It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single brand in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a good influencer. We all know that this is the modern day answer to great advertising, or so we are told, but is still true?

Thankfully, we were able to bring together some experts in the field of influencer marketing to share their wisdom at our recent Influencer Marketing Masterclass.

So for those who didn’t manage to attend or tune-in via our Facebook live stream, here is a round-up of what we learned.

“It’s not that influencers are new, they’ve just changed shape.”
The first to enlighten the crowd about the role of the influencer was our own Influencer Marketing Manager, Florencia Lujani, who started her story in 1873 with Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in 80 Days’. Reminding us of the fact that when the famous author started writing this novel, he was actually lobbied by transport companies for mentions within the pages.

Fast forward to 2017 and we are now living in a society where 400 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and where the power one influencer used to have can easily be drowned out by another. What Florence pointed out is that while people may be losing trust in traditional influencers and celebrity endorsement, brands should work within the ‘Spheres of Influence’ that people unknowingly look to everyday.

“Reach and frequency no longer matter, it’s about authority.” From identifying super fans to harnessing the power of creators to bring a loyal and dedicated following to a brand’s pages, it is essential to find the right kind of influencer in order to bring the right audience to your brand.

“If you don’t know what you want to achieve, then don’t contact any bloggers.”
Next up was Sara Gordon, Brand & Creative Director of postal flower company Bloom & Wild.

Moving from agency-side, working with big brands and even bigger budgets, to what was effectively a start-up, Sara’s approach to working with influencers comes from a place where every penny spent needs to see a return. “I don’t have a brand budget to slap in a few influencers here and there. It’s all about cost and what works and what you are looking to achieve.”

This starts with understanding your brand's ecosystem and the fact that customers can also be influencers. Reward the ones who promote your brand and you’re more likely to keep them and their audience.

Ultimately, it is about building a relationship of trust and reward in order to get the content the brand needs from influencers. After all, being able to repurpose influencer and user generated content (UGC) can really bring a small brand to life, whether this is in social ads, newsletters or posts. “It’s a constantly moving process and if you end your relationship with a blogger when the partnership ends you are losing out on so much content potential.”

“Size doesn’t matter, of course, it’s what you do with it that counts”
Our final speaker of the evening was Lauren Spearman, Digital Manager of Benefit Cosmetics UK, a brand that has spearheaded the role of micro-influencers within its marketing strategy.

As the UK’s most popular beauty brand, currently holding 60% market share within the eyebrow product category, Benefit has consciously stayed away from using big names to influence customers and instead have gone for lower hanging fruit in the form of smaller influencers, starting from around 5k followers up to 40k.

As Lauren commented “size doesn’t matter” and in fact the rewards can often be substantial, with micro-influencers having “8x more organic conversations about preferred brands than mega-influencers”.

This is all down to the fact that influencers love to talk about what they enjoy , and their audiences do too. Those with 1-10k followers have engagement of 4-8%, which is so much higher than mega-Influencers (who stay around the 1-2% mark), so a brand’s product is going to be part of the chatter much faster, and in a much more authentic way.

“It’s like dating. Don’t be desperate, check you’re the right fit for each other and do your homework.” Make sure the people you’re approaching behave the way that your brand would. “Following doesn’t matter if it’s not on brand”. Then when you have the right people, be sure to reward them, whether this is with discount, special events or exclusive products. If they feel loved they share the love to their very dedicated audiences.

The real proof is in the results, and Benefit definitely have them. Since the beginning of 2017, the brand has seen a 250% uplift in coverage from micro-influencers.

Lauren also mirrored Sara’s point, that brands don’t need big budgets for big influence. “Work with people early and they will stay loyal” and it’s really all down to common sense after that.