Not only can we see when a user is interested in a creator’s post, we can also track that user as they move down the funnel, re-target interested users based on time and location and also track sales. Yes, that’s right, I did say ‘track sales’! We can see when a user makes a purchase. The holy grail, right?
With a plethora of influencer marketing agencies out there, it's outright dizzying and hard to know who to invest with. This is a question clients looked to me to answer in my past life (just two weeks ago!) as an influencer marketing professional largely working on the agency side of things. For a decade, I've watched influencer tech companies/networks rise to the top and then slowly fizzle out of favor. So why, ON EARTH, did I leave my cushy VP of Influencer Marketing title at a top Manhattan PR firm to work with The Cirqle? I'm so glad you asked!
We’re proud to announce The Cirqle Marketplace - a way for our clients to directly book creative talent from one single platform, anywhere in the world.
We are happy to announce that we are launching Year-Long Collaborations in 2019. Looking for brand ambassadors or creators to help support your work for an extended period of time? With Year-Long Collaborations, you will have the opportunity to work with creators on a recurring basis and build more long-lasting relationships together.
Our interview with Pollyanna Ward
When did you start working with social media and how did it start?
It’s kind of an odd one and it happened a little bit by chance. I think it was probably due to the fact I grew up without computers so when I finally got one I was much later to the game than most and I wanted to download and be involved in everything. I was a little reserved in school so being on socials was a way for me to be a bit cooler than I was in person and that’s how I developed an interest in it. At the end of my first year at Uni, I got a job working an admin in the River Island head office and met the people that did their social media, just by chance, by sitting next to them at lunch, and got to see how it all worked. The following summer I got an internship there and took over their Twitter and Facebook accounts and I used that experience as the basis for my dissertation on different languages to communicate to men and women because again back then targeting was a bit rubbish, it was all kind of organic. In my final year, I worked for iMax as brand ambassador, that was amazing! I learned a lot about using social currency. After working as a brand ambassador for iMax, I realized how obsessed I was with social media and that I wanted to do it as a job and that is kind of where the blog thing came out off. I set up, together with a best friend, The Nottingham Bucket List. I was quite happy just walking into restaurants and be like ‘We got this Instagram, we got this blog, what do you think?”. There was nothing like Nottingham blog out there then and for them it was free advertising, they just had to offer a coffee or a burger. Then I got nominated for the Guardians Student Media Award, because it was most likely to be seen as a business option, since people could receive discounts through me. Then I graduated and moved to London and there was no way I could have continued with a Nottingham-focused blog, but I had taken everything I learned from it and started writing my own blog on another website. When I was in London I also started working at a startup job and one day I got an email from the senior brand manager for Oreo who said they were looking for a social media manager to handle just two biscuit brands at the time, they’d seen my blog.
Do you think if you didn’t receive that offer from Oreo you would have made the switch? Or did you already think that you’d like to become an influencer full time, rather than a media strategist?
My blog’s growth rate was quite strong, if I’d kept up that blog but changed the name to, for example, The London Bucket List, it could have continued. But at the same time I actually quite liked sitting and kind of being the voice of another brand. So I quite like, from a strategy perspective, being able to think how that brand would talk here, here and here.
How does it feel to first be on the influencer side and then being the one that hires and works with them?
From a brand perspective, the influencers I really enjoy working with are the ones that I get to meet. I think the best effort in your roles play with micro and macro and celebrities, but the ones where I’ve had the most fun are the ones I’ve actually gotten to meet, no matter how big or small they are. It’s just amazing to kind of talk through their passions, even if that’s not the content that you use, you create a more human relationship.
Because you have worked as an influencer, and you know the inner-workings of the job, do you think you’re more critical or skeptical of influencer work than most brands?
Yeah, I’m definitely a lot more skeptical just because I know from having met up with so many of them, they’re all great and awesome people, but I can tell very quickly who is in it because they are passionate about it and those who aren’t. So when receiving assets from influencers, now sitting on this side, it’s almost like ‘okay fine you passed your authenticity test and all but your copy looks like you didn’t even try, you’ve just written out exactly the script that I wrote.’
