Blog : influencers

Influencer culture in Lockdown: where do we go from here?

Influencer culture in Lockdown: where do we go from here?

A lot has been said about COVID-19 marking the end of influencer culture as we know it. Consumers are tired of seeing social stars brag about their lavish lifestyles or preaching from their #gifted million pound home, promoting products that we ALL know they don’t and would never use – Khloe Kardashian and Febreeze, what?!

I get it and we have felt the same. Particularly as we navigate what is going to be an incredibly difficult few months for everyone.

However, for all the covidiot influencers who have got it seriously wrong, a lot have also risen to the occasion, helping to spread important messages to otherwise hard to reach, younger audiences.

As these uncertain times continue (sorry!) and conflicting messages and cluttered news just gets worse, audiences are desperately looking for people who they can connect with, trust and rely on – the micro influencer. Those who are genuinely experiencing the same things their audience are and who can share real content their followers can relate to.

In Finland, social influencers have actually been defined as ‘critical operators’ throughout the pandemic. They have used their platform to communicate Government guidelines and speak to a traditionally hard to reach audience. And what better way to reach your audience than working with the people you are trying to reach?

Influencers are always a key part of our campaigns and although the big names out there will always be big, it’s the micro influencers who are coming out on top for our clients at the moment.

Throughout lockdown, we’ve run influencer campaigns for the Scottish Government, Young Scot and Baxters to name a few – all of which have been used to spread a message quickly and efficiently, something a traditional media campaign just couldn’t do.

But why micro influencers?  They are the most flexible and can create content quickly that is authentic and believable. They are close to their audience and know what they respond well to. With fewer followers, they are much more likely to engage and respond to comments – they genuinely care and want to help their followers, which reflects well on the brands we work with. Finally, they are real. Without management teams, ulterior motives or big production budgets, their content is incredibly personal and personable and resonates with their audience better.

Post-pandemic, I think we can expect to see all influencers take a step back and take stock of the content they’re sharing. The high profile, aspirational type content still has its place but moving forward, honesty and authenticity is going to be key.

PR in 2018 – Forget a List of Resolutions, This Year is All About The Resolve to Evolve and Authenticity

PR in 2018 – Forget a List of Resolutions, This Year is All About The Resolve to Evolve and Authenticity

New Year’s resolutions often begin with a nod to some wrong-doing. Personally, I don’t think starting with a negative is the best way to encourage a genuine change or action; consequently, I’ve never paid too much attention to NY resolutions.

In the spirit of being different, and in true Yogi fashion, I have looked at two positive intentions for 2018 that will help make the change it brings exciting, filled with opportunities, and jam-packed with unforgettable authentic storytelling.

Intentions for 2018: Resolve to Evolve AND Be Authentic

My nine-year PR career has spanned across London, Dubai, Sydney, and now bounces between Edinburgh and London. It’s been an exciting career in an ever-changing landscape and one thing I have noticed, regardless of country, is that if there is one common feature to be found in the most successful PR professionals and companies, it is adaptability. This year more than ever, we will need to Resolve to Evolve.

The second came more easily. Fake News is no longer a funny line regularly quoted by Trump. Public trust in traditional media fell to an all-time low last year with people increasingly favouring their friends and contacts on the internet as sources of news and truth. Those sources are also being pulled into question and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. Media, influencers, brands – ALL will have the spotlight on them and there won’t be room for mistakes. Transparency and honesty is going to be key and ALL will need to get onboard and Be Authentic.

I have outlined a few touchpoints where these intentions are going to really matter.

Influencers

The term ‘influencer’ isn’t new to your average Joe, let alone any professional working in media. That said, it is an ever-evolving medium of communication and brands are still trying to understand the best ways of sourcing and working with influencers, measuring their value, and understanding where they sit amongst more traditional media platforms. Perhaps more importantly brands are also still trying to understand where the value of micro-influencers lies vs your more traditional celebrities.

