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Using ‘The Four R’s’ to determine whether an influencer is right for you

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Using ‘The Four R’s’ to determine whether an influencer is right for you

By Anne Malambo, head of PR and outreach at contact lens retailer Feel Good Contacts

From 1986 to 2011, Oprah Winfrey ran one of the most successful talk shows of all time.

Not only did she interview more than 37,000 people during her 25 years (by her count), she also helped to launch careers and boost the sales of many businesses in what soon came to be known as ‘The Oprah Effect’.

In the era of social media, you don’t have to be a celebrity powerhouse like Oprah or have a TV show to capture an audience or to become an influencer, in fact, studies show that people are just as, if not more likely, to make purchasing decisions based on recommendations from friends or peers.

This has opened up a whole new marketing avenue for businesses to explore, as they seek to leverage the popularity of bloggers and social media influencers, and the trust that their followers have in them, in order to improve their brand awareness and boost traffic and sales.

Influencer marketing can become a very successful component of any business’ digital marketing strategy, but brands must be careful to pick the right people to work with. Targeting those with the highest number of followers is ill-advised, instead, brands should use a four-point system to determine whether an influencer would fit their company image and messaging, and provide them with a good ROI.

We take this approach at Feel Good Contacts, by measuring influencers based on what I like to call ‘The Four R’s’: Relevance, Reach, Reputation and Rapport.

Relevance

It sounds like common sense, but brands should first and foremost consider whether an influencer is relevant. With an abundance of research tools on the market, there’s no excuse for not finding the most appropriate targets. An ideal influencer will talk about the topic you’re already pitching, or at least something very similar. In some cases, there is room for crossover. Perhaps you’re a fashion brand that wants a travel blogger to snap themselves in one of your of your outfits while on an adventure, in which case, collaboration would work well.

You should also gain a good understanding of an influencer’s target audience, to determine whether it aligns with your own. Upon contact, most will provide a ‘media kit/pack’ or at least a basic breakdown of their audience profile, by gender and age.

Don’t be afraid to delve deeper by asking the influencer to send a list of similar businesses they’ve worked with, including a few examples of their work (if you can’t find it easily enough on site).

Reach

Once you’ve determined whether an audience is relevant, it’s time to look at the audience itself. It’s no secret that social media platforms are rife with fake accounts and that influencers are spending money to artificially boost their follower count. In fact, one recent study found that while influencer budgets are on the up, 12% of Instagrammers are still buying fake followers. 96% of respondents in the same study cited ‘quality of followers’ as a top priority when selecting creators to work with.

Luckily, there are a number of tools available that can help you determine whether an influencer’s followers are fake. Other giveaways include accounts without a profile picture, dodgy sounding account names, bios that are very generic or similar to other profiles and accounts with a disproportionate number of followers to those that person is following.

Another good way of measuring the legitimacy of an audience is to look at engagement levels. Do a lot of people comment on the influencer’s blogs? Do they get a lot of likes, comments and shares on social media? Does their audience seem interested in their competitions/giveaways, and genuinely interested in striking up a conversation with the blogger/vlogger/Instagrammer? Influencers that regularly interact with their followers is a bonus.

Top tip: Don’t discount smaller, ‘micro’ influencers – they often have higher levels of engagement. Keep in contact with them as their following grows!

Reputation

An influencer with a bad reputation is going to ruin your reputation. It is also important to do some due diligence on bloggers to make sure their behaviour is in line with your brand’s values – even if it’s just a case of scrolling through their social feeds and checking whether they’ve been mentioned in the news. There have been many cases of bloggers saying/doing controversial things and this can severely ruin a business’ credibility, or force them to terminate the collaboration, wasting both time and money.

Another thing brands must consider is the quality of an influencer’s work. What is the quality of their images and videos, are they taking them on a smartphone or a highly pixelated digital camera? Are they well edited? Is what they’re producing – whether it’s video, images or text – engaging their followers and getting a response? Is the overall design and layout of their website/feed professional?

Rapport

Once you’ve found the right influencer, you’ll want to introduce yourself. The best thing to do is to write an email that’s personalised – it’s fine to have a standard template, but there should be parts of it that can be left open to customisation.

