Last week we hosted our second Splash Saloon at our Downtown Toronto office. After the success of our last Saloon in November we were excited to welcome marketers to Splash Effect HQ once again for an intimate evening of conversation around one of marketing’s hottest topics: Influencer Marketing.
Joining us on our panel were 4 brilliant professionals with tons of experience in the industry. With three actual social media influencers and one CEO of one of the world’s leading influencer marketing and collaboration platforms, it was bound to be an night full of unforgettable insights and major 🔑s. Our panelists included Bryan Gold of #Paid, Photographer and Content Creator for Ryerson University Sanjeev Kugan, Influencer Alexa Fernando and Eden Hagos of Black Foodie.
After a slight delay due to an incident that will go down in Splash Effect history (basically, we got locked out of a room in our office, didn’t have a key, and all the drinks and food for the Saloon were inside. 😬 Eventually our landlord had to come and break us in to rescue the evening. 😂🙈) we sat down to take in what would be another awesome panel. Here are 6 🔑 takeaways:
2017 is the year of the Influencer
Forbes said it, and our panelists all agreed. While influencer marketing has been prevalent in certain industries for a while now (namely beauty and fashion) this year we are seeing many other industries taking note of the power that influencers can have when it comes to building awareness of their brand and driving sales. Other brands will be putting their marketing dollars toward influencer marketing in 2017 and so should you.
“Influencer” can sometimes be a dirty word
One insight we took from two of our panelists is that not all “influencers” like to be referred to as such. The word “influencer” can have negative connotations, especially for fans and followers of this individual who value transparency and genuine engagement. For Alexa and Sanjeev, the title of “Content Creator” is preferred, as it is among many in this increasingly common career. They prefer to be seen as experts in creating content that resonates with their respective audiences. If your brand’s target audience correlates with theirs and they create content that suits your brand’s aesthetic, consider working with them. But don’t think that just because they have follower by the bucketload that you will see a return based on their influence. The relationship between brand and content creator is more complex than that.
Respect the Process
On that point, working with an influencer is not just a simple transaction in which the brand provides creative and copy to the influencer and the influencer shares that content and copy with their audience. No, working with an influencer is far more collaborative than that and the brand should be open to the influencer/content creator’s perspective and expertise when it comes to their audience. Yes, the brand should provide key messages about the product or service being promoted, but the creative content is largely driven by the influencer based on their audience, their personal brand/persona and the aesthetic that they are known for amongst their community. Yes, this means that the brand has to relinquish control a little bit and truly trust the influencer they are working with, but in the end respecting this process will help result in greater brand awareness and bigger returns.
Authenticity Above All
For most influencers – and equally for their followers – authenticity in their content is essential to their success and, therefore, to your success as a brand. When working with an influencer don’t be put off if an influencer wants to make sure they genuinely like your product before they promote it to their followers. When users follow content creators on Instagram there is a level of inherent trust that exists at the core of that relationship and authenticity is at the heart of maintaining that trust. Also, don’t expect content creators to abandon their aesthetic to work with you. It’s important for them to stay true to the personal brand they have built from the ground-up.
One of the biggest laughs of the night was when Hamza asked the panel the ever controversial question, “should you buy followers.” After a chorus of “no’s” from Eden, Alexa and Sanjeev, Bryan of #Paid responded with a simple, “Nah, B.”
DON’T BUY FOLLOWERS, FAM. Just don’t do it. No matter how badly you want to become an influencer.
Instagram 4 Life
When asked about the platform the see the most engagement and highest return on, our panel resoundingly said “Instagram.” And when pressed as to whether they prefer Snapchat or Instagram Stories, once again the ball was in Instagram’s court. This may come as a surprise given the somewhat controversial launch of Instagram Stories last year, but just this week Ad Age confirmed what our panellists (and #SplashSaloon audience) had to say as well. Snapchat is great for young audiences (13-21) but Instagram is where it’s at for the key Millennial demographic.
This is just a snapshot of some of the key insights from our second #SplashSaloon. Want to hear what our panellists had to say for yourself? Subscribe to the Make A Splash podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud and keep an eye out for episode 2 (and listen to episode 1, while you’re at it). We’ll be uploading a recording of our Splash Saloon shortly!
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