And Why Not Coline: Influencers Are Not Classic Providers, They Are Personalities.

Author of the blog Et pourquoi pas Coline, since 2007, Coline has been distilling her fashion, beauty and well-being advice on the web. Now a vegan, she explains her new lifestyle through various videos and articles.

In 10 years, Coline has become one of the influential women appreciated by many brands, with whom she collaborates like IKKS or Les 3 Suisses.

How does the work between a web influencer and a brand work? How are the brands chosen? What’s in it for them?

FrenchWeb: What is the definition of a partnership between an influencer and a brand?

Coline, founder of Et pourquoi pas Coline: “Partnership” is a bit of a catch-all word because there are many kinds of collaborations:

  • product placements where a brand will pay for the influencer to promote a product on its networks,
  • Sponsored content where there are real communication operations such as an article or a dedicated video,
  • the creation of content for a brand (the takeover on social networks for example),
  • simple gifts sent without asking for anything in return.

In all cases, it is a contact, a collaboration between a brand and an influencer.

How are these partnerships developed?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about dialogue between the brand/agency and me. When a brand contacts me to propose a project, the first thing I look at is if it fits my world. For example, I only use cruelty free products (not tested on animals) so if L’Oréal sends me an email to work with me, I tell them immediately that I’m not interested and that’s the end of it. But when it fits my world or when it attracts my attention I ask for more details. I’m trying to find out what the brand wants, how we can best work together so that everyone can find their way, what their budget is too.

What types of services do you offer to brands?

This can range from product placement to a lot of creative work. Last year for example I did a takeover (takeover) on the Instagram account of IKKS. I had to imagine looks, flatlays (photographs of objects on a background), to stage everything, to make the photos, to write the captions and so on. It can also go even further. Two years ago for example, I worked with the 3 Suisses on a mini-web series There was a huge amount of work upstream, two days of very intense filming that lasted several weeks.

There is a lot of creativity in your job. Do you have a strong proposition or do the brands impose the type of formats to be produced?

As I said, it’s a lot of dialogue and I always try to listen to the brands and their requests/envies. Nevertheless, I always assume that if they come to me, it’s for a good reason: my world, my creativity, my personality… So I never work on projects where everything is dictated to me. I want to keep my personality and my freedom and I don’t hesitate to impose myself in front of the brands, even if the project doesn’t see the light of day. For example if a brand wants to make a lookbook(presentation of outfits) with me but they ask me not to show my tattoos… it n’t make sense! I think this is a very important point in working with influencers, you really have to take them into account and listen to them because they are not classic providers, they are personalities.

Who owns the rights to the different contents once they have been created?

It depends on the contract. Sometimes the trademark holds the rights for one or two years, sometimes more. But often nothing is regulated, it works especially on trust.


How can businesses pay you?

I have a business to manage my blog, YouTube channel etc. It is essential to do things by the book, both for brands and influencers. As soon as there is a service and a remuneration, it is obviously necessary to invoice. After some brands “pay” in gifts/vouchers but personally I very rarely accept this kind of collaboration. Yes, the work of influencers is a dream job, but it’s still a real job because you spend time, energy and sometimes you offer a very good visibility (and all that it can include) to brands. Then of course I’m talking about big projects and brands with budgets. Very often small creators contact me to present their work, they offer to send me something and, if I like it, I accept without asking for anything in return.

Do retailer brands work differently from pureplayers?

I would tend to say that yes… Blogs, YouTube, RS etc., it’s all new! There are still a lot of brands that don’t know how to go about it and haven’t grasped the nuts and bolts. An “old” brand will easily have a tendency to want to frame everything, to want to see your work before it’s put online, will be very demanding, or even bridle you completely. It’s understandable because it’s an environment they sometimes know little about and they’re used to working with models, directors they pay for their performances but as I said before, the influencers are different.

What do these brands gain by working with an influencer rather than a traditional TV campaign?

It depends on the influencer, but often they make money! Between a TV commercial that will cost thousands of euros to produce and thousands of euros to broadcast and an influencer who, in the end, is going to do almost everything by himself, is not going to need a team of 20 people to produce something, which has its own media, its own audience… The calculation is quick.

But what is more important to me is that an influencer has the confidence of his audience. I know that, personally, I would never put forward a brand that I don’t like just because I’ve been paid. So obviously my community doesn’t always agree with me and there is sometimes suspicion (nowadays people think that influencers are paid for absolutely everything… when it’s not true) but most of them know me well and know that when I like something, it’s sincere.

Influencers, thanks to this proximity, therefore have a real power of prescription. But it must be used wisely because negative feedback is flooding the Web very quickly.

After almost 10 years of blogging, do you see an evolution in your work with brands?

Absolutely! Absolutely! The first evolution already comes from myself: I became a vegan about a year ago and, as a result, there are a lot of brands I n’t work with anymore. For example, I worked with Bourjois for a very long time… Today that’s no longer an option for me. I have also had to write to many of the press services to ask them to stop sending me their news and I refuse a lot of projects.

The second thing is also my professional development. Ten years ago I took on some weird projects, such as sponsorship for a vacuum cleaner or paid articles that looked almost like infomercials. My community quickly made me understand that it was not content that interested them.

Today, when I work with a brand I think it’s for the right reasons. Because I like the brand, its ethics, what it offers, because I am given the opportunity to create real content, because I am given carte blanche, in short, because there is a real interest, both for my community and for myself, professionally and humanely.

But sometimes I’m wrong too. At the beginning of the year I worked with Nivea on a big project (the web launch of their new make-up remover) and even though at the time I was not vegan at all, I never talked about cruelty free products,part of my community fell on me because, for them, I had sold my soul to the devil. While for me it was no problem, it was a great creative opportunity and a big challenge to manage the web promotion of such a big brand, but it didn’t fit with the image my audience had of me. And that’s really something to take into account because people quickly feel wronged or betrayed. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to comply with their four wishes (otherwise you won’t get out of it), but always stay tuned.

Anyway, today I think I’m more demanding than ever and I refuse about 90% of the projects that are proposed to me (which makes my network, which manages my work, a bit desperate!).

The key figures of Et pourquoi pas Coline

  • 150,000 visits per month to the site
  • Instagram: 259,000 subscribers
  • YouTube: 240,000 subscribers
  • Facebook: 86,500 subscribers
  • Twitter: 42,500 subscribers

Photo credits: Coline, Julian Benini

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