As part of the WARC x impact.com “Aligning marketers and influencers” report, Shekinah Monee (lifestyle influencer), explains the strengths and friction points of influencer partnerships.
Describe your role as an influencer and how you work with brands.
I work with NPR, a not for profit journalism platform in the US. I have a lifestyle blog that reflects the things I do in my normal day to day life. I am working on my own health and fitness so I capture that. I have had weight gain so I am on a journey with that. I also capture events that I go to. I've been sharing all that with my followers, how I've been trying to be healthy, about losing weight and just being active. I take a really holistic approach. So that's what I've been sharing right now. I also was a part of the pageant world and I coach in the pageant world so you'll see a lot of that as well. So you'll see a combination of workouts but glitz and glam as well. I'm based in New York City. My demographic is really between the ages of like 18 and 24. Surprisingly, even though I'm in my mid 30s, that's who's been engaging with me.
How do you think marketers can best benefit from all the positive effects of working with influencers from brand awareness through to sales?
I think marketers benefit from working with influencers, because they're a genuine person giving real time recommendations on their products. Consumers get to find out if the product actually works.
How do you balance the meaningful relationship you have with your audience with the need to deliver results for your clients?
I try to be as authentic as possible. I always do the research before I engage and agree to work with someone. So if I'm posting about them, I will authentically post what the journey was like for me with that brand. I've been working with ‘splendid spoon’ and I've enjoyed our partnership. If I say that I really enjoy the food. It's because I really enjoy the food. It is my go to when I'm running around – I can just have a smoothie or take one of the immunity shots. I try to be authentic in that way. They understand I'm not going to lie or just push the product.
Some say that influencer marketing has dramatically changed the shopping experience. What positive opportunities has that created for consumers and for marketers?
I think that it's changed over time for sure. One of the great things that’s changed is that you get to see a wider range of people now. For example, if you take Target the retailer and the influencers that post about their clothing line. They aren’t model like, they might be shorter, they might be taller, they might be thicker in certain areas. I think that increases the likelihood that certain people will buy from Target. So that would increase sales.
Younger audiences have a growing acceptance of living their lives online. What opportunities do you think that offers influencer marketing in the virtual space?
The younger generation don't know life without being online. I think the more you cater to the fact that they have a shorter attention span. And the more you tap into trends that are relevant to them, the more likely it will increase the sales in that generation.
What types of work have you done and what’s worked really well?
I would say the skincare products I've tried. I've done reels where I’ve shown how I started out and how I finished, what it's been like, over time. And people really buy into that. I have had a lot of engagement as far as length and clicks for purchases. I find it’s really helpful to show the progression. I find the younger generation is more into beauty and skincare prevention. Whereas the older generation, they're more into restorative.
Can you tell me about some forward thinking ways that marketers are working with you?
I’ve been involved in the Revolve Gallery. The first day they had famous people but the next two days were for influencers. Revolve is a virtual exhibition that features designers and it creates the ability for real life engagement with clothes. So I wouldn't be posing catwalk style. I can show people that I like the way this looks on me, I like the way it feels. It was a great innovation because often you don't get to try on those clothes unless you live on the West Coast.
What are the main points of friction in the influencer process and what needs to happen to smooth out the process?
I think that as an influencer, it's extremely helpful to know what your goals are, and values, and to keep those in mind. Research and due diligence about the company or the product is also key. I am really flexible. Sometimes I might be paid less for something, but if I see the value in the partnership that’s ok. I’ve taken on things where I wasn’t paid initially. Instead they have sent me free products that I actually like, then I have grown with the product. If they are about healthy living then that's ok because that fits with my values and goals. Basically, you have to weigh the pros and cons and how beneficial it is for you as well as them and make sure that you stay consistent in terms of what you want to achieve.
Where do you think the key strengths of working with an influencer lie?
For me I place more emphasis on my ability to reach specific audiences. I do have quality content. But I am more focused on building my audience and the relationship I have with them.
Can you give me some examples of brands that you've worked with? How have you opened them up to new audiences?
During COVID, I did something with Athleta. I think that most people don’t think of a curvy bottom type physique when they think of Athleta. I did a live workout from home and I did a couple pictures. It wasn't high quality or professionally done, I was just being myself. My other half took the pictures and captured the video. There were lots of takes and retakes. However it generated a lot of interest, especially as it was around the time that people started to do workouts from home. They posted it on their social media as well as their website. I got so much attention not just for the outfit, but also to see how it moves when you do different things. I did lots of different fitness routines, such as high intensity and yoga. I think that most of the people that were interested were people that were thicker, curvy or were plus size. I feel that I introduced new audiences to them. They were able to tap into a different market because you don’t see a lot of plus sized people in modeling. Although that is changing, you even see plus sized mannequins now which is great.
Can you tell me anything about the way that brands work with you to measure your performance?
Over time you get to see what content actually works. I have an app I use that tells me what hashtags have worked for me in terms of engagement. It has taught me how to stay true to myself but also cater towards what people like to see.