CREDUM magazine, the publication of the Frankfurter Bankgesellschaft Group, published an interview with me over six full pages. In the interview, I’m talking about building the influencer business from scratch and why quality beats quantity when it comes to followers in the luxury market.
Influencer marketing is probably one of the biggest trends in the era of social media, and it has become indispensable for companies in numerous industries. Many renowned automobile manufacturers want to collaborate with specialist bloggers such as MrJWW, and actress/food blogger Janina Uhse cooks in her Facebook videos with ingredients from METRO. As a result, not only can brands reach an extensive community, but they can also benefit from the trust followers place in the recommendations of influencers. CREDUM met with Michael Christian Meyer from THE SUIT LEAGUE, one of the most successful German lifestyle bloggers, for an exclusive interview and spoke to him about his experiences as an influencer and the dynamic development of the marketing trend for luxury brands. Michael Christian Meyer also gave us a glimpse into his everyday life as a blogger and showed how much work really goes into a new post.
CREDUM: Since launching your luxury lifestyle blog THE SUIT LEAGUE in 2016, you now have over 60,000 followers on Instagram and over 120,000 blog page views per month, and this number is still rising. What makes THE SUIT LEAGUE so different to other blogs?
THE SUIT LEAGUE tells the story of a modern, sophisticated lifestyle. It is about the search for unique experiences. Each photo highlights a particular aspect of this lifestyle, such as travel, design, fashion or cuisine.
CREDUM: How would you describe a typical SUIT LEAGUE follower?
I have a large number of regular followers, not only from Germany but also from the USA. Many of them follow my stories every day and comment on them. They want to know, for instance, how I pack my suitcase without creasing my shirts, or what type of suit to wear as a bridegroom – and where they can purchase the products I advertise. It is nice to know that the way I live my life and my inspiration is met with such interest. What I value in particular is the interaction with people in my target market. That is important for me, as it allows me to familiarise myself with their needs. I even have regular contact with some followers. My followers are very luxury-orientated and mostly work in managerial roles or at board level.
CREDUM: How did you end up founding your blog, and are there any milestones that you see today as key success factors?
After I gathered years of experience in the publishing industry publishing various online issues of glossy magazines, I decided to continue with my own projects as an influencer. Unlike in Spain, France, Italy and the USA, the German male blogger market is almost empty. In addition, men over here feel that once they reach 30, hardly anybody pays attention to them. There is a lack of figures they can identify with and who communicate with them on equal terms. Our interests have expanded with the years. There is much more to it than just deciding what to wear each day. It was different in our twenties. I have not found any bloggers who address the topics I do, so I took up the reins myself. I like putting interesting experiences from my life into sophisticated imagery and sharing it with my followers. The reactions I then receive are what I consider the largest success factor.
CREDUM: You collaborate with numerous prestigious luxury brands such as Bulgari, Rolls-Royce, NetJets, Lufthansa Private Jet, Hackett, Panerai and Dom Pérignon. What do these brands value about you and THE SUIT LEAGUE in particular?
I think that what my advertising partners value is my passion and understanding of their products. Luxury changes. Today, people pay more attention to workmanship and fair manufacturing. The topic of sustainability also plays a decisive role in the purchasing of high-end items. Luxury brands have recognised this new awareness shown by consumers and do a lot to support it. For example, some brands champion the conservation of the oceans by supporting organisations which are known for combatting plastic waste in the sea. Some luxury hotel chains use absolutely no plastic on their premises. That is what I talk about. If an orientation or philosophy does not agree with my blog, I decline the collaboration. For me, an open dialogue on both sides is a prerequisite for successful collaboration, and that has helped me get where I am so far.
CREDUM: The relevance of social media to advertising luxury brands is increasing every day and influencers are becoming brand ambassadors, while traditional print media have to fight for their advertising customers. As an expert, what trends do you see in the future? Where will this dynamic development take us?
