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Should You Hire Social Media Influencers to Promote Your Work?

https://lifehacker.com/should-you-hire-social-media-influencers-to-promote-you-1845571903

Should You Hire Social Media Influencers to Promote Your Work?

Illustration for article titled Should You Hire Social Media Influencers to Promote Your Work?

Photo: Monster Ztudio (Shutterstock)

As appealing as “being your own boss” may sound, in reality, working for yourself means you’re the only one responsible for facing one challenge after another—especially when you’re first starting out. Whether you own your own business or are a freelancer or independent contractor/gig worker, part of your workload will involve promoting yourself and your work. And given that most people don’t have a background or experience in marketing, advertising, or public relations, this is something you’ll have to put significant work into.

But advertising and marketing don’t look like they used to—and we’re not just talking about the Mad Men era of the 1960s. While print, TV, radio, and ads on websites are still very much in use today, consider the rise of a new type of marketing that uses “regular” people with large social media followings to make consumers aware of (and ideally interested in) a variety of products and services. But is social media influencer marketing actually worth it? And if so, how do you go about finding and vetting one? Here’s what you need to know.

What does social media influencer marketing involve?

In 2020, social influencer marketing certainly isn’t new, and it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. In fact, a report by Business Insider indicated that it’s likely to become $15 billion industry by 2022. And while celebrities frequently double as social media influencers and get paid to promote their “favorite” products, most people starting out working for themselves won’t have the capital to have someone famous serve as a social spokesperson.

Instead, these business owners target people who are not otherwise famous beyond social media (except maybe in their specific area of expertise), but have substantial influence over their followers. In exchange for some type of fee—in the form of actual payment, discounts, donations made to charities, or other perks—these influencers will post about and talk up your work. But is it worth the investment? Let’s take a look.

How much does social media influencer marketing cost?

Unsurprisingly, it depends on a variety of factors, including the number of followers a person has, as well as the fee structure (more on that in a minute) and the frequency of their posts. According to Geoff Crain, the digital director of Kingstar Media, a standard rate is $100 for every 10,000 followers. So, an influencer with 50,000 followers would be paid $500 for creating text, images, and videos and posting that content on their social media channels.

The rate can also depend on the social media platform in question, Oleg Donets, founder and chief marketing officer of RealEstateBees.com, explains. Noting that different influencers come at different costs, he says that the standard pricing per post in the industry is $20-$30 per 1,000 followers on Facebook platform, $10-$15 per 1,000 followers on Instagram platform and $20-$30 per 1,000 subscribers on YouTube platform.

And, as Joshua Carter, director of digital and social marketing at Tunheim, points out, social media influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily need to cost a lot. “In my experience, influencer marketing can be done efficiently and effectively with smaller budgets, or can be done in bigger ways if there is more budget,” says Carter, who has more than 15 years of experience in influencer and celebrity partnerships, including launching Chrissy Teigen’s “Cravings” kitchen collection at Target.

Plus, according to Carter, the beauty of today’s influencers is that they’re also “content engines and creators,” meaning that in some cases you’ll be able to get your product shot and featured in a more cost effective way than a full-blown ad campaign.

What does the fee structure look like?

Like traditional celebrity brand partnerships, most social media influencers are paid a flat fee and operate via contract work, Carter explains. These contracts typically involve a one-year licensing agreement, according to Crain, during which the influencer produces images and video content to be used across brands.

Other fee structures used in the influencer marketing space include ppp (pay-per-post), ppc (pay-per-click), ppv (pay-per-view), ppe (pay-per-engagement), and cpa (cost-per-acquisition), Donets says. Payment for these models is calculated per a single post based on hard numbers like amount of followers/subscribers, clicks, views, etc.

What about return on investment?

Even if the costs of hiring a social media influencer can be kept relatively low, Carter says that it’s important to do your homework and look at data to formulate the potential return on investment (ROI) and other key performance indicators (KPIs) to make sure you’re not overpaying. Part of that includes taking the type of payment into consideration (monetary fees, donations, other products/perks, etc.).

Like the payments themselves, ROI can take multiple forms. As an example, according to Crain it’s “very rare” that a post by a social media influencer that includes a “swipe up to purchase” component will lead to a profitable return for the advertiser. Instead, he says that influencer content is best to use across paid social initiatives in the form of user-generated content—for instance, as an affordable alternative to a full video shoot. “For only a few hundred dollars, small businesses can use influencers to generate content that they can leverage across their website, social media, and paid digital initiatives,” Crain explains.

Given that no two programs or campaigns are the same—and there are so many factors that go into influencer engagement performance and traffic metrics—Carter says that ROI ultimately comes down to how a brand partners with an influencer. This means more homework ahead of a partnership; taking the time to understand a social media influencer’s engagement in terms of the average number of likes, comments and/or shares on their posts; whether their audience cares about their content; and whether they have the ability to drive traffic to a specific destination for the campaign.

If you’re looking for a way to test or prove ROI, Carter suggests providing influencers with customized links or special promo codes to help determine whether their content is making impact.

How do you find and vet social media influencers?

Generally, there are three main ways to find social media influencers in a particular niche, Donets explains. One involves hiring an agency that specializes in influencer marketing. Another is using platforms like upfluence.com or influence.com that connect influencers with businesses.

But assuming that you’re starting small and may not have the budget for the first two options, you can take a more traditional (and cost-effective) route and do your own searches on Google and/or the social media platform of your choice (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), Donet says. Here are some specific strategies for finding and vetting potential social medial influencers:

Narrow your search

Before you dive in, it’s helpful to know what—or in this case, who—exactly you’re looking for. Andy Vale, head of content at Infinity, a call intelligence platform, suggests starting by asking yourself what you’re selling and who you’re trying to sell it to before starting your search.

Look at their engagement rate

Even without fancy software, Crain says it’s entirely possible to look at an influencer’s engagement rate. To do this, look at the number of comments an influencer has on their posts, relative to their following. “Those with 2.5% -5% engagement rates indicate that their followers are engaged with their posts,” he explains. “Anything less than this will indicate otherwise.”

Analyze an influencer’s audience

Once you have a certain influencer in mind, it’s time to take a closer look at their audience. According to Vale, the easiest way to do this (which also happens to be free) is by manually scrolling though their followers and attempting to determine which accounts appear to be genuine and which are potential bots. One way to do this is to look at their engagements. Are their responses specific? To use Vale’s example: “that’s an incredible jumper, I love the blue bits!” is a lot more telling than something vague like “WOW! great product!” The latter could be an indication the response has been automated and the follower isn’t a real person.

Reach out

If you’re considering particular influencers for your marketing campaign, Crain recommends getting in touch with them via a direct message to their social media profile. Or, if they’ve included their email address in their bio, you can send requests that way, too (that’s probably why the email address is there in the first place).

Make sure it’s a match

In today’s space, Carter says that it’s not enough to work with just any influencer—it’s important that a brand partners with individuals with a similar audience and whom believe in the same things. “If the casting and partnership is too much of a stretch, audiences will see right through it and lose trust in the brand,” he explains.

To help determine whether an influencer is a good match for you and your brand, Vale recommends considering the following:

  • Is this someone you’d want to be selling your product in your store or at an event?
  • Are they already working with other brands, and if so, how are those posts performing?
  • Based on their other posts, would you be happy if your product was featured in those photos?
  • Does this person’s values seem to match your brand’s?

Sure, you can give an influencer some guidelines, but you don’t want to alter their style or tone too much—otherwise the partnership won’t work for either of you, Vale says. “Doing this research now will save hassle later,” he adds.

So, are social media influencers worth it?

Carter, Crain, and Vale each see value in social media influencer marketing. “Influencers know their audiences, can bring products to life in new and creative ways,” Carter says. “And they do it quickly—especially given the changes brands have had to make because of Covid restrictions.” Another benefit, he notes, is that paying influencers to promote you or your brand ensures that you get exactly what you want out of the partnership, including that “your product or story is told correctly, and there are no surprises.”

Meanwhile, Crain points to the fact that working with social media influencers can be a great way to generate content for a brand at an affordable price, and in a way that comes across as authentic and organic, showing consumers real-life examples of people who use their products.

Finally, Vale says that the longer-term brand building that comes with a smart influencer strategy is where their real value can lie. “Get this right and you’ll gradually be organically embedded within the culture and can start to lead within it,” he explains. “This is what major brands such as Red Bull have spent years doing, but there’s no reason you can’t become central to a local artistic community, carve out a space in a specific online fanbase, or [find] any other niche by working with (and then becoming) trusted voices in those spaces.”

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Business

Celebrate Small Business Saturday by Shopping at Independent Retailers

https://lifehacker.com/celebrate-small-business-saturday-by-shopping-at-indepe-1845766882

Celebrate Small Business Saturday by Shopping at Independent Retailers

Illustration for article titled Celebrate Small Business Saturday by Shopping at Independent Retailers

Photo: ESB Professional (Shutterstock)

The holiday shopping season, like everything else, is looking a little different this year. Sure, there were still people at malls at 6 a.m. yesterday for Black Friday sales, but nothing compared to years past. Today, it’s Small Business Saturday, and the perfect opportunity to support independent retailers. Small businesses have been hit especially hard during the pandemic and could use our patronage more than ever.

