Yet another signal that the influencer marketing space is growing and maturing has emerged. The practice now has its first dedicated college text. The aptly named Influencer Marketing published in November and is edited by professors Sevil Yesiloglu and Joyce Costello, both of whom originally connected as lecturers at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom.

Unlike the influencer marketing books you typically find in the business section of your local bookstore or on Amazon, this text is a compilation of academic statement papers from a variety of both academicians and practitioners from all of the world. The multiple perspectives actually bring a holistic read of the industry to the table. Frankly, I found the book to be quite useful, even beyond the context of teaching college students.

Both Yesiloglu and Costello are Europe-based college professors. Costello is also a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army and is now based in Germany. Yesiloglu is a senior lecturer in advertising at London College of Communication at the University of Art in London. They joined me a few weeks back from their respective COVID outposts to discuss the book, their learnings and the insights they gleaned from pulling together so many different perspectives on influence marketing for the industry’s first college text.

We explored the diversity of perspectives on influencer marketing from around the world collected in the various contributions to the book from industry professionals and academics. We also had a fun discussion of the light vs. dark of influencer marketing—a conversation of fraud and virtual influencers versus the empowering and fruitful industry we all know it can be.

This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Winfluence, the book! Get a special discount by clicking the button below, buying on the Entrepreneur Press bookstore and using the discount code FALLS20. That earns you 20% off the retail price, just for being a Winfluence (the podcast) listener. Read and learn why we’ve been backed into a corner to think influencer marketing means Instagram and YouTube and how reframing it to be “influence” marketing makes us smarter marketers.


Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

Order Winfluence now!

This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Winfluence, the book! Get a special discount by clicking the button below, buying on the Entrepreneur Press bookstore and using the discount code FALLS20. That earns you 20% off the retail price, just for being a Winfluence (the podcast) listener. Read and learn why we’ve been backed into a corner to think influencer marketing means Instagram and YouTube and how reframing it to be “influence” marketing makes us smarter marketers.


Winfluence Transcript – Sevil Yesiloglu & Joyce Costello – Influencer Marketing Textbook

Jason Falls
Hello again friends thanks for listening to Winfluence – The Influence Marketing Podcast. Yet another signal that the influencer marketing space is growing and maturing has emerged. The practice now has its first dedicated college text. The aptly named Influencer Marketing published in November is edited by professors Sevil Yesiloglu and Joyce Costello, both of whom originally connected as lecturers at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom. Unlike the influencer marketing books you typically find in business section of your local bookstore or on Amazon. This text is a compilation of academic statement papers from a variety of both academicians and practitioners from all over the world. The multiple perspectives actually bring a holistic read of the industry to the table. Frankly, I found the book to be quite useful even beyond the context of teaching college students. Both Yesiloglu and Costello are Europe-based college professors. Costello is also a Public Affairs Specialist for the US Army and is now based in Germany. Yesiloglu is a senior lecturer in advertising at London College of Communication. They joined me a few weeks back from their respective COVID outposts to discuss the book, their learnings and the insights they gleaned from pulling together so many different perspectives on influence marketing for the industry’s first college text. But the conversation goes in a couple different really interesting ways. They talk about virtual influencers, so fictional characters that are computer generated and act as influencers, which is part of the larger ethical discussion about influencer fraud. We touched on the differences and diversity and perspectives on the practice based on global position and geography. Such a great discussion with some interesting insights and ideas for how this practice can continue to mature.

Jason Falls
This episode of Winfluence the podcast is sponsored by Winfluence the book. Get a special discount by going to jason.online/buywinfluence. That’s the Entrepreneur Press bookstore. Use the code FALLS20 on checkout. That gets you 20% off the retail price just for being a Winfluence, the podcast, listener. Read and learn why we’ve been backed into a corner to think influencer marketing means Instagram and YouTube and how reframing it to be influence marketing makes us smarter marketers.

Jason Falls
Today though, we’re going back to class and learning influencer marketing from the editors of the practice’s first college textbook, Sevil Yesiloglu and Joyce Costello are next on Winfluence.

