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Holiday Prep, part 1 of 3 – How Influencers Should Get Ready to Have the Best Year Yet

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Welcome back to our weekly deep-dive on the Creator Economy. This is our first of THREE holiday prep episodes! Below is what we discuss:

• Looking at holiday trends
Looking at your own data to figure out what works for you and your audience
Developing holiday-related story-arc’s to engage your followers and drive conversion
Being mindful of this year’s economy and how to approach less spending power
• What we learned from the pandemic
What platform should you use for your links this holiday season?
• Will you be successful without LTK?

Our episode next Tuesday will be part 2 of our holiday prep series – subscribe so you stay in-the-know!

The Transcript

Monica: [00:00:00] Hello, welcome back to inside the click. I’m Monica. I’m Michelle. And today we’re diving into holiday. Hey. We have so much to talk about when it comes to holiday, so we’re going to break it down into parts. This episode is just going to be about holiday in general and making sure you have your ducks in a row.

Michelle: Let’s start.

Monica: I think that when you’re doing holiday, you have to start with consumer behavior. Yes, you can go into it like, okay, I want to make sure I get x many posts prepped and ready to go. So that I’m not having chaotic November, or I want to make sure I have x many brand collabs locked in for my budget.

But, I think when you’re actually deciding on like the specifics, you have to understand how the consumer is shopping during holiday. Because the consumer shops differently during holiday than they do the rest of the year. Just like they do[00:01:00] or Mid summer shopping the Nordstrom sale prime day all that the behavior changes, which is why those sales periods work But the first thing that I thought was interesting is that when LTK was breaking out their stats for their holiday guide

What’s interesting of how they break down their research is that they compare the general population shopping habits to the shopping habits of creator shoppers. Because obviously we know that not all shoppers shop from influencers, and there’s a little bit of similarities, but here’s what they say about shopping windows.

38 percent of the general population plans to start holiday shopping in September, which compares to 30 percent of the general population planning to start holiday shopping by [00:02:00] September in 2022. So more people are shopping sooner. In the general public, whereas 45 percent of creator shoppers plan to start shopping by September.

So what that means is, if you are a creator, you better start having things for people to shop from you. In September, because that’s almost 50 percent at that point.

Michelle: That’s actually 1 point that I wanted to also bring up during this and it does tie in nicely here is. On top of 1, seeing what’s happening in general to if you’re using.

Like LTK or even any other app that you would get like stats from .You have that to compare against general trends, but then I think you also need to look at your own data and see. [00:03:00] Out of like your total audience that made purchases, are you able, even if you’re able to look at your your total order count for September, October, November, December, or for the year and look at how that like clusters, you can see if your trend matches some of the other trends let’s say that last year, your holiday stuff really didn’t pick up until the first week of November. Yes, you can post and you can try to jump on the bandwagon and get into holiday in September, but it might be a little more tricky. Because maybe your audience is not there and they might be a little sooner than they were last year, but I wouldn’t get frustrated then if you’re not seeing a bump and you’re like, Oh, what’s wrong with my content or [00:04:00] whatnot, it could just be too that you need to drill one level deeper and like really apply it to your own data.

Monica: Yeah, and I would also try to look at what you actually posted, because maybe you think that you posted something, a post or two in September holiday related, but if you only did one post, you can’t say, Oh, my audience doesn’t shop for me in holiday in September. If you just did one post, or I think another thing that people get confused with holiday doesn’t mean Christmas decorations.

Like, when we talk about posting for holiday in September, it doesn’t mean literally start sharing the Christmas tree. That can wait till November, but this is more of, getting in the groove of a

It’s kind of party season [00:05:00] in a way. So what are hostess gifts? Because the second you start going to, there’s the Halloween party, then there’s Friendsgiving, then there’s just work holiday. All of that can start building up in September. It doesn’t need to literally be Christmas tree lights again.

Michelle: Yes. Yes, and that’s one reason why start planning now because You can start to plan your content pillars and something that I was actually thinking about is you could make these different story arcs, right? That aren’t necessarily super promo or whatnot, but maybe you make a whole thing about how you want to get the perfect gift for your husband.

So you’re like recording yourself going to stores and trying to figure out what’s going on and then you’re Debating what you want to do and you’re recording yourself and that’s [00:06:00] a whole storyline that can play out for months and People will naturally get very invested like what’s gonna happen?

Where what did you decide? and so In thinking about what exactly you do want to start posting now, whether it’s you’re going to post all of your getting ready for your parties, you’re in a post, you’re looking for your husband’s gifts, you’re then going to post your table arrangements, which can also evolve over time.

But like Monica was saying, you don’t just want to be like Christmas tree. It’s holiday in September. That would just be a little missing the mark.

Monica: Yeah, I think I don’t know if I’m like the normal in this, but I think the last times that I’ve bought actual Decorations, it’s always at the end of November, because I’m just where am I going to put them [00:07:00] all?

