Outsourced Content, a Compliment to In-House Creative

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With demands for fresh content to populate social channels, power FB and Instagram ads, email marketing campaigns and site updates, today’s top marketers need more content than ever.

Keeping up with the heightened demand for content has been a major challenge, as brands' content spend is at an all time high but 55% of CMOs say that having enough content is a top three concern for them heading into 2019. They need to mitigate the risk of content fatigue, and they need to serve different demographics with content that’s contextually relevant to them.

So the question has to be asked: If content budgets are at all an all time high but brands’ content needs aren’t being met, what gives?

For obvious reasons, creative directors and marketers alike are afraid of losing control of the voice and aesthetic that defines their brand. That’s totally fair, but content that’s generated externally doesn’t need to be in “competition” to in-house creative.

As Geraldo Aldaronda, who is the Creative Director at Ministry of Supply, explains,

As a brand grows the need for content can skyrocket. But with proper support and direction, external content creators efficiently support resource constraints while expanding the reach of our creative vision.
— Geraldo Aldaronda - Creative Director @ Ministry of Supply

Outsourced content can be the perfect supplement to in-house creative. It can populate brands’ social channels, keep ad creative fresh and optimize email marketing performance.

The cost efficiency is also a critical component. Based on Cohley client survey, we found that the average photoshoot costs brands $400 per actionable photo. Cohley’s clients see their “cost per image” sitting 60 - 90% less. Having a larger pool of diverse, actionable content to deploy and A/B test across digital channels can absolutely up performance; We’ve seen it time and time again.

Remember when creatives didn’t do data?
— Billboard in New York City

The content adds a critical layer of authenticity in the eyes of the consumer. Today’s most innovative brands are able to find a healthy balance between maintaining brand aesthetic and incorporating outside content, incorporating data to inform and refine content decisions.

According to a LinkedIn study, one in four brands still doesn’t incorporate any content that’s produced externally. With the democratization of high-quality content creation that we can primarily thank smartphones and editing apps for, combined with the significantly lower costs associated with generating this type of content, this is simply a missed opportunity.

How to Incorporate Influencers Into Your Brand's Holiday Strategy

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It’s already October and the holiday season is upon us. In the months leading up to Christmas, shoppers are hunting for the holiday decor, gifts, and recipes. Undoubtedly, consumers are turning to friends, family, and the internet for recommendations in the months leading up to the holiday season. In fact, Collective Bias reports that 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions and 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger.

We all know that the lucrative holiday season is also the busiest time of year for ads and branded content, so how do you break through the noise? Winning holiday content marketing strategies have evolved from spending enormous budgets on broadcast ads and creative agencies to engaging audiences through more organic, user-generated content. This is where influencers can help. Here are some steps you can take to run a successful influencer campaign this holiday season:

  1. Define your goals

    Are you looking to generate a lot of low-cost authentic content to repurpose on your social channels and ads? Perhaps you want to generate more brand awareness for your brand? Define your goals and budget upfront so you can ensure that all your strategies are working towards defined KPIs. Having a clear focus will help you knock one overarching goal out of the park rather than seeing mediocre results by trying to achieve too many things all at once.

  2. Create a timeline

    Set up a timeline of when you need your content and give your content creators enough time (we recommend a minimum of 2 weeks) to submit their content from the time they receive the product. Work with your Cohley Digital Strategist to ensure your content will go live in time while giving your creators ample time to create quality content.

  3. Accept creators based on your defined goals

    The creators you accept to your campaign should completely depend on the goals you outlined in step 1. Whether it’s photography quality, content theme, or follower count, you’ll want to use defined criteria to vet through content creators. The ambiguous “brand fit” criteria casts too wide of a subjective net to truly pick the creators that will set up your campaign for success.

  4. Take full advantage of all content gained from your creator partnerships

    The value of content gained from your influencer campaigns reaches farther than a single Instagram post. Are you repurposing the imagery for your social ads and marketing emails? Are you running A/B tests to determine whether user-generated content performs better than photos from your professional shoots? Are you filling your own social feeds with influencer content? The ROI of influencer content can be limitless!

How are you going to incorporate content into your brand’s holiday strategy? The Cohley Team is here to help you bring some of these tactics into your content strategy before the New Year. There is still time to take action! Contact us at hello@cohley.com - we want to help!

How to Mitigate the Risk of “Ad Fatigue” During the Holiday Season


For brands, the holiday season represents a massive opportunity to connect with customers at a time when they’re spending a lot more money than usual. According to the NRF, the holiday season can represent as much as 30 percent of annual sales for many brands and retailers…that’s a pretty staggering statistic when you process it.

But on the flip side of this opportunity is major risk. Agency founder Andrew Krebs-Smith projects that in 2018, Facebook and Instagram Ads may spike by more than 50% in price on a CPM basis due to the huge uptick in demand for consumer eyeballs. The RISK is that if you’re paying that much more for your social ads, you obviously need them to perform great. If your ads do crush it? The year’s a success! If they flop? Yikes…

FB and Instagram Ads may spike by more than 50% in price during the holidays depending on the industry

One of the most important factors in Facebook and Instagram ad performance is providing consumers with contextually relevant content that’s refreshed on a weekly basis. That’s not us at Cohley talking, those are simply industry best practices.

