Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with David Robson, global community manager at Deep Silver:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi, everyone. I’m Carlota Pico from The Content Mix. And I’m excited to be here today with David Robson, who is global community and influencer manager at Deep Silver and has over eight years of experience in marketing and communications. Welcome, David. And thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix.

David Robson 0:31
Hi, thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here. Hi to everyone listening.

Carlota Pico 0:36
The pleasure is ours. Today’s interview will focus on influencer marketing. But before we get to that, let’s start off with some general questions. Could you tell me about your background a bit about Deep Silver and also how you got into your current role?

David Robson 0:50
Yeah, absolutely. So start off with Deep Silver. Deep Silver is a global video games publisher. So some of those bigger titles that you might know us for are The Saints Row series, Metro, Dead Island, Timesplitters they’re all IPs that are published under the Deep Silver umbrella so truly, you know massive triple A video games for, you know, current gen, PlayStation, Xbox Nintendo, PC and obviously right now working on next gen for things like Chorus which is super exciting. And me myself, it’s a long weird story about how I got into marketing and influencer marketing. I used to act and that was my jam for a long long time and as I was doing that I really kind of saw this rise of influencers and youtubers particularly at the time and I just absolutely fell in love with watching and absorbing this content. And at the same time I was kind of really interested in production and making content and so the two kind of naturally go hand in hand. I thought you know, that is absolutely what I wanted to do. So I went off to uni, did a media degree. Media, film and cultural studies at Kingston University in London and everyone else was like – you’re going to do the media degree? And you think well actually, I’m going to end up working in influencer marketing and cutting edge of social media in video games. So that’s what I’m going to do. I mean, I started off as a marketing assistant when I graduated for a b2b IT distribution company in a really small town near me, and learned so much. Just a real great general grounding in like commercial sales-led marketing, which, you know, at the time, I probably didn’t massively appreciate how lucky I was, but that was my kind of starting point. But ultimately, as time went on, you know, I was like, 22, 23 I really wanted to move over to a space that I loved and, you know, loved the product just as much as I loved marketing in general. So I knew I wanted to be on the consumer side, and I knew I loved gaming. So I went over to work for Game which is the biggest High Street retailer of video games in the UK, and did some really great stuff with them. They then purchased a company called Multiplay, who at the time ran Insomnia Gaming Festival, which is UK’s biggest gaming festival at the NEC, 60,000 people. And an opportunity came up to what was initially just purely looking after social media as a social media manager so I went in and got that role and did some really cool stuff on social and took that to a massive new places and then slowly over time, I took over PR, CRM and critically influencers. Influencers and creaters were a massive part of Insomnia, like a real key element of the show. And just turned so many gaming festival into a real kind of cultural festival. You know, very pop culture-led, influencers and our creators suddenly became not just that they biggest names in gaming but the biggest names in blogging and the commentary community. Yeah, just absolutely was in the weeds of these massive influencers at these events. I left Insomnia when it did the same thing for a show up in Glasgow called Resonate, rResonate. Total Gaming Fest. Did the same thing, massively grew their influence and presence and did some really cool stuff with creators. Did some agency stuff for a bit, contracted for about a year, worked on some really cool projects. And then I said, you know, I want to go back to a permanent role with a gaming publisher. And, I knew lots of people at Deep Silver already from the industry, lots of former colleagues and some really great friends worked there. And the stars totally aligned because just as I was looking for a new role to manage influences for a gaming publisher, Deep Silver who are literally 10 minutes up the road from me, and were also looking for someone to come on board and run influencers for the first time. So yeah, the stars aligned.

Carlota Pico 5:01
No way. So for all of our gaming lovers who are watching us today or listening to the podcast, could you talk to us about the skills that you need to be effective in your role?

