I had the pleasure of attending the Influence THIS conference in Toronto a few weeks ago. Attended by Canada's top brands, agencies, and publishers, this conference was all about connections in the business ecosystem, and how brands can leverage influencers and content marketing in their promotional plans.
There were many great sessions throughout the day, but a few stood out as particularly interesting and informative.
A session from Hasbro entitled “All the Marketing Fun” discussed the notion of stories – they are as old as time, and we are constantly reinventing them using the same ones as a starting point. Within the media, there is a “War for Attention” that is more prominent now than ever before. The series finale of MASH in 1983 captured 45% of the U.S. population, while these audience ratings steadily declined over the years, culminating in only 5% of the U.S. population viewing The Walking Dead finale in 2016.
With declining attention spans across the population (it has been said that people now have an attention span that is less than that of a goldfish), changes need to be made to capture the attention of viewers. To do so, creative should be short and attention-grabbing to really make an impact - it can even be as short as 3 seconds.
Another session, "Influence is an Outcome, It's Not a Profession," featured a panel of creators, including Sabrina Smelko (@sabrinasmelko), Jocelyn Mercer (howtocakeit.com), Anna Olson (youtube.com/OhYum), and Lauren Toyota (@HotForFood). The benefit of being a creator on digital platforms is that you are seen as more approachable in comparison to TV, where "you are not a real person."
The group of creators have been able to extend their businesses and brands beyond just content creation and into e-commerce. For Jocelyn, e-commerce through cooking products makes up 1/3 of her revenue.
When dealing with brands, the creators tend to see three common pitfalls:
- Short Term Focus vs. Long Term Vision - some brands tend to focus on metrics, such as completed video views. Creators hold a duty of care to protect their audience, and brands must look beyond these metrics.
- Blanket Marketing Concepts - there is no one-size fits all approach. Brands need to collaborate with the creator in order to be successful.
- Shoddy Content - Content is part of a creator's brand. They must always challenge the quality of the content they produce in order to provide the best possible outcome for themselves and the brands they partner with.
A final session entitled “Creating Global Partnerships” was hosted by Edlynne Laryea of J&J. She stressed the importance of the authenticity of influencers: before signing any agreements, influencers should already be users of their brands and products. Additionally, she does not focus on the number of followers that an influencer has, but rather the reasons why people are following them.
She values quality over quantity of content, and is always looking for an interesting angle on the product. A suggestion she has for influencers is that they should film themselves shopping, as retail is still the primary source of sales (with Amazon only amounting to 5% of sales).
Ultimately, she has three final tips for influencers looking to partner with her brands:
- Be creative
- Be original
- Do your research