At Sideqik we love celebrating the successes of our customers. We also think they know best when it comes to influencer marketing. This week, we talked to Ryan Romeos, Social and Digital Marketing Manager at HyperX, to talk challenges in the industry and what he thinks is coming next.
Sideqik: Great. What are your overall goals as you guys are working with influencers?
Ryan Romeos: As HyperX, I should say, we really try to use our influencers in a way that will make a user have the aspirations to be or understand where one of the most used product by somebody they idolize and things like that. It’s an old approach.
I think people had spokespeople and things like that from the dawn of advertising. It’s just actually progressing in it in the digital and understanding that maybe in the 60s and 70s or 50s, it was a handful of people that could reach this but now with the way social media is, people idolize different people.
Where before it was very limited spaces where you get exposure to certain people was radio or newspaper, TV. Each time it’s progressed a little bit more people have come into the mix, but now with social media, it can be really anybody. Us being able to scale that and understand it, capture it, measure it, it’s kind of where Sideqik comes in.
Sideqik: Great. What parts of Sideqik do you use? Where do we come into your influencer marketing program?
Ryan Romeos: We probably use the discovery the most. A lot of times for assessing the value or assessing the investment in an influencer, understanding what their reach is by region, things like that. I was just doing that today. That’s a core part of the platform. We do host giveaways a lot of times through Sideqik. That’s just a nice to have for us.
We know there’s a lot of competitor products that do that at different costs or something like that, but we do like using Sideqik because it just makes it a more seamless integration and one less tool for our teams to learn. That’s a pretty good part of it. One thing that we’re migrating into, we feel Sideqik is slowly building into it, is the management part of things. We’re using the tagging to tag people that we currently sponsor and then use it as a place where we can do some tertiary checks.
For instance, with eSports teams, they all have contractual obligations to change their Twitter handle … for us. We’re using it as almost an internal communication where we can use the tag system as someone is compliant, not compliant and hand it over to the respective team to kind of look at it and say, “Okay, this player, this player, and this player aren’t compliant let me reach out to them.” It’s like an internal communication tool for two different teams to assess things and then have some action items from there. If that make sense.
Sideqik: Yes, that’s great. How long would you say that you’ve been working with influencers? What’s kind of the breadth of your influencer marketing programs?
Ryan Romeos: The brand or me?
Sideqik: All of the above, I want to know at all. [laughs]
Ryan Romeos: I’m actually not the lead influencer person for HyperX. We do have Dustin [Illingworth] who leads the influencer and teams side of things. I lead the digital marketing and social media side of things, but we work as a group together where they go out and recruit and find people. We help them put it to add value or understand where the influencer’s value is.
We’ve been working with influencers HyperX from — I’ve only worked for the company for three years, but I’d say probably they were working with influencers five years before that. But it was more like PC builders and YouTubers, those small kinds — but eSports they’ve been in for a long time.
Me personally, I came from an agency side of things and I did a lot of influence or management around fashion. I think fashion is probably one of the pioneer industries when it came to influencers. We were doing Instagram influencers and using them to sell stuff.
Coming into the PC Gamer or consumer electronics side of things, they were really into the unboxing scene on YouTube, but they didn’t really see the impact of micro-influencers and all these people because their products are a little bit harder to obtain or get to. Fashion is; you wear a shirt, you wear this, you wear that and you’re just branding Nordstrom or … you’re just branding Nasty Gal, which was one of my clients.
You were just branding that and whatever clothes that’s on there to get the consumer electronics side of it. It takes a little bit more work in getting the product and really being a little bit more stringent on who you send to. Fashion, they were just blasting out to anybody that had somewhat of a following and you can afford to do that with products like that.
Consumer electronics, you have to be a little bit more wary, so that’s why a product like Sideqik is more necessary for people that have more valuable products or products to have a little bit higher price points because they need to be able to evaluate their influencers a little bit harder and a commodity product like clothes or some things like that.
Sideqik: What would you say your biggest pain points are when it comes to influencer marketing with HyperX?
Ryan Romeos: I think it is just being able to track those deliverables. You have the influencers really on the hook for reporting things. I think we’re doing a lot of stuff. A lot of times they have a hard time understanding why we might drop them.
There’s been a couple of influencers that we’ve had to just say, “Look, you’re just not panning out because of the data that we’re getting from you guys and other things that we’re doing. You guys aren’t the only source of data but you’re one source.” Delivering that, they just have a hard time wrapping their head around it. It’s trying to figure out a way to educate both sides, not just the brands but the influencers and where their value is so they can continue to report it.
