Freedom through syndication


See what is happening in our world – who is influencing whom and why.

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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Unsolicited influencer posts: Ensure perfect brand alignment


See what is happening in our world – who is influencing whom and why.

Unsolicited influencer posts: Ensure perfect brand alignment

November 5, 2019

you ever wondered what to do when an unsolicited influencer makes an
unsolicited post about your brand and tags you? Every brand appreciates
unsolicited influencers posting positively on their behalf. But how can you
ensure that those posts are perfectly aligned with your brand positioning,
optimised for positive engagement, and designed to protect the brand equity if the
post was unsolicited?

you realise that there is a strategic economic advantage in bringing your paid
and unpaid influencers together to train and form a formidable social advocacy
team for your brand?

R-Squared offers an
innovative world-class solution – the R-Squared Influencer Academy, a
white-labelled program personalised for brands, established to mitigate risks
from unsolicited posts while increasing brand alignment and positive engagement.

chronology of how the need arises – 

An Influencer posts an unsolicited piece of content and tags the Brand.

On seeing the post, the brand weighs the value and is either happy about it or

For instance, a wrong engagement question like ‘Why do
you think that this brand’s product is awesome?’ could trigger negative
comments, including comments from the audience driving other audience members
to a competitor product.

Either way, Brands wonder what they can do to encourage or improve on these
pieces of unsolicited content.

what can brands do? Brands can take advantage of the R-Squared Influencer Academy,
designed to coach and give tips, hints and advice to influencers who post
unsolicited brand content, so as to mitigate risk, increase quality and brand
alignment for unsolicited posts that would have gone live anyway without the
added value of the coaching.
Brands can thus reward their most ardent advocates
with coaching from R-Squared experts.

1. Brand and R-Squared agree on the service to be
provided (e.g., which category of influencer qualifies for assistance, etc.)

2. Brand fully briefs R-Squared on brand and product

3. R-Squared sets up a white-labelled contact centre
for the brand (email and WhatsApp)

4. Influencers submit the content by email or
WhatsApp to the point of contact for the influencer’s academy setup for the

5. R-Squared coaches and guides the influencers for
risk mitigation, and increased brand alignment 

6. Post goes live

7. Influencers and brands are happy

Some of the brand benefits  include:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Increased brand loyalty
  • The facilitation of valuable customer feedback loops
  • Increased sales

But who is

R-Squared is the top leading Influencer Marketing
Agency in South Africa, and also a leading Influencer Marketing Agency internationally,
responsible for innovative influencer campaigns. R-Squared is comprised of
experts with one passion only – Influencer Marketing. R-Squared is responsible
for masterful management and industry expertise in designing, executing and
managing influencer marketing projects that are engaging, authentic and
protective of brand equity. The CEO of R-Squared is also the IAB SA Council
lead for the digital and influencer space, providing guidelines and best
practices for influencer marketing. 

Contact us now to get started –

*written in October
2019. *Michelle Marais and Emmanuel Okonkwo, R-Squared Digital.

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Stephane Rogovsky to lead IAB SA Digital Influencer Committee


See what is happening in our world – who is influencing whom and why.

Stephane Rogovsky to lead IAB SA Digital Influencer Committee

October 29, 2019

Following IAB
SA’s recent announcement of new committee members for the IAB SA Digital
Influencer Committee, R-Squared Digital is excited to share that its CEO and
Founder, Stephane Rogovsky, is the newly appointed Council Lead of the IAB SA
Digital Influencer Council.

While still
in its infancy phase, the influencer marketing industry is one of the fastest
growing segments of digital marketing. There are currently multiple and
differing definitions of influencer marketing and influencers, as well as the
influencer tiers, how ROI is calculated, benchmarks used, and best practices,
and this council will lead the process of consolidating of these views in order
to develop set guidelines, best practices and benchmarks for digital influencer
marketing in South Africa, and to empower the media and marketing industry to
make better digital decisions regarding best practice and standard definitions
for influencers in the digital space.

As announced by the IAB SA, Rogovsky
will also be working closely with Zoe Soon, IAB Global VP Mobile centre of
Excellence (also over-seeing this area of expertise) to co-develop and
collaborate on projects where relevant and meaningful. Rogovsky thrilled to be
working with the IAB Global Head Office on meaningful projects relevant to the
influencer marketing industry on a global scale. “It is an honour to be part of the process; coordinating this
discussion at a global level whereby industry standards will be set, all the
while leading change in the influencer marketing industry alongside truly great
industry leaders,” Rogovsky comments.

