This article was published on May 2, 2016

6 things I’ve learned working with social influencers

6 things I’ve learned working with social influencers
John LaMarca
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John LaMarca

John spent the majority of his career in New York where he held senior marketing positions at AOL, Ad Age and Variety, and led successful co John spent the majority of his career in New York where he held senior marketing positions at AOL, Ad Age and Variety, and led successful consumer marketing campaigns whilst at AOL with brands such as Sony, Walt Disney, eBay and Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. In London, John built and led the marketing team at a startup called 6Tribes, which was acquired by the former Top Gear hosts and re-branded as DriveTribe. His most recent position in London was as Consumer Strategy Director at Haymarket Automotive, where he led consumer strategy and propositions for its three brands: What Car?, PistonHeads and Autocar.

If you’re thinking about using social influencers to grow your audience, then read on.

As the Director of Marketing for London-based social media startup 6Tribes, I’ve been tasked with quickly growing our user base and have had great success over the last few months using YouTube influencers as a marketing channel.

I’ve learned a lot about how to get the most out of these partnerships, so I thought I’d share with you six things that I’ve learned – which I hope you’ll find useful if you’re considering using social influencers to promote your brand.

1. Do the right thing

Whatever you do, don’t micromanage your influencers – let them do their thing, their way.

With our first influencer, we sent a list of talking points for inclusion in the promotion, but while it may be tempting to request that the sponsored content contain all of the relevant information about your product that you’d like prospective customers to know, we quickly learned that’s not the best way forward.

pop art, oops, mistake, accident

The thing is, they know their audience better than anyone. They’ve built that audience, and the relationship with them, on trust and by being true to themselves, so you need to let them integrate your brand in a way that is holistic to their content.

Audiences are sceptical of advertising, and will often tune out messages from brands, but when they see content from an individual they like, trust and follow, they are more likely to be receptive to that message.

In an ideal world, your influencer won’t be getting paid to promote your brand, but instead give a brand they love access to the engaged audience that they’ve built.

2. The social network

Ask them (nicely) to promote you across all their other relevant channels, be it Instagram, Twitter, Vine or Pinterest.

In the world of social networks, this is equivalent to multi-channel marketing. Plus, this cross- promotion is beneficial to them as well, as more engagement will help them secure other brand partner- ships.

3. A very long engagement

To get the most from your marketing spend, it’s important to plan for long-term engagement. Great, you’ve managed to land an amazing influencer who creates wonderful content for you and puts lots of lovely people in front of your brand.

pop art, celebrate
Well, what happens to those people after the initial activity that resulted from the campaign?

Of course you’ve worked hard on your product to ensure that this new audience will stay, but it’s vital that you come up with a plan to give yourself the best chance at long-term engagement.

We’ve had the most success when we’ve actively planned for long-term engagement by doing the following:

  • Get the influencer to become an active member of your community, so they become more of an ambassador for your brand than just a one-off spokesperson. This integration can also be promoted in the sponsored content, and it’s a great way to show the audience that the influencer not only believes in the product they’re promoting, but they’re also willing to become a user of your product themselves, which is great for the brand.
  • Complement and amplify the influencer campaign. This can be achieved by targeted promotions on other marketing channels, such as Facebook or Instagram ads. I know that this sounds like common sense, but many of us are so focused on getting a particular campaign launched that we forget to use other channels at the same time. For a social media network like ours, putting more people into the tribe at the same time has an exponential effect on engagement, which leads to greater overall retention, and keeps the VCs happy when it’s time to get your next funding round.

4. A view to a kill

Bigger isn’t always better.

Choose an influencer with a highly engaged audience. It doesn’t matter if they have 300K subscribers if only a smaller percentage actually engage with the content. There are plenty of metrics available beyond what you can see for yourself, for example in the case of YouTube, video views, so why not ask the influencer to provide whatever stats they have available about their audience?

Of course, it’s not just about metrics – look at how the influencer engages with the audience in terms of style and tone, and if their community aligns with your brand. The best influencers find a way to seamlessly integrate the sponsorship into their content, like this excellent video from Loey Lane, a social influencer focused on positive body image, who has helped us build out our Radical Self Love tribe.

5. The professional

Before you begin working with an influencer, you should consider whether you’ll want to work with an agency or try to work directly with the influencer.

pop art, questions, choice

There are some great platforms out there like FameBit that offer curated or self-service packages. With access to some of the most popular and up and coming influencers, you can easily work with several influencers all at once – but you’ll have to pay for that access.

If you decide that contacting influencers on your own is the way to go, then make sure that you do your research and can communicate to them why you’d like to work with them, what you have to offer, and what you expect in return. It can be more time-consuming this way, but it can also be more rewarding as you’ll be able to communicate directly with them and hopefully build a longer-term relationship that can bring success to both parties.

6. Play it again, Sam

Now that you’ve had some great content created, why not use it as another marketing asset to promote your brand?

And don’t forget to engage with the content that’s been created for you: commenting, liking, and reposting are all great ways to increase the lifespan of your sponsored content.


  1. Let the influencer integrate your brand in a way that is holistic to their content.
  2. Ask influencers to promote your sponsored content across their other networks.
  3. Plan for long-term engagement.
  4. Choose an influencer with a highly-engaged audience.
  5. Decide if working with an agency is right for you.
  6. Engage with the sponsored content and add it to your stable of marketing assets.

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