Whalar is on a mission to liberate the creative voice with a platform that connects brands and agencies to a community of creators, producing authentic and engaging content. We caught up with Co-Founder Neil Waller ahead of him speaking at our New York Summit on November 1-2.
DF: Influencers provide a gateway to tuned-in audiences around the world. How can brands tap into their talent for the sake of ROI?
Neil: A very good question since ultimately everything a business should do - unless they are a charity - is for the sake of ROI. Working with influencers is no different, and the starting point is to really consider the different ways in which collaborating with influencers can positively impact business results. I would break this down into three considerations. (1) Insights: influencers are consumers themselves, and they have learnt what appeals to their tuned-in audience and how to successfully engage and communicate with them. That in itself is a goldmine of insights that a brand can learn from. (2) Creative: influencers have also learnt how to produce creative content that engages and resonates with their chosen audience group - whether that be around a particular passion, a particular cultural reference of society or around a geographic focus. It's fairly undisputed that personalisation in online advertising delivers some of the best ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend), and influencers can help produce the right creative to marry to the ad targeting. (3) Audience: influencers can provide a gateway to their tuned-in audience which has the obvious advertising value proposition… yet what's often missed is that it's not all about using them to access their audience (see points 1 & 2).
DF: Brands have more channel options to curate than ever before - and creating consistency is often a time-consuming challenge. What’s next for the way social content decisions are made?
Neil: Slightly controversial, but I don't actually agree with the premise of the question: I don't think creating consistency is often time-consuming. There are lots of great tools available to help with the curation and the analysis of sorting of it. What I personally believe is happening is that not enough thought and planning gets put into deciding exactly what the social content should be - and what the brand tone, position and visual should be. Every social content decision should be made with the context of a vision, brand guidelines and a mood board. As our Chairman, Sir John Hegarty, says 'Give me the luxury of a tight brief'.
DF: Why are authenticity and creativity so essential on social?
It's an interesting one. I'll tackle these separately, starting with creativity. I actually don't think creativity on social is any more (or less for that matter) important than it is in any other aspect of a brand’s marketing. What is key is to keep on top of the innovations of formats. The move to video with Snap and Instagram stories is a good example - since brands can’t be left behind just doing static image posts all the time. Creativity should run through all work on social, just as it should in any other marketing channel.
Neil: When it comes to authenticity, a really interesting question that I'd start with is: what does authenticity on social mean to you? I suspect if you asked ten people you might get five different answers. For me authenticity (which is essential btw) means being true to the platform and the community behaviour on it. You can't just come to it with an objective which doesn't fit with how people use the platform and what they expect or would like to see from brands. You have to play by the rules of the community, which I think is the key word because social isn't an advertising board: it's a community space to interact with people, and a space where fans of a brand interact with each other. Ultimately both authenticity and creativity on social start and end with having a proper understanding of the channel you're on.
DF: It would be fair to say you are one of Decoded Fashion’s extended family, and a part of the Whalar story comes through connections made at previous Decoded Fashion events. How important is it for the industries of fashion + technology community to come together at Summits such as DF?
Neil: It's absolutely vital. Technology is able to help push fashion forward in many ways, but equally, technology can learn so much from fashion. What fashion understands, perhaps like no other category, is the importance of brand. There are a lot of technology players that could take many lessons from that. From a marketing perspective, what fashion can learn from technology is how to access audiences to tell that brand story… if you don't access the audiences, or if you can't tell your brand story in the relevant places where the eyeballs are at, then it doesn't matter how good you are at messaging your brand - you'll ultimately become irrelevant because you can't reach consumers. Principles remain the same, practises change.
Reported by Faith Robinson