The Fifth Form Workshop: Knowing Your Worth
what we learnt from our first workshop
We hosted the first of our creator workshops designed to help educate and empower creators in the perplexing world of influencer marketing on 16th December 2019.
Our first workshop was aimed at creators from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds.
Following industry-wide concern surrounding diversity and equality in the influencer industry, we felt it was important to address the implicit bias by educating creators on best practise and understanding your worth.
The event, which took place at The News Building in London Bridge, was free to attend and featured a panel discussion with creators Munya Chawawa and Estare, Mariam Bashorun from Black British Bloggers, Talent Manager Chloë Downes and Global Marketing Director at L’Oréal, Daisy Boateng, and was hosted by The Fifth’s Content and Strategy Director Jess Markwood.
From starting out to brand building and why authenticity is important, here we break down what the panel spoke about and their tips for new and emerging creators.
When starting out, it really is about knowing and recognising your worth.
Fashion, travel and lifestyle creator Estare says: “You have influence and you have value and I wish I’d known that I had both when I was starting out”.
If you’ve reached just one person, then you’ve reached somebody and that means you have both an audience and influence, so own it and use it.
A lot of people still believe that follower size is what’s most important. Instead, it’s quite the opposite.
The Knowing Your Worth panel agreed that the biggest myth in influencer marketing is that you can’t work with brands unless you have a million followers.
Global Marketing Director at L’Oréal, Daisy Boateng, says that somebody with under 25,000 followers might have at least a seven per cent engagement rate. If you have more followers, it might be at around three per cent engagement.
Ultimately, a brand should want people who have engaged followers who comment and trust their content, rather than those that simply have a lot of followers but who don’t engage with what they do.
Creator and satirist Munya Chawawa says there’s a misconception about when people achieve success.
To the outside world, it might look like a creator has achieved overnight success after their content goes viral online. Instead, they are unaware of the years of work that has gone on behind the scenes.
It was only when Munya was writing for TV presenters and seeing them go out and perform his jokes to a receptive audience that he realised he could do that too.
When he later performed a comedy sketch and it did well, people didn’t know that he’d been working away for years writing content.
Munya admits he’s grown quickly, “but it’s taken me so many years of trial and error to get there. What I would say to you is, don’t be disheartened because seven years is a long time. It’s a big portion of my life but I just had to keep trying things until it worked out.
“By the time you get to that point where you really start to thrive, you’re so good at what you’re doing, people will latch on to it quickly”.
On the other hand, if one of the first pieces of content you create is successful right away, people will flock to your channel and the next content will let them down and they’ll leave.
Munya says you have to be at the top of your game and be ready when people arrive. He admits that there was a lot of persistence and consistency across time that made him feel like he was ready for when his time came – and he doesn’t even believe his time has come yet. He feels like he’s just getting warmed up, and is grateful for the grafting for seven years behind the scenes.
Often, when somebody with a large following comments on a creators’ post, reposts it or they follow you, brands become interested.
Munya admits that didn’t matter to him because he simply wanted to create content that brands would be proud of. They might not have approached him immediately, but when they did, they’d know that he was somebody they could trust their brand name with.
The comedic creator says that the most powerful way in which to become an influencer is to show people a journey. Brands often look for good engagement and people are more likely to invest in you if they understand the journey you’ve been on to build up to that moment.
Munya says: “A lot of my comments come from people who have been following me for years – and if I post something, they probably will buy that thing or follow that account because they trust me enough to say we followed him when he had 300 followers, so we know that by this point, he knows what he likes and what he dislikes and we can trust him”.
If the main goal is simply to become an influencer, it means a lot of the time you won’t have a brand or identity that you’ve built up around a particular theme or subject. Instead, the most powerful way in which to influence someone is to have a unique sense of self that you’ve developed over time and that people have learnt to trust.
Influencer Marketer Chloë Downes says being authentic is incredibly important. And she says followers will know when you’re not being true to yourself.
She told the audience: “If you’re authentically enjoying whatever it is you’re doing, that’s when the benefits will come. There are a lot of people creating content online right now and it’s about finding your niche”.
