Introducing Bee Influence, Manchester’s first Influencer Marketing agency

Charlie Spargo's picture

Viv Yau and Mark Dandy founded their own agency Bee Influence in 2018, with a huge range of experience in agency work between.

Viv took the jump after time at TBWA\Manchester and Gleam Futures. She has more than seven years of experience working in advertising and talent management, and worked alongside influential names such as Zoella, Tanya Burr, and Pixiwoo.

Mark was Social Chain’s influencer marketing manager, supporting high-profile brands including Nokia, Superdry, Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo.

Together, they decided it was time to bring the region a new and exciting venture in the form of their own influencer marketing agency. 

What’s Bee Influence’s background?

Viv Yau: “Mark and I are both Northerners, and we’d both done our time in London for a while. Coming back up North seemed like a natural move for me, so Manchester was the obvious city for us. 

We wanted to launch Bee Influence as we noticed there’s not an agency up north that focuses just on influencer marketing. There’s some great social and PR agencies in the North West who have an influencer marketing arm - but we spotted an opportunity to start an agency up here whose expertise is purely focused on Influencer Marketing.”

Viv Yau
"Influencers are an extension of your creative team - use them as a sound board."

What did your previous roles teach you about making the most of influencers?

VY: “From my time representing influencers at Gleam Futures, it taught me to really involve them into the creative process. There’s nothing better than a client or marketing team that really sees the value in an influencer’s input into a creative campaign. You get so much more out of a collaboration that way.

There’s a common misconception that follower size is the be-all-and-end-all. It’s the first vanity metric that our industry and clients look at to value the worth of an influencer. 

I’ve worked with amazing creators with 5,000 all the way to to millions of followers - and there’s a space for all different types to suit clients’ requirements and budgets. Looking deeper into their demographics, the influencer’s content itself and whether their voice aligns with your brand is much more valuable than follower count alone.

Mark Dandy: “I really started to grow my network within influencer marketing as part of the team at Social Chain. It taught me that my relationships with influencers were key to building a successful campaign. 

Influencers are often treated as a media buy, and their social media pages like billboards you allocate spend to. This is not the case - treating them like people will build a much more effective and authentic relationship. Your campaigns stop being transactional and become a two-way creative process, leading to amazing content and opportunities.

We’ve had influencer footage that’s good enough for television advertising, and seen influencers consistently going viral due to their knowledge of social media.  

With our current clients I Saw It First, we’ve adopted video as a key part of our Instagram strategy, but this has now played a part in our overall eCommerce platform as well as live events. They’re integral to everything we do with the brand and the success is telling.”

Why should more brands look at influencer marketing?

VY: “Just because influencer marketing is a relatively new channel and a buzzword, doesn’t necessarily mean all brands need to incorporate it into their marketing strategy - and we’ll be upfront with prospective brands if we feel that’s the case. 

Having said that, working with influencers can provide a captive audience a brand can’t necessarily speak to directly. There’s a high level of trust between a good influencer and their audience - a relationship akin to a close friendship - which is sometimes hard to achieve as a brand alone. 

There’s something really special in that. And when a campaign is implemented correctly and you’ve put all the tracking measurements in place, you can also work out the ROI by measuring certain aspects - whether that’s attributable to sales, awareness or social growth. 

One of the great thing about our industry is being able to report on campaigns accurately when you have the right tools in place.”

MD: “With rising costs for traditional media, as well as a growing trend towards paid social spend, influencers are an extremely cost-effective way to reach a new and untapped audience in an authentic way.  

People are tired of you telling them your product is good - and there’s a lack of trust within advertising. However, influencers have bucked this trend, especially within the micro category. Audiences feel like they’re having a conversation with a friend, and brands are being seamlessly integrated into that.  

We’ve also seen a huge demand in the need for content, as spend on digital channels increases. Now, in order to make content for the ever-growing mountain of Facebook ads, digital ads, video on-demand, and so on, brands don’t have the capacity or the skillset. Influencers can help with this as they’re creating content every day. 