Last year saw a huge shift in activity across the globe with influencers becoming prevalent in above the line campaigns for massive corporations including P&G, Diageo, ASOS and Estee Lauder. They are no longer restricted to below the line activity and this trend of dipping into both will no doubt continue to grow if Celebrity Intelligence research stands to be true. But… it will be the will of the people – particularly Gen Z – that truly dictates what happens to influencers this year and we need to prepare to react and move with them at a fast-pace. The one thing that won’t be shifting is the Gen Z demand for authentic ambassadors – influencers who spread themselves too thinly or indulge in unauthentic partnerships for cash will quickly suffer the consequences.

Paid Vs Earned Vs Owned

The lines have been getting blurry with regards to all brand created content and where it sits; perhaps even more importantly and relevant – who makes it! PR agencies are no longer focused on earned content alone, and have slowly over the past two or three years been working our way into producing more content for paid and owned channels. This year will be hotter and more competitive than ever with agencies who used to work to strict specialisations crossing-over into new remits and hiring in a parallel manner.

PR agencies have a pretty strong position in this blurrier landscape because we’ve been story-telling to the biggest cynics for years – journalists. That said, it’s also important to note you don’t want to be the ‘Jack of all Master of none’ – know where your strengths are and work with other specialists’ agencies or professionals when you know they can realistically do the task better! Working with other agencies can also be enjoyable, and beneficial and doesn’t always have to be a competition to show who is best. The most important element is again, creating authentic content that fits in a relevant and holistic way.

Artificial Intelligence

PR professionals will also need to evolve this year with new technology as it arises – everything from virtual reality to augmented reality and artificial intelligence will play a role in how people source, create and share content.

Audiences demand a lot from consumer brands today – more than ever I’d say… look at how hard retailers are having to diversify in store experience to get footfall! One clear route to brand loyalty will be using technology to better understand the consumers’ needs and equally to develop innovative and unique sensorial experiences that take interaction with brands to new levels. I don’t think PR’s will ever be made redundant– thankfully there is no replacement for human creativity and interaction and PR is still about story-telling and evoking emotion. Whether it’s laughter (the new Kiwi police advert) or perhaps that warm fuzzy feeling (the new dancing on ice ad) – until robots can truly make audiences feel and Be Authentic– you’re relatively safe!

Micro Influencers – What are they and where can you find them?

Micro Influencers – What are they and where can you find them?

If you’re unfamiliar with influencer marketing, it is the term used to describe brands using influential individuals to promote their products.

Influencer marketing is fast becoming one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience as consumers are trusting third party recommendations more than traditional outbound marketing efforts.

The term influencers can cover a wide range of people including celebrities, sports stars, bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers and more. However, often when the term influencer is thrown around we think of A-list celebrities with millions of followers and fans.

Yet, brands are increasingly stepping away from the most well-known influencers and looking towards a new type of influencer – the micro influencer.

What is a micro influencer?

A micro influencer is someone with a following of 3,000 – 100,000 – otherwise known as the sweet spot for engagement. Micro influencers are very successful in terms of interaction, engagement and conversation. This is because social media users aren’t as keen to interact with celebrities compared to someone they can relate to and influencer marketing is most effective when the individuals are viewed as peers.

Why you should be using micro influencers

Engaging with micro influencers is the perfect way to promote your brand’s offerings though genuine and authentic content. As their audience is very valuable to them, the micro influencer will only post content they know their audience will want to see and a lot of their success depends on authenticity. As a result, sponsored posts will feel more genuine if they align with the usual style of content posted by that influencer.

Generally, studies have shown that the larger someone’s following is, the lower levels of engagement they received from their followers. Someone with 1,000 to 3,000 followers is likely to receive, on average, 8% post engagement in relation to their followers whereas, someone with between 500,000 and 1,000,000 is more likely to receive 1.7% – 2.4% post engagement on average.

Despite having a smaller following, micro influencers are likely to have a much more engaged, targeted audience because they are more likely to share content related to a particular niche as opposed to just being followed for being ‘them’. Examples of this include travel instagrammers and fitness bloggers. As the user will follow that micro influencer due to their interests, they are much more likely to engage with the content – much more valuable than hundreds of thousands of eyes scanning a post yet not registering it in any way.

Based on this, using micro influencers is proving to be cost effective for brands. Micro influencers generally charge significantly less than an influencer with a much larger following. Therefore, it is likely you will be able to engage with several micro influencers for a fraction of the price of one celebrity, yet see higher engagement and more effective results.

