Freedom through syndication

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Freedom through syndication

July 8, 2020

We know the value of syndicated thinking and working between agencies, between influencer marketing, creative agencies, PR firms and paid media. But there is another aspect to syndication that is especially relevant to influencer marketing:
The syndication between influencer marketing agency, the brand and the influencer.

At R-Squared, we put this collaboration to the front of everything we do. It is what guides our strategic thinking, and it is what sets us apart – because it all comes from a belief in freedom.

There are many agencies who keep a ‘book’ of influencers, people they work with on a regular basis, people they know they can call and direct to add their campaign to the influencer’s feed.

Our thinking is a far more innovative and, together with other true influencer marketing experts, is fast becoming the way forward for this industry: find the influencer that fits the brand and message, not fit the brand to the influencer.

We do not keep a ‘book’ of influencers. Our clients have faith in us and give us the freedom to search out the influencer that will best suit the campaign. Which means we can find that person or persons who actually have an interest in our campaign, who have knowledge of our subject and who believe in what they are telling their audience. It tends to lead to a far more honest and resonant campaign.

Because added to finding the perfect fit is the giving of freedom. Our influencers have the freedom to be themselves, to speak as themselves. By finding the influencers in their own environments, in their own countries, we engage with the audience in their own language, their own style and their own culture. Influence is all about resonance, about believability and authenticity which you only achieve if your influencer is being open and honest – and having the freedom to add your message to their existing voice.

Giving someone a script makes them an actor. Giving someone the freedom to be themselves makes them an influencer.

This is not to say we let them loose like a kid in a candy store. Our expertise comes in the careful management of the campaign. We create a framework that combines the brief, the strategy and the influencer. They know the goals. They know the product. They know the audience. And they know the environment, including all local and international regulations and nuances. Everything is set up with an almost scientific attention to detail.

And then we give them their freedom.

This approach is only possible through syndication, through collaboration and trust between every person involved from the influencer to the agencies to the brand. By having the freedom to work with the best of the best we are able to offer you, the brand, the best. The best influencer, backed by the best influencer marketers, supporting the best creative, social media, PR and paid media agencies.

To bring you the best, most resonant marketing campaigns for local and global audiences.

We call it authenticity. And it will make a huge difference to your campaign.

Stephane Rogovsky

Stephane is a 41-year-old Belgian citizen. He grew up in Brussels, lived in Switzerland, before moving to South Africa. Authentic conversations with real people inspire Stephane, an entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ leadership experience, utilising strategic foresight, analytical abilities, and trend spotting in diverse areas. He founded R-Squared Digital, a leading Influencer Marketing Agency that partners with some of the largest brands, media, and advertising agencies in South Africa and internationally.

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One Voice Can Make A Difference

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One Voice Can Make A Difference

July 2, 2020

It’s what makes putting paid media behind your influencer marketing such a great idea. You get the power and reach of paid media, the vast audiences with their volume of impressions but with a select voice giving you true authenticity and bringing focus to your campaign.

Think of it as an orchestra. Paid media bring in the violins and flutes, the bassoons and clarinets, woodwind, strings, brass, percussion – all combined to give us a classical feeling of grandeur. Add in a perfect voice, a pure soloist rising from the background to emphasise, to counterpoint, to add goose-bumps that run along your arms, and you have a nuanced and impactful campaign that resonates with its audience.

At R-Squared, we are leading the move to integrate experts from every field into one powerful orchestra that gets brands the maximum reach and the maximum impact. We believe that syndicated partnerships between local and global experts, from big agencies to small boutique shops, is the way forward for the industry.

Paid media and influencer marketing – our particular area of expertise – is a case in point.

Paid media offers us a channel that reaches millions – billions – of people. The potential within that audience is massive, but the dangers of these unsolicited impressions is that once the user scrolls past, the message may be diluted by other unsolicited messages in a feed.

For influencer marketing, the opposite is often true. Here we have a specific audience that are looking to a specific influencer for views and opinions. But it is a much smaller audience.

Syndicating these two channels brings an entirely new dynamic to the partnership. Now we have the huge reach of paid media enhanced with the one-on-one focus of influencer marketing. Which leads to that audience engaging more with the paid media, and the paid media audience being led to an authentic and resonant opinion leader for validation. And this builds and builds and builds to a crescendo for brands.

