Elizabeth Scherle and Aydin Acar are the co-founders of Influenster, a free-to-join community of invited trendsetters who give opinions of products and experiences. The Makegood recently spoke with them about scoring online influence and connecting brands with influential online communities.
The Makegood: Aydin and Elizabeth, what inspired you to found Influenster?
The concept came to us while Elizabeth was working with several brands in their product sampling initiatives and Aydin was working at a market research firm. On the sampling side we saw that product was landing in consumers’ hands without much feedback. On the market research side, results were coming from small respondent pools and taking a long time to gather to be stable. We felt there was a way to arm marketers with real-time, authentic data and research if we activated consumers in this age of social media to provide real feedback. Because of the rate at which information now travels, consumers have a massive amount of say in the success of a product. We wanted to find a way to harness this power on social media — not only to help brands pinpoint and engage targeted consumer demographics, but also to create a community where consumers have the final say.
The Makegood: How does Influenster’ help companies to be more successful in the digital space?
We’re an exclusive community of invited trendsetters, social media mavens, and educated consumers with a lot to say. In reaching out to our community, brands can quickly populate the digital sphere because our members love to share their thoughts and opinions on new and existing products. For example, by participating in an Influenster campaign with 10,000 members, a brand will see thousands of consumer-generated social posts, photos, blogs and videos about their product, with a reach of over 14MM people. We help brands enter the conversation and become a household name.
The Makegood: How do you find influencers and what are the criteria?
We use a scoring system determined by various metrics to evaluate the social media influence each of our members offer. Most Influensters discover us because they are consistently active and engaged in the social media world and interested in learning about new products and trends. Our best members are active on many social media channels, love to review products and share their knowledge. Once they’ve signed up, they connect their social media accounts to our site and the fun begins!
The Makegood: At Influenster, trendsetters use their influential power to qualify for complimentary product shipments, rewards and deals fit for their lifestyles. What does it cost companies to engage influencers and what is the outcome?
Client retention is core to our business – over 85% of participating brands utilize Influenster for additional programs. Why do they keep coming back? Not only do products and brands gain a ton of social media traction, but our members are also thoughtful, creative, and thorough in their responses. Companies love seeing some of the great user-generated content our members come up with. Marketers know that while reach and frequency in media can be purchased, authenticity and advocacy cannot and this is the basis of what Influenster delivers. Additionally, companies get a lot of great feedback on their product – for better or worse. They learn first-hand how they stack up next to their competition, what short-comings their products might have, and ideas and solutions for future products. Finally, we also attribute our high retention rate to the actual sales lifts brands see through our programs, with many of these future purchases shared directly on social media. In terms of fee structure, brands pay a flat fee to be a part of various campaigns that are inclusive of social and digital promotion, as well as research and reporting.
The Makegood: What can we expect to see coming from Influenster in 2013?
In 2013, Influenster will launch its first mobile app. We’re excited to be able to give our members the opportunity to have Influenster right at their fingertips and the content surrounding reviews is a natural fit for the mobile environment. Additionally, we will be revamping our review section to create a highly curated and user-friendly site that even non-members will come to trust as the final word on their favorite products. Finally, we hope to create more turnkey digital and promotional campaigns for brands seeking a stronger, more vibrant, social media presence.
The Makegood: Thanks, Elizabeth and Aydin.