In the age of smartphones, anyone can become a content creator. Just turn on the camera, hit record, and post to your favourite channel.
This democratisation of content creation – and, therefore, influence – has disrupted traditional advertising models, changed consumer expectations, and created a world where brands increasingly work with real people – not just traditional celebrities – to reach the most relevant, engaged audiences.
But how can brands get these partnerships right?
To find out, we spoke with Carlos Matriano, Head of Innovation and eCommerce at PHD Singapore, to discuss how to pick the right partners for your message, how to manage ‘portfolios’ of creators, and how to measure long-term success.
PHD: What do we mean by creator portfolio management?
CM: As an industry, we are getting better at understanding how to use celebrities as leaders and influencers. We’re finding more sophisticated ways to align their communications and messages with brand narratives.
In the past, brands just wanted to work with celebrities to leverage their fame and reach. Now, they realise that there’s a big difference between fame and influence.
Creator portfolio management involves helping brands choose the right kinds of influences to help them achieve their specific communications goals. This might include managing macro- and micro-influencers, often, across multiple campaigns at once.
PHD: How can creators boost marketing performance?
CM: In China, live streaming is growing and helping influencers sell direct to consumers. Working together, brands can generate millions of dollars of sales in an hour-long session where they’re using key opinion leaders or celebrities or influencers to promote their products.
The challenge is staying safe in these spaces. As exciting as live streaming can be, anything can happen in a live setting, and there’s a danger that the brand can lose control.
That’s again where ‘content portfolio producers’ can help brands build trust-worthy relationships with creators and moderate these streams.
PHD: What are a few of the common challenges?
CM: Brand safety is a broad term, but I think we’re all very aware of what it means, especially in terms of using influencers who may have represented competing products before or may have previously shared opinions that don’t fit with a brand’s narrative.
PHD: How can brands get the best value out of influencers?
CM: When you use influencers, ideally, they should form part of a broader campaign.
So, think about the opportunities to use them in your outdoor campaigns, in your video assets, and so on.
That’s the thing that makes campaigns truly successful because what you’re doing effectively is using influencers and celebrities as key opinion leaders.
You’re leveraging their scale, credibility, and influence, so you’ll want to get maximum exposure to generate the best results.
PHD: How can marketers identify the right creators for their brands? Is there a checklist?
CM: Absolutely. First, work out what your communications goals are. And once again, I’m going to reference that notion of fame versus influence, but this is the process that we go through to understand if we should pair brands with macro-influencers or celebrities.
That all starts with identifying what the KPIs are for the campaign. KPIs are subtly evolving, which is a good thing because in the past we’ve been so driven by this notion that it’s all about performance, but reach can also be an important measurement.
What’s happening now is a subtle change where we’re starting to shift away from very hard campaign metrics and going back to valuing things like brand-building and long-term growth.
PHD: Are certain industries or verticals that are just better suited to working with creators?
CM: No, I don’t think there are any limits. I recently worked on a campaign for a B2B client that functioned more like a B2C campaign – with high-profile influencers.
There are multiple ways that you can use communications to affect different categories and different brands, even in the B2B world.
PHD: What does the future hold?
CM: What’s interesting is how the space is converging or merging with other media channels and platforms, especially commerce. A simple example is how QR codes can be used in multiple settings such as print or OOH and can direct people to both physical or digital points of purchase.
When we look at how brands are using influencers, specifically for APAC, we are seeing a lot of livestreaming live streaming. This is a fantastic choice as there is a duality in this format. Whilst most would argue that live streaming is a commerce execution meant to generate sales, what it also does, is drive awareness and has the potential increase preference.
In general, what we’re getting better at is assigning different roles in terms of communications and messaging and understanding how we engage potential consumers through these influencers.
PHD: What do you think about virtual influencers?
CM: It’s interesting but we’ve seen a lot of hits and a lot of misses. I think the successful ones are those that have particular personalities and are genuinely entertaining. The reality is, if it’s not entertaining, then people won’t watch it.
You must find the right balance between what you want to use them for and what they’re used to communicating.
PHD: If you had one piece of advice for marketers, what would it be?
CM: Keep it simple. Whether you’re working with influencers, doing commerce, or placing traditional ad formats, start by having a clear message and goal.
If you don’t, you won’t be able to leverage the true power of influencers. Instead, you’ll just end up producing campaigns that don’t deliver the right results for your brand.