Exclusive Interview with Ben Jeffries, Founder of Influencer
At 21 years old, Ben Jeffries was the founder of one of the UK’s largest influencer marketing companies.
At the impressive age of 21 years old, Ben Jeffries made the leap to establish his own company, Influencer, which now is considered one of the UK’s leading influencer marketing companies. Jeffries was quick to react to the growing influence of social media and spotted an opportunity to take advantage by pairing influencers with relevant brands. Influencer has grown to include an impressive client roster that includes McDonald’s, Badoo, and Boohoo. Jeffries has recently been named as Media Week’s Rising Star: Media Owner at the 2018 Media Week Awards, as well as BMW i’s Tech Founder of the Year at the BMW i UK Tech Founder Awards.
What are the latest trends that brands should be aware of with regards to influencer marketing?
One of the trends that we are seeing most at the moment is more brands targeting smaller, niche, more localised audiences, whilst still retaining high levels of engagement. In order to do this, brands are engaging hyperlocal micro creators who are able to effectively reach local audiences in an organic way. These creators typically base much of their content around a local area and attract a local audience. However, they may also appeal to followers from further afield, attracting them to the local area. The local nature of their content makes them more relatable to their local followers, increasing the level of trust that followers have in them.
Although a lot of brands still tend to market globally by using macro creators – and have done since influencer marketing became recognised as a successful marketing strategy – a lot of smaller brands are trying to reach the specialist niches that micro creators can offer.
How influential do you think that influencer marketing is in comparison to online paid advertising?
The vast majority of consumers who engage with online content now have various adblockers installed, which prevent the display of online paid advertising on their browsers. There is a desire to find alternative methods for brands to present their products/services online; methods that will not be blocked by a third party extension. Influencer marketing has become a great option for brands to advertise to targeted audiences without it being stopped by an adblocker.
Furthermore, working with an influencer that creates similar content to a brand will produce an organic campaign that will allow for great reach and engagement, which would otherwise not be possible with online paid advertising. Influencers have built up their audience from the content that they create. Creating a brand partnership with someone who is of a similar nature to a brand will allow the advertisement to reach an audience that is most likely to engage with a product; enhancing the marketing funnel, building credibility and encouraging retention.
In your opinion, what does the future of influencer marketing look like?
The influencer marketing industry is still relatively new, which means that it’s developing and improving every day. I think that many of the developments that we’ve seen recently with regards to influencer fraud will shape the industry over the coming months and even years. Following the recent CMA (Content Marketing Association) announcements and the attention that the industry has had in the wake of Fyre Festival, transparency and the disclosure of influencer partnerships are currently the most important aspects of influencer marketing and the discourse around these issues is shaping the future of the industry. I believe the future looks good for influencer marketing, as it continues to be increasingly recognised by the wider marketing industry.
When matching a brand with a social media influencer, what are the key factors of compatibility that should be considered?
The key factor for any campaign is ensuring the content is authentic. It is important for the content creator working with the brand to already create content that is similar to that which that brand requires, in order to ensure the brand authenticity. This will also help to ensure that the brand is targeting the right audience and that the whole campaign looks organic. Looking at a creator’s audience demographics is also another important factor. For example, it is unproductive for a brand to work with a creator that has an 80% male audience if the brand is looking to target females.
There has been a huge push for greater authenticity and policing of paid social media advertising by influencers. How has this affected the influencer marketing industry?
Crucially, successful influencer marketing is predicated upon trust and the best way to establish trust is for an influencer to be clear and open with their audience – i.e. to disclose when they’ve been paid or gifted products or services. Therefore, I think anything that encourages influencers to enhance their authenticity is a positive for the industry. I also think that the recent involvement and push from influential bodies such as the CMA highlights that the industry is being taken more seriously and its impact is being recognised.
What social media platforms are brands investing the most resources into with regards to influencers?
Currently, Instagram is the main platform that brands are using for their influencer marketing campaigns. It’s reported that 93% of influencer marketing content is being produced on Instagram. YouTube still has importance too, particularly among fashion and beauty brands. We are seeing a huge increase in video content, so I believe that YouTube’s position will only strengthen over the coming months.
You experimented with your first business venture when you were just 16 years old, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are thinking of taking the plunge and starting their own business?
It’s sounds like a cliché but I can’t stress enough the importance of just starting. Write down all your ideas, put together a rough proposal, talk through your ideas with other people. Just get the ball rolling and before you know it, you’ll have something more solid. But I would also say, be prepared to work hard, because once the ball is rolling it won’t stop!
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