Influencer marketing is on the rise, with more brands realising that recommendations from people are becoming more powerful than direct advertising.
Nfinity Media spotted this trend and made moves to capitalise on it, acquiring the rights to the Webfluential name in South Africa. The company will run the Webfluential business in the country and use its expertise to build the brand even further.
“Our whole business has been in the new order space … We looked at the new order space and looked at where the world is going and we focus our business development on that,” explains Ken Varejes, founder and CEO of Nfinity Media.
“With Nfinity, we get all their expertise, the network they have in the market, and fantastic partners that can deliver value to customers,” adds Murray Legg, co-founder of Webfluential.
Interacting with the market and marketers
Nfinity Media is no stranger to influencer marketing, with its existing division, theSalt focusing on car branding and the endorsement of civilian influencers/advocates. The past experiences and knowledge of this division will be incorporated into the strategy for the Webfluential business.
“Our core skill is our ability to interact with the market and marketers,” says Pieter Groenewald, founder and CEO of theSALT. “So we’ve got a blueprint on how to penetrate the market and make sure brands become more visible on marketing plans and media schedules. What we’ve also learnt in the past is you’ve got to have dedicated teams behind each media type within the group, so we’re recruiting and have individuals earmarked to come and be dedicated resources behind this business,” he adds.
Webfluential will be operating independently under the Nfinity Media Group, but will have the full support of the rest of the businesses in the group as well as constant support from Legg and his team abroad.
Why South Africa?
Asked why Webfluential decided to expand its operation into the South African market, Legg explains, “The market is such a great one and such fertile ground for influencer marketing, because its culture is rooted in storytelling. Digital has provided a means to amplify that storytelling to a broader audience”.
Many cases have been seen recently where influencers have been called out by the public for not genuinely endorsing a brand, merely doing it for the money. So how should a brand choose the right influencer and how should the public be informed that this is sponsored content?
“Where new brands come into a market, they can ride on the credibility of an influencer to introduce them to the local audience … From a best practice point of view, the influencer has to disclose it’s sponsored content and they were paid for it. For bigger brands, what they’re looking for is a consistent brand equity and mention of their brand. The influencer is far more likely a user or purchaser of their product,” explains Legg.
Another debate in the influencer marketing space is macro versus micro influencers. Varejes believes there is space for both types, and that it all depends on the scenario or situation. While micro-influencers tend to have more two-way communication with their audience, macro-influencers have the mass reach. But not all brands can afford macro-influencers.
“As a result we have to grow this market and open up for more micro-influencers. My experience is that brands that use micro-influencers tend to get the results they want to get out of the exercise,” adds Groenewald.
“For influencer marketing to be sustained, the brand needs to see results, the influencer needs to get proper remuneration for the content they’ve produced and the audience they’ve brought into the conversation, but the media channel also needs to monetise it in some way,” Legg believes.
Unable to disclose how much the deal is worth or what the profit sharing model that was created looks like, Varejes laughingly says, “We can’t disclose that, but it’s fair to say that both parties are very happy … We both derive benefit”.
“We’ve just done the deal, so we haven’t hit the market yet. But from this week we will be going all guns and will have updates in the next month,” he adds.
A global brand
“Webfluential is the technology that captures the trend that started three to four years ago, where people were becoming media channels … to capitalise and monetise the influencer space. The tech helps influencers not only understand their audience and content and their engagement rate and who they are applicable to,” explains Legg.
The brand currently has 35 partners operating on six continents. Many global clients also utilise Webfluential. As Legg says, “A lot of South African marketers already know the Webfluential brand … Now it’s from a convenience point of view that they can contact Nfinity.”
Michael Bratt is a multimedia journalist at Wag the Dog, publishers of The Media Online and The Media. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelBratt8