United States: Brands Find Influencers Beautiful

Influencers – from bloggers, vloggers (video bloggers), YouTube stars and Instagram personalities – are truly the stars of social media, and brands are eager to harness their power and reach.

Millennials are estimated at having a purchasing power of $1.3 trillion, according to Social Media Week, and as social media continues to gain speed as one of millennials most coveted forms of currency, brands are taking notice. In order to best communicate with this growing demographic – whose attention span lasts a total of 8 seconds as reported by TIME Magazine – brands are heavily leaning on social media.

We are seeing these personalities being woven into brands' advertising strategies, particularly in the form of sponsored content. More than ever, brands are continuing to work with influencers to help increase brand recognition and reach, and we are seeing brands heavily investing in influencer marketing. In particular, Instagram and YouTube influencers – who have been popular for some time – now act as both content creators and digital gatekeepers to expand brand awareness and boost user engagement.

How I See It

  • YouTube has exponentially increased the ability of individual consumers to act as influential brand ambassadors, and brands are building loyalty among these powerful voices.
  • We will start to see more and more brands harness the power of social media influencers to both engage with their products as well as help advertise them. The key will be making seamless integrations between influencers and brands, so it's not a stretch of the imagination to the consumer when the influencer engages with the product.

How the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Shenan Reed, President of Digital, North America for MEC, the media agency behind a slew of popular content partnerships, to hear more about influencer marketing and the power it holds.

MEC works with brands like AT&T, L'Oréal, and Marriott who are heavily investing in influencer marketing– what advice do you give those clients on how to select the right partner for their brand?

To guide our clients on making the right decisions on who to pursue, it's important to look at reach against our target audiences; ensuring there is an opportunity to grow with these influencers in new and interesting ways.

How should brands try to work with popular vloggers, bloggers, and other influencers? What are the biggest dos and don'ts in this area?

Influencers are becoming an increasingly strong voice in the market for consumers.  As brands continue to create relationships with these growing voices we look to make sure that the relationships remain authentic and mutually beneficial.  You want someone embracing and supporting your brand because they really believe in it.

The democratization of media can be scary for brands. To what extent should they try to control the conversation about themselves?

We believe in an always-on approach to media.  If brands aren't present where consumers are looking for you, you are ignoring the conversation about your brand then someone else is controlling your narrative.  As such, brands need to be active participants in social media, creating a dialogue with their consumers where they are spending an increasing amount of time.

How are brands using platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and Tumblr to tell better stories?

Brands are rapidly adopting video as a storytelling medium and are excited by what they can create with partners and new technology.  The challenge is that many of these platforms require unique creative, and scaling content development can be a challenge.  While our clients are enjoying the creative opportunity these platforms provide, we are working diligently to help them outline creative best practices and efficient development options to ensure maximum business impact.

You've had a number of clients in the fashion and luxury fields. Who are your style icons?

I still look to Diane von Furstenberg, Dita VonTeese, Audrey Hepburn and Jacquelyn Onassis.

What is the most interesting object in your office?

My 1965 Cadillac tail light lamp.

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