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Content Jam 2020: ‘Authenticity & engagement key while selecting influencers’

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On the second day of the event, influencer marketing experts shared the qualities required while going for an influencer

During this pandemic, we have seen digital penetration and content marketing building a stronghold over the audience. On Day 2 of e4m Content Jam 2020, industry experts through panel discussions and speaker sessions spoke about the importance of influencer marketing for brand campaigns and how brands can use accurate influencers to drive the desired reach and outcome.

The second panel discussion of the day was on the topic ‘Expertise, Authentication & Trust- Building brands via Influencers’. On the panel were GB Srithar, Regional Director, India, Middle East & South Asia at Singapore Tourism Board; Sagar Pushp, CEO, Clan; Vivek Sharma, CMO, Pidilite Industries; Lakshmi Balasubramanian, Co-Founder, Green Room; and Bahaar Dhawan Rohatgi, Artist and Lawyer. The Session Chair was Ajay Mehta, Senior Vice President, Content+ Mindshare.

Talking about the role of influencers in today’s times and where does it stand from a media mix viewpoint, Sharma shared, “In this digital age for consumers the main source of entertainment is the news and social media. But yet ironically consumers are trusting brands and companies lesser now and trusting peer to peer recommendations more. Secondly, consumers have created more filter bubbles around them. They choose what content they want or don’t want to see. They don’t appreciate push notifications and push content. They don’t want hard sales. It is critical for brands who want to talk to these consumers to crack these filter bubbles. The currency of influence in a digital age is not reach and media spends those days are gone. It is more about relevance and engagement. Influencers offer a fantastic means of offering this engagement. We have to engage in conversation around the topic the consumers are interested in. Once we get into that conversation is where brands can communicate with consumers. This is where influencers offer us a perfect bridge between brands and those consumer conversations.”

Srithar speaking about his perspective on selecting the right influencers said, “For Singapore Tourism it has always been about the case of building trust, credibility and authentic communication about what Singapore stands for and what kind of value proposition Singapore offers. For us now it’s no longer just about the brand voice. At the end of the day, it is the word of mouth that leads to action and therefore the role of influencers is very important. It is about picking the right voices to bring about the message. We have now adopted a brand identity which is ‘Passion made possible’. We are communicating about Singapore not through the infrastructure and prominent sites but through the passions of the Singaporeans in their voices. The key thing we look out for in influencers is authenticity, we need authentic voices who have experienced Singapore or have some affinity towards it. We also need to make sure that the engagement that is possible with the influencer is high and the engagement is more important rather than just an ROI.”

Sharing her perspective, Balasubramanian remarked, “Now, the conversation is moving more towards a Cost Per View and Cost Per Impression conversation in the influencer ecosystem. There is also a role of content creation, reach and awareness that the influencers also bring in to the table. So, while some of it can still be about the conversion and the action which is still an important piece in the equation. A whole lot of it is still going to continue to be in the brand salience and brand awareness bit. They do play a huge role in influencing their opinions about brands and products. Eventually, however, there will be a solution where we can measure the effectiveness of influencers and it is a global conversation which is ongoing.”

Talking about measurement, Sharma stated, “Like any other digital media, we can link influencer marketing campaigns if we have an e-commerce link. For example, after awareness and consideration, we can measure performance through likes, re-tweets, etc. But the right balance of what the bring to the table in qualitative engagement and trust and quantitative reach leading to sales is a better approach.”

Talking about the advantage and expertise that Clan brings to the table, Pushp shared, “At the heart of what we have designed and built is solutions to issues like the discovery of influencers, how to find the right one, reaching out to them, the accuracy of followers, execution of the campaign and the transaction being transparent. There are a lot of middlemen involved and therefore you can’t reach out to the influencer directly. We are ensuring and building ancillary tools around this entire ecosystem not just for the brand’s side or the demand side but also for the supply side. You have to find the niche in the offering that is there and bring in your element in this entire offering and that’s where we are trying to be different.”

On transparency and pricing, Balasubramanian said, “An influencer’s price is determined based on their following and their popularity if they are trending or not. But largely there is some kind of quantification where some agencies like us do which is that there should be some amount of engagement, organic views in terms of videos, a certain following should determine the amount and those are some of our benchmarks. It is a mix of quantitative and qualitative checks for us.”

For Rohatgi brands need to understand the quality of the following that people command. “Even if the following is small if it is important to your brand it should work. People sometimes react to the influencer based on how they look and don’t comment on the brand-led posts. It is not just about the number of comments on that branded post. You should check if the reaction is relevant to your product. It shouldn’t be a short-circuited formula where you feel that someone has ‘X’ amount of followers and maximum comments. The idea is to identify the influencers who resonate with your brand, has their personality showcased and a path or journey of their own.”

Talking about the importance of micro-influencers in driving business, Srithar pointed out, “Micro-influencers are very passion-driven in the niche they are in. It is about looking at those kinds of passion rich influencers that resonate with the brand. It is also about the regional platforms they will allow us to get into. It allows us to talk to the audience of that particular regional area and drives engagement and reach. In the end, there should be a mutual benefit for both sides.”

Concluding the discussion, Pushp said, “Machine Learning and AI are very important tools which are going to build the entire decision-making process for influencer marketing and will make it very easy for brands to select influencers.”

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