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A Whale of a Time | The Influencer Marketing Show

On the 15th and 16th October, Whalar were the headline sponsors of the Influencer Marketing Show at Old Billingsgate, London. Here are some of our highlights.

The 2018 Influencer Marketing Show proved to be a huge success as a melting pot for brands, creators, influencers, platforms, agencies, talks, and, of course, free stuff.

The Whalar Case Study Theatre was hugely popular, with a queue out the door for every event we hosted. Besides the talks and industry garble, our partnership with the amazing Pan-n-Ice turned out (we were never in doubt) to be something of a dream.

Their Instagrammable treats were not only offensively delicious, their stand was situated right beside the Whalar main stand (as well as by the entrance to our Case Study Theatre). They were never without a long queue and, as a result, we were always chatting to a newfound audience about who we are and how we work.

I mean, Ice Cream gets us all going, right?

We also had talks from our Chief Growth Officer Mike Hondorp, Associate Directors Jessica Womersley and Cecily Baer, and (last, but not least) an influencer panel hosted by our managing director Emma Harman with @allthatisshe, @mossonyi and @lornaluxe. As we continue to grow our liberating culture, an emphasis was always on educating our audience, rather than just cold pitching and selling.

Influencer Marketing: A Global Disruption Driving Local Relevance

Mike opened the show with an inspired talk on the value of influencer marketing; specifically within a mobile climate. How a technological revolution has lead us to the point in which, according to his study, we would rather have our wallets stolen than our phones.

This not only highlights the value we place on our phones but also how they resemble an intimate experience for us. In this sense, they provide the ideal platform to interact with advertising. There is a consensus that people no longer like advertising, but this is misconceived. People don’t hate advertising, they hate irrelevant advertising.

This was an underlying message Whalar was trying to promote at IMS. Relevant advertising through brands building authentic relationships. Putting people you trust, the content creators that matter to you, at the forefront of this industry. And with that, Mike also highlighted a common misconception in our industry that we only work with the ‘celebrities of Instagram’. This is untrue. Instead, we collaborate with the best content creators in the world to tap into their loyal and engaged following. We then work alongside them to incorporate products that are relevant to them and, perhaps more importantly, their audience.

Not Just a Product Shot

Jess tailored her talk around the key ingredients of influencer marketing - authenticity, creativity and matchmaking.

Positioned in Whalar’s case study theatre, Jess focussed on the importance of integrating your product into the depths of influencer marketing content. Jess focussed on the necessity of a concise brief and integration of a brand's culture from the creator.

Using Whalar’s collaboration with Oral B as an example, Jess used our success with an FMCG brand as a vehicle to demonstrate how Whalar delivers campaigns that are on time, on brief and on budget - regardless of the product. For the case of Oral B, this resulted in an overall engagement rate 280% higher than we initially expected.

Jess, like Mike, drew back to dispelling the idea that we work with celebrities or simply work with accounts who have millions and millions of followers. Our community is formed of creators and innovators who are here to subvert and disrupt traditional advertising structures. As a result of this - content flourishes under a brief that underline what the brand needs, but also provides the creator with the freedom to engage their audience.

Brand Accountability: Tapping Into the Conscious Consumer

Cecily used our collaboration with River Island (see our ‘Collaborate’ Studio article here) and the charity initiative #DitchTheLabel - all focussing on reclaiming your labels in the most positive way possible - to showcase both the power of influencer marketing and the capacity it has for good.

Additionally, Cecily emphasised the CPE (Cost Per Engagement). At £0.27, the relatively low cost of this campaign's reach, against our already competitive average of £0.35, highlighted the collaboration's success. Through the 72 creators engaged, Whalar was able to galvanise incredible brand awareness and exposure that defied borders and boundaries. Along with the low CPE, our overall reach amassed to over 6 million users and over 330,000 followers engaged.

Featuring incredible inspiring content and stories from creators such as @nnekaj, @gregoryvelvet and @iconaccidental - to name just a few. The resonation of this campaign ultimately came from an emotional connection with the campaign’s message holding relevance to our creator’s lives. Such is the authenticity of working with independent creators - each of them, in their own way, has defied some form of the mainstream to create their own, unique brand. This level of authenticity allows for the traction of their content, and equally so is the unprecedented success of Cecily’s chosen case study.