Do you think all companies these days should have an influencer, or former influencer, working in their social media department?
If you’re going to work with influencers you do need people that know them, especially if you’re a massive brand who can afford a PR agency with an influencer.
When do you think that brands really started understanding the potential of influencer marketing to the point where they wanted to implementing it in their strategies?
Thinking back to the Nottingham days, with really small companies, it was really imperative for them, with such low marketing budgets, to be able to send a gift voucher to a Nottingham student that just happens to have a lot of followers. So I almost feel like it’s been growing continuously from a small business perspective and now I see a lot of small startups looking to work with small influencers that can generate some chatter on Twitter or write little blogs on their behalf. I don’t think it’s been driven by small business, but I think the boom has been most useful to small and medium sized businesses because it’s a lot more long-term cost effective if you can bring on people that will represent your brand. I think it’s when brands realized the human connection you can have with influencers that they start considering the market more and more.
What you think is the strength of influencer marketing compared to the other forms of social media marketing?
It’s definitely a combination of the two: authenticity and credibility. I’m slightly skewed to say ‘authenticity’ given the current issue with Instagram bots that we’re facing at the moment. But essentially what a good influencer should do is provide credibility to their fans, so again thinking about what they’re going to put in their captions, have they used our product before and is it actually something that fits into their day to day life; essentially it should be very much a two-way relationship.
Do you think you can reach a different, more targeted audience with influencer marketing in comparison to other methods of social marketing?
Yes, I completely agree with that. One really good example was when I worked for Oreo a few years ago now, we really wanted to reach a specific customer. So we asked ourselves how we could make our offering relevant to that target group. With our PR agency we came up with a proposal to then use four different groups of influencers with four different very specific interests and one of them, for example, was gamers, so YouTuber Twitch users, online gamers. This allowed us to extend into the gaming industry, targeting gaming audiences in an authentic way which worked really well.
Do you think you’ll ever come back to your roots and begin influencing through a blog again, alongside your work as a strategist?
I’d love to be a thought leader, when I am finally running a brand or I’ve got my own company, then I’d like to bring back Pollyanna Ward as a personal brand to get people in. So when it’s my turn to have a brand or work on a product that’s my own, the personal brand would come back.
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.
In South Korea, over 2 trillion South Korean won (KRW, or $2.4 billion USD) was spent on advertising on mobile platforms last year, surpassing that of advertising on cable TV - 1.8 trillion KRW - for the first time. While Instagram influencers in the US charge up to $100,000 USD for a sponsored post, industry insiders say brands in South Korea pay from 100,000 KRW to more than 2 million KRW for a single social media post, depending on the loyalty of the person’s followers.
Beauty and fashion brands are at the forefront of using social media influencers who have millions of followers. We sat down with Jude Kim, who runs Global Business Development at The SMC in Seoul, Korea and serves clients like Google and eBay, and asked him for his vision regarding the Asian (kol/influencer) market.
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.
Today, we are excited to announce the biggest update to our influencer dashboards to date! After speaking with many influencers from our community around the world and collecting feedback, we’re ready to show it off.
Fresh New Look
Integrated Chat: Have a question about a campaign or deliverables? Want to share an idea? Influencers can chat directly with us from the icon in the top right corner of their dashboards.
With the new My Campaigns view, influencers can better see the status of the campaigns they have applied for, are participating in, or that they have completed.
We polished up the influencer settings page, to give influencers more control over their information and data.
We gave influencer profiles a major facelift. We also made them shareable! Share with friends, other brands, etc.
Introducing following charts to help combat bots/fake followers and to help influencers better track follower growth/decline.
Improved Brief Style
Now influencers can more clearly see their eligibility, rates, and posting requirements when considering what campaigns to apply for.
Removed Pitch Section
After lots of feedback and consideration, we have decided to remove the Pitch option from the influencer dashboard, so we can focus on more streamlined and interactive ways to get our influencers in front of our brands - more on this soon!
How to access the new dashboard
As an influencer, when you login to your account you will be prompted to update/complete any missing profile details before you can proceed to your new dashboard and view campaigns. We are requiring some new information like Gender and Birthdate to help our brands better identify influencers for their campaigns. After updating your account, you’ll be ready to go!
