the influencer marketing has the wind in its sails. According to HubSpot, it should reach 15 billion dollars by the end of 2022. And for good reason: more and more advertisers are using these “ambassadors” more commonly called “influencers”. What do they bring to brands? How has influencer marketing managed to find a place over the years? Is this a win-win process in 2022? The J’ai un pote dans la com team spoke with Sophie Noël, Managing Director of heaven agency to better understand this sector.
Interview with Sophie Noël, Managing Director of heaven agency
JUPDLC: In 2022, is there an exact and accepted definition of influencer marketing? Could you give it to us?
Sophie Noel : There are a multitude of established definitions of influencer marketing. Mine would be to say that it’s about capitalizing on the audience, the credibility and/or the talent of individuals present on the web (forums, social networks, web3 or even dark web) in order to obtain from them, in exchange for consideration, the favorable promotion (via text, video/photo) of a brand or product.
JUPDLC: A few years ago, the main criterion for choosing a brand or an agency to choose an influencer was the size of its community. What about today ? And why ?
Sophie Noel : At all times at heaven we considered that the audience was not the one and only criterion for choose an influencer. We must also look at the precision of its editorial line and its status or not as an expert on the subject. Obviously, its influence (how much it generates engagement with its community) as well as the editorial, visual and even sound quality of the content produced must be monitored. If he has artistic, sporting or other particular talents, his ethics (does he work with any brand, does he have biases, convictions etc.) and finally his network (to which other influencers connected…) are also relevant information to obtain.
JUPDLC: In its early days, influencer marketing was seen as a new creative Eldorado. Nowadays, this environment looks more and more like a Wild West in which many people are, above all, attracted by money and fame. What do you think ? Isn’t this financial madness slowly killing influencer marketing?
Sophie Noel : From El Dorado to the Wild West, exactly! This is our introductory sentence to introduce our pilot offer which consists in helping brands to find their way both to choose which influencers to work with but, if we go back a notch above, to find their way in relation to an increasingly complex ecosystem. Indeed, today it is complicated for an advertiser to know with whom and how build your strategy of influence. Between the specialized agencies, the stables of influencers, the independent agents of influencers, the boards that begin to offer pools of influencers, the centrals, the platforms and other databases of influencers, etc. In short, with Pilot, we offer influencers the opportunity to place us alongside them and to make them work together and in a common objective all these actors, knowing that heaven introduced influence marketing in France more than 20 years ago on behalf of Xbox, which allows us to gain perspective on the subject.
Having said that, to pick up on your point about fame and money, although we at heaven have been experts for over 20 years, influencer marketing is still in teenage phase. It is estimated that less than a third of marketing managers in France have consistently integrated influencer marketing into their marketing strategy for more than 3 years. Thus, things have to be structured and regulated. ARPP with whom we work, has set up a Responsible Influencing Certificate, which implies that the influencer makes certain commitments such as, for example, showing that their content is sponsored. At heaven we fund this certificate for the influencers we work with and from January 2023 we will only work with influencers who have obtained this certificate.
In addition, we can read a lot of criticism about influencers, accused in some cases of being only interested in the lure of profit. But, on the one hand, it’s making generalizations where overall there is a lot of talent and a majority of very professional people. On the other hand, demand also creates supply: it is therefore up to advertisers and their partner agencies to contribute to professionalize relationships but also foster creativity and the relevance of influencer marketing actions.
JUPDLC: We rather have the impression that most partnerships are made in specific verticals such as fashion, food or cosmetics. Is influencer marketing only of value on consumer products or can it be useful and effective for all sectors of activity?
