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Daniel SayntCEO and Chief Creative OfficerSocialyte
Influencer marketing allows brands to connect with digital audiences in unprecedented ways. Consumers have developed deep connections with the bloggers and social media personalities they follow, and when marketers partner with these influencers, people see the brand through the eyes of someone they trust. Daniel Saynt, CEO and chief creative officer at influencer casting agency Socialyte, spoke with eMarketer’s Tricia Carr about the qualities of a successful influencer campaign and the big impact of Snapchat.
eMarketer: Why has influencer marketing become so popular?
Daniel Saynt: The main reason it has taken off is the authenticity that influencers offer. The female community especially, and even the male community, look for people that they can believe in, look more like them and define their skin tone, height and size. They look at influencers as real people who they can connect to.
eMarketer: What makes a blogger or social media user an influencer?
Saynt: We don’t start to work with an influencer unless they have 50,000 combined followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We don’t work with influencers unless the aesthetic of their content is appealing. We look at people who are the face of their brand, talk to their audience on a regular basis and have that direct connection with their audience vs. traditional, journalistic-style blogs.
eMarketer: What do brands look for in an influencer?
Saynt: Brands have very specific requests—comedic Viners, YouTube celebrities between the ages of 13 and 18 or someone with a surf lifestyle. We get requests for influencers that we never expected, especially within the fashion set. We get requests for popular dance troupes, singers and musicians on YouTube and young Hollywood stars with a substantial social media following on their own digital properties.
eMarketer: Overall, which platform is the most influential?
Saynt: Snapchat will become the dominant platform within the next two years. The amount of video views is growing rapidly. It’s on the path to beat Facebook in terms of video views and closing in on YouTube’s numbers.
More brands are asking for Snapchat strategies and figuring out ways to be relevant there. It’s difficult for brands to create content there, so they work with influencers to feature products. If the content is not within the stream, it doesn’t have the same impact.
eMarketer: How do influencers maintain their authenticity while they work with brands?
Saynt: The top influencers are the ones who find it easiest to maintain authenticity. Once they get to a certain level, they get so many brand requests that they can pick and choose projects that make the most sense for them.
Smaller influencers might be trying to make a living or get as much out of the opportunities as possible early on. They tend to do a lot more projects with brands that they might not be passionate about. Their approach usually is, ‘I can make this work,’ and they figure out a smart way to style, display and photograph the product and editorialize it.
For the most part, influencers shouldn’t do projects that they don’t love. If it affects their audience and they get negative feedback, it’s not good for anyone in the long run.
eMarketer: What happens when consumers respond negatively to an influencer campaign?
Saynt: We worked closely with Abercrombie & Fitch through their continuous evolution. Early on, a lot of influencers didn’t want to work with the brand, and we understood the reasons why—there was a lot of controversy at the time. But we found influencers who remember loving the brand when they were younger and wanted an opportunity to rediscover it.
One influencer, a plus-size blogger, posted that she shopped there, and a lot of people attacked her for it [in the comments]. Everyone said, ‘How can you support a brand that doesn’t support plus-size?’ There was a lot of negativity, but the influencer talked back to her fans and said, ‘Look, I am plus-size, but I still found things there, and I love what I found.’ She defended the brand because she believed in the story she wrote.
When we ran secondary campaigns, we noticed that there were fewer negative comments, more “likes” and shares and more comments about discovery of the brand. People said, ‘I haven’t been to an Abercrombie in years—I would love to go check it out,’ or ‘I remember when I was younger I always loved them.’ There was a change in attitude over time as we worked with influencers and let them be the voice of the brand.
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