Stop Interrupting and Start Being a Part of the Story

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

Are ads really something that people are looking for? I think that we can all agree that the answer is a resolute no.

So, why don’t marketers see that? The insistence on inherently flawed disruptive marketing is not going away. Instead, audiences are getting served tweaked video ad formats in the hopes that they’ll accept them without too much grumbling. The best example are the YouTube 6-second bumper ads – the whole industry is excited about them. They were introduced a year ago and, recently, one of major TV networks, FOX, started adopting them as well.


Well, marketing and agency executives think that these disruptive ads are less of a nuisance the shorter they last. In my opinion, they are simply an attempt to kick the can down the line so someone else has to deal with that particular marketing hot potato. Essentially, marketers are trying to signal their customers and boards of directors that they’re changing with the times while staying firmly set in their old ways.

Disruptive marketing is not working anymore so it’s high time to call a spade a spade. People simply don’t care about what you have to say about yourself in your ads. The rise of ad blocking software (600 million devices now block ads) and the fact that more than 85% of people skip TV and pre-roll ads is a clear indication of that.

How can your brand make sure that it’s respecting the viewers instead of ticking them off?

Respect the Creator and Their Audience – Add to the Story Instead of Interrupting It

Interruptions in creator content (done under the guise of influencer marketing) are as glaring as those on YouTube videos. They are painfully obvious, out of touch, and don’t make that much-needed connection with the audience.

For example, after observing several creators and analyzing their collaborations with brands, I’ve noticed that there’s a distinct dissonance between the work that they put out independently and the work that’s created for the brands. Namely, this ‘promotional content’ sticks out as exactly that – promotional.

It happens in one of two ways:

  • Brands look at creators as ad units, taking into account their reach, engagement, audience demographics, psychographics but that’s where it typically stops.. The creator’s personal brand of storytelling is ignored and what works for them isn’t even on the brand’s radar. Brand’s creative team sets to work, producing content that fails to connect with the audience. The result is usually promo content that not only doesn’t deliver, it’s also damaging to both the creator and the brand.
  • Brands make the mistake of thinking that the creators are their creative extension. They will supply them with a rough idea and a brief, expecting creators to come up with a way to integrate the brand’s messaging with what they usually do. Creators struggle to achieve this, spending days figuring out something that agency teams work months on. The result is often an underperforming one-off campaign that completely misses the mark. This happens often and the fact that a lot of influencer marketing ‘experts’ encourage brands to rely on the creator to develop the creative strategy is not helping.

Both approaches result in underwhelming results.

The right strategy lies somewhere in the middle. Brands need to learn which audiences and themes the creator resonates with across various social media platforms. Which of their stories grab people’s attention and hold it?

When you figure out what makes a creator successful and how you as a brand can facilitate that which is already working…well, you’ve found the sweet spot.

Be The Fuel That Keeps A Successful Story Going

How can brands go about doing that?

For starters, you drill into all of the data about the creator that you can get your hands on to see what makes that particular audience tick, Why are they coming back every day—particular formatting, the way the story is told, humor; the list is endless. You then enable the creator to tell those stories with more ease and without disrupting the experience. A good relationship between the brand and the creator is essential because, eventually, it will spill over to the content more easily, lending credibility to the collaboration.

Secondly, you step out of the box and stomp on it. Remember that audiences have diverse interests and by identifying the various themes where the creator’s content is successful, brands and creators can build mutually beneficial and lasting relationships.

For example, we partnered with a creator in the gaming area to help measure success with a growing brand partner. The branded gaming content was doing ok, but the results could be better. By pulling up the SYLO Score of hundreds of creator’s videos, we’ve noticed that his non-gaming content was getting some serious traction. Things like his workout routine, cooking and recipes, day-to-day rants were interesting to his audience. We spoke with both parties about focusing the collaboration on that. The content was branded but integrations were kept low-key and, ultimately, that content exceeded native pieces. Why? Because it was human, real, and fun and the creator was not trying to sell something.

The key to developing great influencer campaigns is finding what already works for the creator and blending seamlessly into that narrative. 6-second ads and intrusive, sale-sy content just don’t qualify—they are as far from storytelling as you can possibly be.

