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Text messages are gaining popularity as a way for influencers to communicate directly with their fans — and earn money.
College student Nazjaa Hughson (361,000 followers on TikTok) said texting has become a significant part of her fashion influencer business through affiliate marketing, which generally consists of recommending a product to followers and then directing them to a trackable link to purchase that item.
Hughson began posting TikToks in April 2020 and started to earn money from her social channels after joining the affiliate marketing platform MagicLinks in July. Hughson uses the MagicLinks app ObsessedWith.it to generate specialized links and its text-marketing tool launched in August, Text2Shop, to drive sales.
“My subscribers and followers are always asking where I got stuff, so it’s really easy to just point them to a link,” Hughson told Insider. “Affiliate marketing has been such a big part of the money part of my brand, aside from YouTube AdSense. I’m lucky to have a really engaged fanbase and it’s passive income, which is great.”
Hughson has driven over $15,000 in sales since she started using Text2Shop with an average conversion rate of 6%. MagicLinks declined to share the average commission rate, which varies by brand.
Text2Shop was created by MagicLinks in partnership with the text-marketing startup Community. Community works with a number of influencers, like David Dobrik and Addison Rae, to send one-to-one messages to fans.
Delaney Childs, an influencer with 481,000 Instagram followers, uses both Text2Shop and Community to reach her followers in a more “intimate and direct way,” she said.
After joining the Text2Shop program in October, Childs drove about $12,000 in two weeks, according to MagicLinks.
The rise of texting as a promotional tool comes at a time when many fans want more one-to-one interaction with the celebrities and influencers they follow. Text messaging offers a more direct way for brands or influencers to connect with their followers and interact, accept feedback, or promote something. Having access to a fan’s cell phone number has opened one of the most direct lines of communication an influencer can have to their fans, beyond direct messaging on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, or email.
So far, 26 influencers (chosen by MagicLinks) have participated in testing the Text2Shop feature. The conversion rate for Text2Shop links is five times what MagicLinks sees on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, and over 30,000 consumers have opted-in to Text2Shop. The next step is integrating brand partnerships into texting, the company said.
“Text-marketing has really become rampant, but doing it right is tricky,” said Bryan Mirabal, MagicLinks’ global creative strategy and diversity, equity, and inclusion lead. “Texting is such an intimate channel that it is not even so much of just blowing up someone’s phone with product links, but it is also having that one-to-one connection that feels more natural for that medium of communication.”
How to drive sales through text-marketing
Getting people signed up and opting-in to text messages is the first step for influencers.
Childs found the most success using Instagram Stories to get followers to sign up for her texts, she said. So far, she’s signed up about 2,300 subscribers.
Then, it’s understanding what an influencer’s audience wants — and what sells. For Childs, that’s restocks, sales, or product recommendations with discount codes. And she spends about 10 hours per week perusing the internet for these updates.
“They didn’t sign up to be overloaded with links,” Hughson said of her fans who have opted -in to texting. “So, I try to just send a few links here and there, and also converse with them and wish people a Happy Birthday.”
Hughson broke down how she uses texting to engage with her audience and drive sales:
- When she sends an affiliate link, she’ll create a pre-written message in advance, which includes a photo that typically highlights her outfit and the pieces to shop.
- Hughson said she wants her fans to feel like they are getting “exclusive content,” different from what’s on her social channels. To do that, she dedicates time every now and then to directly chat back and forth with her followers.
- Hughson thinks it is important to mix up the content you send to raise engagement. She’s sent her fans photos, and has even sent them a code for a free drink at Starbucks on Valentine’s Day.
“You can always post videos, and post these affiliate links and try to make money, but if people aren’t watching or engaging with it, it won’t grow,” Hughson said. “One of the most important things is to be consistent and also really engage with your followers because they are the ones supporting you.”
“It’s so hard to go through DMs and emails, but with the text app, you can respond to multiple people at one time who have the same question, or send out a mass text to everyone,” Hughson added.
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