Today’s guest is an absolute LEGEND, there’s not many more accomplished in the Marketing world than he is.

Currently the Chief Social Officer at Mekanism, Brendan Gahan is a regular contributor to the Entrepreneur and was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2012.

Having led social campaigns for The Olympics, Amazon, and Mountain Dew, Brendan knows a thing or two about Influencer Marketing.

Lucky for us, he spilled all his juiciest Influencer Marketing tips on The Marketing Millennials Podcast, here’s what he had to say in his own liiiightly edited words.

1. Influencer Marketing over the years:

“In the early days Influencer Marketing was a much smaller space. Everybody knew each other, it felt like the start of a band becoming popular.

Those early creators were there because it was a creative outlet.

For a lot of them, it was a way to connect with people, they were misfits and awkward people.

Now being a creator is the new path to becoming a celebrity (this is the TRUTHHH).

In terms of working with brands before, there was a lot more explaining that you’d have to do. People would be like, “wait, people watch this?”

Now you say influencer and everybody knows what it is and the business side of things is fully developed.

2. How brands should work with influencers:

Treat a brand partnership with a creator like an athlete endorsement (ouuu I like this).

You want it to be a real collaboration on an ongoing basis across multiple campaign touchpoints. 

Influencer marketing is 15 years old, but the overwhelming amount of dollars still go towards one-off activations. 

If you think beyond their reach and distribution, the reason you want to work with creators is the fact that they’re a trusted source to their audience. 

(Trust me, trust is everything ;))

And if you do one-off activations with creators and they work with brands to make a living, there’s a chance they’re going to be offered to work with your competitor.

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So you get ahead of that and make sure you’re not diluting your brand’s or the creator’s equity and do an ongoing partnership. (More brands need to hear this!!)

There’s so many benefits: economies of scale, ability to negotiate bulk deals, category exclusivity, and the opportunity to test.

So much work goes into that initial phase of research, contract negotiation, onboarding, and first activation. It gets easier the longer you partner with a creator. 

Apply the Nike meets Jordan type model to the creator space.

3. Finding the right creators to work with:

Come up with the campaign platform, overarching messaging, and then develop a framework that is broad enough to give to creators. 

Once you have that high level idea, do 4 things: outreach, negotiate, onboard, and activate.

First develop your goals. Based on that take into account the demographic you’re trying to reach, and identify the appropriate platform.

We research using tools like Tagger Media, TikTok Creator Marketplace, and Tensor Social.

Then build out a list of creators that you feel meet the criteria, take that to your client, and let them redline whoever they feel is not the right brand fit.

Then go out and talk to creators, their managers, and get insight into pricing and availability. 

It’s important to get them on the phone to get a sense of how they’re reacting to your brand and the opportunity as a whole.

Based on that conversation take into account their X factor. Is the creator proactive, buttoned-up, timely on calls, and offering their own ideas? (THIS.)

If yes, you’re then moving into the project management and production phase of the whole collaboration.

4. Creators vs. traditional ads:

9 times out of 10, creators are going to outperform any traditional advertising production. 

You could ask a creator to produce an ad and their content will outperform a nicely produced ad. 

Any content that they create is going to outperform any commercial, as long as you’ve vetted them properly and their audience matches your target audience.

5. Underutilized tactic with influencer partnerships:

An underutilized tactic in Marketing is incorporating creators into paid campaigns (absolutely love the strategy behind this).

Have creators create organic content for you and then participate as talent in ads that you use to target their audience and lookalike audiences.

Take the creator down the funnel and build personalized landing pages, with them at the center of the focus. 

Establish continuity at every touchpoint. 

6. Marketers need to be aware of these trends:

There’s 2 trends to be aware of in 2023. 

The first one is creators are becoming brands. The revenue pie for creators 10 years ago was 90% ad revenue and 10% selling their own product.

Nowadays that’s totally inverted. 

As a result, creators have so much leverage. They recognize they’re in the driver’s seat to build out their own brand (think MrBeast, Emma Chamberlain, Logan Paul). 

You’re going to see a lot of major brands do more deep partnerships, the pay to post days are going to continue to diminish.

The second trend is the shift towards owning a direct line of communication to your audience in dark social. Discords, SMS, and email. 

Social media is great, but you’re building on rented land and at the mercy of the algorithm (yes, 1,000x yes!!).

We’ve seen this time and time again with each new platform where organic growth is very easy initially but it gets harder with time.

Then you become more reliant on paid.”

Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
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