If you want to find out what does qualify, make sure to check out metrics and insights provided by SYLO. In the meantime, tell me more about your favorite influencer campaign in the comments and I’ll tell you how it could have been better executed (or the coffee’s on me the next time we meet).

Photo credit: Pixabay

Social Platforms Vy to be the Go-To Destination for Content Creators

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

Although Instagram and YouTube remain pack leaders when it comes to influencer marketing (and 2018 sees them solidifying their top positions), offering both creators and brands incentives to participate, Snapchat and, in particular, Facebook are nipping at their heels.

Last year, Facebook spent more than $50 million on Live Video, paying out hefty sums to publishers and celebrities to use the new feature. This year, reports are coming in that Facebook is getting ready to spend more than $3 million per episode of new, TV-like programming.

I’m very positive about these signals and what they mean for the social media giant in terms of content focus. However, what has me slightly worried is Facebook’s new influencer marketing ad product. As of recently, Facebook is allowing brands to directly boost creator posts and that’s something that might change how influencer marketing campaigns are done on the platform.

What Do Direct Boosts Mean for Creators, Brands, and Facebook?

Let me start off on a positive note: previous post-boosting arrangement was a bit clunky – brands had to share a post before they could boost it. This feature eliminates that extra step (with creator’s permission) and gives brand marketers more insight into how a post is performing.

On the other hand, it also jeopardizes the very thing that has made influencer marketing so special: quality organic reach. Moving forward, my main concern is that Facebook algorithm might push down stories that are not funded, forcing brands (and maybe even creators) to spend money to get views and other benefits associated with boosted posts. This ‘pay to play’ approach means that creators and brands won’t have an incentive to create new and original content for the platform and then everyone loses, including Facebook.

Of course, paid advertising can benefit all parties by bringing in more eyeballs, so long as it’s not done at the detriment of quality influencer campaigns (and organic and natural reach). This new feature can potentially pit these two types of campaigns against each other, creating an ‘either or’ situation where one shouldn’t exist. Hopefully, Facebook will find the right balance that will allow more creators to focus their time and energy into creating content specifically for the platform. That would ensure that they have access to a steady stream of fresh, creative, and free content that will keep their users engaged and, by extension, their advertisers happy.

Snapchat Finally Starts Wooing Creators – Will New Features Be Enough?

On the other hand, the other contender for the influencer marketing throne, Snapchat, had a fastest growing community last year but that growth is slowing to a crawl. That’s partly because of Instagram Stories feature – Facebook did a great job copying Snapchat’s own idea and leveraging it against them.

But, there’s more to the story than just competition.

Instead of maintaining a creator-friendly environment and allowing creators to naturally fuel the growth of the platform, Snapchat started alienating people who invested years into building their Snap communities. It’s gotten so bad that Snapchat is the #1 platform creators would cut loose if they had to choose.

The recent introduction of two new features marks the company’s latest attempt to turn the tide. Paperclip feature allows creators to link to outside websites, while Official Stories (now extended to popular creators and not just limited to public figures) packs even more benefits, most notably an increase in discoverability.

Will they be enough to prevent creators from ‘ghosting’?

It’s hard to say for certain.

I believe these new features will provide a strong incentive for some creators to stick around. However, those who already jumped ship might be gone for good. Ultimately, until Snapchat does something to facilitate monetization, investing time into platforms that are more lucrative (such as YouTube and Instagram) simply makes more sense to most creators.

Are New Features Good? It Depends on Who’s Rolling Them Out

I believe that new social media platform features need to be beneficial to creators, brands, and the platforms that roll them out – and that presents a bit of a challenge. Catering to the needs of one group at the expense of others creates an unbalance that can be harmful in the long run. YouTube Community, Amazon’s and Twitch’s expanded revenue sharing deals, and Snapchat’s Paperclip and Featured Stories are all great examples of features that bring value to all parties involved.

On the other hand, Facebook’s latest addition might not be the best one that came out of their shop. Although it simplifies the way brand marketers interact with creators’ posts, it also casts a shadow on the future of creators on that platform. There are other ways to integrate paid advertising into this system without jeopardizing valuable partnerships, organic and natural reach, and great content already introduced by influencer marketing.

SYLO will be keeping a close eye on new developments with Facebook promoted ads, as well as Snapchat’s new features. If you want to get the same insights for your campaigns, check us out at

Photo credit: Pixabay

SYLO Reviewed by Influencer Marketing Hub

Originally posted on Influencer Marketing Hub

After the influencer marketing rush of 2016, a lot of companies that had thrown marketing dollars at influencers were left wondering what they’d just paid for. They’d get their standard metrics—reach, engagement, shares—and maybe some demographic data about the audiences. They might have gotten direct sales out of a campaign, or an uptick in followers, and called it a success. Or, they might have seen no tangible benefit and called it a failure.

Ultimately, though, they really had no standard by which to measure a given post’s performance. Metrics only give you an isolated picture, absent of context…Read More.

Can Anyone be a Social Influencer?

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

I recently read a Fashionista article which presented a comprehensive review of the various influencer marketing platforms out there, some of which allow anyone to sign up and connect with brands, and others being more selective. The article concludes with the quote, “It feels safe to assume that as time goes on, it will only become easier for anyone to join in on the influencer economy. And depending on your perspective, that’s either an exciting and empowering, or very scary, prospect. Or both.”

A short time later, I was watching Disney Pixar’s “The Incredibles” with my kids and came to the scene when the bad guy, Syndrome, explains his master evil scheme. As the movie builds to the climax, Mr. Incredible accuses Syndrome of pretending to be a superhero (since all of his “powers” are technology-driven) and Syndrome responds: “Oh, I’m real. Real enough to defeat *you*! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics anyone’s ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone’s super…*no one* will be.

On a completely innocent scale, this is what we are seeing happen now in the influencer space: technology is enabling anyone and everyone to declare herself or himself an “influencer.”

On the one hand, any of us can be an influencer in the most literal sense: co-workers, friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, and pets can influence our decisions and views all day long, whether it be in-person or online. On the other hand, in the realm of influencer marketing, brand marketers should be focusing on “creators” rather than just “influencers” – and if they’re going to use these two words synonymously – then no, not everyone can be an “influencer”.

Those creators utilized in influencer marketing campaigns are “special” because they are authentic, talented in specific areas, and carry authority on specific topics. It comes down to an individual who exudes creativity and innovation in their content creation – something you can’t fake, and can’t only come about because there is technology that enables you to be labeled as an “influencer.” The ability to position yourself and successfully resonate and build relationships with thousands, tens of thousands, even millions of people – that’s a talent.

This is why brands can’t solely pick “influencers” by their followings. Brands and creators alike need to harness reach, consumption, and engagement data to truly understand the influence that the creator has on their subject matter. Creators naturally produce content across a variety of areas because it’s an expression of themselves and their lives and, unsurprisingly, each piece of content they create will not have the same influence among their fans.

Finally, not only do the “influencers” need to be authentic creators, but brands looking to partner with them should focus on authentic relationships with these creators. Authenticity, both of a creator and a brand integration, is important to a successful partnership. It’s been written time and time again, but well worth reinforcing that brands should strive to build lasting relationships with creators rather than one-off campaigns that hurt the authenticity of both the brand and the creator.

Brands and creators, how do you approach partnerships for influencer marketing campaigns?

If you are a brand or creator who needs third-party insights into your social content’s performance across influencer marketing campaigns and industry-leading marketing verticals, check out SYLO here:

Photo credit: Pixabay

Measuring Influence – VidCon Remains the Epicenter of Influencer and Advertising Conferences

By Curtis Michael Davey, Director of Talent Partnerships at SYLO

If ever there was a time and place to measure and map the digital media landscape, and all that it touches, it is at VidCon. I’ve heard the influencer marketing space described as “the wild west” on more than one occasion: a rapidly growing community, on the edges of established industries, where the rules are still being written and pioneers can stake their claim. An apt description indeed, but I prefer the analogy of a petri dish, where viral sensations and a plethora of ideas either multiply and thrive or wither and die. And if this crossroads of industries is a giant petri dish, then VidCon is the microscope through which we can examine the whole of the industry more closely, and ultimately understand it all.

Over the course of one increasingly hectic weekend, and at an increasing scale across Anaheim, attendees converge to revel in and shape the future of the industries to which they are beholden – media, retail, technology and, of course, advertising. In my fourth year of attendance out of eight in the history of VidCon – the largest and best established event of its kind in the world – I’ve witnessed the explosive growth, and the seismic shifts of the influencer marketing landscape.

