#Postback18 Session Recap: Destination Next: All Aboard

Becky Doles

If you were to categorize yourself as an influencer, what sort of content would you share and who would be your target audience? Do you have a list of brands you would (or attempt to) partner with? In a time when influencer is a loaded term and can be defined in a multitude of ways, one thing is certain: The influencer economy is thriving and provides an unrivaled level of personal context to brands. However, an ever-growing list of influencer personalities and channels can make effective marketing a foggy path to navigate.

How does a marketer set parameters around what it means to become an influencer? On top of establishing the baseline, influencers need to know how to build, understand, and leverage their audiences, plus measure influencer impact for true ROI insights.

During this Postback session, we welcomed a range of influencers who primarily focused on topics covering social impact, gaming, and the TV world. Moderator, Stefania Pomponi lead the discussion on the journey of an influencer, partnering with brands and how the influencer world is unfolding.  

Question: What is an influencer?  

With the abundance of influencers in our world and the diverse industry backgrounds on stage (and in the audience), Stefania sought to establish common ground by asking each panelist to describe what an influencer is today.

Benjamin Von Wong, Photographer, Influencer & Founder, Von Wong: “Within the industry, I quantify a person who creates something within a very specific vertical, they are very consistent in what they do, they deliver a consistent message. It’s almost like they are playing a character on a show and they have to fall within that category of persona of how they’re expressing themselves. It’s about consistency and the regularity in order to maintain presence that gives you this title of influencer to speak out on the topics that you care about. I actually don’t associate with the title influencer.”

Adam Lieb, Founder & CEO, Innervate: “Influencers are people who have influence over an audience. It’s not so much about how big or small, it’s really about the ‘cone of influence,’ what are they influencing, is it a game play behavior, and who are they influencing.”

Taylor Nolan, Influencer & Mental Health Counselor: “Being an influencer is also all dependent on your engagement. How engaged are you with the people who follow you?”

Question: What helps you deliver and prove your ROI?

Adam Lieb: “We divide this into two categories: performance and brand campaign. Performance: Based on CPA and on the metric of success. It could be different for every campaign, but we break everything out into true ROI or the closest thing to true ROI. Brand campaign: It’s important to be upfront with what exactly your partnering company is looking for. People are most disappointed about when they run their influencer campaigns like a brand campaign, and they expect performance. When people aren’t aligned around the goals, creators aren’t going to create the right content that gets to the right audience.”

Benjamin Von Wong: “I am content first. I try to think of myself as an artist rather than an influencer. Just get out there and create good things. Create things that resonate with people. Along the way, people who like what you do will come and ask you for help. Hopefully in that sense, you become more of a collaborator because you’re not just a guy who’s creating a post that’s going to convert a sale, but you’re the guy who is creating a conversation around a topic generating an emotional connection that can then convert into something greater. Focus on content that has value, meaning and purpose – that is a lot stronger.”

Taylor Nolan: “Based on the engagement in my Instagram, it could be a swipe up link or a code. It depends on what the brand is actually look for, how many people click on their page, how many followers they gain from you posting about them. Even if there isn’t actually a monetary value to the collaboration or partnership, there can definitely still be some value to it.”

Question: What should influencers know when working with brands?

Taylor Nolan: “Authenticity: It’s easy for followers to see through your content if it’s disingenuous. For influencers, make sure you’re working with brands who understand you and who still allow you to post in authentic ways.”

Adam Lieb: “Know what gets people excited. Be as collaborative as early in the process as possible. Ultimately, brands want your voice.”

Benjamin Von Wong: “If you’re really wanting people to care about something more than just the next ad they scroll by, I believe the creative process is deeply flawed. If you’re looking for something that will shift culture, create conversations or if you want to experiment, then those conversations need to happen at a more grassroots level. If you’re dealing with a bunch of suits in a corporate office, then you aren’t connected to the real world, which can be detrimental to the creative world. If you’re looking for conversions, maybe, but if you want to create conversations, that starts at a more grassroots level.”

Question: Monetization and influencers — what do we need to know?

Benjamin Von Wong: “Free, partnered or commissioned.”

Adam Lieb: “We’re moving towards a world where almost everything is going to be paid. My prediction is 5 years from now we’re not seeing any unpaid influencer work. Anything that matches to brand is going to be paid.”

Taylor Nolan: “It depends on what the brand wants.”

Question: The next big thing for influencer marketing?

Benjamin Von Wong: “In a world where there are more and more content creators, everyone is becoming an influencer. It’s becoming a busy space. It’s not so much about influencing, but the role of the creator moving forward. Look at the world we’re living in that’s headed towards automation, the jobs that are the most interesting are ones that involve creativity. The new titles to look for that are going to be the most exciting are these creative residencies within corporate structure to have more orthogonal ways of thinking to come up with radically different ideas. Same pyramid and same cycle of doing things for free vs paid. That churn is going to stay consistent.”

Adam Lieb: “I think we’re going to see a lot of FTC lawsuits against brands who are getting people to create content for free when they’re still getting paid. We’re going to see a lot of backlash in this pseudo paid influencer content work. It’s going to move to paid or those brands are going to get out.”

Taylor Nolan: “We’re going to continue to create authentic content regardless if it means an increase in followers. I’ll continue to share empowering messages through Instagram and my podcast. Vlogging is becoming a bigger thing, which I might explore in the future.”

As influencers become more prevalent in our digital surroundings, what are your parameters of who is an influencer and where the influencer world is going? Take a moment to listen to the full panel discussion here and don’t forget to tag yourself in the #Postback18 photos.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she handled content strategy and marketing communications at several tech startups in the Bay Area. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned home to Charleston, SC, where you can find her strolling through Hampton Park with her pup and enjoying the simple things between adventures with friends and family.

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