Three years ago Marta Nicolas had a huge marketing budget at her disposal as a brand manager for L’Oreal in Spain. Trouble was, she recalls, she couldn’t spend it as effectively as she wanted to for lack of the right tool — one she could use not only to create credible branded content but also to build relationships with the creators.
So Nicolas and Juan Sanchez-Herrera, who had joined L’Oreal after a stint with Procter & Gamble, got together and launched SamyRoad, a social platform that matches big brands with creators, nowadays a.k.a. “influencers.”
“We wanted to have all the passions that Millennials are interested in together in one place, and we wanted to have the best content creators in each one of those passions together on just one platform,” Nicolas says.
From the content end, the process starts with the creators identifying their “passions” from seven categories, each with numerous subcategories: fashion, art, adrenaline (e.g., climbing, windsurfing, etc.), music, travel, ideas (e.g. entrepreneurship, meditation) and help (e.g., ecologism, fair trade). They then upload 20 pieces of content from their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube or Pinterest or other social feeds. More than 30,000 have done so to date.
Sanchez-Herrera oversees strategy and development, Patricia Ratia, a Deloitte alumna, handles the financial side, and Nicolas directs marketing and creative, most recently out of New York City, where she is establishing the beachhead for SamyRoad’s expansion into the Americas.
SamyRoad’s current clients include multinational giants such as Heineken, Sony Pictures, Beefeater, Maybelline, LVMH, L’Oreal and P&G, as well as smaller brands. Last year, it created 160 campaigns for 28 global brands using more than 600 creators in the SamyRoad community. The process is more or less the same for each, no matter the size of the budget, Nicolas says, although each project is custom-made and begins with talking with the client about its objectives.
A proprietary algorithm dubbed ShineBuzz then picks the best creative match for each client’s storytelling needs. But the results aren’t just handed off. The work of each potential creator, who stand to make anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, is then manually checked.
“In order for people to remember what we do, I always say it’s very simple. It’s ‘who,’ ‘what’ and ‘how,’” Nicolas says.
The “who” is using Shinebuzz to find the best person to create content for a brand. The “what” is actually creating the content and deciding how to best execute it — videos, events, still photos, posts to social media, playlists, et al — through its in-house production company. The “how” is measuring the impact, depending on whatever KPIs the client has established.
A recent video for Try the World, a startup that regularly delivers boxes of gourmet items from different cultures, stars a Peruvian-born fashion, travel and lifestyle blogger who goes by the nom de influence Drifting Nomad.
“From the creative process to the review process, getting to the result was very easy,” says Try the World CMO Vincent Bourzeix. “The quality of the video is awesome, no questions there. We saw a 26% increase in CTR.”
SamyRoad positions itself as more than a broker between influencers and brands, where there are a growing number of competitors. “We oversee each piece of content that is created by our influencers,” she says, citing Samy Media House’s reel that features some of its clients. But Nicolas, who is cultivating relationships with traditional agencies in the U.S., is careful to note that it is not competing with them.
In Spain, she says, smaller agencies that are strong in marketing but so-so in creative have partnered with SamyRoad for its content-creation capabilities. Big agencies with mega clients look to it for its database of social media influencers.
Although GenZ and Millennials are much more likely to trust those influencers than older generation, as a recent Harris Poll conducted for Lithium Technologies indicates, that relationship needs to start from a place of “authenticity” and remain there, Nicolas maintains.
“This is a very, very, very personal opinion and it’s very Marta, not SamyRoad,” she says. “My only concern about influencer marketing is the authenticity. If an influencer today is talking about L’Oréal and tomorrow about Maybelline and the day after that about Lancôme and the follow day about another eye mascara, for me the credibility of that particular influencer is shredded to pieces and makes no sense at all. So I think the only limit to influencer marketing would be the influencers themselves, and how loyal to their beliefs they stay.”