Win the game of influence


How much would a confused shrug on TikTok be worth to your brand? Hugo Boss is investigating for an investment in the seven-digit range.

The fashion brand has signed a multi-year deal with “Angry Everyone” (Paywall) Khaby Lame — who has amassed a staggering 134 million social media followers for his videos gently mocking internet “lifehacks” — will be the face of his #BetheBOSS campaign. According to Miah Sullivan, Senior VP of Global Marketing and Brand Communications at Boss, the 20-year-old Lame “generated 6.6 billion impressions and 307 million social media engagements in six days” around a hoodie’s launch. The product was a sell out of 60,000 units. “We had a huge response from him,” Sullivan said Vogue shop. “Every post is worth more than a Super Bowl ad in terms of impressions.”

Welcome to the upper vibe of the world of influencer marketing — where basically anyone with at least 1,000 engaged followers on Instagram or TikTok has a media kit showcasing a brand as a brand nano influencers in a niche. This is a world of posts tagged #influencer: 39,678,601 on Instagram today and 4.4 million tagged #sponsored. It is a thriving ecosystem that is expected to be worthwhile 15 billion dollars until the end of this year. If you’re a CMO – B2C or B2B – and influencer marketing isn’t already part of your playbook, now is a good time to start thinking about why.


How does an influencer influence their audience? The answer is to be a reliable source – either for entertainment or information on a specific topic, but devoid of any overt sales pitch. It is a content game, not an ad placement.


Joanna Touqmatchi, the 31-year-old head of the UK creative partnership team at TikTok, said Business Insider (Paywall) says there are three traits she looks for when trying to identify the next viral sensation: “Are they passionate about their content? Are they adaptable to new trends? And do they post regularly?”

This tells you that influencers need to be tireless innovators and restless creators focused on their platform and developing their audience – their priority will always be audience growth and engagement. So the challenge is less about traditional product placement and more about understanding how your brand will perform in the ever-evolving worldview of content creators. What you gain is proxies connecting your brand to emerging trends — even down to the way channels are used.


When Touqmatchi talks about an influencer’s passion for their material, she touches on the most important aspect of brand-influencer partnerships: current relevance. Unless you’re working with a mega-influencer like Lame, with a reach of millions of followers, brands gain from working with micro-influencers who have an engaged audience because of their knowledge and expertise in a particular field.

In the B2B space, Adobe is an example of a company committed to collaborating with micro-influencers – from illustrators to photographers to digital developers and educators – to build engagement across its suite of software apps. An award winning residence Micro influencer campaign In 2019, “21 million target customers…were reached and the app…downloaded 105,333 times. The cost per download was under $1 and seven times lower than the industry average.” Website building and hosting company Squarespace works with a number of influencers, including Chef Gaby Melian and Kirah Tabourn from The Strology. It’s the depth of authentic engagement with their audiences that influencers bring, rather than breadth of reach, that proves valuable to brands.


A number of brands have shown how to turn social fans into advocates and influencers through smart initiatives that drive people to deep engagement. Crayola and M&Ms were among the first brands to encourage their audience to help choose product colors. But look at these #inmydenim Challenge of the fashion brand Guess. Just by inviting Tiktokkers to share clips of how they style their jeans, they’ve garnered more than 53.4 million views.


Your challenge when working with influencers will always come in three forms: integrity, consistency, and organization.

While the influencer is focused on building their own audience and deepening that engagement, how do you ensure the integrity of your own brand is maintained? Integrity and reputation are things you cannot outsource to a freelance content creator – and this needs to be understood from the start of the partnership.

Second, if the influencer is always an experimenter at heart, will the quality be consistent? Reviewing and understanding success metrics will also be crucial.

Finally organization. The best influencers are experimenters. You have to make sure you can give them what they need, when they need it. Think of it as a co-creation partnership, not a passive one.

But how do you really—really, really—influence an influencer? It’s about authenticity. It helps if they love your product.

marketing chief, singing


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