farfetch, instagram, social media, e-commerce

It all used to be so simple. Gift a blogger a dress, have her snap a selfie wearing said dress, profit immensely. Right?

Now with looming FTC regulation on sponsored social posts, an intimidating number of would-be influencers flocking to the social-sphere, and a growing number of skeptics among social media users has left brands both desperate to deploy influencer marketing schemes and deeply vulnerable should a misstep occur. These marketing strategies — and the technology to track success — aren’t cheap.

What complicates matters even more is that many brands are challenged to select the most appropriate platform that delivers transparent data and analysis across an organization. Here Tim Sovay, chief operating officer of CreatorIQ — a social platform that centers on SaaS for influencer marketing — discusses pitfalls brands should avoid, how to cut through the building clutter in the space and the building relevance of branded content.

WWD: What are common pitfalls brands should consider when selecting and deploying a social/digital distribution CRM platform?

Tim Sovay: The biggest pitfall we see today is the lack of a social CRM at any level of a company. Often times, varying departments or offices keep local historical data on campaigns and pricing that is not shared across the organization. This causes teams to negotiate against themselves when talking to talent and their management.

WWD: In your opinion, how will the role of branded content evolve in the next year to five years?

T.S.: We are already seeing the trend of social creators moving from mercenaries who are focused on one-off brand sponsorships to ambassadors, where they are building long-term relationships between brands and their audiences. The latter benefits everyone involved because a creator’s fans come to know about a given brand or product over time, and it gives the creator the ability to tell their story about a brand that they’re passionate about. It nourishes the ecosystem for all parties involved.

WWD: What is the impact of brands owning their data — why is this an integral tool for marketing strategies?

T.S.: Every brand has their own advocates who care passionately about their product and they’re tracking these fans across e-mail, social, and cookies, every day. Unearthing who these advocates are and what their social reach is can be extremely beneficial to a brand by opening up the ability to surprise and delight them through perks or activations. Connecting the dots across a brand’s MarTech stack has been difficult to date but technology is opening this door more and more and it’s our goal to help our clients find those advocates and track them in a Social CRM.

WWD: What brands are doing brand ambassador and social influencer marketing well at the moment? Why?

T.S.: Many brands both big and small and starting to build out direct relationships with their creator partners, including AT&T with their Creator Lab and Mountain Dew with Green Label MCN. However, some of the most progressive brands have been the direct-to-consumer digital brands in the e-commerce and beauty space. A company like Ipsy is almost entirely focused on building out a network of advocates that they can consistently connect with and build deeper relationships with over time.

WWD: The social influencer space is becoming increasingly crowded — how can brands cut through the noise to reach target shoppers?

T.S.: While the digital creator space continues to be buzzy in the media world, in some ways it’s still in its infancy as brands, publishers and agencies are all working together to develop these relationships and prove their value in the ecosystem. As mentioned, brands building those direct, long-term relationships will continue to be key moving forward as the industry grows and becomes more sophisticated.

WWD: Millennials and Generation Z consumers crave authenticity. Given the popularity of social influencer marketing, how can brands ensure that this won’t lead to turn-off?

T.S.: Listen to the creators and trust their authenticity and voice is impactful to their audience. Creators know exactly what their audiences crave, and brands must be willing to let go of creative control to get the most out of these relationships and campaigns.

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