Add in a maestro conductor, an expert in collaborative thinking and execution, and you are practically guaranteed a virtuoso performance.
This collaborative thinking, not just between paid media and influencer marketing but between any teams working on a brand’s image and message from creative agencies to social media to paid media to production to editing and everything in between, is how we take individual skills and turn them into a symphonic, harmonious whole that raises a brand beyond the ordinary.

While the R-Squared expertise is in the influencer marketing sector, our knowledge, skill and experience, locally and internationally, is helping this change from silo thinking to expert syndication. Our partnerships with other experts in the marketing world – from paid media, to PR firms, to big agencies and boutique specialists – and our on-the-ground teams have the resources and expertise to hand-pick the voices you need to add to your creative campaigns and your paid media and make you stand out.

Stephane Rogovsky

Stephane is a 41-year-old Belgian citizen. He grew up in Brussels, lived in Switzerland, before moving to South Africa. Authentic conversations with real people inspire Stephane, an entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ leadership experience, utilising strategic foresight, analytical abilities, and trend spotting in diverse areas. He founded R-Squared Digital, a leading Influencer Marketing Agency that partners with some of the largest brands, media, and advertising agencies in South Africa and internationally.

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The Perils of Isolation for Brands

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The Perils of Isolation for Brands

June 24, 2020

The traditional marketing model has undergone a dramatic shake-up that began before this world of isolation and quarantine. Old-school ad agencies have found themselves stretched thin through a fast-growing and technology-led hunger for new content and new ways of serving that content.

This was the birth of specialist digital agencies and media houses, of production studios set up to develop content for a new generation that lived with technology in their pockets and with instant access to the world and to the world’s views and opinions.

It also led to a growing sense of compartmentalised thinking and agencies working in silos. This sense of isolation often worked against the brand’s interests. Where you had a great idea for a campaign, the execution often seemed to lack that spark that elevated it into something extraordinary. It’s a natural progression when it comes to tech-led innovation. The innovators bring it to market. The early adopters test it out and work through issues. It becomes more accessible, recognised and accepted. And then gains traction with a wider audience.

This where you need proper syndication. As experts in influencer marketing, R-Squared are well aware of how the industry is changing to incorporate collaboration to a much greater extent.

Our dealings with the big creative agencies and the teams of smaller experts have given us a unique insight into how things have been operating and how they need to change. We are finding, more and more, that our value goes beyond the influencer marketer role and has become an integral part of expert syndication leaders. With the creative agencies creating content, the production houses producing content and the paid media agencies seeding content, we saw the social media and influencer marketers being led by that content in a top-down approach. Our model, that we and other industry experts are showing should be the industry standard, is to use the content to create unique pieces that come from unique influencers to bolster and emphasise that content.

It’s an approach that has also led to us becoming experts in the coordination and collaboration between agencies to truly amplify a brand and message.

By syndicating our thinking and output, by collaborating with best of breed from an agency creative to a PR firm to a digital studio to a paid media agency to our own specialisation of influencer marketing – and then coordinating every aspect to work seamlessly together and build on a campaign rather than plug into a campaign – we are able to create something truly remarkable, impactful and memorable.

Syndication is how the modern world will move forward. In marketing, in business, in politics and human interaction. Isolationism and silo-thinking are shown to be ineffective at best and detrimental at worst. And it will take the experts to prove to the world that this unifying of talents and specialisations will lead to a whole, and to outcomes, that are far greater than the sum of their parts.


Stephane Rogovsky

Stephane is a 41-year-old Belgian citizen. He grew up in Brussels, lived in Switzerland, before moving to South Africa. Authentic conversations with real people inspire Stephane, an entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ leadership experience, utilising strategic foresight, analytical abilities, and trend spotting in diverse areas. He founded R-Squared Digital, a leading Influencer Marketing Agency that partners with some of the largest brands, media, and advertising agencies in South Africa and internationally.

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Creating connections in a time of isolation

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Creating connections in a time of isolation

June 3, 2020

If the recent global lockdowns, social distancing and isolation have proven anything it’s that – even in this digital age – we are a social animal and we crave personal connections.

