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(L-R) Emma Harman, Casper Lee, Melissa Holdbrook and Dominique Davis

Influencer marketing is growing at a phenomenal rate across the world and it helps brands to engage with the right audience by working with the most suitable influencers for them. Done with the right strategy, it can help brands get maximum brand recall, love and trust of consumers.

At this year’s Cannes Lions Festival, in a session, Emma Harman, Managing Director, EMEA, Whalar, interacted with Dominique Davis, Content Creator and Art Director, Melissa Holdbrook - Akposoe and Casper Lee, Chief Marketing Officer, Influencer, to understand from them their secret sauce of creating content for social media in this ever-evolving influencer marketing world.


Harman: What approach do you take to build engagement with the audience?

Davis: Every time I post an image, I will spend 1-2 hours on replying to comments, receiving feedback and answer questions. I reply to every direct message on Instagram. Every time I put the Instagram story, I get 450 messages on the story. Without the followers, I wouldn’t be doing anything that I would do now. It’s the best way to get the feedback, see what resonates and what doesn’t.

Lee: There are a lot of ways of building engagement with the audience. I am very fond of LinkedIn. On Instagram, you can use polls, on YouTube, one can use the platform’s feature Premiere, where you can premiere your video and other things.

Holdbrook: I would say, be funny, real and consistent and people will share your content.

Harman: Do you really know what kind of community is following you?

Lee: There are tools to see when exactly who is watching and when they are away. There are all kinds of people. There are people who would always watch what you are doing and never interact.

Holdbrook: It’s interesting because we have a direct contact with the consumers. We can ask directly what they like and what they don’t like. Working as an influencer is like having a dialogue and not just a monologue.

Davis: One should be experimental with the kind of content and not only post things that your audience likes. We know who our audience is and build content around that.

Harman: How do you know what brand is right for you and your audience?

Holdbrook: I am extremely picky because I have an important role in the message I portray. It’s important to make sure you have that kind of trust between you and your audience. If I work with all the brands that came to me, then my opinion wouldn’t be that strong. Being integral is really important. Work with brands that make sense with your personal brand as well.

Lee: I have found that the brands have become smarter as well. They could see the kind of passion we have for something. We can work out a way to create content with the brand that my audience would like. You don’t just directly advertise it. You need to experience it to talk about it.

Harman: What is the future of influencer marketing?

Davis: It will continue to grow and people will see it as a viable business. It will become more regulated. People should not underestimate our hard work that goes into making content. There is lighting to be done, photoshop, editing and a lot of other things just like a magazine or a publication would do. Sometimes our shoot could take 3-5 hours and editing 10 hours.

Holdbrook: Brands have realised that micro influencers can actually give you more than the macro ones. Brands are no more looking at likes and views, but they want to look at the kind of impressions, engagement and cultures that the influencers are creating. Influencer marketing is a maturing space.

Lee: Long-term partnerships are going to be the future.

Harman: Have you worked with a brand and it didn’t work and why?

Holdbrook: I worked with two brands who wanted to have too much creative control. They come to me because they like my content. Sometimes when there is too much of a strong hand in that process, things become a little bit intense.

Davis: Once I agreed to work with a brand and when the packaging came, it had an excess of plastic in it. We took it out of the box and decided that there is no way I am promoting this. It is not sustainable and refused to work for the brand then. That also sends a positive message to the brand to change things towards sustainability.

Harman: How can micro influencers stand out from other influencers?

Lee: They need to build their specific niche and work with the specific brands that niche serves. You need to get massive engagement and numbers but work with the brands that cater to your niche audience.

Harman: Would consumers trust the influencers when they work with one brand today and the other tomorrow?

Holdbrook: There should be a time gap between working for competing brands. Long-term partnerships help avoid these things. In this way, you almost become an ambassador and people will definitely believe in what you are saying.