On the weekend of April 7, the country’s top bloggers and influencers jetted off to Malaysia, along with bloggers and influencers from six other countries for a grand celebration unlike any other before—a night of not just honoring what they’ve achieved in their respective industries, but also of fostering camaraderie amongst the most influential social media voices in the region. This is Influence Asia 2017, which conducted a rigorous (and very technical—you wouldn’t believe the cool tools they used to measure not just reach and engagement, but even community relations and other more specific things) process to come up with a list of the brightest of the brightest online stars in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Impressive Final 4 lists from the Philippines, right (check out all the nominees and winners here)? But you know who are more impressive? The young team in charge of Influence Asia in Manila, from South East Asia's largest Influencer Marketing & Media Network, Gushcloud, the event’s organizer. No one a day over 28 yet their insatiable drive and dedication enabled them to successfully organize Influence Asia’s Philippine leg—and it’s also notable how they did this with real hard work (because influencer marketing life isn’t all glitz and glam!).
Business and Network Director and overall manager of Gushcloud Philippines Edryan Lorenzo and his all femme team Talent Network Executive Anika Lima, Creatives Executive Nina Lopez, and Business Development Executive Gabrielle Pantaleon organized and coordinated everything for the Philippines from tediously putting together the initial list of nominees with stats from the Influence Asia Council, to judging, to making sure everyone had fun at the after-party.
So much to learn from this bunch about the fast expanding influencerlandia (millennials one and all, listen up, this is your cup of tea) that we’ll let them do the talking…
EDRYAN LORENZO, BUSINESS AND NETWORK DIRECTOR (Instagram: @edryanlorenzo)
What’s it like being part of your team? “Gushcloud is an Influencer Marketing Agency, we are present across Southeast Asia, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, we just recently acquired Uffluencer, a talent agency in Los Angeles, also, and with that we have expanded our borders literally and figuratively. Gushcloud believes in building a team that stays together as a family. Our leadership hails from all walks of life that represent its commitment to diversity, hard work and great ideas. We value our people as we value ourselves in our own family.”
Can you tell us more about your role? "I’m the Business and Network Director of GCPH, I’m the team leader here in the country, managing both the financial and creative aspects of the business. On one hand, I juggle Business Development and Accounts Management, being always on the lookout for possible partners, and building relationships to introduce the company and our services, on the other hand, I flip through creatives, visuals and events in order to train my teammates to have an eye for what is the best for the company and to build their own networks."
What's a day in your life like? “It’s a very busy and fun day, every day. You go to the office to check your e-mail and updates. You prepare decks/presentations, left and right. Then meetings in between, then insert some funny banter and brainstorming sessions to prepare for a client pitch. I always look forward to Friday; I started #FashionFridays in the office, so every Friday we have an outfit theme.”
What's your take on the fast growth of influencer marketing in the country and the quality of influencers here? “The influencer marketing industry here in the Philippines has grown so much, and it is actually interesting to know that Filipinos accepted this platform whole-heartedly. Now that we’re in the digital age, where everyone is connected and anything can be accessed with a single tap, it kind of amazes me how people, particularly Filipinos, adapt to these big changes in just a snap, how Pinoys would want to document their shenanigans and whereabouts through all their platforms, and how they tend to get all the leads and stories using websites and communicators. Though we cannot deny the fact that we still have some gaps to be filled in, the penetration of communication using this tool is growing largely in the minds of the Filipinos and the industry. Influencer marketing is a cool concept to further institutionalize the brand and make the communication consistent and omnipresent."
What sets the Filipino influencer apart? “Filipino influencers, unlike in any other countries, are more emotional and keen. Emotional in such a way that they would really want to connect with their followers through the communication that they’ll be posting, they would want to foster and harbor trust and brand equity, so I can say that most, if not all, of the local influencers here in the country value the essence of creating real content by promoting a campaign/ product that is truly close to their hearts and not just because they are getting paid. Keen in such a way that they would really go the extra mile in order for them to create good content for their brand partner, they have an eye for beauty and they would want to, as much as possible, create content that is organic and hinged towards the truth.”
Anika, Nina, and Gabbie are all in their early 20s but are already stepping up in this dynamic industry, which they've been enjoying, thanks to Ed's guidance.
Characteristics of your fave influencers? "A creative and a real influencer, no pretentions, that’s it! Someone you can easily relate to."
