The OMR International podcast with Kolsquare CEO Quentin Bordage

Bordage is the founder and CEO of Kolsquare, a leading European SaaS service that brings together influencers and KOLs with companies and brands.

Table of contents
  1. A 30-billion dollar market?
  2. Off the ground with Orangina?

Quentin Bordage is the founder and CEO of Kolsquare, a leading European SaaS service that connects influencers and KOLs with companies and brands. Originally founded in 2010 as Brands & Celebrities, Kolsquare in its current form has been around since 2018, acting more as a self-service platform for companies to find, vet and connect with KOLs, or key opinion leaders. In this episode of the OMR Podcast, Bordage sat down with host Scott Peterson to discuss the current state of influencer marketing, why the 2018 pivot was more natural evolution that hard paradigm shift, as well as the nuts and bolts of the platform. We also touched on best-case practices and absolute no-gos for brands and companies new to working with KOLs.

A 30-billion dollar market?

"We are entering into a kind of maturity," says Quentin Bordage, CEO of Kolsquare, when asked what the current state of influencer marketing is today. "It's massive market—on the order of USD 30b. But it's also a young industry." Bordage and Kolsquare have had a ring-side seat to the market's evolution since Kolsquare's precursor, Celebritites and BRands, launched in 2010. In Bordage's view, the market really stared to come into its own about 4 or 5 years ago with a boom of influencers cut of all shapes and sizes, and widespread adoption by big brands who began "investing a lot, even more than in traditional advertising. After a few ups and downs, it's really entering a new age of maturity." Part of the maturation process is the sector coming to grips with its new found influence and dealing with it responsibly. On a side note, Kolsquare recently dropped its “Influence for Good guide,” according to Kolsquare the first handbook in the industry that outlines how and what it means to engage in responsible influencer.

So what exactly is Kolsquare? "We are not an agency, we are a software editor offering a subscription-based platform to brands and agencies and employ a very data-driven approach." Bordage told host Scott Peterson that Kolsquare compiles, processes and harnesses that data to a database of over 3 million influencers, each of whom has a minimum verified follower account of 5000 across all social networks. "We collect all of their content in real-time, including community engagement. This helps Kolsquare empower brands to book the right KOL for their specific campaign needs. We automate and simplify the entire process—ƒrom A to Z." A to Z here means streamlining the contact and hiring process, to providing UX to manage and monitor campaigns, as well as compare your performance."

Off the ground with Orangina?

While this generation of Kolsquare is fully automated, the genesis of the company was a much more manual endeavor. "We were essentially doing exactly the same thing then that we are doing today, but with celebrities as there were no influencers at the time." In 2011, if you recall, social media was still in its infancy and audiences were insignificant. "We had a database of 6000 celebrities and collected data from primarily Twitter and used the data we scraped to match it to a celebrity's profile." One such match that the predecessor to Kolsquare identified was Novak Djokovic and his gluten intolerance—something the current top-ranked men's tennis player tweeted about 14 separate times.

But it was until the OG of influencers, Youtubers, were involved that Bordage had his proverbial eureka moment. "The first 'a-ha' moment was with beverage brand Orangina and 19 Youtubers, aka the internet's first influencers. They were asked to create content and had no limits as to what they created. The amount of content they created and how it was received made us realize that this type of celebrity was powerful online." The company continued to grow at a steady clip for the next five years, before fully committing to the pivot in 2016 by raising funds to "accelerate this transformation into what Kolsquare is now."

Kolsquare offers two separate subscription options and the platform provides clients—depending on the subscription chosen—with unlimited searches, unlimited access KOL content, integrated CRM, a Google Chrome extension, a litany of campaign management tools and more. To vet or verify KOLs, i.e. to ensure that an influencer is who they say they are that the people in their community are not bots or bought, "we have an index called Credibility Score, we use the data we track and compile to display the evolution of followers and also the evolution of engagement rates." And there is a even a "loose cannon" index, which is of course not the official name. In Kolsquare parlance, it is the Compliance Score, which serves to give brands and agencies an idea if influencers act in compliance with local law. ⁠Check out the entire episode of the OMR International Podcast with Scott Peterson to hear Kolsquare CEO Quentin Bordage discuss more about what the platform can do in the granular, some best-case practices and no-gos for brands new to the influencer game.

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