I’m, I don’t know, but I was thinking about two things at the same time, and I couldn’t decide what I was going to say, but what I was going to say was, I really liked the storytelling point that you brought up, because that is so much more engaging than just sharing collage after collage, gift guide after gift guide.

Obviously you absolutely should do them like they convert so well because they’re easy to shop, but I think they convert well when they’re an add on, they’re not the only thing that you’re doing. If you are, if we take the example of shopping for your husband’s gift, you’re taking everyone on this journey, they’re invested and now they’re like, hey, while you’re out shopping.

I don’t have time to do this. So can you also tell me what I should get my father in law? And then that’s where the [00:08:00] gift guides start to come in. It’s okay, we’re all in this together. Here’s all the different things I considered for my husband’s gift. Here’s some ideas for father in law. And then ideally, your audience keeps throwing things at you, being like, okay, what about teacher’s gifts?

What about my co workers? And then It’s so much more organic that way than just pushing collages after collages. And if you’re just doing collages over and over again, that’s gonna lead to burnout. And also, unless you have the LTK app, there’s not really a good place for those to live other than your website.

And works if you have good SEO on your website, then that’s amazing. And it’s going to do well because everyone does start searching in Google, but maybe that’s another piece that I didn’t even think to bring up is making sure your SEO on your blog, if you still use an actual [00:09:00] blog, making sure that’s like up to date so that you can leverage.

Your site or that passive traffic of the shoppers who aren’t Creator shoppers because then you’re just gonna get everyone to be a good SEO.

Michelle: Yeah, so just to take a step back when First starting to think through what do you want to do for holiday one? Looking like what L T K does looking at macro trends outside of, your own creator world, then looking at the creator world and there’s right.

The different publications or different platforms you use will publish different things. So you can take a look there and then looking at your own performance. That’s how you can start to zoom in and compare yourself, even to what is happening,[00:10:00] let’s use the posting in September example, posting in September is what you have to do. And then you’re like, Oh my gosh, okay, I have to make all this content and I have to post these things. But that is not something that is going to work with you. Or even if that’s just something that you don’t have bandwidth for, like what Monica was saying, you’re not going to enjoy it.

You’re just going to be very reactive. So right now is where you still do have a little bit of time and you can take a pause and assess. Last year, what happened and what was going on and then look at this year and how that’s starting to evolve.

Then after you do that, really starting to think about your content themes.

And I was even thinking too, it could be cute. If you have a toddler. And they’re just going to be remembering it. Maybe they’re like 3 or 4 and they’re [00:11:00] actually like talking and coherent and whatnot. And so if you’re also taking them along the ride, and then you’re even just like scrapbooking that.

But if then you’re documenting that and sharing and it’s. The stuff that you’ll be sharing it’s going to be so organic because you’re just like we’re making hot chocolate for the first time and these are the marshmallows that I got and here’s our mugs and it’s much more aspirational and like the me I want to be versus like, here’s my collage and this is everything that we use to make hot chocolate.

To your point, Monica, you can follow up with that. But then when you’re actually in the moment and documenting , that’s going to form a better connection with your audience and make them. Want to buy those things even more

Monica: exactly.

And I think that one thing that does keep coming up is the economic landscape is obviously [00:12:00] different this year than it was last year.

And I don’t want to say, it’s, I was going to say distasteful, but that’s not the right word, but essentially there’s a way to connect with your audience and like making sure that they have what they need to be set up for success in a way that is just like being self aware that this year is different than last year.

And I think again, to your point, like when you are bringing them on this story. This journey with them, making them feel a part of it. That’s not gonna feel like, Oh my gosh, do I need to buy this? And do I need to buy this? Do I need to buy this? It’s like showing the purpose of the gift guide, for example.

Like, when you’re just like throwing gift guides at people, that’s where the consumerism really is on steroids. And where then, people will get caught up in being like, shoot, am I supposed to be buying [00:13:00] all these things for all these people? But if you do it in a more organic way and people see what other people are actually doing in their real life, then it’s a lot less overwhelming of a shopping experience, especially when it’s not a year where you are going to buy gifts for all of your neighbors.

Maybe last year you did, and that was great, but to feel the pressure that you have to now keep doing that because it must be what everyone else is doing. If all these gift guides are out there, then. You then start to get into the land of why the influencer space gets a bad rap for consumerism. I don’t think it’s the creator’s responsibility to make sure that someone doesn’t feel like they have to buy everything a creator shares.

But I do think that when we’re just thinking about strategy for holiday, which is very [00:14:00] strong period, how can we just tap into that shopper’s brain of what will make them want to stay on your content longer than someone else’s because what’s going to feel better for them

Michelle: right by being able to get a pulse on that you’ll take your content and move it from good to great and really impactful because Let’s even say that throughout the toddler experience if you are fortunate enough to be able to have very nice coffee mugs and you’re buying all your your decorations, from West Elm or, Oh, my gosh, our house.

