LEAD: Your influencer branding platform is called LikeYaa – how did it come to the founding idea?
David Neuendorf: In influencer marketing, we have seen that the topic of corporate branding attracts little or no attention. Here, we wanted to start with and build a platform where companies can introduce themselves through audiovisual tools and present their campaigns.
Christian Panne: Last year we built up our network of influencers and companies. In 2018 we went online with LikeYaa.
LEAD: What is the principle of LikeYaa?
Neuendorf: At LikeYaa, influencers choose their own campaigns. Unlike an agency we do not mediate between companies and social media accounts, but we bundle the companies on the platform and the influencer has the choice. In the first step, influencers have to register with us. They indicate their range, their interaction rates and other statistics. We then select the influencers for quality. It is important to us that we do not represent social media sites that use fake followers or fake interactions. If you are an influencer, you can look at the various campaigns of the companies – and decide for yourself.
Panne: We see influencers as brand ambassadors. Many influencers negotiate with companies, but are often not selected for a campaign. What’s left is a negative rejection that can affect the brand as well. When the influencer decides himself with whom he wants to work, and there is no decision on the part of the company, this negative experience disappears.
Neuendorf: Exactly, with us the influencer decides independently, which product fits him and his account, on which advertising measure he wants.
LEAD: What advantage does that have for companies?
Neuendorf: First of all, the company saves a lot of time. Our platform enables companies to uniquely create an exact profile of themselves, present their expectations and goals in an audiovisual way and present the campaign. We take care of the communication and the handling, long negotiation and communication costs are spared.
LEAD: And how does it work?
Breakdown: Depending on the campaign, companies provide a number of vouchers for their online shop, which then go directly to the influencer. Packing, sending PR samples, all this is working away for the company.
LEAD: But does that mean that the company has no influence on which influencer applies for and conducts the campaign?
Breakdown: Yes. Our influencer selection process is very strict, we select very carefully. In addition, a further selection takes place via the company’s full branding profile. No one knows the influencer’s following as well as the influencer himself. He has persuaded them of his content over a long period of time and only harms himself when promoting brands or products that do not fit his account.
Neuendorf: With us, the company has the opportunity to state clearly what they want to have advertised, which face suits them and which language they speak. And that’s what our influencers are doing.
LEAD: And that works?
Neuendorf: Our experience shows that influencers very consciously deal with a brand before deciding on a campaign. The feedback of our partner companies to our model proves us right. You save a lot of time and get the cooperation you want.
LEAD: How many influencers are currently using LikeYaa?
Panne: We now have around 1600 registered social media personalities with a total reach of over 40,000,000 followers. The number of applicants, however, was in the five-digit range. The diversity of accounts offered by the accounts is also very broad, with a focus on fashion, beauty and lifestyle.
LEAD:And how many companies trust your service?
Neuendorf: So far, we have cooperated with over 100 companies, permanently on the platform are about 50 companies. Customers were, for example, L’Oreal, ArtDeco, SodaStream or the amusement park Moviepark.
LEAD: Besides the vouchers, the influencer does not receive any additional payment for advertising on his account?
Neuendorf: Right. The core motive for an influencer to work with a company must be the conviction for the product. We have nothing against an additional payment to influencers, but the quality of the postings of an influencer campaign is not dependent on the amount of compensation. Therefore, our platform filters out exactly the influencers for companies who want to advertise the product and the brand out of absolute conviction.
LEAD: But companies are paying a certain amount for your service?
Neuendorf: Right. Regardless of the reach of the influencers, companies pay a fixed price per campaign booking.
LEAD:What are the biggest challenges for LikeYaa?
Neuendorf: On the influencer side, our biggest challenge is to filter out which influencers we want and how we can convince them of our business model. Prices in the influencer business are rising more and more, so it is difficult to attract influencers for a platform without making money. But here we rely on our communication, events and the vouchers. The feedback so far was also very good. Many do not feel like communicating with companies for a long time because of a product. Our platform also gives the influencers a lot of time savings.
Panne: On the part of companies, we have to convince ourselves in the form that they recognize the competence of the influencers in campaign selection. It is important to help companies to really make the most of their profile on LikeYaa and to describe their campaigns as clearly as possible. This is how we achieve perfect matching together.
LEAD:What are the next steps for LikeYaa?
Neuendorf: We plan to expand at the beginning of next year – to France, England, Austria and Switzerland. At the moment we are looking for influencers here.
Panne: The focus remains on the German-speaking area. Here we want to go a new way and continue our vision of influencer marketing.
LEAD: Influencer marketing will not be around in 2018?
Neuendorf: Absolutely. We have to think specifically, where is the young target group? And that’s just on the internet and social media. Sure, I can display banner ads or Facebook ads, but the authenticity remains there on the track. Even TV and print advertising works, but in the long term the young target group will no longer be able to watch classic television. Means: We reach them primarily through these media.
Panne: And in fact, the development is far from over. We just think we have to move away from “doing anything with influencers, no matter what it costs,” to thoughtful marketing with professionalism and structure. In itself, the so-called recommendation marketing is nothing new. In the past people exchanged views with friends at the table, today it’s social media. It is the most honest and credible form.
LEAD: Lastly, the subject of warnings: As LikeYaa you secure off, right?
Neuendorf: Sure. Our goal is always a long-term cooperation. Both with influencers and with companies. Accordingly, we take the topic of warnings, which is very present in the media, very seriously. For this reason we had no warnings so far. We protect ourselves and the companies by giving the influencers a list of dos and don’ts. Here is also in it that they must mark the campaigns correctly as advertising.
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