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Fast 10: Social Soup’s Sharyn Smith Sits Down With Sparrow

Sharyn Smith, CEO of of Social Soup, is an industry doyen when it comes to influencer and creator marketing with an enviable list of clients and a previous appearance on B&T TV. She caught up with our own Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham to talk all things social.

1. Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham: Social Soup’s client list is very impressive. Are they long-term relationships or more project-based?
Sharyn Smith: Some of our clients have built incredible relationships with us over the past 16 or so years and continue to trust us to this day. About 65 per cent of our work exists as long-term partnerships, with planned, 12-month programs across digital and real-world influence. That being said, there are still plenty of new businesses excited to explore projects around how influence can supercharge their marketing efforts – in which we are a key part of a strong go-to-market strategy, doing the heavy lifting of building brand and accelerating adoption.

2. You work with hundreds of excellent content creators, how has this evolved?

The creator economy has evolved enormously over the past five years in particular, becoming more than just a tack-on to marketing plans and instead being a key part of successful campaigns. The Gartner hype cycle and period of regulation means we’re now really seeing creators come into their own.

Brands still need to move past the concept of getting a Kardashian or Bachelor star with massive reach to “plug” their product. It is still a common misconception that success is solely measured by an influencer – or creator’s – follower count and reach. When we do conversion-driven campaigns, it’s never the biggest influencers delivering the results.

Instead, it’s about understanding the different tiers of influence and their roles and understanding why 2000-or-so dedicated followers of specific content are often a more valuable and engaging audience when utilised correctly.

3. Are the prospects for influencer marketing positive for the year ahead?

Absolutely. The market is huge, evolving and highly engaged. Brands are continuing to see incredibly strong results through strategic influencer marketing programs – when they are done right. Influencer marketing has a multiplier to all other media as it humanises, personalises and provides the social proof and trust that other media can’t deliver, thereby driving genuine impact. The rise and rise of the creator economy means there is an ecosystem of creators who command huge influence with their audiences big and small. Smart brands are developing long-term partnerships with them.

My work with the Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCO) shows this is a thriving and dynamic industry with over 85 members across talent, technology, marketplaces, agencies and platforms.

4. What sets Social Soup apart from other influencer and social agencies?

I think it’s important to look at our age and understand our business existed before social media was even established. We have a legacy in influence marketing, where we specialise in driving influence for businesses and brands and will continue to do so.

We build programs based on strong insights and strategy to understand the audiences we are influencing. Our mission is to transform influencer marketing by fostering genuine, trust-based connections between brands, influencers and audiences, ensuring every campaign we craft is a movement of authenticity, honesty, creativity and real-world impact.

5. You are the ex-chair of AiMCO so, as an industry leader, what more should the influencer community be doing?

The industry is very dynamic and is still developing, so I think one of the areas there could be more improvement is in the use of data to drive better decisions on the influencers selected, and then how impact is measured. I still see lots of campaigns relying just on reach or impressions, with no proof of the actual influence achieved.

For influencers, there is still a gap in education on disclosure with many doing the right thing, but brands are still being put at risk without the necessary checks and balances in place.

6. I know it’s like naming your favourite child, however, what work are you most proud of?

We have loved working with Sustainability Victoria over the past 12 months to deliver some large-scale behaviour change programs designed to fight food waste and reduce waste. Our most recent campaign was a creator-led movement that drove over 35,000 website visits and 6,000 people signed up to participate in a “leftovers challenge”. The creator content drove education, engagement and, importantly, action. I love when we can show the good that harnessing social influence can achieve.

7. Does this type of work drive client results and business growth?

You don’t have a sustainable marketing services business in 2024 if you can’t deliver results, and we have direct attribution to prove it along with strong measurement programs demonstrating consistent ROAS. We worked with Ovaltine recently on a new launch and through a brand uplift study and longitudinal measurement we were able to demonstrate 25 times ROAS. We were also able to prove that once purchased, there was increased loyalty for people acquired through social influence as it builds stickiness to behaviour.

8. How active are you on your socials?

I’m reasonably active on my socials, enough I’d say to embarrass my teenage children who tell me a lot of their friends follow me. I need to go back to posting on Facebook as they don’t see it there!

9. Can you tell us something that’s not on your LinkedIn profile?

I started my career studying Laser Science. After a year of terrible lab experiences, I realised that electronic circuits were not my future, so I moved into business and marketing.

10. Do your parents know what you actually do?

They know parts of what I do but they live in a country area and are not even on social media, so it’s hard for them to even imagine. I do remember a time many years ago when I was in The Australian Women’s Weekly with a full-page photo and my mum proudly carrying it around in her handbag to show her friends. It seems that traditional media still very much holds influence over parents.

Check out the other instalments in the Fast 10 series here:

Originally Appeared Here

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