Date Posted: Monday 13th February 2017
b. the communication agency's social talent management and influencer marketing company b.talent, headed up by Becky Ringer, represents professional social influencers across the globe; uniting its talent with brands to increase awareness, engagement and sales as well as building brand to influencer relationships.
Having worked closely with bloggers and social influencers for over 14 years across its fashion, beauty, lifestyle and parenting PR divisions, the agency has developed a deep understanding of the needs of both the talent and brands, in addition to the importance and effect of digital communications in today’s market.
This year saw the agency rebrand from B Public Relations to b. the communications agency, to offer a new divisional service that reframes the traditional PR agency model. Under the umbrella of b. the communications agency, there are now six divisions: b.pr, b.digital, b.talent, b.vip, b.creative and b.events.
DIARY directory caught up with Becky for 'A date with DIARY'...
Does your talent let you know what brands they would particularly like to work with?
Our talent all have a good idea of the kind of brands they want to be working with – usually brands that they already wear/use. This ranges from designer to high street, niche and independent brands, fashion, beauty, fitness, lifestyle, travel, automotive and more. We work with our talent to help build relationships and collaborations with their ultimate dream brands as well as brands that they already use on a day to day basis and always aim to make sure all collaborations are authentic, partnering our influencers with brands that they are genuine fans of.
What sort of otherwise publicly unavailable stats, if any, do you provide to brands on request?
All possible analytics are available: blog stats, Instagram insights, click through rates on campaigns, engagement stats etc. We have an agency tech analyst who works with our talent to further develop increased engagement and blog post referrals – we feel that it’s important for brands to have awareness of all relevant analytics – especially information on the demographic of an influencer’s following, age, gender and geo-specific information.
Do all influencers have their own rate cards? or are the rates more dependent on the ‘perks’ or 'fit' of the collaboration?
We have flat rate fees but we also like to take a tailored approach to each project – quite often costs depend on the brief and scope of work and time for example if travel is required. In December alone several of our talent travelled to Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Athens for collaborations.
The more activity a brand wants to do the better value, as we can offer packages that include a range of social posts, blog posts and Vlogs rather than just a one-off post. We always see more value in our influencers promoting brands across several of their platforms and where possible over a period of time rather than a one off post on one platform.
How should a PR go about identifying the right influencer for their campaign and are the influencers interested in long-term collaborations as well as campaign-led?
When identifying an influencer for your campaign it's important to not get distracted by the numbers. There has been a focus previously on working with the biggest influencers which can of course in some cases be beneficial but it's important not to get popularity and influence confused. Engagement is ultimately the most important reference, influencers with a smaller but much more interactive and engaged following could generate far better results than one with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers.
Our influencers are absolutely interested in long term collaborations and it’s something we advise our own fashion and beauty clients to action. An authentic relationship that has been built up over time is always the most effective way of working with influencers, especially if the influencer has already been organically promoting/wearing that brand over a period of time.
What do your influencers find the most frustrating in terms of brand/gifting collaborations?
Brands that approach our influencers with product/campaigns that are completely off brand. It shows that the brand hasn’t considered who they’re approaching to work with and are potentially just looking at numbers and not thinking ‘is this the right influencer for us’. With gifting it’s usually when they've selected a gift and the brand sends an extra 10 samples that the influencer 'might' like - from our experience with working with bloggers and influencers for the past 12 years on the PR side at b. this often works to the brands' detriment. Also spamming an influencer with gifting that they’ve not requested and then asking when they’re going to post it is a big no and not a great way to start a lasting relationship.
Do your influencers attend press events/press parties? What circumstances would/would not involve a fee?
Yes, our influencers are always out and about at events, they love networking and meeting brands/PRs plus events always provide a great opportunity to capture different content. Fees would come into play if the influencer was to co-host or be required to do something specific such as wear a full outfit, guarantee specific content or coverage of the event but this does vary from event to event.
If brands have limited budgets how can they garner coverage?
Micro influencers are a really good area to focus on for brands that don’t have big budgets, or working with ‘on the rise’ influencers, identifying new talent that hasn’t been picked up by every other brand or ‘made it big’ yet and building a great working relationship with them from nurturing them from the beginning.
How does b.talent think the social influencer world will evolve?
Engagement and authenticity will be a core focus as the world of influencer marketing develops. Rather than working with influencers on quick-hit one-off posts, brands will become more wary of using influencers who are a great fit and resonate with their audience. Whilst these posts may garner a large number of likes or comments it's becoming well understood that these posts do not necessarily portray a genuine influencer-brand relationship, and more emphasis will be put on these more genuine relationships going forward.
We also think we will continue to see a move towards the micro-influencer markets as more emphasis is put on engagement rate over just likes and huge followings, and rightly so.
Brands understanding their ROI will become more important too, it's key that as more and more brands decide to invest in this form of marketing they understand how the content has worked for them, be that in conversion to sales, clicks to their site or follower increase. This measurement is something brands and influencers should have an awareness of from the outset of a project.
Anything brands should avoid when working with influencers?
Avoid overly editing their tone of voice: whilst you want your brand message to be clearly understood, remember that the reason their audience engage with them is because they trust them and engage with their content. If their content starts to sound scripted and contrived then needless to say the audience will pick up on the lack of authenticity and lose trust in the message, thus undermining the point of influencer marketing. Be prepared to strike a happy medium between your message and their authentic content; perhaps pick a couple of key words, phrases or hashtags rather than scripting the content for them.
Image from left - Monikh Dale, Mariko Kuo, Sophie Hannah Richardson.
Any other top tips for PRs/brands!
Have a clear vision of the content from the start before you strike up a conversation with the influencer or their management. Whilst it's always important to be adaptable and flexible it can be frustrating for the Influencer and brand when things don't turn out as expected because of last minute changes to the brief or concept.
Whilst giving an influencer free reign is great and maintains the authenticity of the content, come prepared with posting guidelines, and don't be afraid to state the obvious: if you want your product to be shown in a particular way, be clear on that from the beginning to avoid any disappointment later down the line.
Take time in researching which influencers are right for your brand or campaign, and reach out to them in a thoughtful manner. Just as you might put a generic CV straight into your junk box, a mass bcc email to an Influencer isn't the best start to your relationship with them. Explain why they caught your eye, and how they are a good fit for your brand and why you want to work with them. A personal approach is the best approach.
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