While it’s good to strike up a friendly conversation, it’s equally important to get to the point by providing an overview of what you are expecting from the influencer and asking them to provide a media pack/price list if they have one.

When negotiating, take into account the influencer’s overall following, engagement, quality of work and authority before settling on a final price. It is highly advisable to have a blogger’s agreement that outlines both the responsibilities of the blogger and the brand. This way there is little room for miscommunication and disagreements on both sides.

Measuring success

Google Analytics is your best friend when it comes to measuring success from influencer marketing. This platform gives you access to a whole host of information, including statistics on total and referral traffic, new users, time on site and goal completions/conversions. An increase in followers on your own social media channels could also be another KPI.

A word to the wise – influencer marketing isn’t for you if your only KPI is to increase your organic search rankings through SEO. Google guidelines state that where payment or products are given in exchange for editorial, any subsequent links must be given the ‘no-follow’ attribute. Most bloggers should be aware of this, but it is your responsibility to ask them to change it if you detect otherwise. Using the NoFollow Chrome Extension makes this task a breeze.

Business

Euro zone business activity shrank in January as lockdowns hit services

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Euro zone business activity shrank in January as lockdowns hit services 1

By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – Economic activity in the euro zone shrank markedly in January as lockdown restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic hit the bloc’s dominant service industry hard, a survey showed.

With hospitality and entertainment venues forced to remain closed across much of the continent the survey highlighted a sharp contraction in the services industry but also showed manufacturing remained strong as factories largely remained open.

IHS Markit’s flash composite PMI, seen as a good guide to economic health, fell further below the 50 mark separating growth from contraction to 47.5 in January from December’s 49.1. A Reuters poll had predicted a fall to 47.6.

“A double-dip recession for the euro zone economy is looking increasingly inevitable as tighter COVID-19 restrictions took a further toll on businesses in January,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

“Some encouragement comes from the downturn being less severe than in the spring of last year, reflecting the ongoing relative resilience of manufacturing, rising demand for exported goods and the lockdown measures having been less stringent on average than last year.”

The bloc’s economy was expected to grow 0.6% this quarter, a Reuters poll showed earlier this week, and will return to its pre-COVID-19 level within two years on hopes the rollout of vaccines will allow a return to some form of normality. [ECILT/EU]

A PMI covering the bloc’s dominant service industry dropped to 45.0 from 46.4, exceeding expectations in a Reuters poll that had predicted a steeper fall to 44.5 and still a long way from historic lows at the start of the pandemic.

With activity still in decline and restrictions likely to be in place for some time yet, services firms were forced to chop their charges. The output price index fell to 46.9 from 48.4, its lowest reading since June.

That will be disappointing for policymakers at the European Central Bank – who on Thursday left policy unchanged – as uncomfortably low inflation has been a thorn in the ECB’s side for years.

Factory activity remained strong and the manufacturing PMI held well above breakeven at 54.7, albeit weaker than December’s 55.2. The Reuters poll had predicted a drop to 54.5.

An index measuring output which feeds into the composite PMI fell to 54.5 from 56.3.

But despite strong demand factories again cut headcount, as they have every month since May 2019. The employment index fell to 48.9 from 49.2.

As immunisation programmes are being ramped up after a slow start in Europe optimism about the coming year remained strong. The composite future output index dipped to 63.6 from December’s near three-year high of 64.5.

“The roll out of vaccines has meanwhile helped sustain a strong degree of confidence about prospects for the year ahead, though the recent rise in virus case numbers has caused some pull-back in optimism,” Williamson said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Cable; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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Volkswagen’s profit halves, but deliveries recovering

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Volkswagen's profit halves, but deliveries recovering 2

BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen reported a nearly 50% drop in its 2020 adjusted operating profit on Friday but said car deliveries had recovered strongly in the fourth quarter, lifting its shares.

The world’s largest carmaker said full-year operating profit, excluding costs related to its diesel emissions scandal, came in at 10 billion euros ($12.2 billion), compared with 19.3 billion in 2019.

Net cash flow at its automotive division was around 6 billion euros and car deliveries picked up towards the end of the year, the German group said in a statement.

“The deliveries to customers of the Volkswagen Group continued to recover strongly in the fourth quarter and even exceeded the deliveries of the third quarter 2020,” it said.

