International clothing brand, Zara shared some exciting news on September 17, through their social media influencer campaign #DearSouthAfrica. For the first time ever, South Africans can finally purchase Zara clothing online. About 60 micro-influencers were given Zara SA vouchers in exchange for posts, as a means to spread the word online.
While hilarious memes and GIFs were aplenty with people celebrating the fact that the fashion giant was finally online, something else seemed to share the spotlight with the launch. The conversation that ran in tandem with the accessibility and convenience now being provided by Zara SA was that of textured and multi-coloured layers.
In a very strategic and rather unexpected choice, Zara SA used micro-influencers instead of macro-influencers for its online store launch and social media campaign. This sent waves across the social media sphere (particularly Twitter). At surface level, it looked like Zara SA was trying to go for influencers who couldn’t aggressively be associated with other big retailers or any other brand for that matter. But once you delve deeper into what influencer roles are in the bigger scheme of things, you will begin to understand how strategic of a decision this was for the brand and why less, really is more.
The influencer economy has become vast and varied, making it difficult for one to understand it’s role. However, at the very core lies its true purpose – the ability of an individual to affect purchase decisions.
What we have seen time and again is brands typically selecting individuals with a high following on social media platforms, and while this may not always be the wrong way to go about it, it’s not necessarily always right way either. There are quite a few things that brands should take into consideration to ensure brand alignment. Looking at follower counts in isolation can quickly result in inauthentic content and very little relevance.
The beauty of influencer marketing is that there aren’t set criterias cast in stone for how to choose the best man (or womxn) for the job, however, judging from the many brands using this approach for their campaigns (and just not getting it right) we can say for sure that there are definite no-no’s. The job should be given to whoever makes sense to the laid out objectives and makes the most brand sense. Now the problem with “making sense to the brand and the campaign objectives” is not necessarily a numbers game that can be explained using graphs and numerical data.
Agencies and all parties involved in selecting influencers need to be discerning enough to know that sometimes reach and the average number of likes per post is just not enough in selecting the right influencer. In the research phase of the influencer campaigns, agencies really need to zone in on how authentic and credible the relationship would be perceived by the influencer’s audience, how much engagement takes place between the influencer and their audience and then look at how much knowledge the influencer has regarding their audience. These are all qualitative measures which are hard to measure and even harder to prove but when this is done absolutely right, not only are objectives achieved, but it feels and sounds right to the intended audience. However, if the people responsible for this phase are not fighting for this authenticity, we will keep being fed cringy-just-not-quite-right campaigns.
To bring it back to Zara SA, being heralded for spending next to nothing on traditional advertising made absolute sense that even when getting on the influencer marketing wagon, the giant retailer went for the road less taken by going for micro-influencers. They then multiplied their impact by going for people who had different strengths on different platforms. Not only was this a brilliant case of creating talkability around the launch, but it also did a two-pronged great job. Zara showed everyone that the pie is there and it’s massive. It remains to be seen if more brands will take a page out of Zara’s book and do more relatable, yet effective campaigns without recycling the same five faces.
Written by Kefiloe Moroe.