Jason Falls
So I guess the place to start is to ask about the construct of the book. Both of you are or were college lecturers in Europe, Joyce, I know you’ve been with Bournemouth University in the UK, though you have a background in public affairs with the US Army in Sevil. You’re a senior lecturer in advertising at London College of Communication, which is part of the University of art London, you were editors of this book, and it’s written by a number of contributors. Let me start with Joyce, where did the idea for the book come from? And how did the two of you reconcile so many different voices into a singular text?

Joyce Costello
Well, Jason, one of the issues when we were at Bournemouth University together, we were putting together a new course for the public relations degree in the marketing in the digital. And we found that there were no textbooks at all about influencer marketing. And so one of the issues when we were even putting together the course was to get together with folks from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, get together with practitioners work with other colleagues who were researching social media and then weaving into influencer marketing. And so the initial concept of the book was to say, okay, we need to look from a theoretical aspect of how can we start to break down the various portions of influencer marketing and I think that’s definitely how we were able to get the four sections and sit there and say okay, you know, if I’m teaching this course for students and then of course you know, beneficial to practitioners what what is it they actually need to know to start that understanding and foundation

Jason Falls
Interesting, Sevil your your contributors are mostly academicians, but there are a healthy percentage that are journalists or even agency strategists as well. I wonder if any differences surfaced in how the academic worldviews influence marketing and the influence marketing space versus how a practitioner does if any of those differences emerged if the if they did what what were they?

Sevil Yesiloglu
I think there is overlaps is definitely. And one of the things, again, we’re not is is, is something because that topic is evolving and changing. And it’s changing. Because there are lots of platforms, there are new styles, new, the way of engagement. And so what happened is both academia and more practitioner side, people try to understand what what this new phenomenon is about. So. And when we work with practitioners and academics, what we try to do we find a balance between these two is usually seen as a two different world, but actually, it’s not. And what we did when we were working with the academics, we try to include case studies and show students that even academic work and when we are talking about the theories, is actually relevant to real world. And we try to make that connection quite clear for students and for academics. And when we work with the practitioners, is actually we have a chapter around virtual influences. And it’s actually, it’s so important to understand how practitioners is see in this field and how academic seeing and then we have different chapters around how brands need to pick specific influences, what sort of criteria they need to look at, and how they can do that calibration. Do they need to look at credibility? Do they need to look at the way this influences communicating? But this chapter, again, is written by academics for practitioners and students and academics.

Jason Falls
Excellent. A similar question for you, Joyce, I noticed that a lot of the contributors were essentially European, which for texts, published mostly in the UK, in Europe, that makes perfect sense. But I’m curious, in your experience, is the European approach to influence marketing more or less mature than that of the US? Do you have a perspective on that, tell me a little bit about how the differences in the sort of geographies of your contributors kind of played into the book.

Joyce Costello
Um, I think for sure numbers when we were looking at it, how influencer marketing was spreading across the world, one of the issues is that we noticed that you know, how Brazil is handling it, and how they were doing the research in a very aggressive aspect. So we wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just us centric, or UK or European. And so we do have folks that are, you know, the professor Voyer was going into the different roles, and that was based with their case study in Brazil. And when I was looking at elements, you know, obviously, I’m from the US, we have folks from Italy, from Turkey, a lot of the case studies, when we’re soliciting different case studies, we tried to make sure that it was a variety. Now we do joke and say that we have a colleague up in Scotland, and that it was very important to get that northern northern hemisphere input. But I think it’s your you’ve touched on an excellent point about how influencer marketing can be perceived differently by brands, whether you are in the States, or if you’re you know, in Brazil, or if you’re in the UK, or even in Germany, or in my case with the public sector. It is being handled at different levels. And I think that there there’s different levels of comfort, I think with each different cultural aspect that really facilitates that growth of influencer marketing, perhaps in certain markets.

Jason Falls
Sevil this text really focuses in on social media influencers and how they can be integrated into marketing efforts. are we reaching a point where other channels of marketing communications just aren’t as compelling or effective? Have influencers in some ways taken the place of traditional advertising and other methods of reaching the masses or is that just premature?

