Through the creation and use of influential creators, or influencers, companies and brands have been able to connect with their audiences in a more authentic way than ever before. At their seminar, Liberating the Creative Voice, Neil Waller, Co-founder and CEO of Whalar, and Chloe Gottlieb, Chief Creative Officer, US, at R/GA, could share how their work with influencers has led to a greater sense of community and connection between brands and their audiences.
Influencers are driven by their passions. Whether it’s food, travel, fashion or any other interest, influencers are able to create content for brand communities that they themselves are a part of. Working on something they’re passionate about also allows influencers to provide insight from outside of the walls of an agency. Waller said that these influencers are boundless, stating that their creativity allows them to move outside of the boundaries of gender, region or diversity to create desirable content specific to their communities.
Waller’s company, Whalar, connects brands with the right influential creators to create authentic content. Whalar partners with Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook to provide platforms for the brands to promote their influencer-created content. Waller said these platforms paired with the technology provides an outlet for storytelling and creates the opportunity for influencers to share their voice.
Although influencers are beneficial for brand promotion, Gottlieb shared from an agency perspective that some advertisers can feel threatened. By using influencers, brands can get quick, quality content produced at a lower price than agency work. But Gottlieb believes that instead of feeling threatened by companies like Whalar, agencies should embrace them and work with them.
“The best agencies today will actually be constantly re configuring and collaborating with companies to work as an extension,” Gottlieb said. “The value of an agency is to be able to have that perspective to do the connections and do that curation.”
Another benefit of using a community of influencers is their personal creativity. For example, when Whalar connects influencers with a brand, they are given a brief that provides the brand’s big idea for the influencer to work with. The influencer, who is also already part of the audience of the brand, is then able to take that big idea and add their personal flavor to it and really lend their creative voice. When their creation is then posted among other influencers’ content, the audience can see the overall theme but still be drawn in by each unique, creative piece.
Not only are influencers able to show off their creativity, but they’re also able to show how they personally perceive the product or brand that they’re working with. Waller said this has led to a shift in how audiences react to the presentation of products. He said that audiences used to respond well to direct product placement but that’s no longer the case. Instead of just viewing a showcased product, audiences now like to see engagement. Gottlieb added that by showing product engagement, consumers are then more likely to buy that product because they feel as though they’ve already interacted with it.
In the end, Waller said it all comes down to “the mission of liberating the creative voice.” Brands are now able to connect more than ever with their audience, and through the use of social media and technology, audiences now have the ability to creatively express themselves and have an influence on others. In the future, Waller expects influential creators, brands and agencies to continue collaborating to create unique, relatable and authentic content.