Influence reconnects brands and consumers

Did you know that "The difference between manipulation and influence is that in influence, both parties win" ? 😉 It's not us who say it, it's the famous British entrepreneur, Richard Branson.

Yes, a well-conducted influence strategy is a win-win solution, both for the brand and for the consumer. This allows the former to communicate in a more authentic way and the latter to identify with their peers. But precisely, how to achieve this perfect marketing mix? By humanizing the marketing, claims Bastien Belot, Commercial Director of the agency Territory influences. 🤓 The team We Are COM went to seek best practices from this expert in 360° marketing influence. Restitution of an enriching interview!

#1 – Hello Bastien, you are Commercial Director of the Territory Influence agency. To begin, we would like to know your definition of influence? 

Influence, in its purest definition, is the action of directing the decisions of others. This is also a historical lever. In effect, since man is able to communicate, he practices influence on a daily basis. To stay on this historical theme, I would take as an example that of a fishmonger, on a market place in the Middle Ages. If by misfortune, just once, he came to sell a fish that was not fresh, word of mouth quickly ruined the trust placed in him by his customers. 

At Territory Influence, we are convinced that influence essentially results in this word-of-mouth, this peer-to-peer recommendation. 

Influencer marketing existed long before the emergence of Social Media. It consisted in identifying the individuals who, by their status, their profession or their visibility, could exert a certain influence on a wider public. 

With the advent of social networks, influence marketing has become more democratic. Faced with influencers, who are more and more numerous and easy to access, consumers identify more. The influence now enjoys real recognition. 

In other words, I would say that influence is THE solution that allows brands to reconnect as closely as possible to their consumers.

Influence essentially results in this word-of-mouth, this peer-to-peer recommendation. 

#2 – At Territory Influence, you stand for humanizing marketing. Precisely, how to put people back at the heart of brand strategies? 

As I explained earlier, Man has always been a cornerstone of influence. Also, why not put it back at the heart of all marketing actions? For Territory Influence, humanizing marketing is a prerequisite for all brands. We are convinced that today no brand can communicate alone with its consumers anymore. It must go through ambassadors, capable of corroborating and validating all of its promises and assertions. 

Since the emergence of marketing, brands have always claimed their leadership position, without necessarily enlisting the consumer in their efforts. Which corresponds to a fundamentally unilateral brand content strategy. However, for more than 20 years now, consumers who have learned much more about brands, their products and their services, no longer believe in these one-sided messages. 

At Territory Influence, we advocate marketing where the consumer intervenes, marketing that mixes brand content withUGC – consumer-generated content.

More concretely, how to put people back at the heart of marketing strategies? Simply by bringing the experience of use to the consumers themselves, in particular at nano-influencers. It is by demonstrating pedagogy on the product or service, by working on word-of-mouth and the recommendation of peers, that the marketing mix works perfectly. 

You should know that the humanization of marketing is done online as offline. Moreover, it affects all strata of the pyramid of influence, from the nano-influencer to the stars of the field. To meet brand challenges, it is essential to cover the entire sector. 

#3 – Concretely, how do you support brands to meet this challenge? How is your approach differentiating? 

The common point in all our approaches is the identification of marketing issues, when other agencies focus only on influence issues. To respond in the most appropriate way to the needs of our customers, we need to know their most strategic issues. It is also thanks to this meticulous identification that we are able to offer 100% tailor-made solutions: the concept, the history, the editorial slant, influencer profiles, number of activations, etc. We co-construct with each of our clients a unique and constantly readjustable “working document” according to the various feedbacks. 

This working document was developed by a whole team, with multiple expertise: copywriting, artistic direction, project management, marketing, etc. Our particularity is therefore to develop 360° influence plans, capable of responding to a wide range of issues: notoriety, recruitment, loyalty or other. 

These plans are also capable of mixing thousands of unpaid nano-influencers, whose expertise and date, to all other profiles of paid influencers: micro, macro and stars. It is important to specify that our approach is done without any automation or robotization. Our conviction: for a influencer relationship well conducted, the dialogues must imperatively be done in one-to-one. 

Our conviction: for a well-conducted influencer relationship, the dialogues must imperatively be done one-to-one.

#4 – How do you identify the right influencers? What is your method? What are your selection criteria? 

The pyramid of influence is vast. It ranges from unpaid profiles, nano-influencers and some micro-influencers with less than 10.000 followers, to influencer stars. 

Regarding unpaid influencers, we identify them through our own platform history, TRND, which centralizes many profiles – more than 700.000 in France. After the identification phase, we submit the selected profiles to a questionnaire, which we co-construct with the brand according to its objectives. Secondly, we ask them to send us motivational text. This process is essential for 2 reasons. On the one hand, it allows us to target the client's target as accurately as possible. On the other hand, it commits the influencer to the project and thus guarantees more sincerity and trust in their actions. 

For paid profiles, we identify them via the CreatorIQ platform, always with the same consideration of customer objectives in terms of profiles, platforms, mechanics, formats and communities

#5 – Do you have a concrete example of the implementation of an influence plan? What are the best practices to follow? How to create and optimize the relationship between the brand and the influencer? 

In 2022, we developed an annual influence plan with the retail company Carrefour. Goals ? Increase awareness, build loyalty, recruit and of course, communicate on the benefits and advantages of the group's products and services. 

