gives the users the possibility of searching without being tracked. The engine doesn’t store personal information, nor uses cookies or any means of tracking. The goal is to provide the user with an absolutely private search experience.

28.Artificial Intelligence

Back in 2017, Gartner predicted that AI would be in almost every software product by 2020. And they were right. The artificial intelligence market is expected to reach $190 billion by 2025.

AI can collect and analyze data from social media and customer interactions to evaluate customer’s behavior. AI searches patterns, allowing you to understand your audience preference.

29.Chatbots and Conversational Technology

Last year, conversational technology exploded as a contactless way for consumers to connect with companies. According to Gartner peer insights, the conversational platforms that are driving trends include:

  • strong Natural Language Processing capabilities,
  • supports voice and text input
  • Use personalization for natural conversation
  • Allow media and document sharing
  • Provide dialogue management
  • Multiple chatbot orchestration
  • Data maintenance

Why chatbots?

  • 24 hrs service
  • Provide an instant response to customer queries
  • Allows to triage and solve simple issues.

For example, Olive, the assistant of Woolworths, Australia’s supermarket chain, lets you order and upgrade your mobile SIM card.

Brands, like Sephora, are leveraging on chatbots to provide help and product recommendations to potential customers.

30. Big Data and Deep Learning

Big Data and deep learning will continue to grow in 2021, according to a report. More importantly, more companies will use big data analysis to improve their business efficiency and drive innovation.

One downside is that while more companies are using big data, the requirements of protecting the management of consumer data increase. More regulations like the CCPA and GDPR entering effect.

31.Augmented Reality (AR) & Immersive Technologies

Companies like Facebook are diving deep into the use of augmented reality to enhance the customer experience. Facebook Oculus gives users the opportunity to play without pushing buttons, transforming the gaming experience into an immersive virtual reality one.

Marketers can take advantage of this technology to provide immersive experiences for their customers. Some brands, like IKEA, Tom’s shoes, Patron Spirits, and even Marriott International, are already giving customers a VR experience.

Other ways you can use VR to provide meaningful experiences to your audience:

  • Augmented Reality ads – for gaming and consumer products
  • 360-degree videos – for real estate, tourism.

32.`Predictive & Augmented Analytics

Predictive analytics consists of the combination of data mining, predictive modeling, and machine learning to identify patterns and come with forecasts. More digital marketing companies are using predictive analytic tools to predict consumer behavior and identify trends. 

Gartner defined augmented analytics in 2017, claiming it to be the future of data analytics.

Augmented analytics is the use of enabling technologies such as machine learning and AI to assist with data preparation, insight generation, and insight explanation to augment how people explore and analyze data in analytics and BI platforms. It also augments the expert and citizen data scientists by automating many aspects of data science, machine learning, and AI model development, management, and deployment.”(Gartner)

Putting it simply, augmented analytics use machine learning to deepen the understanding of the data and take even larger datasets.

33.Live streams (TikTok anyone?)

Streaming is every day more popular, and the explosive growth of TikTok confirms it. With Instagram adding Reels with in-video shopping capabilities and Tik Tok on the way to do the same, it won’t be longer before live streaming in social media turns into a real-time marketplace.

34.Companies pivots may stay that way

2020 changed the digital landscape for good. It is unlikely we will come back to pre-2020 conditions. Consumers are enjoying the convenience of online commerce. Hence, companies that pivoted to adapt last year, may find now their customers expect them to continue on the same line.

35.Purpose-driven campaigns

Last year marketing campaigns were tinted with a purpose: helping customers overcoming the pandemic as much as possible. Purpose-given campaigns will be still relevant in 2021. These campaigns promote social activist themes, for example, the campaigns about Black Lives Matter. The issues resonate with customers and increase engagement with relevant audiences. These campaigns are effective because customers identify with the same social issues the brand cares about.

36.Voice search

Smart speakers and voice assistants are no longer a trendy item to purchase. Statistics predict over half of American homes will own a smart speaker (Google Home, Alexa, and others) by 2022. People use the voice assistants not only for routine activities but for voice shopping. The voice shopping market is expected to reach $40 billion in 2022.

37.Virtual events are here to stay

In 2020, companies and individuals shifted to virtual events out of necessity due to the pandemic. Chances are that in 2021 many events will continue to be virtual because of the benefits it brings to companies. Virtual events can reach a wider audience and allow for higher attendance. So in 2021 we will continue seeing more virtual events.