David Robson 5:13
Yeah, totally. This is probably key for for anyone but I think specifically in gaming. Gaming from a pure gaming perspective and also specifically for my role, community and influencers, product knowledge is so key. Product Knowledge and passion is really, you know, second to none. You have to know what you’re talking about. You have to love what you’re talking about, and kind of stay on top of, you know, everything that happens. Gaming moves so quickly, and the communities that we speak to and have as audiences know what they’re talking about and they are very, very savvy. And I’ve kind of seen this, you know, a lot in gaming before where if you don’t know how to speak to that audience, if you don’t know the product like your audience do, or that market or the industry that comes across big time, so you know, absolutely absorbing yourself in the world of not just your own brand and your own products, or even the consoles that you make games for, but just the wider gaming space is key. And then influencers as well. That’s almost twice as important. The influencer world moves at pace. So, you know, who’s making what content, which trends are rising at the moment, who is in good favor from a PR perspective, who hasn’t had a recent you know, hiccups so there might be one to, you know, to put on the back burner or to avoid, you know, what are people doing? What are the big kind of moves and moments that are happening with influences, and not just kind of traditional channels like YouTube and now Twitch, but what’s happening Tik Tok, who’s transitioning over? What is the threat of Tik Tok at the moment, you know, with the threat of it being banned. What will that mean for the YouTube space? And then will we see a similar moment that happened when Vine collapsed and all the Vine people went over to YouTube and next thing you know, you’ve got the Paul brothers. So that’s obviously a massive moment in the influencer the history. So just being aware of kind of what’s happened in the past and what’s happening now will allow you to really have a grasp on what those opportunities are.

Carlota Pico 7:32
So many interesting topics that I’d love to zoom into. Let’s start off with talking about influencer marketing like you’ve already introduced. According to Neil Patel’s research, influencer marketing actually generates $23 for every dollar spent on it, which is almost five times as much as traditional paid advertisement, especially now with ad blockers that we all love. I mean, I have ad blockers on my computer as well. So as a professional who has helped brands run influencer marketing campaigns across different sectors, what tools do you use to zoom into the perfect influencer for any given campaign?

David Robson 8:10
That’s a great question. And I think, you know, I’m sure lots of different people will have a different answer to this. But for me on a micro influencer level that I’m sure we’ll come on to talk about, I’ve got some really great relationships with really good micro influencer platforms and agencies that have so much tools at their disposal in terms of data-led identification of influencers that you know, I massively rely on for micro influencer campaigns. So I’ve got a great relationship with the guys at Influencer which is the the influencer platform founded by Ben Jeffries and Caspar Lee. I work with them a lot, done a lot of stuff with them. Their tool really allows you to find those perfect micro influencers on a data-driven, data-led, insight wrapped identification approach, which I think is absolutely critical, but more generally, you know, I don’t really use a tool per se to identify certainly influences on a macro level. For me that comes from being hyper invested in the YouTube or wider influencer space. And you know, it’s a lot of time to do that. But I suppose for me, I really integrate that into my day. So I have a lot of youtuber podcasts on every day but they talk more generally about the influencer or the creator landscape. And so I think it’s about being absorbed and knowing who’s doing what from a content perspective and seeing where that fits in with your product or your brands. Certainly, from a gaming perspective, each game is different. So that allows you to work with different creators for different products. So it’s about seeing that and thinking, oh, okay, well, they would be great for this game, or wouldn’t it be really cool if we did something exploratory with the UK commentary community with this game? So yeah, I think it’s about product knowledge of the YouTube space. And whilst, wherever possible, being incredibly data driven, obviously, when you see a macro influencer, that you think you’re going to totally resonate with our audience, you then have to go in and do your due diligence of looking at their data and making sure that that aligns with what you’re looking to do from a marketing perspective, of course, but I know there are lots of probably great influencer identification tools out there. I’ve certainly seen a few of them. But for me, you know, getting into the kind of world of influencers itself, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you identify those opportunities.

Carlota Pico 10:54
David, you just make it sound so easy, so you literally just reach out to them on social channels like – Hey! There’s this great campaign, want to be part of it?

