How to Get More Influencer Engagement for Your Money

How to Get More Influencer Engagement for Your Money

Like the interdimensional demon in Stranger Things, there’s a monster lurking in the walls of your Influencer team. That beast in the room – complacency – is the one saying, “this is the way we’ve always done it.” Well, as you get ready for Season 2 this Friday, ask yourself this: Do billboard buyers pore over more data than your influencer team? The answer is probably yes; and that’s sort of okay for now. You’re actually in the majority – but it’s a majority quickly decaying in a market zooming past $5 billion.

Don’t look so glum (or defensive)! You won’t need to hire a Dungeons & Dragons-playing data scientist or to spend a ton of money on annual subscriptions (are they still a thing?). Follow along and your influencers will convey more “Qualified Engagement” to the brand team, which will compel higher conversions and awareness. And here’s the best part: it’s cheaper. Mind blown? Like Barb’s really alive, right (right?)?

What data will you need?

First, let’s talk about impressions, engagement, and Qualified Engagement. Impressions are often dismissed as obsolete, but while we don’t charge or rely on them, we actually like them for campaigns which have a longer shelf life like YouTube or Pinterest. Impressions are aspirational–like looking at a supermodel. You’ll probably never look as good in your clothes, but it’s fun to imagine–if you’re into that kind of thing.

Average engagement per post as a metric is pretty good. It’s total likes, loves, or clicks; objective proof that someone saw the post. Because of things we’ll get into later, it makes the most sense to charge by the engagement rather than impressions. But Qualified Engagement–it’s lit. It’s that no-brainer metric when choosing influencers that ignites a product launch, reinvigorates a laggard brand, or makes that promotion such a breathtaking success it triggers rapid blinking from Management. So how do you get it?

Your favorite subject

The first step is all about you–your brand. Using Instagram as the platform, let’s run some engagement data and surface some essential details about your audience.

Notice from Figure 1 (fake brand but real data) that the person engaging with the brand’s posts is generally female, young, and likes entertainment, food, and tech. Also notice that the person doesn’t mind spending money on food and tech. Branding people might call this the “persona” of the brand. But this is specific to social and more distinct to Instagram, as we have found that these personas can change on different social platforms.

The next step is pretty obvious: Find influencers who match, or at least don’t contradict, your brand’s typical engager. So now that you know the available data and can see how your engagement will improve, how can you save money?

The celebrity cop-out

The Super Bowl ad of the influencer sphere, celebrities (“macro-influencers”) are expensive and come with engagement that’s emotional sabotage. When all those Likes come in, you get a surge of euphoria like eating that pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. But within a few hours comes crushing guilt. You just blew all or a big chunk of your budget for a celebrity and still don’t really know what you got for it. So next time your team suggests a celebrity, squint your eyes and air-twirl your handlebar moustache. Ask them to dig into their audience and see how well your audience aligns. Look at overall engagement rate as well as the engagement rate of the categories which mean most to you. Look at their audience credibility score.

Now here’s the saving money part. Instead of that “macro” influencer, you could look at multiple “mid-level” influencers.

And do the math.

Macro versus Mid

These are real numbers but fake names. Big Blog on the left is someone you know well. She’s spent decades working on her blog and charges a flat fee for a blogpost. She might be ideal for other brands if there weren’t a few things that stand out:

  • Her engagement rate is abysmal–just over 1%
  • She’s bought a bunch of followers – her audience cred is actually 76%

So while she may be quite successful at her blog, Instagram is a side project that doesn’t get her full attention. Kind of like when the New York Times first came out with a web version of their paper in 1996. This is someone you should never use as an influencer, even if the demos and interests fit. Incidentally, a good marker for audience credibility is >95%.

Now to our binging Netflix-and-chiller, Binger21. She’s a totally different story. Her audience persona is closely aligned to SuperCool’s: Young female, strong on entertainment and food. At a whopping 14% engagement rate, she must have striking content her followers love to engage with.

The math

The engagement percentages you see in Figure 2 are based on the average engagement. Picking a couple markers, we can see that the mid-level will offer better engagement in absolute numbers:

Female (note Macro’s age range doesn’t align with SuperCool’s)

  • Macro = 21.8% * 14,300 = 3,117 potential qualified engagements
  • Mid     = 80.3% * 4,648 =  3,732  potential qualified engagements


  • Macro = 1.9% * 14,300 = 271 potential qualified engagements
  • Mid     = 29.9% * 4,648 =  1,390  potential qualified engagements

For the money, the mid-level, Binger21, wrecks our blogger-turned-Instagrammer.