And that this is the time for influencer marketing – true influencer marketing – to really take the lead for the future of brands and information. It is the time for influencer marketing to become part and parcel of your marketing communications. Not just an afterthought by a marketing assistant who has a friend with an Instagram account, but a well thought out, budgeted and strategically aligned pillar of your communications.

I was struck recently by the impact many celebrities have been making on social media – through words of support, through actions, even with how they are engaging with their fans about their everyday lives and the normalcy of their times with their families.

And then we have the celebrities who have struck an incredibly tone-deaf chord with their social offerings.

Keep in mind, these celebs are not doing what they are doing to make people mock them (well not all of them anyway), they genuinely believe that their posts, instas, and tweets are making a difference, are imparting wisdom and happy feelings.

They genuinely believe that they are creating a connection.

So, where did they go wrong?

This is where a proper influencer marketing model comes in.

Your audience needs to make a connection. A billionaire telling me how delicious a packet of two-minute noodles is will make me switch off – probably snort in derision first and then switch off. But a billionaire telling me a story about how those same noodles were what got him or her through college while they were still dreaming about changing the world? That is a different story.

Why?

Because I can relate to it. I can see myself sitting in a dorm room, fork buried in a microwaved bowl of noodles as I doodle my ideas onto a pad of paper.

Why?

Because it is genuine. It is a real moment, in a real person’s life. It is an authentic connection.

And connections are what make influencer marketing one of the most powerful tools in modern marketing.

Followers are not connections.

The word ‘influencer’ has taken on a negative connotation. The hordes of entitled demanding free drinks or meals or holidays because they will give you ‘exposure’ to their hundreds of followers are NOT influencers.

Ryan Reynolds inviting you into his home to share his experiences and family situation during lockdown – HE is an influencer.

A mom showing you how to create delicious meals on a minimal budget that are healthy and nutritious for your kids – SHE is an influencer.

Each of these people, in their own way, is defining a trend or setting an aspirational goal or demonstrating expertise. One might have millions of followers while the other only has a few hundred, but they share one thing in common: authenticity. And each has a very defined role to play in the influencer market – trendsetter, innovator, expert, reliable source, trusted caregiver, the characters in this play of life are endless.

All you need to do is find the one who resonates with you, your brand, your message, your dream. The one who really believes in your vision. The one who connects with you.The one who is real.

Influencers are real.

Real people with real lives and real stories and real experiences. In a world that is absolutely jam-packed with messages, it is the real voice that stands out. Finding that voice is not always easy.

For companies like R-Squared, it is our life’s work. We make connections. Not between brands and products and consumers and ROI and target audiences. Between people.

We find the real people, with the real stories. And then we let them tell their stories to the world. We do not tailor-make, we tailor source. We take your product, and we search out the people that actually connect with it. And that connect with others like them.

When a campaign is designed, executed and managed by experts, you go from a product endorsement to a life affiliation.

Budgeting for billions.

This is why influencer marketing is growing into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Pre-COVID estimates were that the influencer market would be worth over $10 billion in 2020. With the pandemic upon us, it was expected to slow down, but the opposite seems to be happening.

This time of isolation and increasing tension is showing us the real need for human-to-human connections. The bombardment of brand messages and unbelievable endorsements is coming to an end. Real people and real experiences are rising. Whether it’s a mom with a few hundred followers or a movie star with a million fans, people want genuine in a world filled with false promises and false hopes.

A personal connection.

Personally, I find this a very exciting time. A time of change and innovation for sure, but more a time of building humanity and building human connections – real human connections.

I have been at the helm of R-Squared for six years and have watched, and involved myself in, the growth of this incredibly exciting industry. I have seen it falter (see the entitled ones comment above) and I have seen it truly put the best of human empathy and emotion on display (see the switched-on celebs comment above).

As an agency shortlisted for Best Global Boutique Influencer Marketing Agency (holding thumbs for the awards in September), R-Squared is at the forefront of making influencer marketing an essential resource for brands and an authentic experience for people around the world.

Our mission is simple: keep it real.