Don’t miss the IAB Insight Series Event: Digital Influencer Marketing at Kantar in Cape Town on 28 November 2019, where IAB SA Digital Influencer Committee lead, Stephane Rogovsky will be the keynote speaker!

For more information, read the IAB SA announcement here:

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See what is happening in our world – who is influencing whom and why.


October 22, 2019

It’s that time of year again. Retailers are preparing for Black Friday and the holiday season. Chain stores are playing Boney M’s Little Drummer Boy. Tinsel is appearing as if by magic. Your online shopping cart is full, and you’re ready to purchase as soon as the prices drop. Now is the opportune time to plan ahead and book your influencer marketing campaigns for Black Friday.

It’s October, and preparation for the biggest global shopping experience has begun.

BankservAfrica (an automated clearing house operating in Africa and based in Johannesburg) researched Black Friday sales statistics revealing that South Africans spent a total of R2 897 897 379 for 2018, a 15.92% growth when compared with 2017’s R2 499 876 432. 2019 is looking like a marketing team’s dream.

So how can your brand or agency capitalise on that?

Standing Out
With statistics showing the growth rate of influencer marketing coupled with the psychological findings showing consumer attachment to influencers, there is no doubt that influencer marketing will offer an outstanding opportunity for your agency/brand. It will drive consumer interest to your brand and get real recommendations from influencers.
The fact is, people respond to endorsements from people they trust.

While macro influencers and celebrities are fantastic for brand awareness campaigns, micro influencers are everyday people, facing the same financial challenges as their audiences. This makes them far more relatable in this seasonal context, and marketing teams heading into peak buying season would be well served by using them at this time of year. Have your micro influencers drive sales by inviting their audience to plan ahead of the festive season, and to buy now at the highly discounted prices rather than wait for the overpriced Christmas Gift season.

We got you
We at R-Squared understand that it’s almost year-end, and brands may not have large budgets to drive influencer marketing campaigns. Now is your opportunity to leverage a perfect framework that will not only promote engagement but also promote your brand’s equity against any advertising risk. You want a return on investment? R-Squared is the expert influencer marketing agency that will create the perfect framework for you.

Send us an email on now and let’s create something magical.

*written in October 2019. *Michelle Marais and Emmanuel Okonkwo at R-Squared, a leading influencer marketing creative agency in South Africa that works with most of the best brands and agencies in the country and internationally. R-Squared Digital is known for its masterful management and its specific industry expertise in designing, executing and managing influencer marketing projects that are extremely engaging, authentic, and protecting the brand equity.

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See what is happening in our world – who is influencing whom and why.


October 14, 2019

Statistics point towards increasing brand spend on Influencer Marketing for 2020. What does this mean for your company/brand? Recently, 60% of 18-34 years old in South Africa say that their purchase decisions have been swayed by influencers on social media. (source: eConsultancy). Statistics show that the recent attitude of consumers are fostered by trusted endorsements by persons they feel an emotional connection with – Influencers. Influencer marketing has been on the rise, both in South Africa and globally., the leading global micro-influencer marketing platform, released a 2019 Influencer Marketing Report: A Marketer’s Perspective report. The report revealed that over half of respondents (53%) allocate at least 10% of their marketing budgets to influencer marketing. When asked about their investment projections for 2019, 60% of marketers said that they plan to further increase their influencer marketing budget in the upcoming year. 30% plan to maintain the same budget and only 2.5% expect to decrease their

Influencer Marketing Hub in partnership with other researchers, conducted its sample study in the UK, and found that Influencer Marketing has continued to grow as an industry. It was a $1.7 billion industry in 2016, increasing to $3 billion in 2017. Growth continued to $4.6 billion in 2018 and is expected to continue its upward trajectory this year to potentially become a $6.5 billion industry for 2019-2020.
92% of the market surveyed believe influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing. And guess what? 86% intend to dedicate a high portion of their budget to influencer marketing. 63% of businesses who budgeted for influencer marketing intend to increase their spending over the next 12 months, with 17% expecting their influencer marketing spend to remain the same. 15% of respondents were unsure about what would happen with their influencer marketing budget, and only 5% intend to decrease their budget.

the US, Statists reveal a 39% decision by brands to increase their influencer
marketing campaigns; 35% of brands are uncertain yet; 21% will remain the same;
and only 5% of brands decided to decrease their budget on Influencer marketing
some brands in South Africa have yet to embrace influencer marketing and some
are to set aside budget for influencer campaigns, most are taking advantage of
the new order.

