From 2009 to 2016: How influencer marketing has changed

GADDR asked industry leaders for their take on social media trends and the problem that Gaddr is solving – unifying creator’s own digital identity in one place to easily be found and followed across all channels. This article is part of the Social Media Trends series focusing on expert opinions of social media industry leaders and professionals within influencer marketing.

Today we talked to the pioneers in influencer marketing, CLEVER. Founded in 2009 – before the term “influencer marketing” even existed – they grew into an award winning multimillion-dollar agency. Their core values are trust and authenticity, and the focus is on real storytelling between creators and brands. With the extensive experience and a network of over 3,500 bloggers and social influencers, Clever knows how to take trending to the next level and understand all details of social media. We caught up with Kristy Sammis, their Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, who has been working with bloggers since the concept appeared and frankly left us at Gaddr more than inspired!

Startup Stock Photos

How do creators best make use of having different social channels and engaging their followers differently in each of them? 

It’s such a tough question for influencers. From my experience, they usually select one or two channels that make the most sense for what they’re focusing on. Increasingly, Instagram seems to be the preferred channel overall. It is quite limited though: it is great for fashion images but if you put together a recipe, you still have another place for the recipe to live. 

A lot of influencers also use Snapchat, which is cool but it doesn’t work so often because we can’t track how a branded snap performs at a large scale. So it is more for them building their own audience individually. Facebook is still really important. And I don’t count Twitter either because they also operate similar to Instagram to an extent where it is about driving traffic to their primary platform, usually blogs. Still, some people now have their primary presence on Instagram and everything will lead back to that.

If it’s not a blog but a video channel, it’s very similar. All the Instagrams links to their video channel or Twitter posts lead back to their Facebook channel. So it is kind of picking that one platform and using the other platforms to drive traffic to it. Because it is too hard to be creative and produce content on all the platforms at once. 

Do you have any example in mind of somebody you have worked with lately that has risen a lot across social media?

Well, yeah I do have a couple of samples. We have worked with a lot of international celebrities but they are not our go-to people. We prefer working with someone kind of next level down, someone who has between 50,000-100,000 followers on each channel. There are people who have fewer followers but are still actively considered as current influencers. So I think it is more an upcoming trend: not quite celebrities but still having substantial following which can drive a lot of engagement and can be effective for brands or brand messages. They have good followers who care about what they are doing but they are not so into sponsored materials. They don’t identify as celebrities. 

One of the programs we’re working on right now and which we have actually just launched is Bob’s Red Mill, an American company making alternative flour types: oatmeal flour, coconut flour and gluten-free flour. They produce baking products that cater to whatever cooking lifestyle you prefer. So they have all kind of wonderful ingredients. So we have pitched Bob this idea: 

United States of Cookies

We will be doing a program with an overarching topic “American made” and have Bob’s Red Mill as the sponsor. We will have one influencer from each state, making cookies that represent their states and they will be featured on Bob’s Red Mill’s website. It is a fun program and it helps to tie together the way we work and how influencers can work – while it also highlights how fun and meaningful our programs can be. apple-iphone-smartphone-desk

What do you think that is the next big thing on social media?

It’s a really good question. I think it is interesting to see what’s happening with Twitter right now but I don’t think it is goind to become obsolete. Some people say it is going to fade away but I don’t believe that. It is still common within our daily lives so I think it is still pretty strong. On the other hand, I don’t think Snapchat will be around forever. I feel it is losing ground and I think there are other platforms, like InstagramStories, that also doing really well. 

I think there is potential to change lots of things. Social media is only effective if it is authentic and the more brands interfere the social channels the more people are looking for new ways to get authentic real content. For instance, in Bob’s Red Mill program the content was created on Facebook live. It wasn’t filmed, it wasn’t edited, it wasn’t professionally altered. They were just making stuff and talking about stuff – it was not commercial but gave the feeling of “That’s just a meeting in the kitchen with the chef”. I think there are lots of possibilities there. And I believe there are many creative people out there [using Facebook Live] who could have access to audiences in a way that not even Youtube does. The most successful Youtube channels do have serious editing done. They have good studios for filming, expensive camera equipment, good lighting and good scripts. Not all of them are going to dissappear with live streaming, but I think our opinion about video in general is about to change as well. We’ve been working as an influencer network for a long time and it is amazing how different it is now from where we began.

When was that?

2009. We joke about it, but when we began, we didn’t know how to call ourselves. We know now that we’re an influencer marketing agency now, but nobody used the phrase “influencer marketing” back then. Our company was an early bird – and I have personally been working with bloggers and sponsors since the concept began. So I have really been there since day one. 

We didn’t use the phrase “influencers” because the only platform we were talking about was bloggers

Twitter wasn’t even around when I started doing this: not even at Clever girls – I was then in my previous position with BlogHer. We were hosting a conference when Twitter was just upcoming and really exploded during the conference. A handful of people in the room were on it and the other handful of people had not even heard of it. Facebook was around but not to the extent it is now. 

So we couldn’t call anybody an influencer because there were no other platforms

And now obviously, it is so different

For us it is really important to follow where the influencers are because whenever there is a new platform, there is gonna be a new influencer. One of the platforms that we’re watching pretty closely right now is And with the demographic that everybody wants and the advertisers want to reach but don’t know how – because the young generation are hard to find. So it is a very interesting channel for some of brands looking for younger teens.untitled-design-1

Influencer marketing is still growing. And many brands still don’t know how to do it right and are not sure where to focus. Don’t you think?

Yes, it is actually part of message during the conference where I was one of the panelists. The concept of influencer marketing isn’t particularly defined yet and brands still have trouble figuring out what it is and what it isn’t. There is a lot of work left but that just means there are loads of opportunities.

Gaddr is part of the solution to connecting all social media in one place. Establishing the platform that helps to unify digital identity of social media creators, we let followers access all creators’ content in one place and add them on all their channels within a few seconds.

Discover CLEVER here and let us know your take on the changing SM trends below in comments!

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