Love Island, Fortnite, and influencing

Mobile Marketing speaks to Adam Williams, CEO of influencer marketing platform Takumi, about the opportunities that exist for brands looking to capitalise on a ‘couple’ of the biggest recent events: Love Island and the Fortnite World Cup

Takumi Adam WilliamsAmber and Greg were crowned winners of Love Island, earning a cool £25,000 each in a final watched by 3.63m viewers with a further 400,000 on non-TV devices. The Fortnite World Cup turned a few kids into millionaires seemingly overnight. But both of these events could prove to be even more lucrative in the near future for those that took part.

Influencer marketing has had its ups and down in the few years since it’s become a truly viable option for brands to promote their products – and it’s just continuing to grow with brands scrambling to get their products associated with the hottest new stars. This scramble is evident in the number of sponsors that ITV had onboard during this year’s Love Island, which included the likes of Missguided, Uber Eats, Superdrug, Samsung, Lucozade, and Jet2 Holidays, to name a few. Other brands will now be looking to follow the lead of those directly involved with the show and capitalise on the contestants. Oh, and let’s not forget there’ll be two seasons Love Island next year.

“You can also see the opportunities around how Love Island has really gone to town with the likes of Missguided,” says Adam Williams, Takumi CEO. “Already having the deals around the clothes, getting the contestants to wear the clothes, the partnerships afterward, using influencers from last year for this year – I think that’s all very important from a brand perspective.”

Despite the clear opportunity that a show like Love Island presents, there are still several things that brands need to take into account.

“It’s really important, especially when you’re talking about brands wanting to work with these influencers, that you take time to vet and understand what that influencer is about. You need to understand if they really have the same values as you, and if they’re just vanity metrics – a pretty face that gets big numbers,” adds Williams. “With really media-savvy and conscious consumers, you really need to be thinking about how these people are going to work with your brand. How are they going to become an ambassador rather than just slapping something on there?”

This means that brands would be wise to ensure that the partnerships they form with contestants are authentic and the content produced isn’t just made purely for the cameras – because “authenticity is so much more important than the vanity metrics”.

Nonetheless, there’s a risk that, as we’ve seen in the past, contestants and brands alike choose to just follow the money. Brands will seek short term exposure to an audience without making sure that the influencer is the right fit and the – now former – contestants will leap at the opportunity because they’re not used to having money thrown at them for a single piece of content, though this may not be the best choice in the long run.

“If these guys do it properly and they really show their personalities then I think they have an incredibly powerful platform,” says Williams. “You look at the winners, Greg and Amber, they were much more authentic and felt much nicer and real than the ones who were kicked out earlier. And that’s pure influencer marketing at work: the cream rises to the top. The people who are most interesting and most authentic and most open are generally the ones who do well.

“The smart brands will get someone like Amber to be an ambassador so she’s doing much more work outside – she’s doing photoshoots, she’s turning up to events, she’s doing the posts as well. There’s a load of things that could be really powerful there.”

With this new-found fame, however, there are issues that these new influencers must also be prepared to face. Particularly, if they focus on the aforementioned vanity metrics, which has proven to be detrimental to many people in the world of social media.

ITV has put measures in place this season to try to help the contestants with their instant fame and the struggles they may face with this. There’s also far more awareness around the issue nowadays and a positive step that ITV has recognised its duty of care.

“From an influencer perspective, I think we have to be very careful about vanity metrics and mental health, which we already know has a whole lot of issues around it from the tragedies that have happened because of people chasing those vanity metrics. But what we’re seeing is people becoming much more educated around this and understanding it much more,” says Williams.

“It’s not even just about being an influencer, it’s dealing with the sudden fame. I think it’s something that everyone needs to consider with anything in life, you just need to make sure people are talking about it, that there’s awareness around, and that people know that these are problems and they can talk to people if it’s getting too much.”

