If you’re unfamiliar with social media influencing, all you have to do is read last week’s post and scroll through any social media feed to notice brand ambassadors representing the image, authority, and reputation of a multitude of companies. From athletic wear, to fitness foods, to cosmetics, to outdoor equipment… a social media influencer can promote it all. Though on the surface, it may appear as easy as snapping a photo and writing a clever caption, there is so much more to success as a brand ambassador.
This week I had a chance to sit down for a Zoom interview with Jessie Simonson, ClickBank’s very own social media specialist and developer of the ClickBank Influencer Program (and a social media influencer herself!). As a social media influencer herself, she has a knack for curating content, understanding what builds trust and reputation for a brand, and what companies can do to get their own influencer program started.
An Eye for Influencing
Sarah: How did you get started as an influencer?
Jessie: That’s a good question. I would say, I kind of just got started because I like photography and I like certain niches. I like fashion, and lifestyle, and travel and the more that I would post about my adventures and experiences, companies would start reaching out to me and ask me to start being an affiliate for them or just promote some offers that they had. They would send me a couple of free outfits in exchange for a post and then it was just like from there, several different companies would start reaching out. I mean, it was pretty easy for me–like, just using hashtags to draw more attention to the brand. That was it. I didn’t really reach out to do it, it just kind of fell on me.
Sarah: What have you learned about social media and influencing in general from your experience as an influencer?
Jessie: I’ve learned so much. You can really persuade your audience’s buying patterns. If they trust you and they know that you are a good person and they know that they like similar things as you, you can pretty much persuade people to do anything if they like you and they’re following you. There’s just a way of being authentic and transparent and vulnerable about your life. People trust you more and then it’s honestly, like, you can grow your sales so much more by being open and having other people promote your product. Influencer marketing is huge right now.
I’ve learned too, by watching bloggers and people that I follow, that I personally do tend to like what they buy or like what they wear or have similar interests in what they’re doing just because it’s 2020, it’s the way of the world now.
Sarah: How did you develop an eye for this? Everybody and their brother is on Instagram and some of it, you know, it just doesn’t resonate. How did you get good at social media? Because, you know, you see a lot of people who are bad at social media out there.
Jessie: That’s a good question. I don’t know–I think it’s just something that I really enjoy. I think you have to like something to enjoy it and want to get better at it and learn more about it. I’ve taken courses in college and on my own for social media and influencer programs. It helps a ton.
Another thing that helped me was just playing around things, testing things out and seeing what works for you. And when something does work, stick with it, and be consistent. That’s the biggest thing. If you’re not consistent you won’t make it as an influencer. If you’re not on-brand and authentic and real, people don’t want to be influenced by you.
Social Media Influencing in a Marketing Plan
Sarah: What do you believe the role of an influencer is in an overall marketing plan? Is it supplemental? Do you think companies can rely just on influencers?
Jessie: No, but I do believe that it helps grow your business way more than marketing without it. Also, it helps build more trust, awareness, and reputation. That’s what influencers do. They’re building awareness. They’re talking about ClickBank, or they’re talking about a product and the more people who are talking about it and the more people who are seeing influence social media users to learn more and eventually be on ClickBank or buy from ClickBank.
Sarah: As social media influencing has grown as a marketing medium, I think people have become more weary to stuff that feels gimmicky. How do you “keep it real?” How do you build that trust between “Yeah, we’re definitely selling something” and “We’re transparent and trustworthy?” Has that been a challenge for you?
Jessie: Yah, I think it’s challenging if you aren’t already a transparent person. Say, if you’re already showing what you do day-to-day or what you’re using or what products you have. If you’re not already very open with people on social media or if you’re not vulnerable and sharing your story about how you got started, I do think it’s challenging. But I also think that it’s easy to overcome that by being vulnerable, by being open and transparent, and super honest about everything.
Also, I think this is easy to overcome by just being creative… showing creative ways about how you can get your story out there and then also throwing in those ClickBank pieces, by being consistent, authentic and real, and just knowing that you’re the subject matter expert and people do look up to you.
That’s the whole part of being an influencer, right? You want to influence people to do whatever you’re doing or use whatever product you’re using.
The ClickBank Way
Sarah: Since you’ve started the ClickBank Influencer Program, what do you look for in a ClickBank influencer?
Jessie: I look for someone who is pro-ClickBank, who is really all about it. They’re not shy about ClickBank, they’re excited to have their product on ClickBank or be an affiliate of ClickBank. They trust us.
For those who aren’t pro ClickBank, I like to see that you are trusted by your followers, whether that’s big or small, but engagement is one of the most important aspects.
Also, I look for creativity. I look for people who are creating good content that’s consistent with their brand but also with ClickBank’s brand.
I also search for people who are subject matter experts about their product and how or why it works so well on ClickBank.
Sarah: What are you excited for with this new program?
Jessie: I’m really excited to get more client influencers in the door and give them more opportunities–like to be on a guest blog or to be featured on our ClickBank website.
I also just want to show people on social media that these are our top clients. I’m super excited to get the word out that we are doing influencer marketing because I know a lot of people make a living off of being a social media influencer and it would be amazing to give someone the opportunities to do that.
Sarah: What is your ultimate vision?
Jessie: To build out the program, to give our clients and external people who might not know what ClickBank is an opportunity.
Also I want to help build ClickBank’s reputation and expose our brand to more people in order to increase awareness, trust, and reputation.
How to Get an Influencer Program Started
Sarah: What advice would you give to a company that wanted to start an influencer program?
Jessie: Have some sort of a plan. Have some guide that your influencers can follow. And then you have to go out and do the research yourself. When I said other companies were reaching out to me when I was an influencer, they found me on Instagram or Pinterest and then they reached out. For us at ClickBank, it’s a lot easier because we have clients who are already using us and they are pro-ClickBank and we want to connect with them and offer opportunities.
Another thing: don’t give up. Have the plan laid out, what your goals are, what tips you have for them, a campaign cycle, how you want them to start, and then some sort of compensation you can provide to them.
Sarah: How do you keep the influencers on brand? Have you experienced that where you’re like, “Woah woah woah you can’t do that or post that.” Is having a guide the best way to avoid that?
Jessie: We have a ClickBank Brand Ambassador plan and guide and we have some guidelines we want them to follow. Obviously, be mindful of language. Another one is to steer away from “get rich quick” messaging that seems scammy because, all in all, we’re trying to build our reputation and we don’t want somebody to see that and think, “What the heck?”
I would really emphasize having some kind of guide. Also, you can request to review their sponsored content before they post it. We haven’t really run into this at ClickBank though. Most people are pretty on-brand. If they aren’t, I’ve definitely told them. They’re real quick to fix it and they want it to be the best it can be.
With having an influencer program, we do really want to provide influencers opportunities. Like I mentioned before–it means a lot to us to have influencers and starting this program has been incredible. I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve seen so many creative ideas come out from it.
I want to do the best we can to feature our influencers on our social media platforms, on our website, and give them opportunities for a podcast or webinar or public speaking opportunities–just different things like that. We want to help you, and you help us, and in turn, it’s going to be awesome.
If you’re interested in getting started with ClickBank as an affiliate or a seller, sign up here.