Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

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Brands looking to tap younger consumers are elevating the role of influencers. New executive responsibilities give these creators better business knowledge, with multiple benefits, both for them and for the brands.

Fashion influencer Alyssa Coscarelli has more than 363,000 Instagram followers, who turn to her for recommendations on the latest buzzy brands. She left her full-time job at Vice-owned women’s media title Refinery29 three years ago to develop her personal brand. However, in July this year, Coscarelli returned to an office job, joining LA-based online retail platform Emcee as director of partnerships

The linkup between Coscarelli and Emcee marks a shift in the relationship between creators and companies, where both can find new value in working together beyond promoting products. More influencers are taking on internal roles at brands: Youtuber Emma Chamberlain joined beauty brand Bad Habit as creative director in December, while fashion title Instyle hired social media comedian Tefi this summer to run its Tiktok account.

Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

Companies are upgrading influencers’ roles beyond fashionable tastemakers to help them move closer to new, young audiences. The best influencers have a strong understanding of what sells to young consumers and how to garner their attention. Influencers instinctively understand marketing, sometimes more than those engaged in it full time, Coscarelli says.

However, why would a successful influencer enjoying a flexible schedule and a good income opt for a 9-to-5 role? Creators say it’s a great opportunity to understand how a larger company operates, especially if they want to build a bigger business of their own, beyond a series of brand deals.

How influencers can help

For years, celebrities have been the face of everything, from fragrance to dish soap. The difference with influencers is that consumers trust them more, says Thomai Serdari, a professor of fashion and luxury marketing at New York University. “It is much harder today to find people who truly have their finger on the pulse of contemporary culture,” she says. “An influencer may not have gone through design, marketing or business training, for example, but they have been successful in creating their own communities.”

A shift in values means that fashion recruiters have opened their doors to a wider pool of people, Serdari adds. Today’s creative director, for example, isn’t necessarily a brilliant tailor but someone who brings the best ideas and taps a network of collaborators. In this world, the best influencers have an upper hand.

Emcee founder and CEO John Aghayan discovered Coscarelli not through social media but through her curated offering for Re:Store, a physical retail store in San Francisco. While continuing to work as a creator, Coscarelli now has a full time role at Emcee too; her job is to recruit brands and creators onto the Emcee platform. Emcee enables influencers to create and host their own online storefronts, with commissions ranging from 5 to 25 per cent on items sold, according to the company.


Aghayan says he was drawn to Coscarelli not because of her large following but rather her “business savvy” and “entrepreneurial spirit”. Coscarelli was instrumental in bringing Shopify on as a partner. Her experience as an influencer makes her a crucial cog in the feedback loop. To date, it’s working out very well: Aghayan notes that Emcee has 3,000 creators and 800 brands on its waitlist (about 300 creators and 50 brands have been approved to date).

Other online creators are taking on roles as editors and social media strategists. Estefania Vanegas Pessoa, better known as Tefi, built an audience on Youtube (112,000 subscribers) and Tiktok (1.2 million followers) for her witty and honest opinions on celebrity gossip and pop culture. As of this year, she also runs Instyle’s Tiktok account.

Tefi was the right fit for Instyle’s cherished brand values, which include a good dose of humour, says Molly Stout, executive editor of When looking for someone to run the Tiktok account, it made sense to hire someone native to the platform, says Stout. Instyle was looking in particular for someone undiscovered, with no media training or representation. Tefi’s natural affability also secured her the role. “She doesn’t need scripts or cues or much direction at all,” says Stout. “What separates her from more professional social media personalities? She’s herself.”

Creators, in return, are appreciating the benefits. “The creator economy landscape changes so quickly. Who’s to say that Instagram is going to be my main source of income indefinitely?” muses Coscarelli. “I’m very entrepreneurial and I might have a company of my own one day, so I want to learn as much as I can by taking those opportunities right now and maybe applying some learnings to my own company down the line.”

Unlike Coscarelli, who is on Emcee’s payroll, Tefi works as a freelancer for Instyle, responsible for six to nine videos a week. She took the job with Instyleboth out of a personal love for the brand and as an important step towards her end goal of developing an all-rounded pop culture platform that includes books and shows, she says.

The resources of a larger company are also attractive. Internet personality and writer Louis Pisano, who has more than 124,000 followers on Instagram, is both a contributor and consultant for Vogue France, with plans to join the title in a more formalised role soon under new editorial head Eugénie Trochu. That will enable him to align his personal and professional goals: to spotlight diversity, inclusion and anti-racism education in France on the biggest possible platform. “When you’re in a more traditional role, you have the infrastructure to do things on a bigger scale that can reach even more people,” he says.

The creator economy is now made up of more than 50 million creators, according to 2020 calculations from venture capital firm Signalfire. Estimates suggest it is now an industry worth over $104 billion, and is still growing fast, presenting brands with an ever-widening pool of talent to work with.

Balancing two jobs

However, taking on big jobs such as creative director, editor-in-chief or director of partnerships is a rather more demanding role than a typical collaboration or ambassadorship, says NYU’s Serdari.

Her concern is that some appointments are perceived as short-term PR stunts. “There is a danger when you allow someone from the outside to really influence your aesthetic or your business, even if for a limited period of time,” she says. “Brands have to think about whether hiring a creator will truly and constructively help them in advance of what they will be in five or ten years’ time. Growing a company is very different to having a great following on Instagram and being able to drive product launches.”

Creators must also find ways to efficiently juggle a day job with their personal brand deals. While Emcee CEO Aghayan has never discouraged Coscarelli from continuing to work as an influencer nor tried to regulate her brand deals, juggling two roles was challenging Coscarelli. “Because I also manage my own business, it was hard to conduct the volume of calls that I needed to make each week,” she explains. “It was a really big job that was core to the success of the business. I wasn’t making as much progress as we’d hoped, given how quickly everything was growing.”

In October, Coscarelli shifted towards a more strategic position as Emcee’s director of business development, which includes overseeing social media, editorial content and influencer marketing. (Emcee has since hired a new director of partnerships and three coordinators to fill Coscarelli’s old role). For her personal influencer work, Coscarelli has a manager from talent agency Purveyor to help manage contracts and vet new partnerships. She’s also become more selective. “I’m just saying ‘no’ more and more,” she says. “In general, all influencers should be discerning about the brands they’re working with.”

Achieving the right kind of balance is important, says Idalia Salsamendi, an influencer strategist who has consulted for Dior, Chopard and Valentino. “Do you have the time to give to the role what it really needs from you? If not, as a creator, you’re doing yourself a misfavour because you’re not going to be happy, you won’t live up to the expectations of the job and you’ll probably get some bad press because of it. Anytime a creator doesn’t put their all into something, whether it’s a campaign or capsule collection, consumers see it – and it flops.”

Authenticity of voice is essential, says Salsamendi. “It’s invigorating to see influencers finding their voice and taking on larger roles than just promoting a product for a brand, but it’s important that the influencer is actually doing the work and not just slapping their name onto something.” Creators are most fulfilled and offer the most to a brand when it’s a true passion project, with a brand’s mission and values aligned with theirs, she notes.

Expect the trend of influencers moving into brand marketing to build and build. “People who work as creators work for themselves, so they’re obviously entrepreneurial,” says Coscarelli. “I think we’re going to see more influencers become business leaders and advisors as they more deeply invest in the brands that they work with.”

Article Source: Vogue Business

Written by:

Kati Chitrakorn

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.

#Influencers get an upgrade. Now they’re in charge.


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