Strategies for Brands to Find the Best Influencers: In Conversation with Gil Eyal

https://www.martechadvisor.com/articles/events-webinars/strategies-for-brands-to-find-the-best-influencers-in-conversation-with-gil-eyal/

Ahead of the upcoming Influencer Marketing Days Event, we sat down with Gil Eyal, CEO at HYPR for an exclusive on his session at the event. He gives insights on how brands should focus on utilizing local or micro influencers, add a human element to videos and use technology optimally. Also, he cautions brands against letting influencers take over process and owning the brand’s authenticity. His advice to brands is to “build long relationships with influencers to get great work out of them “. Gil was selected as one of ten Israelis influencing the New York tech scene and recognized as the Top Boss in Tech in 2017 by Digiday

 

 

Ginger Conlon:

Hello and welcome to MarTech Advisor’s Executive Interview Series. I'm Ginger Conlon, a Contributing Editor to MarTech Advisor and joining us today is Gil Eyal, who is CEO of HYPR Brands. Welcome Gil!

Gil Eyal:

Hi Ginger, thanks for having me.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Glad you're here today. We're gonna talk about your session and related topics at the upcoming Influencer Marketing Days 2017. We're gonna get a sneak peek at your session which is activating influencers and mistakes we should not be making and talk a little bit about influencer trends in general. So I'm excited about that but let's first start with a little bit about you. Tell us about your background and about HYPR Brands?

A- Gil Eyal:

Sure. So, I've always been a marketer at heart. I have an MBA Marketing from Kellogg. I worked at a company called Playdom to develop games on MySpace and Facebook back in the day. I was a growth hacker or a viral PM and my job was to really identify audiences and make sure that every dollar we spent reach the right audience. When I left that company, I started working for a company called Mobli, which was an early version of Instagram. Very similar to Instagram but much earlier and the strategy that I had around getting an audience for this product was to work with celebrities and influencers. This was long before anybody knew of the term Influencer Marketing and we ended up partnering with Leonardo Dicaprio, Tobey Maguire, Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, Lil Wayne, about 200 different celebrities and big-name social media stars.

The idea was that we could use them to drive users to our app and sometimes it worked really well and other times it didn't work as well. That's what led me to eventually start HYPR because I understood that Influencer Marketing really isn't that different than traditional marketing channels. If you don't know who your audience is or if you don't know how to reach your audience, not going to be successful. So, I wanted to build a tool that allows you to understand who influences what today. You would never buy an advertising spot in a magazine without knowing who reads it, why would you work with an influencer or without knowing who their audiences.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Right, makes so much sense. Let's jump into talking about Influencer Marketing. It's interesting that you said that before you start HYPR, it wasn't really a common term and it's interesting because of course Influencer Marketing has been around for so long, it's long established but we didn't really talk about it that way and because it's evolved so much especially since the advent of digital and social, I think that along with the terminology that what is Influencer Marketing has evolved as well. So how are you seeing it defined today most commonly?

A- Gil Eyal:

Completely. So I agree 100%. It's been around forever and if you think about it, it's been around, nobody called it Influencer Marketing but almost every decision and it's human nature to look for people that you respect to help you make a decision about, when you choose which movie to see on Friday night, when you choose what food to eat, when you choose which doctor to see, when you  choose which car to buy, there's someone in your life that's influential in those decisions because you respect their opinion about that subject or because you're close to them, you can confide in  them. So that element of human nature is something that's translated now with the advent of social networks, something measurable. We can find influencers who aren't the typical celebrities or the big-name hundred million followers celebrities or influencers, say they're also influencers-- micro influencers in common whatever you want but they are influential people that have an audience that respects their opinion about a specific subject. In my mind saying everyone's an influencer is obvious but not everyone's a professional influencer or somebody that you could use.

Ginger Conlon:

Right. Yeah, that makes so much sense to me just because they have whatever a million followers, if those million followers are just interested in seeing their photos and aren't interested in seeing, hearing what their opinion about something, that's not necessarily going to be influential for brands.

Gil Eyal:

I agree 100 percent. One of the things we see all the time are brands that target a female audience, maybe a beauty brand or a makeup or fashion gram going after these Instagram models or fitness models who are bikini models and they're using that old model where you would put a woman in the magazine and that would sell bikinis or that would sell makeup. They're neglecting to understand that the people following these influencers are men hoping to see women in bikinis. They're not women who are going to buy that brand and the result is that they're getting poor results for their campaigns and they're saying Influencer Marketing doesn't work but really, they're just not doing it the right way

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Right. Yeah like you said you have to understand who your audience is. Thinking about that, what are some of the common ways that you're seeing marketers using influencers today and how do you see Influencer Marketing evolving?

A- Gil Eyal:

So with the first one, we're seeing brands like L'Oreal start the Loreal League. A lot of other brands building long-term relationships with influencers. It's no longer just, “here's a thousand dollars go post about my brand on your Instagram” and everybody would be happy but here's a long-term relationship every time there's new content “please post it and be a champion for my brand”. It's a much more authentic and believable experience for the audience and the second maybe more important part is that they're targeting specific individuals. So not every brand is now trying to land a Kardashian or trying to land a Justin Bieber.

They’re understanding that there's expertise in their topic area that people want will benefit from and that person that has a cooking channel has an audience that's only interested in cooking. So they might have a much smaller audience but that audience is very dedicated and very close to that influencer and if you have a product that's related to cooking, that's a much better place to put it on from a cost perspective and from an ROI perspective because you'll convert much better and it'll be much more authentic and believable

Then finally what we're seeing is that brands are really shifting the power if it used to be that brands were willing to pay in advance and just pay for results, brands are starting to ask for analytics. I'm starting to suspect that there might be manipulation or fraud and they're being much more careful about identifying those things in advance and I think that's going to be a really good shift over the next year or two, where we're going to see technology develop to help brands identify the real influencers from the fake ones

Ginger Conlon:

Right. Yeah that's important. Every marketing dollar that you invest you want to make sure that you're getting as much back from that as you can.