The relevance of social media has well and truly changed printing and the general direction of marketing, mainly due to the variety and methods of the numerous social media activities and channels that exist. There is a change in thinking taking place. If I know as a brand where my customers are, that is precisely where I have to meet them. Luxury brands are looking for additional platforms where they can contact potential customers and receive a direct response. For businesses, influencer marketing is still a new discipline, but it is becoming more and more important because influencers are close to customers thanks to their personal engagement with them. In the future, it will be very important as a luxury and lifestyle influencer to stay authentic and not follow every trend, instead observing the true brand values. The measurability and rapidity of social media contrast strongly with traditional media: For example, I can identify a clearance sale immediately. Items such as shoes and suits have proven to sell through my posts and articles alone, and so have overnight stays in five-star hotels and flights with private jets. Tracking tools, affiliate links and feedback from my followers make it possible to tailor my content to the requirements accordingly. Influencer marketing still seems murky to many businesses, but the number of influencers is increasing constantly and evokes questions such as these: Which influencers suit my brand? What community do they address? Are the followers the right age and eager to buy in the first place? Should I rely on the reach of influencers or also look at whether the followers can actually buy my product? I could continue this list forever. For that reason, I also act as an expert, delivering seminars and workshops for small to medium-sized enterprises and businesses from the premium and luxury goods sector.
CREDUM: Many laypeople imagine the life of a blogger to be simple: an event in New York, a quick snap on a mobile phone camera to retain the moment, an upload with some links, and then the followers and, not least, the top brands will be lining up. How much thought and, above all, hard work goes into the seemingly glamorous blogger lifestyle?
A look behind the scenes shows what is actually needed to eventually tell the stories on my website and the associated social media channels. In preparation for upcoming campaigns, I first clarify the campaign objectives with all advertisers and then develop individual ideas. I also always create mood boards with diagrams, so that brands can better imagine the subsequent implementation. Afterwards, the sequence is discussed with the photographer or video production team, and filming permission is arranged if necessary. A day of shooting can sometimes go on for 17 hours. Depending on the destination and light conditions, we start early. I get up at four in the morning. When we have all the pictures we want, I take the next plane back or move on to another collaboration. When I am back in front of my PC, I pick out the pictures that can be considered for publishing. They are then retouched and customised to fit the ideal size of the blog. From thousands of images, an average of 15 make it onto the site. The text then has to be written, all links and tags have to be placed, and a synopsis that is suitable for search engines along with the relevant key words must be put together. During this entire time, I operate my social platforms – primarily Instagram. Using posts and clips within my Instagram stories, I keep my followers updated and respond to their comments and questions. After the end of the campaign, I analyse all the results for my advertising clients and prepare the data and screenshots in the form of a presentation. That may sound complex, but it reflects my standards, which are just as high as those of my advertising clients. Ultimately, I want all parties to be happy – the followers, who feel inspired, and the advertising clients, who receive access to my exclusive followers due to the type of product presentation.
CREDUM: Could you describe to our readers a typical working day for you?
A typical working day is not easy to describe. It depends on whether I am in the office that day or in front of the camera. However, what I do start each day with is a cup of coffee, before checking my emails and speaking to my management over the telephone. My team includes photographers, video directors, a proofreader and a media lawyer, with whom I am always exchanging information and all of whom ensure that I can do what the name THE SUIT LEAGUE has represented for more than three years.
CREDUM: What is your philosophy as an influencer and businessman whose goal is to give your followers valuable advice?
Each day, I can hardly wait to take the next step and see where my path leads. There are still so many stories to tell. One thing is certain, though: I will tell them to my followers with the same amount of passion and devotion.
CREDUM is the customer magazine of the Frankfurter Bankgesellschaft Group. With a circulation of 10,000 copies, the magazine attracts high-net-worth individuals with EUR 1 million and more in liquid financial assets in Germany and Switzerland.
Photo: ©David Güntsch