David Robson 11:04
I know I’m really lucky because my background really with influencers kind of took off in events with Insomnia. I was there for a good few years. That was working with these guys on the show floor, at their meet and greet stands, closely working with them for all of our promotion for the event, going out for drinks of them, going out for dinner with them, ending up in the casino with them like you know, this was a hands-on, on the show floor and the kind of deal so. And I had that role when I was quite young. So these guys were all very similar ages to me so we naturally just got on really well. And you know I talk about this it’s not as if it was like five or six influencers, this was you know, like a full roster of influencers and creators at these events. So, you know, I really quickly built some real, you know, long lasting and great relationships with a lot of influences who were you know, massive and also much much smaller. Some of those much much smaller guys are now massive and so you know in terms of a phone book or however you look at it like that, I know that I’m lucky that I do have a lot of great direct relationships. So if I haven’t worked with them before, they will know the person I want to work with, I had that literally the other day and where for Saints Row The Third Remastered I really wanted to work with a creator called Call Me Kevin, who’s so good, such a great gaming YouTuber and streamer. I’d never worked with him. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know who his agent was. Obviously, you could find out who represents him. That’s not a difficult task. But I knew that he followed my friend George Memeulous, who’s a big commentary community creator, so I DMed George and said, “Hey, can you introduce me to Kevin?” And he did. So we had a direct relationship from there. So, yeah, in a lot of ways, I do just text them and say, “Hey, do you want to be involved in this campaign?” Obviously, that doesn’t happen every single time. But more often than not definitely.

Carlota Pico 13:18
Okay, so then how much should an influencer get paid? How do you know that?

David Robson 13:25
Well, that is a really big question. And because there are so many variables. I know what the market rate would be. So if I’m speaking to a creator, and I know who they are, and I know what the following is, I know the content that they produce, I know what their engagement is, like, what views they get, you know, I can say from the top of my head, I think you’re probably going to be around you know, 15 k for an Instagram post or 15 k for a YouTube video, whatever it might be. I can guess what that would be. And then more often than not, I’m probably you know, quite close to hitting the mark. But it depends on what you want to do. There are so many different standard integrations or standard ways of working with an influencer. So you know, if they’re a massive blogger and you want to integrate your brand messaging within one of their blogs, that’s going to be quite a high value cost, less so than having a dedicated video that’s been put on that channel all about your product. And that way of working now is actually quite archaic and doesn’t really garner the same amount of views as a integration would do into one of the standard normal videos. But anything that you know, like that, it’s going to be much higher. If you’re looking for an Instagram story that’s cheaper or a grid post is more expensive than a story because it’s permanent, okay. It depends so much on who they are, what their kind of perceived value is in terms of you know, clout, if you like. What their kind of perception is in the market or perception is to their audience, versus the more standard ways of looking at things like how big is their following? What views do they get? What’s their engagement rate like? Which channels are you looking at posting on, like, so many people at the moment and moving over to twitch, and either as a primary channel. But in a lot of instances its like a secondary or third or fourth or fifth channel. And so those audiences are growing. So you know, they might have a massive following on YouTube, but that audience is much smaller on Twitch, therefore, it’s likely to be cheaper. So that might be a great entry point to working with that creator, but it’s crazy, like I’ve known and worked with creators who I have paid, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars to work with and creators that I’ve paid much, much less. So yeah, it’s scalable.

Carlota Pico 16:07
Okay, so this leads me to two more questions. What’s the most amount of money that you’ve paid to an influencer without disclosing the campaign, but just more or less that we know, the following that that influencer had, what you wanted that influencer to do etc. So just a concrete example and then also talk to me about Twitch, what is Twitch?

