A Measure of Success

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A Measure of Success

August 19, 2020

Influencer marketing continues to change how brands can have one-on-one conversations with their audience through an authentic influencer that they trust. All too often, however, the question is asked: “How do you measure your work?”.

For most other channels, measurement is simple. You can see how many people visit a website. You can count your CRT. You can see likes and comments. Or, in the most commercial sense, you can tell by an increase in your sales.

Influencer marketing works on an entirely different level. Rather than a Call To Action, influencer marketing gives an audience validation. It is validation in their choices or habits or lifestyle or fashion or financial decisions. The audience chooses to follow an influencer because they see something in that person that they trust. It could be a celebrity. It could be an investment banker. It could be a doctor. For whatever reason, that choice comes with an inherent degree of trust in what the influencer has to say or how that influencer is acting.

So rather than having a measurable metric, influencer marketing offers something far more valuable: brand awareness, brand love and brand loyalty. It’s a lot like a marriage. Most people try to put a metric on marriage. How long have you been married for? Is this your tin wedding anniversary or your diamond wedding anniversary? How many people try to measure how much love is in the marriage rather than how much time?

Influencer marketing brings the love and trust, things that can’t be measured. For now.

While experts in influencer marketing like R-Squared use traditional metrics to monitor and give a sense of measurement during a campaign, we know that these metrics are not the right ones to capture the efficacy of influencer marketing. We know that, while there are a vast number of different ways that digital can be measured, there are also a vast number of different ways that those numbers can be ‘massaged’ or bent to reflect a desired outcome.

And that is NOT what we foresee for an industry that has so much potential to make meaningful change in the world.

As the Chair of Influencer Marketing for the IAB SA, our CEO, Stéphane Rogovsky, is working with experts from around the world to find ways of measuring the true impact of influencer marketing on brands and on consumers. It’s a new discipline and requires a new way of showing the world just how effective it is.

For now, influencer marketing works very much like the old school big brand adverts worked – the ones you used to see at the cinema, or on prime-time TV, or at the Superbowl. It creates brand awareness for a new audience. It provides validation for your active audience. And it builds love for a brand by showing your audience that they matter, that you acknowledge them, that you are as invested in their time and interests as they are in you.

Like the love that powers a marriage through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health, it’s not something that is easily measured but you can see and feel it across a room.

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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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Influencer Marketing Reimagined

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Influencer Marketing Reimagined

April 21, 2020

The effect of Covid-19 on influencer marketing 

R-Squared has created a State of Influencer Marketing Slideshare to assist marketers.

Slide content:

