Danielle Lewis is the cofounder of influencer marketing platform, Scrunch.
It’s no secret that influencer marketing is becoming the preferred form for advertising for almost all companies and products. The increasing potential to reach customers through their favorite artists, politicians, athletes or bloggers has reached an all time high with an expectation to only continue to grow within the coming years. With the constant connection we all carry in our pockets 24/7, it really should have been of no surprise the ways in which this form of marketing would change and take off.
Seven years ago, however, Danielle Lewis, then a fashion blogger and now CEO and cofounder of Scrunch, one of Australia’s fastest growing, data-driven influencer marketing platforms, could see this future as clear as day and decided to make it better.
“Essentially we’ve been working on Scrunch for about seven years and it’s really only in the last few years that the influencer marketing pieces really started to take off. So we really just invested in exploring different research, exploring different ideas, testing the market, pitching to different brands, raising capital, building teams — it’s just been this massive evolution of a process that finally got the Scrunch platform, as it is today, out the door about three years ago,” explained Lewis, “The influencer market has just become absolutely massive, and, just in 2017 alone, we’ve seen the most growth in the market of all time really and people starting to invest in it, so it’s kind of been a combination of being there as the market has evolved, but really being ready because we’ve been exploring different solutions, building a team, building the technology and testing the market all this time.”
What exactly is influencer marketing anyway?
Influencer marketing is more commonly spotted and understood today as the sneaky advertisements our favorite personalities so casually post on their social media posts, like the awesome product so and so used to whiten her teeth or to help a rambunctious toddler sleep through the night or the book they just could not put down – those and the millions of other situations that, in quick swipes and glances, don’t always look so staged and set up, despite the ad hashtag sent with it.
It’s like advertising in disguise for consumers and it’s kind of advertising with benefits to brands,” said Lewis, “Typically when a brand advertises, people know it’s an ad and it feels inauthentic, because it’s the brand telling the story. But when it’s the influencer, not only does the brand get the ad and the eyeballs, but they also get content generation as well, which a lot of brands struggle with – and they do get that credibility factor as well, so it’s kind of like this triple threat of advertising from a brand’s point of view.”
And Lewis and her team saw that potential, way before the seemingly never ending plethora of prospective influencers throughout the social medial stratosphere were ever tapped in to.
“It was really a combination of bringing together the two skill sets of the founders, so myself and Sal (Salvatore Garozzo), and then talking to customers. We, in the very early days, we built a few solutions that we felt were amazing, but really there was no market at the time for them, so it was really about getting back to basics and talking to customers about the challenges that they were having and how we can potentially solve it using technology that really sort of led it down to the influencer paths,” said Lewis, who says what sets Scrunch apart in an exploding market is the technology they developed to help fine tune the ways in which brands find their influencers.
“The biggest thing for us is the data. We built the technology that can actually follow an influencer’s followers, so we can tell a brand when they’re looking at an influencer, who their followers are from an age, gender, ethnicity, location, what they’re interested in, the time and day when they’re most active online — all the sort of data points that you might use if you were, say, doing an advertising buy, we can give the brand the exact same data so that they can kind of put an audience first and the influencer is just a delivery mechanism to that audience,” explained Lewis.
The two key focuses for 2018
Looking forward, Lewis believes 2018 will focus on two key points within the influencer marketing industry that she and her team are prepared for: transparency and long term relationships.
“One of the kind of roadblocks people have found before kicking off a influencer campaign is, well obviously, there’s a bit of a risk. If you’re working with an influencer who has a hundred thousand followers, how do you really know who those followers are? So having influencers being more transparent over who their followers are, by providing analytic snapshots of their accounts or tapping into a platform like Scrunch, where we actually do audience analysis — I think transparency of data and really reviewing that data and interrogating it before you actually even contact a potential influencer — we’ll see a lot more of that in 2018,” said Lewis. “The other big [trend] is really around more longer-term collaborations, like ambassador roles. So, when people kind of start dabbling in influencer marketing, they tend to work with one or two people, just like one or two posts — it’s very ad-hoc and campaign driven — but the more mature brands that have been doing it for a little while, who have a bit more data of what influencers works for them, they’re moving towards more of an ambassador style role. So they’ll find the influencers that work the best and then kind of engage them for sort of a six month to a year engagement and then get multiple posts over time out of them and we find that that works a lot more organically with people responding as well.”
Considering the future for not just the market but for Scrunch as well, Lewis is excited about the continued evolution of her company and the technology they are creating.
“Really for us, our whole focus as a business is on growth and really expanding our team, expanding our client base and, you know, really growing the knowledge and intelligence we have as a team. So I’m really looking forward to progressing that,” said Lewis.
“We’ve got some really cool stuff that we’re working on in the platform, which is really going to help accelerate things,” continued Lewis. “We’re just about to launch chat on the platform, so that brands and influencers can sort of collaborate a little bit closer together, which will be amazing, and we’re pushing out the audience analysis as well, so just giving people more and more data points that they’ve never seen before about their brand to really understand who their audience is and who the right influencers are for them. So it’s really coming into that recommendation without even a brand having to do any research, really having the technology to make influencer recommendations for them, so that’s really exciting and then just growing the team as well.”
With what Lewis calls a “content generation,” it is apparent that Scrunch, and the whole of influence marketing for that matter, can continue to expect immense growth and transformation, as society becomes more and more connected via the varied and ever-changing forms of social media. Perhaps, you too, can be an influence of some sorts. But if you are still sitting on an idea, a thought or a plan, Lewis has some advice for you:
“Your first idea is never right. I know its sounds a bit funny but there is kind of like -when you just have this brilliant idea there’s so many things that go into its success. Whether there’s market appetite for it, timing, capital – all those types of things – but the only way to even get into the end is to just go anyway, just move forward, just take the step to put it into action. And the thing is, it doesn’t matter if it evolves. It doesn’t matter if it changes slightly or you got the platform a little bit wrong … because you only know the answers to those questions by doing,” said Lewis. “So my advice is always, firstly, just start because you’re going to learn all these things along the way and the only way to learn is by getting in the thick of it. And the second one is perseverance because all of those things are going to happen. You’re going to feel, you know, a little bit deterred, a little bit unmotivated, but if you do keep learning those lessons and moving forward, you will get to that end success if you don’t give up.”