Shonduras - real name Shaun McBride - was speaking at H+K's Creativity+Science event, and discussed the best approach for working with influencers.
"The one thing you’ve got to realise is you’ve got to make the brand the hero," he said.
Partnership content needs to be a seamless part of the ongoing content. "When we post our social media content, it’s not our content, then a commercial break for the brand, then back to our content," he said.
Shonduras gave an analogy, comparing an influencer’s YouTube video to a party: "You invite someone to that party – a brand – and they’re awkward, they stick out. It kills the whole vibe of the party if you have that one friend who shows up passing out business cards."
Many brands do the opposite, instead trying to appear organic, he said. "If you’re just going to float in the background of a video, people are like 'Hey, is this branded? He’s holding a bottle of Windex bottle; why is he holding a Windex bottle in all these shots?' They notice you, but it’s a bit uncomfortable." He continued: "You need to become the life of the party."
He explained that brands should ensure they partner with influencers who are a good fit - finding influencers who can incorporate a brand into their daily lives and regular content - and should not always assume that a large number of followers equates to high engagement.
Shonduras said an example of good fit was he and YouTuber Tanner Fox, a former pro athlete, partnering with Red Bull. "It makes a lot of sense for us to partner with Red Bull because it’s something we actually like," he noted.
Shonduras pointed out that many early influencers on Vine would post a series of funny videos, then a branded one, then more funny content.
Half of the comments below this would accuse the poster of being a sell-out, while the rest understood it was part of their job and that they needed to make money. Neither group really "cared" about the branded content, however, Shonduras said. "That’s not what you want to do. You want to become part of the content."
A good example of Shonduras' approach to incorporating a brand into his social approach was a campaign he did on Snapchat and YouTube with Marriott Hotels. "First of all they said tell your fans you’re going to this hotel with us, and we’ll be really organic; we’ll have the sign in the background," he said. "I was like no, I want you guys to be the hero. Tweet me right now and say you love my stories and you’ll send me anywhere in the world." He then shared the tweet, filming a Snapchat to tell his fans about the offer.
"I then involve them in the process – I ask 'where should we go' and everyone’s Snapchatting me places all over the world. You can strategise – the hotel chain said these are our five best locations we’d love you to go to," he said.
He then explained that some fans did suggest those locations, commenting: "So I’m taking the brand’s initiative, but it looks like my fans are in control and they’re experiencing it for themselves. I did cool art like me hanging from Big Ben [for the London option] and got everyone to share where they thought I should go." That sparked hundreds more tweets among his fans.
Shonduras ended up going to Bangkok and rather than having the hotel in the background he praised it wholeheartedly in his video. "I was like dude, look at this hotel! I can’t believe they invited me for free! There’s a pool on roof," he said. "Nobody got mad about it being an advert – they thought it was awesome. That was over a year ago and any time my fans stay in that hotel, because it’s a giant chain, they say "Hey, look where I am" and send a picture to me."
"As long as you don’t go over the top with your asks and work with an influencer who gets it and doesn’t just post a tweet for you, it’ll be a home run," Shonduras concluded.
He also had advice for drawing up a contract with influencers. "Have you considered making the influencers do engagement? ‘You need to retweet ten fans, comment back to 20 people on YouTube, screenshot 50 fans on Snapchat and say thanks’, that’s huge and gets the conversation started," he said. Fans are often excited about the interaction and repost it elsewhere, expanding the conversation further.