We recently spoke with Neil Waller, the co-founder of Shore Projects and new app Whalar, an innovative marketplace for brands to reach out to a selected community of exceptional Instagram content creators. We sat down with Neil so he could tell us more!
Why did you start Whalar?
We actually started off creating Whalar as a tool to use ourselves for our retail brands. Collaborating wth influencers was at the core of our marketing strategy, however, we found it to be hugely time-consuming, very challenging to price and just not at all scalable or structured. We'd tried various tools and agencies that exist to make it better and just none of them suited us. So we built Whalar as the tool we'd wished was available to us.
As we went along we realised just how much other brands were doing influencer marketing, in fact, we learnt that it's been the hot topic on every marketer’s lips and with one person having the influence to easily encourage tens of thousands of people to visit your site it’s not hard to understand why. So that's when we decided to create Whalar as a tool that anyone can use.
In essence, Whalar is a marketplace that allows great brands to connect with exceptional Instagram influencers to curate incredible content and build brand advocacy from those who know online content best.
What makes a good Instagram influencer? What should brands be looking for when they choose influencers?
One of the most exciting aspects of Influencer marketing on Instagram is the incredible mixture of people represented, covering all manner of different topics and from all around the world.
You’ve got personal trainers using Instagram as an outlet for their workouts, fashion bloggers, interior designers, travel photographers, amazingly talented graphical artists or even chefs publishing their recipes…the diversity is endless.
While some of these Influencers have follower counts exceeding those of traditional celebrities, they are viewed quite differently. An Influencers life will often feel more relatable to their followers and so if they decide to collaborate with a brand, the majority of the time their opinion is not only genuine but will also be taken more seriously by their followers.
The best advice I can give is to look for Influencers that represent your customer base. So we'd look for people where we'd say, I could imagine them being a customer of this brand and we use that as the most important criteria.
How can brands make the most of the content they produce from Instagram influencer collaborations?
There are so many ways in which you can get additional value out of the content created by the Influencers. It’s really just a question of how many things you can think up as if you’ve got the rights to use this potentially amazing content then it could easily have the same value to you again as you spent on the collaboration. Below I've given 3 very easy examples of how you could use it:
Publish on Product Page
Publishing content of influencers wearing/using your product can really improve a product page. It makes them look nicer, adds a positive social proof and leads to real customers now submitting amazing content as well. As a result of embedding influencer content, some brands have seen a c.20% increase in page conversion and an impressive c. 40% increase in time spent on page.
Publish on Facebook Ads
Facebook will tell you a trick to get the best ongoing performance out of your ads is to keep your ad units refreshed with new content. Brands will often use their own product and lifestyle photography and can find it very challenging to keep refreshing it. By using Influencer content we've seen brands able to refresh their ad units on a regular basis and have even seen the content result in a c. 20% uplift in conversion of the ad units.
Publish on Social Media
The content created by Influencers can be a regular source of imagery that could then be published on a brands own social media accounts. We found that working with Influencers to create content helps to set the tone and in fact they can influence a brand by showing a brand how to create better social content.
How easy is Whalar to use? Who would typically use it?
I'd like to say very easy, we've built it because we know influencer marketing and we had clear ideas on what needed to be made better. Our marketplace is completely free to use, we take a small commission from the influencers and don't charge anything to brands or agencies.
It takes seconds to sign up and you can search through influencers, send out a brief and receive proposals before even committing to anything. The best thing is we also provide escrow payments, so your money is safe, if the influencer does not do the work then you get your money back.
We've got influencers with millions of followers and influencers with tens of thousands of followers, so Whalar works for brands starting out and well established. You could work with 100 influencers or you could work with 1... you could spend a couple of hundred dollars or you could spend a couple of hundred thousand. It's totally flexible.
Do you have any case studies you can share with us about your marketplace?
In the short period of time we've been around we've been used by small brands, big brands, global brands and agencies alike. So everyone from Warner Brothers to Deliveroo to Topman to Propercorn. One of the coolest campaigns we worked on with was new Dyson HairDryer. It had to be done as a very top secret project and involved us arranging collaborations with 15 influencers in 6 different countries, including having to find one in Korea.
What sets your service apart from your competitors?
I think it comes down to ease of use and transparency. We're a marketplace, so there is total transparency on what you spend. We don't just take a budget and then deliver a set of posts and you never know what amount was paid to the influencers. With Whalar you always know what's being spent and what's being delivered and the tools to keep track of it and report on it are all really simple, yet powerful. We love feedback though, so if anyone has questions or runs into issues or wants to suggest new things then they are most welcome to reach out to us on email@example.com.
What is your best piece of advice for merchants on Instagram?
The most often thing I hear from people is that we're not sure how we should do Instagram and that the bar for content quality feels too high and we're not sure how we can do that. That's where influencers come in, these guys know how to create amazing content and they are really creative and come up with cools ways to represent a brand. Tap into that, even if you're doing it just to learn from them. We've worked with brands where the only reason they are using influencers is as a creative think tank to give them a brief and see what kind of content they come up with.
Which are your favourite marketing blogs for keeping on top of best practice and industry news?
I tend to consume most my news through newsletter subscriptions. WeMakeWebsites is great :) I also read a lot from Shopify, Xero, Techcrunch, Marketing Week and I've recently found on youtube lots of videos of lectures given at the Standford Graduate School of Business which are pretty amazing.
What do you think the Next Big Thing on Instagram will be?
It's got to be video, Instagram are continually adding more and more video options to Instagram and I suspect it will go much the same was as the consumption of video on Facebook has gone. The cool thing about Instagram though is I bet it will be creative videos that really stand out and work well, so things like stop motion and animations.
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