How to find and choose the right influencers for your brand

To find influencers who are right for your brands, the following tips are useful:

  • Use relevant hashtags to find micro influencers who are interested in what your brand offers
  • Research on social media to see who has a large following and is already interacting with your brand
  • Search on Google for influencers in your target area. An example of this could be ‘travel blogger in London’
  • Research the influencer’s audience – are they valuable to your brand?
  • Look for a community or network relevant to the niche that your micro influencer works in. Such as ‘mummy Facebook accounts UK’
When Style transforms into a Story

When Style transforms into a Story

Today marks the start of London Fashion Week (LFW) which can only mean two things for the week ahead, stylish consumers will be glued to their phones and fashion brands will be working a lot of overtime.

LFW is the opportunity for journalists, consumers, buyers, celebrities and influencers to catch a glimpse of the next season’s collections six months before they hit the shelves – unless it’s Nicola Formichetti, then you can receive it within an hour from Amazon. But do not fret, if you are without an invite or ticket, this season, fashion brands and influencers alike will keep the FOMO at bay. And if you are within the 150,000 who are attending then well done, you’ve essentially made it.

Thanks to its audience of more than 500 million users, Instagram Stories has evolved to become the top choice for fashion brands to trial instant content. According to Instagram Advertiser statistics, 75% of Instagram users take action after viewing an Instagram sponsored post, and the number of brands using Instagram Stories is expected to rise to 70.7% by the end of 2017.

But how do Instagram Stories actually provide long-term value for a brand with content disappearing after 24 hours?

Fashion brands will benefit from this platform in a number of ways; whether it’s providing a countdown or showcasing their garments in action, it will create an impact. By inviting their followers to witness behind-the-scenes action of models getting fitted or practicing their walk pre show, this will provide an in for fans to what was previously an exclusive experience. This indoctrinates the viewer to become invested in the brand, becoming encouraged to view future posts and establishing longer term brand affinity.

You may have seen organic posts with ‘swipe up’ at the bottom that are reserved for users/brands with 10k+ followers. Most brands will have these verified accounts, enabling them to link out to their websites, landing pages or blog posts from within their stories – helping to provide a ROI for their short-lived stories.

A study from Rakueten Marketing has found that premium fashion marketers will pay up to £93,000 per post, showing just how powerful influencers and their stories are to an event like LFW. This year Topshop have invited actress Sophia Brown and Women in Fashion co-founder Lily More to take over their blog and to involve them both in a live streaming via Topshop.com.

For the social media spectators like myself, it’s a long term benefit to the brands to provide access into the behind the scenes of the event and are exposed to every aspect of this season’s collection, developing brand ambassadors and fans and fortunately Instagram Stories provide just that.

Fortunately London Fashion Week lasts a full 7 days, unlike Insta Stories – which can only be a good thing for fanatics like myself! So before you tap through those #LFW posts, take a second to think about the lasting power of Instagram Story.

Feuding in the Front Row: Vogue vs. Bloggers

Feuding in the Front Row: Vogue vs. Bloggers

I normally take Vogue’s word as truth; its latest move however, is not one I’m sure I agree with. In an article commenting on Milan Fashion Week, a selection of Vogue’s top editors and directors got together to criticise the new residents of fashion week, the bloggers, calling them ‘pathetic’ and ‘embarrassing’. Cue a lot of very angry fashionistas…

Sally Singer, Vogue Creative Digital Director said; “Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: Please stop. Find another business. It is beyond funny that we even still call them ‘bloggers’ as so few of them even do that anymore.”

And Alessandra Codinha, Vogue.com Fashion News Editor, remarked: “Rather than a celebration of any actual style, it seems to be all about turning up, looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social media feeds, fleeing, changing, repeating. It’s all pretty embarrassing.”

Ouch.

 

The story so far

So, what is it about the fashion bloggers that has got Vogue’s back up? Many suggested it was jealousy or that these influential members of the Vogue team were reluctant to adapt to the constantly evolving fashion landscape. Rewind only a short few years and fashion week was absolutely the playground of the editors, stylists and buyers. Now, there has been an obvious shift and it’s clear that this new wave of young, hot, in-demand style icons are taking over.

