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A Discussion With: #paid's VP, Marketing Richard Wong

A Discussion With: #paid's VP, Marketing Richard Wong

4 minute read

  • #paid is an online platform that connects brands and social media influencers for the purpose of collaborating on marketing campaigns
  • Features like Facebook Live and Instagram stories are creating opportunities to evolve the way influencers engage with their following
  • While #paid counsels its influencer community to limit the frequency with which they publish sponsored posts, they believe that followers are open to brand integration from influencers whom they see as admired peers (as long as the collaborations are executed in a way that is authentic to the influencer’s brand)

As part of our Industry Spotlight feature, MKTG sits down with sponsorship professionals from all sides of the business to hear their stories and insights on emerging trends and best practices. This week, MKTG met with Richard Wong, the Vice-President of Marketing at #paid.

#paid (pronounced, “hashtag paid”) is an online platform that connects brands and social media influencers for collaboration on marketing campaigns, either in the form of content created specifically for the brand to use or through sponsored content that influencers post on their own social media channels. #Paid’s roster of 12,000 social media influencers offer their quickly growing client list consisting of brands like Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Sephora, Audi and Chevrolet a diverse menu of talent to help authenticate and amplify their brand story.

According to a 2017 study on the state of influencer marketing, 94% of marketers found influencer-based activity to be effective. As these investments shift from an emerging marketing tactic to a mainstream staple in the marketing mix, MKTG speaks to #paid about how their offering has evolved over time and upcoming trends they are seeing in the world of influencer marketing.

Here are Five Key Learnings from MKTG’s conversation with #paid:

Disclosure: #paid has a partnership with the Dentsu Aegis Network that provides agencies in the network with preferred access to its roster of influencers and first access to test any new tech the company develops. 

Fresh start

A photo posted by hashtagpaid (@hashtagpaid) on


1. 

#paid is part platform, part agency for Tier-1 brands

When brands work with more traditional celebrity endorsers, there are stakeholders who add discipline to the process, from agents to business managers. The world of influencer marketing is more of a “wild west”, Wong points out. The relatively early industry life cycle results in demand from clients for #paid to be more than a platform whose algorithm helps match them with influencers. #paid helps brands develop their influencer strategies, from initial education to post-campaign reporting. It is why Wong classifies their role as “part platform and part agency”.

2. 

#paid employs influencers directly to help recruit and grow its roster

A strong pipeline of social influencers on its roster is essential to #paid building a sustainable and inimitable competitive advantage. To attract influencers to its platform, they leverage a combination of “push” and “pull” tactics. Influencers with a following of 5,000 or more with a public profile can build a profile themselves on the platform. However, #paid also proactively nurtures its “creator community”, hosting meet-ups in various cities where they operate to build relationships with current and prospective influencers. A number of creators work for #paid directly as well, ensuring the company has a deep, in-house understanding of the key ingredients to being an effective social media influencer. 

3.

The evolution of social networks is creating new content collaboration opportunities for brands and influencers

Influencer marketing activity is highly associated with established social networks such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Where there is reach and high engagement, there will naturally be brand activity that follows. However, when asked to identify an emerging social network within the world of influencer-brand relationships, Wong points to musical.ly, a video app in which users create 15-second lip sync videos that can be edited to include effects. Musical.ly has over 100 million users and brands like Coke and Nordstrom have started tapping into well-knownn users in their marketing campaigns. However, Wong explains that it is existing social media platforms driving the most exciting innovations to the industry. He explains that while platforms like Instagram allow users to filter and edit their posts, Snapchat’s game-changing video function added a layer of authenticity to social networking that users now demand across all platforms. Features like Facebook Live and Instagram stories are creating opportunities to evolve the way influencers engage with their following. 

4.

Influencer marketing is expanding beyond typical categories of fitness, fashion, and beauty

Influencer marketing transcends brand category. While its roots emerged in certain core categories, #paid works with brands across all industries. Wong highlighted a recent collaboration that feature both a unique category of advertiser and influencer. #paid worked with Universal Music on promoting a song by emerging country music duo, The Hunter Brothers by collaborating with Instagram account Tibby the Corgi (a dog with over 200,000 followers). As Wong pointed out, “accounts featuring pets are often overlooked in influencer marketing.”

5. 

#paid is leaning into disclosure with its roster of influencers

Both the FTC and Advertising Standards Canada have mandated that any bloggers, celebrities, or social media influencers who mention companies, products, or services in exchange for payment must disclose sponsored posts through hashtags like #ad, #partner or #sponsored. Even #paid is an acceptable disclosure for the FTC. The company embraces disclosure to the point that it influenced their naming. #paid is an advocate for transparency and as Wong states, the company does not view disclosure as an obstacle. While #paid counsels its influencer community to limit the frequency with which they publish sponsored posts, they believe that followers are open to brand integration from influencers whom they see as admired peers. Most importantly, Wong adds, is that “well-executed campaigns start with finding the right influencers who believe in your brand, products, and services. When they create content they love and believe in, brands are integrated well, and it resonates with their audience to a greater degree.”


For information on #paid, you can follow them at https://www.instagram.com/hashtagpaid or https://twitter.com/hashtagpaid

Follow VP, Marketing Richard Wong on Twitter at https://twitter.com/richardtwong

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