Making sense of influencer marketing (when the only influence you are is a bad one)

We love words and we love our career which we’ve founded on a love of making people think, love and laugh a bit more.

But there’s a new breed of writers on the block that we can’t help but feel in awe of… the beautiful bloggers… the influencers … the ones who don’t sit about in their pjs all day (or if they do, they’re Olivia von Halle-branded silk jammies and they’re lazing about on ethically-made Bedfolk sheets, looking ‘I woke up like this’ gorgeous and taking selfies).

Luckily we were able to mingle with some influencers ‘IRL’ this weekend when we attended The Fake Wedding UK. It was awesome – fake bride, groom, ceremony, speeches – the works.

Despite this spectacle, we found ourselves mostly watching the influencers, and here’s our conclusion: they’re alright actually and we no longer resent them for all the free stuff they get sent…

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Call us old fashioned, but the ‘influencer’ thing is still a bit exotic to us – like we said, the only influence we’re ever accused of being is a bad one.

Once our self-titled social media queen had accepted that spamming Instagram with pictures of her dog and the spaghetti she had for dinner wasn’t going to get her a gifted spa day at the Lido, she approached these strange and fascinating creatures to find out their trade secrets.

First up was George Friend, a dapper young man wearing a gratifying amount of tweed by James Lear of Arundel – so far, so approachable-sounding?

Alright, Molly-Mae he is not, but George certainly knows his way around London Fashion Week and a free brunch. What’s more, he’s sweet, funny and – crucially when we’re deciding who we can be friends with – made Gemma spit out her Prosecco when he claimed to be the groom’s spurned gay lover who was there to interrupt the wedding.

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After admiring his glorious Majolika spray rose buttonhole made by clever Clementine Moon, we probed him for insider information. How DOES one get those free facials?

‘Oh anyone can be an influencer’, he told us enthusiastically, ‘there’s no secret to it – you just have to be yourself.’

Convinced her chai latte and biscoff posts will surely result in a complimentary-coffee-for-life deal with Costa, this was music to Gemma’s ears.

Next up, we shyly approached Nicole.

For those of us whose Instagram posts are mainly liked by our mums, it’s a bit intimidating initiating a chat with a beautiful and intelligent babe who has over forty-six thousand followers. No need! She’s not only confident enough to post tasteful nude bathroom selfies, but she’s friendly, unpretentious and playful to boot – proof of the rumour that Canadians are ridiculously nice.

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Photo credit: nicolefserrao

What, you might ask, could be more powerful than one influencer? How about a social media power couple?

Not only does Paul get free beard trims when he wants them, we also found a snap of him dressed like a Peaky Blinder while he promoted a brolly brand. We grabbed five minutes with him to ask how his lifestyle of posh garb giveaways and hotel room handouts came about:

‘Like most things’, he revealed, ‘my better half got me into it’. Yep, Nicole and Paul (surely these two warrant a celeb-style name blend?) have nailed the work-life balance by doing what they both love. Sure enough we could feel the energy bouncing off them.

What’s more, Paul’s the only person we’ve met who appreciates a pun as much as we do. Sadly we didn’t get to tell him our joke about the tap dancing influencer who got paid per click.

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At some point in the afternoon – and we can only credit the Champagne Caravan with giving us the courage – we sidled up to a discerning-looking fellow in raspberry and lilac check.

Wiping cake crumbs from her chin, Gemma inclined her face in what she hoped was the manner of Audrey Hepburn, before asking him how he got into his line of work. Greek-born Marios was ever so self-effacing about his modelling, admitting he’d got into it quite by accident.

Even better, he posts cute pictures of his dog Jack, so there’s still hope for Wilf’s modelling career.

We decided not to give up hope of being ‘discovered’ while we’re out and about at Broadmead in our H&M parkas.

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Our recovery from brooding over why some folk are blessed with frankly unfair amounts of good-looks was brief, because we soon found ourselves in conversation with Lorena.

Modelling since the age of five, the Spanish-born blogger radiates glamour. Not only that, she’s clever too – a meteorology nerd, no less.

Reaching for common ground (Lorena makes mega bucks drinking poolside cocktails while we spend half the week writing speeches in our comfy pants), we eventually bonded over our partners’ love of IT.

Speechy resolved to try luxury travel and lifestyle blogging, but first we need to find a way to make a commute on First Great Western look sexy.

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Our final surreal encounter with the jet set entailed asking Bjorn Treasure (real name) for his ‘handle’ – bear with us, this is an authentic social media term, we certainly weren’t being at all inappropriate.

Apart from being ridiculously handsome, Bjorn was a treat to talk to – when we could stop him giggling that is. It was great to work with such a bright, considerate and fun guy – he was a Super Trouper when we asked him to say a few words to camera too. And hey, anyone whose mum’s an Abba fan is a friend of ours.

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So, aside from the fact it was nice to get out of our writers’ cellar of gloom – ahem, office – what have we learned from our time with the beautiful ones?

Well it’s true what they say – the safest place to hide a body is the second page of Google. Yep, like it or not, if you want to grow your small business, you just might have to embrace influencer marketing, because it certainly looks as though it’s here to stay.

We’re newbies to this so it’s kind of hard to measure effectiveness, but sponsoring real people to disseminate brand communications seems to provide inevitable value to advertisers.

Reports suggest global adspend on influencer marketing is set to reach $10bn by 2020. That’s a lot of free mani-pedis.

Authenticity is key – one thing we know since talking to these guys is that they’re far from the ‘vacuous, talentless, horror show’ a certain Rocket Man once famously suggested. Rather, they are a diverse group of warm, funny and, well, normal brand ambassadors who engage with products and services in creative ways to reach likeminded audiences.

Speaking of major influencers, if you could do with some irreverent marriage advice from the likes of Homer Simpson in your life, follow Speechy! We’re all about the love obviously, but we’re also quite shallow and want likes.

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