Like many girls that have come before me, I went through a phase in my pre-pubescent years of watching YouTubers of the likes of Zoella, sitting around in their rooms, making videos reviews of the truckloads of free makeup they had been sent and all the clothing they had recently purchased, and being paid to do so. Imagine being given free things every day or being paid to try on some foundation and tell people "how "pigmented it is", or that it has "amazing coverage".I remember thinking that those YouTubers had cracked life. Back then, maybe they had. They were part of an elite few had so much interest in their lives, that they could convince little teenage girls to buy things, and in being able to do so, became a hugely valuable resource to retailers.
Today, this is a commonplace. Left right and center there are people on Instagram who easily have more than 10 000 followers who scroll down their feeds every day and get jealous over what top you're wearing or what restaurant you're eating at. I was fortunate enough to have a great chat with Georgia McGillivray, Co-founder of The Social Club, an Auckland based marketing platform that has managed to take social media influence and turn it into a thriving business.
Natalie: Tell us about The Social Club and how it works
Georgia: The Social Club is an influencer marketing platform, connecting social media influencers to brands and agencies to run authentic collaborations.
Natalie: Where did the inspiration for The Social Club come from?
Georgia: We were working in creative and digital agencies in the US, UK, AU & NZ and saw the rise of influencer marketing and the incredible results it could generate, however, there were so many pain points and barriers to entry to rolling out a campaign. The NZ market was way behind the rest of the world in terms of standard and education, so we saw an opportunity to build a tool that lowers the barriers to entry, removes the pain points and makes it easy for anybody to run a campaign, whilst educating the market too.
Natalie: Why is social media marketing/influencing such a successful marketing strategy that so many businesses are utilizing?
Georgia: Influencer marketing is an authentic and engaging way to reach millennials who are consuming a decreasing amount of traditional media and now spend the majority of their time on their phones and social media. It's effective, engaging, you can measure results and it's also affordable. Influencer budgets are growing to up to 30% of brands advertising spend because they can see the results and incredible ROI, and the total influencer market is expected to 5-10x in size by 2020.
Natalie: With the huge increase in popularity of social media marketing/influence, how does The Social Club stand out from its competitors?
Georgia: The Social Club is an online tool, which automates the process of running an influencer campaign. This means everything from finding the right influencer for your brand from our network of almost 4,000 influencers, to measuring the results of your campaign through our live analytics dashboard, our platform saves time and helps you streamline the process. Data has always been a huge focus for us. In the digital age, expectations for data are incredibly high and the influencer space historically has been lagging. We've been changing that with features such as follower demographic reports and automated campaign reach & engagement reporting.
Natalie: What are the biggest challenges in the industry that you’ve had to overcome?
Georgia: Education, people who haven't run an influencer campaign before will treat it like a traditional advertising campaign. Many people who are new to influencer marketing won't understand that the influencer is almost a creative agency in themselves, someone who needs to create authentic content which will resonate with their audience in order for it to be a successful campaign. Pricing, briefing, legal approvals, KPIs are all areas which we can improve on as an industry and we are doing our part to educate the market as we go!
Natalie: What advice do you have for individuals wanting to get into social media influencing?
Georgia: For brands & agencies looking to run campaigns, go for it. You have a great opportunity to create innovative campaigns and test the best way to reach and engage your audience. If you're not doing it, your competitors will be!
On the influencer side of things, we'd highly recommend it and we are often jealous of the brand experiences that our influencers get. There is SO much you can do to grow and engage your online following but the best accounts that we work with: (1) Know what they're about and focus in on that; (2) produce regular, quality content; (3) engage with their followings and wider, related communities.
Natalie: With an established base of influencers in both NZ and Australia, what’s next for The Social Club? What plans do you have to continue to grow and expand?
Georgia: Currently we're focused on educating and growing the market in Australia and NZ and building out our platform to have all the tricks it needs for everybody to run successful campaigns. We'll review again down the track and we do like the look of other markets, but our ultimate goal is to be the market leaders in whatever markets we enter, which doesn't happen without a lot of focus!
Natalie: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs wanting to start up their own business?
Georgia: you will learn a lot! It's going to be a rollercoaster, so make sure you are prepared to ride the highs and lows, but enjoy the ride along the way.
Unsurprisingly, much like the YouTubers of 10 years ago, more and more businesses and individuals have figured out how to capitalize on this new use of social media. The Social Club has developed a method to smoothly integrate social media influencers and the brands and agencies who want to use their services, to make the whole process much more streamlined. Businesses no longer need to go searching through thousands of people on Instagram to find someone who aligns with their business, and influencers no longer need to 'door knock' to gain work. It's a win-win. The team at The Social Club identified an untapped social media market in New Zealand and transformed it into a successful company - and that's what Kiwi entrepreneurship is all about.