What's a must-do of every influencer? "They must learn how to value the essence of building good relationships with other people. Learn how to appreciate and never, ever pretend."
What's something they shouldn't ever do? "PRETEND. BUY FOLLOWERS. LAMBAST OTHERS."
Can you share trivia about the influencer scene here? "Bad trivia: Unfortunately, they buy followers and likes, and they overdo their editing. Good Trivia: The first wave of bloggers and influencers here in the Philippines are all gems."
Best thing about what you do? "Meeting people, talking and sharing new ideas, listening to their stories and concept building."
Most challenging thing about what you do? "None. I love what Im doing so I like every inch of this job."
Your personal M.O. when it comes to social media? "Read articles from trusty sites, and always be online."
NINA LOPEZ, CREATIVES EXECUTIVE (Instagram: @ninalopsicle)
What exactly do you do? “As the Creatives Executive, it's my job to make creative content for our social media sites (specifically Facebook, Instagram, and soon on Youtube), as well as for other Gushcloud-related events and activites. These include graphics, photos, and videos about influencers, the latest social events.”
What's a day in your life like? “It's a usual routine: I wake up early to get ready for work, arrive at the office just before 9, sometimes I stay up late in the office, usually I hit the gym after work, and then go home late and get to bed right away.”
What's your take on the fast growth of influencer marketing in the country and the quality of influencers here? “It's an exciting industry to be in. It's definitely a new kind of business to get into, but it's certainly a unique and smart concept especially now that we're in the digital age and everything that we do is influenced by what we see on the internet. Most people may think working with famous influencers and being online almost 24/7 is an easy job, but it's also very tiring. It's fun in the sense that we all get exposed to influencers whom we've been idolizing, but at the same time, it's really fast paced, so we constantly have to keep up with the trends as well as these people. Likewise, I'm super impressed by how Filipino influencers are able to put so much passion and effort into their work, and how they also help their fellow influencers in the industry.”
Characteristics of your fave influencers? "Adventurous, funny, and fashionable!"
What's a must-do of every influencer? "I think it's important for influencers to always acknowledge their followers and show appreciation for the support that these people have given them. After all, the supporters are one of the reasons why they've risen to fame, right?"
"Boss Ed is like our super mom who leads the team with such courage. He's a really good mentor and also helps in any way he can so we can grow professionally in the industry. Anika is super friendly and funny, and there is never a dull or quiet moment when you're with this girl. Gabbi is always super jolly and cheerful, so she helps life the mood up whenever she's in the office."
What's something they shouldn't ever do? "They shouldn't do what they're not comfortable doing or not passionate about. With their influential power, these people shouldn't get stuck with having to produce content or post about things because they are forced to. I feel they should be able to post freely about whatever is relevant to them and what they feel strongly about so they can stay true to themselves as well."
Can you share trivia about the influencer scene here? "Building connections is super important! So it really helps to be friendly to everyone."
Best thing about what you do? "I love the fact that I'm always online on social media and constantly creating fun content. Ohh also the different events and parties! It's tiring, but it's fun. *laughs*"
Most challenging thing about what you do? "I'm THE WHOLE CREATIVES TEAM, so it gets overwhelming when I have to do photos, videos, and SNS posts all at once *laughs* I stay up late a lot so I barely get any rest during the week."
Your personal M.O. when it comes to social media? "Always be updated! Meaning, it pays to always be online and constantly stalking people (not in a creepy way, we always keep things professional)."
ANIKA LIMA, TALENT AND NETWORK EXECUTIVE (Instagram: @anikalima)
Can you walk us through your role? “I'm responsible for the Talent and Network side of Gushcloud Philippines. This means I handle all the talents, scout for new talents, manage their social media content. I also organize events for Gushcloud Philippines and attend all events in behalf of the company.”
What's a day in your life like? “You wake up early, you go home late, and you feel very happy.”
What's your take on the fast growth of influencer marketing in the country and the quality of influencers here? “I really love it. I've been a fan of bloggers and these digital ambassadors ever since I was in high school. Now that I'm working in a business that actually handles them, I realized how hard it is to be one. These people began their social media profiles not with the intention of earning money but because of their passions. Now, these influencers are being paid for their online brands. What I truly admire about them is despite the need to post, they still put in time and effort in curating content. They don't just create for the sake of creating and making money but they stay true to their brand. Our influencers believe in the industry and it's really inspiring.”
