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Celebrity Photographer Jonathan Matsumoto on Transition to Influencer Management

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            “Influencer” is a word that’s everywhere in 2019, but what exactly constitutes an influencer? What makes one person an influencer but another one not? Jonathan Matsumoto, known online as Jonny Mats, is a celebrity photographer who has now moved into business development for influencers, managing their brand partnerships and marketing strategy. In his words, influencers are people “who have sizeable followings on social media and, more importantly, are able to influence their followers’ lifestyles and purchases through their content.” 

More and more brands are realizing that “influencers convert better than traditional advertising because there’s a human connection between the influencers and their followers, so it doesn’t feel as cold and distant,” according to Jonathan, who further notes that “a lot of people don’t like advertising, I mean people pay extra for premium versions of Spotify and YouTube just so they don’t have to look at advertisements, right?” The challenge for brands is “now that they have to advertise without advertising since in the social media age, it’s really easy for people to scroll right their pasts and conversion rates aren’t what they used to be.”

This has led to brands increasingly turning to influencers for marketing, which Jonathan pinpoints as the source for new changes in the field of influencer marketing. “Brands are more intelligent than they were in the early days of influencer marketing,” he notes, further pointing out that “a big part of this is the presence of analytics and tools” which help brands “have a better idea of understanding what they are getting into.”  He further notes that the rapidly changing nature of influencer marketing is what paved the way for people like him to move into it.

            The impact of these developments, “while mostly beneficial to the brands, is more mixed when it comes to the influencers,” according to Jonathan because “it is now easier for brands to find influencers with the exact demographics like age and geographic area they are looking for.” He notes that before, this type of information “was more of an educated guess, which obviously benefited influencers whose analytics were less than ideal.”

This does lead to brands reaching out directly to the influencers that match those profiles, “which has helped influencers with ideal demographics who no longer have to look for brand deals as they get a lot of inquiries.” Jonathan notes further that for these influencers, “it’s more a question of which brand deals they want or don’t want to take since they have a lot of options.” But, he notes, it can be disadvantageous for influencers “whose demographics almost match the profiles that these brands are looking for but they are just a bit off, since beforehand, companies might have seen the fit but now they aren’t showing up as one of the first 100 results when their algorithm lists out the candidates,” arguing further “it doesn’t need to be a perfect match. As long as there’s a sizeable overlap, a lot of brands are still willing to work with said influencer.”

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