These opportunities and concerns are something that we could soon be having to mention in relation to another hugely popular sector in gaming. Particularly, looking at the success of certain teenagers in the recent Fortnite World Cup.

“As a 15-year-old, someone giving you a million quid? That’s slightly crazy. Again, I think it’s all about them having a really good support network. With anyone who gains fame and wealth at a young age needs to be very considerate of their mental health,” says Williams. “If you think of child TV stars many years ago suddenly becoming very famous and gaining lots of money – generally it’s not good for people’s mental health because it puts them into a bubble about what’s real and what’s not. But I think some people deal with it really well – the top players in the Fortnite World Cup obviously dealt with the pressure incredibly well.”

The buzz created around the tournament is something you’d generally associate with a large sporting event – events that now many gaming tournaments rival in crowd sizes. Off this growing eSports popularity, we can only expect to see more big prizes claimed and more attention being directed toward the top gamers in the world.

With this growing attention, it’s only a matter of time before brands look to the world’s top gamers and top gaming streamers to create content for them. At the moment, most gamers are on Twitch, while the vast majority of influencer budgets are on Instagram. But, you’d imagine, it’s only a matter of before brands realise the opportunity that gaming presents.

“It will be interesting to see how people like that start to turn their hand to influencing,” says Williams. “What platforms will they be using? Obviously, gamers are heavily on Twitch. Instagram is generally not where they prevail, but maybe they will. Maybe there’ll be some sort of crossover. Maybe Instagram will start making it an easier place for them to be. What we also know is that people who gain a lot of popularity and fame will end up going on to a number of different platforms in the end.”

Though, the opportunities are clear for brands on Love Island and, to an extent, Fortnite. There is a big issue facing the industry in the shape of influencer marketing fraud.

Recent research from cybersecurity firm Cheq has suggested that influencer marketing fraud is expected to cost businesses $1.3bn this year. Brands pay influencers based on their follower numbers – or reach – but sometimes influencers buy fake followers or misreport engagement, meaning brands have paid money for reach that doesn’t exist. This goes back to the need for brands to fully vet anybody they plan on working with… Even the contestants on Love Island.

“Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing trends and as such it is increasingly under the spotlight. Authenticity is increasingly pervasive, and fake accounts which lead to inflated reach and performance numbers arent helping brands or influencers to engage in real conversations with their audiences. With the University of Baltimore alleging that more than half of this year’s Love Island contestants’ followers could be fake, the problem is greater than ever before.

“With so much money on the table, it’s no surprise that fraud has become so prevalent. But the onus is on brands to keep an eye on fake engagement and fake interests.”

– Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Socialbakers CEO

“With any growing industry, there are a whole lot of cowboys out there and that’s why I think everyone has to spend a lot of time making sure they’re working with the right people. It’s not an issue that’s going away,” says Williams.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the platforms themselves to really work hard to make sure they’re being transparent because they’ve got so much more data than everybody else. They can see the activity of this stuff – of who might be a bot and who might not be.”

One thing that will go a long way to reducing influencer fraud is the introduction of the ability to tag and do shopping directly through social channels. Brands going down this route will be able to see the true return on investment and “start to invest with more confidence”.

Beyond the use of shopping functions alongside influencer marketing, we can expect to see brands starting to more closely tie their influencer marketing campaigns into their wider advertising campaigns. There’s also likely to be even more people gaining instant fame for taking part in things like Love Island or gaming tournaments, because of the ability to instantly find and connect with people that exists nowadays. And Williams would like to see influencer marketing to be used for some good in the future, such as influencers working with charities that they hold close to their hearts.

What we know for sure is there is a clear opportunity to grab the attention of audiences using this year’s Love Island contestants – and there’ll be another ‘couple’ of opportunities off the back of next year’s two seasons. When it comes to gaming, we may have to wait a few more… well… fortnights… before we see influencer marketing truly take off in that area, but it’s very much a case of ‘it will happen, just watch this space’.