IMPACT podcast: The role of the influencer manager

Cutting her teeth in the entertainment industry, Lee Sutherland says she stepped into the world of talent management “accidentally”.  

After some big life milestones, she started talent management agency, frankie+jet, with a 20-client roster made up of experts with established careers across landscape, nutrition, lifestyle, and parenting.  

Influencer vs content creator 

To get things started, we asked Lee what she thought about our 2023 Influencer Pulse Check, which revealed 69 per cent of influencers would like to be referred to as ‘content creators’.  

Lee, a former blogger who started in the industry at a time when Instagram didn’t exist, says somewhere along the way, the term ‘influencer’ became a “dirty word” in certain circles. At the end of the day, she believes it all comes down to interpretation.  

Influencers, by virtue of the word, have influence; people listen to what they have to say and are swayed by their opinion. Content creators, on the other hand, craft beautiful work that can be repurposed and shareable for brands. But whether influencer or content creators, Lee says the power all comes down to engagement.  

Sponsored content and the power of ‘no’. 

IMPACT’s Influencer Pulse Check showed 31 per cent of creators prefer to limit sponsored content to one to two per month, versus managers who have an appetite for more. 

In Lee’s view, best practice is determined by considering audience uptake and the type of content as it looks very different per creator.  

The challenge is to not overcommit on the amount of content as it won’t benefit the brand or creator.  

As a manager, Lee believes it’s her role to help reach this balance and either push content into another month or to say no to an opportunity if it’s not the perfect fit for the brand and content creator.  

Ultimately, audience engagement levels will tell you whether the volume of sponsored content is right. 

Gifting: Waste not; want not 

Lee tells us that frankie+jet is a B Corp certified agency and is very much against gifting without a purpose and without consent.  

Her agency has a big focus on reducing waste in the world, whether its physical waste or wasting the time and funds of PRs, brands and creators.  

Gifting with no brief is another pet peeve as it will either not get used or creates unwanted pressure to post. Equally, Lee says audiences are quick to notice if a post includes product still in its original packaging. 

‘Big burst’ or ‘always on’ campaigns 

Lee’s preference for ‘always on’ campaigns is motivated by her goal to build long term relationships between her clients and brands. Building trust between brands and an audience takes time, especially if KPIs are sales.  

The other consideration is the potential lack of authenticity with a big burst program, where a group of influencers are required to go live on the same night to the same audience. While this serves a purpose, in terms of exposure, it can be a missed opportunity if the creators are targeting the same audience.  

What makes for a great relationship between a brand and an influencer/content creator? 

Lee says the first step is to ensure the relationship is the right fit. It isn’t enough to target content creators just because they sit within the right vertical. What’s important is to research their style, tone of voice and their creative concept to ensure they are aligned with the brand’s.  

However, Lee’s biggest piece of advice when it comes to relationship building is to allow an open line of communication between the talent and the brand’s marketing or PR team. The role of the influencer manager is to help streamline communications and facilitate.  

At the end of the day, a brand is paying for an influencer’s expertise and audience, therefore, advice about what is going to work on their channel needs to flow through. Ultimately, the creator’s say will get the best result and more eyeballs!  

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