2013 was my first year at the conference, as well as VidCon’s first year in the Anaheim Convention Centre (ACC). The size of the venue made all of the brand activations and talent programming seem minuscule in comparison – like a hermit crab making his home in a shell much larger than necessary. But the following year, VidCon had grown exponentially. Not just in size – taking up a much larger section of the ACC and the surrounding hotels – but also in scope and scale. This was the year that proved to everyone, inside and out of the industry, that the social stars of digital media were here to stay – Variety Magazine’s August cover story proved that.

On the conference floor, massive booths from every section of the industry crowded together like casinos on the Vegas strip, clamoring for the attention of the thousands of fans who made the pilgrimage there from all corners of the globe. Mirroring the moves they made in the industry, competing businesses – from the MCNs to the apps to the publishers and merchandise companies – all engaged in a constant game of one-upmanship with the announcements they made in VidCon programming and the talent that they had at their booths. Despite requests from VidCon organizers to maintain reasonable sound levels, everyone turned up the volume of their speaker boxes that year. It was about making noise, and getting noticed, just like it was in the industry that year with the headlines of new acquisitions, distribution deals, and original content production deals, both on YouTube and off. Because, let’s not forget, Vine was the hottest thing on the block that year.

The talent, on the other hand, didn’t need to make noise. The fans did that for them any time they caught sight of a creator, known or unknown. Screaming hordes of fans rushed in every direction, caught up in the frenzy without even knowing who they’re chasing, making navigation around the convention or having a business meeting in a hotel lobby bar very difficult. And when not rushing from booth to booth or chasing a talent, you would find these fans clustered in sprawling groups around the area, watching videos or checking Twitter for any sign of where to go to catch a star on their electric hoverboards – like the recent Pokémon Go craze but IRL. The fervor of these fans gave every person there reason to pause and reflect on this new reality that we all helped to create.

Fast forward a few years to 2017: VidCon is now hosting three conferences on three different continents, with the Anaheim event still the biggest and most important of them all (even with a half-dozen other upstart events trying to steal its thunder). VidCon and the whole of the digital media industry is now so mainstream and so important to so many businesses, that companies had to decide whether to send their executives to Cannes Lions (happening the same week) or to VidCon. Most companies, even the most established media entities like Variety Magazine, sent them to both.

With the maturity of an industry comes a sagely wisdom, and VidCon certainly reflected that. No longer were the talent seen crossing the hotel lobbies; instead they were shuttled to private entrances from a nearby hotel and discouraged from mingling with their fans after a panel or meet-and-greet. Business executives, from an growing number of companies and in ever-growing numbers still took meetings, but far fewer in hotel lobbies and much more in the industry lounges on the 3rd floor of the ACC where the amenities continue to improve. The exclusive evening parties are still taking place and are still lavish as ever, but this year they’re much farther afield from the ACC where they used to fight for conference room and pool-side space.

All of these changes indicate a strong understanding of the progress made thus far and a desire to protect it so that it may continue to thrive. Something that I, and the whole SYLO team, continue to advocate in influencer marketing. By taking stock of where we’ve been, and measuring the initiatives and efforts that have gotten us to where we are as an industry, only then can we understand where to go next and how best to protect all of our accomplishments to date.

What’s been your experience with VidCon?

Advertisers Already Know How to Tackle Influencer Marketing Measurement

By Erick Schwab, COO & Co-Founder at SYLO

What is happening now with influencer marketing is a tale as old as time (in advertising).

Back in 2006, I was with ManiaTV and tasked with figuring out how to sell Fortune 500 brands and their agencies original, live-streaming content. Shows were hosted by a bunch of young twenty-somethings that were starting to grow a loyal audience. The journey was helping brands understanding what this new media could do for their business, in order to reach their consumers in a completely new way. It involved the need to convert live-streaming into media sales, creating advertising packages around impressions and CPMs so media buyers, who didn’t know what this form of media was, could measure it.

Measurement has always been a passion point – in selling sponsorships, I would proactively include brand surveys to get brand and favorability lifts to help media buyers understand their investment and what was really happening. Was it actually working? Was it helping their business?

