In 2017, there'll be few who haven't witnessed the power of the 'influencer' as a marketing tool. It's everywhere. Think about it. Did you buy that lipstick because you had to have it or because you saw your favourite go-to beauty editor/influencer rave about it on Snapchat? It's likely the latter. But to really influence in 2017, it has to be done right. Irish consumers, in particular, are extremely savvy; they want someone genuine, who knows their stuff - pushing something they truly believe in. That's why the gap is closing. It is no longer enough to get by on a name and a truckload of Instagram followers; 'influence' isn't enough - you have to have talent to really make your mark. This is something that head honcho of The Collaborations Agency Lynn Hunter knows all about, having looked after the likes of Conor McGregor, Annmarie O'Connor and Des Bishop as well as many other talented content creators. She talks to IMAGE.ie about a new era of digital marketing, why traditional PR models can still stick and why she doesn't work with influencers, only talented individuals.
Why did you set up The Collaborations Agency? And what is your vision for it?
The Collaborations Agency is the first Irish full-service agency that joins the dots between brands and influencers. Each collaboration we do, like each brand, is unique, so collaborations remain relevant. The vision is to manage quality talent who are among the top social creators in the world and keep delivering expertise to across fashion, beauty, sport, entertainment and lifestyle sectors.
In your opinion, is the term 'influencer' becoming a bit of a dirty word in marketing circles?
I think the terms ‘influencer’ is bandied around in marketing circles. But what truly makes someone influential is their believability and legitimacy amongst their community. That’s why the right collaborations with brands are so important - that way talent becomes associated with brands and products they genuinely endorse and enjoy.
How does someone's 'influence' become a tangible thing?
Working with Conor McGregor has opened my eyes to the scope of influence. He wears a shirt, and it’s a sell-out, he endorses a product, and it’s a best-seller. That’s when you see influence as a tangible thing. Someone like Conor, whose community aspires to be like him, will always influence through what he wears, where he eats, what he eats and how he trains.
The trend appears to be moving towards including 'micro-influencers' - can you explain why? (versus accounts with huge numbers)
We’re huge advocates for micro-influencers. Someone with a following of 17,000 versus 200,000 often has a more engaged community as they are viewed as being accessible. A great example of this would be ‘mummy bloggers’ like A Simply Style, Lean Mean Mamma, Dreaming Always or Two Darlings, these mums doing their thing - working and raising their kids.
What is your prediction for this area of marketing?
Influencer marketing is only going to keep growing. Platforms like Instagram are even evolving to accommodate this style of marketing; in fact, influencer marketing on Instagram is now a billion dollar industry.
In your opinion, is traditional PR broken now?
No. There is still a place for traditional PR in this world. People still buy papers and listen to the radio, weekend papers and magazines, for example, are a ritual for many people. Traditional PR can co-exist with online.
Photos: Ailbhe O'Donnell