With our clients, we’ve seen influencer content outperforming branded content by 10 times. It’s cost-effective, authentic, and high-quality - a no-brainer.”

What strategies should brands take to make the most of influencer marketing?

VY: “For those really looking to invest in this area, think about what you’d like to achieve from the campaign - is it sales, brand awareness, or sessions to site? Like any advertising campaign, the goals shape the strategy, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. 

When it comes to working with influencers, see them as an extension of your creative team, and work with them as a sound board - good creators will approach briefs with ideas you might not necessarily have spotted.”

Does influencing have staying power?

MD: “As social media continues to grow and evolve, influencers will always have a place. Social is now a mainstay in most people’s lives, and there will always be popular people on these platforms. 

We also see that as younger audiences are maturing, they too are connecting to the world of social media, and are going to find people to follow. So in this regard, influencer marketing is only going to continue to grow and become a main channel of communication for brands. 

We’ve already seen the trend of moving from ‘celebrities’ to ‘influencers’, then to ‘micro-influencers’ and now even ‘nano-influencers’ - basically your everyday user. 

Word of mouth still plays a huge part in the sales process, and influencers are your digital word of mouth. Brands working with their fans, creating content relevant to their own audiences, will create huge waves within the digital marketing space as user-generated content becomes a main marketing channel. 

We’ll probably see more influencer platforms created to make the process quicker, but this has the potential to take away authenticity. There will be a big demand for extra content and influencers will be the beneficiaries. Prices will likely increase, but so will the quality, and our ability to track the returns.”

Mark Dandy
"Audiences feel like they’re having a conversation with a friend"

MD: “With rising costs for traditional media, as well as a growing trend towards paid social spend, influencers are an extremely cost-effective way to reach a new and untapped audience in an authentic way.  

People are tired of you telling them your product is good - and there’s a lack of trust within advertising. However, influencers have bucked this trend, especially within the micro category. Audiences feel like they’re having a conversation with a friend, and brands are being seamlessly integrated into that.  

We’ve also seen a huge demand in the need for content, as spend on digital channels increases. Now, in order to make content for the ever-growing mountain of Facebook ads, digital ads, video on-demand, and so on, brands don’t have the capacity or the skillset. Influencers can help with this as they’re creating content every day. 

With our clients, we’ve seen influencer content outperforming branded content by 10 times. It’s cost-effective, authentic, and high-quality - a no-brainer.”

What strategies should brands take to make the most of influencer marketing?

VY: “For those really looking to invest in this area, think about what you’d like to achieve from the campaign - is it sales, brand awareness, or sessions to site? Like any advertising campaign, the goals shape the strategy, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. 

When it comes to working with influencers, see them as an extension of your creative team, and work with them as a sound board - good creators will approach briefs with ideas you might not necessarily have spotted.”

The Bee Influence office
Bee Influence's base at Beehive Lofts (Photo: Gingerbeard Photography)

Does influencing have staying power?

MD: “As social media continues to grow and evolve, influencers will always have a place. Social is now a mainstay in most people’s lives, and there will always be popular people on these platforms. 

We also see that as younger audiences are maturing, they too are connecting to the world of social media, and are going to find people to follow. So in this regard, influencer marketing is only going to continue to grow and become a main channel of communication for brands. 

We’ve already seen the trend of moving from ‘celebrities’ to ‘influencers’, then to ‘micro-influencers’ and now even ‘nano-influencers’ - basically your everyday user. 

Word of mouth still plays a huge part in the sales process, and influencers are your digital word of mouth. Brands working with their fans, creating content relevant to their own audiences, will create huge waves within the digital marketing space as user-generated content becomes a main marketing channel. 

We’ll probably see more influencer platforms created to make the process quicker, but this has the potential to take away authenticity. There will be a big demand for extra content and influencers will be the beneficiaries. Prices will likely increase, but so will the quality, and our ability to track the returns.”

 

 

 

This story is part of our Prolific+ March series on Influencer Marketing. You can find pieces on a range of industry topics from previous months below: