Xenia Tchoumi: how to influence the influencers

As a UN Ambassador, digital feminist and a fashion influencer with over 8 million fans, Xenia Tchoumi believes having a strong voice is key to engaging with consumers in an era of ever-decreasing attention spans.

Xenia Tchoumi: has over 8 million social media followers
Xenia Tchoumi: has over 8 million social media followers

When authenticity is the most over-used, yet difficult to attain goal in marketing it is easy to see why influencer marketing is in the midst of such a rise in advertising spend.

According to data from YouTube, 70% of teenage subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities. It is a shift which makes understanding and connecting with influencers of growing importance to brands.

Xenia Tchoumi is one of the most influential women in Europe, with over 8 million followers across social networks including Instagram and Facebook. The businesswoman and model has worked with brands from Tom Ford to Aston Martin. As a strong voice for digital feminism she is also a UN ambassador for the SheTrades initiative – helping women in the third world build businesses online through the SheTrade app.

Here she explains what brands are getting wrong when it comes to influencer marketing and how they can drive meaningful and authentic engagement through having a strong voice. 

Q: How can brands better work with influencers?

A: They need to select an influencer who not only has great engagement in terms of numbers, but also an image that is in line with the brand. Someone who can translate the brand's message into their own words and deliver it to their audience in the most organic and natural way in time.

I also strongly recommend long term relationships for both branding and sales reasons: the more I see a label on my favourite influencer, the more likely I'll remember it and probably become a customer too.

Q: How is influence shifting from traditional media brands to influencers?

A: Influencers are the ones who know that social platforms as well as their blogs or web magazines are real media platforms. Their take care of the constant communication with their audiences and to associate themselves only with brands and products they believe in. An influencer is someone who says no more often than yes, and is not to be confused with someone who's simply got followers online. An influencer uses a social media platform exactly like a TV show can use the reach on television, or Vogue magazine by placing advertising pages or products in their editorials.

Brands are becoming increasingly aware of it, and learning by doing how to work with these new media platforms.

Q: What are brands getting wrong?

A: Influencer engagement for campaigns, placements of products and digital advertising is an ever-evolving platform so everybody learns as they go. I think a mistake from some brands is to expect immediate sales from a post for luxury and expensive products. It can work wonders for more mass market articles, but if you place a £2,000 branded bag on an influencer, the conversion rates come slowly. It's also a branding exercise and you don't know if their follower will go in-store and buy the bag at the end of the month, when they get their salaries.

Yes, influencers can guarantee much more in depth analytics compared to a traditional print magazine; with a social media post you know the exact reach, location and age of who's watching and is interested.

Q: What trends do you see ahead for brands and influencers working together?

A: More videos and live videos. It's almost like a live tv show, yet closer to the public – more intimate and ultimately much more engaging.

Q: What is driving this diffusion of influence?

A: Authenticity and honesty. People have become very savvy to spot when a fake. A bold, honest statement goes a long way in this world of short attention span.