Sevil Yesiloglu
That’s really good question. And in the book in the first chapter, what what I tried to do that it tried to explain what’s the difference between traditional influences, social media influences instant famous, so we can come up with like lots of names based on what these influences are doing, what platform they based on, or what platform they mainly share their expertise with their audiences. And there was another chapter we discuss is actually traditional celebrities, buses, social media influences, and there is still that blurred line between are they different if they are communicating on a traditional No media. So for example, traditional advertising, if we see a celebrity on advertising or TV ads, is it really different than if we see in this celebrity as an influences on Instagram, for example, and one of the chapters actually discussing that, that there is a difference between this traditional way of using influencers or traditional way of using celebrities and traditional advertising. And there is that social media influences where people actually feel more close to more related to, and they actually feel that I can reach those influences way more easily than I can reach that celebrity or that brand I’m seeing on TV ads, and what happened with it with the brands as well, as soon as they realize that people feel more comfortable with those influences. People believe those influences more, they kind of feel like part of the community because they they can reach those people a lot easier than they can reach any brands or other services they seen on TV. So I think there are still in the advertising campaigns and marketing campaigns, I really believe that the power of integrated marketing strategies, so like where marketers and advertisers integrating different media, including TV ads, outdoor ads, or whatever it might be and social media. But I think what’s happening now brands kind of want to work with the influences because they are seeing the power they see in this people actually trust those influences little bit more than the traditional advertising or traditional way of communicating brands actually doing. So I think it’s still there is still I think there is a huge importance of integrating different tools. But I would say I think brands start seeing that influencer marketing, integrating influencer marketing when people feel that, oh, I can reach that people, it’s more related to my lifestyle is is like, is just like me, and idi they are having. So I think brands, that’s why we are seeing brands and advertisers in investing way more budget money into influencer advertising. Because of that,

Jason Falls
You know, that takes us, you know, into another part of the book that I think is is actually really, really well done and very thorough, because there’s several points in the book where this is kind of underlined, Joyce, the author’s go into some pretty good detail about choosing the right influencers for your brand. I mean, Sevil did a great job there of distinguishing between the traditional sort of celebrity, and why influencers are really important. So getting a little bit more granular. Can you give us a little bit of a high level overview on you know, what your book gives as a takeaway for what marketers need to do to choose influencers? Well, what are some steps or things to look out for?

Joyce Costello
Well, I, I think let me focus first on when folks are choosing influencers one of the differences between when you’re choosing a platform where you control the message is all of a suddenly brands and companies are looking at individuals. And so when we have to choose an individual to represent, there’s a lot of issues with whether there’s a person organization fit, whatever that person’s values and style, blend with that brand and the audience and the message that they’re wanting to tell. And I think a lot of the initial chapters in the book, really focus on that need for that person organizational aspect. And again, I think, with influencer marketing, it’s not I’m choosing which television station that I’m going to go ahead and have my advertisements running. Because you know, okay, there’s this program that runs on at this timeframe. And I think that’s one of the key issues is that when you start looking at these third parties outside of the the brand, you really are having to have a lot more. A lot more areas where you sit and have to analyze is this individual actually going to reflect and deliver what we need to do because if I outsource something to an advertising agency, I know from their reputation and from their their history, okay, this is what as a collective group, they will do but tend to you know, when you look at an influencer, all of a sudden you’re looking at it individual basis. And I think that kind of brings up a different power about that, but I’m gonna pass over to Sevil because I know Sevil has a great passion when it comes to selecting the right influencer.

