Ad Technology

An Interview With A Microinfluencer: Vito DeMola

As brands have launched social influencer programs, some have experimented with working at the grassroots level. That is, rather than pay expensive A-list celebrities six or seven figures for a handful of paid tweets or product shots on Instagram, they work with a larger group of influencers who have greater influence over a smaller group of people. These “microinfluencers,” allow brands to start small, gauge the effect of a program on their brand and its sales, and scale up as programs prove successful.

This week, The Makegood talked with Vito DeMola, a professional lacrosse player and Jeep enthusiast with a loyal cross-channel following, to discuss paid influencer programs and give the insider perspective on how such programs work. Vito has worked with a number of sports brands and companies that manufacture aftermarket Jeep accessories, and promotes them to his loyal fans across Facebook and Instagram. We hope you enjoy his perspective.

What is it that you typically promote on social media?

I post a pretty good variety of things based on the hobbies that I have. I post a lot of Jeep related products, lacrosse products, and food. Food is definitely my favorite area, and I love trying out new things.

Can you tell the story of how you got into promoting?  Did someone approach you due to your follower profile in social media?  Or did you initiate a relationship with companies you promote for?

It started on Twitter when I posted a picture of me working out, this company Gem Nation reached out to me and offered to send me a bunch of shirts if I agreed to post pictures of me and my friends wearing them in the gym.  I thought it was a really cool opportunity so I started looking for other companies that would possibly be interested in a similar type of trade off. As my lacrosse career developed and I was becoming more well known, it got a lot easier getting companies to agree. Once I got drafted into pro lacrosse in 2013 I was getting shipments of products weekly, from clothing, equipment, sunglasses, and everything else. At the time I was building a pretty cool Jeep, and the fans would post pictures of it in the parking lot of our stadium, so that helped me leverage for parts and discounts for my Jeep products.

Do you work at this with the hopes of doing it full-time? Or is it a side interest?

It’s definitely a cool field of work, but I do not do it professionally or full time. If there is ever an opportunity for me to work in social media, I would definitely look into it seriously.

What social networks lend themselves well to paid promotion? Is Instagram any better than Facebook, for instance? What social networks do you think will be important in the next few years?

Personally, Facebook works better for me as a platform; I can adjust my audience by who I do and don’t become “friends” with on there. Instagram and Twitter allow people to follow you, you aren’t selecting those people. My Facebook friends are really good at sharing and interacting with my posts. I have a lot of big name people on my friends list from chefs, restaurant owners, Jeep company owners, and professional athletes.

Do you work or coordinate with other influencers?

I have a few friends that do similar type of social media influencing so we do sometimes reach out in a group and it often is more attractive to the product owner.

What do you do to show your clients that their money and/or effort is well-invested?

Staying relevant helps companies feel that they are making a smart investment when they send something out. Whenever I am at an event, no matter the field, I try to introduce myself to everyone, networking in person is just as important, make sure you can put a face to the person they are dealing with. Also, I never cheap out. Everything I do is top of the line, the companies, products, and restaurants I try to promote are always high end, those top-notch companies appreciate that you are a supporter. It also helps attract other high-end companies to work with.

Which do you think is the better tactic for marketers – investing in social media celebrities with many followers, or investing in a larger number of influencers with comparatively smaller numbers of followers?  Why?

I think you need to invest in whoever is more appealing to your demographic. I feel that older people use Facebook over Instagram, so investing in someone with a lot of Instagram followers but you are trying to sell to an older crowd doesn’t work. You also have to look for accounts that pay for followers; they are just there to inflate a number, post interactions are key. When you post something, you want to make sure it is reaching beyond just your fan base.

Some followers can look at compensated promotion – whether it’s for cash or free/discounted product – as something that can erode trust.  What do you do for your followers to ensure they continue to trust you?

My followers probably trust me because of my interaction with them. I make myself very accessible. When I am at an event I talk to and introduce myself to everyone, I think that goes far with people.

What advice would you give to someone looking to break into becoming a compensated influencer?

Getting started begins with picking a field you want to promote. You need some sort of credibility. Mine was validated with my lacrosse career and I just built onto that.

How do you keep your followers up and continue to develop an audience?

I gain followers when other people and companies repost my stuff. If someone sends me a product and I post it, then the company posts “Look, Vito got this today, cant wait to see it on his jeep,” or a restaurant posts, “Thank you to Vito for stopping in today.”