Lessons from content creator, Jovel Roystan.
Time and again, influencer marketing has proven valuable for brands in increasing awareness, reaching new audiences, and impacting sales. According to the Association of National Advertisers, 92% of consumers place more trust in micro-influencers than endorsements from a celebrity or a traditional ad, and nearly half of the Gen Z population has made a buying decision based on the advice of a social-media influencer (per Kantar).
Investing in today’s content creators is a must, but before reaching out to sign that contract, brands need to understand the important nuances of these kinds of collaborations. Klarna sat down with fashion influencer and actor Jovel Roystan (70K followers), to learn what brands need to know when working with influencers and the process and inspiration behind his work.
What do you wish brands knew before reaching out to work with you?
I think brands need to have a clear understanding of the respective styles of each of the influencers they’re tapping for their projects. As nice as it is to have a dream roster of talent you’re working with, you have to remember each person’s feed has its own DNA.
It’s important to allow the creator to bring the brief to life in a way fitting their feed and style. It’s always an honor to be offered a great opportunity, but I’ve had brands that required me to execute stiflingly specific asks, or use music, color palettes or other creative elements that don’t gel with my feed (usually this direction comes after the contract is signed); and while it’s understandable—even helpful in some instances—there needs to be a significant degree of freedom for each of us to do our thing our way. You’re not hiring the advertising agency, you’re hiring the network the commercial will air on. In my opinion, the network would never feel a need to compromise its brand identity to satisfy one client—especially if the client is coming to them.
What goes into your decision-making process when a brand approaches you about a sponsored post?
I know pretty quickly if a partnership makes complete sense, has real potential, or just isn’t a match. I always try to lead with that intuition. From there, I match the brief with my creative process and the resources I have to properly execute it, as well as any factors that could potentially make it feel too sponsored (such as mandatory language in captions, fifteen hashtags, being coached into specific poses or styling, etc.).
I talk to the team about all of my concerns before we confirm anything because I hate being that person who pushes back creatively once the contracts are signed. At the end of the day, I just try to be honest about what I know I’ll be able to knock out of the park, and more importantly at this point in my career, what brands and projects I’m going to actually enjoy spending my time on.
What are some do’s and don’ts brands should follow when working with influencers?
Give them their space. Once you present a well-crafted brief laying down what you need, let them do their thing. Of course, I’mnot saying don’t provide feedback and be happy with what you get. I’m saying to let them do their job in a way that feels right to them and communicate along the way. Ask questions, understand what they have in mind, and let them have fun. There have been plenty of ideas I’ve wanted to try over the years but haven’t because so many of my brand partners in the past—even the best of them—can be a bit limited or straight-forward in their thinking. If you foster relationships encouraging your creators to make their very best, they probably will.
How do you ensure authenticity with your audience while meeting brand needs?
I always do my best to be honest. I promote products I find value in, whether I’m a long- term customer or new to their family, and that’s something I really try to stand by. If I browse through a brand’s assortment or lookbook and can’t find even one piece that could actually fit in my closet, I’m not going to sign on and force an outfit for a quick paycheck. And I think when you keep that type of prerequisite in mind, the authenticity sort of just comes by nature. Tone of voice is another big thing; I hate when brands rewrite (not tweak) my captions, especially when there’s no business-critical cause for it. I’m a stickler for proper English, so if I write something in a certain way, there’s usually a reason. I’ve always kept things very conversational and I think owning one’s voice is so important for a creator. It sets the tone for what their page is about. I have friends who are very editorial, others who are advocates in their own right, and some of us who are laid-back, vulnerable, and just try to keep it real. When you stay true to these two points, I feel like the brand will always be represented in the right way.
What kinds of feedback from your followers have you received when you do sponsored content?
At this point, I have a pretty good understanding of what people will and won’t respond to, so as long as I’m honoring those insights, I just try to have fun and make it interesting. Who wants to see another basic ad, right? I think people like that I keep it real. I talk pretty candidly about my struggles, victories, and aspirations. Also, if I’ve used something for a while, I’ll state that. Similarly, if I’m not a long-time user of a product, I clarify I’m trying it out. And I think people take me at my word. Another good thing: People seem to actually like me (haha). When I show my personality more, I often get good feedback, whether it’s from me being silly in a story or dancing in a post. I think the goal for me is to make sure my sponsored content looks and feels like my day-to-day, organic posts. That way, even when they get a product push, they can still relate, be inspired, or at least not be surprised or annoyed.
How do you define a successful brand partnership? What metrics do you look at?
In full transparency, I don’t focus on the numbers anymore. At all. Between all the changes with the algorithm and each platform’s particular brand strategy, I set my sights on the quality of the work, not the quantity of engagements—I invest my energy in the thing I can actually control. I try to make sure each piece of content looks and feels like something I’d enjoy seeing in my feed, something I’d be proud to attach my name to. However, one metric I do give some attention to is direct feedback from my brand partners, whether in the form of kind words that my manager passes along or clients coming back for more (long-term contracts *wink wink*). Those are signs of success to me.