Year-End Influencer Meetup Recap

A night of insight, industry experts and networking brought together a room full of content creators from the Freestak platform. Last Thursday, December 6, the Freestak team hosted an influencer meetup at the Stance store in Covent Garden, London.

It was not only an opportunity to gain valuable information from specialists in influencer marketing but also an exclusive event for our Freestak community to meet and network with one another.

The night began with a panel discussion lead by our Account Manager, Georgia Brookes, covering topics including authenticity as a content creator, social media trends and a CAP Code overview.

Here is our overview from the night and key takeaways.

We were lucky to be joined by our panel:

  • Compliance Expert: Rupa Shah, Founder of Hashtag Ad, is an Influencer Compliance Consultant at Hashtag Ad Consulting with six years of experience in influencer marketing.
  • Agency: Simon Freeman, Freestak CEO @simonbfreeman, set up Freestak six years ago off the back of 20 years in marketing. His true passion for getting people outdoors is what created this amazing community.
  • Brand: Hannah Clarke, Stance Content and Community Executive, joined the Stance team 3 months ago, having worked in fashion marketing.
  • Influencers: Sophie Johnson @sophiej.bike (Cyclist) and Jordan Foster @projectmarathongirl (Runner)

As we move into the New Year, let’s take a look at some of the common trends our panelists recognized from 2018 and predictions for 2019.

  • Exciting and engaging content over large followings: This was a universal trend from 2018 recognized across the panel, all agreeing “engagement is key.” Jordan commented how responding to messages and being friendly makes a huge difference.
  • Authenticity is key: Simon explained that authenticity is what the best brands are focused on. With the rising issues of compliance, the quality of content has become a key factor in developing reach and engagement. More and more brands are understanding the power of influencer marketing, and Simon believes moving forward the late-adopting brands will slowly start to understand the impact as well.
  • Increase in influencer-brand partnerships: Moving into 2019, the panel predicted brands will continue to work with micro-influencers over celebrities and elite athletes because the quality of content is high and these long-term partnerships directly reach the consumers.

“Followers aren’t everything; it’s the content that matters.” –Hannah

  • Key Take away: Authenticity generates engagement: “People don’t want perfect, they’d rather see posts from someone they can relate to.” –Jordan

What is the CAP Code?

The most dominant topic covered during the panel discussion was compliance regarding the CAP Code. According to Rupa, over time it became increasingly clear that brands, agencies, influencers and platforms were all struggling with the regulations; they either didn’t know what they were, how to apply them or how to respond to complaints.

Let’s cover the basics:

  • ASA (Advertising Standards Authority): public-facing body that responds to complaints and investigates ads
  • CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice): the sister-body to the ASA. It writes the CAP Code and provides guidance on the rules to the industry. It doesn’t normally engage with the public.
  • CMA (Competition and Markets Authority). It’s the official government body that enforces Consumer Protection Regulations.

When it comes to ensuring that posted content follows these rules, the responsibility lies in the hands of all involved – the brand, influencer and agency. Whether you’re a prominent figure or micro-influencer, the same rules apply.

The key ASA rules state that a post is advertorial content and therefore must be signified as so if it meets both of these criteria:

  • You have received gifted product, money, or a fee in the form of free products, travel, or anything of monetary value.
  • The brand has some form of editorial control – this can be as small as asking you to use a certain #, make sure you feature the product or how many times you post.

If both of these are met the content you produce is considered an ad. You must therefore make it obvious to your audience before they engage in the content that it is an ad. The easiest way is to start your post with AD or make #ad the first #.

Key points from the discussion on abiding by the CAP Code and potential effect on your perceived authenticity.

Adding #ad into a post is the default compliant method for CAP but adding your own natural tone of voice is also accepted: “I was sent this to review but actually I love it because …”

“Personally, I haven’t noticed anything negative. I think that my followers still know that I am genuine and I only advertise or post about products that I believe in.” –Jordan

For most of the brands Jordan has worked with, she was a customer beforehand. She prides herself on creating content that is ‘real.’ If she used the product running, then her photos will accurately represent that, sweat and all.

And Sophie agreed, “I think if you only work with brands which fit “you”/“your brand” then authenticity doesn’t even become a topic of conversation.” From cycling to performance-based products, Sophie focuses her brand collaborations only on ones that fit both her profile and morals. In order to keep her content authentic, before endorsing a product she asks herself, ‘would I actually buy/use this particular product?’

From a brand’s perspective, Hannah described how Stance looks for people who have a true passion for the content they produce. For Stance it’s about ‘Uncovering the Uncommon’ and looking for content that shows who that person is and what motivates them to do what they do. The ideal influencer is one who is open-minded with a willingness to teach, learn and explore ideas with the brand.

At Freestak criteria for recruiting influencers to the platform are based on a combination of factors including reach, engagement and quality of content. Authenticity for Simon is simply about the motives an influencer has when he or she is creating and publishing content. The big difference from other industries such as fashion or beauty is that endurance sports influencers have more of an opportunity to create content for a motivational and inspiring purpose.

For more information on CAP regulations click here. We will be bringing out a more detailed post on the CAP code in the New Year.

We really enjoyed the event and are very grateful for our panelists and all who attended. If you have any feedback from the night please get in touch with Laura. We would love to hear what other topics you would like us to discuss and bring you information on.

We hope to run more of these events soon. Let us know where you would like them hosted and what you want to hear about.


Leave a Comment