FROM TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS OF INFLUENCE
Dom: Hi, welcome back to the Sociably Podcast. I’m here with Louis. My name’s Dom, in case you haven’t listened to us before.
Louis: Hi guys. Good to be back.
Dom: How are you doing, mate?
Louis: All good. How are you?
Dom: I’m good. I’m good. Okay, we’re back to talk a little bit about what we do as a business. A bit about influencer marketing in the luxury sector. But today, we just wanted to go back to how we started the business and look a little bit at us as individuals, and what we brought to a relatively new discipline, influence marketing – specifically influence marketing for luxury brands. And to look back at what we were doing before that and the different skills that we brought into it and the pros and cons of that.
So, we’ll get into that in a sec., but I’m going to do a bit of an icebreaker with Louis. I still get excited. So, I’m going to do a few different options for you. So, quick fire. All right, you ready?
Dom: Suit or a hoodie?
Dom: Rolls or Bentley?
Dom: Paris or London.
Louis: Oh, London.
Dom: Eurostar or plane?
Dom: Ski or beach. This time of year.
Dom: What’sApp or text?
Dom: LA or Miami?
Dom: Had to be LA.
Louis: There you go, guys.
Dom: I thought we could do a few of those.
Louis: Did you predict all these answers?
Dom: Yeah, pretty much. That’s kind of how I started the questions.
Dom: I started the questions with what the answer would be to work out how well I know you.
Louis: That’s when your business partner knows you pretty well.
Dom: Yeah, I knew what you were going to say. The text one’s a weird one. I don’t know if other people who are working with the US or if you’re listening to this from the US.
Louis: What’sApp is another big thing. The few people we have on What’sApp in the US are literally install the app because they had to work or deal with European based people.
Louis: Otherwise they’re just text on iMessage or Facebook messenger.
Dom: Yeah. Yeah, Facebook messenger, which we don’t really use. But it is weird, especially the group chat for projects. Just as a project management tool on the go.
Dom: It is great, isn’t it?
Louis: Yeah. I mean, at least you get the answer straight.
Dom: Yeah, yeah, exactly. You know someone’s looked at it.
Dom: So, yeah. A little bit of a nice break there.
Louis: Next time, it’s me doing it.
Dom: Yeah, you can ask me some questions. You can see if I get them right or you get them right. I’m not sure. There’s no right answer. We wanted to chat a bit about what we did before. I know in the previous podcast, we were talking a bit about your background in art, I think.
Louis: Yeah. More like creative direction perspective.
Dom: Yeah, and today it’s kind of looking at how we started sociably I suppose and how we got into influencer marketing for luxury brands and what we were doing before that. I mean, from my perspective, I came from a totally different field.
Louis: Yeah, yeah. At least I think it showed and it gave a good example of how you can evolve from your current job to something way more sometimes fulfilling, interesting, creative, and not being…
Dom: Being so dull…
Louis: I’m not saying that.
Dom: No offence to all of my friends.
Dom: Yeah. But more, I guess, right?
Louis: You have to compare before, after. You probably enjoy much more being at work and working on a group project.
Dom: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. That’s true.
Louis: There’s obviously pros and cons for everything, but in that case, I think…
Dom: Yeah. I think that’s a pretty fair summary. For those that don’t know, my background was I studied law and anthropology at university and then ended up on that path of training to be a lawyer. Then worked in a barrister’s chambers after university, and then I went on to law school and then became a solicitor. So, I’ve got a background in law, which seems a long way from what I do now.
Louis: But it’s key for us as a business, especially now that we’re doing bigger campaigns, not just in Europe, both in the US. To have that legal element and someone that knows exactly from a legal perspective and from a lawyer background how to draft and put things together from that perspective.
