Shown above: Sierra, Billy & their dog Jetty.

Here at Social Navigator we are constantly asked what influencers do and why does it even matter? Social media transformed the marketing industry by making word of mouth go further than a game of telephone from friend to friend. Now every post has the chance to go viral.

So we checked in with some of our favorite influencers to get a behind the scenes of information about what influencers do. (It should help you realize why it’s a necessary part of every marketing strategy going into the next decade.)

A little background about our influencers: Tula’s Endless Summer. Tula’s Endless Summer is the name for Billy, Sierra, and their dog Jetty. They have sailed up and down the east coast, all of the Bahamas and through the Caribbean. Tula’s Endless Summer started the boat life on a small monohull sailboat (Tula) and then moved onto an old trawler (Neverland). They now live on a sailing catamaran named Adrenaline. In order to be able to live this life, Billy and Sierra buy boats that need a lot of boat work and fix them up on their own. They make these videos so you can experience the work and the fun.

Social Navigator: What do you want brands to know and understand about what you do?

Tula: There are a lot of things that I wish brands knew and understood about us as “influencers” or “youtubers” or “Vloggers/bloggers”. With this understanding brand deals, promotions, partnerships, collaborations and/or sponsorships negotiations would go SO much smoother and would absolutely yield a higher ROI for brands/businesses while maintaining the interest and attention of our audience.

What is the most important aspect of what you offer brands?

We are a business. Although, unlike most businesses which have products, patents, client lists, essential equipment, contracts, routes, real estate, etc. the only thing we have to leverage is… Our audience’s attention. If we sacrifice that audience’s attention too much by promoting something that is not valuable or relevant to them or promoting something too much or in an unnatural way then we start to become “sell-outs” and begin to lose the absolute only asset that our business has and depends on. This is important for brands to understand because it is a constant thought as we navigate through brand deals and sponsorships and is the backbone to our decision making.

That sounds like a lot to navigate. How does that play a role in modern marketing?

Modern marketing is low pressure and authentic. That is the reason influencers are so valuable.  We have a trusting relationship with our audience who value our authenticity. When brands ask us to be high pressure and read a script of salesy talking points we get frustrated and turned off. With that being said there is a fine line between authentic and deceitful and this is where the FTC comes into play. The FTC wants everybody to be on the correct side of that fine line in order to protect the consumer. They do this be requiring that (in our case) influencers  disclose our full relationship with the brand/business in an up front and conspicuous way. This even includes affiliate partnerships and “in-kind” product value. Brands may be so onboard to “authenticity” that they may not want us to disclose our relationship with our audience but the penalty for this is even worse for the brands than it is for the influencer. Plus, Karma. 

Authenticity and honesty can make or break a company for sure! How does your personal audience impact the value that you offer to brands?

We are in the boating/sailing niche and I wish brands would always fully understand the value of having this niche audience. When we present our analytics we always point out that we don’t just have 100k random youtube subscribers, we have 100k youtube subscribers who are truly interested and invested in what we do which is everything around boating and sailing on the water. It is the perfect market in a tea cup for so many marine industry brands. Plus, 90% male 35-55 y/o, talk about buying power.

That’s a perfected target audience if we’ve ever seen one. Now let’s get down the business end. Can you explain the cost related to value so brands can better understand their investment?

Sometimes brands perceive what we charge as way too much. I mean, what overhead do we have in our business? We are just a couple kids bumming around on a sailboat making youtube videos. The truth is what a brand is paying for is not our overhead, it is access to our niche audience that we have the attention of and that we have grown through creativity, consistency, and hard work over the years. Have you ever heard the story of the mechanic that charges $10k for a quick tap of a hammer on a particular spot on the engine to make it work? The mechanic doesn’t get paid for tapping the hammer, he gets paid for the knowledge and experience he has acquired over the years. We don’t get paid for an ad in a youtube video, we get paid for the trust and attention of our niche audience. That is worth far more than what you can get on a page in a magazine. Furthermore the camera and computer gear we use to record and edit for youtube really adds up especially in the salt water environment and especially when we get a little bit risky to get the shot.

I get nervous using my phone on the boat. I can’t imagine holding professional technology out on the open water. You put in all this work to make these videos but what is the outcome? How long can a video really impact buyers?

Some videos we make are more travel and adventure style while some are very specific topics. This is especially true with some of our boat work videos. When we install a new component on the boat we usually make a video surrounding that and title it accordingly. Youtube is the second biggest search engine on the internet behind google (who owns youtube) and therefore is the preferred search platform of so many people especially for complex and dynamic topics such as installing something on a boat. For a brand to be featured in one of these videos is worth it’s weight in gold. That brand or product will be seen for years to come by their perfect customer. The customer who is searching for that specific topic because that is exactly what they are going to be installing in the near future and they want to get an idea of the project before they begin. Not only is the product featured but it is featured in an extremely relatable way to that same potential customer who is almost literally in our shoes as they watch the video and install the product with us. This is just about as good as putting the unit in their hands on their own boat ready to install. Now just TRY not to make that sale!

Sounds great to us. How do you track that and get real information about your impact?

It is pretty much the norm now for brands to want a call to action with a link click or a unique discount code in order to track the success of an ad or feature. This is understandable as it gives companies a good idea of their return on investment and ultimately the success of the campaign. I do want to point out though that this can sometimes be overrated and even slightly detrimental. A link click or using a coupon code at purchase is an ask of our audience which shifts towards high pressure marketing side of the spectrum vs. the low pressure of modern day marketing that I mentioned above. Some of our best brand deals have been with products that require no call to action. We just use it as we see fit, film naturally, and let it be seen naturally which says a lot about the trust the brand has in us and in their own product. What did they use to say? “A brand needs to be seen at least 3 different ways before a consumer has enough trust to purchase?” In 2020 this number is probably closer to 12 different exposures instead of 3. That is where the power of natural brand awareness comes in with no call to action. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for a direct call to action but I wish brands would remember the power of natural brand exposure especially in this world of low-pressure marketing.

The real impact is pretty obvious when you give it time to work! Natural brand exposure is something we focus on because it amps up authenticity like you talked about earlier. What is one more thing you’d like for brands to know moving forward?

When we work with the right brand in the right way it is like a dream come true. It is a huge win for the brand who gets their product or services marketed in an authentic way to their niche audience and it is a huge win for us because it provides value for our audience and helps to keep funding our channel. I hope this article helps shed a little bit of light onto what I wish brands knew when working with influencers so that we can all have an even more successful time in creating mutually beneficial campaigns.

Thank you Billy and Sierra for helping our brands understand the unique impact of influencer marketing. If you’re interested in linking up with an influencer for your future marketing strategy contact Social Navigator!