  1. Influencer Marketing Reimagined: The effect of Covid-19 on influencer marketing
  2. Overview: The uncertainty around Covid-19 is extreme, to the point of threatening business continuity. We need to find certainty despite the uncertainty. Statistically, brands that are optimistic towards media placements during a recession or crisis are far stronger after it’s over. Right now, the human touch is needed in marketing. This is what will be needed by an audience now, in order to strengthen the existing relationship and convince them to purchase products or services later.
  3. Landscape: Many industries cannot operate. There is a significant limitation. Those industries that cannot trade as usual, have either cancelled or reduced their budgets, while others are still communicating or increasing communications with their audiences. This is where audiences need human connection rather than brand messaging.
  4. Landscape: Global statistics are not applicable to South African buying behaviour due to the severity of the lockdown (South Africa’s lockdown is the most severe internationally). What we have seen is that there is a significant cut in ad spend. We know there is a partial shift to digital, as OOH and sports sponsorship is unable to run.
  5. Landscape: There is a risk of breaking a strong bond that was built over years with audiences if there is no communication now. Keep the communication open, even if a company can’t trade, so that the brand will be the first ones to be remembered by the consumers at the end of the lockdown. We believe that for most brands, it is no time to sell, it is time to be there for an audience, and to strengthen the brand affinity.
  6. Landscape: Fohr is an influencer membership network, and their research shows that the average screen time is up to 5h40 per day, an 18% increase during the Covid crisis. They noted that because screen time is increasing, so is the standard of content. Their statement is “As more and more people turn to e-commerce, there is an opportunity to put out impactful messaging that will nurture your current customers and provide value to them during these completely unforeseen circumstances.” Source: https://www.socialmediainformer.com/edition/weekly-communities-social-media-2020-04-04?open-article-id=13434383&article-title=the-impact-of- covid-19-on-influencer-marketing&blog-domain=later.com&blog-title=later
  7. Landscape: Followers are paying attention to this new era of content creation, with nearly 80% of influencers reporting higher engagement from their followers. The opportunity here is to engage audiences with content that is hyper-aware of and sensitive to its surroundings. People are much more likely to engage with content that is authentic and tasteful, than that which is ignorant of extenuating circumstances. Source: https://www.socialmediainformer.com/edition/weekly-communities-social-media-2020-04-04?open-article-id=13434383&article-title=the-impact-of- covid-19-on-influencer-marketing&blog-domain=later.com&blog-title=later
  8. Landscape: The Fohr survey also found that over 40% of influencers currently are reducing their normal rates, and the reductions average at 30%. Fohr concludes that optimal influencer marketing over the Covid crisis is to build brand communities. Source: https://www.socialmediainformer.com/edition/weekly-communities-social-media-2020-04-04?open-article-id=13434383&article-title=the-impact-of- covid-19-on-influencer-marketing&blog-domain=later.com&blog-title=later
  9. Context: Regardless of whether people have a good job or bad job, whether they have children or not, whether they have financial means or not, whether they’re in a relationship or single – we’re all in the same boat.
  10. Context: Even if an influencer is endorsing a brand, never has messaging through influencer marketing been more relatable. Whatever an influencer endorses right now relates to all of us, whether the content is branded or not, the audience relates much more to authentic influencers at the present time.​
  11. Context: Working with each influencer individually as to how they will execute their mission in their own way, is key for authenticity and resonates with their audience.
  12. Context: When influencers share what they miss about a product or experience, one visualises what they share. They create the dream for an audience.
  13. Context: Investing in increased communications during a recession or crisis results in long term gain. The natural approach is to cut spending (as a result of general fear or uncertainty), harming consumer relationships built over years. Agility and innovation in communication must be applied to strengthen the customer relationship, rather than putting it at risk.
  14. All generations have shifted primarily to online streaming and online video consumption, as a result of Covid-19. This is the first time ALL GENERATIONS are consuming their media in the same way. When sharing personal content, videos also capture the emotion and the authenticity in a much stronger way, which is even more powerful when coming from influencers with a person to person message, sharing real emotions.
  15. Media Consumption: Gen Z • Online videos • Online / TV streaming. Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/media-consumption-covid-19/
  16. Media Consumption: Millennials • Online videos • Online / TV streaming. Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/media-consumption-covid-19/
  17. Media Consumption: Gen X • Broadcast TV • Online Streaming. Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/media-consumption-covid-19/
  18. Media Consumption: Boomer • Broadcast TV • Online Streaming. Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/media-consumption-covid-19/
  19. Media Consumption: Millennials are the most active. Searches for Coronavirus, listening to music, and watching movies/shows have the highest activity. Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/media-consumption-covid-19/
  20. Buying Behaviour: In the USA and other international markets, consumers can still shop online. A survey of 1’000 US adults in Mid March discovered 42% of consumers were shopping more online, with only 8% saying they were engaged in less e- commerce. Source: https://www.valassis.com/infographics/latest-changes-in-consumer- behavior-amid-covid-19/
  21. Buying Behaviour: The virus also appears to be motivating many consumers to try on new shopping behaviours. Valassis (an advertising and marketing intelligence company that predicts consumer behaviour) found that at least under the circumstances, brand loyalty was being impacted: • 48% are remaining loyal to their usual/familiar brands. • 21% are purchasing a mix of usual and new brands. • 13% are “taking the opportunity to discover new brands.” • 19% are feeling less brand loyal, buying what’s available. Source: https://www.valassis.com/infographics/latest-changes-in-consumer- behavior-amid-covid-19/
  22. Social Media Usage: Social media usage in the United States is up. The same study found that 39% of respondents have increased social media usage, while 7% have decreased it. The remainder are consistent in their social media behaviour. South Africa hasn’t released statistics to support this, but due to the parameters of the lockdown, we believe these stats will reflect a far higher usage of social media. This also factors in that many who do not have access to data on their phones have access to wifi at home. Source: https://www.valassis.com/infographics/latest-changes-in-consumer- behavior-amid-covid-19/
  23. During the Covid-19 crisis, influencers have the capacity to create a much more powerful emotional connection and resonance to the brand by showing agility, innovation and creativity in producing content that will really show influencers and the audience are in the same situation, missing the same things.
  24. Market Examples – Automotive: Moms can relate to privileged moments with their kids. Roadtrips, driving the kids to their grandparents, or visiting a farm. When parenting influencers post content expressing how much they miss this experience, we relate and connect emotionally, even if the post is branded by an automotive manufacturer.​
  25. Market Examples – Alcohol: In South Africa, buying, selling and transporting alcohol is illegal under the lockdown. Many of us are in fear of running out of wine or beer before the end of the lockdown. When an influencer shares a throwback picture with an alcohol brand, he knows he will be unable to purchase again until the lockdown is over. Every sip he takes and shares online makes us feel like we can’t wait to try this wine, and this will probably be the first bottle we want to buy afterwards. This wine becomes the dream.
  26. Market Examples – Travel: The longer we’re in a lockdown scenario, the more we need to escape, and we dream of travelling. We all want to travel / get out of home. When travel influencers cannot travel and relive their last travel experience by sharing beautiful pictures and videos of their last trip, the audience shares the dream, even if the content is sponsored by a hospitality brand.
  27. Market Examples – Health and Medical Insurance: By being locked down, we all face the option of staying in bed more, exercising less, eating more comfort food, and not respecting or staying in a healthy routine. Influencers face the same challenges in their commitment and cannot go to gym. They would become increasingly aspirational by showing how to respect or start a healthy daily routine from home, from exercise to eating habits.
  28. Market Examples – Entertainment: Is working with the level of commitment, while home schooling your kids a challenge? It’s also a major challenge for influencers, who often also have a 9 to 5 job. Homeschooling while working from home can be exceptionally difficult. It’s hard to focus while children need attention. Influencers can bring awareness to this, showcasing how children stay entertained, while they’re learning, in partnership with gaming platforms and educational entertainment through streaming media channels.
  29. Market Examples – Education: Bored at home? Tired of not going out or going to work? eLearning channels can sponsor influencers’ education for the duration of the lockdown. Further, the education can be both professional and personal, focusing on upskilling knowledge and expertise, but also focused on learning how to paint, do yoga etc. Influencers can demonstrate their own personal journey to enlightenment.
  30. Market Examples – Virtual Experiences: Are you missing meeting up with friends and family? Influencers have the same experience. They can however connect virtually. They can invite their pods to Zoom meetings, challenging each other to select lookbooks from retailers’ websites. An example of an engagement mechanism could be: “I’ve found a picture of what I’d like to purchase after the lockdown lifts, what colour should I buy?” This could be a teaser, before the brand sends the products at the end of the lockdown.
  31. Conclusion – It’s critical to stay in contact with an audience, in a meaningful way. Everybody in a non-essential industry is stuck at home. Connect on a person to person level, and any brand will preserve the relationship with that audience in the future. One needs to be agile at this difficult time. Influencer marketing is not only for immediate sales but is powerful and maintains and/or creates excitement and brand love.
  32. Thank you: Are you a brand or an agency? Contact us to leverage your brand love through influencer marketing: partners@r2digital.co.za

Michelle Marais, Digital Marketing Manager

Michelle Marais

Michelle 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. Through this crisis, our team has seen a change in the marketing landscape, and we’re sharing this with you now.

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How can a brand advertise when it can’t trade?

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How can a brand advertise when it can’t trade?

April 15, 2020

My name is Michelle Marais. I’ve been involved in all aspects of Campaign Management for several years at R-Squared, and have recently been appointed as the Digital Marketing Manager. I feel strongly about how brands have adjusted their marketing efforts during this crisis (some have kept limited communication open, and others have closed communication channels due to being unable to trade immediately during this period, disregarding their long term consumer relationships), and I’ve written this article to share my opinion on how brands can communicate efficiently with their audience, maintaining brand love, even if unable to trade as usual. 

“If companies can create true desirability for their brands, customers will not only be loyal, they will also act as brand champions.” A bold statement, from the IEDP (International Executive Development Program – part of the ESADE Business School), who believe that desire is the philosopher’s stone of brands.

We’re all affected by COVID-19, every single one of us. For some, the lucky ones, they can continue trading despite the restrictions placed by government, and so their business models are sustainable despite this life-changing global event.  

Other companies and industries can’t trade at all during the lockdown. But this doesn’t mean they should cut all communication until they can trade again. There is a risk of breaking a strong bond that was built over years with their audience. Keep the communication open, even if you can’t trade, so that you will be the first ones to be remembered by the consumers at the end of the lockdown. At R-Squared we believe that for most brands, it is no time to sell, it is time to be there for your audience, and to strengthen the brand affinity. But how? Let’s explore it in this article. 

I believe that this pandemic will change the global mindset and landscape. But it’s also essential that brands stay in business, preserving jobs until the end of the crisis. It’s important to find creative, alternative ways to maintain their relationships with their audiences through this. It took many years to build that relationship, and some clients have incredible brand loyalty, staying faithful throughout their lives. It’s valuable to acknowledge and reciprocate that investment of loyalty.

Professor Oriol Iglesias, author of Brand Desire, says, and I agree implicitly as it perfectly illustrates the current scenario, that “brand desire explains how companies can engage customers emotionally and create value for them.”

Yes, it’s a time of economic uncertainty, brands can drive the vision of their business. I’ve seen fantastic brands suddenly cut communication with audiences – no more mailers, digital marketing or other forms of touching base with us, their dedicated fans. They just disappear into thin air because they can’t sell at this moment. I realise spending is sometimes pulled back in difficult financial periods, but why would they retain my loyalty as a consumer when the market lifts? Why shouldn’t I shift my brand loyalty to a competitor that demonstrates their consistent care for me? This leads me as a consumer to believe they’re only interested in me when it’s good for them. It’s not a time to focus on hardcore sales tactics right now. I want to see the relationships and brands I’ve been loyal to demonstrating that they value my business, even when consumerism isn’t possible. Create a concept that will captivate me until the crisis is over, and you will reinforce all the reasons why I’ll go back to you as soon as it is. 

Crocs on LinkedIn, demonstrating the human touch in the Coronavirus crisis
This example of content posted by Crocs in the USA on LinkedIn demonstrates that they have stayed connected, and really care about people. It’s not about sales. It’s about showing they care, and people will remember this after the crisis.

Even though most of us are housebound and frustrated, we’re living in a digital age. I spend time communicating with friends and loved ones through social media, not because of the pandemic, but as an extension of its impact in my social life. I can’t experience the dinners, the getaways, the retail purchasing that makes me happy when everything is business as usual. I can dream though. And that dream is what sustains me, until there’s an upturn again. The fact that I can watch influencers who share their dreams, means I share a stronger emotional connection with them, and with what they’re sharing. 

I love spending time with my children. I really miss the time spent with them at the park and at other outdoor events. I’m sure other moms can relate to this – privileged moments with our children, before they grow up. Roadtrips, maybe driving the kids to their grandparents, or visiting a farm. When I see  influencers who are young parents creating content, expressing how much they miss this experience too, I can strongly relate, because we are in the same boat; and even if the content is branded for a car, I can feel that they’re authentic and really feel the loss of freedom through the lockdown, which emotionally connects with me in a stronger way. This is true word of mouth – people really connecting with each other. 

Everyone, from CEOs to secretaries, from celebrities to influencers, are all in the same boat. Nobody can travel. I can’t take a roadtrip with my kids, but neither can anyone else. This makes everyone relatable to me in a way not possible in normal circumstances.  

Another example in South Africa, the trade of alcohol is forbidden during the lockdown. My colleagues and I have a passion for wine. As a team, every Friday afternoon we talk, laugh, have a drink and look back at the week that’s passed. I can watch an influencer share a throwback picture with your alcohol brand. When a South African influencer shares his favourite wine, he knows he can’t purchase again until the lockdown is over. Every sip he takes and shares online makes us feel like we can’t wait to try this wine, and this will probably be the first bottle I want to buy afterwards. 

