LEAD: What does an influencer have to bring with him to be successful in 2019?
Helge Ruff: The industry will continue to professionalize in 2019. She has already gone through a few cycles and experienced some minor scandals. But those who consistently follow the next development step can be successful again next year.
Nina Schwichtenberg: I agree with that and believe that values such as honesty and authenticity, even if the term is misused too often, will be crucial. Because people want to identify with someone. It will also be essential that you have a personality, your own signature. And if you deliver in all these areas, you can do the job successfully beyond 2019 also full-time.
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In the past year, some influencers have been severely criticized for presenting the products and brands too high-frequency in the opinion of the community. How do you both see that?
NS: In the end, of course, everyone has to decide for themselves. For me personally, however, it is important to be loyal to my customers. I have a responsibility to them and also to their product. When brands book someone, they also have a claim to a certain quality of their presence. For me it is also extremely important to have a good balance between sponsored and non-sponsored contributions. The readers also appreciate that.
HR: I think the most important thing is that the line is right. It is clear to Caro Daur that the placement of many brands can also work. However, she is always in the field of high-quality fashion on the go. It would be unbelievable if a fitness influencer suddenly advertised Milka.
How can cooperation between influencer and company work well? Which requirements should both sides meet?
NS: First of all, trust in my work and in what we do as a team is important to me. We need a degree of creative freedom that gives our posts and articles our own individual signature. Because we know our community very well and know what they like and want to read. Personally, an individual approach is also important to me. Mass briefings should no longer be an issue in 2019 at best. In addition, I would like to be accepted in my individual creativity, because then I am the best. And finally, things like reliability and responsibility are important to me: deadlines and timings should also be adhered to by the agency or the company. Also, I organize myself with about two to three weeks lead and therefore need reliable cornerstones for my planning. The fact that I wait two weeks for the release of a post, there was a recent time, but fortunately never the rule.
HR: The most important thing is a clear objective of the cooperation. This objective in advance should also include a good and accurate briefing of the brand to the influencer. Only in this way can it be ensured that influencers and companies are clear about exactly what the cooperation should provide. However, the close exchange must not only be limited to the beginning of cooperation, but must be permanent and intensive. Direct voting and setting out of mutual expectations are the nuts and bolts for successful cooperation.
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Nina Schwichtenberg, which criteria do companies have to fulfill in order for you to cooperate?
As a first selection criterion, the product or brand must suit me. I have to be able to represent both – brand and product – authentically. The communication on my channels always takes place at eye level with the readers. I would also like to contribute my personal, editorial approach to content creation. These things are crucial when I consider whether we work with a brand or not.
“I have to be able to represent the brand and product authentically.”
What are the challenges of cooperations with companies?
NS: Unfortunately, there is still a problem on the market sometimes in ignoring qualitative ranges and the associated value for a campaign. Companies should know their own numbers and values, and work with appropriate influencers and bloggers from this point of view. Unfortunately, there is still a widespread misconception that many followers on Instagram also automatically bring a lot. The crucial questions should be: What is the quality of the influencer or blogger? What is the general brand fit? Who is the community and what purchasing power is behind it? Because in the end, companies want to sell yes. In my opinion, it should always be about the right package.
HR: Yes, exactly! “Why does our competitor have more followers?” Customers ask me, but this really – if ever – only plays a minor role. The question is always what comes out in the end. In my opinion, there is still a lot of potential here.
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What are the No Gos on the part of companies and influencers?
HR: I find it annoying when one has the feeling that the influencer does not care about the statement and the staging. There is more to it than simply holding a product in the camera. In addition, the interests of all should be represented in a cooperation. One often gets the impression that an influencer is primarily concerned with getting across as well as possible. Partly products are so small and unobtrusively integrated that it gives the impression that the influencer would find it almost annoying.
NS: For companies, too rigid and inflexible requirements as well as a lack of appreciation are a no go for me. On the part of the influencers, bad product placement and lack of transparency are not acceptable to me. Nothing new, but there is still room for improvement as the sector continues to professionalize.
Strong marketing for strong brands
Digitalization should bring growth, but not just for the big players. The middle class also uses this opportunity for itself. Only how, is the question. For example, how does Sport Schuster act in terms of marketing? The LEAD Bookazine 3/2018 shows how small and medium-sized businesses shape marketing in the digital age. Customer needs and own values - that’s why it should work.
