The Influencer Marketing Hustle: Debrief

“The long-term dream is to see influencer marketing become far more integrated and not just an afterthought to get additional reach when panicking.” A dream I think we all share.

This was just one of a plethora of interesting and inspiring insights from our sold-out inaugural Influencer Marketing Hustle last week.

Katie Hunter, Karmarama’s influencer and social lead finished her thought by adding: “It needs to be integrated into every step, but it’s not there yet.”

A sentiment echoed by the audience and the panel, which included Iman Ramani (head of client sales, Buzzoole), Tanya Wade (senior manager procurement, adidas), Ana Thorsdottir (associate director influencer marketing, MediaCom) and Rebecca Allen (global head of branded content, The Drum) who unleashed their combined wisdom and experience on important issues such as the phenomenal growth of influencer marketing and the attendant problems that come with such rapid expansion, including the need for transparency, proper measurement and trust.

Authenticity was also high on the agenda, with Ana advising:

“People will want longevity. Long term relationships can build fans of brand and products – this leads to authenticity.”

There was also a lengthy discussion around why influencer marketing needs to start proving ROI and the difficulties the industry could start to face if it doesn’t, with Katie having the final say.

“There is a content journey, a user journey and a buying experience. Affiliate may not be right for a car brand, there is a real job to do in thinking about what is the path to purchase. where does influencer marketing sit in that consumer journey and how do we deliver ROI around that? We need to be cleverer about how we are using user journeys.”

Alongside the influencer industry leaders was leading industry influencer, model and photographer Gwilym Pugh who had plenty of insights from his side of the fence about authenticity, how to creatively get the best out of influencers and where the new generation was going to come from.

“You need to give influencers creative freedom. Some brands are stagnating the scope of content by giving briefs that are too tight. If you over-brief, every picture from every influencer will be the same.”

“People now want to take up being an influencer as a career. It’s not something you fall into any more. These guys are purposely building their profile to the mass market, so as clients you need to think carefully ‘do you want this?’”

Questions from the floor also came thick and fast with one person challenging the panel on the ethics of Influencer Marketing – especially when using people under 16.

Katie bravely tackled the potentially tricky subject: “We had this issue with a brand I’ve worked with previously. They needed to be where the audience is. They needed to play on pester power to sell products. It’s not always the most comfortable way, but I don’t think there is anything wrong in doing it providing there are the right structures and ethical rigour in place.”

Ana then pointed out that it was down to the industry to make sure it was being responsible – a major theme of the whole event: “Are we being responsible gown ups? There are a lot of responsibilities for clients, brands and agencies to make sure we are working with the right bodies in the right way.”

The panel was again challenged by a spiky question around the introduction of proper measurement, which was met with an even spikier answer from our very own Iman Ramani: “Blame Instagram and the lack of API. They are the most influential influencer channel and they won’t let anyone get into the back end.”

However, Ana Thorsdottir had a slightly different take: “We want access to that data. They have to be held responsible for these things but it’s in their interest to sell us that data. They want to make money from this though. Don’t worry, they’re on the same page as us.”

All-in-all it was a fast-paced, thought-provoking and sometimes close to the nail look at the industry, where it is at the moment, where it could potentially be in the future and what it needs to do to get there. A brilliant way to the launch the series.

Hope to see you at the next one.

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