Esteban Alvarán is an entrepreneur, digital communication expert, and an online public opinion and reputation management consultant. He is the Executive Director at Clout Influencers. He has 10 years’ experience in marketing and communications. Esteban was previously LATAM Brand Manager at Rappi as well as Digital Communication Manager at Dattis. Clout Influencers is on Instagram.
Esteban has a background in communications.
“I worked in the leading digital communication consultancy firm in Columbia called Dattis where I led the digital communication business and created a new line of business in the firm called PR Marketing.”
From the outset, he was working with influencers and opinion leaders. Esteban was helping develop strategies for companies and brands looking to get exposure and popularity on social media platforms.
“Then I moved to Rappi, a successful tech company in the delivery world. I was the brand manager for Latin American (LATAM) markets. It was a nice step for my career before joining the Clout team”
First Personal Experience with Influencer Marketing
Esteban’s first personal experience with influencer marketing was in 2014 when he worked with Bavaria (the largest brewery in Colombia and a subsidiary of AB InBev).
“One brand from Bavaria was trying to highlight the Colombian spirit. We were to create a conversation that shows the things that make us proud as Colombians. At that time, I think nobody was trying to work with influencers in Colombia. Our idea was to include the main opinion leaders of the Colombian spirit. So we started looking on social networks for those who share the values of the Colombian people. We asked them to work with us in the campaign and it was very successful.”
Clout Influencers was founded in 2018 in Colombia by four agency employees. They worked for the major advertising agencies in Columbia including Publicis and McCann Erickson.
“These agencies needed support in contracting influencers for their clients’ campaigns. They thought Clout could develop such support for the agencies and start developing influencer contracts and handling the administrative tasks in influencer work.”
Not long thereafter, Clout sought to change the approach to influencer marketing in Colombia by creating the first influencer media buyer.
“What you see in these LATAM markets are mainly agencies of influencers. That is, companies that have all the bookings and a lot of influencers but don’t have the strategy, data, metrics and audience knowledge. Clout started to propose that to the market and that’s the whole point of the first influencer media buyer in LATAM. Clout developed this business model first in Colombia then started to grow in Mexico, Peru and Argentina. We are the largest influencer media contractor in LATAM.”
Clout identified a number of challenges facing LATAM influencers.
“In LATAM, influencers had started to grow with no supervision, any logical process, any idea of how to sell and make this a business. We saw in the first years of influencer marketing that creators started to charge brands large amounts of money. This made this channel expensive and inefficient for brands.”
There was low professionalism.
“Influencers started to work with brands without any advice on how to be professional. So they started to deliver bad quality content. Bad ideas. The audience didn’t like them too.”
Esteban says a media buying company like Clout can protect brands from such chaos by ensuring influencers deliver high quality content at a reasonable price.
“We created the first cost standard for influencers in the LATAM region. Based on relevance for the audience and campaign, we know exactly how much to charge the brand. Our mission is to put things in order to make influencer marketing sustainable and competitive for the future.”
Clout has commercial offices in Columbia, Mexico and Peru. The company runs campaign operations in another six LATAM countries i.e. Chile, Argentina, Panama, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
Difference Between LATAM and US/European Markets
The influencer industry in advanced markets such as the US and Europe is several years ahead of their LATAM counterparts, Esteban says. Content creators in LATAM are not at the same high level of professionalism as their peers in the US and Europe. He credits this to the higher internet penetration and social media usage in wealthier countries.
“When you have an audience that’s equipped and well versed with social platforms and tools to communicate between them, you start to create capacity for better content creation and influencer quality. In our LATAM countries, this is happening very slowly. Technology adoption is the main issue.”
Nevertheless, Esteban sees the social characteristics of LATAM’s population as an asset in the influencer industry.
“In LATAM, people are very spontaneous. Countries like Colombia produce influencers in visceral numbers because we are so spontaneous, we are so happy, we like to relate and interact with other people. Social media platforms are a nice space for us in the context of our social characteristics and culture.”
Tips for Brands Looking to Work with LATAM Influencers
The basic principles of influencer marketing apply everywhere irrespective of country, he says.
“The methods and the ways you work with influencers are very similar in every country of the world. Obviously you need to keep in mind the basics such as the natural interaction of the influencer with your brand and how they adopt the values you are trying to reflect.”
The LATAM market is not a monolith though in terms of its maturity, Esteban asserts.
“Countries like Mexico, Colombia, Argentina are very mature in this industry. Brands are close to the idea of working with an influencer. In other countries, not so much. Peru, Chile, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and the rest of Central America are really in the early stage of influencer marketing.”
Popular Creator Spaces in LATAM
Clout uses an audience and influencer measurement tool to capture statistics of different audience segments.
“Whether the 18 to 25 year olds, or 25 to 35 year olds, we have the capacity to track every segment on the creator platforms.”
TikTok and QQ are especially popular with younger users, he says. However, Instagram remains the leading influencer platform across all age groups. He has noticed a steady growth in the number of older users, a trend that did not exist just a year ago.
LATAM Market Trends
Brands in the more mature LATAM markets are looking at forming long-term relationships with influencers, Esteban says.
“For example, in Mexico, we are seeing brands hiring influencers to create all the content they need for one year. Brands are including influencers in new business models. For instance, beauty brands in LATAM are inviting influencers to create new product lines signed by them. Brands are understanding that the influencer has to be viewed in terms of long term value collaboration.”
Clout’s Future Plans
Clout is looking to consolidate its market position as the leading and largest contractor of influencers in Latin America.
“We have a nice project that is in the process of launching in the next half of the year. We are placing a bet in the content creation industry. Clout is going to build its own influencer channels. We are inviting the best content creators in LATAM, sharing the ideas of content we have and making them partners in our plans. So we and the influencer own the channel and work in a long-term way to develop and monetize it.”