38.Monetization marketing

If 2020 saw a growth in online activity, it also gave a lot of opportunities for companies to make money from their digital properties. Display ads, search monetization, and in-app advertising are some of the monetization trends we may see growing in 2021.

39.Growth of Geo-Fencing

Geofencing is a marketing approach where you put a geographic limit around a point of interest. If a user’s mobile enters the area, the geofence triggers an alert and delivers relevant ads. Here are some of the benefits of geofencing:

  • Mobile ads with geofencing have double the click-through-rate
  • It is compatible with most of the smartphones.
  • 53% of consumers visited a retailer after receiving a message that is location-based

40.Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing is the use of conversational technology for marketing purposes. For example using chatbots as “sales assistants”, or SMS marketing to communicate with customers. Several big names are using this technology: Domino’s, Sephora, 1-800-Flowers.

41.Video Marketing

This is one of the most important marketing trends today. Here are some statistics that show why you should incorporate video marketing to your strategy:

  • 86% of companies are using video as part of their marketing strategy.
  • 93% of these marketers say that video is an important part of their marketing strategy, from a 91% in 2019.
  • The videos with most success are explainer videos (73%), followed by social media videos (67%)..

42.Personalized Email

Email personalization uses personal information from subscribers to produce tailored emails. It allows you to send highly targeted email marketing campaigns. Why should you use email marketing personalization?

  • 82% of marketers report an increase in email open rates because of email personalization.
  • Personalized promotional mailings have 29% more open rates than non-personalized.

43.Browser Push Notifications

With the boom in online commerce, push notifications rose, with most online stores using some type of push notification. They tend to be more effective than a newsletter. You can send abandoned cart reminders, product suggestions, and more. Because of that, we’ll probably see more companies using personalized push notifications in 2021.

44.Omnichannel Marketing

You probably heard about omnichannel marketing in 2020. Is an approach of marketing that uses multiple platforms (for instance, social media, blog, email marketing) to connect with leads. It gives the benefits of providing a cohesive brand message across channels. Omnichannel marketing tends to show higher engagement rates and conversions than using a single channel. Simply put, you broaden the number of touchpoints.

4 5.Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing is not new. Back in 1999, Harvard scientists conducted the first MRI research as a marketing tool, starting the neuromarketing field. This is a research field that analyzes people’s brain activity through head scans to find out the type of content they like. The first studies were conducted for retail marketing. One of the results of neuromarketing is the eye-maps, which measure the interest of a viewer on a website according to where they look on the page. Companies use this information to optimize their content and strategies.

46.Blockchain Technology

A blockchain is a connected series of data records. The records are stored in immutable blocks, secured and connected to each other via cryptography in a neutral computer.

According to Investopedia, “the blockchain is copied and spread across a network of computers, not storing any of its information in a central location”. 

Although usually associated with finances and supply chain transactions, it is starting to get implemented in digital marketing. Since Blockchain eliminates the intermediary, we may see digital marketing companies using blockchain to track media buys, verify online identities or protect personal data.

47.5G Technology

This trend, the fifth generation of mobile technology, will bring many changes to digital communications. Telecom companies aim to achieve a fully mobile connected society, bringing high-speed data transmission to far-reaching areas. Yet, it is more than that, it will give way to more integrated technology.

48.Privacy Marketing

Privacy protection is not only a way of protecting data. These days, with data breaches happening every now and then, consumers need to know they can trust companies will keep their data safe. Thus, marketing teams need to focus on gaining the trust of their audience. One of the ways is protecting the privacy of users by not saving personal data in records. This ensures that in case of a breach, an attacker won’t have sensitive data to steal.

49.Gamification

Keeping your customers engaged can be a challenge. Companies like Starbucks use gamification techniques to connect with their customers. The app uses purchase history and location data to personalize the customer experience and encourage the use of their loyalty program. The app increased their revenue to over $2 billion.

Digital Marketing Landscape

Here are the key statistics you need to know to understand where the digital marketing landscape is heading for 2021.

  • Spending on digital marketing decreased in 2020.

2.Spending Is Recovering

Digital spending is recovering, and it is expected to reach $389 billion in 2024, from $332 billion in 2020. The increase is driven by the market bouncing back and trying to tap into the customer’s increasing online activity. The trend doesn’t stop there, with an expected growth of  $525.17 billion by 2024.

  • LinkedIn ads spending grew 40% during 2019-2020

LinkedIn ad spending reached $1 billion in the US, establishing the network as a solid advertising channel for B2B marketers (eMarketer).

  • Personalization is going strong

Most marketers would focus their personalization efforts on improving the customer experience through service and product recommendations.