The good news is that Cohley can help generate high-quality photos and videos at scale in a cost effective manner. Our network of highly vetted content creators help clients like Adore Me, Unilever and hundreds of other brands fill their content gaps and stay ahead of their competition by A/B testing diverse content in their ad sets.

Ultimately for our clients, Cohley plays a huge role in ensuring that they crush the holiday season, finish the year strong and mitigate the risk of lackluster ad performance.

Here are a few examples of Cohley generated videos, and here are some photo samples to give you an idea of what’s possible.

Give us a shout at hello@cohley.com and let’s talk about your brand’s content strategy in Q4.

The Dos and Don'ts of Applying to Campaigns

DO: Read the creative brief before applying to a campaign

  • The creative briefs are set up to allow creators to quickly understand timelines, campaign requirements, and the outlined budgets.

  • Reading the creative brief allows creators the understand if the project is within scope, and if it makes sense to apply.

DON’T: Apply to campaigns that are out of scope

  • If the campaign brief states the brand is only looking for creators in a specific location, and you do not live in that location, do NOT apply.

  • If the campaign brief specifies they are only looking for gender specific content, and you cannot create that type of content, do NOT apply.

  • If the budget for the campaign is not within, or close to within your expectations, do NOT apply.


DO: Send a thoughtful message when you apply to a campaign

  • Example 1: "I have been following your brand for a long time, and love how I can use the product both while I’m on the go or in a more formal setting. I’d love to work together and create some awesome content for you!"

  • Example 2: "I see you’re looking for creators based in rural locations, and I have an upcoming trip to Tahoe that would be a perfect backdrop to create some content."

  • Example 3: "It looks like you’re looking to generate some pet-centric content, and I have 3 dogs I would love to feature in my photos" 

DON’T: Mass apply to campaigns

  • Brands can tell when you’ve applied to their campaign multiple times with the same copy and pasted message.

  • A lot of companies are managing multiple brands on Cohley, they know when you apply to multiple campaigns with the exact same message.


DO: Over communicate

  • Brands are excited to work with you in Cohley! If they send you a message or a shipment update let them know you saw their message.

DON’T: Neglect outlined timelines of the campaign

  • The fastest way to lose trust from a brand is to neglect specified timelines.

  • Cohley team members are always recommending top creators to brands, we ALWAYS suggest creators that we know follow content guidelines and timelines.

Creator Spotlight: 5 Male Accounts We Love

In the female-dominated influencer space, finding the right male content partnerships can feel ever so elusive. At Cohley, we have a great portfolio of strong male content creators and we've helped many male-focused or gender neutral brands recruit strong male applicants on campaigns where working with men was a specific priority.

Here are some Cohley content examples that have come from our 5 of our favorite Cohley men. Send a campaign invite to these guys to elevate your next content campaign! 

Parker York Smith - @parkeryorksmith

Parker is a men's blogger based out of California. Men's fashion is his forte and he engages with his followers by sharing fashion, lifestyle, and fitness tips. He has a multitude of brand partnerships under his belt and is a top content creator!


Robert Liberatore - @robert_lib

As a world traveler and photographer, Robert always has an impressive backdrop to showcase your products. With top notch content + a high engagement rate of over 10%, Robert is a valuable partner to have as part of your campaign.


David Rochez - @_davidrochez

David is a Honduran American fashion and lifestyle blogger. He may look familiar to you because he's the face of the Cohley homepage! He's known for his bright, cheerful images and going above and beyond in delivering quality content.


Jared Kinley - @jaredwkinley

Jared is a professional photographer and filmmaker with a highly engaged Instagram following. Whether photographing male or female subjects in both outdoor and urban environments, Jared's photos are always high quality and creatively executed.


Thomas Trust - @rustandtrust

Thomas is Chicago-based fashion and lifestyle blogger. His ability to capture both a great candid lifestyle shot and neatly styled flat lay makes him a versatile partner!

Some Instagram Ad Formats We Love (and why they work)

Catching Instagram users' attention as they vigorously race through the app consuming content is a challenge that nearly every brand is familiar with. The content has to feel natural but regardless of format, it has to tell a quick and concise story and give users a reason to pause. 

At Cohley, we're finding that video ads like the ad below and ad formats that involve motion of any kind are outperforming static images.

Despite slow adoption to startInstagram video ads today make up more than half of all advertisements on Instagram.

Videos tend to drive more engagement on Instagram than photos and they receive twice as many comments as photos on average. 

We've just added a new product that enables Cohley clients to take static images that they've created through campaigns and turn them into a sequenced video like the one above. The idea is to extend the value of the awesome images that are being generated with a clear end goal of improving ad performance. Early tests have been awesome, and we'll be sure to share more tangible figures when we have them. 


I also love to see brands experiment with ad content that's along the lines of what Bai did in the ad above. It's catchy, it's different and I'm drawn in to the story that they're telling. Defying customer expectations is also often what makes an ad captivating, and because this ad looks unique relative to average Instagram content it'll likely achieve its primary purpose. 