Sophie Noel : Everything depends on the objective you want to serve. We can operate by vertical sector and it is true that this is what is best known. But, we can also work with a marker “talent” by associating, for example, with content creators photographers, illustrators etc. Recently, for example, for our client Motorola, we went looking for talented Motion Designers (Alexandre Avram, Fanny Rollot and Vincent Viriot). We can also, once again depending on the brand’s objective, associate with an influencer not for his usual editorial line but because he has a dream or a particular center of interest. This is what we did a few years ago by associating Cyprien and Samsung in an operation called “Draw My Life”. The idea? Allow these Youtubers to express their passion for drawing using Samsung devices. Finally, we often forget that influencer marketing can also be relevant for BtoB or corporate. This is how we were able to work with different influencers for Enedis or even EDF with the idea of teaching on different subjects.
JUPDLC: We also mistakenly think that the profession of influencer is ” simple “. All you have to do is post a few photos and stories where you praise this or that product. What is your opinion on this bias? What differentiates suddenly a ” Well “ of one ” Wrong “ influencer?
Sophie Noel : We don’t say enough that being an influencer requires a lot of work, regularity and sacrifices (in some cases, especially on YouTube, you have to publish every day to maintain your audience, so no holidays, weekends, etc.). A good influencer is someone who has something to say and isn’t just there to stir up a vacuum or make point-of-sale advertising come alive. A talented influencer is distinguished by his original editorial lineits responsibility towards its audience and the care it takes to produce quality content.
JUPDLC: Based on the same reasoning, many players now offer support services in influence marketing. How to suddenly become legitimate and differentiate yourself for a digital agency?
Sophie Noel : heaven lucky to have been theprecursor agency on this subject in France since we initiated a whole influence marketing program which lasted 7 years at the time of the launch of the 1st Microsoft console in 2001. Since then, prestigious advertisers have continued to trust us on this subject, like Samsung, Disney or Danone.
It’s currently complicated for an agency to embark on this subject today and to build a legitimacy. However, agencies are created almost every day on these subjects. Especially on verticals like, for example, TikTok.
JUPDLC: We often associate influencer marketing with Instagram. Is this the reality of the sector in 2022?
Sophie Noel : instagram is by far the most popular influencer marketing platform for brands. No less than 97% of marketing managers and agencies use it with sponsored posts for their influencer campaign (Linqia, 2020). However, since last year TikTok appeals to marketers even though the precise tracking of results is still relatively imprecise.
JUPDLC: What are the indicators to measure the impact of an influence campaign? Should campaigns be prioritized? one-shot or build a lasting relationship with influencers?
Sophie Noel : At heaven we believe that a good influence strategy is above all a relational programbuilt on the long term, marketed that is to say with a name for the program (on the principles of the clubs) and with a goal, a purpose displayed. For example, for Disney we have been animating for 5 years now the Disney Social Cluba program which aims to present Disney films in preview to fans of cinema and/or series.
In some cases the long term may consist of a one shot seriesrepeated over time, especially if the brand has a speaking strategy linked to highlights (e.g. Cannes Film Festival). This does not prevent building a long-term relationship, for example by inviting certain influencers once a year but every year. What seems important to us is both the relational recurrence and the maintenance of this relationship which allows the brand both to work on brand preference but also to weave a network of ambassadors in the event of a crisis. Success is measured both on engagement indicators, qualitative notions linked to the verbatim statements of the influencer’s audiences, but also in terms of media value.
JUPDLC: As it expanded, and because of some ill-intentioned influencers, this type of marketing had to face some consumer mistrust. Should transparency be/become one of the cardinal values of influencer marketing?
Sophie Noel : Absolutely ! A publication “ordered” must be marked as such! This is once again the entire approach initiated by the ARPP and which we absolutely support.
JUPDLC: Do you have two or three examples of recent influence campaigns that have marked you?
Sophie Noel : Creatively, the campaign carried out recently on TikTok by Lipault is rather successful.
@lipault_paris Travel everywhere with the feather collection ✨🌪@eddy_papeoo #lipault #lipaultparis #lipaultgang #for you #fyp #travel ♬ original sound – Lipault Paris Official
On the heaven side, in some time we will be hitting the road and setting up a partnership with content creators for Dacia. But, we can’t say more (for now).
Want to know more about the heaven agency? Go to its dedicated page.