The State of Influencer Marketing was a virtual roundtable hosted in Spring 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shutdown of industries across Canada, putting many brand-creator programs to an immediate, unpredictable halt.
Hosted by our own Sean Beckingham, the goal was to provide our community with insight and a place to share ideas, tactics and stories about the shifting marketing climate.
Watch for the lessons, stay for the bloopers and fun including mute button mishaps, overheard conversations and how influencer Jillian Harris taught our Sean a few things from her own Jilly world, including “what is a Diva Cup?”
Jillian Harris is a mother, fiance, storyteller, TV host, and quintessential busy-bee who pours her heart and soul into every endeavour. She is the Founder and Creative Director of Jillian Harris Design, and she is passionate about love, family, charity, fashion, food, decor and much more. On her blog you will find bright and heart-filling inspiration for fashion, food, and decor and everyday life.
After spending nearly a decade on network television as a host and producer, Lauren’s made it her time to shine on YouTube with two amazing channels, Hot For Food and Lauren In Real Life. Hot for Food is Canada’s 2nd most-watched vegan cooking YouTube channel! She’s cooking up love in the kitchen and breaking common misconceptions of what it means to be vegan one drool-worthy dish at a time.
Ashley Riske is the Head of Kin Community Canada and oversees the company’s operations, including sales, marketing, creator relations and new business. She helped lead the launch of Kin in Canada in 2014 and she and her team have worked with dozens of Fortune 500 companies. Working with these brands the team develops plans that leverage the voices of influential creators, the power of content storytelling, and strategic media amplification to drive success for brands.
A Roundtable Preview
What had been your initial reaction to the crisis and what is some of the major impact you can share that you’ve experienced in your business?
My first reaction when it started, outside of business, was, “there’s no way this is happening.” There’s so much going on in the world that you sometimes get desensitized to the news. It was literally on our drive from Calgary back to Kelowna that we were reading the news, seeing updates and seeing how people are being affected, right when they started lockdown. My first instinct was personally, “how are my parents,” “how are my friends and family going to be doing,” “how is this going to affect the economy,” “are we going to get sick.”
We got home on a Saturday and on Monday morning, my first instinct was, “how are my employees?” That is when people were running to the grocery stores and there was no bread, no toilet paper. First thing was, “everybody go to the grocery store this morning. Please, take care of your mental health.”
I worried about my business mostly with my messaging. People know that I’m loose-lipped and have no filter. Sometimes that can get influencers in trouble. There are ways you can screw yourself over even if you’re not a bad person, even if you didn’t intend it. Nobody’s been trained in how to deal with global pandemics and we all are different in how we deal with sadness, crisis, stress, anxiety. My biggest things were, “how am I going to communicate to my community differently or the same,” “how will it be received,” “how is my team doing,” and “can we afford to keep my new employees?”
It was stressful, however, I do believe that I accept change very well and, for me, it was, “let’s figure this out, take it day by day, week by week because we don’t know what’s going to happen.” It changes so often.
How best can brands and agencies like rethink the role of a creator during current and future partnerships?
I think it goes both ways for brands and creators. Right now, the key thing is to have empathy. Both creators and brands are going to be in tough spots. You’re going to see that brands, for the most part, are down in revenue but on the creator side, they’re probably going to be getting less deals as well as the demand is down there too.
So, I think that coming together and collaborating is going to be more important than ever. The way that brands look at creators is really important.
On Kin’s side, we’ve been in the business for about ten years and we’ve never looked at creators just as talent. For us, they’ve always been producers, storytellers, community builders, entertainers, stylists, curators. There’s a lot you can do to tap into them for more than just reach, frequency and engagement.
Creator marketing is going to be a really great place for brands to still be able to play and get their message out. The great thing about creator marketing is that social engagement is up more than ever. People are looking for community and one-to-one connection. Creators are very nimble, they can change their creative quite quickly and can even change their copy after it’s posted.
It’s a really efficient use of production dollars because where a lot of partners right now won’t be able to produce new content because of isolation, creators are different. They’re isolated all-in-one shooters and editors.
For brands who have previously used them more in transactional relationships, and have really just thought about them more for their reach, it’s about rethinking that relationship and how these creators can be more involved with your brand building and what other talents you can use them for. It’s so that you’re still able to invest in the space and both win in this, but you can produce more value.
What would you say are some coping mechanisms you’ve learned from past working experiences that you’ve applied to how you go about your content and business in recent weeks?
Just to give anybody context, I used to work in television. I’ve been laid off because of recession and financial changes in the industry twice. That’s how I ended up in this career and running my own business. I’ve been through it twice and now I feel like this the third wave of that in a way, although I do feel mentally, emotionally and spiritually that I’m so much more equipped to handle this.
When I first lost my job in television, it was my dream job and if there are any new creators out there, this might be like something you’ve started in the last couple of years and felt like you were making strides. Now the rug has been pulled out from under you and I’ve been through that.
You’re in shock and you’re angry and all of that stuff. It’s still good to go through those emotions but through my second experience and now my third experience, it’s like the quicker you can shift your perspective and be open to opportunity and look this big unknown space as an opening for you to step into something new, understand that you’re adaptable, you’re a survivor, you can thrive during this, you can build momentum, it’s all really important.
It’s truthfully just a mental and emotional check-in daily, moment by moment, and figuring out other tools that you might not realize actually do affect your business. Things like exercise, meditation and taking time for yourself. They’re going to exponentially help you on the business side. What I have actually found in the last five years is that the more I actually focus on that stuff and less about numbers and money, the more the numbers and money tend to grow.
I think it’s important to go back to why you started this, what you’re passionate about, have you lost the fun in any way. In the last three to four weeks, I’m like, “wow, it feels like 2014 again when I first started, didn’t know what I was doing and was just playing, trying stuff and asking my audience, involving them a lot. The response to that has been really positive.
We thank our featured guests and the hundreds of influencers and content creators who joined us for this season’s State of Influencer Marketing event. We greatly appreciated sharing laughs, industry insight and taking your burning questions.
We look forward to what’s to come, including our future community gatherings, both online and offline.