A Week in My Life: Viv Yau, Founder of Bee Influence

Josh Peachey's picture

Bee Influence is Manchester’s first dedicated influencer marketing agency.

Founded by Viv Yau, clients include I Saw It First, Ghetto Golf, LG, Pink Cloud Beauty Co and Gorilla Accounting. 

Viv, formerly of TBWA\Manchester and Gleam Futures in London, talks us through her working week…

Monday

As a startup, we have an office just outside Victoria station, but I am either usually in Federation Coffee House, working from home, or sometimes even Manchester Library when the mood takes me. Today I’m in a lovely local coffee shop near my house in Cheshire… called Costa. They have great WiFi, okay?

I kick off Monday morning with a very exciting call. I have been planning an event alongside BIMA (a British digital media community that Bee Influence is a member of) to deliver an influencer marketing masterclass in aid of World Social Media Day. It’s always nerve-wracking doing these talks, but equally, when I know I could be better at something, I throw myself into it even more. We’re finalising the speakers so the call is to tie up loose ends. And in all honesty, I think the organiser (a lovely lady) wanted to check that I’ve actually started on my presentation. I haven’t. 

We also signed a new client last week, and have just two days left to plan a shoot day happening on Wednesday for over 20 influencers at a venue in Newcastle. Some people tend to underestimate what goes on behind the scenes in creating branded influencer content. Especially with my approach which is requires building a relationship with each influencer we work with. I like to brief every single influencer on the phone. I never assume that someone will have read and understood the brief directly.

I believe in being very clear and direct with our instructions whilst still allowing creative integrity from the influencer. This is all followed by a contract each. So, in this instance, that’s over 20 briefings, 20 contracts, 20 email correspondences, at the same time. So today’s diary is packed full of calls with various influencers to go through what we’re looking for them to do. 

By chance, I came across a LinkedIn post about a new vitamins brand that’s just launched in Superdrug last week. I contacted the owner, and we arranged a chat. After listening to their brand ethos and the direction of the brand, I’m secretly hoping we get to work with them. So after all our calls, I get started on the proposal. 

Tuesday

I sent a top line pitch idea over to the prospective client last night. The client started off by saying ‘they were very surprised’ by my proposal. Oh god. What did I do? Did I go too high in costings for their budget? Did they hate the strategy? Did I put in an inappropriate meme I was meant to send to a friend instead?!?!

After what felt like forever, he elaborated that he was pleasantly surprised by how quickly we understand the brand. Phew. We plan to meet with his co-founder on Friday for a coffee. 

Then I realised the BIMA influencer marketing masterclass is two days away so better get cracking on presentation. I end up working into the night to get this into tip-top condition. 

Wednesday

I had a couple of meetings booked in today which will disjoint my day. At the moment I am learning to say no to meetings that I feel aren’t as urgent and prioritise what I need to do. So, I cleared my diary so I could focus on the talk, as well as last-minute logistic problems with influencers and various admin bits I desperately needed to do. I think people think working in influencer marketing is really exciting, whilst it is, it’s mainly spreadsheets, briefing documents and contracts. Lots of them. 

Later on in the day, the best bit of my job starts coming to life. The shoot day in Newcastle spanned from morning to evening, and I started receiving floods of amazing imagery and captions from influencers throughout the day. It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly creative and innovative influencers can be. I always say that to get the best out of working with influencers is to let them be the creatives because after all, they’re the ones that have built their following. Trust is a big part of this process. 

The presentation I’m putting together is going well. Until I realise I nearly made a rookie error of not buying an adaptor for my laptop. I had a nightmare once at a talk where I was left for 10 minutes on stage, 60 eyes staring blankly at me, with the event organisers trying to plug my mac into a USB port. Trouble was, my mac didn’t have a USB port. Drove straight to Currys and picked one up. It set me back £64. Gulp. Definitely worth every penny.  

Thursday

Today is the day of our Influencer Marketing Masterclass! I set five alarms to make sure I actually wake up. That would be bad. If I missed my own talk. The thought of it actually makes me laugh a lot.

Anyway, I arrive at LEAF, Portland street at 7:30am and start setting up. People start trickling in and I’m desperately hoping the room looks at least half full. We had over 80 sign-ups and benchmarked for 25 people. 

Thank goodness, the room is full. Lots of lovely people from brands and agencies turned up. 

I delivered the talk. I meant to keep it to 20 minutes but ended up around 40 minutes. Oops. I blame the bad jokes I ad-libbed. Momentarily consider doing an open mic stand up night but quickly realised most laughs were polite chuckles. I talked about when deciding which influencers to work with, to look beyond their follower numbers, as this is just a vanity metric.

When looking to work with influencers we should always delve into the data to find out their audience demographic, previous brand partnerships and engagement rates. I also discussed how Influencer Marketing doesn’t just work for fashion and beauty brands. For brands that can’t see an obvious fit i.e. service industries, insurance, finance, the key to creating great influencer collaborations is to create compelling, entertaining content that viewers actually want to watch. 

I was then joined by Hayley Walker for a seriously interesting interview from her role not only at icelolly.com as an influencer marketer, but also as an award-winning blogger. We gleaned so many insights into how she works with influencers at icelolly.com and also how to approach influencers too. 

Lastly, we ended the session with an excellent talk by IP, Media and Privacy lawyer, Steve Kuncewicz. I have seen a few talks by Steve and it never ceases to amaze me his way of delivering complex information in such a simple and humorous way. The sign of the true expert!  

I felt absolutely buzzing about how the talk went. I came back up from working in London in talent management and I am blown away with the Manchester creative space and the amount of talent we have in the North. 

I did a little fist pump for us all northerners – and hopped, skipped and jumped over to MCR Poke and treated myself to a Poke bowl for lunch. The rest of the day was pretty relaxed. 

Friday 

Fridays are usually days where I catch up with our directors on the status of our clients and prospective clients. We have lots of interesting proposals in the pipeline, which is making me consider hiring our first employee. 

Coincidentally, I had scheduled in a call with a potential employee who was based overseas. She was so impressive. Would be great for any type of agency, especially influencer marketing but regrettably too expensive for what we need initially. I hope I don’t regret that decision.

We then got an email from a clothing brand based in Plymouth who hadn’t worked with influencers before. I pitched over the phone to them last week, they loved the idea but according to the email, their directors didn’t realise it would cost this much to invest. Having to pitch ultimately means a lot of rejection, and thus comes a very thick skin to dust yourself off and move on! 

I then headed to Prestwich to a coffee shop called All The Shapes (which is very nice, a must visit) and for a spot of lunch before a face to face meeting with the client I had pitched to earlier this week.  Happy to say they signed to work with us, ending the week on a fantastic note. Multiple fist pumps ensue into the weekend.