Influencer Marketing: An Insider Look with Aliza Freud, Founder & CEO of SheSpeaks
By Deborah Grossman
AMA New York Volunteer
I had the pleasure of interviewing Aliza Freud, Founder & CEO of SheSpeaks, an influencer marketing agency connecting brands with female consumers. After hearing Aliza’s insightful presentation for AMA New York’s Marketing Post COVID-19 virtual event, I was intrigued to learn more. We spoke about everything from how her company has evolved to what she loves about influencer marketing to how marketers can leverage influencers to promote their products and services to how the coronavirus pandemic has changed the industry.
Can you tell me about your company and what drew you to influencer marketing?
Back in 2008, SheSpeaks actually started as a research and insights company. We created an online platform to understand what was going on in the hearts and minds of women in terms of how they thought about products and services. What we realized was when women were signing up on our platform, many were providing us with their blog URLs and/or social media handles as they were bloggers and were active on social media. We then figured out that there was an opportunity here to actually engage these women to help do marketing for brands. So our company over time evolved into an influencer marketing company, but our mission has always stayed the same: to help amplify women’s voices.
What’s your company’s process for creating influencer marketing campaigns for brands?
We don’t start any influencer marketing campaign for a brand without first conducting research to understand insights such as the target consumer and what’s on her mind when she is thinking about the product category. The insights help us understand what is going on with women so when we work with our clients in the influencer marketing space, we can do a better job of creating the story.
Any time we do any sort of project, it always starts with how can we creatively bring this product to life in the way that people are already using or want to use the product. That really helps us create the right messaging and content. We are giving the influencer a chance to actually talk to her audience about what’s on her mind related to the brand, and the influencer gets compensated as well.
What has been the most interesting/creative campaign for SheSpeaks?
It’s hard to pick one, the campaigns are all very different. I love what we get to do because of the variety of brands we work with, from insurance companies to food and beverage brands. Each of the influencer campaigns can be extremely interesting and creative in their own right based on insights.
How can influencers help marketers promote their products or services?
Influencers can help marketers articulate how the products benefit them by creating stories from their own perspectives about the products. That is something you can’t get from pure marketing. The authenticity comes from someone talking about the product from their very personal point of view, from their own eyes. You have to make sure the influencer has a story to share and you can tell if a piece of content is performing well if people are engaging with it, such as liking, commenting, or sharing the content with others. With any campaign you work on, you can find a micro-influencer who is very authentic, but you can also find a mega-celebrity who is right for the brand. It just has to be the right fit.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, have you seen changes in the influencer marketing industry?
Yes. Once the pandemic started, some influencer content did not mesh well with the current environment, especially content from those promoting their luxury lifestyles while jet setting around the world. I think the pandemic made people realize that a lot of the things they celebrated in influencers they followed on social media were really not that important. The country was getting sick, the world was getting sick. What we now see is a shift in influencer marketing – influencers focusing on things that are much more real and relatable to their audiences. For example, influencers are now talking about their lives at home with their families and things they can do to be creative and engaging there.
This shift also extends to what’s going on with the social unrest. There is this question now, how can I be an agent of change? We are seeing a lot of influencers leverage their influence to help with that change and use their platforms in positive ways. It’s so wonderful and delightful to see this change.
Now to switch gears – if a marketing professional is interested in starting a career in influencer marketing, what skills are most important?
That’s a good question. I would say that if you love marketing because you love the idea of how do I take this product or service that I offer and make it appealing to the target audience because I understand how it fits into their life, then influencer marketing is up your alley. Often marketers today focus on the product’s feature versus the product’s benefit. In influencer marketing, you can’t do anything but focus on the benefit. You really need to understand your target audience, where they are, and how to create a message with an influencer that speaks to the benefit the product provides the target audience. One of the things I love about influencer marketing is that you learn very quickly if something is working or not working.
If you’re working in-house for a company and you’re interested in leveraging influencers to market your products or services, how can you get started?
You can do a search online and see who is talking about your brand. Then you can reach out to the influencer and get a better understanding of their audience. Any good influencer knows a lot about their audience, there’s a lot of data at their fingertips from social media platforms. You can then talk with them about how they can bring your product to life. People are consuming and engaging with influencer content, and with traditional marketing, you don’t really get that. For example, you don’t know how many people engage with your television commercial. With influencer content, you can actually track the engagement. You can even put links to products and track how many products are sold as a result of the influencer campaigns. You don’t have to have a huge budget, just find some influencers who write credibly about the topic you’re interested in or who have your target audience. Influencers are such strong storytellers, they get it, and they are always talking to their followers.
Deborah Grossman is a digital marketing professional with a background in social media content creation and strategy and influencer marketing. Since 2019, she has been active in AMA New York and serves as the organization’s Content and Strategy Director. Follow her on LinkedIn.