Dom: Yeah, that’s true. I think it’s one of those things that like a lot of – – well, any job really. When you’re a graduate, you normally learn a broad range of skills that are pretty applicable across the board, but you don’t necessarily know that when you’re doing it. You feel like it’s very specific to your field, and not that many people know. There are maybe more today that have a career change. You kind of don’t realise that actually those skills you’ve got, you could go and apply to something totally different, if you wanted to. I’ve kind of done that and seen actually it is all very, very transferrable, which is a bit of a cliché word that you always get taught by careers, advisers and things at school and university, but it really is transferable. I think in what we do, it’s an interesting one because yes, there’s the legal bit of it that I’ve got more of an awareness of, and it is an industry that has been a bit of a Wild West especially when it started. If you looked at that from a legal perspective, a lot of lawyers would be having sleepless nights around the things that go on. But that’s probably the case across the board in marketing and advertising, to be honest, especially on social. If you were an IP lawyer and you’re looking at what goes on on Instagram or where, it kind of goes against a lot of copyright laws in terms of you actively want people to regram your stuff. If you’re an influencer and someone grabs your photo, screen grabs it, shares it, and yeah, it gives you a mention, ideally. That’s going to help you to grow, and that’s how a lot of influencers grew over the years.
Dom: But you’re then suddenly getting into this hot water of well, whose copyright you’re infringing? Does Instagram own it? Do you own it? For modelling agencies, it’s weird, where it’s all been about usage.
Louis: I think that the modelling agencies struggle to adapt and a lot of them probably didn’t really know how to deal with the image, and the rights, and also, from a photographer perspective. For the campaign, but the photography actually went on the influencer page and that photo of the influencer went viral and reposting on other page, but the photographer doesn’t get the credit. Some photographer at the beginning, a professional photographer will expect to have the credit at least or have some sort of tag for their work.
Louis: Usage rights and stuff.
Dom: Yeah, exactly.
Louis: Which fortunately it’s not the way it works.
Dom: Yeah. It’s almost the opposite of how influencers work, isn’t it? You want it to go viral. You want it to be shared everywhere, ideally, globally, and on different platforms. Whereas photographers, usage was set specifically for it’s for this purpose and that’s it. And if you want to use it for anything else, you’ve got to pay me more. You’ve got to renegotiate the contract, and things have just changed. It’s interesting to see how professionals in that app taking photography as an example. It’s interesting to see how some have adapted and some haven’t. Like you said, modelling agencies, who obviously a lot have morphed into more talent-based agencies, I suppose, of how they can work with influencers. But it still seems to go against their normal model of here’s a model and we need to agree where their image is going to be placed at the beginning.
Dom: And they cannot be shared anywhere else. Whereas any brand campaign, you want it to go everywhere. That’s the whole point.
Louis: Yeah and putting it on social media. It’s that simple.
Dom: Yeah. We want everyone to see, and ideally, obviously you want people to get the credit for it, but it is an interesting one, but kind of digressed a bit there. I guess lots and lots of elements of running any business beyond the creative bit, having a bit of a background in law is pretty helpful. And just working in difficult environments, knowing how to manage clients, knowing the importance of delivering what you’ve agreed to deliver.
Dom: Setting parameters at the start as well, which so many people, especially as a new business. It’s easy to overpromise, and say, you’re going to do this, that, and the other, and not follow through with it because you want to get the project. Whereas, really, you need to have that cool head, and it really is at the start when you need to be careful with those things. Almost to the point of saying, no or saying, okay, this is what we’re going to do. Yeah, some people will think, will want more. Maybe they’re not a good client for you because you’re not maybe going to be able to deliver that and they’ll be a one hit wonder – you’ll never work with them again. Those are kind of difficult things as a new business, but I suppose coming with my background, I kind of had a different approach to that. We had times where at times where we’ve said no to projects where we know it doesn’t. Where we’re looking at the end and thinking maybe the client’s expectations are a little bit off. As much as you can manage them, if you know you’re not going to be able to deliver the result, in the long run, it’s not worth doing the project. Let someone else have fun with that one.
Louis: We decided to specialise very early when we started Sociably to sort of only –not only other ways, but specialise I would say in the luxury sector from the watch industry, hotels, car brand, automotive and also wine and spirits.