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••• 1967: The Biafran War (Nigerian Civil War) begins. 1968: Dad enlists as a Biafran soldier, confronting death across enemy lines. 1970: Biafran War ends, Dad’s family doesn’t know if he‘s alive, he stays in East Central State (now Enugu) to look for work. 1971-1973: Dad finishes high school. 1975: Dad starts work at Hotel Presidential; The Cambodian genocide begins. 1977: Dad is asked to leave new Enugu, he returns home to new IMO State; Mom is separated from her family and put in a women’s “work” camp. 1978: Dad applies for lottery to go to UK, RUSSIA, USA; Mom is doing backbreaking work in the rice fields, bearing witness to senseless killings daily. 1979: Dad wins lottery to USA, arrives in late January; Mom and 4 others decide to escape, trekking a 5 month journey on foot to Thailand. Mom is sponsored by the Frank family, arriving to the USA in June. 1980: Dad attends school in Miami; Mom starts working 3 domestic jobs while attending English classes. 1983-1985: Dad moves to DC, attends graduate school at Howard University, driving cabs and working several domestic jobs to pay tuition; Mom starts a job at “Denro” a communications company. 1986: Dad starts a job at Denro; They meet and share their stories of love, loss, and their dreams for the future. 1987: They’re happily married. 1988: They have my brother. 1990: They have me. ••• Like many individuals born to immigrant parents, mine were forced from their homelands out of desperation. They sought fertile land so we, their seeds, could be planted and protected. Even on foreign soil, they remained steadfast in nurturing strong cultural identities, and preached to never forget my roots. I’m grateful beyond measure for my parents, their sacrifices and stories. In moments of doubt, I can hear their voices, like a chorus, saying: “remember where you’re from...to whom much is given, much is expected.” ••• I partnered with River Island to reclaim labels in a positive way. I’m Nneka Julia Ajuonuma Odum, and I am proud to be 100% 1st Generation. ••• T-shirt sales go live 5th February, and with every t-shirt sale, River Island will donate £3 to the charity. #labelsareforclothes #imwearingri #sponsored

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Not only is it a message of what we can achieve, it signifies how collaboration is at the absolute heart of everything we do and how we have the resources to reach areas we could have only dreamed of 5 years ago.

Creative Utopia

Our amazing Managing Director, Emma Harman, began the discussion on why she got into influencer marketing - she loved the idea, but wasn't initially sure if she loved what she saw, until she found Whalar - and then took questions to three of our favourite creators. Topics ranged from content inspiration, niche’s (Domonique’s #allthatisthree definitely spring to mind here) - but also the importance of transparency in our industry.

Transparency is often represented by always including ‘In paid partnership’ and ‘#ad at the beginning of a post, rather than embedding it in your narrative. Lorna, in particular, references how sponsored content should be a point of celebration, not something to hide. It demonstrates that your feed, your profession, is successful and attractive to brands. Achievements should be part of your feed, not hidden under the false presumption that it will somehow alter your authentic relationship with your audience.

Also, discussions on briefs came into the forefront of the debate. Regarding campaigns, the beauty of influencer marketing is that each piece of content can be different, yet relevant to that creator’s audience. Moving forward, our creators prefer a brief that reaches out to them, rather than boxing them in. Something along the lines of ‘this is our product, how can you make to relevant to your audience?’

What creators look for, and what we try and facilitate, is a level of trust from brands - trusting the creators to know their audience, to know what style of content they will engage with and incorporating a product into their known aesthetic.

Closing The Show

We can take from IMS 2018 is Whalar is doing everything we can to promote a culture of creativity, trust, and real relationships with those we work with.

We are not just about statistics, we’re here to educate and learn as much as possible about our new and ever-changing industry. Most importantly, and what we will never stop doing, is innovating. We will keep expanding, growing and nurturing our industry by cultivating an informed, premium user experience on our platform for both brand and creator alike. Whether that’s via campaigns, events, from Studio, or via an Ice Cream - stay with us, we’re really excited about what’s to come.

We loved it, we hope you did too, and we can't wait to see more of you there next year.

Banner image courtesy of Business of Apps