Kesi Gardner: Representing bloggers and YouTubers in the age of influencer marketing

Google Trends shows a comparable rise in influencer marketing at the same time as print advertising has been falling.

Marketer Kesi Gardner

Searches for “influencer marketing” drew ahead of those for “print advertising” in mid-2017 and have remained that way ever since.

In the US, influencer marketing is a US$1 billion dollar industry. And while most people know Jamaican comedic YouTubers Quite Perry and Dutty Berry, who rose to success countrywoman Tessanne Chin’s time on The Voice, there are a few influencers who have since joined their ranks of stardom, such as Prince Pine, Fat Skull and Yendi Phillips, among others. 

Today, there are is new generation of influencers or micro-influencers that is making waves in the industry, particularly travel and lifestyle. 

Website developer and lifestyle blogger, Sue-Tanya McHorgh

Micro-influencers are usually influencers with fewer than 10,000 followers on Instagram. Micro influencers tend to be more authentic because they work with brands that they align with their messages. They also are heavily invested in their communities, answering questions in a timely manner.

However, what is the true definition of an influencer? According to Cambridge Dictionary, an influencer is someone who affects the way people behave. Word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of advertising. People buy from who they like and trust, and micro influencers are able to build loyalty with their followers because they take time to invest in them.

Back in 2012, marketer Kesi Gardner sold all her belongings, including heirlooms passed down from her grandparents, her art collection, her car and other worldly possessions to go back to school to get her Master’s degree. 

Jamaican-based bi-lingual travel writer, Diedre McLeod

For almost three years, she lived in her brother’s cold basement, trekking to Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore for two hours, twice a week.

She worked hard to get experience in the field of communications, interning at an international NGO in Washington DC where she managed their social media, growing their following by 30 per cent after a few short months. She also raised their donor loyalty by 25 per cent through direct marketing methods and social media campaigns that evoked an emotional response.

After getting her graduate degree in strategic communication, the NGO hired her full-time as a digital communications strategist and she worked in the lean communications department with a team of just three people.

Marketer and travel blogger of TheHopper876, Tashi Grant

Kesi worked on everything from graphic design, to writing newsletters, speeches and opinion editorials for the CEO of The Huffington Post. She was even responsible for assisting in putting on events such as their annual gala, which boasts celebrities, diplomats and other dignitaries.

She returned to Jamaica, after her daughter entered into her final year in prep school and needed her support in passing her exams. It was a sacrifice she was willing to make.

From the time she returned in 2013 till recently, she’s worked with some of the nation’s best in the field of advertising, honing her skills working on major advertising and PR campaigns with impressive budgets.
“It was a great experience working with the giants in the advertising world. I learned a lot, particularly the art of production and managing expectations with clients. It can be challenging sometimes but when you’re working with small production budgets, there are a lot of challenges and you have to be innovative.” she said.

Jamaican-born, Montreal-based travel and lifestyle blogger Sarah Miles

The challenge has been to find clients who can afford to advertise heavily in the traditional space.

“Most small businesses can’t afford a big ad budget. So I find interesting ways for brands to stand out in the market through the art of storytelling – whether that be PR, content marketing or influencer marketing.” she said.

In July 2019, she hosted a blogger’s trip called The Love Not Likes Experience, with over 20 bloggers and content creators. Through that excursion she learned there was an opportunity to develop the blogging, influencer, content creator community and experiential marketing in Jamaica.

Jamaican-Canadian YouTuber Annesha Adams has over 24,000 YouTube subscribers.

In January 2020, Kesi Gardner launched her own marketing agency focusing on content creation and influencer marketing. She now manages a roster of YouTubers, micro-influencers and bloggers: Jamaican-Canadian YouTuber Annesha Adams who boasts 24,000 subscribers and creates videos centred on travel and living in Jamaica.

The agency also represents Jamaican-based bi-lingual travel blogger Diedre McLeod of www.diedreinwanderland.com who is a recognised contributor to a travel website called World Nomads where she shares tips on traveling safely in the Caribbean.

Local travel blogger, Jhunelle Jureidini of www.simplylocal.life,who’s been featured on CVM-TV Sunrise and Smile Jamaica has also joined the roster. She focuses on showcasing Jamaica’s gems and cultural events such as food festivals.

Local travel blogger, Jhunelle Jhuridieni of simplylocal.life

Twenty-one year old, Jamaican-born, Montreal-based travel/lifestyle blogger and YouTuber Sarah Miles of www.gomilesguide.com joined the roster as she sets to travel to Europe after graduating in June.

Website developer and lifestyle blogger Sue-Tanya McHorgh of www.suetanyamchorgh.com joins the roster. She’s been a part of many influencer campaigns including Take Style Out’s partnership with CPJ and KIG Jamaica. 

Marketer Tashi Grant also joins the roster with her lifestyle and food blog TheHopper876, focusing on the very best street food Jamaica has to offer.

“An American company called Mediakix did some research in 2019 and discovered that 61 per cent of marketers find it difficult to find influencers that match their company’s brand message. In Jamaica, there are unique opportunities for influencer marketing, particularly in the travel and lifestyle space. Everybody knows the comedians, but people are interested in different types of content which include travel experiences.”

“Blogging is a great way to reach people because they are usually found using keyword search. When people search for a particular keyword, if the blog is formatted for SEO–the blog will come up on the first page of Google. Our aim is to help brands get their message out there in the way of a story.” she said.

The name for the Storyteller Agency came from Kesi’s desire to be a children’s book illustrator and that tied with her desire to help companies stand out in the crowded marketplace. 

“The same way that children will bundle together around the campfire to listen to a scary story or people will stay up all night to read one more chapter of a book, people want to hear stories.” she said.

After extensive research, she found that after Hootsuite released its digital report in January 2019, that YouTube was the second highest viewed platform next to Facebook in Jamaica.

“Many people believe that Instagram is the highest visited social network in Jamaica, it’s not. YouTube is. The younger generation are spending more time watching their favourite content creators than they are the evening news. So it’s important to develop those creators in the space to create more diverse content.” she said.

Each micro-influencer has their community and unique personality that brands can tap into to help drive their messages. 

To learn more about The Storyteller Agency, visit www.TheStorytellerAgency.co/