To do this, we have developed product experiences with unpaid influencers to promote word-of-mouth. More than 30.000 nano and micro-influencers were activated in around twenty campaigns throughout the year, depending on the highlights of the brand. At the same time, we called on macros and star-influencers to drive consumers to the brand's Instagram page, via contests. 

This national and multi-category plan, which deployed 46.000 UGCs, ultimately reached more than 3 million consumers via the word-of-mouth phenomenon and more than 45 million online reach. 

As for good practices, I would say thatit is essential for brands to be very clear about the issues to be integrated and the results to be obtained. They must be transparent and share their marketing plan as a whole. Then, my recommendations would be to work on the influence on its entire pyramid, to adapt the targets and the mechanics according to the objectives, to bet on the long term since the influence works by repetition and finally, to reuse the content generated by consumers. In short, we always come back to this notion of humanization. 

In the same way, it is by promoting long-term collaborations that the relationship between the brand and influencers is made permanent. The influencer must be involved in the creative process and be able to express themselves on it. Remember that he is the only one who knows perfectly the expectations of his community. Also be careful not to inscribe your speech in the overselling of its products and services, at the risk of causing a loss of confidence. 

The influencer must be involved in the creative process and be able to express themselves on it. Remember that he is the only one who knows perfectly the expectations of his community.

#6 – And then, how do you measure the impact of an influencer campaign? 

Any action of influence obviously has the purpose of measuring its impact. For that, we use different solutions from our partners, depending on our needs. Internally, we have also modeled a tool with IFWOM, an institute specializing in word-of-mouth. This algorithm measures the off-line impact of the people affected over 2 generations. The first generation corresponds to the entourage of the influencer, the second to the entourage of his entourage. 

For online impact, we look for UGC and impressions via social listening tools. And for private accounts, we have, again, our own internal methodology to estimate the reach

We also measure the impact of in-store sales. When a nano-influence campaign exceeds 3000 activations, to generate drive-to-store, it is necessary to be accompanied by service providers. In general, at European level, it is more than 4 euros of ROI which are measured at the end of our campaigns

we need to pay attention to qualitative KPIs, in this case consumer feedback. We then retrieve their insights, their claims and their recommendation rates. This data is a real gold mine for our customers, who reuse it on their communication plan 

#7 – How do you view the Delaporte-Vojetta bill on the regulation of influencers? Threats or opportunities for advertisers? 

We take a truly positive view of this bill, the humanization of marketing being in our DNA. Better regulation of the influence market is essential, it guarantees proximity and trust between brands and consumers. Any deviation should be sanctioned. The more communities are informed of these, the more brands that invest in influence will be able to convey messages with sincerity and transparency. 

Moreover, in the other fields of marketing and communication, let's take them spots television for example, everything is fundamentally regulated. So why not influencer marketing? 

#8 – In your opinion, what will be the evolutions and mutations of influence in the years to come? What trends should you pay attention to as an advertiser? 

First of all, it is market regulation that will change influence. This will be more framed and codified, particularly with regard to non-remunerated partnerships. 

Otherwise, these unpaid and more authentic profiles will, in my opinion, take on importance. Already today, we observe that nano and micro-influencers are on the rise, it is certain that this phenomenon will increase. 

Authenticity will also affect formats, which will be simplified in order to encourage consumers to identify with influencers. More and more, the formats want to be close to the communities: broadcasts, lives, lives streaming, videos... and even podcasts, which are developing slowly. 

In general, the key words will be transparency and sincerity. Above all, it will be necessary to capitalize on platforms, formats and influencers affinity, capable of transmitting strong values. Influence is an extraordinary lever for brands that invest intelligently in this market. 

Finally, I wonder about the place of new technologies in influence marketing, the metaverse among others. At a time when brands advocate authenticity, will influencers become virtual avatars? 

In general, the key words will be transparency and sincerity.

#9 – We Are COM, we are curious… what are your tips and tricks for boosting engagement? 

To boost engagement in general, humanize marketing and put the consumer back at the center of all your strategies. Take into account its opinions, positive and negative! 

If you want to specifically boost the engagement of your influence plans, bet on unpaid profiles. They have few followers of course, but by working on large volumes, these profiles are able to develop a lot of commitment and a real brand preference. 

for your partnerships with paid influencers, find someone who makes sense and dialogue with them one-to-one. This proximity connects the content creator to the brand and engages their community to do the same. 

#10 – Finally, do you have any advice for communicators who would like to get into influence marketing? 

Find an agency, if possible just one, that can manage your influencer relationships as a whole. The ideal is to surround yourself with experts, who set up tailor-made support, as close as possible to your challenges. In influence marketing, only the fluidity and naturalness of long-term relationships can exceed objectives

3 things to know about Bastien Belot 

His mantra and his sources of inspiration? His mantra "you have to enjoy life" and his inspiration comes mainly from his surroundings, from what he sees and what he hears around him.

His favorite communication campaigns? Bastien has always loved the campaign for the ChocoSuisses, where Maurice “pushes things a bit too far”. According to him, this spot was able to mark its time and generate strong brand preference. 

Today, it is the series of advertisements “Life should not be so expensive”, from the Intermarché brand, which challenges him. He appreciates this campaign, which deals with a fundamentally current subject, purchasing power, with a light and offbeat tone. 

His passions ? His passions are running and reading thrillers: Bernard Minier, Franck Thilliez, Maxime Chattam...

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