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#IABInsightSeries: Digital influencer marketing

The IAB's 31st and second to last episode of the year takes place tomorrow, 21 October and will be led by the IAB SA Digital Influencer Committee, who provide an organising structure to enable the discussions and development of guidelines, best practice and benchmarking for digital influencer marketing in South Africa.
#IABInsightSeries: Digital influencer marketing

Expect to look at case studies across the digital influencer marketing opportunity and hear from the Digital Influencer Marketing Committee on the latest definitions and guidelines. Speakers include IAB Insights host, Tshegofatso Phetlhe, Creative Director VMLY&R and IAB SA Youth Action Council Member; IAB SA Digital Influencer Committee Chair Stephane Rogovsky, CEO of R-Squared Agency; Ryan Feeke-Fortune, Head of Brand Strategy at Ad Dynamo; and Brian Muguto, Chief Strategic Officer at Mediacom.

Here, they tell us what they’re going to be discussing and what more to expect…

What is the key theme or message of your talk or role on the panel?

Rogovsky: To introduce the work on definitions produced by IAB Digital Influencer Marketing Committee and provide clarity to the audience about terms, categories and tiers.

Feeke-Fortune: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” The key message of my talk will be focused on the power of influential voices on Twitter and key learnings when it comes to successful collaboration with influencers and digital content creators.

Muguto: My role on the panel mirrors the role that I play as a member of the Digital Influencer Marketing Committee. That is, to provide the media agency POV, to ensure we’re considering every potential or pain point and/or gap in understanding, as we attempt to build a sustainable definition and practice of digital influencer marketing in South Africa and beyond.

Talk us through some of the key insights that determined which changes, updates, constants will be happening in the digital advertising industry in 2021 – specifically on digital influencer marketing.

Rogovsky: More integration with other components from the media mix. Influencer marketing is still often worked in isolation and not entirely integrated into media strategies. Therefore, its touchpoint and the resonance produced are often uncoordinated with other marketing efforts, but this seems to change as the industry matures and marketers understand it better.

Marketers will keep increasing interest in highly authentic influencers who genuinely resonate with their audience and not only as a media with a captive audience.

The move towards longer-term partnerships between influencers increased in 2021 as brands realised the value of a real affiliation over short-term inconsistent endorsements.

Feeke-Fortune: Content creators are publishers. They’re actively creating content for their community and your strategy needs to align with your brand purpose, influencer community passions and your message. That’s where the magic happens.

Collaboration yields impact. Influence should not be confused for brand ambassadorship. Influencers are your ticket into popular culture and conversation. They change and shape culture.

Muguto: Whilst it may not apply to every citizen, working from home (and the lockdown generally) has certainly accelerated adoption of digital devices and expanded the type of digital use cases we’re seeing per individual, e.g. more people streaming content, more people shopping online, etc.

There is a growing popularity in ‘independent’ content creators – people that actually look just like me and you – producing higher quality content and drawing credible audiences that essentially put them as creators in a position of influence. It means that the landscape for brand partnerships is evolving and the micro- and macro-tiers of influence are taking on a more significant role than before.

With this, brands are having to re-evaluate how they identify and work with influencers. We’re seeing brands leaning into building partnerships that contribute to connecting with specific communities, on the specific platforms where they are living out their passions/interests. This also means brands are having to take a more tailored approach to communication and/or engagement programmes, that address the strengths of each (digital/social) platform and leverages the strengths of the creators who are winning in those environments. Less copy and pasting of content across platforms.

From an e-commerce POV, beyond the ‘big players’, we also have a unique informal e-commerce sector that’s driven by social media shop-windows, customer service through messaging platforms like WhatsApp, and transactions that leverage mobile money services. This gives a whole new meaning to social commerce and how brands can work with influencers to get their products in people’s hands.

What one main call to action would you advise your fellow industry colleagues at this time (in context of your talk) to help companies who are looking to beat the benchmark in digital influencer marketing and create great work (teams, processes etc) that exceeds business goals?

Rogovsky: Together, the influencers' tiers and categories provide a powerful tool to assess the fit and value of each influencer in a campaign. Using this tool will allow brands and influencers to build more meaningful partnerships and achieve better performances.

Feeke-Fortune: True influence is about leveraging authenticity.

Muguto: At MediaCom, we’ve proven through data that brands that more closely marry media and creativity drive greater relevance to consumers and up to four times more growth. Whilst we’ve always been systems thinkers, we are changing the structure of our business to ensure that creativity is brought further forward in our approach to planning. Where relevant, the same should apply to digital influencer marketing, i.e. identify a clear role for it based on the business challenge you’re trying to solve and plan for it with the same robustness as the other elements of your communication system, with clear objectives and measurable KPIs.

Share one key learning from 2021 that you have personally (or professionally) taken on board, that you believe will assist others to navigate the future of work as we (are getting to) know it.

Rogovsky: Influencer Marketing is not a temporary trend and is here to stay as consumers increasingly look for human recommendations and connections from people they like and trust to make purchasing decisions. Integrating influencers content in paid or programmatic campaigns perfectly complements these mechanisms, brings personal messages to the paid-media world, and enhances performances.

Feeke-Fortune: How to live with presence, break the tyranny of productivity and learn to see our everyday wonderland.

Muguto: One thing I’ve noticed is that as brand custodians working virtually, our agency banners and individual titles are no longer as visible to our clients and/or between us as colleagues as they used to be. The best work that I’ve seen emerging over the course of the year has been from scenarios where clients and agency partners have been able to shed egos, discard silo-thinking, and work together to build truly integrated solutions. It’s been exciting to even see clients rolling up their sleeves and showing up as part of the team. For me this gives a glimpse into the kind of agile collaboration that the future of work will be built on.

The IAB SA has taken its Insight Series online to provide 60 minutes of insights, featuring fellow and future industry leaders, on subjects selected by IAB members and the industry at large to make better digital decisions. Episode 31 is brought to you in partnership with Gumtree, Everlytic, Ornico, and Bizcommunity. The 2021 IAB Insight Series is also approved for 2 CPD points at CMSA-level under marketing, by the Marketing Association of South Africa. To attend this episode on Digital Influencer Marketing on 21 October 2021, you can register for free here. Episode 31 is free and open to the full industry to attend.

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