Shaheen Samavati recently sat down with Jo Burford, global head of marketing at Whalar, an influencer marketing platform. Jo explained what influencer marketing is and how people’s notion of an influencer is not always correct. She also shared how Whalar is helping large social platforms with application programming interface, how to be effective on social media with a small budget, and how Whalar is responding to the Black Lives Matter movement through their work with diverse voices and brands.

You can watch the full conversation in the video above or on YouTube, listen to the podcast on Apple and Spotify, and read our recap below.

Key takeaways

  • Whalar represents some of the world’s best digital influencers following their magic formula of creativity, technology and talent. They understand the unique process of client and content creator collaborations from both perspectives, which results in stand-out content production. 
  • There are a lot of misconceptions around influencer marketing, such as who constitutes an influencer. A lot of people think influencers only appear on your feed trying to sell you something, while leading a superficial lifestyle. In reality, there’s a whole world of remote creators out there that have been around long before the social media boom, and they’re now leveraging technology to liberate themselves from a normal 9-5 work schedule.
  • It’s easy to think something is a trend because you’re constantly seeing it on your feed, but it could be totally absent from someone else’s. So you must take a broader view, examine the data, track what’s growing, and make decisions that way.
  • Whenever a new platform becomes popular there’s a race to see who can master it quickly. In the case of TikTok, brands shouldn’t push content that is hyper-branded or too polished, as it’s a lighter and less serious space compared to other mainstream channels.
  • If you want to work in a vibrant and fast-paced industry, such as influencer marketing, you must be prepared to handle constant change and have a strong interest in trends and how they evolve, as well as pop culture, content creation and human connection. 

This industry is extremely fast paced. You’ll wake up on a Monday morning, and think: “What news is going to come in next?” You have to be ready for anything and adapt well to change.

Rapid-fire recs

A source of inspiration or an influencer you follow?

One person I really like is Aja Barber. Her account is all about sustainability and fashion, but it’s not about judging people or telling people they shouldn’t do certain things or buy certain clothes. One of the major challenges I have with sustainable fashion at the moment is that it’s very much geared towards slim people—there isn’t a lot of representation for people of color or different sizes. Aja talks a lot about how to be a woman of color with curves, and also have a sustainable wardrobe. She’s super informative and creates beautiful content that is aspirational but also relatable.

Your favorite app at the moment?

I’d say an app called Headway. It’s an app that provides summaries of books in 20-minute episodes. It’s great for when I’m out and about and don’t feel like listening to music or a podcast. I’m an avid reader, and there’s only so much time I can dedicate to reading in a day, so this helps me explore a variety of topics quickly.

See also: Top 10 apps for content and marketing professionals

A book or publication you like?

I’m a die-hard fan of The Economist—I love their journalism. It’s really helped me through the pandemic by providing information that I trust. Something lighter I enjoy is Refinery29, as I like that they put women at the heart of their conversations, and they’ve been open to featuring unique, diverse voices.

I’d also recommend a book called “Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models”by Gabriel Weinberg. It was a suggestion in the inflight British Airways magazine, which I also love! Super Thinking is all about thinking strategies to help you make decisions quicker, offering models that can help you get to the heart of what you’re trying to solve and eliminate stress.

See also: Top 8 content and marketing books to read right now (according to experts)

Connect with Jo and Shaheen on LinkedIn.

This post was edited by Mary Kresge, a freelance content creator based in Madrid.

Looking for more insights into influencer marketing?

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Influencer marketing in gaming – David Robson from Deep Silver

To see the full transcript, click on page number 2 below.