Taking the same example further, the travel industry, which is facing a world-wide shutdown. After a long period under lockdown, after working frantically throughout, I’m going to need a holiday, a happy getaway from the four walls surrounding me. From the time I could travel, I’ve aspired to visiting Zanzibar. It’s a country with so many facets. There is no greater dream I have than tasting the flavours, shopping the markets, imbibing the scent of the natural environment. My boss challenged us to a set of milestones, which are underway, which will ultimately lead to my staying in Zanzibar for a holiday, but the reality is even if I had achieved my milestones today, I still wouldn’t be able to travel to Zanzibar. These travel restrictions related to Covid have ensured that. I nevertheless follow travel influencers on Instagram, and I’m amazed at the lifestyle images they have previously taken in the locations I look forward to staying in. Influencers showcasing pictures of their last trip in Zanzibar sponsored by someone in the hospitality industry, by sharing their dreams of returning, even if they were sponsored by brands, by giving us their amazing experiences, enables me to share their dreams, and want to visit the same places they visited. 

Influencer in Zanzibar
This influencer projected me into her Zanzibar dream

I can’t go to Zanzibar, take my boys to the park, or even buy a bottle of wine right now. But neither can celebrities and influencers who are also under lockdown.  Everyone in South Africa is facing the same restrictions. It’s a level playing field. This is the first time in my life that there are no barriers in society. Whether you are in a relationship or not, whether you’re in a good job or not, this is a time when people can truly relate to others. We’re all in the same boat.  

Influencers are real humans facing all the same restrictions I am. Whether they are rich and famous or not, have a fantastic job or not, whether they have a beautiful family or are single, have a big house or live in the same flat, when I see their content during this period, I can feel that we are all in the same boat, and all missing the same basic goods and experiences, so when they endorse a service or product and dream about it too. Brands that haven’t cut contact or shared a corporate message with me, but who shown me that they care, are the ones I’ll turn to when the lockdown is lifted. 

This is a human crisis, and we all need the human touch right now. 

Michelle Marais, Digital Marketing Manager

Michelle Marais

Michelle 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. Through this crisis, our team has seen a change of behaviour and attitude from audiences and influencers who are connecting at a much deeper level, and we wanted to share this experience with you. 

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Influencer Marketing During Coronavirus | Guidelines and SWOT

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Influencer Marketing During Coronavirus | Guidelines and SWOT

March 23, 2020

Some things will change due to crisis management during Coronavirus, but the following guidelines are nevertheless true at all times.

  • Strategies: Ensure that your dedicated influencer marketing strategic direction is aligned with the external circumstances, eg. online buying in a time of real-life isolation (buying from the safe comfort of your sofa), confirmed information about product availability, delivery etc by a trusted influencer who has direct confirmation with the correct brand information.

  • Engagement Mechanisms: Set engagement mechanisms that are designed to trigger specific reactions according to the campaign KPIs. Don’t ask open questions, as this may lead to negative engagement (including competitive brand endorsements) from the influencer’s audience, especially in times of a global health crisis. People are more sensitive and reactive right now, so designing an engagement mechanism that will help in achieving the marketing objectives, while avoiding brand crises, requires a very specific skillset.
  • Vetting: Ensure that all your influencers are strictly and carefully vetted for content quality, relevance, relatability, engagement rate, conflicts of interest, and anything else that can backfire on your brand. Strict and masterful vetting by influencer marketing experts is mandatory during this global health crisis as no one can afford a brand crisis over and above the existing circumstances.
  • Briefing: Coaching and briefing of influencers by experts in the field, who will communicate the brand’s needs effectively, while having a sound understanding of the industry, able to anticipate all opportunities and challenges, and able to communicate these to the influencers in a format that the influencers are able to understand and adopt easily.
  • Contracts: Ensure your contracts are very detailed and adapted to the risk and process specificities of the influencer marketing industry, and tailored per influencer according to the individualised missions that have been set. The clearer and more detailed the contract, the lower the risk of misunderstanding and frustration (which may backfire online) and the greater the potential campaign success.
  • Content Validation: With consumers and influencers reacting to the Coronavirus crisis, it’s more important than ever that all content should, without exception, be validated before the pieces of content go live, to ensure full alignment and no misunderstandings with the brief. All regulations should be respected per the industry vertical, all reactive risks should be mitigated, and all CTAs (call to action) should be double checked, in order to drive the expected results.
  • Content Monitoring: Always on monitoring of posts and engagement, to ensure quick reaction times and reassurance to audiences when necessary. This transforms fear of no business continuity at a time of an impending health crisis, into trust and brand love. This is where real conversations about business continuity, product availability and delivery along with other business specific topics during this abnormal period will happen. These topics will be addressed to, and handled by, the influencer, so it’s of utmost importance that there is masterful influencer management in close partnership and collaboration with the brand