David Robson 16:27
Okay, so – I’m trying to think of way to say it whilst being discrete. But let’s just say, you know, I spent 100K plus on a global creator who would receive 10 million views a video. So when you start breaking that down as a CPN, and comparing that against traditional media, or even social spend, or PPC, the value is, you know, actually quite in line in terms of just traditional, looking at spending marketing dollars, but then you start adding in all those extra benefits that you get with working with an influencer in terms of that brand value, the name that the influencer has, the content that they make. And you know, do you have any media usage rights on their content? What can you do with it? And the intimate affinity you then get with their audience as a byproduct, that just general perception of your brand to that audience is so much higher. So it might be like, oh my god $100,000 on an influencer? That’s crazy. Actually, if you really look at it from a much more marketing data-led approach, you suddenly think, ah, it’s quite good value for what we got. And then Twitch, yeah, I mean, wow. That’s a whole other beast. I mean, that is a streaming platform that really started off with its roots in gaming. Gaming is obviously still its biggest category, but there are now lots of other things you can do on Twitch and lots of other things that people watch, i.e just chatting, you know, you could have a podcast on Twitch, it’ll be live, you won’t be able to edit it. But you could do it under the just chatting category or cooking streams are massive. Cooking your dinner on Twitch live. That’s huge. So it’s just another way of being able to distribute content, but from a life perspective. It’s crazy.

Carlota Pico 18:38
Dude, I’m loving this interview. I’m learning so much. Okay, so how much creative control should you give to influencers?

David Robson 18:49
This question will probably be hard to beat as the best question in this podcast. This is so important, and I think so many people forget this point. You are working with that influencer or that creator, because you want to speak to their audience. No one knows what will resonate with or engage their audience more than that creator you are working with. So I always take the approach of giving them as much creative control as possible within a framework. So if that’s, you know, in my case, a video game, you’d say, you know, these are the key points I want you talk about. I want you to talk about the multiplayer aspect, and I want you to create a video where you’re having a really great time playing multiplayer with your friend. And I want you to mention that it’s available on PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch. Nine times out of 10 that will kind of be as much as I give them. They might be, I want you to kind of look at the driving aspect of it as an example, I’m making this up. Yeah, okay, cool. Let them run with it and let them produce content within those parameters, and you’ll get back something that you would never have been able to think of yourself. They might do like, you know, could come up with anything crazy. They could do, like, I’ve recreated Batman and Robin in your game or something, you know, to that effect that you would never have briefed. But you can get something back that’s, you know, really great and their audience loves and ultimately drives higher engagement, higher views, whatever it is you’re looking to achieve. And so yeah, I think give them as much control as possible. So set framework, establish what those KPIs are, I don’t mean KPIs in terms of, you know, guarantee of views, buys, clicks or anything like that. I mean, KPIs in terms of what I want you to talk about what I want you to shout out, and any sort of brand-led messaging that needs to go in there. But give them the control that they should have.

Carlota Pico 21:03
So then how do you measure the success of these campaigns? What measurements do you use?

David Robson 21:08
So, I think I have to be careful when I speak about this because I’m very aware that I am in a position where I’m managing campaigns on a global scale. So I am looking at, you know, top line awareness always within any campaign. Certain creators, your bigger your, macro, your kind of God tier creators, as I call them, play a real key role in that. They are your massive social superstars who are there to drive awareness of your product on a global or national scale. For me, that’s all about – get me as many views within our audience as you can. And in particular, if you’ve aligned your target audience with your creator well, if you’ve done that job, the brief then is – get me as many eyeballs as possible. Particularly if you’re working with 5, 10 15, massive influences, obviously, that comes quite naturally. When you start moving down to your kind of tier twos or kind of more mid card influencers, they often will have a really great engagement rate. So then you can start saying, okay, well, you might have a million subscribers in the UK, and that’s a really good point, and I’m talking about a million subscribers, that’s tier two tier/ tier one level. God tier I’m talking 10 million plus, you know, you’ve got a really great following, probably in a specific territory, and they’re hyper engaged with you. So let’s start looking at call outs and click throughs to the website. And then of course, if you’ve got a great digital PPC campaign and you do loads of cool crazy stuff with pixels, then you can get those people into a kind of retargeting program. So then you might be looking at action in the sense of clicks to the website, social followers, you know something a little bit harder and a bit more tangible, that you can track against those more engaged influencers, then you kind of go down further and you look at micro influencers. And then you can think, right, you are the guys who have a much smaller following, but your audience are hyper engaged, hyper, hyper engaged. So for me, at that point, they become much more about direct conversions. And, you know, sometimes depending on how your business, your brand is set up, that can be hard because you might not have a direct conversion route. You might not sell direct, might not have, you know, particularly with GDPR and, you know, all of those considerations, you might not be able to directly track that sale. But a lot of brands can, and lot of people do have a direct sales platform. So that’s when it completely becomes about tracking direct sales from that influencer to purchase.

