Jonathan Davids of Influicity: Engaging YouTube Stars to Connect with Prospects

More and more, people are turning away from TV, and towards YouTube for entertainment, education and information. And many YouTube channels boast having more than one million subscribers — even if they aren’t movie stars, rock stars or famous athletes.

Jonathan Davids, founder of influencer marketing platform Influicity, shares his thoughts on the importance of leveraging the growing influence of YouTube content creators. Davids talks about engaging YouTube stars to connect with prospects and customers. (This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the audio player at the end of this article.)


Jonathan Davids - InfluicitySmall Business Trends: Tell me a little bit of your personal background.

Jonathan Davids: My first real business was right in the middle of university. I launched a lifestyle e-mag targeted towards women, and built up a really big audience on that site. It was a display-advertising driven business and we had a contents indication side of it. I sold that business in 2009, and then I got into the YouTube marketing world around 2011, and boy has it just blown up over the last few years.

Small Business Trends: Influicity is a YouTube influencer platform for brands looking to find the right kind of YouTube personalities. How does Influicity do that?

Jonathan Davids: Essentially it’s an ad-tech platform. Brands or ad agencies or media buyers are used to buying media and ad space in a very scientific way, and when it comes to blogger outreach or influencer marketing, it’s been really a mish-mash of kind of who you know, who do I know, over the last few years. We’re trying to embed a bit of science into that.

Using our platform, a media buyer or a brand directly would log in, put in the filters of exactly what type of audience they’re trying to reach, what their budget is, what the creative output is, and all that kind of stuff and we will programmatically tell them, okay, here are the top 100 influencers on YouTube or Twitter or Instagram that are perfect for your brand. And we take them through that entire process of working with them.

Small Business Trends: I saw a stat recently that said I think roughly 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. How important is it today for a brand to start building solid relationships with these YouTube content developers?

Jonathan Davids: That stat that you just rang off, that’s one number and there are lots of stats just like that. The number that I always use is, effectively YouTube reaches a billion people every single month and you know, the number of video views and comments and engagements that take place on YouTube are well into the hundreds of billions.

The other side of it is, there’s this entire democratization of who can work with, YouTube in this case, or the other networks. Whereas you want to do a buy on a broadcast network, you need to have millions of dollars to do that. But with the right YouTube content creator that reaches your consumer audience, even a small marketing agency or a small brand that’s regional or local in focus can find the exact content creator that’s going to speak to their audience and get your product out there.

Small Business Trends: It’s important to understand exactly what you want because chances are you’ll be able to find the right YouTube content creator for your audience.

Jonathan Davids: Exactly, and that’s the biggest shift. Essentially if you’re picking from a population of movie stars, TV stars, recording stars, there’s only going to be a couple dozen in each of those categories who are really viable candidates. When you’re talking about, I want to find a YouTube star who talks about food and dining let’s say, and I want somebody who has an audience over 100,000 people, the number of options you have there, again is enormous. You’re talking 10,000 plus people who would fit that category.

And then the other side of it is, you don’t even need to worry about household names. We just signed a young lady for example, she’s working on the back-to-school campaign for one of our big retail clients and the brief that the client gave us was, we want to find someone who’s very influential in music among other things. So we found this girl. She has 1.3 million subscribers on YouTube who tune in every week for a new music video that she does, usually cover songs.

Small Business Trends: And really they have a tangible audience because like you said, 1.3 million subscribers.

Jonathan Davids: Absolutely. It’s completely transparent. You can see everything from the number of subscribers, to what are her average video views.

Small Business Trends: This isn’t just for big brands?

Jonathan Davids: Exactly. We launched our brand new platform at about three months ago, and originally our target was the clients that we had already been working with – big retailers, big consumer packaged goods companies across North America.

But we realized we were getting a lot of requests from content companies and small agencies and small media-buying companies, 5, 10 employees. The real need there was if you’re a 5-person shop, an ad agency, you don’t really want to waste time going through mounds and mounds of potential influencers or bloggers you could work with. You could really save your time and improve your efficiency through a platform that actually finds those influencers for you.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.