Working as an 'influencer manager' in London
‘I would have never even known this job existed three years ago’
Aoifa Smyth from Bray is harnessing the power of social influencers in London - and sometimes Ibiza
Aoifa Smyth is from Bray, Co Wicklow. The 28-year-old has lived in London for six and a half years and works as a lead influencer manager at eight&four, a marketing agency. She went to London to study and stayed "for work and the fast-paced lifestyle".
When did you leave Ireland?
I studied arts in UCD, focusing on English literature and Irish folklore. I left Ireland in September 2012 to study a post grad in fashion and lifestyle journalism at the London College of Fashion. I couldn’t find an equivalent course in Ireland and was looking for a change of scenery after 22 years living at home.
Tell us about your career there?
I work as a lead influencer manager at a digital lifestyle agency in London. I began my career working on social media teams in a couple of fashion brands, but found the career progression too slow and decided to join the fast-paced agency world. It was in this job that I began to specialise in managing influencer and blogger campaigns for brands. Honestly, I would have never even known this job existed three years ago.
What does you average day look like?
My days usually consist of shortlisting influencers - people who have the power to affect the purchase decisions of others - to fit with a client’s objectives or campaigns. I will then present to clients, manage the outreach and contact the bloggers (negotiating fees, briefing them etc), write contracts, host influencer events or report on the performance of our activities online. I get to travel a bit too, as some of our clients are located in Spain; hosting a party in Ibiza for influencers can make for a great working day.
Are there any particular challenges you face in your work?
Agency life can get busy sometimes and when briefs come in you can’t just check out when 5.30pm rolls around. Once you accept that’s part of the territory though, it’s fine. I do enjoy fast-paced work environments, so keeping busy makes the days go quickly.
What is it like living in London?
It definitely has its pros and its cons. It’s such an exciting and vibrant place to live, you can find something to do any night of the week to suit your tastes. The diversity means you meet so many amazing people from all walks of life and you really get to broaden your outlook this way. Everything is so easily available; you can order almost anything online and receive it the same day. The food is incredible, there are so many options with new trends popping up weekly.
On the negative side, it’s definitely a rat race over here and if you lose momentum, you can very easily fall behind. The people can be pretty harsh sometimes and that takes a while to get used to (on the flip side, you grow a thick skin pretty quickly). People are slower to engage willingly with each other - it’s almost like they’re conditioned to look out for number one - I’ve fallen on ice before and have people just walk by with their eyes averted.
Brexit is a hot topic at the moment; needless to say I voted to remain.
I'm just glad that I’m still an EU member, despite the poor choices of my fellow UK dwellers
Talking of Brexit...
I can’t say it’s making a difference so far, apart from the incessant talk of it and to be honest, I try to block it out mostly, as it’s so up in the air. There is definitely a feeling of uncertainty among my peers here; some of my colleagues from Spain and France are more worried than I am about their futures here.
If it does start to impact the cost of food, travelling outside of the UK or general attitude towards immigrants, then it will be a real shame. London’s vibrancy is built on diversity and the fact that it’s a melting pot of cultures. As far as I know and have read, initially there won’t be an impact on Irish residents here and we will still retain our rights when it comes to working, voting and healthcare. I’m just glad that I’m still an EU member, despite the poor choices of my fellow UK dwellers.
Do you think working abroad has offered you greater opportunities?
Yes, I think I climbed the ranks quite quickly here and got access to a generous wage. The experience and clients I’ve had exposure too have set me up well for future opportunities.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career abroad?
Give it a try, you can always go back. You don’t want to get to a point in your life that you have responsibilities that won’t allow you to move abroad. It’s scary, but the fear helps you grow as a person.
Are there any other Irish people in your business/social circles?
I’m a tad ashamed to say that about 80 per cent of my friends here are Irish. I met them through a friend from home when I first moved over and we became a close group. We can often be found watching rugby or GAA at our favourite Irish pub in south London. My director is half Irish, so we often bond over that.
What is it like living there in terms of accommodation, transport, social life?
Pretty expensive, but not a million miles from Dublin from what I hear! You get used to the price of things pretty quickly and soon discover saving is a challenge, to say the least.
Where do you see your future?
I plan to move back to Ireland eventually, but I think I’ll know when that time comes.
Is there anything you miss about living and working in Ireland?
Yes, a lot! The number one is the people - my family, my friends and even strangers on the street. I really love that when I go home, people just speak to each other - whether just saying hello when they pass on the street. There’s a real warmth about the Irish. I really miss fresh air- the sea, the landscape of Wicklow where I’m from. You take it for granted when you leave, but being on the doorstep of such incredible surroundings is a real luxury.
If you work in an interesting career overseas and would like to share your experience with Irish Times Abroad, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a little information about you and what you do.