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Ex-Mekanism Execs Bets On Nascent LinkedIn Creator Ecosystem With Agency Launch


LinkedIn’s “YouTube Moment”: Why Ex-Mekanism Execs Are Betting Big on the Platform’s Creator Potential

Former Mekanism Execs Brendan Gahan and Mandi Hopper are partnering to launch a new Linkedin influencer marketing agency called Creator Authority. The agency connects brands with creators on LinkedIn to develop branded content and influencer campaigns.

Creator Authority: Ex-Mekanism Execs Bets On "Nascent" LinkedIn Creator Ecosystem With Agency Launch

“I think LinkedIn influencer marketing is going to be really big,” says Gahan on his inspiration for starting Creator Authority.

Ex-Mekanism Execs Bets On “Nascent” LinkedIn Creator Ecosystem With Agency Launch

Gahan has over 15 years of experience in influencer marketing. He got his start as an intern at a small agency in 2005, just as social media began emerging. “I was spending all my time on YouTube and MySpace and Facebook,” he recalls. Seeing the high engagement some early digital content received compared to traditional ads, he began pitching social media ideas to the partners who “were super open to new ideas.”

In 2006, Gahan sold through his first major influencer integration deal on YouTube for a client. “I remember thinking, oh, the cat’s out of the bag. Everybody’s gonna be doing this immediately. Like, this is gonna be huge,” he says.

Gahan later joined digital agency Mekanism, focusing on viral branded content and early influencer marketing campaigns. As part of a three-person social media team, he shares, “We were constantly trying to figure out, okay, how do we get word out around this new video series or crazy guerilla marketing campaign?”

Gahan then left Mekanism and after a brief stint at Fullscreen started his own social agency, Epic Signal which he ended up selling to Mekanism in 2015. During this second tour at Mekanism Gahan oversaw social media and innovation as a partner and Chief Social Officer. He led influencer campaigns, grew the team, and continued advising and investing in the influencer space.

The catalyst for Creator Authority came through Gahan’s own experience growing a large personal following on LinkedIn and TikTok. In 2020, he set a goal to post daily on LinkedIn for a year. “I really enjoyed it,” he shares. “I realized, it was the mental sort of barrier of, like, the sharing that really would hold me back.”

Interacting in the LinkedIn community led Gahan to believe it could be a powerful platform for influencer marketing. He points to LinkedIn data showing a 24% increase in public content shared last year.

Some of Gahan’s friends, including top creators James Creech, Avi Gandhi and Phil Ranta as well as creator economy veteran Jim Louderback, also shared a vision for LinkedIn influencer marketing. “Let’s kind of come together as a little bit of a collective and start pitching this,” Gahan describes the origin.

Seeing the opportunity, Gahan decided to “turn it into a real company.” Creech, Gandhi and Ranta are involved as partners in Creator Authority. With this team on board, Gahan and Hopper aim to spearhead LinkedIn influencer marketing as a scalable agency business.

“I’ve seen this take off,” says Gahan on the momentum behind LinkedIn creators. “There’s this inflection point.” Through Creator Authority, he wants to enable more brands to leverage that opportunity.

LinkedIn Creator Moment

Gahan compares LinkedIn’s current phase to “the way YouTube felt in 2008.” He elaborates, “It’s still super early, super nascent. It’s not well established in terms of rates, processes, all that stuff. There isn’t the whole ecosystem around it either. There’s very few sort of agencies doing this. It’s really a lot of innovative or creative brands that are playing in the space [who have] identified the opportunity early and they’re taking advantage of it.”

However, Gahan sees big things ahead, stating: “I almost think of it as if you could go back to YouTube in 2008 or Instagram in 2013 and you could establish relationships with creators then, work with them, work with other people in the ecosystem who are just getting started. Like, how amazing would that be?”

Despite being the oldest major platform, Gahan says LinkedIn is having a creator moment thanks to new creator-focused features. “It’s sort of having its moment now,” he affirms.

