They seem to be everywhere – influencers. We encounter people like Dagi Bee or Caro Daur across all well-known social media platforms. Toan Nguyen is a chief strategist and partner at advertising agency group Jung von Matt/Sports and knows all about influencer marketing. In an interview, the 33-year-old tells us what it takes to become a real influencer, what companies actually pay attention to and whether we are likely to see an end to this hype any time soon.
Class instead of mass – when am I a real influencer?
There’s no real definition! At first glance, what turns someone into an influencer is, of course, their reach – especially when it comes to marketing. However, what is also crucial is that influencers are well versed in a specific sector. The fashion sector, in particular, boasts many influencers – 100,000 followers are not a great amount here. If you know a lot about dental hygiene or DIY, for example, well that’s something completely different. Influencers who have less followers do not necessarily have to be at a disadvantage. If you are followed on Twitter or LinkedIn by managers of large companies or top journalists, the number of followers you have is no longer so important. At the end of the day, it’s all about the right blend of quality and mass – as both reach and know-how are essential ingredients.
What do I have to offer as an influencer to ensure companies make me their star?
It’s a big mistake to believe that influencers are only evaluated according to their reach and number of followers and only serve as advertising space – this is a misinterpretation of the magic of influencer marketing. A good influencer should offer two things: authenticity and expert knowledge. Today, it’s also more important than ever to think conceptually. But the relationship to followers is also decisive: they want to participate in the lives of their stars, build an emotional bond and have the feeling of knowing them a little.
What do influencers actually want and what are they really looking for in a company?
Today, influencers no longer want to be called influencers, but creators. For instance, it’s important for them to help design a product and not just advertise its virtues. They want to be valued, be part of the brand family and have a yearning to collaborate with attractive brands, as it boosts their reputation and image. If you work for Chanel, it gives you an air of premium quality. Brands must learn to commit to their influencers in the long term. Corporate or exclusive events at which influencers create their own content together with their fans are an ideal platform for this. Of course, adequate remuneration is not an unimportant factor either. Basically, a good relationship is a win-win situation. Some of the influencer’s positive image rubs off on the brand and it may even create a rejuvenating effect, while the influencer is able to improve their image by working with the brand.
Caro Daur, Pamela Reif and co. – which industries would find it hard to exist without influencers?
It would be difficult for the fashion and sports industries to exist without influencers. Since media such as Instagram are just perfect for making bodies look aesthetically pleasing. But the travel industry also likes to invest in influencers. Beautiful hotels, business class – you can present everything excellently. Basically speaking, all industries that rely on visual aesthetics need influencers. However, it’s important to have a concept. Using influencer marketing just because everyone else is doing it simply isn’t enough. You need an influencer that matches the company and your strategy perfectly.
Influencer marketing is dead – isn’t it?
No, but influencer marketing is facing a slight crisis. There are just too many influencers, too many fake followers and fake stories. The Gartner Hype cycle explains perfectly why influencer marketing is on the verge of a downward trend: a new technology appears on the market and is strongly hyped. Suddenly the new technology doesn’t work as hoped and develops flaws – at this point we’ve arrived in the so-called ‘valley of disappointment’. Influencer marketing is standing at the edge of this valley. After this fall, however, there will be a renewed upswing, because not everyone in the industry will be involved as before. The whole thing will steady itself. Those who are good at what they do and use influencer marketing skilfully will still be successful – all the others will be left behind. But that’s also important, as the market needs to undergo a cleansing process. We have too many influencers and too many brands that utilise influencer marketing poorly. Class instead of mass is needed here!
Interview: Julia Kück