R- Squared is an international influencer marketing agency based in Cape Town, South Africa. We are experts in designing, building, and managing highly engaging and authentic influencer projects that tell a story and protect the brand equity, through innovation, partnership and masterful management. R-Squared’s CEO is in the Top 50 Global Industry Players’ list and is the Chairman of the Influencer Marketing Committee at the IAB South Africa.

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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 2019 INFLUENCER MARKETING HOLIDAY READINESS GUIDE

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

THE 2019 INFLUENCER MARKETING HOLIDAY READINESS GUIDE

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 info@r2digital.co.za 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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The State of the Influencer Marketing Landscape

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The State of the Influencer Marketing Landscape

November 5, 2018

Many definitions and interpretations about what an influencer is exists in the industry, with no real standard. At R-Squared Digital, we strongly believe that an influencer is someone who has the capacity to shift the perception of others overnight, just by sharing their opinions.

The difference between influencer marketing and brand advocacy:

  • brand advocacy is a regular person influencing people within their own circles,
  • influencers have credibility and influence over a larger number of people who may not know them

“52% of marketers are planning influencer marketing programs that leverage multiple levels of influencers as part of an integrated strategy (source: Linqia).”

Conventional Marketing offers one generic corporate campaign message broadcast to a static target audience (the message is delivered by the brand or creative agency, and everyone within the target audience may see the same message).

Influencer Marketing enables social influencers who are content creators to endorse brands in their own way and style, in their own words. It’s personalised and it’s people talking to people. It’s not the brand talking to the audience, it’s the influencer talking about the brand to the audience. This means that extended audiences in the same target market may see completely unique, relevant content and messaging on the same campaign, dependent on the influencer/s that they’re following (meaning that the content is original and tailored to the influencer’s audience, and it’s not generic).

Celebrity influencers are meant to be seen and heard, but are generally not interacted with. Communication with the celebrity runs one way as a single message leveraged on a platform, like a television broadcast, meant to reach as many people as possible. Celebrity influencers are selling their image and respecting a script, not sharing their own authentic voice and this is where we make the difference between influencer marketing (working with celebrities, when they are sharing their own voice vs when they respect a script).

“Upcoming Trends”

Influencers have significant impact on vertical markets and/or social media platform. Brands and agencies partner with influencers in order to create authentic engagement and awareness around products and services.

Here are several projected key influencer marketing trends for 2018.