That store is wild. Yeah. That is bunkers. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford those types of things, but then you don’t want to make your audience feel like they, they are less than. Or even [00:15:00] deter them from following you, like you don’t want to lose followers that are just like, Oh, everything that they post is over 500 or whatever.

So you could always use that as an opportunity to sometimes I see influencers posts a splurge and a save and so you can post kind of those alternatives to show that you are being conscious of that. And it’s hey, anyone can do this, or you can even, if you don’t want to be that specific, linking directly to products is nine times out of 10, always going to get you higher conversion than just linking to a retailer.

Home page because you’re putting your audience literally right where you want them to be. But if you do want it to be a little more exploratory where it’s like you see that target has a whole holiday cookware section and you’re like, Okay, we’re [00:16:00] having our fun day making cookies. There’s a bunch of options at Target, so you can do it too.

And then you just link there and give them the option to buy whatever they want.

Monica: Yes, I agree. Yeah, I think it’s just the holiday is just a sensitive time for consumers. But from the creator standpoint, obviously, what consumer behavior is doing is going to affect your Take home paycheck as a creator.

So how do you recommend? Someone project how they’re going to perform this holiday when you don’t fully understand like What the economy is doing? I feel if you’re not like deep in keeping up with what’s going on in the economy All you know is the headliners Which, depending on what news outlet, depending on where you’re seeing it posted, what piece of a headline sticks with [00:17:00] you.

Someone might say the economy is fine. Someone might say that it’s a recession. Someone might say it might be a recession. And someone might say it’s the second Great Depression. Like, when you have All of that coming at you and you’re just not an economist, how do you use that in projecting how you’re going to perform or do you just be like I guess I just have to keep winging it.

Michelle: I think that’s where influencers actually have a leg up because it’s really nice to not be chained to only 1 specific. Or just a series, of luxury brands, right? You’re able to use your performance to see okay, here are the brands and retailers that work for me versus here are the ones that don’t.

This can be skewed by if you’re just [00:18:00] posting more. Links to one specific brand , but if you do take a look at your order count and your conversion and see what retailers for you are performing the best right now, that is going to give you a very big indication of where your audience’s minds are at.

And so that’s something that if you are seeing. A lot of purchases from like target or up in the East coast, we have Bob’s discount furniture. I don’t know if that’s a nationwide chain, but if you’re seeing more of that, as opposed to West Elm pottery barn, our house, that should give you an indication of where.

Your audience is at and this is actually why creators did do very well during the [00:19:00] pandemic because they pivoted because they were seeing what was going on and what was really driving purchase and conversion for them and then they adapted their strategy.

Monica: Yeah, I remember when I worked at LTK, the creators during the pandemic who took the advice that LTK gave to.

Pivot to home if so, they were basically like if you are a fashion blogger It’s okay to pivot to home and we’re gonna help you do it. So like the account managers got on strategy calls to really make the creator feel comfortable with pivoting which I think is Really important that if you are gonna pivot you do feel like you have support and you don’t feel oh, no What if this?

Completely goes wrong. So the account managers at LTK, they really worked closely with the creators to help them pivot during the pandemic, all of the success stories from that time were of the people [00:20:00] who were like, you know what? Okay, let’s do it. Let’s add home because we’re. Home and not wearing anything or going anywhere and those were the success stories.

Michelle: I hope the pandemic is a once in a lifetime experience, but , that was such a universal trend, right? That everyone was trying to just spruce up their houses. That’s where everyone was spending all their time. And not taking advantage of that would also cost you like, if you kept doing the same thing and let’s say that you teed up your content for 6 weeks.

So the 1st. 6 weeks of the pandemic, you’re like, posting all these going out outfits . That would not track with anyone because no one was leaving their houses. So there is some of that too and that kind of goes back to the I guess reading the [00:21:00] room or being self aware around what’s going on and It doesn’t have to be super complicated You can even look at your own data and what’s working and then take a step back and be like does this make?

sense Based on what’s going on in the world.

Monica: So another thing to think about when prepping for holiday that I think it’s a new conversation this year and has not really been as much of a conversation in the past. And that is. Where should you be linking from as a part of your strategy? For example, should I be using URLgenius to link to Amazon?

Or should I still be linking to Amazon from Collective Voice or LTK? Should I be posting home content through LTK? Beauty content through ShopMy? And fashion through [00:22:00] collective voice. How should that be strategized for Holiday? Or, here’s the yes no question, should Holiday not be the time to play around with all that?

Michelle: What do you think?

Monica: I don’t know, I’m so torn because I feel like, I think the first thing is, go where there’s Bonuses, incentives, whatever. I’m thinking right now about my Shopmy and how I’m at the cusp of getting a bonus. I’m like because of that, this is a perfect time to try to actually achieve that.

