The world of fashion is subject to constant change. Just a decade ago, journalists eyed the first competition from bloggers critically. Just when they had established themselves, influencers followed and the game started all over again. There is always much outrage when it is revealed what some influencers get paid for an Instagram post but people do not realise that this is a full-time job. Because there is so much to do when you are successful as an influencer, there are people like Oliver Jopke who works as an influencer manager in Berlin. He explains what all this entails in an interview with FashionUnited.
You represent two influencers, can you briefly describe who they are and how they make a difference?
Since 2018, I look after the influencers @Masha and @_Frankiemiles. Maria Astor alias Masha Sedgwick has been successfully in business as a blogger and opinion leader for almost ten years now. Frankie Miles aka Michelle Schepull started her career in 2017. Both are very professional and have a very high standard of quality, which I can strongly identify with. They have developed their own CI, which makes them unmistakable. This is exactly what is needed in the already saturated influencer market.
In addition, I repeatedly work with influencers on individual projects. The last project was the organisation of Milan Fashion Week for influencers @Oljaryz and @Mfcorridan. The quality of their content is also extremely important to them.
What services do you perform for them? In other words, what is your job like?
My job is very versatile: Starting with developing a strategy for the influencer, I also take care of project acquisition and implementation as well as the day-to-day business so that the influencer can concentrate fully on content creation. Should an influencer ever need photos, I will also help out with that.
My knowledge of PR is also essential, which I utilise to develop cross-media campaigns. This gives the influencers I support even greater visibility in the market. As PR director at a well-known Berlin fashion and lifestyle PR agency, I have built up a large network over the years, which I can now also use for the influencers - from the placement of own collections in magazines to photo and video shoots such as our collaboration with Masha and Porsche for RAMP.
What kind of requests do you usually get from brands?
The inquiries are very different. Either brands come to us with precise ideas and have already planned a certain scope or they have a campaign and ask us what a suitable strategy might look like to draw attention to the product.
What is the cooperation between influencer and brand like?
There are two approaches: One is the proactive pitch to customers, the other is the reactive implementation of campaigns requested by brands.
With a proactive approach, we work out our ideas and then present them to favored clients like in a pitch. If the customer is satisfied with the ideas and the costs, the project gets realised.
With the reactive implementation, the influencer creates the content after a short explanation of the campaign and the details, such as scope, timing, budget. Once approved by the client, the content is uploaded. Once the cooperation is online, we sent the evaluation to the customer. Then the campaign is billed as in any other job.
We attach great importance to a close relationship with our clients, be it an agency or a brand. Therefore we try to get to know the person behind the project personally.
What are the collaborations linked to and how are the services to be provided defined?
The collaborations are linked to the scope of the service. An example would be an exclusive Instagram post with product integration and an Instagram story that focuses on the product. The scope of the service is defined in a cooperation agreement. Since Frankie and Masha produce very high-quality content, the buy-outs of image rights for the homepage or social media are often requested as well.
How is reach and success measured?
The range is measured by the statistics that each image or post generates.
A cooperation’s success depends on the customer and the product. The customer should consider in advance what the goal of the cooperation is and define the resulting KPIs accordingly, e.g. "Do I want to raise brand awareness in the market or focus on performance? Are likes important to me, the quality of the content or the number of left clicks in an Instagram story swipe-up to the product?". And very important: "Which medium is the right one for my product?".
The selection of the influencer/content creator should only be made once this has been dealt with, as they have different core competencies.
Do you also actively approach brands?
Yes, this is part of my work for the influencers and is very important for me personally.
How do you decide if a collaboration is a good fit?
I have very close relationships with the influencers I manage because one has to be in touch around the clock. Trust is extremely important in this job.
As soon as a brand contacts us and I find it suitable, I briefly discuss this with the influencer, then I take care of the complete process - from costing to invoicing. How the product is integrated is up to the influencer.
Magazines have ad prices, do influencers have something comparable?
There is something comparable: the thousand-contact-price or CPM. Accordingly, one calculates how expensive a follower is and then extrapolates this on the number of followers. Personally, I don't always find this calculation suitable, because one should clearly differentiate between performance and brand image. When creating a price structure, it is not only about how many likes the image generates or how many people it reaches. That is why a follower analysis together with the influencer before the campaign is at least as important. This includes: What is the average age of the followers? Do they have good purchasing power? What are their interests? Influencers know their followers and can provide information about them. This follower value should be included in the price.
In addition, one has to also consider how complex it is to produce an image. One of the most important points, in my opinion, as there are big differences here. Is the picture taken with an iPhone or does a photographer need to take the picture? Is the image edited superficially with a filter app or precisely retouched with a photo program? The amount of work is included in the price accordingly.
How much does a collaboration cost for a brand?
This differs and depends on the effort involved and the brand fit. We try to achieve the best outcome for a brand and are happy to advise the customer so that implementation is possible within a wide range of budget requirements. The interest of the influencer is of course a prerequisite.
According to you, what will be future developments in the field of influencer marketing? Are there trends?
The market is more than saturated and every week, one discovers new faces with hundreds of thousands of followers never seen before. For brands and agencies as well as for influencers, it is very difficult to keep track. Accordingly, the trend goes toward long-term cooperation in order to preserve authenticity and to guarantee success as well as a smooth process without complications. In addition, it is important to stand out in the market, to create a name for oneself and to stand for something, which distinguishes oneself.
There is also a trend toward working with niche influencers. For them, the number of followers and likes plays a subordinate role. What is important is the brand fit and the appropriate followership of the influencer who is largely concerned with a very specific subject, for example sneakers, watches and so on.
In my opinion, in the future, brands will (have to) deal with influencers in more detail in order to choose the right partner for the product - whether micro or macro influencer .
What do you think, will you be able to do this until you retire?
That is a very exciting question! I believe that we, as in every professional field, have to adapt to trends and changes; then I definitely see a future. My job and that of the influencer will change over the next few years. There will always be testimonials and advertising; the way we advertise will advance further. Whether this will happen on the platforms we use now is uncertain.
Besides, one should not always rely on just one area: Apart from influencer management, I still work as a freelance PR manager and, together with my team, consult clients about influencers. We work with clients to identify which influencers are right for the product and then implement campaigns and activations together with them, influencer events for instance. I use my management experience as well as my close relationships with the influencers I manage. The combination of PR, influencer relations and influencer management is clearly my unique selling point. I want to expand this know how this year itself and grow together with my company.
Photos: 1.Oliver Jopke, 2. Masha Sedgwick, 3. Frankie Miles
This article was originally published on FashionUnited DE. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.