Volkswagen’s shares, which had been down as much as 2%, turned positive and were up 1.5% at 164.32 euros by 1158 GMT.

Sales at the automaker rose 1.7% in December, at a time when new car registrations in Europe dropped nearly 4%, data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association showed.

Like its rivals, Volkswagen is facing several challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic as well as a global shortage of chips needed for production.

It also sees tough competition in developing electrified and self-driving cars. The merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot-owner PSA to create the world’s fourth-biggest automaker Stellantis adds to the pressure.

Volkswagen said on Thursday it missed EU targets on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its passenger car fleet last year and faces a fine of more than 100 million euros.

The group is expected to release detailed 2020 figures on March 16.

($1 = 0.8215 euros)

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter)

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Global chip shortage hits China’s bitcoin mining sector

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Global chip shortage hits China's bitcoin mining sector 3

By Samuel Shen and Alun John

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – A global chip shortage is choking the production of machines used to “mine” bitcoin, a sector dominated by China, sending prices of the computer equipment soaring as a surge in the cryptocurrency drives demand.

The scramble is pricing out smaller miners and accelerating an industry consolidation that could see deep-pocketed players, many outside China, profit from the bitcoin bull run.

Bitcoin mining is closely watched by traders and users of the world’s largest cryptocurrency, as the amount of bitcoin they make and sell into the market affects its supply and price.

Trading around $32,000 on Friday, bitcoin is down 20% from the record highs it struck two weeks ago but still up some 700% from its March low of $3,850.

“There are not enough chips to support the production of mining rigs,” said Alex Ao, vice president of Innosilicon, a chip designer and major provider of mining equipment.

Bitcoin miners use increasingly powerful, specially-designed computer equipment, or rigs, to verify bitcoin transactions in a process which produces newly minted bitcoins.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Samsung Electronics Co, the main producers of specially designed chips used in mining rigs, would also prioritise supplies to sectors such as consumer electronics, whose chip demand is seen as more stable, Ao said.

The global chip shortage is disrupting production across a global array of products, including automobiles, laptops and mobile phones. [L1N2JP2MY]

Mining’s profitability depends on bitcoin’s price, the cost of the electricity used to power the rig, the rig’s efficiency, and how much computing power is needed to mine a bitcoin.

Demand for rigs has boomed as bitcoin prices soared, said Gordon Chen, co-founder of cryptocurrency asset manager and miner GMR.

“When gold prices jump, you need more shovels. When milk prices rise, you want more cows.”

CONSOLIDATION

Lei Tong, managing director of financial services at Babel Finance, which lends to miners, said that “almost all major miners are scouring the market for rigs, and they are willing to pay high prices for second-hand machines.”

“Purchase volumes from North America have been huge, squeezing supply in China,” he said, adding that many miners are placing orders for products that can only be delivered in August and September.

Most of the products of Bitmain, one of the biggest rig makers in China, are sold out, according the company’s website.

A sales manager at Jiangsu Haifanxin Technology, a rig merchant, said prices on the second-hand market have jumped 50% to 60% over the past year, while prices of new equipment more than doubled. High-end, second-hand mining machines were quoted around $5,000.

“It’s natural if you look at how much bitcoin has risen,” said the manager, who identified himself on by his surname Li.

The cryptocurrency surge is affecting who is able to mine.

The increasing cost of investment is eliminating smaller players, said Raymond Yuan, founder of Atlas Mining, which owns one of China’s biggest mining business.

“Institutional investors benefit from both large scale and proficiency in management whereas retail investors who couldn’t keep up will be weeded out,” said Yuan, whose company has invested over $500 million in cryptocurrency mining and plans to keep investing heavily.

Many of the larger players growing their mining operations are based outside of China, often in North America and the Middle East, said Wayne Zhao, chief operating officer of crypto research company TokenInsight.

“China used to have low electricity costs as one core advantage, but as the bitcoin price rises now, that has gone,” he said.

Zhao said that while previously bitcoin mining in China used to account for as much as 80% of the world’s total, it now accounted for around 50%.

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Alun John; Editing by Vidya Ranganathan and William Mallard)

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