Louis: So really work in that field, which is my background. I did a business school. I studied marketing. I did a major in marketing with a specialty more in the luxury industry and really early did either internship office job within the luxury watch industry. If you know about this world, first, it’s a really small world. It’s also a world where people are really passionate and it’s a world of its own. The level of luxury craft and history and values of brand that you’re dealing with is incredible, but it’s can also be quite challenging. I guess after working almost for – and not that many people know about that, but I’ve been working almost eight years within the fashion luxury industry for brand within LVMH group or Richemont group. Got me to learn a lot about this industry and both from the, I would say, everyone thinks that those brands are very lucky. It’s all about luxury servicing. It’s very glamorous. But learning how or what goes behind delivering a very glamorous or very luxurious product or experience? There’s a lot of work and lot of flight. Not as glamorous. Things that goes behind and beyond. So, for me, it’s really useful and it’s definitely experience. That’s work experience and skills them initiative, but most of all, eight years that are key for what we do now.
Louis: And being able to meet, and that’s a bit of our day today. Meeting with marketing manager, marketing director or people in charge of social media or digital for brands within the luxury industry. Being involved would be like I’ve been on the other side of the business and I know about the brand. I know the values of the brand. We can respect that in that campaign. And I know where you’re coming from in terms of your marketing strategy because I’ve been on that side. So, it’s really key and helpful for us. It’s bringing all those skills together to at least try to deliver in the best way as possible with the highest result, a key message and campaign to the client.
Dom: So, do you think it’s more nuanced than other sectors? Luxury in terms of that understanding is, it’s very specific, isn’t it?
Louis: The word-. Sorry to interrupt. The keyword is that understanding, and not from an influencer perspective, working on day to day basis. I’m not talking about myself, but some influencer working and trying to specialise within the luxury sector. Either automotive or watches or hotels. Wherever field, or maybe across all those fields. Sometimes they want to specialise in that field, but they don’t really know and have a real understanding of the luxury and what luxury means. Luxury means rarity. Luxury means expanse. Luxury means services. A wow experience or something you can’t buy. And sometimes influencers, unfortunately, specialise in a field where they don’t really know how they get there. You know?
Dom: Yeah. I think that’s it, isn’t it? Where we were looking at how we differentiate and bring something that has a different approach, luxury was an opportunity for us for a variety of different reasons, but also because it’s always been something that’s required specialist skills.
Dom: PR and marketing for luxury brands has always been done by specialist people, boutique agencies. Because it requires a different skillset and that isn’t any different for influencer. There’s this kind of feeling that influencer is almost kind of like one size fits all cookie cutter.
Louis: When you deal with luxury, you deal with like huge craft history, tradition, and values that have been set since years and years and centuries. You can’t just arrive. We have cases, and it’s more not since we’ve been involved, but experience with luxury high-end watch brand, where it’s an influencer campaign and on paper, everything looks good and at the gala dinner, an influencer will not behave the way he should behave within the luxury experience with one of the major in the luxury watch brand. Then it doesn’t look good for them. It doesn’t look good for the agency. Sometimes, it’s just people that are not really aware of what luxury means.
Dom: And people love saying, “Oh, that’s what we’re trying to achieve.” But to achieve that is a much, much bigger play. A much bigger picture of finding people that have, yes, all the things that should be a given like a good audience, the right demographics, the right type of content. But we’ve got to be looking for more than that. Like you say, a lot of these experiences and things, you’re becoming over as luxury requires, more long-term relationships generally from their influencers. You are more of an ambassador if you’re a luxury influencer. You’re going to be at these events. You’re going to be associated with the brand. And you need to know more about the influencer than just, okay, we’re going to cast this person because they kind of look right and they get pretty good engagement. Oh, and they posted for this brand the other day. That’s not good enough. In order to be able to deliver that, it’s just a much bigger process. The casting process and the creative- –
Louis: I think that’s where we also specialise from the very beginning when we’ve been asked by brand to put more influencer campaign and do the casting and the management of the influencer. We’d been quite straightforward and clear from the beginning, saying, “We’re only going to suggest and put forward influencer that we actually know.” And when I say ‘actually’, it’s like we’ve been building a relationship with them. Either they’re based in the US or they’re based in Europe, in Germany, Italy, or France. We know personally those guys. We actually met with them. Had a coffee. Had a chat. Seen them behaving in certain experiences and events, so we know if we put someone forward, there is this trust factor. We can never say nothing is going to happen, but most likely it’s going to be people that we have trusted and that we personally know. I think unfortunately, a lot of influencer marketing agencies will put forward some talent. Looking at the influencer’s first nine posts on Instagram and sometimes not even scrolling further, and not really doing a phone call, but curating your conversations through emails. And that’s not right, especially if you specialise in luxury, you want to put forward someone that you trust and someone that you know and you’re confident is going to be the right fit for the brand.
