How To Capitalize On Undervalued Attention On Social with Shonduras

As a social media agency, the most commonly asked question from our clients is “where’s the undervalued attention on social media?” We chatted with Shaun McBride, also known as Shonduras, to get his take on the subject.  

Shaun is considered to be the godfather of Snapchat influencers.  He’s been featured in Fast Company, TIME, Mashable and was recently recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Marketing and Advertising.

For this episode of the Business of Social podcast, Shaun shared his journey as an influencer and how he’s been able to capitalize on opportunities that went unseen by most. Some would say it’s luck, but after talking with Shaun, we say it’s strategy and forward thinking. Below we summarize how he was able to capitalize on the undervalued attention on social media.

Listen to the full show here: (and please subscribe to our podcast!)

Here are the highlights:

Here are some of the highlights:

[06:44] - What were the early days like on Snapchat?

“When my sisters first showed me the app, I was amazed by the engagement and 1-on-1 interactions. It felt genuine. Back then, Vine was exploding and I thought Snapchat had a chance to be the next big thing.

I saw it was about storytelling and being creative. Right then I was like, ‘Yup, I think I'm going to turn this into a business.’  I had a cool job with a lifestyle that I was able to be portrayed easily on social. I knew I needed to be featured on the Internet, I needed connections, and I need to do collaborations.”

[12:08] - At its' peak, how were you using Snapchat and what was the engagement?

"When I did my first brand deal I was getting around 100,000 views on Snapchat. With a platform like Snapchat with that much engagement, that's a huge push.  When you open a snap, it’s almost like your texting a friend. It’s very personal.

I’ll give you an example of one of my first campaigns.  I would launch a Snap for a brand where I had about 110,000 views on my story. In one day, that brand would have about 34,000 new followers because of it. That's about a 33% engagement, I don't think any platform could get that, even in their early days.

Snapchat was phenomenal because of their engagement. They were headed in such a good direction."

[17:20] - Where is the current state of Snapchat?

"They are like a rock on the tip of the mountain ready to roll one way or the other at full speed. They were ramping up and almost couldn't fail because they built such an amazing product when the world was ready for a real social media platform.

As they grew, they started playing hardball with creators.  We made a lot of recommendations to Snap for them to add features that would make it easier for creators to produce amazing content like uploads, adding brand features, and tagging people.  They came back and said they weren’t a creative platform, they were a social media messaging tool.  So, I think they’re going through an identity crisis.

Platforms are going through a big shift right now and Snapchat is right in the middle.  In the next 6 to 12 months, they’ll either take off or fizzle in an extreme way."

[21:05] - Do you see an opportunity for a new social platform to emerge?

"The next platform needs to be something completely unique and not a variation of something we already have.

Right now, Twitch is doing a good job.  Gaming is blowing up and we're seeing a huge culture shift in the mainstream and gaming. Those worlds are beginning to collide. The other day I was gaming online with a professional basketball player.  A professional basketball player and a gamer... Those worlds coming together is a very interesting cultural shift. Twitch is doing a good job playing into that."

[22:45] - What are people doing right and wrong with influencer marketing today?

"It's been the 'Wild West' for many years, but it's finally started to settle. I see influencers that are responsible and running their platforms like a business are starting to come to the forefront.  

It’s not enough for influencers to have huge followings anymore. If they're not putting in the extra effort and don't work with brands to make them the hero they're not going to be nearly as successful.  The responsible influencers are succeeding and the others are started to struggle.

We are shifting in the right direction, but there is still a stigma of how many followers you have as an influencer. I had a deck that I would share with brands that would show how engaged my 100,000 Snapchat army was and make them the hero in my high-end content.

The difference in influencer marketing is when you make the brand the hero versus putting a brand deal out there and trying to prove with numbers. My 100,000 would beat 8,000,000 just because they were engaged. It’s all about looking for the right people to work with."

[25:29] - [MUST LISTEN] What is the advice or checklist you would give to brands looking to work with influencers?

"You can’t have someone running your social media that doesn’t understand the younger audience.  It’s a different culture and if you want to have a successful, engaging campaign, you need to have an influencer to help run it.  That’s where the responsible influencers are starting to have opportunities with brands and we’re seeing a lot of success."

[28:17] - How do you measure ROI (Return On Investment) and the value of influencers?

"Brands love getting analytics and reports, but a lot of times influencer don’t do that. When I was doing my deals as an influencer, I would put everything in Dropbox with screenshots of fans and the metrics. By the time it was over, I would be able to deliver a packet showing all the success.

Depending on the brand's initiatives (brand awareness, driving sales, or viewership), they have to understand there's also wins outside of just ROI.  Was the content good? Did it get in front of the right people? Did the audience engage with it? Those are the things that you need to check off the list."

[30:05] - [MUST LISTEN] Where's the undervalued attention on social media?

"Gaming 100%. About 8 months ago my e-gaming business exploded and here’s why. We have over 45 professionals players all over the world that are winning money and we're doing brand deals and sponsorships with them.

There's a ton of opportunities endemically in gaming. We’re doing something new, where big brands like Samsung and Taco Bell are getting into the space for the first time. We're seeing sponsors that aren’t headphones, keyboards, or video game controllers.  We’re seeing non-endemic sponsors coming in, and that's why gaming’s blowing up.

Everyone knows that streaming and e-sports have been around for 10+ years, but it boomed in 2017. Sports is a huge industry that does multi-billions, but the backbone is the professional leagues. Just like sports, all gamers go back to the competitive scene which franchised last year.  That means the developers of the games started supporting the teams so they could support their players. That enticed the players to start promoting the games and this ecosystem was built.

For example, The franchise now gives League Of Legends $13,000,000 to own for a team. Overwatch, $20,000,000 to own a team. That makes it an investment.  It's now safe because brands know that for the next 3 to 5 years the teams are franchised. They'll be in the league which will be broadcasted on television. Since that happened it’s been full steam ahead.”

[35:15] - What types of original content works for big brands?

"Things that involve the audience and getting fans interacting. It’s not just about you, it’s a community.  So many people plan around the brand and the hashtags, but if you involve the community, that’s when you get the win."

[35:58] - How do you diversify your strategy and portfolio so that you can protect yourself and stay ahead?

"It’s interesting how you have to evolve. As an influencer on Snapchat I had to swing to YouTube and then over to consulting, then to gaming, and now this integrations business.  I think you have to keep diversifying because you never know what could happen.

My buddy, Casey Neistat, said it best. It’s like you’re swinging through the jungle on a vine.  When you're at your peak swing of the vine, you have to grab the next one. You can't wait till the vine starts swinging back to make the jump. It’s a much harder transition if you wait."

[40:45] - What’s the one thing everyone needs to do in order to stay ahead in this industry?

"100% relationships, when it all boils down. The relationships I built in Snapchat helped me launch my YouTube. My relationships on YouTube helped me launch the integrations and gaming. If you actually over-deliver and give someone value, even when they can’t do anything for you, it goes a long way."