Social Influencer Marketing

Collaboration, the New Celebrity Endorsement

By: Nicole LeLacheur   |  August 30, 2016

The richest relationships are collaborative, aren’t they?

Where both sides have equal input in how they’ll arrive at an evenly beneficial, desired outcome. This is especially true in the brand arena, where more often than ever, marketers are looking to crack into niche communities of interest and partner with social influencers to gain the attention of hyper-targeted audiences.

It wasn’t always like that, though. For decades, the notion of hiring a celebrity to champion a brand was the golden ticket of influence. Michael Jordan for Hanes, Britney Spears for Pepsi, and who can forget Fabio for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter?

That’s not to say celebrity endorsements are a thing of the past, but there’s been quite a shift in the way brands are using forces of influence – especially through social media – to reach an audience. This is due in large part to the shift in how people communicate with each other. Consumers are more selective than ever when it comes to the brands they allow into their tribe, and for marketers trying to gain the mindshare of communities of interest using influencers, it’s going to take a far more open, collaborative approach.

Here’s an example.

When our client, running shoe brand Saucony, was looking to really capture the mindset of why people run through our “Find Your Strong” campaign, we knew we wanted to tell a running story that was widely relatable to the target audience. Enter Matthew Inman of the popular cartoon series, “The Oatmeal”. When I asked our Creative Director Libby DeLana, “Why Matthew?”, the answer was simple: his book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. It just made sense. From there, our directors Jeremy and Justin built a strong rapport with Matthew as peers, and a creative partnership was born.

“Really, Matthew trusted Jeremy and Justin. They totally vibed. Afterwards, he said it was one of his favorite ‘profiles’,” Libby said.

The reason the outcome of this quirky video was such a success was because Matthew is not Usain Bolt. Quite frankly, and to quote Matthew, he runs so he can eat cake. (Awesome.) The final product was an authentic story that gained over 1.4 million views in its first two weeks across a variety of channels; it was a true collaboration between Saucony and Matthew. Since the video was not only a campaign installment for a Saucony video series, but something Matthew was going to stand behind and share through his own channels, he had incredible creative input throughout the entire process. The end piece was not only on-brand for Saucony, but for Matthew as well. A true win-win-win for Saucony, Matthew, and followers of both.

So, why is influencer collaboration so important?

Faithful followers of “The Oatmeal” – or any social influencer – expect authenticity from the regular content they enjoy. When working with an influencer, the brand message should fit as a nice complement to the influencer’s regular content. Not the other way around. For brands looking to tap into the power of social influencers, it’s critical they share the creative reigns so authenticity is achieved. So be real, be open to collaborative partnerships, and you’ll thrive in the world of influencer marketing.