Carlota Pico 23:55
Okay. You did already touch upon the last question that I wanted to ask you, which was micro influencers and your thoughts on that. But since you have already spoken about that, let’s talk about COVID-19. How has COVID-19 impacted the influencer world?

David Robson 24:09
Wow. I mean, it certainly has. I’ve spoken a lot about this in quite different interviews and stuff. And it’s really interesting because I think a lot of people have quite a different view. Some people think it’s not done anything. And whereas people like me, I think it’s totally had a massive impact. If you go back and really look at how, you know, influencers before we called them influencers. When they were just youtubers or even creators probably wasn’t a massive term at this point. That popularity grew because of that connection they had with their audience. It was a totally relatable, totally identifiable, unique and at times felt intimate relationship between the audience, the viewer and the creator. It was born out of authenticity. I’m a massive fan of Joe Sugg who’s a big creator in the UK and he’s like now elevated up to, he’s kind of transcended the influence of box and is now much more kind of a traditional celebrity which is fab. But way back when I used to watch his vlogs he used to have this series called reading from my diary, where he would literally read chapters from the diary that he wrote when he was in year seven, so like 11 years old. Him reading his diary, I used to sit there and think, you know, you might as well be reading my diary, it’s word for word what I would have written. So you have such a real authentic connection between the influencer and the viewer. And I think over time, as the influencer market has exploded, so many brands have moved into that space who have operated in a, you know, inauthentic way because they have millions and millions and millions of dollars to spend. They can, you know, target and speak to and work with any influencer they want at any time en masse, you know the market was flooded with kind of inauthentic spend, because it was all just about the eyeballs and just about getting the product out there. And that for a long time, that kind of authenticity was diluted without a doubt. Then when COVID happened, for brands in general, for all marketing touchpoints any piece of activity that they do, those brand values had to absolutely be front and center. And they had to be a trusted brand, a trusted provider, a trusted service, a trusted product because the world had gone mad. And for so many people still, it still has gone mad. That level of authenticity from a brand perspective was so critical and that when working with influencers who are an extension of your brand, the need for that authenticity grew even harder. And so, that became a real focal point again and I think brands absolutely took a step back and said okay, how can we still keep this level of authenticity and authentic relationship with our audience, via our influencers and also because so many other ways you can spend your marketing dollars became unavailable, ie events. Suddenly some brands saw they had all this allocated spend, that was no longer being able to be fulfilled. So how do we spend that? Well, the answer to a lot of that for a lot of brands was in influencer marketing. And so yeah, I think a combination of more dollars becoming available, and I appreciate you know, for some businesses and some brands, that was not the story at all, they had a real difficult, hard time because of COVID, of course they did. But for some people, that wasn’t the case, they had cash available that they could no longer spend certainly the way that they wanted to spend it. So yeah, I think that really took the industry and influencer marketing in general back to that authentic, who makes sense for us to work with to speak to our real, you know, core audience. And so I think it had actually luckily, a really, really good impact. And then secondly to that. people who aren’t in the influencer space, my mom, for example, there are certain influences she has heard of, largely because they’ve been involved in some quite negative PR stories. They’ve done something that has been viewed with such disregard it’s ended up you know, BBC News at Six. So, you know, for people not in this space, there had been a for the last kind of three years, a lot of negative stories about influencers in general. But what was great from my perspective to see, particularly in the early days of COVID-19, there was this real focus from influencers to keep their audience safe. So they started, you know, really drilling those messages home about staying home, washing your hands, wearing a mask, social distancing, don’t go see your friends, particularly when, certainly in the UK, when we were in really strict lockdown, the most likely demographic to break those lockdown rules were young males. And then you had all these influences with a young male audience who they are massively influential to were absolutely hammering home the point of stay home, don’t break the rules, social distance and we’ll get through this. So they really kind of emerged as a great way to be able to translate government-led messages to a young audience and actually make it stick. And they did that not because there’s a brand deal involved, not because they got paid to do it. They did that because they had a genuine authentic relationship with their audience who they wanted to keep safe. And they saw that as their responsibility to communicate those messages to their audience. So I think in general, that also really helped change some people’s minds on who influencers are, what they do and why they’re valuable.

