The new influence: The&Collective founder Jenny Halpern Prince on why vlogs matter

Will Railton
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The&Collective founder Jenny Halpern Prince on the importance of being authentic
Video bloggers, or “social influencers” are fast becoming the BFF of marketers looking to court younger consumers. Brand advocacy is widely agreed to be more powerful than brand awareness, and social influencers with thousands of followers allow brands to engage with highly social audiences, unlike more traditional paid media.
Last week, Jenny Halpern Prince, founder and chief executive of Halpern PR, launched end-to-end social talent agency The&Collective, partnering brands with influencers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as a way to boost engagement and sales. “We’re unique because we’ll be scouting and managing talent, and working with brands to find the most appropriate channels and controlling the final message,” says Halpern Prince. She talks to City A.M. about the profitability of influencer marketing and why an authentic brand-influencer collaboration is vital.

Why is social influencing such a powerful marketing tool today?

Millennials feel a particular affinity with social influencers. They spend lots of time on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and have the TV on in the background at the same time, so content needs to be particularly arresting if it is to keep them engaged.
Social influencers have really proved themselves in this area. They aren’t celebrities – their videos often give practical tips of real benefit to the audience, and we are more able to sympathise with vloggers because they look and sound like us.
Popular influencers are valuable because they are good at what they do. One of the vloggers we represent, Maddie Bruce, has attracted 2.9m views for a video of her morning routine. She wakes up, gets washed and dressed, and it’s over five minutes long, but it is very cleverly put together. You can liken it to modern art. People look at a Rothko and think: “I can do that”. But engaging an audience is much harder than it looks.
It’s about tone of voice, and this is where vloggers contrast quite starkly with celebrities, whose lives have been presented as perfect – aspirational, but unattainable. Maddie Bruce has discussed mental health issues in the past, and social media has the power to draw attention to neglected issues and charitable organisations trying to tackle them.

What are these social influencers worth to brands?

Influencer marketing can be very profitable. Research by Tomoson shows that clients see £6.50 back for every pound they spend on influencer marketing. Retention rates are higher and conversion rates may increase tenfold. The &Partnership’s media buying agency m/SIX will be monitoring conversion rates and we’re introducing a rewards programme in January to remunerate our influencers based on sales.

Which brands are best suited to influencer marketing?

The fashion and beauty industries are a natural fit, but we’re also seeing the travel industry lend itself to some very engaging content, and cars as well. One of the most popular programmes in recent years has been Top Gear, which is essentially a form of brand advocacy. It provides unbiased feedback on products in an entertaining and stimulating way, much like vloggers do.
There is still some hand-holding though. We are working with all The&Partnership’s clients, like TalkTalk and Dove. But it’s not about simply matching the influencers we represent with our existing clients. We’ll look around for the most appropriate partnerships. The most popular influencers are honest, so when they start talking about a particular brand or product, consumers trust that they have a good reason for doing so, and that the brand has something genuinely useful to offer. Neither will benefit if it seems forced.