The webinar was free. Duration was one hour. Over the one hour, the maximum number of people online was 56 and the minimum seemed to be 35. There was one interviewer who was the Administator conducting the webinar and two Influencers.
One of the influencers started posting online in 2016 and one in 2017. Both are women and seemed to be in their late twenties or early thirties. I have unfortunately not had a chance to see their work and had not heard about them prior to the webinar.
I attended the Zoom webinar purely out of curiosity. And on the spur of the moment, I decided to make some notes. Underlined bits are my thoughts. I am not going to link to the Webinar or the agency that conducted it or either of the Influencers.
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT CONDUCTING A WEBINAR
- Clearly state who should answer question first – if more than one guest being interviewed. There were two guests here and the Administrator clearly communicated at the beginning of the webinar, which influencer would be answering first.
- If doing video, light should be directed towards your face – so, the camera should be pointing towards your face in the same direction as the light is coming in.
- I was checking email and doing other tasks while the Zoom video was playing in the back – make sure your audio is on mute if you are a viewer. I believe that there is an automatic setting where the Administrator can set auto-mute for anyone who joins the webinar.
- Make sure you tell everyone in your household to stop using the internet when you are on the Zoom webinar if you are the person being interviewed or if you are leading the conversation.
- Some disconnections / low bandwidth issues are to be expected. Try switching to only-audio if your video is glitching.
- Keep an eye on the typed-chat window as viewers might be attempting to indicate issues with your audio or video.
WHAT THE INFLUENCERS SAID
- One of the influencers mentioned that they feel bad when they have to suggest products to their audience when the products are not of a really good quality. ( India’s laws are so shite else I would’ve said that that might be considered false advertising and might be punishable by law. Also, I’m not a lawyer. Feel bad while making money and making a fool of your audience. )
- Influencers being interviewed have been online for the last 3 years and 4 years – apparently that is now considered a “long journey”. ( Even two years if a long time in Internet Years. I get it. I’m still amazed at how this industry is devolving. )
- Instagram is still THE platform if you’re planning to make money. Not TikTok. ( I concur. I do know of people who have made money on TikTok but it’s a different profile of people in terms of both followers and influencers. Instagram seems to have more serious “respect”, for now. )
- The influencers mentioned that they didn’t know what to do initially when the lockdown started in terms of what kind of content to post. They got comfortable slowly and are now posting content different from their usual updates. ( In my case, personally, most of the content has remained the same – I share images I’ve photographed for clients or for personal projects – I have a massive bank of images saved up on my Google Drive for dry days and now I’m using it. Neither has my frequency of posting changed. Once a day at odd hours, whenever I feel like it, which is by design. )
- The conversation was not business-like at all, which is probably an indicator that the whole Influencer Marketing space itself isn’t professional / standardized / not business-like etc. Because of the non-existent barrier to entry in this space, everyone can try, which is a good thing and a bad thing. You should try and then when it starts working, you should put all your ducks in a row and treat it like a business if you want to reap long-term rewards.
- There seems to be no concern about the privacy of minors. Both Influencers talked about bringing in their young children and family members in content-creation efforts.
- Influencer Marketing trends for the rest of the COVID19 year : One of the influencers mentioned that brands are spending more and will continue to spend more. Digital Marketing isn’t going anywhere. Local brands will get more exposure and more people will buy local. More people have joined social platforms because they are bored at home. People will be saving more money going forward. ( I agree with most of this. I do think that one reason people do not buy a lot of local is because better quality has been available elsewhere. For example, I would love to support Indian paint and art brands but none of them produce UV resistant paints, which is what I want to use on my mini-painting brooches. Hence, I am forced to order paint from a US brand, which is manufactured in China and shipped from a store in London. If there was a brand that was equivalent in quality terms in India, I would buy from them at the same price – I would still save money on things like shipping and customs. )
- Advice to new and aspiring Influencers : stay genuine. Engagement is most important. ( I don’t think anyone knows what “genuine” means anymore. Both influencers on the webinar are posting anything but genuine content. Genuine effort does not translate to “genuine person” or “authentic content”. How genuine can one be while shilling for a beauty brand that uses slave labour to manufacture their products? A lot of this is inescapable I’m told. Not really. Doing research and digging up this information is hard work – a thankless and coinless pursuit. So… what is “authentic” and “genuine”? )
- A QUESTION I ASKED IN THE CHAT WINDOW : How does one “engage” when everything can be bought? Likes / comments / post view numbers / video view numbers? How does one compete with this? Thanks in advance! One of the influencers responded that fake followers will stay – concentrate on your content – explore new accounts – your engagement is your only concern – Instagram will not take down bots – good mix of bought followers and genuine followers – without numbers you lose out opportunities – one influencer says “you should be smart”. The other influencer said that they disagreed with this approach and that follower numbers are not important anyway – engagement percentage is important. ( Which didn’t answer my question. My answer to my own question is that one must choose what one is competing on – “numbers” are the wrong metric to be competing on. What is your “brand”? What do you stand for? #GoalKyaHai? Most of us start out with this vague goal of “I want to do this.” Which is fine. But what’s the plan after that? If “more followers” is your goal, then just buy the fake ones – that satisfies your goal. A terrible goal in my opinion but a goal nonetheless. Yes I have lost out on many “opportunities” because I refused to pander to the advice by brands and agencies that I should “just buy some followers na!” But I never considered those enquiries to be “opportunities”. They were a waste of my time. )
- One of the influencers mentioned that they, “Jump on trends to create content.” It is clear that they don’t plan. One even said, “I don’t even think about it.” No business mind here. “Just be normal.”
- “Very talented, very beautiful” describing new people in the field and competitors. “Instagram Bloggers” vs “Instagrammers”. ( I think they were trying to distinguish between blogger and Instagrammers and they said that it is a good time for bloggers because no one is blogging anymore. ) We are freelancers – the more number of projects you can churn out, the more money you can make. Never burn bridges. ( Please do burn bridges that deserve to be burned. And please do as much work as you can manage without compromising on your integrity and without lying to your audience. When one of the influencers was asked which was the most fun brand collaboration they had ever worked on, they said they couldn’t recall the name of the brand but that the collaboration was fun. Lot’s of forgettable fun! Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. )
- Some trends that seem to be popular these days during the lockdown : Home photo shoots and self-care.
- It was said that Instagram has been mentioning that you should use all the Insta features to increase your reach – well obviously they want you to spend all your time on their platform!
CONCLUSION : MINE
Not a lot to unpack here. It was a superficial chat at best. The agency could have interviewed better influencers who could have provided a lot more value to listeners and actually answered questions. ( I’m not talking about interviewing me though – I charge money to do such webinars and this one clearly was not a paid engagement. )
Here’s what I think is going to happen to Influencer Marketing post this pandemic : it is going to EXPLODE. Yes, events and meet and greets will not be possible for a couple of years maybe but brands that did not take digital marketing seriously earlier are now scrambling to figure this out. And, Influencers ( some of them ) are poised to deliver. Sitting pretty, waiting for assignments to start flowing in once courier services re-start across the country.
One of the simplest models is to ship your product to an influencer and they produce a shoot at home and share those images on their social media and the brand can also re-use those images on their own social media. If leading national magazines can conduct cover shoots during the lockdown ( and I am NOT talking about the C0SMO fiasco ), then brands will be dying to cut costs – by cutting out the agencies in the middle – and producing content directly with Influencers. PR companies will do well too – at least the ones that have established rosters of influencers that they work with regularly anyway.
What actually happens, time will tell!