  • We foresee more long term campaigns, with yearly strategies, rather than one off campaigns. These campaigns would include brand ambassadors, for example: Basetsana Kumalo and Nandi Madida’s appointment as the Lux brand ambassadors are an example of this trend. Gal Gadot being appointed as the 2018 global brand ambassador for Revlon and Karlie Kloss being appointed as the 2018 global brand ambassador for Estee Lauder are further examples. We also see longer term campaigns for smaller micro influencers which would include pop up activations, specific actions, news etc. diversifying audiences and increasing the impact of campaigns.
  • Authenticity in engagement and a move away from celebrity influencers. Influencers are endorsing products because they really believe in them, not just as a result of being compensated, and this is where savvy audiences are highly sensitised to inauthentic content, creating a lack of credibility for the influencer and the brand, when audiences don’t really believe in your product. Nothing is more powerful than a genuine recommendation. Influencers will begin to understand their true value, whilst creating content they’re paid for yet, genuinely enjoy sharing about. We’re seeing influencers like Nadia Jaftha and Aisha Baker monetising the significance their honest opinions have with their audiences, with resounding success. We see this as a huge growth area in influencer marketing this year.
  • Television used to be an ideal medium to convey mass market campaigns to broad spectrum audiences. With technological innovations, it’s now possible to schedule your viewing with no advertising, presenting a challenge to advertisers who want to share campaigns. Influencer marketing solves the challenge, presenting targeted demographics per social media channel, for authentic person to person conversations and real word of mouth opportunities. Speaking to your direct audience, and the ability to measure real ROI, continues to show good business sense. We foresee continued attrition in traditional media channels.
  • Influencer content creation, not advertising, is another trending factor. Brands will see a drop in brand-created content, and a growth in sharing and remarketing of influencer created content, vetted by influencer marketing experts to ensure the same high quality brands would produce and protecting the brand equity, but with the genuine flavour of the influencer, especially using original photos and videos. Knock-on effects of influencer content creation remarketing include lower costs of brand content production, and higher engagement rates due to the nature of the content not being scripted by the brand. Video has been shown to be the most powerful tool to increase sales, including Instagram videos and IGTV, which have proven to be more engaging, and although YouTube has performed well internationally, has been less effective in a South African context. More statistical research reveals that 95 million photos and videos are posted daily on Instagram, with users liking 4.2 billion posts every day. According to HubSpot, there was a 197% increase in influencer marketing on Instagram in 2017.
  • The industry will mature with more standards around the definitions (influencers vs brand advocacy vs celebrity influencers), contractual requirements, performance reporting, etc. While R-Squared Digital is already at the top of all of this, we often see that the industry is immature with too many players applying their own definitions, as standards do not exist yet.
  • Guidelines regarding disclosure of incentivisation. While we in South Africa are not bound by the FTC guidelines (while we use influencer marketing to a non-USA based audience), nevertheless, your influencer marketing campaign should still follow the basic tenets the FTC lays down, including #ad or #sponsored tags in social media posts. All influencers should disclose that they’ve been incentivised for their content. The use of Instagram’s branded content and Facebook’s business partners options are valuable to brands considering influencer marketing. Added to the FTC guidelines, GDPR is bringing a lot of regulations on data, so a savvy influencer marketing agency will ensure you can navigate the social media minefield effectively. Other rules may apply or you may want to be more clear using the paid partnership button. Brands fear disclosing reimbursement will create a loss of credibility for the brand and the influencer, but the reverse is true. This creates authentic messaging for the influencer’s audience. Each country, including South Africa, will get closer to following the FTC regulations. Brands and influencers will understand that this transparency adds to authenticity that is appreciated by followers and creates more engagement.

“Influencer marketing is no longer just a trend.”

Influencer marketing has outranked organic search and email marketing as the most cost-effective and fastest-growing online acquisition channel (according to a recent poll hosted by Tomoson). Influencer marketing is vital for brands to integrate into their marketing strategy.

Brand audiences are saturated with advertising messaging. Academic director of Market Research and Consumer Behaviour at the IE School of Human Sciences and Technology, Jaime Veiga Mateos confirms that the growing number of distractions is definitely posing a problem for today’s marketer. “As consumers, our attention is divided across different screens and multi-tasking so the fight for our attention is tougher than ever,” he said. According to research house Forrester, 38% of U.S. adults had installed an ad blocker, and 50% claimed to actively avoid ads on websites in 2017. Influencer marketing is native content by a social media user (the influencer), not an advertisement, and is therefore not blocked, circumventing the ad blocking situation.

Nielsen’s famous “Trust in Advertising” report states that 92% consumers trust recommendations, above all other forms of advertising, and 83% take action as a result of those recommendations. As a result, 81% of marketers are using influencer content in other channels, with the content performing an average of 35x better than the brand’s own content.