What ad formats have been working well for your brand? Let us know! 

One Tag, Three Characters, Say it and I'm Sold: #ad

There's a paradox to connectivity: as much as we're now tuned into each other's lives through social media, they are the lives we want to showcase and not necessarily the lives we already live. Users follow the stories of influencers and social media personalities for their expertly curated visual aesthetic, backed by the assurance that the human on screen is an opinionated and decision-making being. Whoever this person is, he or she may juggle a growing family resembling one's own, or supplement a witty fashion blog with a collection of daily outfit photos. Someone's wildly adventurous, sepia-toned life is addicting to look at during my morning commute and dull moments in conversation; this is the world of influencers.

Navigating the Ever-Changing World of Influencer Marketing

As a brand, nothing seems more tedious and time consuming than scrolling through social media and trying to discover the ideal influencers that can boost your content and presence. It's even more tedious to find influencers you love who are willing to work with your budget. 

As the graph displays, influencer marketing is getting more expensive. 

As the graph displays, influencer marketing is getting more expensive. 


From a cost per engagement standpoint, the cost of working with influencers has increased over the last few years. In fact, in 2018 we've already seen a 35% increase from last year, with the current average across all industries being $0.18 per engagement.

The reason for the price increase is simple: More and more brands feel the need to include influencer marketing as a staple component of their marketing campaigns. As demand has risen, so too has the presence of influencer agencies who naturally seek higher and higher rates for their clients. 


Source: AdWeek


As influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity, so too will influencer platforms like Cohley. One of the most well-known influencer platforms is Revfluence, who pride themselves on helping brands connect with a wide variety of influencers. Revfluence guides brands with what the fair rate is for each individual influencer based on each influencer's engagement and follower count.

This sounds good in theory, but in reality what it means for their customers is that predicting expenditures is almost impossible and they'll end up spending more money on the campaign than they would have if they'd running that same campaign on Cohley. 

Rather than follow suit, Cohley helps clients set compensation thresholds up front so that brands can;

a.) Forecast total expenditures

b.) Spend a lot less money for equal or better results

c.) Work with people who are genuinely interested in working with them vs. making that decision based purely on compensation details

It's a simple concept, but for us it's all about providing clients with the optimal campaign setup that brings them the best possible results for the lowest total investment. Just because influencer compensation is going up doesn't necessarily mean that you need to invest more to get the same results. Consult our Customer Success team for campaign pricing thresholds that she/he think will achieve your goals and reap the benefits from there. 

Click here to view some of our influencer's featured content.

How We've Addressed the Issue of Fake Followers on Cohley


This past week in Cannes, France, Unilever CMO Keith Weed drew a hard line in the sand on the subject of influencers who've purchased fake followers. He vowed that all of Unilever's powerful brands, Dove, Axe and Talenti among them, will all avoid collaborating with influencers who've purchased fake followers 

“The key to improving the situation is three-fold,” Weed said. “Cleaning up the influencer ecosystem by removing misleading engagement, making brands and influencers more aware of the use of dishonest practices, and improving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact.”

His deep feelings of frustration on the subject were made loud and clear throughout his speech, and we understand where he's coming from. Why waste time, budget, and resources in working with influencers only to market to bots? Flagging influencers who've purchased fake followers and verifying each influencer's audience has been an important part of the Cohley platform for quite some time. 

We monitor this audience credibility and engagement data across our influencer base and display these metrics so that our customers can clearly see this data before deciding to partner with an influencer. See below:


The Audience Credibility percentage denotes what percentage of a creators’ followers are real accounts and weed out the bots. If the Audience Credibility percentage is below 90%, we'll act swiftly to flag and remove that influencer from the Cohley network.

The Trending Engagement metric is also an important piece of the equation. High follower counts with low engagement rates are tell-tale signs of an account with fake followers. By extracting engagement rates from each influencer’s last 30 posts rather than the lifetime of the Instagram account, we can give clients a much more accurate predictor of how a potential collaboration will perform. Historical data is helpful, but it doesn't always provide accurate insights, especially if an account has recently purchased fake followers.

“This is a deep and systematic issue, an issue of trust that fundamentally threatens to undermine the relationship between consumers and brands,” Weed went on to say.

Cohley can help you avoid these pitfalls. Reach out to us at hello@cohley.com to find out how we can the guesswork out of your influencer efforts. 

You can read the full article in AdWeek here. 

All Things Influencers, Ep. 4 with Influencer Jeff Mindell

In this episode of the All Things Influencers podcast presented by Cohley we interview Jeff Mindell, who's an LA-based influencer with all the charisma in the world. Jeff creates a ton of content alongside his wife Kelly, who's a prominent blogger and social personality herself (studiodiy.com).

His one year old son Arlo gets in the mix, too. We talked to Jeff about setting personal boundaries with his audience, how his content has morphed as his life and the priorities within have changed and Jeff also identifies some commonalities between what's gone particularly well in his most successful relationships with brands. We hope you enjoy!