Q&A with Maddie Raedts - Founding Partner & CCO of IMA

In our Question and answer series this week we talk to Maddie Raedts, Founding Partner & CCO of IMA.  With a global network of over 20.000 influencers, we find out how Maddie got started and what where she see's influencer marketing going. 


How did you get involved with Influencer Marketing and start IMA?

In 2010 I worked on the development of the fashion inspiration platform Fashiolista, where I began to realise the impact of digital influencers in marketing. At this time blogging was an up and coming phenomenon and I was witnessing the development of blogging as a hobby to its evolution into a true, solid business model. It quickly became apparent that digital influencers were incredibly impactful in the successful building and marketing of our platform on a global scale. This garnered a lot of interest in clients to work with our platform but also with our influencer network. In 2013, my partner and I, Emilie Tabor, met this demand for brands wanting to communicate through this new form of earned media by starting IMA (Influencer Marketing Agency). IMA is the first full-service influencer marketing agency specialising in helping brands activate audiences worldwide through bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers. Using our digitally forward workforce of 85 people over 20 nationalities and our network of more than 35,000 influencers, we develop and execute global strategies that amplify brand stories and reach billions of people. Some of our clients include Diesel, Samsung, Tommy Hilfiger, Nivea and Pernod Ricard. Our headquarters in Amsterdam and we’ve recently just opened an office in New York City.

What have been the major changes you have seen in influencer marketing since you started?

The beauty of influencer marketing is that it never ceases to change. Some of these bigger changes in recent years includes the move from blogging into the social media space. Influencer marketing being adopted into the core part of the marketing mix by businesses. The adaptation of social media platforms to stimulate influencer marketing, making it easier to measure and more transparent. It's versatility into different markets and industries and the brands having the confidence to hand themselves over to these content creators. Brands are allocating more budget to influencer marketing strategies year on year as people rely on influencer recommendations when making buying decisions. The rise of social media and other instant content platforms has encouraged the consumption of micro-content.

Where do you see the market developing?

There will be a clean - up of profiles which use fake followings and engagements throughout all social media platforms. The use of micro-influencers will continue to rise as their ability to engage niche audiences is unparalleled. As consumer groups such as Gen Z gain buying power transparency will be more important than ever as this is very important to this group. The introduction of shoppable content will make the use of influencers even more important as there will be a quicker customer journey with little clicks and growth in buying intention. Longer partnerships with brands will continue where influencers are used under a brand ambassador programme, making the partnerships more authentic to their followers. There will be more developments such as diversified and longer forms of content. Offline activations will become just as important as online as consumers still value experiences.

What advice would you give to brands who are considering working on an influencer marketing campaign?

Make sure the brand/influencer match is right as this is very important in ensuring the campaign’s success. Do not only rely on things such as follower count as this does not necessarily mean that they can engage with a wide audience. Think strategically about long-term campaigns with various activations with different types of influencers and pioneer with them through different platforms and START NOW!

All of your campaigns I am sure have been special and important, but do you have one that you are most proud of when you look back?

Every campaign is very unique and special to us. However, campaigns which challenge the ‘normal’ type of influencer marketing campaign are our favourite. Those where we can be our most innovative and truly break the boundaries of this industry we work in are always a great accomplishment. The most important thing about influencer marketing is giving hero creatives a platform to share their passion. Such as the campaign we did with Bloemenbureau, the European Council that represents flowers & plants in EU. We harnessed the power of 6 influential creatives that designed ad blockers into works of art featuring flowers and plants. It was an innovative way to show consumers how flowers add value to their every day, through a medium they were already using.

Stuart HallFeatures