Math for the win

Now the fun part. A macro blogger like big_blog would want a flat rate of about $5,000 – $10,000 to post something nice about your brand. You’ll have to insist she post on Instagram rather than a blog post, which few of your young female audience would see. Binger21 could be priced as performance-based, so you’ll pay by the Like – probably about $1,000 – $3,000. Because she’s being paid by the click, she’s going to create a more beautiful post for you and won’t upcharge you a ton for a non-compete.

What about fake followers?

Reading your mind, right? Most 21st century influencer companies can tell you about audience credibility and monitor it during the campaign. Barring having this data, you can keep an eye on her follower count and, of course, cap the total fee you’ll pay. We typically use 10% above their average engagement.

This is too simple

Of course you can get fancy with this raw data. Weight the interests – maybe a 10% rate in Food is worth 2x a 15% rate in Entertainment. Create custom interests by bundling some raw interests. Do the above analysis on a per-post type basis. Determine psychographics based on machine learning and AI. There’s a lot you can do but just start with simple Qualified Engagement – you’ll blow by your competitors with more awareness and have plenty of budget left over for your holiday party.



MATTR is the only full-service influencer marketing provider with detailed audience insights from PersonaMesh™. We go beyond demographics into psychographics such as values and interests so that your influencer campaigns align with your campaign targets.

Can Stranger Things 2 Revive Snack Pack (Again)?

Can Stranger Things 2 Revive Snack Pack (Again)?

Finished. Used-up. Catatonic. Knackered. These reductionist, ugly missiles paint a bleak portrait of your future. You were the king of frozen dinners or canned meats or lip balm. You were the go-to for canvas tennis shoes or aftershave. But now, they label you a “laggard brand”. And that tugs at your soul like a Dementor’s kiss – you’re just as good as that gluten-free, paleo-organic coconut oil lip balm that’s sucking away your market share, your budget, and your career. But even with a barren budget, you can recover. Realize that you are the one you have been waiting for. And for god’s sake please stop calling yourself a laggard, and repeat after me, “I’m going to make a comeback.”

Great brands, like some great people, may simply have been born lucky. Take, for example, Malcolm Gladwell’s interpretation of relative-age effect: a Canadian sociologist found that an inordinate number of Canada’s best hockey players were born in the early months of the year. Why did they become great? Because young hockey players born early in the year were on the same youth team as those delivered in December. They were physically more developed. They were stronger, swifter, with crisper motor skills. The coaches zeroed in on them and gave them more playing time. And the parents dedicated more pressure and money and attention to them. And they became great.

All because they turned ten on January 1st instead of December 31st.

“Great people aren’t so great. Their greatness is not the salient fact about them.” – Malcolm Gladwell

Another of his interesting observations is how the era in which you’re born can cornerstone your success. Take tech giants Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Bill Joy, and Scott McNealy, all born in the early 1950s, around twenty years before the birth of the accessible computer. For Gates, he attended a private school which had an expensive computer and lived close to the University of Washington, with access to even more sophisticated computers. He accumulated his 10,000 hours quickly.

So maybe you were born at the end of the year. There’s hope. You’ll have to work smarter and have a great boss, but you can Betty White your way back to greatness. It’s happening now to scores of brands who had been simply taking a refreshing nap. Were they just lucky? Will they maintain the meteoric rise in market share? How can you make this kind of luck?

Snack Pack

It was the summer hit we had all been waiting for. But this one wasn’t in the theaters. Netflix’ nostalgic Stranger Things bridged the generation gap like The Princess Bride. And it re-introduced us to Snack Pack in the metal can – with the lid that would cleanly sever your tongue as you licked it. Rumor has it that consumers are asking for the can and original labeling. Retro-cool!

Given how big a surprise Stranger Things was, that was some fortunate product placement. People were certainly googling about it:

Needless to say, they topped the all-time charts in the summer of 2016.

Product placement can be brilliant or it can be so bungled that it’s an eye-roller. As bad as seeing that re-targeting ad for instabrows. Snack Pack got it right, but they were probably lucky. The learning point: They took the risk and it paid off.