Gil Eyal:

Absolutely.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

So, when marketers select an influencer do you see any common criteria that they're using and is there anything that you see marketers overlooking that they maybe should consider, like you were saying before about make sure you know the audience? 

A- Gil Eyal:

Absolutely. One of the metrics in this industry that's mind-boggling in my mind is how many followers an influencer has and that's a metric that means really nothing except that in one certain point in time a lot of people are interested in that influencer. If you think about somebody like Rebecca Black who came out with a song Friday a few years ago, I think she has six million subscribers to her YouTube channel but they're all inactive and they no longer really follow or care what she has to talk about. So, if you look at that metric and you don't know who she is, you might say wow this is a huge influencer, I could really benefit from working with them but the result is that you won't get a lot of engagement, a lot of audience.

The same thing applies to big name celebrities. I follow celebrities like Lil Wayne and Pitbull, does that mean I will actually do what they say? Of course not. I just follow them because everyone follows them, because they are recommended when you sign up for the app and I listen to their song as if they pop up on the radio. So, I think the biggest mistake is being blinded by these that identity metrics 

and say, “oh wow a lot of followers”, or even a lot of engagement but irrelevant engagement won't really produce results for you. I's the number one common mistake and people really worry about fraud and about what if influencers have fake followers but really what's the difference between fake followers and inactive followers. What you should worry about is how many real engaged followers do they have that will care about my product. Fake, inactive it's all the same. They're not going to buy your product. So, make sure you verify that you're not hiring somebody that has a lot of those.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Yeah. So, you mentioned one mistake which is looking at the wrong metrics and at your session which is basically the mistakes that you shouldn't be making, give us this like a sneak peek into another mistake that you should avoid when activating influencers?

A- Gil Eyal:

Sure, this is one I hear all the time which is brands need to relinquish control. You need to give influencers know their audience, they know how to get their audience engaged.

If you want to work with influencers you have to relinquish control and let them make decisions and I think that's terrible advice

and we have a lot of examples where relinquishing control has gone brands in trouble. I think most recently we saw Disney get in trouble with Jake Paul and insulting his neighbors and the truth is nobody knows your audience better than you do and nobody has done as much ad testing and nobody's evaluated which messaging works and nobody's understood what actually gets your audience to spend money or to buy your product or to be interested in your product as much as your own team. That's what you do professionally.

Influencers are great at generating attention about around themselves. A lot of times through actions that are not really good to be associated with, could be behaving crazy, it could be doing things that are gray area morally, it could be doing things that are really silly and funny but you don't want to be associated with this brand. So,

my argument is you always have to control message and it doesn't matter which influencer you are working with, you need to own the message, you need to control it and you need to make it work within the influencers capabilities and within their talents and was something that would appeal to their audience, that would feel authentic but it still has to be your message

It has to be that message that you spend so much money testing and understanding that works.

Ginger Conlon:

This seems like that goes back to what you were saying before about the trend of having more longer-term relationships because you can find authenticity between your brand message and the influencers that are that good fit.

Gil Eyal:

Absolutely. I think the long-term relationship also changes the incentives within the relationship with the influencer. If an influencer from knows that they have a future with you, they're gonna be a lot more careful with your brand. If they know this is a one-time thing and they move on and they get paid, then they'll do what they need to do and it's human nature. Some of them will do a great job, somewhat if they're looking for a long term relationship. If this is a job, if this is something that generates revenue and credibility for them in a long term, they're going to be very serious about it, they're going to care about making you happy a lot more.

So, building those long-term relationships allows you to-- for one build a strong rapport and two if you take a group of influencers and see which ones are performing better and strengthen that relationship and for the ones that aren't performing as well, reduce the relationship and that's something that's just a lot of brands don't seem to do. They kind of want to do that one hit, have an influencer post about them, enjoy the two days of conversation that generates on social media but they don't really think about what's driving the right incentives.

Q- Ginger Conlon:

Yeah that makes sense. So you talked before about some of the ways that marketers are using influencers. Give us an example of maybe the most creative way you've seen marketers using influencers.

A- Gil Eyal:

My favorite recently and I smile every time I think about it is Starbucks. It’s the unicorn Frappuccino. I'm sure everybody has heard about this. Basically what they did is, they had their own people, the Baristas started tweeting out and going on Instagram, on Facebook saying, “Nobody buy this product, I'm covered in glitter, I can't do this anymore, I can't make a single one of these” and it happens to be like this pinkish glowy weird colored product that you wouldn't want one in your body if your health conscious at all but the attention that got was genuine and amazing and what do you think when you hear a barista saying don't ask for this. One is you have to share it because you have to your friends have to see how Starbucks employees telling you not to buy a product and two is you have to walk into one and order one because you want to see what's so bad about making them. I thought it was a brilliant campaign. The kind that didn't touch any of the big-name influencers, that didn’t cost a ton of money, use these smaller niche influencers that have a real relationship with the brand, seemed completely authentic and you just produced amazing results over on every news source possible because it was a great story.

Ginger Conlon:

Yeah that's a terrific story and Gil thank you so much. Thanks for all the great advice and for giving us that sneak peek into your session at Influencer Marketing Days 2017.

Gil Eyal:

Thanks for having me. I can't wait to meet everyone on the premises.

Ginger Conlon:

Yeah definitely. I want to let everyone know be sure to check out Influencer Marketing Days website for more information on the conference and at Gil’s session and also be sure to visit MarTech Advisor’s YouTube channel for other Executive Interviews and thanks everyone for being here.