More and more people aspire to be bloggers and digital influencers for a living now that they’ve seen how successful some have become. If you want to know how you can do it too, read this.
Lynn Hunter is head of talent at The Collaborations Agency, a company she runs with director of brands Niamh Deans. Lynn’s clients include mixed martial artist and MMA coach John Kavanagh, stylist Courtney Smith, co-founder of Curabinny Foods and social media star James Kavanagh, and Eimear Varian Barry.
Lynn says that their role at The Collaborations Agency is to join the dots between talent and brands and that smart collaborations can work well for brands but also for bloggers and Instagrammers.
While traditional media is still important, Lynn believes that it can be hard for brands to quantify traditional media’s effects on sales — something that is easier to do online. “It’s about creating strategic alignment,” says Lynn.
“Each brand is different and unique so we create bespoke packages for them by developing planning strategies for brands, finding the correct content creators, helping them to amplify their content and, the key element, measuring the engagement. The key pillars of what we do are reach, relevance and engagement.”
“The people we work with are all leaders in their field and you can tell the difference between people who are passionate and those who got into this game for the wrong reasons.
"The successful people are the sort of people you want to hang out with but they also have a different spark they are aspirational but they are accessible. To me it’s not just a numbers game, when you get into the nitty gritty of it it’s about where are their followers, who are they, how much are they engaging?
“I would say that the key to being an interesting blogger or Instagrammer is to never lose sight of who you are,” says Lynn. “What is your unique selling point? Be true to yourself, don’t try to be someone else, don’t look around at what everyone else is doing. Speak to people who can help you build on it but always remember why you started it.”
Dubliner Shannon Jennings is influencer executive at Arcadia, founder of a digital network of style influencers The Clck and @Codinghandbags on Instagram.
Jennings says those seeking success as an influencer on Instagram need to find their niche and stick to it. “Also be the best you can be and stop thinking small — many concentrate too much on ‘who is going to see it?’. I personally imagine the best possible Instagram feed and I am continuously building towards just that.”
Shannon says people should not be afraid to approach brands: “A huge part of being an Instagram sensation comes from whathappens off the screen and pushing yourself into your chosen industry. For instance networking, being at events such as LFW and engaging with other influencers.
"I also think you need to concentrate on adding value. The brands will come to those who create the best content, community or value. It’s that simple.”
Irish woman Jessica Keating is digital marketing manager at Dorothy Perkins in London where there has been a definite shift towards Instagram content collaborations over sponsored blog post as well as deeper collaboration with influencers who can now be seen in the brand’s seasonal and trends campaigns across their website and various digital platforms.
“We can no longer ignore the impact these Instagram influencers are having on brand opinions and purchase decisions — especially when it comes to reaching millennials,” says Jessica.
Her thoughts are not just a hunch. In a report by Edelman last year 74% of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1995) said they believe that their recommendations can influence the purchasing power of others, while a report by the PR and content agency Good Relations suggests that up to 69% of millenials have made a purchase based on an online influencer’s recommendation.
Jessica echoes Lynn Hunter’s theory that authentic relationships are key to success and says that Eimear Varian Barry is the perfect ambassador for the Dorothy Perkins brand in terms of her age, lifestyle and personality and the fact that she produces beautiful, aspirational content that at the same time does not look contrived.
“It’s crucial that we work with bloggers and Instagrammers who would, in the absence of any sort of financial gain, organically shop with us and feature our product on their Instagram or blog,” says Jessica.
“Given Arcadia and Dorothy Perkin’s high street status, international reach and wide product offering from petite to plus size, we work with a very broad mix of influencers on a global level. The one thing that they all have in common and which I personally look for in a brand ambassador, is that their personal brand image is aligned with ours.”
“Sometimes it doesn’t matter if they have 10,000 Instagram followers or a million — if their style, image and persona doesn’t reflect ours then a natural looking partnership isn’t possible and both the influencer’s fans and our customers are going to be able to spot a forced brand or product placement,” says Jessica.
While she has been approached many times to promote paid content on Instagram, stylist Corina Gaffey, who has over 14,000 followers, uses it more as an online portfolio and showcase for her work. However Gaffey has some good advice for those wishing to grow their Instagram following to the point where they can collaborate with brands.
“Ultimately I think people need to be true to themselves and their aesthetic. The commercial opportunities come from being authentic not the other way around. Brands want to work with people who are authentic and there’s a real move towards engagement and having the right followers for the brand rather than having a huge amount of followers.”
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