Sevil Yesiloglu
Yes. So, um, one of the things in the book, Jason, as you mentioned is we have like, kind of two separate chapters of focusing on the selected influences in digital industry, digital media, and we have a chapter written by our Turkish colleagues is mainly poorly, they focus on this identifying the right influences for marketing campaign. And what what they did, when they were looking at these influences and the communication with their audience, they will kind of like tried to emphasize the importance of the content. So what what brands needs to look at so what type of content has been produced by this influences last couple of years, and then what sort of expertise they have, but at the same time, it’s really important to look at what consumers want. And they really explain it really well, that, yeah, when we choose an influences, we need to look at what they’ve been doing, how much engagement they receiving, and what type of content they are using, but at the same time, we need to look at the data and engagement and try to understand what consumers likes. So, what sort of content they are, they want to see from influences profile. And one thing is really interesting to me, you can actually see in different chapters in the book, one of the things we realize to identify in the influence and everything, attractiveness is quite important. So when when brands are actually picking influences, one of the things Yes, they are looking at how expert they are in a particular product or brand. But it was so interesting in the book, to see attractiveness and importance of attractiveness in that engagement between followers and influencers. So that was really interesting. But we have actually two chapters to explain this, like in really detail.

Jason Falls
So by attractiveness, see, I assume you mean physical attractiveness, which means I’ve got no chance of ever being an influencer. But is that really it? Is that sort of superficial judgment? The, you know, an X factor that you’re talking about there?

Sevil Yesiloglu
Oh, yeah, that one end attractiveness of the post the content. So we are talking about physical attractiveness. And in chapter one, I was actually talking about how important is that, but at the same time, in different chapters, you are seeing the importance of attractiveness of the past. So the color the filters they are using. So bringing different objects, that artistic effect of the past is really important. But when you put an attractive person in that attractive, positive and better,

Jason Falls
Well, it leaves me some hope, then, because I’m not attractive, but I can make a post attractive, so I feel better about that. So Joyce, I love the the academic treatment here of the dark side of influence marketing in the book, this was one of the sections of the book where I think you were actually a co-author, as well as the co-editor. So talk to us about the issues that brands should watch for and those that influencers need to understand that brands watch for that taint the practice a bit. And then I have a follow on to that. But talk about the dark side of influence marketing, what do brands need to be looking for?

Joyce Costello
Well, I think on the dark side of influencer marketing, one of the issues I mean, it’s not that I’m obsessed with social bots. And it’s not that I have a huge following of, you know, on Twitter, of social bots, at least not on my personal account. But one of the issues that a lot of time we saw early on was that it was very easy for nefarious organizations and companies to sell fake followers fake engagement. And when an industry is being set up, and we say okay, hey, here’s the measures of success at this point. We all know that what is measured at success today, that with technology and change that 10 years from now, you know, people will be like, Oh my goodness, I remember 10 years ago when we were looking at likes on Facebook, and my boss was like, Oh my goodness, we got 72 likes, you know, like yeah, just means 72 people saw it. But that really happens with the dark side is that brands themselves need to be aware of different ways that if they’re asking for certain metrics from the, from the influencers of what those issues are, and what we were looking at, again, what Sevil had brought up about the consumer, the dark side, at the end of the day, the brand May, they are getting a lot better at dictating terms, or different contracts with influencers. But it’s the consumers perception of what’s going on. And so for me if the consumer feels that the trust is decayed, or that authenticity is no longer there, if we’re thinking about the the issue with the influencers in Dubai, and the backlash that’s happening, a lot of times, folks can be saying, Well, hey, you know, that authenticity is not there. And so that’s something that neither the brand can control. And not necessarily anticipate. I mean, there’s a couple of scandals and issues that are mentioned throughout the book about where, you know, influencers have gone down the wrong side of common sense and decency. And it has had a backlash. So again, for brands, it is, sometimes you want to say okay, yes influencer marketing, it is shiny, it is something that’s been evolving. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t had it in its current form. It’s evolved from, you know, when blogs were going on, and as it’s growing, but there are the ethical issues, there’s the legal issues, and you know, there’s issues with trust, that I think brands themselves have to be aware of, but I also think so to the influencers. Because if they’re not having that opportunity for that education, like it our universities, courses that we’ve been teaching on, you always teach ethics, you know, sometimes it’s an entire module, sometimes you embed it and weave it through your organization. And we know that the students that were taking the influencer relation class, in Bournemouth, one of the big issues is how do you remain ethical? How do you remain legal? How do you remain ethical in your dealings when it comes to influence because there’s, there’s a lot of dark side effects. You know, we read about mental health with influencers. And you know, if there’s a lot of things that you have to take into consideration, and I think that what we touched upon in this book was the beginning of the dark side. And if Sevil lets me, she knows that I I’m upside, I will go off the deep end, I’ll be like, Oh, here we go. Bring out the darkness. But she’s the light in this book says she keeps keeps the sun on.

