Maintaining Authenticity Is the Key to Influencer Marketing
Founder, President and Chief Evangelist
Clever Girls Collective
Clever Girls Collective is an influencer marketing agency with a network that reaches 75 million females every month. eMarketer’s Yory Wurmser spoke with Stefania Pomponi, the founder, president and chief evangelist of Clever Girls Collective, about what works in influencer marketing and how retailers have tapped influencers.
eMarketer: Your influencers are paid. Are they transparent about being sponsored?
Stefania Pomponi: Yes. They are absolutely 100% transparent about it.
eMarketer: Does that challenge their authenticity?
Pomponi: Maintaining authenticity really is the key to everything for sponsored content—and especially for influencers who have worked so hard to build a trusted community. Take, for example, a food blogger known by her community for shopping at farmer’s markets, loving organic food and canning her own food. If she suddenly is writing about how amazing a fast-food restaurant is, her audience is going to bolt. Her followers are not going to trust anything that she has to say anymore.
On the other hand, if an organic canned tomato company comes to us and asks, “Who can we talk with?” we’re going to connect that brand with that food-loving influencer. She’ll try the product and incorporate it into a recipe, and her audience will trust what she says because she’s still sticking to her values of cooking the way she wants and using the products that she wants. And she may be a fan of that brand already.
“In order to get just maximum amplification and exposure, all of our programs are integrated. They don’t usually live in just one channel.”
eMarketer: When you connect a brand to an influencer, do you start with the platform?
Pomponi: Most of the time we’re thinking in terms of the platform and where will that content resonate most. If it’s food or fashion or beauty, we’re thinking about Pinterest, Instagram, blogs. If it’s something like a link to a preview of a movie, that might be great on Twitter or Facebook. Mainly we’re thinking about the channel and then matching the influencer who’s known for working that channel to the brand.
In order to get just maximum amplification and exposure, all of our programs are integrated. They don’t usually live in just one channel. So a blogger might create a recipe, but then she’s going to pin it, she’s going to share a photo on Instagram, she’s going to tweet it to her followers and then she’s going to post a link on Facebook—so we try to cover as many bases as makes sense for maximum reach.
eMarketer: How have retailers used influencers?
Pomponi: It’s usually brand awareness about something. So for Lane Bryant, for example, they wanted to share their “12 days of Christmas” campaign. They had a different offer every day in their stores leading up to Christmas, and so they engaged our influencers to share them.
With Ross and Marshalls, they really were tapping into fashion Instagrammers as their “celebrities.” They recognized the power of these everyday shopping Instagrammers with a very trusting audience. They invited them into the stores to try on outfits and share what you can get at a Ross or a Marshalls. They’re trying to inspire those communities to shop.
eMarketer: Do brands and retailers ever work together?
Pomponi: Yes. One of the things that influencers do all the time is create gift guides—it’s their favorite thing. It can be a very lucrative thing for a brand to be included in an influencer’s gift guide. So Target and Oral-B leveraged that for a Father’s Day promotion.
“It doesn’t always work to think that only the biggest and best influencers are going to be the best fit with your brand.”
We went out to our network and said, “Hey, if you’re creating a gift guide and you’re a fan of this brand or you would consider including this Oral-B toothbrush in your Father’s Day gift card, raise your hand, and let’s talk.” And that’s what they did.
eMarketer: What doesn’t work in influencer marketing?
Pomponi: It doesn’t always work to think that only the biggest and best influencers are going to be the best fit with your brand. I know that George Clooney sells tequila because I saw a billboard on a bus one day—I cannot tell you the name of the brand.
But if my girlfriend says, “This was a really awesome tequila. You should buy this,” I’m going to say, “What is it?” and I’m going to go buy it. So there’s power in the authentic, relatable influencer. Often the right influencer might not be at the celebrity level.