#XCOinfluencer: a New Player in the Influencer Marketing Scene?

Brands who have engaged in or are thinking of engaging in influencer marketing in Singapore would definitely have heard of big name agencies, such as Nuffnang and Gushcloud, or perhaps even some of the smaller ones like StarNgage or Madeviral. What about #XCOinfluencer?

Those of you who have heard of it or seen it on billboards on your morning commute to work would be forgiven for thinking that this was yet another player in the influencer marketing scene. For those of you who are yet unfamiliar with the hashtag, perhaps you recognize this advertisement instead:

#XCOinfluencer marketing advertisement [Image courtesy of Marketing Interactive]
This is one of several marketing collateral materials that The X Collective, a subsidiary of SMRT Commercial, has been using in its latest campaign, #XCOinfluencer. Does The X Collective actually work with anyone whom we would commonly bestow the title “influencers” to? Not quite.

Instead, The X Collective is trying to get brands to advertise via what we would normally consider more “traditional” forms of media–billboards, window stickers, faregates, bus wrap-arounds and digital outdoor screens among others. According to XCO in a sponsored post made on Marketing Interactive, their use of the term “influencer” gives a “refreshing perspective to what Singaporeans know as influencers”, suggesting that the term itself does not have to be “limited to social media influencer promoting brands on social media”.

#XCOinfluencer marketing advertisement [Image courtesy of Marketing Interactive]
In the advertisements above, the #XCOinfluencer campaign presents the billboard as a “super loud” influencer, with a calculated reach of over 3 million, including details like the billboard’s biography, statistics and number of followers.

The concept of influencers being used in traditional marketing shows us quite clearly how popular influencer marketing has become. The #XCOinfluencer campaign tries to present traditional forms of media as having the same impact as influencer marketing, being able to get a brand’s message across to “large captive audiences”. It even tries to present itself as being better than influencer marketing, being ever-present and not possible for people to “scroll… away”, since the advertisement does not appear on anyone’s phone, unlike in influencer marketing.

Just as is common with influencer marketing, the campaign itself even makes use of a hashtag. However, if the marketers behind the campaign’s name were hoping that the hashtag would catch on and trend on social media, they must find themselves disappointed. A quick search reveals that the hashtag #XCOinfluencer has been used only 4 times on Instagram and 6 times on Twitter. On Instagram, 3 of 4 of the posts were posted on the official The X Collective account while all 6 of the tweets on Twitter appeared to be quoting The X Collective’s sponsored post on Marketing Interactive directly, indicating that few organic posts were made with the hashtag.

While The X Collective’s attempt to make their modes of advertisement relevant by comparing them to influencer marketing can be lauded for its creativity, it certainly cannot be said to have been successful if measured in social media marketing terms. Whether XCO’s marketing attempts lead to return in investment also remains to be seen.

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