From the consumer’s side: 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences. (Instapage)

Digital Marketing Basics

If you want to succeed in digital marketing, there are a few basic pillars that you need to master: digital presence, branding, and relationships. These three core concepts can help simplify what may be a multifaceted field.

Digital Presence

This is the key to any digital marketing you may start. These days, a digital presence is equal to having a presence at all. It is not enough to have a website or a social media page. You need a clear strategy that drives how and where you should build your presence.

Unsurprisingly, it all starts with your audience. Here are a couple of questions that can give you direction when building your digital presence:

Where does your audience spend their online time? 

The golden rule of marketing is to know your customer. So, if you want to reach your audience, first find out where they spend their online time. What type of content do they consume? What social networks do they spend time on? What search terms do they use? This will help you define which channels are the most effective to build your presence.

What’s the purpose you want to achieve with your marketing strategy?

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your online presence. Do you want to raise brand awareness? Here, your strategy shouldn’t focus on the hard-sell. If your goal is to increase conversions, then landing pages can help you close the deal with clear direction and calls-to-action.

Branding

Your brand encapsulates what your company stands for. It includes everything, from your company name, color scheme, mission statement, slogan, logo, and more.

To stand out on a sea of brands, your brand needs to showcase what it makes it unique. Keeping strong brand awareness is one of the most critical ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. Yet, it is not enough to stand out in the marketplace, but you need to stand out online too. So, refine your online branding strategy in a way that search engines recognize your brand instead of your site. In fact, the Google algorithm considers a strong brand one characteristic of a “good quality site”

Relationships

Your digital marketing strategy should not be limited to trying to appear on Google’s first page. Social networks, blogs, forums, social apps, and other similar platforms can help you build a relationship with customers online.

When we talk about marketing, relationships will always be the foundation of good business. Building an online presence will get you noticed, but creating a relationship with your audience will get you conversions.

To form effective relationships with customers, you need to be personable and personal. Using social media and good content, you can connect with your audience and let them know your brand message.

 5 Challenges for Digital Marketing in 2021

  • Less spending in marketing 

Marketing budgets took a hit in spending in 2020. While marketing companies are recovering, the spending is not yet at the levels we expected before 2020. Although the e-commerce ratio increased dramatically, companies have yet to catch up with the new needs in digital marketing.

  • Driving engagement across multiple channels

In 2021 it will become even more relevant to connect with customers where they are. Creating engagement will become more challenging, via adopting mobile messaging channels, and leverage personalized and dynamic content to improve the customer experience and customer loyalty.

  • Mobile-first strategy

More people are browsing and shopping from their smartphones than ever. A mobile-first approach allows your customers to consume your products/services on the go, anytime and from anywhere. So, when creating your marketing strategy for 2021, think about a mobile-first approach.

  • Establishing Omnichannel Marketing

Customers are active on multiple devices and platforms. Marketers need to combine online and social media strategies. This aims to make it easier for your audience to reach you wherever they are. Omnichannel marketing allows you to focus on the platform where your audience is most active. The key is to provide your customers a smooth customer experience when they change from a channel to another.

  • Complying with Privacy and Data Sharing Regulations

Marketers will need to adapt quickly to evolving privacy and data sharing regulations. Since many of the regulations target across frontiers, marketers need to take that into account. The phasing of third-party cookies compounds the challenge for marketers to understand a customer’s purchase intent.

The future of Digital Marketing – top 3 predictions

After analyzing the major trends for 2021, we explored the top predictions for 2021:

  • From digital marketing activities to experiential events

When the pandemic hit, customers pivoted to use new technologies and performing activities online. But in 2021, many people are already exhausted from living their lives online most of the time. Keeping customers engaged will depend on how rich is the customer experience they provide. Marketers should evaluate their digital experience and refine engage customers without producing “digital fatigue”.

  • Customer experience integrates with other functions

In the report, Gartner predicts that by 2023, a quarter of organizations will see marketing integrated with sales and CX into a single function. The goal is for customer-focused functions to work together with synergy.

  • Content curation and moderation become more important

By 2024, Gartner predicts a third of organizations will consider moderating user-generated content a priority. Using software and tools that allow companies to monitor, moderate and manage user-generated content to prevent impact on their brands.

The bottom line

Hopefully, these trends we have aggregated and shared at CodeFuel will help guide your marketing strategy for 2021. Partnering with an expert in monetization can maximize your marketing efforts, and increasing the ROI of your strategy. Start monetizing today with CodeFuel.

