One of the first things clients ask us when they launch a campaign through The Cirqle platform is how can we help them identify and recruit the best and most affluent influencers for their brand. Of course, this may seem easy from the outset, but the perils of the market have proven otherwise all too often. At best, brands can now only hope to steer opinions that consumers have about them - and to do so, they turn to an ever expanding marketing stack of technology services and media companies. At a time when many are blocking traditional banner ads or skipping TV commercials (Netflix), influencers become the pinnacle of leading conversations with the world.
Transparency is now coming faster than ever, to all industries, including the industry of influencer marketing. We took a moment to sit down with one of our closest partners in the midst of the hustle and bustle that is New York City to talk through some of the latest developments blockchain may bring to the influencer industry.
What follows is a unique interview with experienced digital strategist and Vice-President Influencer Marketing at MMC Alayna Palgon to hear her take on this evolving frontier.
We’re excited to announce the launch of Content approval, a new integration to help you identify what pieces of content influencers will share on their socials and you'll have the ability to give in-dashboard feedback.
Many of our clients have indicated the need for looking into content; and given today's increasingly changing (legal) environment in terms of content restrictions and opportunities we saw this feature as an integral part of our product offering.
Our content approval tool provides insight into the content that influencers will push and will enable you to create, refine, and optimize your content (strategy) effortlessly. The platform also provides you with the ability to give feedback to our influencers in a live-chat room through a structured process.
To get started, login to your dashboard using our new, streamlined signup and login process. During your campaign, content should populate in the content panel within the designated timeframe.
“Quality of content is critical to achieve success in a sea of information”, said Joe Pulizzi Head of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Yet, even though this is what every marketing campaign strives to achieve, the lack of proxies and measurements make quality one of the most complex factors to determine a campaign’s success.
Indeed, producing great content is one of the most difficult challenges marketers face on a daily basis. Still, when looking at influencer marketing, the quality of the content is often disregarded and undervalued. The biggest mistake made in the popular use of influencers is the extensive focus on the distribution of content in terms of reach and impressions rather than the creation of it.
Integrating content marketing and influencer marketing
In order for influencer marketing to be successful and valuable, it has to be engaging, unique, and targeted to the audience you’re trying to reach. All these elements translate into one and only requirement: quality. It is therefore crucial to require and give influencers enough space to not only distribute but also produce creative and high quality content to make your campaign as beneficial as possible.
Leveraging this expertise becomes a necessity when a brand wants to resonate with its audience and produce authentic and honest content.
Using proxies for quality
However, in order to be able to demand high quality content from influencers, certain measurements need to be set and used in order to be able to assess it.
Measuring quality of content can be based on several basic criteria:
- Quality of content
First and most obvious of all, the quality of the content can be assessed in terms of the creativity of the influencer in its approach to produce new content in line with the brand and its own identity.
- Quality of audience
Second, the quality of the audience needs to be evaluated. Therefore, audience demographics such as country and city of origin, age, gender and even interests and income to fit the specific target and industry are very insightful informations. This then also determines the quality of the content distribution.
- Quality of the influencer
Finally, the quality of the influencer is also an integral part of the overall quality of a campaign. Therefore, measurements such as engagement rates of the influencer with its audience and frequency of posting are relevant measures.
Concluding this attempt to find measurable quality metrics, assessing the quality of influencer content stays a subjective and brand specific judgement. However, referring back to Bill Gates’ essay Content is King, the Influencer Marketing Hub described influencer marketing as being the new « content king », which highlights again the power of quality, over quantity.
Businesses all around the world are familiarizing themselves with influencer marketing. Yet, non-profit organizations have also recently caught on to the wave. They are starting to identify a natural fit for crowd funding and fundraising through the use influencers.
One of them, Pink Ribbon, reached out to us in order to raise awareness for their cause through influencer marketing.
