How to navigate in the Influencer Marketing industry

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.

Shine Influencers is a talent management agency for social media influencers that works with brands and agencies to engage Influencers who have the power to reach their desired demographic through authentic and unique collaborations. Based in Toronto, the agency showcases a diverse talent roster consisting of lifestyle, fashion, food, travel and health Influencers. We spoke with their Co-founder, Jess Hunichen about the industry and the future of social media.

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In what way do you provide support to the network?

We manage the collaborations of all of the talent we represent. We work very closely with our creators and represent a relatively small number of people [24 creators], who we have genuine personal relationships with. Essentially, what happens is that a brand or PR agency approaches our talent with a collaboration opportunity. When they send it to us, we negotiation based on the scope of work required, the timeline and our knowledge of creators. We know their rates and what kind of projects they would be interested in. We also know their stages in life: if they are engaged or getting married, if they just went through a break up, if they are travelling etc. We have a really good understanding of where they are in their lives, which makes it easier for us to manage collaborations.

And how do you help creators in terms of personal brand growth?

If any of our talent are approached with a press opportunity, we would help facilitate interviews for them. In terms of personal branding, the talent we represent already present exceptionally strong personal brands, however if they ask for advice, or support on a particular project, we are always happy to give our expertise on the matter.

We do however, have many talent approach us asking for representation, some of whom are just starting out in this industry. Seeing the number of talent who were approaching us, and wanting to offer them some sort of support, we developed a personal branding consultancy package. My business partner, Emily Ward and I will sit down or Skype with them, depending on their location and take a deep dive into their social platforms. We know what is attractive to brands, and can help emerging talent to really identify what their unique offering is.

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Do you see them facing problems of fan conversion across different social channels?

Yes, we talk about that a lot and believe that having true influence is having the ability to transition your audience from one platform to another, from Instagram to YouTube, or blog to snapchat etc.   

And it also depends on the commitment of the audience as well, how the audience actually perceive the creators and how much trust is between them, agree?

Totally! It is 100% about trust. Our talent are exceptionally careful in deciding which brands to work with, as staying true to their own brand is their number one priority. Of course we are fully supportive of this. When our talent engage in programs that are not true to their brand, it is detrimental to all parties involved; engagement is low, audiences are left with a negative perception of the brand and talent lose followers.

That is why we see it as imperative to have close relationships with our talent, to ensure that we are negotiating the right kinds of collaborations for them.

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I see what you mean. Of course, the brands should also strive for authenticity, especially if they choose to run influencer marketing campaigns.

Yes, absolutely. It is something we push for too. It is not advertising. It is not a brand creating an ad and buying space to post it. That s not how this industry works. It  truly must be a collaboration. We discuss this with brands every day and often need to ask them, “Why do you want to work with that talent?” And their response might be, “We loved their imagery”, or “We love how candid she is”. To which we answer: “Ok, so you need to let her/him do that”.

One of our talent did a collaboration with a bank a couple of weeks ago and they wanted her to change some of the wording in her blog post, not the actual meaning behind the content but just the way it was formulated. We had to go back to them and remind them that they chose specifically to work with this Influencer because of her tone of voice, her openness and ability to have fun with a traditionally dry subject matter. Her audience would have noticed if her tone was all of a sudden altered, and they would not have responded positively. Which again, is detrimental to both our talent, and the brand. The biggest and often most challenging part of our job is educating brands about the best practices in terms of Influencers and how to really optimize what they are doing, how to get the best kind of engagement. I would say a great majority of brands get it entirely and are amazing to work with, which is great – they’re the early adopters of this industry. For others, there is quite a long way to go.

How do you imagine social media and influencer marketing landscape progress in the upcoming few years? 

This is also another thing that we’re talking about a lot. As far as our influencers and their collaborations are concerned, we are trying to ensure that the products and services they endorse are fully and authentically integrated into the talents’ lives. For this reason, we are moving towards longer term contracts, quality over quantity.

We’re also seeing a shift towards live content, whether live streaming online, or seeing collaborations that come to life in real spaces. I think that is another way we can really see true influence: when talent are able to get people off their phones and out to an event, store opening, pop-up etc. There is definitely a push toward more experiential activities and live lifestyle collaborations.

Overall in the industry as it is right now, there are no rules or standardization in terms of pricing, we are navigating something that is constantly changing and evolving, it is fast-paced and changing every day.

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Definitely, and it takes new approaches, doesn’t it? In a way, you can hack some things on social media.

Yes, that is something that we also deal with. An Influencer’s trusting audience is really their greatest asset. As an agency, we do not use any kind of automated platform or computerized validation techniques. The way we find and sign our talent is completely humanized. We look through their posts to see who is liking their posts, and what they are saying to see how truly engaged their following it. From there, we are able to see that this person has a true following, which is extremely important to us.

 Do you think social media also affects the way brands can gain interest from influencers?

Yes, I think there are some brands that are doing really exciting things in the online space and attracting influencers in their own right. They genuinely love to work with them and offer once in a lifetime opportunities, creating some of the most engaging content we have seen.

Gaddr is part of the solution to connecting audiences across social channels. 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.

Get more insights on Shine Influencers here and leave your thoughts on the future of social media in the comments below!

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