Source: The Top 50 Digital Marketing Trends for 2021 – CodeFuel

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References

Kim, Angella J.; Johnson, Kim K.P. (2016). “Power of consumers using social media: Examining the influences of brand-related user-generated content on Facebook”. Computers in Human Behavior. 58: 98–108. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.12.047.

Why Conscious Branding Is the Secret to Your Success

Today, more consumers than ever are demanding that companies become transparent and take  hands-on approach to making the world a better place. They’re looking for what experts call “,” companies that embody a higher purpose by having an intentional purpose or embracing . Think: Tom’s Shoes or ’s Honest Company.

According to a report by MWWPR, not only do 90% of consumers say they’re more likely to patronize companies that take a stand on social and public policy matters, 80% say they’ll even pay more for products from such brands.

But you don’t have to be a big name in order to transform your into a conscious brand. Follow these three steps to make sure that your actions resonate with your ideal customers, helping you multiply your revenue and make a lasting impact.

1. Be clear about what you stand for

Ben & Jerry’s is an iconic conscious brand. Climate justice, LGBTQ quality and Black Lives Matter are only a few of the socially responsible causes the company has advocated for over the years. And it only makes people love their brand even more.

As people become savvier, trust in is growing more vital each day. It’s not enough to just offer a great product or excellent customer service. Customers want to do business with companies they like, trust and align with.  Those brands that sit on the sidelines regarding important issues are coming under greater scrutiny. Meanwhile, those with the guts to take bold but strategically sound stands are being rewarded.

Follow B&J’s lead and include your views and values in your marketing. Share your beliefs, and ask your audience to take part alongside you in supporting the causes you believe in. By intentionally integrating social responsibility as part of your daily business routine, you can ensure you are doing your part in practicing social and environmental responsibility and be seen as a thought leader in your niche.

Related: In 2021, Consumers Are Looking for Something Extra From Luxury Brands

2. Take action

It’s one thing to talk about the causes you support, but it’s another thing entirely to actually do something about them. People are jaded by outdated marketing techniques,  and businesses and influencers who don’t walk the walk. While building and running a conscious business requires more intentional and an uncompromising commitment to the mission for good, the reward is the creation of a movement that leads to unparalleled success and impact.

is a noted leader in environmental and social responsibility. Their mission statement reflects this well: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” From supporting grassroots activists working to find solutions to the environmental crisis to suing the former president of the United States, Patagonia has taken action on the most pressing environmental issues facing our world.

There are countless ways you can become part of the change for good: collect donations, offer scholarships, take part in . Use the resources you have — your voice, your business and your community — to take action. When you weave these actions into your company culture, and it’s embodied by employees and customers alike, you create a movement. By embracing ethical business practices while creating transparency and accountability, and providing immense value, your brand will rise up over the competition.

3. Cultivate partnerships based on values

Co-branding with another company is an effective way to double the awareness around an issue, increase the impact of an effort and, ultimately, expand the visibility of both organizations. Who you partner with has a direct impact on your reputation, your bran and your potential customer’s perception of your business.

As reported in a recent Hubspot post by Sophia Bernazzani, “In 2015, Target partnered with on a campaign called Kid Power, which committed Target to one of UNICEF’s sustainable development goals (SDGs). The retailer sold kid-friendly fitness trackers encouraging them to complete various fitness activities, which ultimately helped deliver food packets to underprivileged children around the world.”

To ensure that you’re making smart partnering decisions, choose partnerships that align with your values. If you have not yet determined your brand values, make it a top priority. The best way to do this is to follow my 3S Method. First: Source. Do a Google search of “brand value words.” Choose as many words as possible that you resonate with and feel are important.

I like to put them on index cards (or you could use digital Kanban boards) to make step two easier.  Second: Sort. Group the index cards with similar words. For instance, honesty, integrity and truth would go in the same pile. Finally: Select. Choose your final words from the groups by what you feel best represents your deepest values.

Related: Only Conscious Brands Will Survive The 2020s

Now, use these brand values as your North Star. Refer to them any time you are making decisions, such as who to partner with, who to hire, which clients to work with and more. Doing so is sure to help you stand out amongst the noise online and attract raving fans with similar values.

Tiffany Neuman

 

By: Tiffany Neuman / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Source: Why Conscious Branding Is the Secret to Your Success

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How Brand Management Impacts Your Negotiations

How The Pandemic Stoked a Backlash to Multilevel Marketing

For decades, multilevel-marketing companies had it easy. Cutco knives, Tupperware containers, and Pampered Chef bread mixes were inoffensive products sold at weeknight wine parties and, later, in themed Facebook groups. For the most part, they were an unremarkable part of women’s lives.