Fashion Week FROW
One editor expressed her distaste at the amount of time a blogger spends on their mobile either documenting the runway or checking social media feeds. Although, they probably do watch the entire show via their iPhone screen, that is what’s required to give followers what they want. And you can bet there will be a Vogue photographer at the end of every runway – isn’t that the same thing?

The nature of blogging has certainly changed a great deal over the last couple of years and a blogger’s social media channels have become just as important, if not more so than the blogs themselves. Social media allows bloggers to share their experiences instantly and allow avid followers to experience these events alongside them. Bloggers provide an instant access to the fabulous world of fashion week; they capture the hustle and bustle pre-show, give us a first-hand look at who made the cut and who didn’t and, often, showcase the runway show in its entirety, all from the FROW. This means we no longer need to wait for a magazine to come out, or even online platforms to be updated – we see it in real time.

But, are the bloggers really to blame? Shouldn’t Vogue be pointing the fingers at their friends, the designers? It is after all, the designers who will select the lucky influencers that they wish to show off their clothes and attend their shows. In recent years, successful fashion bloggers have amassed a staggering social media following and considerable influence so it’s really no wonder the fashion designers are turning to these social media moguls to showcase their brands. Fashion week is changing and at many shows this season, these millennial influencers, a mix of models, actors and the insta-famous, populated the front row and even the catwalk, leaving the fashion editors, literally, taking a back seat.

Carla FerragniVogue is extremely powerful, but so is the blogging community and I can’t help thinking that Vogue should embrace the changing face of the fashion industry, rather than trying to bring down their online counterparts. In a way, what Vogue and the best fashion bloggers do isn’t all too different. They promote their favourite brands, and they are paid for it. Perhaps most confusing, Vogue Spain’s latest cover girl was none other than super blogger Chiara Ferragni (The Blonde Salad). So it seems like Vogue are happy to use these influencers to sell magazines, just not so happy to welcome them into the world of fashion week.

 

What happens next?

There’s no doubting the fashion bloggers are here to stay and they have done a great job of establishing their role in the industry, securing attendance at the hottest events and partnerships with the best brands and cultivating a loyal and dedicated following. Perhaps Vogue needs to learn to share the limelight and feel assured in its own position and contribution to the world of fashion, it is Vogue, after all! At Stripe, we work closely with both online influencers and traditional print media and see the benefit and value of these platforms both individually and, even more so,  when they are integrated and a campaign or message can be communicated via the two.

Although, all being said, I’ll still be picking up the November issue this week…

Snapchat: the gift that keeps on giving

Snapchat: the gift that keeps on giving

It’s been quite the summer for Snapchat. The introduction of Memories, Instagram causing outrage by basically stealing Stories, CEO Evan Spiegel popping the question to Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr – every tech geek’s dream – and now its rebrand to Snap Inc. and of course the launch of Spectacles.

We’re a bit obsessed by Snapchat at the moment, everything they do seems to work. But Spectacles? Spectacles caused a bit of a discussion on Monday morning. What’s the point? Can anyone really be bothered buying and wearing a pair of sunglasses for the sole purpose of capturing a video? Have they learned nothing from Google Glass?

We weren’t sure. However, having dug a little deeper we think this might actually work.

 

What are ‘Spectacles’?

If you haven’t heard – which from a bit of research (a question in the girls’ WhatsApp group) not many outside of the communications industry have – a bit of background for you. Spectacles are the latest piece of wearable tech. A range of sunglasses from Snap Inc. that will record 10 to 30 second video clips with just a tap, the video footage will then wirelessly transfer to a user’s Memories in the Snapchat app. Spectacles look nice, nicer than Google Glass anyway, and will be available in three colours when they launch in the US this autumn for $129.99.

Initially, I had no idea who would want these. Why wouldn’t you just use your phone like we have been? But, actually, imagine being able to capture one of your favourite memories or events, then going back to see that memory exactly the way you experienced it. For me, it feels like they’ve introduced the GoPro for everyday members of Gen Z. Instead of capturing outdoor, extreme activities you can record everyday moments – the last day of school, the family BBQ, your best friend’s wedding. They’ve introduced the fun factor that was missing from Google Glass.

