Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
As a result of social distancing and stay at home orders, consumers are spending more time online than ever before. Nielsen studies show that home-bound consumers have led to a 60% increase in the amount of video content watched globally. Alongside this shift in consumer behavior, influencers and marketers alike are shifting strategies, innovating and connecting with new audiences in never-before-seen ways. But with so much being created, there remains the question of brands finding the most efficient and effective partners to work with in order to reach engaged consumers.
Brand Storytelling recently hosted internet personality & CEO of Theorist Media, Matthew Patrick (aka MatPat) and influencer marketing veteran John Carle (VP of Strategy & Business Development, BEN) to the Elevate Summer Session to discuss how the current landscape has changed from the creator’s perspective. The pair discussed the importance of brands having clear goals when approaching creators, and how brands can stay authentic and relevant as they look to reach new audiences.
Matthew Patrick knows what he’s talking about when it comes to tapping into the power of influence to reach audiences. He operates the YouTube channels The Game Theorists, The Film Theorists, The Food Theorists and YouTube’s largest live streaming channel, GTLive (25M). MatPat is a marketing and audience development specialist using data-based methods to accelerate the growth of social media audiences, particularly on YouTube. His company, Theorist Inc., consults some of the biggest tech and media brands in the world on how to capture and grow an audience online. Over the past several years, Matthew has worked with over 200 YouTube channels across practically every vertical.
When trying to get to the heart of why brands should be placing their focus on influencers right now, both MatPat and BEN’s John Carle cited the widespread adoption of influencer campaigns coming into 2020 – a choice confirmed to be sound by the curveball of coronavirus. “Now, we’re seeing traditional brands being forced to get with the times and spend in places that are actually viable during the coronavirus,” said MatPat. The pandemic has forced slower adopters to enter into the space. This is the space where people are actually making an emotional impact on consumers, affecting change, and operating with purpose. Though that was not always the case.
10 years ago, brand partnership was a no-go in the eyes of consumers, calling their favorite creators “sellouts”. This period may have had an impact on the way brands see the nature of their relationship with influencers. However, committed audiences have since done a total 180, wherein fans of creators even go so far as to petition for brands to sponsor their favorite creators. MatPat cited his love of Diet Coke, and the fact that his most committed audience constantly advocate for a brand partnership between the creator and his favorite soft drink. Fertile ground exists in the influencer brand partnership space, so long as audiences can sense the organic nature of the partnership.
In addition to this softening of audiences to the idea of brand partnerships, there’s now an understanding that sponsorship allows creators to continue to create the work their fans love during COVID. The current culture of influence is one that brings consumers, audiences, and fans behind the scenes, making them feel connected to their favorite creators and giving the impression that they can have an impact on the content they love; the key is the involvement factor. Audiences that are able to affect the outcome of the content their favorite creators make helps keep them engaged, rather than the traditional idea of passive viewing. It also allows them to feel like they’ve had a hand in supporting their favorite creators, making it a win/win for the brand and the influencer. There’s never been a better time for brands to switch from passive content creation to getting involved with the right creator. It's just about determining who that creator is.
According to the experts, the first and most important consideration a brand should make before seeking an influencer partnership is their goal in doing so. Part of that is knowing the audience you intend to target and determining where that audience lives in the media landscape. MatPat’s use of viewer data combined with expertise in the area allows him to determine the best intermediary influencer to create a link between brand an audience. Brands looking to achieve a similar outcome should start by tapping into individuals with the expertise to determine where to place your attention. Communicate your values and needs to a person qualified to translate that information into a partnership that will work for you. The result, when done right, will be affording audiences the opportunity to feel like they’re supporting their favorite creators, endearing them further to those creators and to your brand.
About Jordan Kelley
Jordan Kelley is a versatile creative intent on mapping new media trends and disseminating the most relevant information in the world of branded content. He is a lover of stories and an avid consumer of visual media.