Multilevel marketing—a form of direct selling in which a major chunk of a person’s income comes not from the sales they make themselves but from the sales made by people they recruit into the company—was often regarded as exploitative by consumer advocates, but it rarely encountered a serious threat.

During the pandemic, distributors for many MLM companies have used this lack of pushback to their advantage: On Instagram and Facebook, women have tried to persuade their followers to use their stimulus checks to join a company that sells shampoo or weight-loss products. They have used economic collapse as a recruitment tool, offering MLMs as the solution to lost income and increased precarity.

The same social networks that multilevel-marketing distributors are called upon to exploit—their friends, their family, their followers, their “mutuals”—are now the social networks through which women are pushing out a completely different message.

(Though men participate in multilevel marketing as well, they do so in much smaller numbers.) On Reddit, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, a huge community has coalesced around the anti-MLM sentiment, bringing together disenchanted former salespeople, curious independent researchers, and thousands of women who are just tired of getting Facebook messages about selling essential oils.

#AntiMLM is still diffuse and disorganized, but its rise poses an existential threat to multilevel-marketing companies that rely on the constant recruitment of new participants. And its newfound popularity is already presenting challenges for the community, which critiques capitalism on commercial platforms: If criticizing multilevel marketing is a good way to get views and followers and personal attention, how long will it be before that becomes the reason to criticize multilevel marketing?

On the Reddit forum r/antiMLM, members mock the industry all day long, referring to distributors as “hunbots” who lead off every conversation with a faux-warm “Hey, hun.” There is plenty of anger and caustic humor, but the community is tightly checked by moderators who insist that all screenshots have names and identifying information obscured.

Self-promotion of any kind is entirely forbidden, as is commentary on the quality of MLM products, good or bad. Shaming victims is out of bounds, and nobody is painted as a dupe: “If the post does not highlight a core problem with the MLM business model, it does not belong here,” the rules warn.

The moderators restrict discussions that take away from the mission of the subreddit—to map out and dissect MLMs—and encourage conversation about the system over anecdotes about low-level bad actors. The first major gathering place for people who shared the anti-MLM sentiment, the forum was started in 2011, but had only 2,000 members before suddenly taking off in August 2017.

Now it has more than 680,000 members and serves as the hub for a growing, informed discontent. Rainbow, the TikTok creator, refers to the Reddit community as the “OG anti-MLMers,” and calls it “the heart of the movement,” responsible for most of the significant work.

On Reddit, users hit the same points over and over, often explaining them from the top for newcomers who want a second opinion on what looks like a great opportunity: As a multilevel-marketing company gets bigger, the opportunities for the people who came in most recently get smaller and smaller, and many end up going into debt by buying their own products to keep their sales ranking. Others will recruit and recruit on social media, desperate to fill in their “downline” with new sellers. The industry is known for releasing very little information about the money its independent distributors make or lose, but the information that does come out is incredibly bleak.

From Reddit, the anti-MLM internet took off. At first, a handful of YouTubers in the beauty-vlogging space pivoted to testimonials about their experiences with multilevel-marketing companies. After the collapse of the leggings MLM LulaRoe in 2017, which came as thousands of sellers gave up on the business model, “Why I Left LulaRoe” became a standard video format on YouTube in the months that followed. Soon, creators who had never been part of an MLM felt compelled to research them anyway, with many diving into r/antiMLM for insight. By 2020, YouTube had a whole anti-MLM creator community, led by massively popular personalities who received tens or hundreds of thousands of views on videos pulling apart the mythology of beauty-product companies such as Arbonne and Monat, or listening in on team calls for weight-loss giants such as Beachbody.

Josie Naikoi, a 34-year-old anti-MLM YouTuber from Missouri, told me that when she left the MLM world, she was diagnosed with depression, and spent a year saying nothing publicly about her experience. “I was really struggling mentally and emotionally with what I witnessed in the industry,” she said. “Who was I to complain? I made money when so many people didn’t.” But the pandemic contributed to her visceral feeling that people were being scammed. Then, in April, the Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to 10 multilevel-marketing companies that were openly exploiting the pandemic to make sales and recruit new distributors, and Naikoi made her first video about her experience a few weeks later. The 35-minute video, “WHY I QUIT THE MLM INDUSTRY AT THE TOP,” is now the third-most-popular anti-MLM video on YouTube, with more than 640,000 views.

