Why a Builder with 500K YouTube Followers Says Influencer Marketing Is NOT About the Numbers

  • Categories:

    Social Media, Influencer Marketing

  • Date:

    January 7, 2020

Why a Builder with 500K YouTube Followers Says Influencer Marketing Is NOT About the Numbers

Social Media Influencer Marketing

It’s no secret: Influencers are a key piece of the marketing strategy puzzle. Partnering with a prominent brand champion can grow your organic reach, give you a deeper connection with your audience and even drive product innovation. Especially in the home and building category, the visual platforms of Instagram, YouTube and Facebook have helped influencers connect with followers and build a real-time system of feedback between influencer, brand and viewer — and smart brands are capitalizing on it.

We talked with Matt Risinger, an Austin-based builder, blogger and influencer partner of multiple building product manufacturers, about the importance of influencer marketing today and what we might expect for years to come.

1. Why do you think influencers have such a strong influence on people in general? Specific to homebuilding? Specific to your audience?

I think it’s because of the ability for social media to allow for a connection with real people. When I was a kid, the only builder I knew was Tom Silva [host of PBS’ “This Old House”], and the only way I was able to learn from him was by watching a 30-minute, fully edited TV show once a week, at a very specific time. Nowadays, with social media, no matter what you’re interested in, there are people out there who have very specific knowledge about different topics. It can be very niche, but it’s all accessible — you can watch it on YouTube.

I think the same is true when we talk about “influencers,” which I never really heard as a term until just a few years ago. Now, instead of a TV show, people can watch my YouTube videos or check out my Instagram feed and get direct feedback from someone they feel like they know and trust for recommendations on best practices, products or any number of things that can help them in their job, hobby or personal life.

For the homebuilding category specifically, an influencer’s value boils down to a level of apprenticeship and mentoring. We really don’t have an apprentice program in our trade, and we also, as a society, have lost a little bit of our desire to be or have personal mentors. We’ve gotten busy and away from one-on-one mentoring, but part of being an influencer is our ability to, sort of, mentor at a distance — that’s what I would chalk influencers up to in some respects. They are mentors in the sense that they are educating through their own channel. There’s less ability, maybe, for followers to ask questions, but also more ability for them to go back and search for something I did three years ago and maybe find the answer to their question. It’s an interesting middle ground between watching Tom Silva on TV and taking another builder out to lunch.

2. How do influencers impact customer decisions?

In general, influencers can have quite an impact on the marketplace because there are consumers out there who are researching more and more. Across my channels, I get massive feedback from people who are in the “I’m going to build a house” category and have been researching videos to learn everything they can about the process. Their mentality is, if they are going to spend the money, they are going to do it well. We’re able to help people in a tangible way to build a better house.

3. How did you get started?

I actually started blogging first. About 15 years ago, I went to a conference for builders and attended a session on marketing for your business by David Meerman Scott, the author of the book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR.” He talked about becoming influential through this search engine called Google that would push people toward your content. I started my blog in 2007 and quickly found that people in Austin, where I’m based, were reading it and feeling like they knew me and my work even before I came for my first interview to build their house.

Six months later, someone introduced me to this new site called YouTube. I started making a few videos, posting maybe one or two a month, and then I would go to a meeting with a prospect and they’d have seen all of my videos and want to talk about them. They would say they felt like they knew me already, which was funny to me because maybe the videos would have about 60 views — but that prospect was one of them.

It really taught me that you have to set your ego aside. The point is, if you’re spending the time to put valuable content out there, you have to show your audience that you’re knowledgeable and likable. And even if it’s only consumed by a few people, those may be the right people for you. That gave me enough early feedback to make me realize it’s not really about the numbers. It’s about driving my business and building my reputation through regular content so my customers will eventually find me.

4. How did you build your audience?

The biggest growth for me was after I started updating and uploading regularly — I think that was in 2015. I had muddled along with a few hundred or a few thousand followers for years. I started posting every Friday, no matter what. Once I became regular, I saw a boost in subscribers — people who were following along, not just stumbling upon my content occasionally. The same thing happened when I started posting twice a week.

5. What are platforms where you've had the most success? Why?

YouTube, for sure — it’s been so good to me over the years. With videos, people can actually see what’s going on and it makes the biggest difference. It’s free and freely available. We just hit 500,000 subscribers this month and it has me thinking, “Could we hit a million?” I’m just a nerdy builder in Austin talking about really specific construction stuff. … it blows my mind a little bit.

6. What are the traits of a solid influencer partner for brands? What should brands look for in an influencer partner?

A solid reputation for integrity. For me, it’s important that my content is family-friendly, that my reputation is sterling and that I’m always being open and honest with my viewers. For instance, I recently made a mistake on a video that some viewers called me out on in the comments. When I researched, I realized I was promoting a practice that was unsafe. I immediately took down the video and published an apology and a promise to have a new video posted soon with the proper technique. Two weeks later, I put it back up, and the response was amazing. People were appreciative and recognized the integrity behind it.

I think it’s important for brands to do some research. The bottom line is that both the brand and the influencer need to be able to maintain each other — that they are aligned and can support each other.

7. Where will influencer marketing go from here?

I think [influencer marketing] is still in its infancy. As we continue to see less and less people watching TV and using traditional media, I think influencer marketing will really take off. As much as has been spent on influencer marketing right now, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the next five to 10 years.

When I think about the future, I think about my kids, who range in age from 7 to 13. The only time they turn on the TV is if they’re going to watch Netflix, but 90% of the time, when they want to consume media, they go to YouTube. They can name all the big YouTube influencers in their genres of interest faster than they can name movie stars. I think the same could be said for the 18- to 25-year-old demographic.

If I continue to stay on YouTube for the next 10 years and also continue to build out The Build Show Network, my own library of content and presenters that I call Netflix for builders, I think we’ll continue to reach the next generation of builders, remodelers, homeowners and architects.

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