Louis: I think, yeah. That’s our angle, I guess.
Dom: Yeah, and that plays to this idea of things being longer term. Doesn’t it? Not just one campaign with an influencer, but how are they going to fit into the bigger story of the brand and work with them over a longer period. Not that it’s an excuse to just to fire stuff off to someone. If you’re working with like a High Street brand and you just let’s send it to as many people as possible and get them all to post about it. Which we know lots of people do that, but it’s still risky doing that. Even if you’re working outside of luxury, it’s still risky. Yet everyone loves to go on about influencer fraud and the fake followers and all of this sort of stuff. But policing it is really, really difficult for anyone. If you’re an influencer agency and you’re working with mainstream brands doing those sorts of campaigns, managing and policing that is very difficult. We’re fortunate because we work on much smaller projects that are more involved and have maybe more substance to them and run over a longer period, but less people. It’s a smaller community of influencers ultimately, which makes our life a lot easier. But that’s only because we put that time in, like you said, to actually, years of building those relationships. It’s actually years of doing that and we’re not a talent agency.
Louis: I’ve seen the journey of those of those guys. Some influencer or talent that started at the very beginning of Instagram and managed to build a strong sort of image and following and since two, three years maybe changed their focus and haven’t really continued evolving in a way. Some others have raised, across the past two, three years. It’s like also following the evolution of those guys and seeing a bit. Like, okay, that guy has been doing that and, in that field, since like five years. He’s been working with XYZ brand. He’s respected in that industry and people know about him and it’s like having this sort of background info by knowing them and following them and seeing their evolutions throughout the years. You know?
Dom: Yeah. I think to bring it around to a conclusion, I think it’s basically my risk averse nature is rubbing off on you over the years. It’s good, isn’t it?
Dom: It really is true though, isn’t it?
Louis: Yeah. That kind of- – Sorry.
Dom: You were already like that, but you know its, I guess coming back to what we were talking about at the beginning, these different things that we’ve brought in and then people that we hire and bring into our team. We’re looking for people who can think laterally and not just being able to think of the obvious things and always have this awareness of what we’re trying to achieve and an awareness of risk and an awareness of when it’s worth doing something and when it isn’t. That’s a balancing act, but I think a lot of that comes with experience and maturity in the workplace.
Dom: I didn’t have that when I was 21.
Dom: I’ve learned that in lots of different ways and mainly from other people that have mentored me along the way. It’s funny how you remember snapshots anywhere in your life. But moments in my professional life of people who have been my supervisors, or I’ve worked under, who have kind of brought something to my attention has stuck with me. I remember every day when things come up at work, which is pretty interesting. I guess that’s something we want to try and pass on to people that are working with us as well. So, that kind of wraps up. Maybe that wraps up,
Louis: That’s a good way to end.
Dom: What we wanted to talk about a bit, but there’s probably more we can say around that.
Louis: Well, let’s leave the stuff for the next podcast.
Dom: Yeah, exactly. We’ll leave that. So, thanks very much for listening.
Louis: Thanks a lot. Hope you enjoyed.
Dom: We will be back soon.
Louis: If you have any question or if you want us to talk about this specific subject or topic next time, just feel free to comment.
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