Naikoi feels confident that the anti-MLM community has these companies scared—back when she was a seller, she remembers, administrators in private MLM Facebook groups deleted links to anti-MLM YouTube videos as soon as they were shared and chided whoever posted them for “negativity.” In newer anti-MLM spaces on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, people discuss pushing for regulation, legislation, or class-action lawsuits. Since TikTok banned MLM recruiting on its platform in December, creators have mentioned that other social-media companies might take similar action.

There is little information about the size of the multilevel-marketing industry, which is just one form of direct selling—but it is undeniably a large presence in Americans’ lives. Direct selling more broadly is—according to its trade association—a $35 billion industry in the United States, involving more than 6.8 million active sellers. But there is some evidence that the industry is struggling to recruit new participants, which Naikoi noted as tentative proof that viral videos and massive comment threads may be working. The industry needed charming influencers and exciting social-media messaging to keep it growing, and now those things are being weaponized against it.

While the Reddit anti-MLM community is rigidly anti-commercial, the other platforms where #AntiMLM is spreading were built to inspire self-promotion and sales.

In “Sounds like mlm but okay,” the most popular anti-MLM Facebook group, with 67,000 members, enthusiasts can buy anti-MLM merchandise, including a coffee mug with pink flowers and the message Your MLM sucks and so do you in curly script. YouTubers, many of whom have pivoted from other types of content and see greater success with anti-MLM content, also tend to offer lines of hoodies and T-shirts with anti-MLM slogans in bright bubble letters, or stickers declaring the buyer a member of the “Anti-MLM Club.”

Setting aside the silliness of mugs with rude slogans, the incentive structures of YouTube, which at the moment seem to be rewarding anti-MLM content, have complicated the community’s self-perception. Videos that go viral often have dramatic, clickbait titles about “SHOCKING HORROR STORIES” and “CULTY” overheard phone calls. These clips make money from ads, and extremely popular creators can even ask for membership fees from subscribers. There is regular talk of “drama” and in-fighting among these YouTubers, and reaction video after reaction video whenever spats play out in public.

That’s led to broader conflict and meta-arguments about whether profit is appropriate: Naikoi said that it’s not usually a problem for YouTubers to offer merch or monetize their followings with ads—making high-quality videos takes money. She feels that most creators are doing this for the right reasons and putting in a ton of work. But in the Reddit forum, the relatively small circle of popular anti-MLM YouTubers is discussed as a distraction from the anti-MLM mission; they are the flashy faces of a movement that is really made up of “hundreds of thousands of people who share their stories,” in the words of one r/antiMLM commenter.

And the YouTube community does appear to get easily derailed by arguments over who is getting paid for what, and what their motivations are for participating. Earlier this month, for instance, the anti-MLM YouTuber Kimbyrleigha denounced the community and joined Monat, one of the companies that the anti-MLM community hates most. On Instagram, she apologized for “showcasing [Monat] in a negative way” and vowed to work as a distributor at least until she could pay the company back the $6,541.86 she made off her YouTube videos. “I felt like I was in a cult when I was in [the anti-MLM] community,” she told me. “They are full of hatred.”

That move inspired plenty of reaction videos, and it briefly shook anti-MLM YouTube into chaos. (Kimbyrleigha sent me screenshots of YouTube comments calling her a “snake” and a “charlatan.”) Kimbyrleigha “is confused and she misled her audience and left a stain on the anti-MLM community and it’s sad,” Naikoi told me. “One day she’ll recognize that she too became a victim.” Kimbyrleigha refuted this, and said she doesn’t see anything wrong with trying out a YouTube trend and then moving on.

Opportunism is a common pitfall for social movements large and small, but particularly for those that happen online and rely on platforms that reward individuals for bogarting attention. This doesn’t necessarily mean that #AntiMLM is doomed. Rather, it could be a sign that the community is on the way to figuring out a more coherent self-image. Megan Sawey, a graduate student at Cornell who is writing her dissertation on the anti-MLM boom, told me that the community is “a huge phenomenon,” but one that’s still far too young to define.

A large group of mostly women is pushing back against an industry that has targeted them for years. Is it a movement? Or is it a collection of individuals expressing dissent, and sometimes leveraging that frustration into a personal brand? It seems to want to be the former, even though platforms encourage a slide into the latter.

Kaitlyn Tiffany is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers technology.

Source: Multilevel Marketing and the Rise of ‘Anti-MLM’ YouTube – The Atlantic

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