What were you, before you were an Influencer Marketer?
I was, and still am, a public relations consultant (These days it’s more on a freelance basis, however). Influencer marketing is a big part of digital PR and thus I naturally progressed from there.
What made you make the move into Influencer Marketing? And what do you remember of the first IM campaigns you witnessed?
I was a blogger at the same time that I started my PR career and because of that, the agencies I worked for would give me the responsibility of working with bloggers and influencers when they were a strategic part of our PR plans. Over the years, this component became more and more prominent and I enjoyed it too. I decided to take the leap earlier this year and shift my main focus to influencer marketing.
The first couple of influencer campaigns were very basic. Bloggers — who were the only influencers back then — were used like we did mainstream media and journalists. They were sent product or review units and asked to write blog posts about it and promote it to their audiences on their social media platforms. It worked at the time, because influencer marketing was just starting in South Africa. It’s far more complex now, however.
Nfluential is an Influencer Marketing Agency, based in South Africa and you describe yourselves as providing — Influencer Marketing Strategy that takes the guesswork out of influencer marketing for your brand… providing much needed strategic frameworks to empower your brand to implement influencer campaigns specific to your brand needs.
The question is – what all that about then?
You have to keep in mind that influencer marketing is still in its infancy in South Africa compared to more mature markets like the UK, USA and Australia. We still see a lot of marketers that view influencer marketing as a tactic and not a marketing channel and quite a few who still resist it because they don’t understand it. That’s where we come in. Nfluential is the first agency of its kind in our country in that we specialise in influencer marketing strategy. We aim to guide brands and marketers on how to use influencers strategically in their campaigns.
Nfluential has a B2B service, can you tell us a little more about that and your experiences of businesses seeing the value in b2b influencer marketing?
Nfluential does not have a B2B service, however, there is a B2B influencer agency, the InternShip in the same media group, Nfinity. B2B influencer marketing started gaining traction in 2019 and businesses are seeing value in utilising their own employees aka employee advocacy, to gain digital visibility. I think that it will become much more popular in 2020.
Can you offer some background and insight into the influencer marketing scene in South Africa, where it stands on a global scale and what you want for it?
Influencer marketing has exploded in the last two years in South Africa. Up to then, it was a nice to have, but very few brands viewed it as a legitimate marketing channel. It was more about inviting influencers to events in order to trend on social media or create awareness of a product launch; and sending review units for reviews on popular blogs. There’s been a big shift in the last couple of years as we watched the trends in the more mature markets and seeing the research behind the channel. It’s still young and we’re learning by trial and error, but influencer marketing keeps growing and getting better.
Time for social bit — Nfluential’s podcast, you talk about AI, behavioural linguistics, insurance technology and something called, #NfluentialWednesdays! Please, give us the framework and tell us what you’re aiming to achieve.
Coffee Conversations about Influencer Marketing has been going for a good 5 months now; and we are having tremendous fun as well as learning from industry experts. The podcast is geared towards anyone involved in the industry, mainly marketers. We invite guests that are experts in their respective fields, but that still has a link to influencer marketing, like PR consultants, AI specialists, brands that have tried influencer marketing, podcast specialists etc. The objective is to educate marketers on the influencer marketing industry.
The podcast was called something else before I got involved and that’s when my now co-host, Sinty, would invite me on every month for #NfluentialWednesdays. I was a guest at that point who would come in and discuss an influencer marketing topic that was trending that month, for example influencer fraud etc. We realised that we were a good team and that’s how it involved into Coffee Conversations about Influencer Marketing. You can listen to all the episodes here.
We’ve just wrapped for the year with Tom Augenthaler, a world-renowned speaker and expert on influencer marketing. We are hoping to have more international guests on the podcast in 2020.
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So, onto Influencer Marketing predictions for 2020
What do you see as being the game-changer(s) for influencer marketing in 2020?
· Employee advocacy or B2B influencer marketing will keep rising
· Nano influencers will become even more popular because of their authenticity and relatability
· Brands will start working with long-term influencers much more than once-off to build credibility and sustained awareness with audiences
· Virtual influencers will start becoming more of a thing for brands and will continue to grow after 2020
· Influencers will become more strategic because it is a viable career for some and brands themselves will also become a lot more strategic as they recognise influencer marketing as a legitimate marketing channel
· Regulations will become better globally, and we can only hope that the same is true for South Africa
Where is Nfluential aiming to be this time next year (other than a follow-up interview with me)?
We would be honoured to have a follow-up interview with you! Our vision for Nfluential is that we work with as many brands as possible and help brands understand influencer marketing and do great work!
Are there any elements of influencer marketing, agency life, home/life balance, advocacy or anything else in the sector and industry you wished to comment on?
This is a tough one, because there’s so much that agencies and the influencer marketing industry need to address. I believe that agencies need to focus on giving their employees a better work-life balance, or at least give them the choice in that. Currently, agency employees are expected to constantly work overtime with none or very little compensation for it. This is mostly cultivated through farming employees out to clients as being available 24/7, which is wrong.
Creativity dies in those environments and that’s their currency at the end of the day. I’m a big supporter of letting people experience life and having time to focus on hobbies, side-hustles, family etc, anything they wish to really. It leads to happier employees, less toxic environments, increased employee retention and a more productive workforce that deliver better work.
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