Marianne O’Reilly started her fashion blog and opened an Instagram account about five years ago. She would share photos that covered fashion, beauty, travel and new products. Marianne was approached by a PR company that offered her a deal – if she agreed to attend all their events for a period of six months, she could have all her expenses catered for. It was something new for her. Through this, Marianne met new people and her blog started to grow.
Brands started to contact her wanting to know if she was open to working with them on a gifting basis. And with that, her journey in influencer marketing formally began. She was going to events 2-3 times a week. As part of the agreement, she had to wear dresses she was gifted, take photos, post the place she was, what she was wearing and where it was from.
“It was a bit surreal. I never thought that I’d be sent clothes. Whether it’s a small or big brand, it was still something I wasn’t having to pay for.”
Joining and Working at Sintillate Talent
Marianne joined Sintillate, one of the biggest talent agencies in the UK, first as an influencer around April/May 2020 and then as community manager about six months ago.
“Sintillate has over 400 girls signed on a nonexclusive basis. As long as it’s not one of our reserve clients, the creators can still sell their own collaborations and also work with agencies. We want to grow people rather than restrict people.”
As community manager, Marianne is the first point of contact and takes creators through the registration process, runs group chats, deals with inquiries and runs campaigns.
Most Memorable Campaigns for Marianne O’Reilly
Two campaigns Marianne’s been involved in standout for her – BLANKSN Jewelry’s #EmpoweredbyYou and ZONAS’ #CheckYourEggs & #BeBodyAware. She considers these two the best due to their success in disseminating knowledge and raising awareness.
BLANKS and Jewelry, a jewelry shop, wanted to make a difference and launched an Instagram campaign under the hashtag #EmpoweredByYou.
“You would wear a piece of jewelry that meant something to you. The names creators gave to the pieces were really strong names. So they might be talking about female empowerment or ‘You’ve got this’ or ‘You’re stronger now’ and more. They encouraged influencers that took part to, if they felt comfortable, share personal stories on why the name resonated with them. To hear some of the stories of the girls and the things they’d been through and why they were stronger, you could just see the pride in wearing that jewelry. I took part in that campaign and it was amazing.”
The brand left the task of content creation for the campaign completely in the hands of the influencers, Marianne says.
“We were given free rein on the creativity part and the picture you wanted as long as it showed the jewelry. We had Certain hashtags we had to use. Encouraged to Talk about the campaign and experience being through and why the jewelry resonated. Could be as closed or open as you felt was ok for you.”
Zonas is a fertility specialist company whose scientists had come up with a home test kit.
“It can test for the hormone AMH and looks at your egg production to see if you are a candidate for early menopause, whether you have got the amount of eggs expected for your age range. It’s just promoting awareness of your body and giving you the option to learn earlier as well as the steps and advice you can put in place to maybe change results over a period of time.”
The campaign sought to raise awareness of the test and let women know that it is possible for them to learn about their body without spending thousands of pounds. Creators involved in the campaign mostly posted to Instagram but some used TikTok as well. The influencers weren’t encouraged to share their test results given the sensitive nature of such personal information.
“It was more an awareness campaign that there’s technology out there and scientists are working on this all the time to give you the options to learn earlier. So that if you did get your diagnosis from a doctor after that, that you might need IVF or anything like that, you have the time to save and you’ve got options as well.”
Marianne found the campaign empowering.
“All of us girls were very supportive of each other and it felt like we were all one big team on the campaign. The brand was heavily involved in this as well. Usually all contact would go through Sintillate but the brand was happy to speak to the girls directly and give some advice. I thought that was really great and different as well.”
Measuring Campaign Success
The success of campaigns Sintillate is involved in is mostly measured in two ways.
“The brand will look at how many discount codes were used. They can track who’s discount code is what, how many times that code has been used and the amount purchased.”
Second, post engagement and reach.