As part of the Dutch Cancer Society, Pink Ribbon finances projects and research in the field of treatment, aftercare and long-term effects of breast cancer. For many years now, Pink Ribbon develops new products such as agendas, bracelets and notebooks in order to raise money and awareness towards breast cancer research.
We advised them to work with 27 female influencers across the Netherlands over 4 different channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Blog), in order to reach a relevant audience of potential donators.
The influencers created authentic and honest content that generated highly relevant engagement with their audiences. This created a real awareness of the cause Pink Ribbon is defending as well as the products enabling more and more donations every year.
By delivering their message to the right people, Pink Ribbon was able to reach more then 1M impressions!
If you want to also help drive change and participate in fighting breast cancer, check out: https://www.pinkribbon.nl/.
A few examples of the content produced:
After reaching more than 800 million monthly active users in 2017, Instagram has turned into the social media El Dorado. This has made a substantial impact on businesses that rapidly understood the power of the platform for advertising. In fact, Instagram recently estimated the business community to represent 2 Million advertisers (up from 1 million back in March).
Here are some of the key elements behind Instagram's marketing success:
1. Instagram traffic VISITS HAVE HIGHER QUALITY
Visitors from Instagram stay on a site for an average of 192 seconds – this is longer than visitors from any other channel, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. This also means that traffic from Instagram is the most engaged and represents a more attractive consumer panel (Yotpo 2017).
2. Instagram has high organic and targeted reach
The organic nature of Instagram’s audience increases the word-of-mouth effect. According to a recent Yotpo research, 83% of consumers confirmed that seeing a post about a brand on Instagram influences their decision to look the brand up.
In addition, with the current available tools, businesses are now able to leverage this instagram audience even more by targeting specific segments (by age, country or even interest).
3. Instagram's hashtags(#) simply work
Not only do hashtags enable categorisation and content discovery, they are also the driving forces behind most of the user-generated advertising campaigns. According to Sproutsocial, "One of the best ways to kick off a UGC campaign on Instagram is with the help of a branded hashtag" in order to optimise exposure. This is also why 7 out of 10 hashtags used are branded (Simply Measured Study).
4. Instagram enables shoppable solutions
Instagram shopping is real. The platform is providing increasingly more links and solutions to connect user generated content to e-commerce websites within the application.
- Instagram stories
By introducing the swipe up option in Instagram stories, direct product referrals are possible, creating a direct linkto an e-commerce website within the platform.
- Shoppable third-party solutions
Companies such as Curalate are also providing solutions to turn your Instagram feed into a shoppable feed. Again here, a direct link within the platform makes instagram scrolling and buying a natural consumer path.
- Shoppable tags
Last but not least, Instagram recently developed it's own shoppable posts, currently only available for businesses in the United States using the Big Commerce platform. The tool is simple: retailers can insert shoppable tags on their Instagram pictures featuring a product to get the Instagram user directly to the store.
This add-on is another proof that Instagram is slowly shifting towards a key selling tool for retailers, something to keep an eye on in Europe as well!
What's more, Instagram is estimated to rake in $4 billion in global advertising revenue by the end of 2017, an impressive growth prospect!
As consumers are increasingly overwhelmed by a variety of product choices, impulse buying seems to become a trend of the past. Consumers look, ask, search, compare, review, and re-think before purchasing advertised products.
The one key element however, that is often forgotten but does fundamentally impact purchase behaviour is a critical one. And that is: Trust.
Word of mouth is entirely based on the fact that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising (Nielsen, 2012). The real question here is: if consumers value word-of-mouth and marketers believe it is effective, then why aren’t marketers more focused on it? One simple answer is the need for tangible measures of word of mouth marketing.
Measures for w-o-m
McKinsey’s report (2011), “A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing”, attempted to provide a new formula to measure the impact of WOM, also called “word-of-mouth equity”. Yet, this impact is measured on the basis of black or white qualitative criteria such as influential or not, relevant or irrelevant message content, close or large network etc. This leads to think that McKinsey’s new measurement tool only results in two-sided answers, far from the tangible output needed to change marketers’ decisions or budget allocations.