Birkenstock was a brand before America was a country – no kidding. First sold in the U.S. in 1967, Birkenstocks were all the rage with the flower children. Birkenstock then shuffled along, bedding the feet of people who were defiantly unconcerned about how ugly they were until they were awakened, when this happened:

According to their CEO, they neither encourage nor pay celebs like Naomi Watts to wear the comfortable sandals.

Now, you can almost certainly find a celebrity to endorse your brand but, as you guessed, it’s pricey – like $50k – $250k per post for a big name with expansive reach.

But you can only use your intuition and probably limited research to determine if their audience will be receptive to your brand or make disparaging comments about you.

Of course, there are also the well-known celebrity faux pas and obvious product misfits to turn you off the Rodeo Drive of marketing. But you’re smarter than that.

Even more so than Snack Pack, Birkenstock appeared to have gotten lucky. But luck favors the prepared, as they say, and Birkenstock has moved quickly to sustain the huge growth without compromising their brand.

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst, Miller, Busch, and other light lager beers were beaten down in the early-to-mid 2000s. Unsurprisingly, when offered an option for a brand their dad wouldn’t identify with or drink, Gen Ys looked to craft beer. The market’s indifferent grave digger, well-worn shovel in hand for years, turned over the soft turf in 2009. Only one brand has been lucky enough to make a comeback – Pabst. And as with our previous lucky examples, Pabst was in the right place and the right time.

The story is that a bar in Portland, which catered to thrifty bike messengers who drank $1 Blitz beer, replaced Blitz with PBR when Blitz went out of business. But it took more than one bar to pry the shovel from the calloused hands of the market.

According to a crowd of thoughtful Portland hipsters, they liked how Pabst had “no image”.

“It was just there. Scarce and cheap, it had few negative connotations beyond that it was a kind of blank canvas, where brand meaning could be filled in by consumers.”

A salient fact: Pabst did no real advertising at the time, excepting some NASCAR sponsorships. And the timing coincided with the birth of the hipster culture – young people who enthusiastically defined themselves as uniformly as the flower children of the 1960s. A third was the recession of 2008 hitting young job seekers hard by 2009. Finally, and noteworthy to our story, Instagram launched in 2010.

At this point you should be wondering whether PBR’s sales have gone as flat as last night’s last beer you opened then tossed in the fridge after binging on The OA. The answer is predictable:

So it was a fad. You may predict that Snack Pack’s and Birkenstock’s popularity will fall off in a year or two as well. But PBR and Birkenstock are making more moves to sustain their growth, unlike Snack Pack. They have three key elements in common which you can model to make your luck, then keep it.

Their Secret Recipe

I’m predicting PBR is going to stabilize and grow, but at a less frenetic pace. Same for Birkenstock. Both are doing three things I don’t see brands like Snack Pack (and maybe yours) doing:

1. Use Facebook Like Kids Do (they don’t)

Talk to ten people under the age of 30 and ask them how they use Facebook. For most, it will be some form of, “going to Thanksgiving dinner.” Their mom is worried about the damn dry turkey, your dad is reclining in his chair resting his beer on his belly and watching football, your single uncle has had a few too many, bellowing about how fantastic the turkey smells. The young interlopers are carefully interviewed like local politicians, responding politely and skillfully dodging questions about when they’re going to “settle down” and have kids.

Their lives are on Instagram and Snapchat and maybe Twitter – at least for now. Get on there right away – social gravy gets cold fast.

2. Pay It Forward

Be engaging. And by engaging, I mean be like its definition: charming, winsome, delightful. Take the time to thank as many of your community as possible. Repost their posts and promote their social feeds. But most of all, talk to them. You’ll build your community but it will be as torturously slow as walking through Times Square on a sunny summer day. Sandbag expectations.

Once your community starts growing into the few thousands, promote an “evergreen” hashtag – one that you’ll have forever. Pabst doesn’t promote one but instead, searches Instagram for mentions and reposts. Birkenstock’s is #mybirkenstock. Here’s an example:

Sixty likes not doing it for you? Multiply that 60 by a thousand, which is about how many posts you’ll see at any one time.

It’s an enviable example of the power of the micro-influencer.

And it was free.

There is a third tip, and your boss may not go for it. You can get by without it, but you’ll have better success with younger consumers, which you’ll need to survive. Because when people get old and die, they can’t buy your stuff.

