Viacom Velocity Presents #nofilter: Influencers Tell Us How it’s Done

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Influencers are an important part of the media landscape, and Velocity is partnering with them on an ever-growing number of programs through its Social Talent Platform. At #nofilter: Influencers Show Us How It’s Done, a presentation and panel discussion organized by Tom De Napoli, who leads the Social Talent Platform under Lydia Daly’s Velocity Social team, Velocity staffers heard from some of the biggest influencers and industry experts in the field.

The panel included:

Shannon Boodram, YouTube sexologist and recent star of MTV’s summer-long #ResponsibleAF campaign for Trojan:

Matthew Patrick, the creator behind Game Theorists and Film Theorists:

Comedian, rapper, YouTuber and Wild ‘N Out cast member, Timothy DeLaGhetto:

Boodram, Patrick and DeLaGhetto were joined by:

  • Chris Erwin, one of Variety’s “New Leaders” and COO of Big Frame (a division of Awesomeness TV)
  • Sarah Weichel, CEO of Sarah Weichel MGMT, which reps clients like Lilly Singh and Jon Cozart
  • Courtney Carter, CAA digital agent, whose client FouseyTube recently starred in Tyler Perry’s newest Madea movie
  • Tess Finkle, CEO of Metro Public Relations, whose clients include YouTube megastars Hannah Hart and Colleen Ballinger (aka Miranda Sings).

De Napoli and Lauren Elias – the team’s Social Talent Manager – recapped the team’s success in working with social influencers over the past year, delivering best practices on creating “Fans First” social campaigns. To identify what worked, they drew on the Social Talent Platform’s successes as distilled through original research conducted by Juliette Snyder, a member of De Napoli’s Content & Platform Strategy team, who surveyed every influencer and Velocity employee who has worked on the team’s 25 campaigns over the past 12 months.

“Viacom is a brand name that everyone trusts, it’s a really, really, really big deal— and I knew my fans felt the same way,” – Shannon Boodram, YouTube sexologist.

Among their insights: partner with influencers early in creative development to guarantee authenticity of message; respect talent’s posting cadence when distributing content through their channels; and find ways to integrate influencers’ creative processes with ours and our advertisers’. These learnings will inform the Social Talent Platform team’s iterative approach to constantly improving upon its model as they support future Velocity campaigns.

Making the partnership work

While influencers lend authenticity to and extend the reach of Viacom Velocity campaigns,  offering entryways to niche markets, and leveling the playing field for advertisers and consumers, these social stars benefit from the partnership as well. Viacom’s Social Talent Platform provides exposure to major advertisers, on-air experience, and access to leading tentpole events that expand their influence outside their organic digital reach.

“Viacom is a brand name that everyone trusts, it’s a really, really, really big deal— and I knew my fans felt the same way,” said Boodram.

Partnerships between brands and influencers don’t always succeed. Trust, creative flexibility, and synergy are necessities when pairing an influencer and a brand. “It’s an art and not a science,” said CAA’s  Carter on the nature of collaboration.

Erwin, of BigFrame, added, “Tom and Lauren are embracing that there is education needed from both sides.”

Viacom employees gather to watch the #nofilter: Influencers Show Us How It’s Done panel at Viacom's Times Square headquarters.

Viacom employees gather to watch the #nofilter: Influencers Show Us How It’s Done panel at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters.

When asked about their worst experience with an advertiser, each influencer agreed that unfavorable partnerships were mostly due to the brand trying to alter the influencers’ voice and push content that lacks authenticity—With this in mind, advertisers need to look for that perfect balance between an authentic influencer voice and satisfying brand needs.

Finding perfect brand alignment can be difficult for influencers like Boodram or DeLaGhetto, whose channels aren’t typically considered “brand-friendly.” Still, top influencers won’t sacrifice their authentic voices to please a brand. According to DeLaGhetto, fans are drawn to his partnerships because “it’s real, they believe me more, and they know me— I won’t push something I don’t believe in.”

So how do brands improve the influencer-marketer relationship? According to the panelists, respect for the creator is the most important factor. “The downside to being called an influencer [means that advertisers] neglect to realize that we are more than just talent,” says Patrick. “It is easy to overlook all that you are buying.”

The #nofilter: Influencers Show Us How It’s Done panelists discuss how to optimize your partnership between brands and influencers.

The #nofilter: Influencers Show Us How It’s Done panelists discuss how to optimize partnerships between brands and influencers.

Influencers can do much more than amplify reach. They’re legitimate creators with points of view, proven follower bases and the ability to script, produce and shape a campaign.

One thing is clear: #nofilter: Influencers Tell Us How Its Done taught us that when working with Influencers, we should strive to create value for everyone involved: talent, advertisers, Viacom’s brands and, most importantly, our fans! By cultivating relationships with key influencers and focusing relentlessly on embedding them within carefully crafted and chosen campaigns, Velocity’s Social Talent Platform seems to have created a world where everyone can win.

The Viacom Velocity Social Talent Platform connects advertiser partners to a growing pool of handpicked social superstars, giving Viacom Velocity the ability to create custom content that matches their brands with authentic voices and massive influence.

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