Get Yourself Connected: 5 key insights for brands seeking digital talent

by | Feb 17, 2023 | Feature

Connect Management is a digital-first talent agency that currently has a roster of 130 creators and influencers on its books. Expanding almost on a weekly basis, its broad array of clients reaches 170 million+ followers globally and engages with over 400 million people on a monthly basis. That translates into roughly 5bn social media impressions a month.

A key aspect of the company’s work is connecting brands with talent – either via agencies or directly with in-house marketing departments (around a 60-40 split). Speaking to The Drop, CEO Benjamin Leslie (pictured) says the agency has worked with around 600 brands – including household names like Pixar, Sky TV, Costa Coffee, Carlsberg and NatWest.

The brand-talent relationship is a key driving force in the digital-first business, with clear benefits for both sides. But it’s an area that can go badly wrong if not managed carefully. Here, Leslie shares five key insights for brands wanting to get the best out of social media…

Prioritise the right match: Key to a successful brand-talent partnership is getting the right fit. Brands sometimes start out by wanting to work with creators who have the biggest audience, however they aren’t necessarily the right fit. At Connect, we have invested in a data platform to build a detailed profile of every piece of talent we work with: what they like, who their audience is, what they’ve said in the past. We also have a breakdown of the brands our talent are really passionate about which keeps in mind that authentic editorial integrity that is so important. All of this means that when a client comes to us with a brief, we can suggest the right talent.

Deliver authentic messaging: Everyone in media talks about authenticity and it’s no different here. Audiences will lose interest if brands don’t authentically engage with the audiences that sit on each individual platform – there is no one size fits all, and each platform should be considered when it comes to marketing. Messaging has to feel like it belongs in the storyline and we have an in-house creative team that supports clients when we are working directly with brands. We take people on a journey so they understand the social creative process to ensure their messaging is translated in a way that’s as authentic as possible.

Set clear objectives: It’s hugely helpful if the brand has a clear idea of what it wants to achieve from the outset, because that helps with both the creative brief and talent selection. To some extent, the choice of talent will depend on whether a brand is looking to widen exposure or drive sales. We have some talents who are great at driving virality, while others have a strong track record on sales conversion. Inevitably, the brand’s objective will also have an impact on the tone of the messaging and the frequency and timing of when it is dropped.

Embrace platform-specific targeting: Just as in traditional media, different platforms appeal to different audiences and demographics. So it’s important to factor this into talent choice and creative work. Facebook and Instagram tend to skew older, so this fits brands that are maybe looking for a family feel to their messaging. But for a brand targeting 18 year-olds, TikTok and YouTube Shorts makes more sense. It’s important to stay on top of how platforms are evolving as well. Right now, we’re seeing a lot of activity around YouTube Shorts. Well-established YouTube creators like The Sidemen and Mr Beast are enjoying the fact that they can post long form and short form within the same platform ecosystem. Based on what we are seeing right now, YouTube Shorts is the place brands need to go for Under 16s.

Choose the right agency partners: Connect Management has enjoyed a lot of success by making the relationship between brands and talents so seamless. But another key factor that works for us is that we live and breathe social media. The agency has an average age of 23, and everyone completely gets what Gen Z is interested in and how they react to content. We know how short their attention span is – with many not even waiting for the first frame to end before swiping. This immersion with the media means that when we work directly with brands we can give them a well-informed assessment of what messaging that will cut through. Our results across numerous campaigns and level of repeat business underline the point. We also work with large creative agencies – building tailored digital first proposals to meet a pre-existing creative brief.

Brands x Talent: How brands play to the strengths of digital-first talent

Engaging storytelling
Fin Draper teamed up with Costa Coffee as the hero of its 2022 festive hot chocolate campaign. Costa challenged Fin to re-create the ‘Carol of the Bells’ using items in the Costa Kitchens. Fin was able to stick to his format whilst adding a branded twist. His festive remix amassed 15m organic views on his and Costa Coffee’s TikTok pages combined.

Authentic messaging
Poppy Hollins showed off her new Blowdry Brush by Mermaid hair to her fans. This advert received over 450,000 views, and huge engagement across Poppy and Mermaid’s socials. Speaking straight to camera, Poppy explained how her hair is naturally frizzy and wavy, and by using the mermaid product, she saw a huge difference.

Good editorial alignment
Connect Management was challenged to create engaging content for a new American based banking app called Step. Connect brainstormed with visual effects artist Brandon B and came up with several concepts that Brandon felt would seem authentic to his audience while aligning with Step’s marketing objectives and goals.

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