The inaugural Influencer Marketing Awards (IMAs) is less than two weeks away and we are counting down the days. With the show just around the corner, we’re pleased to reveal the latest IMA category sponsor, Wildfire Social, who are sponsoring the Best Travel Campaign category. We sat down with Gaby Khalastchy, account director at Wildfire Social to discuss the awards, developments within the industry and what the rest of the year will look like for the company.

First of all, could you give us a quick overview of your company and what you do?

We are a social content agency that produces content and distributes it across a range of social channels (from fan pages to influencers) to reach targeted online audiences.

What key developments in the industry have you seen within the last 12 months, and how has your company maneuvered with them?

The digital space is constantly changing so it’s important for our team to keep up to date with the latest trends and insights to deliver the best recommendations for our clients. Within the last 12 months, we have seen a lot of changes and growth across the industry. Firstly, Instagram revoked access to their IPI for third parties. We pride ourselves on our ability to adapt with these changes while remaining transparent with our clients, in particular, ensuring our data is pulled straight from the source.Secondly, paid media with influencer marketing has evolved, allowing us to include more targeted paid strategies to our campaigns that further support and amplify our client’s wider campaign goals. This is a constantly evolving area; for example, this week, Instagram announced that they are working on Branded Content Ads – a format that will better enable us to partner with influencers in an easier, more transparent way.Influencers have been constantly dragged into the limelight in a negative way, more recently regarding ‘fake’ followers. To remain transparent with our clients and focus on quality, we ensure all influencers we collaborate with have a real, authentic following. Finally, on top of all this, the platforms we work with are constantly changing, especially in the youth market. We need to be on top of our game and shift channel recommendations per target audience.For us, the term ‘influencer’ is both those individual content creators and communities. We feel really passionate about the exciting work we have done with faceless communities and brands. Here, we are also able to work with a brand’s existing content and distribute it to niche audiences. For example, dog content can be shared across communities formed around a shared passion for dogs such as, ‘I Love Dogs!’. Even more so, we incorporate these pages into a wider paid distribution plan, ensuring our contextually relevant content is targeted to your specific audience.

And the biggest challenge faced?

We believe that every successful campaign isn’t without challenges and this is why we value our account management and level of commitment to clients. The biggest challenge for influencer marketing as a whole is finding one specific KPI to measure a brand’s success, and then to sticking to it. The easiest way for a brand to measure the success of an influencer campaign is based on direct ROI attributed to a conversion pixel used throughout the campaign. However, even then it doesn’t take into consideration those who were influenced and didn’t actually convert until later. Moreover, the majority of influencer campaigns are only used as an awareness piece and therefore it is important to understand that objectives are based on a brand’s persisting goals rather than immediate purchases. If this is the case, it is sometimes very hard for brands to prove that the campaign actually made a difference.

In your opinion, what kind of attributes stand out in a successful influencer marketing campaign?

We believe that the best campaigns are authentic and native to the brand. As we aim to incorporate paid media within our campaigns, we are able to have some form of control once the campaign is live in order to optimise towards our target audience. If one piece of content is underperforming, we would optimise for the better performing, to make sure that our client receives the best value.

How does it feel to be sponsoring the Best Travel Campaign category at the IMAs?

It’s great to represent a category that our team feels strongly about. When Wildfire started as an agency, our founders had created and owned a few online communities, with travel being one focus. We also love travel as it represents some of the most inventive and creative content online and is one that everyone has an interest in and thus can relate to it, albeit in different ways. As a category, travel in social is constantly pushing itself to be bigger and better, offering greater content and advice to the audience on a global scale.

You’ve also been shortlisted in two categories: Best Family & Parenting Campaign and Best Sports & Fitness Campaign. How does it feel to be nominated for two awards?

It is great to be nominated! Everyone in the business was involved at some point in both campaigns and they show a true representation of the effort and results we put into every campaign so we’re delighted to be recognised for this.

Lastly, how will Wildfire help drive the influencer marketing industry forward on a global scale in 2019?

We have started replicating our model across Europe and China whilst already working on multi-market campaigns. We want to be able to align influencer marketing campaigns on a global scale for our clients and help connect the dots between local teams so that they can start proving the value of influencer marketing campaigns on a holistic approach across markets.
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