A lot of the time, when people think of small businesses, their mind immediately goes to those in their local area. That’s great—and also really important if you want to make sure they stay open. But thanks to the magic of the internet, we now have access to small businesses across the country, too, where we can shop for items unavailable in our neighborhood without having to rely on major corporate retailers. Not sure where to start? Here are a few of the many small businesses to support today (and the rest of the year as well):

SHIMA’ of Navajoland

Owned and operated by members of the Navajo Nation, SHIMA’ of Navajoland makes premium handmade soap, body and wellness products using traditional methods.

Tenement Museum

Not only does the Tenement Museum, located in New York City’s Lower East Side, provide visitors with a glimpse into the past, they also have one of the best gift shops around. They are currently offering 30% off site-wide through November 30th with code GIVETHANKS. Plus, all orders with subtotal of $200+ will receive a free 2021 TM Wall Calendar; offer valid December 31st with code 2021.

Uncle Nearest

Named after Nathan “Nearest” Green, the first known African-American master distiller, Uncle Nearest was co-founded Fawn Weaver, the first woman and the first African-American to lead a major spirit brand, in 2017. But it’s more than an incredible history: Uncle Nearest makes award-winning whiskey.

The Arcade

This isn’t one small business as much as it is several under the same ornate roof. The Arcade Cleveland opened in May of 1890 as the first indoor shopping center in America, and today is home to a variety of locally owned shops (many of which ship their products).

The Alabama Booksmith

Even though the showroom is currently closed, The Alabama Booksmith offers worldwide shipping on their books—all of which are signed by the author.

Clearly, there are far, far more small businesses out there that could use our support. Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments!

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Business

Use 2FA to Stop This New WhatsApp Account Attack

https://lifehacker.com/use-2fa-to-stop-this-new-whatsapp-account-attack-1845765591

Use 2FA to Stop This New WhatsApp Account Attack

A simple but noteworthy attack is making the rounds on popular chat service WhatsApp. It’s incredibly easy for someone to pull off—all they need is access to a single account that has you listed as a contact. And if you’re susceptible to a bit of social networking, said attacker can take over your WhatsApp account pretty easily.

Here’s how it works, courtesy of F-Secure chief risk officer Mikko Hypponen. An attacker starts by gaining access to a WhatsApp account that has you listed as a contact. Said person then attempts to convert every single contact in that account to a WhatsApp business account. Before this happens, WhatsApp sends you a message asking you to confirm your new business account with a six-digit code.

The attacker, still in control of the account that’s listed you as a contact, then messages you pretending to be that person. They’ll send you something along the lines of, “Oops, didn’t mean to send that to you, can you tell me what the six-digit code is?” And if you reply with the number, then you can kiss your WhatsApp account goodbye. The attacker has now taken it over, and they’ll use your contacts to continue the scheme.

Obviously, the best thing you can do to prevent yourself from being suckered in by this attack is to never, ever give anyone else any authentication codes you ever receive. There will never be a time when an authentication code is accidentally sent to you. Even if that was the case, said person trying to request a code for themselves should be able to just re-request it; they don’t need your help.

So, a little common sense prevents a lot of pain on this one. However, this attack is also a great reminder that you can and should be using WhatsApp’s two-step verification. You set it up via Settings > Account > Two-Step Verification.

Illustration for article titled Use 2FA to Stop This New WhatsApp Account Attack

Screenshot: David Murphy

When you set this up, you’ll have to input a PIN that only you know whenever you’re re-registering your phone number with WhatsApp. In other words, if you (or someone else) is trying to associate a new device with your phone number, they’ll need your PIN to finish the setup process. And that’s different than the registration code that gets texted to a phone number; you’ll need both to set up WhatsApp using your number on a new device.

It’s a great, sure-fire way to ensure that nobody else is ever going to be able to take over your WhatsApp account. And, yes, if you forget the PIN, WhatsApp can email it to you. (Please don’t share that email with anyone else ever.)

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Business

How Much Money Can You Make on YouTube?

https://twocents.lifehacker.com/how-much-money-can-you-make-on-youtube-1845756449

How Much Money Can You Make on YouTube?

Illustration for article titled How Much Money Can You Make on YouTube?

Photo: 10’000 Hours (Getty Images)

You might have heard about the eight-year old boy that makes $26 million annually from what started off as a toy unboxing channel on YouTube, and thought, “I can do that.” And sure, there’s sky-high potential to make money on the world’s second most-visited site, although most creators make more meager, earthbound annual incomes. Here’s a look at how much you can earn as a YouTuber.

