Beauty and fashion have always been first-players in influencer marketing, pioneering the industry as we know it today. But there’s a new player on the block--watch brands.

The modern watch industry has grown exponentially alongside the emergence of social media and has taken serious advantage of influencer marketing. Before influencer-built brands like Cluse, Daniel Wellington and Rosefield, you couldn’t buy a beautiful watch at an entry-level price point, which has created desire amongst Millennials and Gen Z who collect them to make their own feeds more ‘Instagram worthy’.

The OG influencer-built watch brand, Daniel Wellington, launched in 2011 and, as with most start-ups, they started with a small marketing budget, so took to Instagram to focus on reaching and building the right audience.

The brand layered on influencer marketing to drive brand awareness, preference and, ultimately, conversion. Five years after launching, they’ve reported $220 million in sales and have created such a strong community of fans, who are constantly posting user-generated content (UGC), that their social channels basically run themselves.

Daniel Wellington also excel when it comes to community management on Instagram. Over the past 8 years, they built a strong following and everyday they engage with their customers and influencers.

The brand even go as far as to have caption guidelines on their website where you can see best practices examples to get on their page, motivating consumers to create their own content in the hopes of their post being used as the #DWPickoftheday, broadcasted to their 4.6 million followers on Instagram.

Now, Daniel Wellington are held as the exemplary case for influencer marketing, not only in the watch market but across all verticals.

And with this success, understandably, there have been lots of copycats in the space who have tried to replicate this model to create similar results for their brand. We’ve even seen journalists picking up on this and reporting about the fatigue for watch brands on social media. So what can we do to protect this space that we’ve built up so successfully?

Working with numerous brands who also come to us and hold up these watch brand success stories, we always advise for brands to stay authentic and connect with their audience in a genuine way that is true to their own values and identity--like working with true influencer matches, instead of lots of partnerships to drive reach, which can dilute and cheapen the brand message in an already crowded space.

The key learnings from watch brands, like Daniel Wellington, can then be applied and layered over the top of this. Brands need to engage with their audiences, and open the conversation, making their customers feel heard.

We’ve worked with brands in the past, that only post generic, product shots and fail to acknowledge UGC. We would recommend encouraging your followers to post images with your product and reposting that content on your own feed. If you do this from time to time, your brand will be able to build a loyal customer base and create excitement in your community.

We need to ensure that we preserve the industry and make sure that consumers aren’t becoming tired of the influencer marketing within the watch market. To do so, the industry needs to make sure that authentic connections are made between watch brands and influencers, creating original and creative content that will continue to satisfy consumers.