Fashion Mingle’s: Influencers Unscripted
On Weds, Sept 5th, Fashion and Beauty Influencers and Social Media Experts gathered at LIM College in Manhattan during NYFW for a panel discussion on issues affecting this growing industry –sponsored by Fashion Mingle, the online network for fashion industry professionals, co-founded by Melissa Shea and Beth Smith.
Moderator Christine Philip of Global Glam magazine interviewed a panel of Experts including:
Christine Schott Ledes, Founder of The Beauty Influencers and President of the American Influencer Association
Eldonie Mason, an attorney specializing in entertainment law at the Mason Law Firm
Parisa Wang, a handbag designer working with influencers around the world
Connie Chi, marketing strategist specializing in influencer branding and marketing at The Chi Group
And a panel of Influencers including:
Tina Lee, Of Leather and Lace, @OfLeatherandLace
Megan Mandell, Honest Twenty One, @HonestTwentyOne
Batsheva Weinstein, Sunnies and Sangria, @SunniesandSangria
Grace Lee, Gracefullee Made, @GraceFulleeMade
TOPICS OF DISCUSSION
BRANDS AND INFLUENCER PARTNERSHIPS
How can influencers gain the trust of a brand?
Influencers can gain the trust of a brand by building a quality, loyal audience of real followers that’s engaged and enthusiastic. Publish quality content consistently. Don’t be a diva and act professionally.
What is the best way for brands to get in touch with influencers?
Directly via email or DM. The email option on must of the platforms is terrible. Also, because marketers spam the influencers via these platforms, many influencers don’t pay attention to them any longer. Your best bet is to contact them directly.
What is the best way for influencers to get in touch with brands?
Find contact info (usually email) and send a thoughtful communication that spells out your value and why the brand should want to work with you. Provide creative ideas about what you can do to promote their products and some stats about your audience.
What problems do you most often see in brand / influencer relationships?
Lack of communication about expectations by both sides. I also see brands looking to “control” influencer content and in some cases create it for them – which defeats the purpose of influencer marketing. Instead, brands should look to cooperate with influencers in order to leverage their creativity and access their authenticity.
Influencers should look to build relationships with brands so they can work with them long term, focus on what really matters: serving their audiences by talking about beauty and makeup. Instead, too many influencers focus on the money and what they can get out of brands.
What has been the most successful brand / influencer relationship you’ve experienced?
Schott pointed to the introduction she made between Lauren Bush and the UN World Food Programme as still one of the most rewarding and successful collaborations she has ever experienced, FEED Projects. “What started out as Lauren’s inspiration for a re-useable grocery bag, sold on Amazon for $25, quickly became a hot fashion accessory sold at Bergdorf Goodman for up to $250, and has since grown into a whole line of products sold over the years at Barnes & Noble, Target, Whole Foods, on-line, and now in her own FEED store in Dumbo, which has raised more than $10 million to literally feed hungry children around the globe.”
What are some dos and don’ts for working with brands?
Ensure the brand’s values align with yours. Don’t sell out for money as your audience will likely sense it and begin to distrust you. Realize that a smaller, engaged audience is better than a large, unengaged one. Have a contract that spells out expectations for the brand as well as you. Meet your obligations for the brand. Be sure to specify all sponsored content clearly.
THE FUTURE OF THE INFLUENCER INDUSTRY
What do you see as the biggest problem facing the influencer industry?
Confusion and lack of education. The purpose of influencer marketing is to access your target audience, your ideal consumers by leveraging other people (the influencers) and their content. Its not about advertising, its about marketing. See some of my comments above as I’ve already touched up this.
What are bots and should an Influencer use them?
There are all kinds of bots and not all of them bad. But when it comes to fake followers and fake engagement, don’t do either. Brands are catching on and starting to say no to working with influencers who have too many fake followers and/or engagement. And if you think they won’t notice, you’re only fooling yourself.
How can brands figure out if an influencer is using a bot?
There are some third party tools that can help with this, but it also helps to know what the bots are programmed to do. Often fake followers don’t have profile pictures and they follow many people but have no followers of their own. In terms of fake engagement, bots often leave thin comments like “Love this” or “Great post” or “Love your feed.” Real people ask questions, offer specific observations about the post – bots don’t do that.
Is using an influencer critical for a brand to grow their sales?
No, there are many ways to drive business, influencer marketing is just one strategy. However, as a strategy, influencer marketing can get intricately involved in the customer journey where other strategies cannot. Remember, people like to buy from other people when possible and this is the power of behind the strategy.
What one thing would you like to see change in the Influencer industry?
For brands and influencers to get more educated about the possibilities the strategy has to offer. For brands, its to stop thinking bigger audiences are necessary and to stop throwing money at influencers.
Who are the style or industry icons you most admire and why?
Kylie Jenner of Kylie Cosmetics was noted as just one of the many industry icons most admired. Like her or not, Kylie not only successfully launched a direct-to-consumer line of cosmetics, inspiring thousands of other influencers to do the same, but is now showing that the brick and mortar retail experience is still important by launching the brand in Ulta Stores for the holiday season. She is a clear leader in the influencer industry
What trends do you see coming next in the influencer industry?
The two trends that both Influencers and Experts agreed were important to watch are Influence Marketing and the growing importance of Micro Influencers.
Fashion Mingle is a platform for fashion industry professionals, creating local fashion directories in over 100+ cities nationwide. For more information, please visit: www.fashionmingle.net.