Yasmine Duran has been in the traditional marketing and social media marketing space for four years. Given she graduated from college in 2020, that means almost throughout her college years.
“I got my start at other boutique agencies and some in-house companies in downtown Chicago. My Other role was being a social media coordinator. so I was more on the campaign manager side of things before I got into the Influencer Marketing Factory (IMF).”
Working at IMF
When she applied for a job at the IMF, she initially sought a role that was in line with her background as a campaign manager. However, her current boss convinced her to take a different position.
“My now boss took a chance on me and was like ‘Hey, we have this opportunity opened, we know you have semi-background coordinating influencer marketing campaigns with your past roles. If you’d love to just learn about this opportunity, see if it’s a good fit, we’d love to have you on this side of the team’. So I took a chance and now we are here a year later and I don’t look back.”
While she has settled well into her new role, it wasn’t as smooth at the start.
“It was really weird because for the first month or so, I didn’t even know what my job was. I worked with influencers and I grew up watching on YouTube. So I knew these people existed. It was just that once I was in this, it’s a very niche world being a talent manager. Once I stepped into here, it was very different to what I was used to.”
Yasmine is passionate about her job.
“This was something that I watched as a kid. I consumed the content my now creators produce. So it’s really cool to come from that culture and now be a big part of it. At the end of the day, I know that I’m making a difference in someone’s lives. With the brand deal, I’m making my creator money to help them sustain their living.”
IMF’s Approach to Creator Selection
Yasmine points out that IMF doesn’t go for any influencer nor is it the company’s intention to have a large roster of creators. The ability to cultivate deep relationships is vital for the business hence the small number of creators managed.
“If you look at our roster and who we represent, we don’t have hundreds of thousands of talents. IMF is very selective when it comes to who they want to work with and who they represent. That’s just because they like to maintain close relationships with them day to day.”
The close relationships with each creator on the roster makes it harder for an influencer to be forgotten.
“Yes, there are bigger agencies. But you’ll notice with the bigger agencies, they have a longer roster. Oftentimes, it’s easy for a creator to slip through the cracks. Here, it’s so personal that we are texting buddies. No one is going through my radar.”
Choosing Creators for a Campaign
For each campaign, Yasmine is careful to ensure there is compatibility between the creator and the brand before kicking off the relationship.
“So if someone comes to me and I know they do not resonate, or there’s no way they can turn their normal content into pivoting so it can match the brand somewhat, I just have to be transparent before even introducing my creator to the brand. Otherwise, I know there is going to be a disconnect when creating content.”
Chispa App Campaign with Davien Garcia
One of her most memorable moments and campaigns so far was when the agency signed Davien Garcia, its first Latino creator.
“That was really big for me because I am Latina. Both of us being from the Latino community and seeing someone from that heritage land something huge. It was cool to finally have someone as part of my team that I can relate to and that is someone of my background.”
Davian worked on a campaign for Chispa, a dating app for Latinos.
“This was in the spring a little after Valentine’s Day. It was very lighthearted, very fun. And this was like within two or three weeks of him joining the agency. It was his first brand deal with us. I know he was super excited. I know he greatly appreciated it because it was one of his largest campaigns ever in his history of being a content creator.”
Yasmine found it important to let the brand know what kind of creator Davian was to ensure there was a positive campaign outcome for both the brand and the creator.
“He is very funny and does a lot of comedy skits on his channel. So when (Chispa) approached us, we were just like ’Hey, we have to be super honest and transparent. That is who he is. This is his personality online. He is not going to create a super scripted video. He is going to make it authentic to him’. And it was really nice that they were able to be flexible in collaborating with us on that. We had a really good outcome at the end.”
While the brand provided some guidelines, Davian was mostly left to develop the campaign script as long as it satisfied these guidelines.
“He came up with the script. We got it approved by the brand team. We had a one-on-one call with everyone. As long as it met requirements, he had full creative freedom.”
It was an opportunity to watch a brand that valued diversity when choosing its campaign creators.
“That was really special to see how brands are starting to focus on diversity and stuff like that. It was fun to work with the team and see how much they really cared for certain values within creating the content. They wanted to make it for the Latino community versus too branded.”
Key Challenges Working with Brands
Yasmine has observed a number of challenges when working with brands.
First, brands are increasingly following a views-based approach to measuring campaign success.
“Of course, you have to take that into consideration but now, at least on TikTok, what brands are starting to use as their make-or-break is how many views a video is getting. Not even the comments or the shares anymore. It’s strictly just views.”
Second, some brands do not see the value of social media.
“They need to take a risk now before it gets too late. Because I can definitely see the price getting higher.”
Key Challenges Managing Creators
There are multiple challenges with the creator side too.
First, creators may have unrealistic expectations.
“Sometimes you’ll have a creator who has millions of followers but if the engagement isn’t there, they have a hard time understanding that the two have to go hand in hand versus one trumping the other.”
Second, creators may get too attached to their niche and are unwilling to take on work in other areas.
“Like if they are super fashion but a lifestyle or beauty brand comes, sometimes they are so wrapped into their niche that they are not really sure that they can take on something a little bit outside of their niche. So that’s where someone like me has to step in and kind of give them that encouragement and ideas, even on how they can tie it into their content and still be authentic to them.”
Third, as someone who is not a creator herself, Yasmine sometimes finds it difficult to think of and share ideas the creator can relate to or understand.
“I’m not the creator. I don’t consider myself a creator at all. So sometimes having to just give them those ideas, it’s pretty tough because I know that they just think differently than I do. And I know that they have a different vision for their brands. That I’m not really going to understand no matter how well they try to tell me.”
Fourth, and this is in terms of influencer marketing in general and not IMF’s creators, Yasmine sees creators sometimes taking a deal that is not very authentic to them just to make ends meet. While the need to pay the bills cannot be ignored, the inauthentic campaign ends up hurting the creator’s profile in the eyes of their audience, she says.
Influencer Marketing Advice for Brands
For brands looking to make influencer marketing a core part of their marketing strategy, Yasmine has some advice.
“Make sure you have good people on that campaign and that they are super passionate about the mission because that’s how you are going to get the best quality content and a great campaign.”
She would like to see brands being more flexible in working with creators and be more willing to listen to creator and agency advice.
“I like to see more brands work with someone like myself or other agencies when it comes to talent. As long as I can shoot proposals that I know would be authentic, I’d appreciate a brand being more flexible and willing to work. Like me explaining my approach behind proposing a certain content creator.”
Yasmine Duran on Looking to the Future
Yasmine expects to see more creators going viral especially on TikTok, more of them joining the pool of influencer talent and therefore not only expanding the creator space but also increasing competition.
Perhaps partly in anticipation of this growth in creator numbers, the talent coordination department at IMF is expanding.
“I would love to see within this next year, other people within the department really stepping it up and potentially even taking over my role. That way, I can focus on more marketing opportunities for my creators to make several streams of income aside from just their social media platforms that they already have.”
Yasmine Duran is talent department coordinator at Influencer Marketing Factory. Her role primarily involves helping influencers grow their passion into a career. She previously worked as social media coordinator at Once Upon a Dollhouse and marketing assistant at Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group. Yasmine is an alumni of Loyola University Chicago where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing. She lives in Chicago.