3. Take Risks

Birkenstock has flatly refused to compromise on the comfort of their sandals – they simply won’t make them more pretty and fashionable to make a show at fashion week. And they’ll not pay celebrities to wear their sandals. Organic, indeed.

Pabst is taking a different kind of risk. They’re reposting Instagrams that would raise most any brand manager’s instabrows.

Would you post something like this to your Instagram account?

Regardless, take a lesson from it. Pabst knows the persona of their audience. It’s not just young – there are millions of young people who would huff at seeing that post and it might even drive them away from buying PBR.

Pabst’s social audience on Instagram is young, but not real traditional. A quick look on our platform shows that they’re young, edgy, and price sensitive. Most are located on the west coast and in urban areas. They care about environmental issues. How to win them over may seem obvious to you but they still need that okay to take calculated risks and make mistakes.

If your target consumer is young moms in the midwest who are socially traditional, you can be fun with them – you can win them over with charm and wit.

You’ll need people engaging and taking risks on your social accounts who match your target markets. You’ll also need cover from your bosses to take some risks with humor.

And if you’re Snack Pack, you don’t need to repost a pic of a dude smoking weed in the bathtub, eating pudding.

Or maybe you do.


Jack is the CEO of MATTR – a full service influencer marketing company with proprietary audience matching technology.


Ferdman, R. “How Pabst Blue Ribbon Became a Billion Dollar Beer.” Quartz 2014.

“Geek Pop Star.” New Yorker (2014)

Gillespie, P. “Is PBR Still Cool? America’s Hipster Beer is Slowing Down.”CNNMoney 2015

Gladwell, M. “Outliers.” 2011.

Gladwell’s Outliers: Timing is Almost Everything.” BloombergBusinessWeek. 2008.

Johnston, B. “the ‘instabrows’ trend.” iMessage 2017

Jordan, J. “Poem For South African Women.” (adapted)

McClelland, E. “And the Next Great American Beer Will Be…?” Salon 2008.

Recipe for a Perfect Influencer Campaign

Recipe for a Perfect Influencer Campaign

The holidays are right around the corner, and brands are already coming up with exactly how to create the perfect influencer campaigns. There are so many qualities that go into making a successful campaign, it can sometimes be difficult to remember them all–and each of their significance in the process. So to make it easier, we have come up with the a recipe needed to cook up the perfect influencer campaign this holiday season.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups Authenticity
  • 1 cup of Perfect Target Audience
  • 1 cup of the Right Influencer
  • ½ cup of Trust
  • ½ cup of Communication
  • 1 tbs of FTC Regulations
  • A dash of Creativity
  • (Clear call to action, hashtags, links optional)


1.You want to start with authenticity. This is the most important ingredient [for this kind of campaign] because without it the campaign will lack transparency and receptiveness from the audience. More than anything, it is the ingredient that separates a good from a bad batch in influencer marketing.

2. Next you’ll need to blend together the right influencer with an equal amount of the perfect audience. It is important to get an influencer that shows relevancy to the brand and an audience that is strongly engaged. Note that sometimes brands focus too much on the perfect influencer while ignoring how equally important that influencer’s audience is. For example, if you’re a brand that heavily relies on coupon redemptions to drive purchase, you’re going to want to identify influencers with a price-sensitive audience. If you’re launching new products in specific markets, you’ll want to be sure the influencer not only lives in that market, but that a significant portion of their audience does as well.

3. Now that you have the base of the campaign, it is time to add in the trust and communication. These qualities between the brand and influencer help bring out the authenticity of the campaign and will help it not taste like a traditional ad.

4. Next you add the correct FTC guidelines. This step is extremely important for the safety of the campaign. If mixed correctly, you won’t even notice this ingredient in the final product.

5. Once this is all mixed together, add in the toppings. These can be your best enabler of measurement like ROI. Here you can add a clear call to action, hashtags, even links in the influencers bio.

6. Lastly, for flavor in the campaign, it is important to add in this dash of creativity. It will make your campaign stand out from the rest!

So there you have all of the ingredients for the perfect influencer marketing campaign. Know that depending on the campaign and the season this mix can change, and sometimes the amount of the ingredients can differ as well. But we ensure that if you follow this recipe you will be sure to have a successful holiday season on your hands!



MATTR is the only full-service influencer marketing provider with detailed audience insights from PersonaMesh™. We go beyond demographics into psychographics such as values and interests so that your influencer campaigns align with your campaign targets.