I was talking to an agent just last week who was telling me how their one key influencer he works with gets such high click through his blah blah blah, but he needs to understand that’s great for a Best Buy if they sponsored him. For us, click through isn’t ultimately the goal because they were sending them to a marketplace but it’s actually something else.
He had a hard time wrapping his head around click-throughs because they don’t come from a media side of things. They’re more of a creator side or more of a spokesperson side. Like this agent has a little bit of history with traditional spokespeople. Spokespeople people were never in charge of the media they delivered. We just filmed them and put them on TV or put them in the newspaper or put them on a billboard or put them on there.
They kind of did their job, but now influencers are the media, so they have to go out and actually portray a product and they’ll have harder deliverables. As the traditional sides of things, the traditional agents, the traditional people try and apply their old business models to them. They’re having a hard time wrapping their head around, actually, you’re the newspaper now or you’re the actual media deliverable. So, there are things that you need to understand like a CPM or cost per view or things like that, that we can hold you accountable for.
They have a hard time wanting that or having that on them. Like in negotiations, that agent, in particular, was asking for a certain dollar amount and this is a manual process. You could say this is a frustrating part, but it just took the last six months of the YouTube influencers. It took the last six months of views that he got or last six weeks of views that he got on all his videos, averaged it per video and then he gave us a cost per one video. We were like, “Dude that’s a $1.90 per view, are you crazy? We’re not going to pay you that, that’s insane”.
When we gave him that he just had a hard time understanding that’s how we evaluated him or that there is something there, he just was like, “Well this is what I pay,” or “This is what my rate, this is what my clients pay for”.
For bigger clients, somebody that has commodity products or something like that, or is not paying attention like we are, will probably happily pay it. For us who are a little bit wiser, a little bit more digital savvy, we’re going to put a harder value to them and sometimes it’s like shooting yourself in the foot, but it’s more of just us being very conscious of who we are.
There’s a lot of influencers that will stake the negotiation and take the price that we think is fair. I see that’s where things are going; as more and more of us get wiser, more of us move up the ranks of companies, then you’re going to see influencers getting more and more screws and things like that put to them to actually lower their prices or lower their things because there’s certain media value that they’re just inflating at the moment.
Once all brands level set and they understand where brands are coming from then things will be a little bit smoother. That’s one key frustration; it’s just getting both sides on the same page of where they land and the value or strategy. It’s just something that’s an industry issue at the moment.
Sideqik: Great. You keep doing this, you keep almost answering my next question, which is, I guess, cool. It means we’re on the same page. Working in social media marketing things change really quickly, where do you think it’s going? What do you think is coming next? What’s going to be important?
Ryan Romeos: In digital marketing, in general, it is going to be really important to understand target audiences and where an influencer fits and its niche. What’s its niche, what’s its community, what’s its demographics. Which, a lot of that stuff is provided, but them actually being able to figure out their ways in packaging their offers and their deals to us, that makes it easier for us to say yes or no to. It’s probably going to go from there.
What you’re going to find in digital marketing in general, already there’s been a couple of hiccups just based on the election problems. Already we are getting into very niche targeting at very low cost. Being very, very particular on the way you target things and not really focusing on volume but focusing on actual action, is going to be a bigger and bigger component to any kind of digital and influencer marketing.
It’s a bad reference but it puts things into perspective. When you look at what they challenged in Congress around the election, you could see that they said for a total of $400 the hackers, or whatever you want to call them, were able to get two huge groups to take actions and put things together. How’d they do that with $400? They got really granular with their targeting. They went and looked at targeted people that were really into certain subjects and then very small campaigns around that very particular thing, with a very particular message.
I can see with influencers, we have to get that kind of demographic or understanding of what they can actually get action taken on and then we would know what product to give them or if they’re a right brand fit. Again, it depends on what our goal is. With our professional athletes, that’s pure frequency and impressions. Really just trying to get that aspirational story out there. But even those guys, if you look at those guys that are looking for sponsorship on the athlete side, a lot of them don’t get that they’re going to be the vehicle of communication.
Them growing their Twitter channel and their Instagram channel and these things, it’s important for their sponsors. Some of them don’t get it because they’re lead by traditional agents and things like that, that don’t really understand that. “Eli Manning, you have to have a significant Twitter following and a significant Instagram following if you want to be getting these additional brands to sponsor you because they’re going to rely on you telling the message. They’re not going to do a full TV ad, they’re not going to do a full campaign flight for you. They are actually relying on you to say this product is nice, so what’s your plan to do it?” That’s a difficult thing for them to wrap their heads around.