Our objective is to fundamentally understand how and why specific pieces of content perform better in comparison to others. In order to guide our clients towards the right consumers, through the right content and in the right setting, the interpretation of the right data is of critical important. Thus, we make sure brands understand the value of their investment through personalised and substantial feedback on campaign content and through carefully assessing and evaluation the feedback our technology delivers.
This is why we focus on individual content analytics such as impressions, engagement points, followers and demographic data (gender, city, country, age, income data, amongst others) of each influencer and content allocated to a campaign. Coming back to McKinsey's measurement tool, this enables us to look at both volume and impact sides of a campaign.
However, the actual impact of a campaign does not limit itself to the above. The Cirqle, calibrates the impact of a campaign throughout the entire campaign management process, moving away from McKinsey’s 4 impact criteria.
This process moves from the deliberate recruitment and selection of influencers towards the audience the influencer is actually targeting; to the campaign content and channel selection (beyond the continuous communication b/w brand- and influencer). All these factors are taken into account in in the final impact assessment of a campaign.
Despite of these efforts to employ different impact measurements, capturing the campaign's relation to actual customer conversion remains the ultimate goal. A goal which we'll continue to relentlessly pursue and will hope to present our findings for in the next weeks to come.
We're announcing a partnership in the next week which we'll hopefully lay the groundworks for helping us to achieve this mission.
The Cirqle has partnered with the Red Cross and NOS to help launch the #NederlandhelptSintMaarten campaign.
On the 6th of September, the devastating Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean and caused unimaginable damage, particularly on Sint Maarten. Up to 70% of the houses are badly damaged or destroyed, food and water is extremely limited, and despair is spreading. In order to help the victims, the Red Cross needs funds and has consequently organised together with NOS a national action-day on Friday 15th of September.
The Red Cross has invited us to further increase awareness for the event, and to help amplify its impact. Naturally we offered to put all our resources to help this cause, and encouraged our entire community of Dutch influencers to share information about the event and mobilise their followers to take ACTION. In addition, some of our influencers will be showing their support on-site by visiting the event in Hilversum.
The event will be broadcasted on radio and television and will take place at the Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid in Hilversum. It's aim is to inform Dutch citizens about the urgency of the situation and raise as much money as possible via Giro 5125.
We hope that this cause is as important to you as it is to us and we encourage you to take action in any way that you can.
As the founder of The Cirqle, a startup that enables brands, communities and businesses to launch influencer marketing campaigns, I’ve watched the days of exclusive press releases/events disappear. The Internet has changed the inception process. In 2017/2018 companies seed products through influencers, leak "exclusives" to reporters, bloggers, and consumers, live-stream launch events globally and reward brand advocates with pre-access. The velocity of the news cycle and the uprise of social media makes launching a new product far easier in some ways—and more difficult in others.
When high-end luxury menswear label Salle Privee approached us for a collaboration we were thrilled. Key the words ‘classic menswear’ into Google and you’re immediately confronted with a wall of high resolution, two-buttoned, one-hand-in-pocket sprezzatura. It’s a distinguished look that continues to endure.
Salle Privée is a new label committed to the classics, freshly launched online. Founded by Patrick Munsters, the creator of Scotch & Soda, the brand speaks to those who seek and respect the virtues of timeless menswear. With more than 20 years of experience in the fashion industry, Munsters has seen every trend come and go, and then come back around again. ‘My idea was to step out of what is fashionable,’ he says.