Stephane Rogovsky

Stephane is a 41-year-old Belgian citizen. He grew up in Brussels, lived in Switzerland, before moving to South Africa. Authentic conversations with real people inspire Stephane, an entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ leadership experience, utilising strategic foresight, analytical abilities, and trend spotting in diverse areas. He founded R-Squared Digital, a leading Influencer Marketing Agency that partners with some of the largest brands, media, and advertising agencies in South Africa and internationally.

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Influencer Marketing: Adapting to Markets and Cultures

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Influencer Marketing: Adapting to Markets and Cultures

May 11, 2020

Managing influencer campaigns within specific territories or cultures can be very challenging, particularly for brands and marketers who don’t have expertise within particular regions. There are challenges related to culture, audiences and legislative requirements and restrictions.

At R-Squared, we operate globally, running influencer campaigns for multi-national groups in a variety of vertical markets. We have expertise in managing campaigns within a range of regions and cultural realities. We believe that understanding how influencer marketing differs from region to region is fundamental to the overall success of a campaign, affecting engagement and campaign costs.

Setting individualised missions for influencers is essential, factoring in all of the market and influencer-related specifics. Questions to be considered include market maturity – is influencer marketing well established in the region, or is it still a developing market? The answers will affect how competitive the market is, whether an audience will click on a link (conversion rate), influencer fees and influencer availability.

Once a brand or agency has established the above in the specific local markets internationally, and has created a brief for the influencers, the brand or agency should work with the influencer to understand their lifestyle, and how to integrate the brand concept into authentic content.

By sending one brief to all influencers for the same campaign, all influencers will produce very similar content. Within specific verticals, there is often an audience overlap, in which case, followers following several influencers who are all part of the same campaign will see the same type of content produced, which may alienate the audience. At this point, the importance of influencer mission setting plays a role in the success of the overall campaign.

It’s paramount to match the missions to the influencers and not the influencers to the missions. With the influencer tailoring lifestyle journeys, the content the influencers’ create will reinforce the brand message in their signature style. The tasks the brand or agency set should be a framework for the influencer to work from, not a script.

Thinking out of the box is necessary when it comes to dealing with influencers. It’s all about creating the perfect framework that allows for full creativity, authenticity and engagement while remaining aligned with the brand’s objectives and protecting its brand equity. Authenticity in the content is crucial to ensuring the message resonates with the target audience, in a way that is original and organic. In our opinion, agencies discussing individual missions with the influencers, and agreeing on those missions and objectives together, ensures that the content perfectly tells the influencer’s story, while aligning with the needs of the campaign.

Michelle Marais, Digital Marketing Manager

Michelle Marais

Michelle Marais is the Digital Marketing Manager at R-Squared, a leading influencer marketing agency partnering with some of the largest brands in South Africa and internationally. Our team focuses on out of the box solutions for authenticity in influencer marketing.

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The Rise of Coronavirus, Influencer Marketing, and Business Continuity

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The Rise of Coronavirus, Influencer Marketing, and Business Continuity

March 17, 2020

While it’s not completely business as usual in light of the Coronavirus, R-Squared’s operations aren’t affected, and measures for business continuity have been taken in order to not disturb existing campaigns and projects, ensuring the highest levels of quality. Influencer Marketing, and communication through community leaders can be extremely powerful in times of crisis, so here are some critical precautions to ensure people and brand safety and the powerful dissemination of your messaging:

  • At this time of crisis influencers
    will be extremely efficient in assisting to shift your digital efforts to
    building awareness
  • This will drive online sales from
    the comfort of your audiences’ sofa, all the while your audience is staying
    self-confined.
  • Work with influencers to share
    your brand’s message that you care for your audience, and these are the ways
    your audience can now have access to your services or products while staying
    safe.

Finance, insurance, and other service industries are able to work remotely, yet hand in hand with influencers, in sharing important tips on staying safe and efficiently looking after your finances during times of economic and health uncertainty.

During this time of crisis, if managed with significant expertise, content from influencers will be increasingly impactful. They are people speaking to people; it’s not a corporate message. People are concerned and need an emotional connection with someone they trust and follow, right now. Make it you.

