James Creech started his career in ad technology, which involved creating paid media campaigns to help brands and media agencies promote their content during the early days of social media. However, he quickly realized that this was a slow and frustrating way to collaborate with influencers due to the extensive research and lengthy process.
“This was the early days of the creator economy before the term had even been coined. So we were working with these influencers in a pretty manual way.”
So, with his background in ad technology, film, and marketing, James quickly realized that there had to be a better way to find influencers for marketing campaigns.
“We started building some software first to make our lives easier, right? Just to enable us to work with all these emerging influencers, but woke up one day and realized, clearly we’re not the only ones banging our heads against this wall.”
What is Paladin?
The answer to this was the creation of Paladin.
“So we build influencer marketing software for brands and agencies, and the whole goal is to help save people time and help them run more effective campaigns.”
The primary client for Paladin is agencies and brands rather than influencers, although Paladin does work with influencers as a part of their network. Influencers are definitely part of the process, but, holistically, Paladin is a B2B software designed to build tools for brands to connect with influencers for their influencer marketing campaigns.
Another significant benefit of building Paladin has been learning more about, “How do we learn from what’s working and what’s not working and streamline or accelerate your efforts to deliver success in your collaborations with social media influencers?”
This knowledge has helped James develop a more streamlined approach to influencer marketing that saves brands and agencies time and money when creating influencer marketing campaigns.
Paladin’s biggest mission and goal is to solve the problem of keeping up with the demand for working with and managing many influencer marketing campaigns, which used to involve large amounts of manual work.
“So I think that’s been the vision for us if how do we ensure that any brand or agency can be more effective in their influencer efforts, that we’re sharing best practices and technology with a global audience, and that we are professionalizing the influencer marketing space and making it another pillar of the social media category that marketers, you know, invest in significantly as a marketing channel.”
Another critical goal of Paladin is connecting influencers who speak different languages and who are from different countries to brands and agencies. Paladin has also been ahead of the curve many times by adopting new social media platforms, making them a constant innovator in the influencer marketing space.
The Brandwatch Acquisition
James and the Brandwatch founder immediately hit it off. James noted that he was “impressed with the business that he and the team have built over the years. I’m really excited about the future direction of their kind of core consumer insights product, which is social listening capabilities.”
Brandwatch is the “leading provider of consumer insights,” which involves taking publicly available information from social media platforms and converting this data into understandable information for brands and marketers to market their companies better.
Paladin has also been integrated with Falcon.io, another social media marketing platform focused on community engagement and governance for social media platforms. Falcon is more actively involved with daily social media management, creating an ideal all-in-one merge between the companies. James noted it was a natural collaboration and merger between the companies, which he felt great about.
In the long-term, James shares that “The Paladin brand will be sunsetted as it’s migrated into a comprehensive Brandwatch suite, so the idea is for Brandwatch to be this comprehensive platform that has consumer intelligence, social media management, and influencer management influencer marketing…. [creating] one product and provid[ing] this as a holistic solution for the customers.”
This is Paladin’s next big step and allows them to offer a truly holistic experience to their clients.
Jame’s Advice for Brands and Agencies
James advises brands regularly on the following best influencer marketing practices:
- Know who your audience is – Where do they spend their time? Who are the people they trust and listen to?
- Find an authentic voice – “Not just a commercial that you’re having an influencer say, and you’re putting it on social media. The most successful campaigns are those in which the influencer is given a lot of trust and creative freedom.”
- Longer-term engagements between brands and influencers – “Whether that takes the form of an ambassador program or kind of always having a constant strategy…. Looking to influencers as an important long-term part of your content strategy and your marketing mix…the true leaders of influencer marketing are trying to build true partnerships with influencers.”
- Optimize campaigns in real-time – Paladin works to monitor campaigns in real-time so that things can be tweaked to make them even more successful.
Future Trends in Influencer Marketing
James shares that he is personally very excited about influencers and brands having more opportunities with new types of content, ways to monetize content, and different chances to own brands or be a part of a brand.
His 2022 predictions include:
- More platforms creating creator funds or monetization efforts for creators
- A continued rise in short-term videos
- More influencers building unique, long-term businesses
- Greater opportunities for transactional activity on social media and a bigger drive for e-commerce
“One of the biggest overarching trends we’re tracking is the move towards viewing influencer marketing as a performance channel … You got a younger generation that is bored of interruptive advertising. We tune out to or skip TV commercials. We’re not interested in, you know, viewing digital ads on the websites, so we want to trust the people that we like.”
Another trend he is seeing is the rise of influencers moving outside of traditional social media platforms and creating other community-driven environments, such as Discord, Telegram, and other messaging applications.
As we ended, James shared that Paladin is thrilled to join Brandwatch starting April 1st. He is personally becoming the SVP of social influencer strategy within the merged companies and looks forward to seeing what the future brings.