In our influencer campaign, we tried to connect the brand to individuals that captured the brand's essence across multiple age groups. Please find a few snapshots below:
Marketers love influencer marketing because it takes the brand out of the equation. Instead of filtering the message through a brand’s lens, the influencer makes the product or service his own. We've seen three challenges that will push more brands, agencies and institutions towards the influencer marketing realm:
1. The Rise of Ad Blockers
In the US, more than 32% (Europe > 20%) of all internet users have an Ad Blocker installed. Making online advertising increasingly more inefficient. At the same time, 92% of consumers trust user-generated content and word-of-mouth more than advertising and 74% rely on social network to help guide a purchase (eMarketer).
2. There's a push towards influencer marketing, but it's a time-consuming and expensive ordeal.
- Finding the right influencers for your target audience on the right platform;
- Managing contacts with influencers and negotiating contracts cross-state/country;
- Accurately measuring the effectiveness of the content;
- Managing workflow around influencer marketing solutions;
3. Fragmented landscape
Brands have to contact numerous different types of agencies, tech companies and services to run simple, straightforward campaigns. There’s no efficient full suite solution for running influencer marketing campaigns across different countries.
Influencer marketing, why?
The broader digital advertising industry represents a $14 billion revenue opportunity and is expected to see double-digit growth over the next five year (Forbes). With 84% of brands planning to launch an influencer marketing campaign in the next 12 months, the interest in influencer marketing continues to grow as brands seek the most effective way to target their core audience.
If social influencers didn’t add value to an organization, 84 percent of marketers would look elsewhere for their campaigns.
We're extremely proud to be announcing that today we're launching a private-beta for our mobile app (iOS and Android). Our app will help brands find global influencers faster (and vice-versa) and with greater speed/accuracy at a fraction of the cost.
Beyond that, we're introducing a brand new feature called Geo-campaigns, enabling brands to target influencers within a certain proximity to i) invite them to enter their store (for a free goodie) ii) host an event or iii) firestart an army of influencers to promote a specific service.
The possibilities are endless and we're open up to receive ideas you may have by e-mailing them directly to [email protected] You can now officially subscribe to our Beta-program by clicking the button below.
As you know, The Cirqle offers a cutting edge platform to identify the social influencers who will resonate with your audience and deliver the most meaningful engagements.
Our invite-only network is comprised of over 9,000 leading social influencer accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook, who are required to be in the top 15% of engagement on each platform to join.
They currently reach over 5 billion followers. Additional strengths of our platform are:
- Rapid campaign turnaround time
- Campaigns at a fraction of the cost of traditional PR
- Powerful analytics to justify your next Influencer campaign
- Cut workflow management by 5x
- Increase campaign throughput by 8x
Now we've entered the new year, we wanted to take a moment and reflect on what has been an incredible year for The Cirqle, and most importantly, for our customers. We’re proud of how we’ve evolved this past year, and look forward to keeping up the pace in 2017.
Here’s a quick look back.
EXCITING NEW FEATURES
We launched and introduced one of our hallmark products from scratch: the Brand Dashboard. allowing brands to recruit and select the right influencers for their campaign, measure the impact of their campaign in real-time and create and launch campaigns over 50 countries with the flick of a switch.
We launched Cirqle Pulse, allowing brands and agencies to quickly scan the social landscape for who's writing about their brand, and their competition.
We introduced a feature called Cirqle Radar, a quick and effective tool to add your competition into one overview to track their every move, and benchmark your performance against them.
As extension to our brand dashboard, we quickly discovered there was an opportunity for agencies to jump into the influencer marketing space. The Agency Dashboard allows PR companies and umbrella brands to manage campaigns across different markets, different account managers and different stages.
We collaborated with key strategic partners in Europe and the United States, including Azione PR and the Publicis Group. Partners who've been able to leverage our tech to help run their influencer marketing efforts.
We introduced Demographics data for influencers, brands and agencies. Allowing them to discover the distribution of their follower base, including age, gender, income, city, country and category of interest data. This features helps answer the question: when I work with an influencer from New York, do I actually target an audience in New York?
Brand Profiles allow brands to track their own social performance across their key social channels in one comprehensive overview.