Carlota Pico 30:32
Definitely. You have me completely hypnotized David, I would like to just ask you questions all day long. But unfortunately, we are running out of time. So I’m going to move into our set of rapid fire questions, which are basically one word answers to different recommendations that you’d like to offer to our audience. So to get this section started off, I’d like to ask you about your source of inspiration. So feel free to give a shout out to some of the influencers that you follow, that you admire or professional role models as well.

David Robson 31:04
Yeah. For me, my inspiration is Caspar Lee, I think he’s fantastic. He’s one of the biggest creators in the UK. He’s now transitioned much more to a business led kind of lifestyle. He’s an angel investor, his company Influencer is insane. Like it’s a great way for brands to connect with micro influencers, definitely check them out. And, he is so great in the space like he is such a thought leader that I love listening to his perspective on. He’s a friend of mine now as well which is fab. Yeah, Caspar Lee, I think has really ridden the influence away from Star to something much, much bigger. I love Caspar.

Carlota Pico 31:45
Okay, excellent. I have a feeling that my next question is probably going to touch upon some of your previous roles, but what group, book or event would you like to recommend to our audience?

David Robson 31:58
Well if you’re a community manager, particularly if you’re community manager in the gaming scene, there is a Facebook community for community managers, which is literally everyone in gaming who is, you know, in social or and community comes together and shares ideas, shares contacts, talks things through, gives advice, helps people find work. Like it’s amazing. That is a really great one of mine, particularly if you’re in the gaming space.

Carlota Pico 32:22
Okay, excellent. And last but not least, what’s your favorite app at the moment and why, David?

David Robson 32:30
This is probably old news to so many people, but I love Splice. Splice is a video editing app that allows you to do some really quite advanced stuff on your phone. But also the basics. And Splice has got me out of so many tricky situations. It’s unbelievable. I had an agency that needed to deliver an edit in our video. This was years ago. That would have taken five hours because the whole thing needs to be re-exported and re-synced and everything like that. With Splice, I did it in literally 10 minutes. And so if you’re looking for video editing on the fly, it’s, I think the most powerful video editing app on mobile.

Carlota Pico 33:16
Okay, so I’m gonna have to download Splice myself. Sounds awesome. David, thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. It was an absolute pleasure to learn about your experience, to meet you and to learn more about influencer marketing.

David Robson 33:30
Thank you so much. It’s great to talk about it. I think you know, we scratched the surface definitely. But and I’m always talking about it on LinkedIn or tweeting about it. And my Twitter is @OhHeyDavey as in oh hey Davey. So yeah, definitely connect with me there, ask me any questions you like. I hope my British accent, I didn’t speak too quickly. But yeah, thanks so much for having me on. It’s been it’s been really great.

Carlota Pico 33:54
Thank you so much. Again, the pleasure has been ours and to everybody listening in today thank you so much for joining us. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out The Content Mix. We’ll be releasing interviews just like this one every week. So keep on tuning in. Thanks again. Have a fabulous day and see you next time. Bye.

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