“Sales is not everything. Engagement is also important because that could be a potential sale in the future. We know that someone has to see something approximately seven times before they are influenced to buy. So if you’re coming across a new brand, you are probably not going to buy the first time you see it. from that. But the more you see people posting and encounter the name of this brand, they will want to have a look.”
Influencer Marketing Tips for Brands and Creators
First, engagement supersedes followers. Marianne cautions brands against always opting for influencers with the highest following to do their campaigns.
“Brands don’t always look up the stats and engagement. Just because someone has 200,000 followers, doesn’t mean all their followers are engaged in what they are doing. With the Instagram algorithm nowadays, they are probably not even seeing what this person is posting. If you had a budget for one larger influencer and you instead used several micro-influencers, I think that the outreach would be so much better.”
Second, paid work is tailing off.
“A lot of brands are going down the gifting route. So instead of paying, they will gift you a free meal, a free dress or several different outfits. So for people that are influencers as a career, it can be difficult because they are not getting the income they were. I think that’s down to the sheer amount of influencers out there. There’s just so much competition. If one influencer is going to say pay me at this rate, there are probably 12 other influencers out there that will take a gifted item for free.”
Creators should not necessarily shun the gifted route.
“If you want to do paid work, that’s fine. You just have to appreciate that you’re going to miss out on some campaigns because there’s some brands that just won’t pay. I think if you want to work with a brand and that brand is your dream, then I’d personally go down a gifted route because that could get you paid work in future.”
Experience as a Plus Size Influencer
Whereas Marianne is a Sintillate employee, she is still an influencer in the plus-size fashion space. She was very self-conscious at the beginning given the industry’s affinity for the skinny body
“The struggles I can have sometimes both in terms of the work that’s available but also your mental health. I was comparing myself. Over editing my photos. I wasn’t authentic because I didn’t have that confidence. I thought I had to be like everyone else. Another thing is that sometimes smaller brands will have a limited amount of sizes. They’ll do like 8 to 12 or 14. And I know the reasons for that; they don’t have the budget to do all the different sizes. They have to start with a few sizes. That does limit the fashion businesses I can work with. Some just don’t have the inclusivity of sizes.”
Over the last few years though, she has become more comfortable in her own skin. The industry is changing as well.
“It took a lot of time to work on. I’ve had to zone out what everyone else looks like and not compare with what I have seen on Instagram. I do like the way the market is changing. Being selected for these campaigns by brands shows that they like what you are doing. You don’t have to be a size six to be an influencer. Brands want to work with you. People really appreciate the work you do and the content you’ve created. And I think that’s amazing because it means every single person can look stylish and dress how they want to.”
A growing number of brands now offer clothes across sizes.
“Brands like ‘PrettyLittleThing’, ‘Missguided’, ‘In the Style’ and ‘I Saw It First’, are good at providing a really good variety of ranges of sizes. That’s where I shop because I feel I can buy the clothes I would like to wear in my size.”
Nevertheless, challenges remain in the types of clothes available for plus-size women.
“Sometimes plus size ranges can be quite frumpy and old-fashioned while the skinny ranges are more stylish. It makes you feel like you’re not good enough when you are a bigger girl.”
She emphasizes that it’s better for mental health when stores do not have a separate section for plus size women.
“I might see something in size 8 to 12 that I love but then they don’t have that available in bigger sizes. They have a completely different range for someone curvier. I think that’s wrong. You should be able to wear what you are comfortable in your size. If you think you can rock it, you should be able to wear it. They should do what ‘In the Style’ has done and have every single piece from size 6 to size 24. They’re not having to go to a plus size section for it. It’s good for people’s mental health. ‘In the Style’ is perfect for me.”
Marianne O’Reilly is a Blogger and Community Manager at Sintillate Talent. She initially began a fashion blog and an Instagram page as a hobby before she started working with brands as a fashion, beauty and travel influencer. As community manager at Sintillate, Marianne is the first point of contact and takes creators through the registration process, runs group chats, deals with inquiries and runs campaigns.