Jason Falls
Before we before we get to Sevil and the light. Let me ask you a follow up question to that. You you have a nice question in the book. Who is to blame the influencer? Who buys fake followers or the company that sells the fake followers? That section? I think documents the dummy case. But I want to ask you to take that a step further knowing the market today, who is to blame the influencer for buying fake followers or the brand for using influencers with fake followers?

Joyce Costello
So the if I’m an influencer? And let’s say, you know, there is a social norms, which they feel are correct, because, again, this is not you know, there’s a few courses, I think there’s a course in Milan. I know there’s a course in UCLA, I think, which is actually teaching influencer marketing from a theoretical standpoint. There’s other organizations that will teach people how to become influencers. If those aspects are not taught, then you’re relying on whatever society has taught that individual growing up what they’re seeing what they mimic. I once saw on his social media site that we’re on where some social media lectures were like, Oh, my so and so’s looking to sell his profile and I’m, you know, I’m screaming, are you crazy? Are you crazy? You can’t do that. That’s illegal. You know, and that’s something I personally, coming from the US we always say about self responsibility, you have to educate yourself. And with all the time I spent in Europe, I also realized, well, wait a second, there’s also societal issues. So I do think with that question that that was asked, for me, it’s something if I want to be a successful influencer, I need to educate myself on above and beyond. I need to look at where those professional organizations that I can learn not just about business contracts, but also about ethics about the legal aspect. great content attractive content, like Sevil said that it’s critical. But there’s so much more to to doing influencer marketing from the individual standpoint. And I do think that brands if you’re looking at social responsibility from brands, I do think from, from the professional side, that brands Do you have a responsibility also, and some brands are really good, and they have an ethics code of conduct? and other ones, you know, they they don’t.

Jason Falls
So, alright Sevil bring us back to the light. So, we get out of the darkness here where do you Where do you see the influencer marketing practice an industry going in the years to come? Is it more growth? Is it more maturity, and what might the threats to keeping it from continuing to grow be?

Sevil Yesiloglu
Well, and yeah, so, I think the future is bright, I can start with that, and we can actually see it from the data, where we are seeing brands investing more money every year, and they get like, kind of good return on investment. So, we can actually say that the future is bright and it’s just … we can actually say we will see the influences more often. And we are already seeing it influences start working with the government influences start working with not just cosmetic brands, but at the same time, more like on health. So influence, we are seeing this role of influences or these spaces in different industries and fails. So but when we look at the influences, it’s really important to understand Yes, they authenticity, where they stand what they need to do ethics, like Joyce mentioned, but at the same time, now, we are actually seeing that like different side of influences and the future of influences, which is where chill influences. So what what is virtual influences is basically is a computer generated profile. And it’s usually software’s it’s creating a nice beautiful skin and appearance on a normal person. And they just create their own influences. And I we have a we have a chapter chapter, Scott Guthrie was talking about virtual influences. But at the same time, I’m just thinking now, what brands are thinking, Oh, rather than me trying to deal with the ethical issues and those influences and they authenticity not being authentic, or being authentic, what I’m going to do, I will just go and kind of work with a software brand who can actually create that influencer for me, and I can create I can, I can just those influences don’t age, those influences not as good friends is not allowing them. They don’t go through some scandals, if you like, and you can do whatever you want to do with them. So but at the same time is actually bring in again, that authenticity, a credibility and trustworthiness. So it’s some something I think brands this think about. And I think we all need to look at how, where these influences are going and that field is going. But other example for feature of influences we can actually talk about in house influences as well, where brands actually creating an influences is part of their PR department as part of their advertising department that that influences as part of that brand. Rather than kind of exporting those influences any work in external influences. They’re creating their own influences, and is more loyal to them and is part of his state. Those influences know what brands want, what they stand for their vision, values and everything. So it’s actually with those examples, we can see that influencer marketing is not going anywhere is gonna stay here. And is it more and more is changing. And we are seeing different types of influences, like I just said in how the influences and virtual influencers.