Find that niche and capitalise on it.
It is important to get to know and understand the industry in which you are navigating.
It’s also good to know what a brand is getting from you in order to know what to charge. Is it a campaign for exposure? Do they want downloads of an app or for the consumer to buy something? Ask questions, network and speak to other creators.
Munya says the one thing he would never do when working with a brand is compromise his character, saying: “If a brand comes to me and wants me to be one of my characters, it has to fit within my narrative. It’s about maintaining authenticity and I think followers appreciate that”.
When working with brands, you should both hold each other to the same standards.
Munya says: “Brands should match your level of professionalism. When they’ve done research into you, when they come to you with deliverables, their willingness to talk about money. You should demand the same professionalism as they expect of you”.
When you have collaborated with a brand in the past but your follower size and engagement rate has changed, it can be difficult to know how to re-negotiate.
Influencer marketer Chloë says to be honest: “If you’ve got that ongoing relationship with a brand where they are constantly gifting you, you can go back to them and be honest with them. Let them know your audience has grown. Ask if they have budget. Pitch yourself to them”.
It’s important to be professional so show the brand what content you’ve already created for them, tell them what you could do going forward and even set up a meeting. Understand where people are getting paid and where they’re simply being gifted and work out what it is you’re looking for. Brands appreciate when you go to them, rather than simply waiting for them to approach you.
Mariam agrees, saying: “Different brands and opportunities will come to you as you progress in your career. There are so many brands that are out there that are willing to pay. Don’t be afraid to shed off previous brand relationships – you can’t be expected to always work with the same people as you grow”.
THE FUTURE OF THE TERM ‘INFLUENCE’
Over the next twelve months, the panel all agreed that the industry will be moving away from the term ‘influencer’ and away from the perception that influencers simply pose with products and take selfies – instead seeing them as producers, editors and creatives. The term ‘content creator’ or ‘talent’ will take precedence.
In terms of working with brands, Chloë says “we’re not going to be looking at followers and vanity metrics and instead at true reach; looking at how many people they’re truly reaching. And this comes from how authentic they are”.
Brands and agencies are going to be looking at people with real talent and who have a real passion for what they do.
PREDICTIONS FOR THIS SPACE IN 2020
L’Oréal’s Daisy thinks influencers are going to be your next door neighbours. In terms of content, captions are going to be longer and more real.
The panel also agreed that creators won’t be able to hide behind photos anymore and that everything will be video-based. They also predict that TikTok will take over as the most used platform.
Mariam Bashorun from Black British Bloggers thinks long form content and blogs will be making a big comeback due to its value.
2020 will be the year of substance and depth on social media and there’ll be more professionalism in the space – with everybody in the industry crying out for it.
It will also be the year that we’re real with what we’re posting, and the numbers in which we’re generating.
Though the future looks positive for influencer marketing, Daisy admits it isn’t plain sailing and that from a brand point of view, Black and Ethnic Minority creators still have to work twice as hard as everybody else.
She says: “Don’t be under any illusion that just because we’ve been so positive here tonight, that it’s easy yet. We have to work together and we have to work twice as hard. We will get there”.
Inclusion is important in all areas of life and especially in influencer marketing. Work with diverse creators, include everybody in your campaigns and hold brands to account that aren’t representative.
On the panel, Mariam explains that the person putting forward Black people to brands isn’t always being listened to in a meeting but teams need to listen. She says: “Push brands to repost us and celebrate talent of colour”.
Brands are changing, but it’s a slow process. Chloe says though that “by being part of this event, you are a part of the change”.
At the end of the Knowing Your Worth event, an audience member asked the question: What can we do as creators to help facilitate change?
One thing that everybody can do is to refer people. Every time you are invited to an event, every time you get a trip, every time you get a brand opportunity, refer people.
Send over a list of people to brands and let them know that these are creators that they should be working with. Tell them to put them on their list because they create great content.
Put people forward and be confident with it. Everyone can operate from a place of abundance rather than scarcity and, to quote the audience member, “we will all get a piece of the pie”.