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3 Things We Learned From Earned Summit 2.0, Tribe Dynamics’ Digital Marketing Conference

Last week, Tribe Dynamics hosted the Earned Summit 2.0, the second installment of our 2-day digital marketing conference that (virtually) brought together nearly 50 industry experts across beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and finance. Across our 13 panel discussions, we covered everything from where to invest your marketing spend, to how to adopt a digital-first approach and make a splash on TikTok, to key insights from our 2020 Brand and Influencer Survey, and much, much more. If you didn’t get a chance to tune in, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve highlighted a few key takeaways from the conference below, but be sure to check out our Earned Summit 2.0 playlist to catch up (and take notes) on all of our insightful panel discussions.

1. Listen to the Experts (the Influencers)

In “The Future of Influencer Marketing,” Alle Fister (of Bollare Communications), Akash Mehta (Akash Agency & Fable and Mane), Lauren Consiglio (Dermalogica) and Ali Grant (Be Social Group) discussed how the COVID-19 era has accelerated the need to build out a digital community of consumers and influencers, and dove into how digital content, both earned and owned, is changing—especially given the rise of new social platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. When it comes to building a presence on newer platforms, Mehta noted how brands must always be on their toes, and willing to learn and experiment with new forms of content. But he also emphasized that it’s important you understand the platform and how consumers engage with it before jumping in and trying to apply practices that work for you on other social channels. His advice? Listen to the influencers—they’re the experts. 

 

Your brand should default to the influencers, especially those native to each platform, because they know best what performs well, and what their audience connects with, and responds to. Grant added that brand and influencer partnerships need to be collaborative: yes, your brand can, and should, give influencers direction and talking points, but you should also give them creative license, be open to their input, and trust their process—“you hired them for a reason.” Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere; in fact, building, managing, and nurturing relationships with influencers is now more important than ever—but remember, it doesn’t happen overnight.

2. There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be Human and Have Empathy

A takeaway that was emphasized in nearly every Earned Summit panel was, simply, to be human. In this unprecedented and challenging time, people are seeking connection and community, and the content and messaging that resonates most with consumers is real, transparent, and relatable, not highly curated, polished, or tone-deaf. This theme was also emphasized in our “Future of Retail” panel, led by Dr. Brooke Carlson (Fashion Institute of Technology) and featuring Robert Debaker (Luxury Brand Partners), Charlotte Knight (CIATE & Lottie London), and Laura Slatkin (NEST Fragrances). Dr. Brooke shared how we are in the midst of “a retail evolution, if not revolution,” and that with this change in consumers’ mindset and purchasing behavior, brands must be sensitive and empathetic to meet consumers where they’re at, and adjust their product and messaging to reflect the shift. 

 

Where to start? Brands can work with retail partners to ensure a more interactive and inspiring in-store shopping experience that will complement online shopping. DeBaker stressed how the in-store experience needs to speak to and engage the consumer “in the moment we’re in right now, because right now feels like the only real moment”: the past feels so distant, and the future feels so unknown. Slatkin also emphasized the importance of storytelling—in a way that is authentic to your brand and message—to connect the consumer to your product and brand in a more meaningful way, and that the retail experience needs to be able to tell these stories, not just display products on shelves. Consumers, they said, are more educated than ever before, so brands must be transparent and honest about their practices and values in their content. And while we’re becoming a digital-first world, the panel shared that regardless of whether it’s online or in-store, infusing a human and personal touch into your communication and interaction with consumers and influencers is key.

3. Influencers Want Brands to...Do Your Research

When discussing influencer marketing best practices, what better way to figure out what resonates with influencers than going straight to the source: the influencers themselves? In “What Influencers Really Want,” headed by Becca Bahrke (Socialyte), and featuring fashion and beauty influencers Kaye Bassey (@kayebassey), Thania Peck (@catcherinthestyle), and Anthony Urbano (@oh_antonio), the panel discussed what makes a brand appealing to partner with, how brands can build meaningful relationships with content creators (even without a budget), and much more. The influencers stressed that before brands approach them for partnerships and campaigns, it’s important that those brands do their research and take the time to understand their existing content, their aesthetic, and most importantly, their values, to make sure the partnership is a genuine and natural fit and mutually beneficial. The content creators also shared that transparency, inclusivity, and eco-consciousness are critical from brands. The biggest brand turn-offs? Brands that devalue influencers’ work, worth, and expertise, and don’t want to build personal, long-lasting relationships outside of specific campaigns. 

 

When asked whether they were willing to work with brands who were unable to meet their rates, the influencers responded that it depends on whether the campaign is furthering an important cause that they are passionate about. In the panel, the influencers also shared how their own content is changing during this time, and Anthony noted that while he used to use his social platform as a place for fun and lighthearted escapism, he is now speaking up more about the issues he believes in, and wants to partner with brands who do the same—a sentiment echoed by influencer Thamarr Guerrier (@musingsofacurvylady) in our “Digital Natives” panel. What does this mean for brands? Be clear in your own purpose, and focus on building relationships with influencers who align with your brand message and values.

Be sure to tune in to all of our other learning-packed panel discussions, like “Digital Natives: How Apparel is Killing It,” “DTC Brands and the Digital-First Approach,” and “Creating Unique Brand and Customer Experiences,” by visiting our Earned Summit 2.0 playlist.

Ready to unlock your brand’s influencer marketing potential?

Tribe Dynamics provides tools and insights for passion-driven brands and the retailers that carry these brands. Let’s get in touch so you can start growing your influencer marketing program today!

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