Subscribers are important, but they’re not everything 

Only a small percentage of YouTubers have a large number of subscribers: Out of 37 million accounts, just 22,000 have more than one million subscribers, according to Tubics, a marketing software company. The vast majority of successful creators belong to a “middle class” of accounts with 50k–500K subscribers, many of whom can’t live off of their YouTube earnings alone.

Subscribers are valuable because they’re more likely to consistently engage with your content and share it with others, but they aren’t the best metric for determining how much money they’re making. To get a more accurate sense of what creators are paid, you have to look at their “cost per mille,” otherwise known as cost per 1,000 ad impressions, or CPM.

Your CPM determines your pay rate 

When you monetize your videos through Google’s Partner Program, you enable ad revenue sharing which is based on your CPM. Cost per 1,000 impressions is a metric that represents how much money advertisers are willing to spend for ads on your YouTube videos. But as Business Insider points out, no YouTube creator consistently has the same CPM, as advertisers pay different rates based on a variety of factors like geography, seasonality, and topic (typically, your CPM rate is higher for informative, business-focused content over personal vlogs, as an example).

CPM rates are a bit mysterious to YouTubers, and they can range wildly, but usually fall somewhere between $2 – $5 per thousand views. That means a CPM of $5 will earn you $5,000 from a video with a million views. Considering that the average YouTube video received only a few thousand views, and you’ll understand why it can be a challenge to make a steady income off of the site, even if you’re popular.

To really make money, you have to go beyond views 

If you want to make millions of dollars on YouTube, the reality is that you need more than a lot of subscribers. The top YouTube accounts use their content as a springboard for other ways of generating revenue, which include:

Merchandise sales

YouTubers can make more money off of merch than they do from ads. If a creator has an engaged, loyal audience, their profits from selling mugs, T-shirts, coffee beans, totes, stationary, or online education videos will can be significant. According to Tubefilter:

An average month for [Jake] Paul is 200 million views, which puts his estimated monthly AdSense earnings between $50,000 and $800,000. His estimated [annual] merch income, on the other hand, is between $820,810 and $4,292,940

Sponsored content

Content creators can get paid directly by sponsors for mentioning a specific company or product in their videos, typically a flat fee of a few hundred up to thousands of dollars. It’s not easy to get hard numbers on this, but the more popular you are, the more leverage you have. Influencers with at least 100,000 followers on YouTube can typically earn $12,500 for a sponsored video, according to Forbes.

Free merchandise

Many YouTubers are sent a lot of free swag in the hopes they’ll review the products on their channels. It’s not easy to put a hard number on this as it’s not strictly income, but you can imagine how much a creator can save on expenses if they’re, say, running a makeup product review channel and all the products being reviewed are paid for by someone else.

Patreon

Patreon allows creators to make money from their most loyal subscribers in exchange for exclusive content and perks. You can easily make as much from Patreon as you do from ad revenue, but you’ll need to build up a large following before you see much upside. This blog post has a good breakdown of how a Patreon account can be used to increase your revenue above and beyond what you can make from YouTube ads.

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Business

How to Soundproof Noisy Windows

https://lifehacker.com/how-to-soundproof-noisy-windows-1845726560

How to Soundproof Noisy Windows

Illustration for article titled How to Soundproof Noisy Windows

Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Image (Getty Images)

I recently moved to a new apartment on a street that serves as an artery for commercial trucking in my area of Brooklyn. I’m particularly sensitive to noise pollution, and this permanent cacophony isn’t just caused by the rumble of big rigs, either: every facet of urban life seems to seep its way into my bedroom. It’s as if my neighbors, the garbage trucks, the man blasting techno from his Hyundai, and the construction crews are all conspiring to sap the tranquility out of my daily life.

Luckily, my landlord has promised new, soundproof windows to allay the constant din. But if you don’t have that kind of one-shot solution at your disposal, there are ways to soundproof your windows to absorb some of the excess street noise. Here’s some things to know about making that happen.

Not all windows are created equal

Those familiar with home improvement already know this, but here’s a pearl of wisdom for DIY-neophytes: If it’s particularly loud in your home, your windows might be trash. Cheaper windows with just one pane of glass are less likely to block as much noise as double pane windows. Plus, double pane windows are typically insulated further with argon gas injected between each pane. The chemical is used for thermal insulation, allowing the temperature of the glass to be more on par with the temperature of a room. This dual temperature regulation and noise cancellation is undeniably what you want in a window.