OUR NEW NYC HEADQUARTERS
We completed the move into a beautiful new NYC HQ on Broadway. Subsequently expanding the team overseas and driving sales and PR from the beautiful city of New York.
IMPACTFUL CAMPAIGNS AND INITIATIVES
We managed to launch campaigns that enabled some of the world's biggest brands and retailers create unique content, awareness and drive sales. Some of the featured work:
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday feature for Century 21 Stores including over a dozen of key influencers in the cosmopolitan hub of New York.
We subsequently launched two campaigns per month over a period of 180 days for Scotch & Soda, one of the coolest underground fashion brands. Enabling them to drive traffic to their stores in the Netherlands and Germany.
For their Here Be Dragons campaign, Belstaff leveraged our technology to recruit over 20 influencers in the United Kingdom to help promote their latest campaign.
In a major effort to get the word out in Europe about their classic boots in the #MyClassicStyle campaign, Ugg Australia worked through the platform to find key influencers to share their personal stories about the UGG boots.
Notable other campaigns included Ford, Oliver Sweeney, Under Armour, Avenue 32, Shift, Samsung, Qlippie and the Municipality of Eindhoven.
The Dutch Government selected The Cirqle as one of eight startups eligible for the Partners in Business grant, specifically aimed at start- and scale-ups focussed on New York and the US market and providing support in finding, hiring and retaining talent, providing office space, swift visa applications and access to investors.
WHAT'S IN STORE FOR 2017
We have several key product launches lined up for 2017 that will make it even easier for brands to find their customers, both on- and offline.
In addition, a number of partnerships will be announced and we will quadruple the size of our team over 2017 to cover even more markets.
It’s been a landmark year for The Cirqle, and we are exceptionally grateful for your ongoing support. We’re excited for what’s to come in 2017 and to continue to help bring our customers’ inspiring ideas to the world.
Thank you for making 2016 so extraordinary.
The name House of Eléonore finds its origin in an old story which goes back to the 12th century, the time when Eleonor from Aquitaine lived. Eleonor was a quite stubborn and modern woman for her time. For example she took part in the battlefield and divorced her husband. Furthermore she was yet one of the most powerful and desirable woman at that time. The name House of Eléonore therefore stands for the strength, personality and style of every unique woman.
Symbolized with the Morpho Helenor butterfly, House of Eléonore’s first collection is inspired by nature, the tropical island of Papua New Guinea. Elegant shapes based on birds, plants and other objects from nature combined with bright sparkly colored diamonds take place in the first collection called “bird of paradise” (text credits: joellawassink.com).
The brand reached out to The Cirqle to help them promote their shop-in-shop concept in De Bijenkorf. Below features two influencers who promoted the brand.
Joella Wassink x House of Eleonore and de Bijenkorf
Elegant, honest and personal. Those are the words that pop into my mind when thinking about House of Eléonore. Last weekend I was invited to an amazing event hosted by House of Eléonore in their shop-in-shop located in De Bijenkorf Rotterdam.
Just like Sushi x House of Eleonore and de Bijenkorf
When it comes to diamonds we all know a bit about it but in the end we also know nothing. During my workshop with House of Eléonore I got introduced how the world of diamonds and high quality jewellery industry works. Often people get quite surprised by the high prices of these jewelry pieces but this all goes back to the way gold and diamonds need to be found in our nature. The places where all the raw materials for these jewelery pieces are found many people are forced to work in gold mines everyday. Nature gets destroyed and often work conditions are often inhuman in these mines. Luckily House of Eléonore only works with limited mines in one area and takes their responsibility by selling only jewelry made out of 18K fair trade gold.
While online retail used to be focused on Cyber Monday, this is not about one day of online shopping anymore. As a result, retailers and delivery companies have been gearing up for the earlier kickoff to the online holiday shopping season, instead of when people return to the office after the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Century 21 kicked off the weekend with influencers covering some of their best deals they found on the ecommerce site through a series of blogpost. Five of those blogposts are featured below.
