Authenticity Reigns in the Era of Influencer Marketing

By: Stefan Kollenberg, @stef_kberg 

It began as way for fans to book athletes for experiences, but as time went on it grew into an ingenious business model. Julius and the Executive Club are two products under the Thuzio brand that work side by side to leverage a massive database of 50,000+ influencers. Ranging from small time YouTube stars to all-star athletes, the choices are endless.

MacDonald, pictured above has been with Thuzio for over four years.

MacDonald, pictured above has been with Thuzio for over four years.

In an interview with Mark MacDonald, VP of Strategy and Operations for Thuzio, we took a deep dive into the great work that Thuzio is doing to enable brands to connect with top of the line influencers. Mark has been with Thuzio for four and a half years and was on the founding team, but he followed a different path than most to get there. After playing basketball in Europe, he decided to move over to the business side of sports. When searching for a way to get into the industry he was lucky enough to meet Peter Weber, who at the time, was the VP of Corporate Marketing and Sales for the Detroit Pistons. MacDonald never forgot this meeting or the advice that would come from it.

"He (Weber) told me that, 'The sports industry is so competitive, you’re going to end up selling tickets to get your foot in the door.'" 

Taking this in stride, MacDonald began looking for opportunities outside of the team’s themselves, which is when he came across Thuzio. Ever since he has seen the company continue to push the envelope and take great strides.

In its early days, Thuziooriginally founded by former New York Giant great Tiki Barber, was used to help leverage his large network of celebrities and athletes through an e-commerce platform. With this platform, the goal was to simplify the process of connecting with athletes for lunches, personal instruction, golf outings and appearances. As it grew, one of the most popular options became coordinating lunches with large businesses who would hire an athlete to impress their clients.

While the idea was gaining traction, the logistics of it were very challenging due to the hectic schedules of both parties. Enter the Executive Club. Another idea of Tiki's, the Executive Club was created to host exclusive events for major athletes and businesspeople with their clients.

Barber, (left) seen alongside superstar linebacker Lawrence Taylor. (right) Photo via Thuzio 

Barber, (left) seen alongside superstar linebacker Lawrence Taylor. (right) Photo via Thuzio 

He didn’t stop there though as he saw another opportunity in the growing trend of influencer marketing in the digital space. Brands were always looking for influencers to promote their product, but it could be very difficult and expensive to coordinate this. Enter Julius. In order to simplify this process, Julius was designed as a SaaS platform where brand marketers could search through a wide variety of criteria and price ranges to find influencers that fit their marketing goals and budget. 

In the short time since its creation, Julius has grown to include over 30 searchable data points for all 50,000+ influencers in their database. This vast database lets marketers search as specific or broad as they’d like, helping to maximize their time and communicate their message to the right audience by leveraging creators and influencers. As a part of Julius, they’ve also used machine learning to constantly pull data from various API’s and monitor its accuracy.

Where Does Influencer Marketing Go from Here? 

With the influencer marketing industry growing at a breakneck pace, Thuzio is using Julius to stay ahead of the pack. In their latest rollout, Julius launched campaign management functionalities, allowing marketers to manage multiple influencers, streamline all of their campaigns, and share work across multiple teams.

As Thuzio looks to keep up with influencer marketing, they turn to their new platform Julius. Image via Thuzio

As Thuzio looks to keep up with influencer marketing, they turn to their new platform Julius. Image via Thuzio

In all his time at Thuzio, MacDonald has become extremely knowledgable in the area of influencer marketing. One major trend that he’s noticed has been the difficulty marketers have turning the keys over to an influencer.

Since marketers believe they have crafted the perfect messaging and plan to get the results they want, they want to be in control of the situation every step of the way. This can lead to problems. In MacDonald's opinion, in order to reap the full benefits, marketers need to give the influencer the ability to get creative and be authentic with their audience.

"Influencer marketing is a great alternative to disruption marketing, but the only way it can be effective is if you let creators be authentic and generate their own content. The worst thing that could happen is the content put out by an influencer feels fake and their followers will not have a positive reaction towards it."

All in all, Thuzio is a market leading company that provides major brands and businesses with the ability to connect with influencers that fit their vision. If you are thinking about trying influencer marketing, I highly recommend you check out their blog, as it is an excellent place to start your search.

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