There’s a similar difference between laminated glass and tempered glass, as the soundproofing gurus at Soundproof Cow explain:

Manufacturers engineer laminated glass especially with soundproofing qualities in mind. If you find your home or business suffering from unwanted vibrations and sounds that enter through your windows, laminated glass will provide you with the sound deadening properties you need. This is because laminated glass consists of an extra protective layer of plastic that provides an additional barrier between the two external glass sheets.

Tempered glass, on the other hand, does not offer quite as much soundproofing control. This form of glass is crafted with durability in mind, as the strong and sturdy external layers provide a resilient glass that can withstand use and force with robust strength. However, tempered glass does not offer superior sound reduction performance.

Soundproof windows are great, but expensive

If you’re looking for the closest thing to a silver bullet, soundproof windows are the ticket. Most soundproof windows claim to cancel between 90-95% of street noise, which is ostensibly enough to satisfy even the most irritable among us.

There’s an economic hurdle, though, as most soundproof windows are going to crest upwards of $1,000 and above to purchase and install. Any window installation is going to vary according to the size and particulars of your living space, but this guide from HouseLogic can help you glean a sense of whether a full-on soundproof window will work for you.

There are noise-reducing curtains

Perhaps the next best item that you can purchase without much legwork are noise-reducing curtains. You don’t need an advanced understanding of physics to know that the greater density of a material probably means that it’s better at absorbing sound.

Unlike soundproof windows, noise-reducing curtains aren’t going to cost you a four-figure outlay. There’s tons of options on the market, too, so it won’t be hard to find a set that you think might work.

You can add window insets

Another option is placing a window inset in front of your more porous windows. These are custom-made glass panels that simply slot right over your existing window frame, used to control temperature and regulate noise. They’re proven to work, though not quite effectively as an outright noise-cancelling window, and there are companies catering to the cause. 

Find and plug any gaps

It’s possible that your windows aren’t completely flush with the window frame, allowing gaps between pieces of glass to let in excess noise. My current windows aren’t properly caulked, for example. Short of actually using caulk—the adhesive material used to seal gaps in a structure—to plug the gaps, you can try stuffing pieces of foam in any of the crevasses you suspect of leaking noise.

It’s not exactly an aesthetic asset, but there’s a reason foam is one of the most commonly used tools in soundproofing recording studios: it’s very absorbent.

Furniture works, too

Windows don’t have to be the sole focus of your quest to deaden the noise. Bookshelves, couches, carpets and kitchen tables all do their part in limiting a deafening racket from pinging across your living room.

Godspeed, and perhaps invest in earplugs or a white noise machine for when you sleep. If needed, look to our other coverage on transforming your bedroom into a perfectly quiet sleep chamber.

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Business

Send Your Holiday Packages Early This Year

https://lifehacker.com/send-your-holiday-packages-early-this-year-1845729856

Send Your Holiday Packages Early This Year

Illustration for article titled Send Your Holiday Packages Early This Year

Photo: George Sheldon (Shutterstock)

Every year, the United States Postal Services (USPS) asks us to send our packages and greeting cards as early as possible in the holiday season. But this year, they’re really serious about it. This is always a very busy time of the year for mail carriers, but throw a pandemic and an already difficult year and it’s a recipe for delays. Here’s what to know about mailing holiday packages in 2020.

Get an early start

Even with the addition of seasonal workers, the USPS is requesting that we mail our packages as soon as possible. Per a statement from the USPS:

During this unprecedented time, it is expected that more holiday gifts and greetings will be sent through the mail, as families and friends will hold virtual celebrations instead of opening gifts in person. The Postal Service always encourages customers to send their holiday gifts and cards early. This year is no different.

Important mailing dates of the 2020 holiday season

It may seem as though we have a lot of time before Christmas, but when you take into consideration the busiest periods for the USPS, we really don’t:

The busiest time of the season peaks two weeks before Christmas, when much of the last-minute shopping starts. Customer traffic is expected to increase beginning Dec. 7, with the week of Dec. 14-21 predicted to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week.

If you’re aiming for packages to arrive by December 25th, the USPS recommends getting them in the mail by these dates at the absolute latest:

  • Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground service
  • Dec. 18 — USPS Priority Mail Express service
  • Dec. 18 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)
  • Dec. 18 — First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
  • Dec. 19 — Priority Mail service
  • Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express service

The money-back guarantee on Priority Mail Express shipments mailed Dec. 22 through Dec. 25 applies only if the package was not delivered, or delivery was not attempted, within two business days. Other than that, there are no guarantees—these dates are just estimates.

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