Occasionally, we come across the most beautiful posts that our influencers create and share with their loyal followers. And occassionally, we feel we should share those posts on our own blog. Especially when it involves one of the coolest water- and cosmetics brands that's currently taking the global stage: Marie Stella Maris.
Mae and many created the beautiful post below and included amazing images of the in-house cafe, water bottles and cosmetics line. Next to that, the story Mae and Many managed to create around the brand helped alleviate the perception of Marie Stella Maris right in the middle of their target audience.
More and more, we're drawn to brands that have a story to tell. Brands that, while doing something good for the world, make us feel good too. Amsterdam-based lifestyle brand Marie-Stella-Maris does just that. I was first introduced to the brand a few years ago when they transformed a corner store on the Keizersgracht into a stunning boutique, complete with impressive window displays and striking campaign photography; the branded dark blue and white labels adorning their perfumes, soaps and bottled water read, "Care for water." This sophisticated simplicity has always intrigued me, and I finally had the opportunity to meet with Josha Jansen (Marketing & Communications at Marie-Stella-Maris) to talk about the brand's simple idea: that everyone should have access to clean drinking water.
Today’s biggest challenge for brands is reaching their target audience. Several studies underline that traditional marketing does not do the trick anymore. Brands are able to create brand awareness through TV-commercials or traditional ads in on- and offline magazines, but its effect is similar to putting a billboard on the highway: it is hard to (track and measure) the impact those campaigns have on your audience.
The biggest challenge with traditional marketing practices is that it regarded as intrusive by its audience. Next to that, the rise of ad-blockers dismantles the reach of traditional online advertising. Native marketing can be an answer to some of these challenges. If done right, these ads do not intrude with the consumer experience and are not prone to ad-blockers.
The best known forms of native marketing are advertorial and sponsored content. Both are forms of advertising where brands create content. We believe (and it is supported by several studies from McKinsey, Tomoson and more) that the strongest form of native marketing is branded content e.g. content not created by the brand but created by the owner of the platform. Because the owners of the platform have the best knowledge and skill-set to engage their audience, the audience the brand wishes to target.
Having a third party tell your story does not only create new and fresh stories that drive sales. This technique also provides brands with visual storytelling imagery they could not possibly create themselves. Below are some examples of strong visual content. All within the vision of the respective brand but all with a unique approach to the brand's key values and aesthetic.
Beyond these examples, we're extremely excited to announce our network now reaches over 150 million consumers across 27 countries. If you're interested in running campaigns through our platform, do not hesitate to leave your e-mail address in the comments section below. We'll promise to reach out to you soon.
Mikuta x Wolford
Natalia Georgala x Overt NYC
A Clothes Horse x Good Earth
Preppyfashionist x Renard
Fake-Leather x Nestpick
Jair Zino x Under Armour
Welcome to the Influence Economy
At Cirqle, we're lucky enough to work with some of the world's boldest and biggest brands. Over the course of time, we managed to distill a number of key learnings in successfully setting up influencer marketing strategies of which you can download Part I below:
The Circles of Influence
Online web-savvy consumers now require greater engagement and information before making a purchase. Meaningful content and relevant information to help consumers make purchase decisions is key. Where the opinions from people they trust count. Consumers are having conversations with their peers online before they make a purchase and to be effective, brands need to be part of that dialogue.
Influencer marketing helps brands and agencies form relationships with key influencers online and partner with them to create relevant, quality content that is trusted by their consumers.
The divide between digital advertising and consumer decision-making continues to grow. Influencer marketing has emerged as a go-to marketing discipline to help marketeres truly connect with consumers.
The Influence Economy
We're extremely proud to release Part I of 'Welcome to the Influence Economy'. The guide contains the necessary steps beauty, lifestyle, fashion and travel brands need to take to become successful in working with influencers.