Mark Fidelman

Influencer Marketing: What Fashion Can Teach Us

By: Mark Fidelman | December 11, 2013 | 

Influencer Marketing: What A Fashion Social Network Can Teach UsBy Mark Fidelman

Too often these days, I see PR that screams of automation.

News releases that are blasted out to everyone in the known universe in the hopes someone – anyone – will listen.

It lacks heart, and it lacks the foundation of what PR truly should be about: Building relationships.

But there’s a savior on the horizon, and its name is influencer marketing.

By building solid, genuine relationships with the right influencers, PR professionals can reach thousands more potential eyeballs with their message than they can hope to reach with an automated news release blast.

Because there is trust between the brand, its influencers, and their audiences, that message will be received with interest rather than a deaf ear.

A Fashion-Savvy Network Of Influencers

People StyleWatch worked with influencer marketing firm BRANDERATI recently to put together the Style Hunters network – an exclusive influencer network that leverages the passion of the fashion-savvy to connect brands with their audience.

Their campaign was so successful it won them a spot in the 2013 Top 10 Influencer Marketing Awards.

Just 1,000 loyal StyleWatch members were invited to the Style Hunters network, where they were given access to exclusive content, deals, product samples, and more.

The members were culled from a long list of more than 13,000 potential candidates, chosen for their ability to influence – and this strategy generated more traction for People StyleWatch than any generic media campaign ever could.

These brand ambassadors consistently share content from Style Hunters and its advertisers on their social networks, with campaigns averaging an exposure rate in the seven figures.

Building the Right Relationships

BRANDERATI did at least two things right when forming the Style Hunter network: They kept it small and they invited the right people to join.

They used robust metrics, social profiling, and survey data to identify the best-of-the-best in the world of fashion. And because they knew who to target, they got the most bang for their client’s buck in terms of audience engagement: These 1,000 influencers sway the hearts and minds of tens of millions.

Nurturing Your Relationships

One thing marketers need to remember about influencer campaigns is you’re working with people. People who are not living versions of paid media – they aren’t there to be “used” for impressions or clicks.

Marketing and PR professionals need to be mindful they are not journalists churning out several posts each day. They write about what inspires them, build relationships with their audience and look for opportunities to deliver value to them.

Influencers need to know that your agency or brand cares about them: Style Hunters does this by offering exclusive content, fashion insights, and product offers. They need to be given the opportunity to share their genuine experiences and opinions, and use their voice to reach out to their audience – with your message.

BRANDERATI co-founder and CMO Ekaterina Walter explains how they treat the members of the Style Hunters network:

By focusing on listening to our StyleHunters, by encouraging them to voice their opinions about our content – even giving them the tools to remix and personalize the content – we are able to create much greater impact than simply asking them to push content out on our behalf and gather much deeper insights.

Data-Driven Influencer Marketing

Of course, just because you’re building relationships doesn’t mean you leave hard data out of the process. You have to show your client or the higher-ups that influencer marketing is producing results.

BRANDERATI pays close attention to several metrics before, during, and after an advertiser’s campaign on the Style Hunter network. They look for things such as reach and exposure, and they drill down to look at specific pieces of content that were successful.

For example, Garnier recently provided 150 full-size “Curl Calm Down Cream” products to Style Hunters members. These influencers tested the product and posted their reviews online.

Just 150 products resulted in six million impressions in a single month, via hundreds of social actions and blog posts.

And the team didn’t stop there: They analyzed the overall sentiment of these social actions to discover that the majority consisted of favorable product opinions and reviews. Because of this data, People StyleWatch now knows which influencers are generating the most buzz.

Building relationships should be at the forefront of every PR professional and marketer’s mind, and the increasingly progressive brands and agencies that are embracing influencer marketing understand this. By putting in the effort to identify and engage with your main influencers, you can put the “relations” back in public relations.

About Mark Fidelman

Mark Fidelman provides an insider’s view of the modern business world based on his years of experience working as an executive and consultant within the Global 3000. He is the CEO for influencer marketing network Raynforest Inc, and the author of Socialized!

  • JennaSD

    This is a shining
    example of what can be accomplished when brands build enduring, mutually
    beneficial relationships with an esteemed group of advocates and influencers.  Kudos to Ekaterina Walter and her team!

  • markfidelman

    JennaSD I agree, they did a great job nurturing the influencer relationship.

  • pcrampton

    Great article. Thanks! 

    I love how the focus is on the influencers – and letting them say whatever they want about your brand. 

    Yes. It’s a potential risk. But just think of the REWARDS when they say great stuff about your brand. The negative info is extremely valuable to improve products/companies/services too. 

    If you don’t know what is broken, you can’t fix it!

    Thanks @Ekaterina Walter and team! Bravo! 🙂

  • markfidelman

    pcrampton The rewards far outwiegh the risks. Most influential people understand tact (which is why they became influential) and will be very careful in discussing any negative experiences with the brand directly.

  • I like this approach SO MUCH better than signing up for Klout Perks. Not only did they approach the right people, they have the metrics to back it up. I was just reading a study of CMOs that, hands down, said agencies are not providing the right metrics for their work. Perhaps this blog post should be required reading for everyone in the industry so they can see how true measurement is done.

  • markfidelman

    ginidietrich Yes so much better than Klout perks. At least with true influencer marketing, the influencer remains in control of what they work on and not have to react to what they randomly receive.

  • I’ll admit that I knew absolutely nothing about this campaign before I received your post, but there are lots and lots of lessons for anyone carrying out influencer outreach on the behalf of clients.  

    Klout Perks are ridiculously expensive to implement — and there’s limited inventory available each cycle.