Characteristics of your fave influencers? "Fashionable and attractive!"
What's a must-do of every influencer? "It's very important for an influencer to know how to take good photos! Not just of themselves but of travels and items. A good feed catches more eyeballs."
"Boss Ed is the leader of our pack. He's our mentor, and best friend. He's never just a boss but also a friend. Gabbie, is the bubbly noise that makes every gloomy day brighter. Nina, the nicest person in the group, makes everyone smile with her humor. It's never a dull day in the office as work never feels like work with these people."
What's something they shouldn't ever do? "I really think they should never not acknowledge their followers. I mean, following people online is easy but to consistently follow and like is a way of appreciation. They should always appreciate back."
Can you share trivia about the influencer scene here? "Photoshop is a big help. That's all I'm going to say."
Best thing about what you do? "Every day is a different day! Being a 20 year old, going out and meeting people is a dream job! Well, for me and I think that's the best."
Most challenging thing about what you do? "Meeting people. I mean I love meeting people and gaining new friends but sometimes it can take a toll on you. Going to parties as a job can get tiring. I NEED SLEEP."
Your personal M.O. when it comes to social media? "STAY ALWAYS ON IT. ALWAYS BE ONLINE. I'M NEVER NOT ONLINE."
GABRIELLE PANTALEON, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE (Instagram: @squinnk)
Can you walk us through your role? "My job position says that I'm a senior accounts executive, but ever since I entered here, I've been doing many things! I juggle between 1) business development, which would be connecting with new and current clients. I tell them who we are and what we do, and I also do 2) accounts management, which would be running influencer campaigns for clients. I work with clients and influencers every step of the way, from helping in the creative direction to fully rolling out the campaign. It's a lot of back and forth communication, but I enjoy it because I make friends along the way. I believe that building relationships makes the job more fulfilling."
What's a day in your life like? "I glue myself to my table until work is done, unless I crave for vegetable lumpia or need to take a walk downstairs to clear my head. Sometimes if I can't step out, I hop tables or I surround myself in my own mess, papers and all. At the end of the day, I look out the window to watch the sunset... I like seeing the sky change colors."
What's your take on the fast growth of influencer marketing in the country and the quality of influencers here? "I think being online and making a business out of it has so much potential. Influencer marketing has many sides and is so much more than making an aesthetically pleasing feed, that's actually just the surface. I also realized that the industry is very, very human. It's organic, dynamic, and very much alive. Plus, people are smarter and look for a genuine connection online. Heartfelt interaction always reflects a good relationship between influencers and their fans."
Characteristics of your fave influencers? "Anyone into arts! I am super partial to watercolor artists and local crafters. It's a more niche market than usual, but the art community is thriving very well in creativity."
"Ed's the mentoring figure in the group and he's a total ice breaker, it's amazing how he does it. He can definitely keep a team together. Anika's that burst of energy in the office and it's unnaturally too quiet without her. She's can make any place come alive. Nina's the one-(wo)man team for our creatives, she knows her stuff and has designed all our layouts for our social media. She's great in front and behind the camera."
What's a must do of every influencer? "Connect with your fans, and be genuine in projecting your personality. That's one big factor on why people follow you, after all."
What's something they shouldn't ever do? "Letting the glamour and fame get to their head. I am more amazed with people who seem high up there, but keep their feet planted on the ground."
Can you share trivia about the influencer scene here? "Color palettes (and filters) especially on Instagram can say a lot about the mood of your feed. If you look closely, sometimes you'll see it change on the feed through time."
Best thing about what you do? "You're trained to do things outside your job scope. The fast paced environment could get really crazy, but you learn all ways, always."
Most challenging thing about what you do? "Being the bearer of bad news if there's a slip up at work. The fulfilment of this however, is solving everything and seeing everyone happy in the end."
Your personal M.O. when it comes to social media? "Be online to be in the know, but always remember to live the life outside your screen."
"The company’s culture is that, we strongly believe in growing our people. We believe that if our people are happy, the partners will be happy, as well as our clients, it’s a domino effect, sharing positivity over and across," says Ed.
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Photographs by Jana Jimenez / Shot on location at Grind Bistro, Crescent Park West, Bonifacio Global City