The best is yet to come
With this release, we will be able to more rapidly develop features with our influencers in mind. We have a lot of exciting releases on our roadmap!
Have any ideas or feature requests? Feel free to contact us by replying to this email or emailing email@example.com, we’d love to hear from you.
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.
On January 22nd of this year we officially opened our office in Xintiandi area in Shanghai. Xintiandi is considered one of the most beautiful areas of Shanghai, surrounded by parks, art galleries, restaurants and shopping malls. Many creative agencies have established their office in this part of the city over the course of the past year and we are beyond excited to be part of the Naked Hub community in China. The Naked Hub is a vibrant community of over 9000 professionals with over 30 locations across Asia. Their footprint enables our team to represent the Cirqle across the entire of Asia.
“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.
One of the values we live by here at The Cirqle is shipping beautiful product(s). This encapsulates our belief that shipping is just the beginning; that getting features in customers’ hands is the quickest way to get feedback so we can continue to iterate to drive our vision.
While it’s easy to get excited about shipping big, shiny new things – last year we launched a whole ton of those (read the post here) – there’s also lots of value in shipping regular, smaller improvements and features too. They may not necessarily justify a big splashy announcement, but smaller improvements can add up to a significant impact.
We’ve already shipped over 8 big new features and updates this year. We still have a shiny thing or two up our sleeve, of course, but here are some of the highlights of what we’ve shipped so far in the first half of 2017.
iPhone & Android App
Jup, you read it right. We shipped both an iPhone and Android app. Our team worked around the clock to make it happen. Influencers now have the ability to track their growth across all their social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr and Google Analytics), join campaigns in a more efficient and convenient way and get access to campaigns in their nearby location.
Through the app, our clients now have the unique ability to target influencers based on their location. Think location-based event activations, in-store promo's or exclusive launches. Get in touch to learn more about it and to join our private beta.
We’re always working to make it easier for you to support your customers at scale, so that as your business grows, The Cirqle grows with you.
Traditionally, there's a lot of hand-holding involved in running influencer campaigns. We’ve added several new features that make it easier to for agencies to run campaigns across different account managers, countries and brands in one comprehensive overview.
Through this update, we enable agencies to effectively scale campaigns with influencers across multiple account managers.
- Global Team and Client Logins
Assign campaigns to team members who can monitor, manage and share campaign status with their clients directly, in one safe environment..
- Full Feature Access
Agencies receive full access to all systems, tools and features of The Cirqle and are free to share data reports with their clients.
- 24/7 Support
A team of dedicated account managers help assist agencies with running campaigns.
- Webinars and training
Access to webinars, training sessions and in-house education programs.
Location-Based Influencer Campaigns
Through Cirqle, clients now have the ability to trigger geo-based campaigns with the goal to drive footfall and promote influencer store visits. Influencers curated for your campaign are allowed to join when they are within the vicinity of one of your stores.
Selected influencers can view the tasks they have to do in return for the reward mentioned in the brief. E.g. receive a Scotch & Soda outfit and $500,- cash in return for in-store / product exposure on Instagram.
API-integration and CSV download
For those building on our platform, we launched an API our clients can tap into so everything you need to build on our platform is in one accessible place. Plus, we added some new features to automatically run CSV exports of your data-reporting so you're able to integrate into e-commerce solutions such as Custora.
Integrated Shipping Tracking
If you need to ship products to influencers in your program - millions of deliveries of all shapes and sizes are now tracked across all major delivery providers. This way, products that are send out for shipping to your influencers are auto-tracked and you're updated of the process along the way.
Our customer support team is on hand by phone and email to answer any questions that your or your influencers may have.
Track Social Performance, Review Content & Monitor Competition
Built-in best practices for assignment creation and a fully automated workflow mean better content for both influencers and marketers. Through our content vault, you're able to pre-approve content with the click of a button across all the influencers accepted into your program.
Amplify your best content at the most opportune time, by tapping into the world’s most powerful network of content creators and influencers.
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: