In a world where consumers are smarter, TV ads are irrelevant, and ad blockers are de rigueur, influencer marketing helps make meaningful connections, building trust, and securing loyalty. Learn how influencers can improve your brand reputation, increase buy-in from customers, and more when you join this VB Live event!

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Influencer marketing has evolved — or really exploded, recently, says Mae Karwowski, founder and CEO of Obviously.

“A year and a half or two years ago, we were having conversations with brands asking, What is an influencer?'” Karwowski says. “Now they’re asking extremely nuanced, sophisticated questions about how to identify the right people for them and how to track their performance over the long term.”

Customers aren’t watching TV like they used to be, or they’re definitely not watching commercials — they’re on Sling and on YouTube, she says. They’re not looking at magazines at all anymore. Display doesn’t work at all for companies any more, and Facebook ads and Instagram ads are getting pricier every year as it gets more saturated. And even IBM Watson is helping brands find the best influencers.

“The ways in which brands are trying to market to potential customers are becoming more limited and more expensive, Karwowski says. “They’re looking for new ways to get in front of that customer, and do it in a cost-effective and cool, interesting way.”

Influencer marketing has proven to be the key. And part of that comes from the fact that at its most basic level, social media is the great equalizer. Any person who sets up a social media account has the ability to organically amass a following of people, whether it’s 2,000 people who just love watching that user’s everyday activities, or 200,000 people who love looking at their photography and videos, who think that their content is captivating.

“Ten or 20 years ago, you only had celebrities, people who were chosen by agents and people in Hollywood and brands who wanted you to look at someone specific,” she says. “Now, literally, the woman who works in the cubicle next to you could have a following of 30,000 avid fans. She could be working with great brands and making real money.”

In other words, the gatekeepers have fallen. These social media stars are real, and authentic — and there’s no other way for them to be, she says. They don’t have huge teams of media people. They don’t have big marketing and PR engines behind them. They’re not huge stars with movies coming out.

And maybe most importantly, the focus has really shifted to diversity.

“In some industries that historically have been limited in their view of who is worthy to be a spokesperson or model on TV or in print, now we’re seeing that it’s all about inclusivity,” she says. “We want different colors, different shapes, different genders. We want to mix this up and show the whole range of people who are our customers in a way that before was just so limited.”

While influencer marketing has been around for awhile, it has only really gained traction recently, and so a lot of brands are still very new to influencer marketing, and still in the develop and test mode.

“Strategies can vary pretty widely depending on industry and brand voice, and also brand goals,” Karwowski says. “And then the second part of that is just that the strategies themselves are evolving. The ways that you work on different platforms are changing pretty quickly, based on the platform, the number of influencers there are, how competitive the space is getting, and how easy it is to reach people on those platforms.”

The important thing to keep front and center is to go back over what your goals are. All brands want to be seen by potential customers who are going to purchase their product. They want to make more revenue. They want more customers. Influencer marketing, however, is about getting them in front of the right people — who are those people?

Above: Mae Karwowski, founder and CEO of Obviously

“We try to figure out, okay, do you really need to reach a luxury shopper that lives in Manhattan? Or do you need to reach your mom that lives in Kansas?” she says.

Companies need to look at the numbers behind every influencer, from the demographics of the influencer’s audience and how engaged that audience is, but also at how good a fit the influencer’s aesthetic is for the brand. And maybe most importantly, your influencer just needs to like your brand.

“Everyone’s seen bad influencer marketing — influencers who aren’t doing the detox teas, who aren’t doing the terrible teeth whitening, where clearly they’re paid, clearly they don’t like it, and it looks so forced,” she explains. “We need to make sure this is a person who actually thinks the brand is cool, who are excited to work in partnership with this brand. They’re not just talking about their love for it, but they do like it and endorse it.”

Karkwowski also urges brands to look beyond the big cheeses of the social world as well.

“As more and more people are on these social channels and amassing sizable followings, followings with real buying power, it makes more sense to work with more influencers who have smaller followings and do fewer sponsored posts over all, rather than going with a Kim Kardashian,” she says. “They’re not being approached by a brand every single day, or a dozen brands every day. Their feed isn’t ad after ad after ad, sponsored post after sponsored post. They’re more selective. They get really excited when a brand they like does reach out to them. Then they’re proud to say they’re partnered with this brand.”

To learn more about how to dive into the lucrative influencer marketing world, how to create authentic relationships with the social media stars you tap, and ways to keep tabs on your ROI, don’t miss this VB Live event!

Don’t miss out!

Register here for free.

Attend this webinar and learn:

  • How influencers and customers drive brand reputation and how they differ.
  • The relationship between PR tactics and community voice
  • Real-world tactics used by brands to overcome PR nightmares
  • How to create an influencer marketing plan that retains authenticity and believability
  • How real brands think about influencers + consumers as a strategy to strengthen their bottom line


  • Amanda Brown, Senior Manager Digital Marketing, TGI Fridays
  • Taimoor Dar, Head of Community, Yummly
  • Mae Karwowski, Founder and CEO, Obviously
  • Stewart Rogers, Analyst-at-Large, VentureBeat
  • Rachael Brownell, Moderator, VentureBeat

Sponsored by Obviously