Gahan believes influencer marketing will expand beyond B2B on LinkedIn

While LinkedIn is still primarily used for B2B marketing, Gahan sees untapped potential for B2C brands. “I see a world where a lot of B2C strategies from brand building and storytelling are going to be used by B2B companies and I also see B2C companies having a significant role within LinkedIn,” he shares.

“There’s no reason your favorite coffee brand can’t be collaborating with creators,” according to Gahan. He envisions “a huge opportunity for everything from CPG brands to fashion, to makeup” on LinkedIn’s “brand safe and incredibly authoritative” platform.

Creator Authority focuses specifically on LinkedIn influencer collabs

As a strategic differentiation, Creator Authority is currently the only agency concentrated entirely on LinkedIn influencer campaigns.

“By focusing on this growing space, or what I hope is a rapidly growing space, [we] will become sort of the de facto resource for agencies and brands,” projects Gahan.

In addition to niche expertise, Gahan touts his team’s experience, proprietary tools, and capabilities “to craft compelling brand campaigns” – making them “an unstoppable team.”

In addition to his extensive experience in the influencer marketing world, Gahan also brings first-hand knowledge as a top social media creator. On TikTok alone, he has grown an audience of over 124,000 followers.

Reflecting on insights learned from TikTok, Gahan shares, “The thing that consistently gets the most engagement is when I share anything that’s remotely personal or interesting.” He says creators form strong bonds by letting their personality and personal life shine through.

However, Gahan notes major differences between TikTok and LinkedIn engagement. “I think in a lot of ways TikTok is almost the opposite of LinkedIn,” he compares.

While LinkedIn surfaces content relevant to your professional connections and industry, Gahan explains, “TikTok has unbundled the social graph entirely. It’s much more about is this content going to be something that this person wants to engage with regardless of topic or connection?”

He believes this contrast positions both platforms uniquely. “You can get awareness to a larger community that you might not get exposed to with a traditional social platform, whose emphasis is more on the social graph. So that’s really the power of Tik Tok,” analyzes Gahan.

Yet as Creator Authority looks to grow LinkedIn influencer marketing, Gahan plans to incorporate techniques that resonate across platforms. “I think in general with creators a lot of the relationship, the strong relationships they develop with their audience and community comes from that personal connection,” he notes.

Through merging personalized storytelling with LinkedIn’s professional context, Gahan aims to help brands “craft compelling campaigns” authentically. With expertise both as a top agency leader and creator, he sees a chance to push LinkedIn content innovation.

For Gahan, success means doing work he’s passionate about. “I love working with creators and I love working with brands to [solve challenges] and come up with creative solutions,” he shares.

However, he also has ambitious business goals befitting a startup founder and agency CEO. “From a business standpoint, it’s really helping to elevate LinkedIn as an influencer marketing ecosystem and ideally for us to be the leader in that space,” says Gahan.

As the first mover focused entirely on LinkedIn influencer collabs, Creator Authority occupies prime position. “Since we’re the first dedicated [agency], we are the de facto leader,” Gahan asserts.

Still, he predicts competition coming soon as more companies realize LinkedIn’s potential. “I imagine that won’t be the case for long,” he acknowledges.

To stay ahead, Gahan plans for Creator Authority to “continue to lead within that ecosystem and to grow it.” He sees major upside still untapped.

Blending passion and business savvy, Gahan ultimately envisions cementing Creator Authority as the foremost LinkedIn influencer agency guiding brands through new opportunities on the platform. “A lot of fun in the process,” he adds regarding the journey.

Nii A. Ahene

Nii A. Ahene is the founder and managing director of Net Influencer, a website dedicated to offering insights into the influencer marketing industry. Together with its newsletter, Influencer Weekly, Net Influencer provides news, commentary, and analysis of the events shaping the creator and influencer marketing space. Through interviews with startups, influencers, brands, and platforms, Nii and his team explore how influencer marketing is being effectively used to benefit businesses and personal brands alike.

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