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The rise of Influencer Marketing: Q&A with Jules Lund

Influencer Marketing is taking the marketing world by storm and former TV and radio host – and Online Retailer Conference speaker – Jules Lund is riding at the helm of the trend with his new tech company, TRIBE.

When TV and radio star Jules Lund was working on the national radio show Fifi and Jules, he was sitting on a bundle of visual ideas that had no outlet, so the producers suggested he funnel them into the ‘Fifi and Jules’ Facebook page. Lund created a bunch of pictures and clips for the site and soon it was voted the most engaged Facebook brand page in the country.

“Soon I was inundated with brand campaigns to publish sponsored posts. For a couple of years there were a lot of opportunities to run campaigns on our social media but I was frustrated by the work flow,” explains Lund. “It would be the brand speaking to their agency, speaking to our sales team, who’d speak to our promotions, who’d speak to my agent and my agent would come to me. And it could’ve been so simple.”

Simple is the key to TRIBE, the Influencer Marketing platform that Lund launched in November to streamline the entire process. “No one knows what resonates with their audience better than the Influencer, which is how they’ve built a tribe in the first place. They need two things: a campaign objective and the trust that they can create ‘thumb-stopping content’. So I developed a workflow solution within an App and discovered it was quite scalable.”

And ‘scalable’ it is! Since TRIBE was launched in November last year the response has exceeded all expectations. “We’ve attracted 3,000 content creators and 500 live brand campaigns. We had seven staff members last month and now we’ve got 16!”

We ask Lund about Influencer Marketing and TRIBE.

Are you the first company in Australia to be doing this?

Globally, we’re the first self-serve marketplace. What does that mean? At 8.30pm one night we had a client upload a campaign promoting those gorgeous water bottles by Memo Bottle. Within seconds it landed in the hands of the most powerful content creators in the country via their App. By 8.30am, not only had the client received content submissions from those creators who already owned and loved the bottle, but she purchased five pieces of content that were live on Instagram within minutes. This was before anyone from TRIBE had arrived at work or had a chance to meet the brand or the creators. The platform is driven by both sides of the marketplace and it’s exciting to see it take on a life of its own.

What sort of businesses seem the most keen to go with Influencer Marketing?

Anything from car companies to couch companies, from art galleries to music to movies. We’ve got tech companies, airline brands and more FMCG briefs than you could count. It’s not just products that go for Influencer Marketing; it can be used well for services and promotions, too, like the successful ‘Don’t leave kids in cars’ campaign we did on behalf of the Victoria Government.

What sort of people are the influencers, with 3,000-plus followers?

We work with everyday Aussies who have built an audience around a particular passion or expertise – from gardening to food to fashion to fitness. These aren’t celebrities, they’re people who have built trust with an audience because they’ve been sharing their lifestyle for years and people value what they recommend.

Give me an example of what a sponsored post would be like?

They’re often gorgeous images that simply include the brand or message. If you go through your camera roll you’d be amazed at how many of your favourite brands are featured in your images – your sunglasses, your favourite café. So the key is not changing the content you’d already post, but simply tagging the brands that are now willing to pay you for that credit. A post is around A$220, which means for between A$3,000 and A$4,000 a company can have a complete influencer marketing campaign, making it perfect for small businesses as well as large.

Do you think there’s a fine balance for influencers to not do too many sponsored posts?

We don’t send out samples, which was a big shock to the influencers accustomed to being provided with products to promote, but doing it this way means that influencers are only promoting things that they own and love, and that brings much more integrity to the posts. We put the consumer first. I’m super-proud of this as it was a real risk, but so far it’s keeping the category honest.

We also encourage content creators to be transparent about sponsored posts. And they’re regulated by their own tribe – if their audience loses interest in what they’re posting they’ll simply stop following them.

What advice do you have for small businesses interested in Influencer Marketing?

My advice would be to experiment. There are amazing opportunities to get cut through within social media, but if you wait for a highly defined ROI all wrapped up in a neat package, then you’ll miss the boom. The companies that are jumping in and taking action are getting results beyond their wildest dreams. Think of this equation: marketers now need social content every few days and no company has the capacity to generate it. Yet your consumers now possess specialised social media skills, so if they don’t already have content in their phones celebrating your brand, they know how to craft it. TRIBE influencers create content for you with no guarantee of getting paid. Which means to activate a brief, you pay nothing. In fact, your product is being promoted to our 3,000 influencers before you’ve spent a cent. They’ll then submit content and if you like it, you purchase it, if you don’t, you don’t. There’s absolutely no risk.

Is this element of advertising going to get stronger and stronger in the future?

I think social media has presented us with the first genuine opportunity to activate word of mouth marketing at scale. Influencer Marketing is premium content at unparalleled speed and at a fraction of the cost. And because it’s born from genuine recommendations, it’s on its way to becoming one of the most authentic marketing eco-systems we’ve ever seen.

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