Jason Falls
yeah, the virtual influencer thing kind of creeps me out a little bit. I haven’t I haven’t dug too deeply into it yet here on the show. But I’m, I’m planning on you know, bringing someone on who is a, an a staunch advocate of that approach and trying to you know, trying to pick it apart a little bit because you’re right, the the lack of authenticity and genuineness is bothersome to me, but I’ve seen you know the cases of virtual influencers who are building huge audiences and having an effect on especially younger generation. So it’s it can be interesting to see how that evolves. Joyce, what are your thoughts on the future of influence?

Joyce Costello
Well, I have two thoughts, Jason. One is what when Sevil had mentioned in house, one of the areas that I’m very interested in is how employee influenced LinkedIn has actually created platforms that they’ve added beta tests that are allowing companies to use their employees. And that’s that’s starting to go into a completely different field from influencer marketing. And I think that that’s something right now, we’re looking at influencer marketing is, you know, the monetization and the selling of goods, etc, and building relations. But there is so many other ways that it can be used. And then again, like you were saying, with the virtual, I do think the continuing ethical dilemmas, we are in a very young field in terms of people trying to decide, okay, what is it consist of what what areas are we in? And I think that that leads for a lot of growth. It’s very easy for the market to get oversaturated. And we would see from people going, Oh, we want macro influencers till this week? No, no, we want nano influencers. So I think that looking forward, I think there’s a lot of questions that you’ve brought up today, that we definitely encourage academics to continue their studies and we, you know, encourage practitioners to reach out and say, Hey, you know, let’s, let’s get some, some facts. Let’s look at some some studies that actually look into it. Because for me, the question of expert is always going to be one of those, that I wonder what level because when we’ve done studies, we find out that know, you don’t actually have to be an expert to have authenticity, and so is a, you know, from theoretical basis that blows my mind. So I think that we, we have a lot left to discover, just for building the foundations about influencer marketing.

Jason Falls
Awesome. For those interested the book is called Influencer Marketing, Building Brand Communities and Engagement. It is available on Amazon. It is a college textbook, not a run of the mill business book. So you’re gonna get a lot out of this. And I’ve read it and I can vouch for the value of it for sure. Thank you both for your time today. First, Joyce, if people were to wish to connect with you online, where can they find you?

Joyce Costello
Oh, they can find me on LinkedIn. Ironically, because I run social media for the US Army in Europe and the organization I’m with I kind of keep a low profile. Like I said, I’m the darkness Sevil is the brightness so find me on LinkedIn.

Jason Falls
Okay, and and Sevil. Same question to you. Where can people find you online?

Sevil Yesiloglu
Well, is that I’m definitely the light in this because they can connect with me on Twitter, they can connect, like they can find me on LinkedIn. So these are the more business profile if you like I’m using and they can actually find my UAL profile on Google. So I’m literally everywhere more lightness, I’ve got.

Jason Falls
Excellent. We will search for the light. I’ll make sure there’s links to all those places in the show notes. Thank you both for the work in the insights. It’s good to know the next generation of marketers will be smarter about all this than we were coming out of university. So I appreciate your time today.

Joyce Costello
Thank you, Jason for having us.

Sevil Yesiloglu
Oh, thank you Jason.

Transcribed by otter.ai

The Winfluence theme music is “One More Look” featuring Jacquire King and Stephan Sharp by The K Club found on Facebook Sound Collection.


Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

Order Winfluence now!

This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Winfluence, the book! Get a special discount by clicking the button below, buying on the Entrepreneur Press bookstore and using the discount code FALLS20. That earns you 20% off the retail price, just for being a Winfluence (the podcast) listener. Read and learn why we’ve been backed into a corner to think influencer marketing means Instagram and YouTube and how reframing it to be “influence” marketing makes us smarter marketers.

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