If you are already a client of R-Squared, your Account Manager will be in touch to evaluate the needs to review the current or future campaigns. If you are considering working with R-Squared but are not a client yet, please communicate with stephane@r2digital.co.za or via WhatsApp at +27 (0)60 698 7204 to assess your brief and timeline against current capacity before sending your brief.

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The Power Of A Dedicated Influencer Marketing Strategy

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The Power Of A Dedicated Influencer Marketing Strategy

September 7, 2018

“Influencer marketing campaigns that do not incorporate dedicated strategies too often produce disappointing ROIs. Let’s explore why.”

The marketing paradigm will undoubtedly keep shifting for as long as we live, with new technology and social interactions taking the forefront of this new media landscape. According to Klear, influencer marketing has grown by a staggering 198% on Instagram over the previous year, and there are no signs of slowing down. Furthermore, studies have shown that expert influencer marketers can expect a ROI in media presence of 7.65:1, with Nielsen’s recent research showing a delivery of 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.

Conventional marketing and influencer marketing aim to achieve the same goals and objectives, but differ drastically in structure and approach and that’s why it’s important to have a dedicated influencer marketing strategy, adapted from your overarching campaign strategy. Brands may have a conventional marketing strategy in place, and it may be working very well, but nothing is more powerful in creating positive word-of-mouth than authentic person-to-person conversation.

Conventional marketing is generic corporate messaging that everyone sees. By partnering with influencers of different styles, brands can ensure that the content their target audience is seeing is tailored to their specific interests and tastes. Herein lies the importance of implementing a dynamic marketing campaign, one that includes influencers of different backgrounds, styles and content. Although, this does not mean “penciling in” some names on paper – it means developing a dedicated and specialised influencer marketing strategy. Why? Generic corporate advertisements may still be creating the awareness a brand seeks but influencer marketing is people talking to people about their experience using the brand, not the brand talking about itself.

“Influencer marketing is powerful in sparking positive conversation and creating easier conversions, in that it provides consumers with personal recommendations through authentic storytelling.”

A dedicated influencer marketing strategy should outline the correct platforms your campaign should focus on, the format of your campaign and type of content that your target audience will best resonate with. A brand’s influencer marketing strategy may vary (while still aiming at the same objective) from the overarching digital strategy.

“Brands should define a strategy that is not limited to the ‘obvious’ and will ba able to reach their entire target audience”

The obvious choice for the launch of a new beauty product would be beauty influencers, right? However, most women may use beauty products but not all of them may follow beauty influencers, as this is not where their interest lies. In this example, by limiting the campaign to only using beauty influencers, a large portion of the target market will be missed.

As an example, a beauty product may offer great benefits to one’s skin during pregnancy. If the beauty brand’s target audience is limited to pregnant women, they would miss their audience by using beauty influencers alone. Brands without a strategy pitch the same products to the same audiences, using the same people.

However, analysing the brand, and ascertaining that it would be beneficial to all women who may be pregnant, have experienced exposure to the sun or have experienced acne, opens the campaign up to incorporating moms, women who enjoy the outdoors and adventure, and young women with skin difficulties. It would then be more effective to use a combination of beauty influencers, mom bloggers, sporty women, and youth market influencers, all of whom strive to feel beautiful.

“Producing kickass influencer marketing results required a very specific skillset and expertise in order to design a dedicated influencer marketing strategy, implemented it, and manage it.”

Brands should work with influencer marketing strategists who provide quality insight into the market, which will allow them to develop a personalised strategy for your campaign, which ultimately will provide the highest ROI. Partner with our professional influencer marketing strategists at R-Squared Digital to maximise your ROI and mitigate brand risk.

In upcoming articles, my colleagues and I will demonstrate how a kickass influencer marketing campaign should be run in a series of four articles. You’ve already seen what influencer marketing is all about in the first article of our series and in this article, you’ve learnt about the importance of having a dedicated strategy. You can look forward to learning about how to effectively match the influencer’s audience with your target audience, how to manage your influencer relationship in order to protect and increase your brand equity, and finally, what’s required when your influencer marketing campaign is live. These articles (and more) will be released weekly.

If you’re dying to know more now and you’d like expert assistance with creating and managing your influencer marketing campaigns, you can contact us on partners@r2digital.co.za

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