The Evolution of Influence: Five Lessons Learned from Digital Influencers in the WWD Social House

The Evolution of Influence: Five Lessons Learned from Digital Influencers in the WWD Social House

Tuesday, September 09 2014

Written by Macala Wright & Chelsea Matthews, Founder of Matte Black

A few years ago, WWDMAGIC launched its blogger (we’ll refer to bloggers as digital influencers) program and since then it has continued to evolve. For MAGIC’s August 2014 show, we combined forces with WWD, Matte Black, and the best influencers on Instagram, Vine, and YouTube to elevate the program to a new level. Over the course of three days, a myriad of panels covered topics including Visual Storytelling Through Social Media, Building Community and How to Use People as a Brand Exposure Platform. Below we’ve highlighted a few of our key takeaways that we truly feel best encompass how to strategically and authentically align your brand with today’s digital influencers. 

1. Don’t just send a pitch. Create a two-way dialogue and establish a relationship.

Digital influencers repeatedly make the point that there is a level of ineffectiveness with a traditional pitch, which feels both stiff and impersonal. A more effective approach as a brand is to personally engage in a dialogue with these influencers (they’re people after all) and find out what they’re looking to write about or what kind of product they personally feel compelled to share with their audience. 

2. When looking to partner with an influencer, look beyond their follower count and actually look into who their followers are. The quality and level of engagement of the influencer’s audience does matter.

Partnering with an influencer with a large following does not automatically guarantee their audience will directly engage or show genuine interest in your product. For example, you may discover a YouTube influencer who talks about fashion with 300,000 subscribers to their channel, has more than one million views on their videos. You may initially think they’re a perfect fit and move forward with a pitch to have them discuss your products. After all, this influencer focuses on fashion and has a huge following! Whether or not they choose to feature your product or work with you, what happens when you learn that their audience is actually a group of 13-year old girls who can’t afford your product? It helps to do your research beyond the numbers and determine if your target market is reflective in the influencer’s audience. Ultimately, both parties save time and remain authentic.

3. Allow the influencer to view your whole collection. Provide them with line sheets to find the product(s) that best fit with their personal style and content calendar, rather than simply pushing products from your agenda.

No need to approach an influencer with a specific product you think they’d like, just ask them! Open up the conversation by walking them through your line and company. Encourage them to review your website or lookbook to select a few items that they think would tie in well with their content. For example, through discussing upcoming content with the influencer, you find out that they are running a story around wearing white after Labor Day and would love to pick something white from your collection, as opposed to the black maxi dress you would originally have pushed.

4. The best partnerships function as more than a business deal; they create experiences.

A blogger will be thrilled when you present them with the opportunity to travel, gain exclusive experiences, and/or take part in something to which they might otherwise not have had access. Think creatively about how you can integrate your brand into an experiential program that incentivizes the influencer to speak about your product in an authentic manner. Doing so will create the most value for their audience and yours.

5. Show that you’ve done your research, and do it with authenticity.

As we’ve mentioned, it’s important that you conduct prior research when selecting an influencer for your brand. Influencers know when you’ve done your research and really understand their community, their content, and their overall vision. When reaching out to an influencer, connect with them by specifying an aspect you love about a recent social media post, or even what you love about their personal style. Show the influencer that you do understand their focus and brand. One tip is to avoid mentioning your products when you first speak to the influencer. Instead, simply express your enthusiasm for what they do. Then, once the conversation is in motion, offer to send them product as a gesture to then open up the dialogue even further and see if they do in fact enjoy your products and brand. This is the best way to test if an influencer is a good fit for your brand and vice versa.