At R-Squared we have seen this happen, as the average influencer campaign budget from our clients has significantly increased over the last 18 months. The key to success with Influencer marketing is having the right influencer marketing expert create a perfect framework.

The statistics reveal influencer marketing has grown more than 3.5 times in less than 4 years because of its efficiency. We have seen globally in 2019 that 60% of marketers increased their influencer marketing budget. 86% in the UK have dedicated a significant portion of their budget to influencer marketing while 63% of businesses who budgeted for influencer marketing have decided to increase their influencer marketing over the 12 months. In the US, the decision by brands to increase their influencer marketing spend increased by 39%. Some of the most successful brands and agencies have moved a significant portion of their budget to influencer marketing.
Is your brand following the same trend

*Emmanuel Okonkwo works as External Communications at R-Squared Digital – a leading influencer marketing creative agency in South Africa that works with most of the best brands and agencies in the country and internationally. R-Squared Digital is known for its masterful management and its specific industry expertise in designing, executing and managing influencer marketing projects that are extremely engaging, authentic, and protecting the brand equity.

  • R-Squared Digital

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Influencer Marketplaces/Platforms vs Influencer Marketing Experts: what choice?


See what is happening in our world – who is influencing whom and why.

Influencer Marketplaces/Platforms vs Influencer Marketing Experts: what choice?

September 19, 2019

Marketing professionals and companies looking at exploring influencer marketing must wonder whether it’s better to use a do it yourself (DIY) influencer marketing platform or to engage the services of influencer marketing agencies. Well, after reading this, you’ll not wonder anymore.

An influencer marketing platform/marketplace is like Tinder. It’s a platform that connects brands/marketers and influencers together. A brand visits the online marketing platform and signs up. An influencer signs up on a marketing platform in their private capacity. A brand having a campaign to run searches for an influencer on the platform, based on filters and selected criteria. Once the brand or the marketer selects an Influencer, the brand or marketer sends the brief and if the Influencer accepts the brief, then both of them engage directly with each other via the platform.

Not all influencer marketplace users are experts in influencer marketing, as they are often used by marketers of different fields who may be experts in their own field but may not possess the required level of expertise in influencer marketing. An influencer marketing agency/expert on the other hand, is a specialised marketing agency comprising of experts who focus solely on Influencer marketing. While influencer marketing agencies use various sources and technologies to source Influencers, their value lies in the significant expertise that they have in designing, building, and managing an authentic influencer marketing campaign.

There are significant differences between content creation for a social media advertising campaign and an influencer marketing campaign. For social media marketing, the content is more of a corporate message. It is generic in the sense that even if the campaign is extremely targeted, everyone within the target audience may see the same message. The brand speaks directly to the audience and the marketer carefully designs every detailed aspect of the content – design, message, fonts, size and placement of the logo, colours, etc. For influencer marketing however, the brand does not speak directly to the audience but relies on someone else (the influencer) to speak to his/her own captive audience. The message is the voice of the influencer and reflects his/her own original style. The message is not generic. The same target audience might see different content, depending on which influencers they are following. The influencer marketing expert does not create the content, the influencer does.

Social media advertisers and influencer marketers have different skills. While social media marketers must be experts in creating perfect content, expert influencer marketers must be experts in creating the perfect framework from which the influencer’s content will perfectly align with the brief, while remaining authentic, highly engaging, and protecting the brand equity. It is this onerous task of creating the perfect framework, that brings about maximum campaign success.

Now, with regards to the use of Influencer marketing platforms, there are differences in service between an influencer marketing platform and an influencer marketing expert. We’re going to explore 5 integral differences.

1. Expertise

Influencer marketing requires a lot more than choosing an Influencer and tracking metrics.

Setting up a successful influencer marketing campaign is like baking a cake. Trying to bake with the ingredients only, but without the recipe, will lead to catastrophic results. And even when the recipe is provided, without expertise in executing it, the risk of failure will be high. Even if the result is good, it will never be as good as when it is executed by a pastry chef. The level of quality will inherently vary.

