Marketing Day Paris: Kolsquare unpacks the key takeaways
Around 150 people attended the event, which was held on June 28 under a blazing sun on the trendy O’Veilles Kanailles barge moored on Paris’ Seine River.
Speakers included Kolsquare CEO and founder Quentin Bordage, metaverse creative agency Swipe Back co-founder Nikhil Roy, influencer agent and Shauna Events founder Magali Berdah, Meltwater head of account executive EMEA Xavier Lélut and head of marketing Marie Seignol de Swarte, Group Bel head of communication and influencer Malaïka Coco, BETC FULLSIX head of content strategy Thibault Rossi, Accor global head of social media and influence Clarisse Castan, and Reebok marketing director France Brice Lefevre.
Long term influencer collaborations
As the influencer marketing industry matures, more and more brands are seeing the benefits of engaging in different levels of recurrent or long-term collaborations with influencers. BETC FULLSIX head of content strategy Thibault Rossi outlined the relative benefits of three types of collaborations: one shot activations during key sales periods as a means of capitalizing on the reach of an influencer’s audience; a long-term collaboration in which an influencer creates exclusive content for a brand’s own channels; and strategic, long-term proprietary branded content assets which influencers are activated to push.
For long-term brand/influencer collabs on content creation, Rossi stressed the importance of detailed casting practices to ensure the influencer’s values match those of the brands, and said working with a ‘crew’ of creators on the same project is a useful way to expand the creativity palette. He said brands should be willing to test and learn with different post formats and paid posts on different content and different platforms.
“Using a crew will give you more formats, more ideas, and reduce the notion of dependence [on one influencer]. The strategic message is also very important. There is an intersection of classic brand objectives, expectations and challenges, and added to that are the creator’s needs, which brings us to the necessity of co-creating concepts with creators,” said Rossi.
“Are influencer strategies more effective when brands engage with influencers over the long term? Not necessarily, because depending on the different types of communication, there are different objectives. What brands must fully commit to over the long-term is not necessarily the influencers, but the influencer strategies which are thought out over the long term, and which will have an impact over the duration.”
Scaling influencer marketing
For brands looking to scale up their influencer activities, Kolsquare CEO and founder Quentin Bordage stressed the importance of internalizing influencer marketing activities and embedding it at all levels of the business, from marketing and sales to crisis communications. He noted that brands achieving an outsized share of voice in their respective sectors had dedicated large teams at senior levels to influencer marketing, often with the heavy involvement of the CEO.
Brands successfully scaling influencer marketing are likely to employ a volume strategy — activating many influencers to flood social media with posts — combined with a data-driven approach to selecting quality influencers.
“It’s about systematically using data — on the KOL’s audience, social demographics, reach, engagement rates etc. — to ensure the quality of the KOL and the match with your brand. A strategy of quality also increases engagement rates, which combined with volume enables brands to achieve higher value on campaigns,” said Bordage.
As younger consumers increasingly make purchase decisions based on brand transparency and values, the question of responsible influence is top of mind for many in the industry. But research by the (French advertising regulatory authority) ARPP’s Responsible Influence Observatory shows that 26.6% of influencer posts still do not reveal their commercial affiliations.
Presenting alongside ARPP deputy director Mohammed Mansouri, Group Bel’s Malaïka Coco said that as the brand’s marketing approach had become increasingly tied to ambassadors, there is a pressing need for them to understand the principles of responsible influence.
Group Bel has asked several of its ambassadors to complete the ARPP’s Certificate of Responsible Influence, a 150-minute course covering audience protections, brand differentiation, and the preservation of ethical, respectful and responsible values in influencer marketing. Already in use in France, Mansouri said the framework is being studied for possible replication in other European countries.
“All of these steps must be educational, I don’t believe in enforcing rules by constraint. I want the ambassadors who I work with to understand the benefits and the added value for them and their profession in having responsible practices,” said Coco.
“We want to show that business and responsible influence can co-exist and for that, you have to have an ROI approach with clear KPIs,” she added, noting that responsible influence practices and understanding can be used as an additional KPI in measuring ROI.
Already common in China and other Asian markets, many in the West are still scratching their heads when it comes to virtual KOLs. Presenting his company’s virtual KOL Cinder, created for a Singaporean company, Swipe Back co-founder Nikhil Roy said virtual KOL can respond much more quickly to online trends on platforms like TikTok and Twitch especially, and are more “brand safe” as brands control the message at all times.
“Cinder has her own TikTok and Instagram account, she has her own apartment, a job,” commented Roy, adding that a colored streak in her hair changes according to her mood. “Like any classic influencer, for it to work, it needs to be supported by a community. It’s not enough just to create a character, you have to create the content that goes with it. The message and the strategy. There’s no point in doing innovation for innovation’s sake.”