What needs to change in 2019 to keep influencer marketing successful?
NS: For me and my team, not so much has to change. We have been on the market for a relatively long time and fortunately have individual partnerships that have been going on for a very long time. If I wanted something for the market, it would be just that: more loyal relationships between influencers and their customers. Because that offers many advantages. You can try things and also experiment a bit and grow together. This is more sustainable in my opinion. In addition, these partnerships are also very exciting for the readers, because they get the opportunity to get to know a brand more intensively and from different perspectives.
HR: It’s also a clear trend in the market that longer-term relationships are beginning to take off here. That’s not different in classical music and maybe a sign that the industry is getting older. I think that influencers are looking for two or three brands that suit them and work with them the whole year round. There are also fewer short-term cooperations.
In the mirror end of 2018 was the Influencer marketing the end prophesied. What do you both say?
HR: One thing I think is nonsense. Of course, there will be changes here. The market is consolidating. Those who are left are those who deliver good quality. I also believe that accounts below 200,000 followers can no longer live on it, as long as they do not occupy a niche.
NS: I’m sure that influencer marketing will continue to have a firm place in the marketing mix because it deserves its place too! It is refreshing and different and one – if it has a certain quality – good complement. The upcoming regulatory measures, I see left to positive. That is normal in a sense and also affects other sectors of the economy – especially if they are as new as ours. In the long term, hopefully quality will prevail and that will be very positive for all market participants.
Which trends will be big in influencer marketing in 2019?
NS: For me, quality in terms of content and transparency – also with regard to the topic of measurement. Who is the target audience, what is the reach of a post and what does it do – these topics will continue to accompany us in 2019. And in any case, storytelling: Here, however, companies are also required to rely on editorial and high-quality integrations rather than badly made product placement. Our personal credo has been since the beginning: “Content is King” and I believe that the ongoing professionalization of the industry means that it will be doing very well in 2019 as well.
HR: I totally agree with you. I also believe that influencers are increasingly thinking about how to monetize their reach beyond cooperation. I think that some will try to start their own start-ups or to design product lines.
What do influencers want for the future?
NS: Personally, I would like a bit more recognition or a differentiated view of our industry and the work done: one should not all be on the same level! It would be nice if the debate were conducted more carefully. Because many of us invest a great deal of time, know-how and effort in our contributions and like to be measured by journalistic standards.
HR: I would like a better staging of products. I often miss the story in the pictures. Often, the presentations seem too careless. It would also be helpful for me if companies realized that the motive for influencer marketing goes well beyond reach.
Worth knowing about this topic can be found in the report “Influencer Marketing – legally compliant and secure”, the W & V together with the lawyer specializing in online law. Carsten Ulbricht has implemented. The detailed report provides checklists on the conclusion of the contract and costs, as well as a large overview of labeling requirements.
Nina Schwichtenberg: What plans are there for the coming year? How should your own brand be further developed?
We are very happy with the development of Fashiioncarpet, our customer portfolio and our amazing community. If we succeed in building on the success of recent years, we are more than happy. In the medium to long term we have the dream to develop our own product brand. So we could pass on the Fashiioncarpet brand not only in the virtual space, but also as an actual product to our readers.
Topic Labeling: What could a good solution look like that benefits both sides?
NS: At the moment, the case law is unfortunately not satisfactory, because it measures in my eyes with double standards. What we need is a common set of rules that is binding for all, for influencers as well as for media or blogs. This offers the market full transparency.
Social Media Trends for 2019: What Should One Bet on? Is Instagram the big hobby?
NS: For us, Instagram was not the hobby – with us, the blog has been in the foreground for seven years. We provide high-quality blog content and have a strong reach and a high retention time. Our numbers show us once again that people are in the mood for good and “right” content. In general, I think Instagram will continue to be a big deal, but videos and podcasts are also growing fast. Interesting opinions and personalities can be presented even better here – and I think that these are two things that demand a lot from the market.
HR: The music will always play on the popular channels. It’s not without reason that Money Follows Eyeballs. Therefore, I also think that Instagram is the focus of the cooperations. Furthermore, I believe that there will again be cases of macro-influencers, in which the integration turns around. It’s no longer just products that are placed on the channels of influencers, but influencers in brand communication. The case of Pamela Reif and Calzedonia makes it happen. I think you will see that more often.
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