Similarly, in influencer marketing, the influencers’ marketplaces/databases will provide a brand with the ingredients (the list of influencers), but if the campaign is executed by someone who is an expert in his/her own field of marketing, but who is not an expert in influencer marketing, the campaign / project’s quality and performance may not produce the full potential desired compared to when executed by an expert in influencer marketing. It is also critical that all the risks that are very specific to influencer marketing are fully understood and accounted for during the campaign design, building and management processes.

2. Brand Equity, Strategy & Framework

Specific sets of knowledge/expertise as discussed above allows for the campaign to be very authentic and engaging, and also protects the brand equity. This protection is achieved through a dedicated high-level influencer marketing strategy and framework setup for the campaign. The Influencer marketing expert, in setting up its framework, is concerned with vetting the influencers, and the content quality, identifying cultural and other potential conflicts of interest, knowing about industry specific marketing regulations/laws, and other salient factors that can backfire on the brand equity if unchecked. An agency guides the Influencer without scripting the content and brings about the best strategy to promote an authentic, story-telling campaign, that creates a long-lasting emotional connection with the audience.

Many risks are specific to influencer marketing. Masterful management will ensure performance success and brand equity protection. Some of the risks that are very specific to this industry segment are:

  • Selection of influencers with the wrong audience.
  • A brand strategy that may result in audience alienation.
  • Content that will look like a plain endorsement rather than being authentic.
  • Incorrect use of story-telling.
  • Non-respect of the mandatory disclosure regulation and restrictions.
  • Inefficient engagement mechanisms to create a positive conversation about the brand, with a clear buying signal.
  • Engagement mechanisms that may lead to negative PR, driving the conversation to a competing brand, etc.
  • Low influencer engagement rate
  • Incorrect metrics
  • Mismanagement of the influencer-brand relationship (that could turn into a toxic relationship)
  • Content not matching the expected quality or the brief, etc.

3. Strict audience matching between the influencers’ audience and the brand’s target audience

Upon request by the Brand, the influencer marketing platform will only suggest influencers matching the search criteria. Influencer marketing experts on the other hand go further in ensuring a perfect match between the brand’s target audience and the Influencer’s captive audience.

For instance, in a campaign R-Squared managed, we were presented with a female Influencer by a top female fashion brand in South Africa. When analysing her audience, we realised the she was followed by a 86% male audience, as she is extremely attractive, while the brand’s target audience are females. Further than that, more than 50% of her audience was based in the USA, with only 13% in South Africa. Therefore, the audience of females in South Africa is 13% to 14% = 1,82% only. Even though she was a fashion model, and therefore highly relevant and interested in fashion, her mainly male audience was interested in travel and photography, as described by their key category of interest, which is understandable as she takes her fashion pictures while traveling. Her audience was interested in seeing her travel pictures more than her fashion pictures.

4. Regulations

In practice, it is not the duty of the marketing platforms to ensure compliance with specific regulations (i.e., the mandatory sponsorship disclosure, industry specific regulations, etc.) This is understandable because it is a DIY platform. An influencer marketing expert on the other hand, ensures that its’ strategy and frameworks, as well as the Influencer’s content, are in accordance with all relevant regulations and laws.

5. Reserved Influencers

The pool of influencers on influencer marketing platforms may be limited, as it only contains those influencers who have signed up. Hence, while good influencers might be there, the perfect ones for a particular campaign might not have signed up. The database might also be highly skewed to certain categories of influencers, demographics, countries, or languages. Influencer marketing experts, however, must have the expertise and capacity to source for the best influencers for the campaign / project, regardless if using a marketplace or other sources as its means.


Brands and agencies can manage their influencer marketing campaigns if they have a significant in-house expertise to cover for the peculiar skills of an Influential marketing expert. Thus, whether marketplaces are used or not is not the most important factor. The primary factor here, is the expertise of the person who manages the project, whether in-house or with a specialised influencer marketing agency.

Emmanuel Okonkwo works as an External Communicator at R-Squared Digital – a leading influencer marketing creative agency in South Africa that works with most of the best brands and agencies locally and internationally. R-Squared Digital is known for its specific industry expertise in designing, executing and managing influencer marketing projects that are extremely engaging, authentic, whilst protecting the brand equity.

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