Last year we held our 5Why Presents event in collaboration with General Assembly. We’ve held a bunch since, but for this one the focus was all about the wild state of influencer marketing at the moment, especially with the youth demographic, including Gen Z and Millennials.
While things have changed significantly since, influencers are still playing a vital part in the media plans of brands – mainly given their direct source to engaged audiences, who hold a lot of trust in them.
It was a very well versed and experienced panel, with Showpo CMO Mark Baartse, Q-83 Founder Anthony Richardson, (at the time) Hyland Communications’ Esther Wilson (now at Camilla Australia), and Naomi Sequeira, an Actor, Presenter and Model. It was hosted by our very own Founder, Gordon D’Mello, and it was a super insightful discussion about the industry, the challenges and opportunities.
As we gear up to launch our very own Gen Z talent network (more to come on that soon..), we are looking back at some learnings from that event – that are still relevant right now.
#1 The ‘A’ Word
No it isn’t authentic, thank god. But we all know that #ad is one of those words that makes us cringe. Influencers are reluctant to disclose paid partnerships with brands, especially with ones they claim they deeply believe in. Although it is a legal requirement to disclose this information, it appears it’s going to take more than that to get influencers to publicly sell-out with the risk of their followers disengaging. For many, partnering with brands is a huge achievement in being recognised for being someone of influence. Something their followers probably already know, so letting them know you’re being paid lets them make their own decisions.
#2 It’s Going To Become Pay To Play
Instagram has led the way for influencers of late. It’s been a prime place to grow your audience, share content and engage with fans and like-minded people. Analytics are still very limited however, and Mark from Showpo mentioned how he believed it was just a matter of time before outlets like Instagram become exclusively pay-to-play. We’ve seen it happen with Facebook over the past few years, with algorithm changes often destroying organic reach. So it’s easy to understand how the same fate might await channels like Instagram, and the emerging Tik Tok. We saw likes being hidden on Instagram last year, and while it was marketed as a better-content narrative, it may well be one of the first tactics to monetise the platform.
#3 A Travel Influencer Doesn’t Always Guarantee A Travel Audience
The reasons for following an influencer can vary a lot these days (we’re looking at you random followers, from suspect locations, with no profile photo). And with that, it means the style or type of influencer doesn’t always equate to the same type of followers. But that shouldn’t mean that opportunities don’t still exist. As Esther mentioned, influencers with a high male audience, should work with brands that have a highly male customer base, for example. So firstly, don’t take an influencer’s style/theme as their audience – and then figure out who is best to work with from there.
#4 Valuable Followers > Fake Followers
Fake followers is a topic we’ve seen in the headlines more and more lately. Analytics platforms have turned to AI and algorithms to blacklist influencers for unusual follower activity, labelling them and their followers as fake. We need to switch this dialogue. Instead of worrying about how many fake followers someone has, think about how many of them are valuable and, more importantly, valuable to your brand. Anthony from Q-83 spoke about how out of an influencer’s three million followers, you might only be speaking to 300,000 – that’s still a huge number, the size of which we really only see across television. But just be aware that follower counts don’t always justify price.
#5 Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket (Aka Instagram)
Mark from Showpo made a pretty big point on the night about how some social media streams just aren’t being taken advantage of in Australia. It’s normal and fair to associate influencer marketing with Instagram, after all it has become a poster boy/girl for the industry. But outlets like YouTube, Tik Tok and even Twitch are still huge areas that both influencers and brands should be aware of. Like we’re seeing with Tik Tok now, the early days of popularity are often a cheap entry point for brands to engage with consumers (exactly why Instagram has been relatively cheap to use over the past five years, commercially). Naomi – an actor and model – mentioned how her forays into blogging and other forms of content had drawn strong results early on, in addition to IG.
From a brand point of view, if you look for influencers who have an active YouTube presence for example, there’s a good chance you’l have an opportunity to be more creative and engaging with said influencer in longer form video. While still getting good results and ROI.
This article was created in partnership with Q-83.