For example, how it works is they have this calculator and it’s based off of your activity using their platform. Then, the traffic that you actually drive, the orders that you drive, and then referrals to them. They take all of that on a point system and mix it all together. To [00:23:00] me, I’m like, oh, then, Holiday automatically will Push me to the threshold.

I think I have 20 points left to get to that next level. So that’s how I’m looking at it for myself. I do think that maybe when it comes to Amazon, if you had your, like your best year yet with Amazon this summer for prime, just do what you did this past summer, don’t mess with that.

I don’t know. That’s where I’m at, but I feel like I am going on that case by case basis thing where I’m like, okay, when it comes to the retailer, this, when it comes to a bonus offer to me this, and then I’m just all over the place. So I’m sure so many. Other people are all over the place, too.

Michelle: Yeah, to your Amazon point, you know the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Yeah. If there are [00:24:00] any retailers where you’re finding things are working very well, it only makes sense to stay the course. I think that’s an interesting point about the bonuses and stuff.

And one other consideration that I think is worth throwing in there is, Holiday, as we just talked about, is very different this year. A lot of brands are holding back budgets, potentially until the 11th hour. So another thing that you can look at too is, The past campaigns that you’ve worked on for the different platforms that you link on.

And if you are putting some of your holiday like teaser and starting to put your content on one platform and then a [00:25:00] brand’s money suddenly opens up for a campaign, you have that data to be able to be like, Okay yes, I’m confident I can drive for the campaign and then you might be able to get a last minute campaign deal from some of that unlocked budget.

Yes. That is another really big thing where, if you don’t, I think. A lot of holiday stuff is starting to really be underway right now. If you don’t have anything and if you don’t get anything until… Like potentially at this point, like late October, even early November, sometimes there are some retailers that last minute, they’re just like, make it rain, but you can be a beneficiary of that where, because you have.

Chosen based on what’s working where you’re posting, you can prime yourself to [00:26:00] be in that campaign.

Monica: Agree. on that note, I think it becomes less about the platform you use to post, but just where you’re consistent, where you’re showing up, where you have data. I have people ask me like, am I not going to be able to succeed as a creator if I don’t get accepted to LTK?

And I’m like, that is it’s such a myth that in order to be successful, you have to be on the LTK app. Being a creator and being profitable has nothing to do with LTK itself. What LTK does, at its core, is the same that Collective Voice is doing, that ShopMy is doing, Rodeo, Howl.

At their core, they are the technology that allows you to link to a retailer and that track to your account. Now, why LTK could boost you is because they [00:27:00] have the consumer facing app, but that’s only going to be relevant to boosting you. If you’re shoppers. Use the LTK app. So when creators ask me this, one of the first things I always say is do your shoppers even use the LTK app?

And so many times, the answer is no, I don’t think they even use it yet. And I was like you would have to train them how to use it. And then that’s the only reason why you would really need to be on LTK. And so not to be so defeated that you’re never going to be as successful as someone else, just because you didn’t get accepted.

Michelle: Yeah, and with that consumer facing experience, right? Someone that goes into the app, just in general, their intent to purchase is higher, right? Their engagement is just naturally going to be higher, but. I think that if you do some of [00:28:00] the things that we were talking about earlier, where you’re posting these really engaging lifestyle pieces that are relevant, or you’re just much less focused on here’s this collage, buy it, here’s this thing, oh, get a 20 percent off, and instead, if you focus on that storytelling piece and having really strong content pillars, then Thank Your audience, while it might not be this curated apps audience, they are going to be much more engaged because they trust you because they know that you’re not just looking for the next sale to post your integrating. Your recommendations into your life, and it’s going to land very differently.

Monica: Yeah, for sure. And it’s also a matter of what works for your audience as well. You could be doing your audience a [00:29:00] disservice if all of a sudden you got LTK. Accepted, and then now you just start posting to the app, and if your audience doesn’t have the app, that is such an annoying user experience for them.

So I just really want to emphasize, do not feel self conscious about whether or not you’ve been accepted to LTK or not.

Michelle: Yeah, because it’s not going to make

Monica: or break your holiday. It’s not going to make or break your career. It’s there are so many platforms that have other tools that could be more useful for you that you might not even realize because of how focused you’ve been that.

You haven’t been accepted

Now, if you do use the LTK app and that works for your audience, you’re going to want to make sure you listen to the following episode because that’s where we’re going to dive into more specifics around that.

And we’re also going to dive [00:30:00] into Black Friday and all the major holiday specific events that are coming up so soon.

Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to subscribe for a review and As always, we appreciate all you listeners, let us know what you think in our Instagram DMs, email, anywhere you want to send us a note.

We love hearing from you. Yes, thanks

Michelle: everyone. Bye.

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