Fast forward to 2012 when the MCN world started to push through more than ever, and the same thing was happening as it is now with influencers: their audience went through the roof and demand from advertisers followed. If a brand wanted to integrate with a particular influencer, the brand would just spend a flat fee with no measurement to support it. The Global Online Video Association (GOVA), which I was a part of at the time, tried to understand how the MCNs were selling/packaging this inventory to try to get a sense of consistency in the space.

Now, in the past 5 years, Instagram’s user growth shot up and Snapchat hit the scene. There are several of these social media platforms that brands are trying to navigate, and everyone is operating differently with varying metrics. There have been so many articles on successful influencer marketing campaigns, but let me pose this question to you: How can you measure campaign performance without a baseline/standardized metric?

This is why I started SYLO along with my co-founder Brett Garfinkel: to give influencer marketing, the latest exploding form of media, a standardized measurement system that appeases the demand by both brands and influencers.

A recent Digiday article addressed the absence of media buyers in discussions to set programmatic standards. However, we took the opposite approach when building the standard for influencer marketing. Throughout the year of research we did to determine how we were going to build the algorithm to calculate our SYLO Score, we went straight to the media buyers to get their buy-in on what metrics dictate campaign performance, and how we should weigh these metrics in our algorithm. Brand marketers need this standardized measurement and reporting for their influencer campaigns and, therefore, they were a key component and resource in building the SYLO Score.

Check out our recent press containing insights from industry leaders on the importance of third-party measurement standard for the influencer marketing space.

Photo credit: Pixabay

SYLO Empowers Influencer Marketing Industry with Third-Party Measurement

What Nielsen is for TV and comScore for Website Traffic, SYLO is Influencer Marketing’s standardized campaign measurement

NEW YORK, June 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — SYLO, Inc. today announced its launch of third-party analytics and standardized reporting for the influencer marketing industry. Trusted by several Fortune 500 companies, agencies, and influencers, SYLO’s measurement system calculates individual “SYLO Scores” for every piece of content posted by influencers across YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Because SYLO does not execute influencer campaigns, the company can truly give third-party, independent campaign metrics, benchmarks, and insights on campaign performance to brands as well as influencers.

The demand, by both brands and influencers, for independent validation and reporting inspired media industry veterans Brett Garfinkel and Erick Schwab to build SYLO. The SYLO Score is generated by a proprietary algorithm that gathers and weights influencers’ engagement, consumption, and reach metrics on each piece of content.

“Just as Nielsen did for TV and comScore did for website traffic, the influencer marketing industry needs a standard scoring system to rely on as more and more marketing budget dollars are being allocated towards influencer campaigns,” explains SYLO CEO, Brett Garfinkel. “The SYLO Score provides just that, arming brands and influencers with the confidence that they are working with the right people and the right type of content on the right social platforms.”

Mountain Dew and SYLO formed a partnership in 2016 to build out a brand-led influencer team, Mountain Dew Green Label, and measure its performance. Oby Enyia, Brand Marketing & Media Strategy at Pepsico, said, “Third-party measurement in influencer marketing is just as important as it is for all other kinds of media that brands purchase. From this measurement comes a number of capabilities and deep audience insights that allow us to develop trusted partnerships with influencers to tell better and more relevant stories to the audiences who follow them.”

“The need for a standardized cross-platform scoring system is a significant one and will help us collectively begin to measure true apples-to-apples inputs, KPIs, and outcomes,” said Shannon Pruitt, a content marketing pioneer and President of North America at The Story Lab, one of the leading agencies activating content across social media. “As the influencer marketing space continues to evolve, content marketers need a measurement system that truly informs and attributes value to their storytelling and creative strategies.”

David Beebe, formerly VP, Global Creative and Content Marketing for Marriott International, and adviser to SYLO, added, “The need for a single, standardized metric and reporting really hit home when I’d execute a campaign and receive several different reports detailing the performance of that one campaign. With the plethora of data out there, the industry can’t just pick and choose what metrics they want—they need one scoring system, taking into account all of the performance data available, to justify their campaigns.”

About SYLO

Founded in 2016 by a team of content marketing and technology industry veterans, SYLO empowers the Influencer Marketing industry with third-party measurement. At a time when influencer marketing measurement must mature, brands and influencers now have mutually beneficial, independent, cross-platform validation and standardized reporting. The SYLO Score and campaign analyses provide brands with the confidence that they are working with the right people and the right type of content on the right social platforms. Learn more at