By Brooke Hemphill for Mediaweek on behalf of Magazine Networks
The relationship between magazine brands and influencers grows ever deeper with each helping the other to tap into new audiences and stay relevant in the changing media landscape.
With magazine brands powerful influencers in their own right, confirmed by a study commissioned by Magazine Networks earlier this year which found 65% of readers are influenced by recommended or featured products, adding influencers to the mix takes this to the next level. Conversely, with a study commissioned by UK industry body Magnetic finding magazines are more trusted than social media – 70% of magazine readers trust magazines, only 30% of social media users trust social media – teaming up with magazines offers influencers a major credibility boost.
While some industry commentators such as UK academic Adam Tinworth say influencers are “the competition and the sooner publishers figure that out, the better”, locally, magazine brands are embracing them. From takeovers of entire editions to awards that recognise top influencers, today the two go hand in hand. And although magazine brands’ attitudes towards influencers were initially wary, Nicky Briger, editor of marie claire, says, “We’ve realised we can actually help each other. It’s a symbiotic relationship in that they reach a whole new audience – a younger audience – than magazine brands can.”
It’s a sentiment that is shared across the publishing landscape with Shari Nementzik, features editor of Cosmo, noting, “We’re in a whole new world now and our readers are spending more time on social media than watching TV. The people that are in their living rooms with them are influencers.”
Such is their importance to Nementzik’s title, this year Cosmo’s Women of the Year Awards boasted multiple categories for influencers. Nementzik says, “In previous years we’ve only had one Social Media Star of the Year category, but we’ve acknowledged that it is hard to narrow it down to five finalists.” The awards now recognise beauty, fashion, travel and fitness with the event itself being broadcast via a “social squad” of influencers who shared the content across multiple platforms.
A three-way relationship
While magazines are leveraging the opportunity to extend their audiences via influencers and vice versa, advertisers also stand to benefit from this synergy.
Claire Bradley, associate publisher of Homes at NewsLifeMedia, says a three-way relationship is ideal. She says, “The holy grail is a brand like ours as a voice of authority, an influencer with another entry point for our audiences and a retail partner that allows the audiences to complete the path to purchase.”
One example of this three-way relationship is Styled By Marie Claire, a platform which brings together the magazine brand, marie claire’s fashion influencer network and retailers. Earlier this year, automotive brand Fiat came on board to drive the Styled By Marie Claire Search for a Stylist, pushing the partnership even further.
An influential relationship
With research showing consumers are open to persuasion from social influencers, magazine brands are finding innovative ways of working with them that make it possible for advertisers to get involved. Nementzik says, “For us to be able to collaborate with influencers definitely opens us up to a whole new spread of brands.”
It’s not simply a case of slapping an influencer on the cover of a magazine or having them write a guest column.
Earlier this year, Bauer Media worked with influencers on the ELLE X FIAT campaign, which leveraged content around Australian Fashion Week to demonstrate the style credentials of the Fiat 500X. The video series showcased influencers as they were ferried around Fashion Week events in the 500x and led audiences to a competition to win one of five shopping sprees. The award-winning campaign delivered a fivefold increase in consideration and a 20% increase in brand favourability for Fiat.
Another example is Women’s Health, which has joined forces with some of Australia’s best-known influencers in the health and wellness sphere to create the Fitfluencer Network. With a collective reach of 2.4 million followers, these so-called “fitfluencers” are creating content for Women’s and Men’s Health bringing in fresh audiences and advertisers alike.
Jacqui Mooney, editor of Women’s Health, says, “These amazing influencers are people that share a like-minded passion and vision: that’s creating a happier, healthier life for Australian women. That’s what we do as a brand and that’s what these people do as well. When you share the same values, it’s very easy to work together.”
Events like Women’s Health Fit Night Out, which brought the Women’s Health brand to life with a workout party, are the perfect vehicle to showcase fitness influencers including Tim Robards, Nike trainer Steph Bruckner and Pilates instructor Leah Simmons.
For Kerrie McCallum, editor-in-chief of delicious., working with influencers is nothing new with the brand one of the first to champion the celebrity chef, although the relationship has since shifted. McCallum says, “It’s not a relationship where we’re just paying someone to do something for a client. It’s a situation where these people are very vocal about the brand and feel like a part of it. They feel like my editors-at-large in a way.”
While established names still have pull with readers keen to find out how to make Matt Preston’s meatloaf, what Colin Fassnidge is up to, or the restaurant Matt Moran is opening next, there is also interest in lesser-known food influencers.
The rise of the micro-influencer
Celebrity endorsements which were once an advertising staple and perfect magazine fodder have given way to endorsements by what is becoming known as micro-influencers – individuals with follower bases on platforms such as Instagram that appeal to a particular niche. Think people with a ballpark of 20,000 followers.
After changes to social media algorithms, these micro-influencers often reach a greater percentage of their audiences than influencers with 100,000 plus followers making them a much more attractive partner for magazines and brands.
While this inbuilt audience makes influencers appealing, the added bonus for magazines is that micro-influencers are more accessible than celebrities.
With micro-influencers tapping key categories including health and fitness, food and homewares, it’s a natural fit for titles such as Home Beautiful, delicious. and Women’s Health, although care must be taken to ensure a good fit. “You have to handpick them and make sure that they absolutely fit into the delivery of your brand. Otherwise it feels disingenuous,” says Briger.
The numerous and diverse ways magazine brands are teaming up with influencers are paving new pathways to the audiences with the opportunities for advertisers provided along the way offering an authentic connection with consumers. Far from a competition between the two, magazines plus influencers make for an unbeatable partnership.
Top photo: Dannii Minogue and marie claire editor Nicky Briger at prix de marie claire 2017