 

How will this work for brands?

A recent piece of research by Cisco Systems predicted that 80% of consumer internet consumption will be video content by 2019, and just last month Facebook sheepishly confirmed that text posts are declining on the platform in favour of video and images. We know video is becoming more and more important and it looks very much like its popularity will continue. The technology Snap Inc. are introducing means that the circular video can play full screen on any device, in any orientation, and captures the human perspective with a 115 degree field of view. Meaning even if you aren’t there, you can experience it, not just watch it – exactly what got people so excited about VR tech this year.

I think the popularity will depend on the early adopters. Will Gen Z influencers get on board; can we imagine the likes of Kylie Jenner, Zoella and Calvin Harris, some of Snapchats most loyal users, wearing Spectacles? I’m not sure. But, I’m looking forward to seeing how it works.

Brooklyn does Burberry

Brooklyn does Burberry

Burberry is getting a bit of stick at the moment. I mean, hiring Brooklyn Beckham to shoot their latest Burberry Brit campaign – how dare they? Fashion photographers across the world lashed out as the eldest Beckham child announced it via his Instagram and shared the news we could watch the live stream on Snapchat.

I can see their point. They’ve worked hard for years to hone their craft, build relationships and ultimately make it in a business that’s hard to crack. However, as a comms professional I think it’s brilliant.

Brooklyn has over 5.9m Instagram followers and is one of the most influential people in the world right now. Arguably his audience isn’t exactly Burberry buyers – but let’s face it, everyone loves a Beckham. I know I follow him, so do my friends and colleagues and would we have known or been interested in a new fragrance campaign if it wasn’t for him? By getting Brooklyn on board, the brand has gained global coverage and has positioned themselves as cool, innovative and accessible to all.

People want to see what he’s doing, what he’s wearing and who he’s talking to. This is why Snapchat is the perfect platform. The behind the scenes look into celeb life is what makes the social channel so brilliant and Burberry have combined this love for celeb gossip with their own story.

For me Burberry is owning Snapchat. They’re the only brand doing it well.

It’s the third most popular social app among Millennials and has more than 100 million daily active users. So why isn’t the industry using it more? It’s raw, relevant and real which can be scary, but with over 6 billion daily video views surely that’s a risk worth taking. Digital commerce outperformed all other Burberry channels, with mobile visits accounting for most of the traffic to Burberry.com.

Maybe 2016 is the year we all jump on the Burberry bandwagon?

Influencers: keeping up with the kids

Influencers: keeping up with the kids

As a communications agency it’s our job to ensure clients and their products reach their audience. It’s also our job to ensure they embrace all channels available to help reach that audience. The way we consume content has changed immensely over the past five years, print newspapers are shifting to online and social media has given us 24/7 access to global news (and cat videos), but there is one other platform that has been around since before Facebook and doesn’t seem to be slipping – that platform is blogs.

Bloggers have become an integral part of online life and yet many brands are still reluctant to collaborate with this breed of media. Their value can’t be measured with the same formula as print, their influence goes beyond their readership and surely people aren’t just paid to review the latest skincare products? It seems so.

Are 18-24 year olds buying newspapers? Are they as influenced by advertising? It seems not as bloggers are not only reviewing beauty products, they’re discussing lifestyle trends, from wedding planning to party wear and cocktail making to home décor, so it’s only right we embrace this new age platform.

We work regularly with some of the UK’s top influencers to help promote many of our clients. From Glasgow’s golden girl, Forever Betty to London’s Pinterest Queen, Temporary Secretary and Instagrammer Mike Kus. Over the years we have established great relationships and are now in awe of not only their Instagram-esq lives, but the professional level in which they have grown to operate in the social space.

As for the future of media, we hear time and time again the world is changing, everything is online and print is dead, so to stay current and continue to reach our chosen audience we have to change tactics, even if grudgingly, but this doesn’t mean forgetting about the tried and tested approaches, but it’s ensuring we work with our clients to come up with the best solution for their needs.