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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Proud Sponsors of The New Generation Social and Digital Media Awards

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Proud Sponsors of The New Generation Social and Digital Media Awards

September 22, 2017

“We honour South African creative agency teams for their innovative use of social and digital media”

R-Squared Digital is partnering with the New Generation Social and Digital Media Awards, because the awards not only honour South African creative agency teams for their innovative use of social and digital media, along with cutting-edge use of online media and tools, they also acknowledge corporate companies and their in-house marketing teams from across South Africa for their work on campaigns that help promote their organisations and brands in ground breaking ways. R-Squared Digital specialises in supplying extremely innovative influencer marketing solutions. As the exclusive South African partner of the multi-national Social Internet Ltd (of which adMingle is one of the products), we are joining forces to bring exceptional technology, and are paving the way in the new generation of social and digital media marketing.

“The significant advantage of influencer marketing is the fact that brands and products are advocated and promoted by real people, in a very personal way, which are impersonal and often ignored.”

R-Squared Digital is partnering with the New Generation Social and Digital Media Awards, because the awards not only honour South African creative agency teams for their innovative use of social and digital media, along with cutting-edge use of online media and tools, they also acknowledge corporate companies and their in-house marketing teams from across South Africa for their work on campaigns that help promote their organisations and brands in ground breaking ways. R-Squared Digital specialises in supplying extremely innovative influencer marketing solutions. As the exclusive South African partner of the multi-national Social Internet Ltd (of which adMingle is one of the products), we are joining forces to bring exceptional technology, and are paving the way in the new generation of social and digital media marketing.

“We All Social Internet platforms enable sharing across most social media and blogs, including WhatsApp, with full analytics about each campaign and influencer, along with analytics on the social media engagement”

The awards celebrate ingenuity, with a specific focus on results and insight-based success, which makes the awards unique among those largely dominated by equal parts emotion and ideation. “The awards continually evolve to include new trends in social and digital media, new industry technology and platforms, as well as international trends making their way into South Africa,” says Stephen Paxton, managing director of the New Generation Social & Digital Media Awards.

R-Squared Digital will be sponsoring the following awards:

The New Generation overall Agency award (Special Category)

  • This award recognises the agency that has contributed significantly overall to outstanding return on investment for its client through social and digital media marketing, one that consistently meets deadlines, wins new clients, delivers campaigns within budget, shows outstanding creativity and delivers award-winning content across various portfolios.
  • The team at R-Squared Digital understands that outstanding creative, award winning content, delivered within budget, is imperative in creating engagement in social and digital media marketing. As a highly innovative company offering a 3600 digital consultancy, the team knows that influencer and digital marketing is brought to life by creating real content that talks to people rather than delivering traditional corporate or old-school advertising messaging.

Best use of social media in a loyalty programme campaign (Corporate Awards)

  • This award recognises campaigns that have significantly increased calls to action and engagement, resulting in increased members and sales.
  • Using Social Internet’s technology, R-Squared Digital has exclusive access to exceptional inhouse technology leading the new generation of analytics, metrics and marketing automation, yet keeping a personal and customized tailor-made approach in the way the relationships with influencers and clients are managed, the R-Squared Digital team knows these elements are fundamental to significant return on investment in marketing campaigns. 

Most Innovative Social Media Campaign by a Medium to Large Agency (Agency Awards)

  • This award recognises the most innovative use of social media, which targets social networks and applications to spread brand awareness or promote particular products (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.), offering authentic and transparent communication and professional campaign planning, and objectives and evaluative measurable evidence with which to assess performance.
  • R-Squared Digital, through Social Internet technology, continuously provides innovative and engaging social sharing, by transforming a captive audience into influencers. Brands utilise authentic person to person engagement. It’s not the brand sharing the message, it’s the people. This highlights the transparent communication process, while keeping professional campaign objectives. Reward your audience for engaging, sharing and participating in the growth of the brand.

Stephane Rogovsky, the CEO of R-Squared Digital, states that “because of the inimitable Social Internet technology and metrics together with the extraordinary expertise we provide in the social media and digital space, we’re delighted to partner with an awards group focused on rewarding the innovative use of social and digital media.”

This year’s awards will take place on Thursday 28th September 2017 at The Ballroom, Monte Casino, Johannesburg. To book your tickets to attend the awards, please visit www.newgenawards.co.za

If you are a marketer and/or an advertising/PR agency, and need a tailor-made solution for your influencer marketing and brand strategy, don’t be shy: contact us on info@r2digital.co.za

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