Tastemakers: The influencer strategy that’s changing everything

A common problem is arising time and time again among global brands who are utilizing influencer marketing.

With the rise of the creator, and more brands than ever before on social, it’s becoming harder than ever to create fresh, dynamic content that drives top-of-funnel results (without breaking the budget). Luckily, there is a new untapped, underutilized influencer strategy that can help to solve this challenge.

Dan Jerome, Brainlabs Influencer Account Director, wants to talk about it.

Creating cut-through in influencer marketing is harder than ever

How can we reach more of our target audience, with fresh content that actually engages? 

As an established brand, you’re probably already including influencer marketing in your overall strategy. 

But that is no longer enough. 

The sheer volume of content being created every second has resulted in a saturated market. Traditional influencers, who were once game-changers for brands and the cornerstone of innovative marketing strategies, are now competing in an overcrowded space. 

Brands need to find new ways of cutting through the noise on social, and the nuances of influencer strategies are becoming more and more complex. There is no set of simple rules that will get you where you need to be (anyone who says there is, send them our way). 

Coming up with fresh ideas for content that positions brands as conversation leaders is an ongoing battle, one that, without consistent costly campaigns, they are unlikely to win. 

We’ve found a new strategy that solves this. 

Enter tastemakers. 

Tastemakers: the key to achieving this cut-through

We’ve seen first-hand how this type of content creator makes waves on social, and through testing and optimizing with our one-of-a-kind social listening tool, Bytesights, we’ve built a whole strategy around them. 

But first thing’s first. What is a tastemaker? Hint – they aren’t what you might expect. 

According to Google, the term “tastemaker” is a person that has an influence on what will become fashionable. Yes tastemakers can also be trendsetters, but within the context of social media, this definition isn’t quite right. 

Within the world of influencer, a tastemaker is a creator with a unique, often practical skill that usually sits under the wider umbrella of arts and crafts. They are ultra-creative and ultra-niche.

But aren’t all influencers creative and niched? Not like this.

While traditional influencers promote products with their personality, tastemakers use their unique skills to create visually scroll-stopping and seriously attention-drawing content.

Dan says, “They could be making miniature sets, Zoom art, satisfying art, VFX, SFX, lifestyle art, makeup art or cosplay. It’s very broad. But the consistency among tastemakers is their level of craftsmanship, visuals that are impossible to ignore, and the ability to stop users in their tracks”.

They can be seen building, painting, sculpting, drawing, and so much more. But it’s not just about their niches; it’s about what they do. Tastemakers make you stop scrolling and wonder, “How did they do that?!” From lifesize chainsaw sculptures to intricate portraits made with dice, they grab attention and create highly entertaining videos that win views.

Fast-movers in an accelerating world

“Every few months, there’s a new tastemaker that comes to life”,  says Dan.

Tastemakers move fast. There is always someone new emerging with a niched, highly skilled talent. This makes for some particularly exciting partnership opportunities. 

A lot of the time, these creators haven’t yet worked with brands, so their videos can come across as more unique and authentic. Since many tastemakers don’t have talent agents, there’s also less red tape, making partnerships simpler (without the time-eating back and forth). 

Because of the highly specific content that tastemakers make, there is also limited room for briefing errors and less time spent creating storyboards and scripts. Each creator is specific to their niche, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Working with lesser-known creators still allows room for virality. With AI-generated feeds on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, influencers with smaller, niche followings have as much of a chance of going viral as other more established creators. 

Tastemakers are highly talented and, at the moment, not oversaturated. But as their popularity continues to grow, we’re looking at a pivotal moment to utilize them. Now is the time to discover the potential of this untapped creator market. If brands wait to do so, they may be missing out on an unprecedented opportunity to up their ROI before their competitors.

How to bring tastemakers into your influencer strategy

While other agencies may be testing the water with tastemakers, at Brainlabs, we are the first to define them as a strategy in themselves. 

From the beginning, we have not only worked with them, but we’ve been testing and scaling what equals success every step of the way. We have built relationships with established creators and, with our proprietary tech tool Bytesights, we’re able to identify the highest-growing creators engaging in the right conversations before the rest of the world. 

Utilizing tastemakers goes beyond just forming partnerships and utilizing tools. You need influencer knowledge and industry experience, to really nail a tastemaker-led strategy and maximize ROI. 

Here’s how we do that:

1. The right tastemakers

We use Bytesights, our social listening tool, along with our Brainlabbers’ experience and creative innovation to find up-and-coming tastemakers in particular niches. Bytesights allows us to spot the creators who are having a sudden and consistent spike in growth and engagement, before they go viral, meaning our brands can be the first to form partnerships that will maximize performance.

2. Ensure brand-creator alignment

It’s no good getting an incredible performer for a rock concert if they are, in fact, a classical pianist. Tastemakers have to align with your brand values, beliefs, and aesthetic to work properly, just like any other influencer. Building the relationships and working out who is right when it comes to aesthetic, audience, and overall objectives is something we have honed over and over. 

3. Build out the right content

Although there is less room for error with tastemakers, it’s essential that you build out the right content that fits within your overall influencer strategy. There are only so many ways a tastemaker can create their content, but it’s worth looking at how this creativity will fit in with your other campaigns and whether it should connect with other overarching themes. 

It’s worth noting that tastemakers are particularly useful when it comes to creating content for a brand’s page, rather than sharing it on their own pages (although an omnichannel approach can also work well). Their content is extremely skilled and takes time. They can’t post as frequently as influencers, so they tend to have slightly less followers.

But a smaller following of loyal fans doesn’t mean they don’t get reach. Some of their videos achieve millions of views, and are often reshared to other channels because of their unique quality. 

They also achieve much higher engagement rates, drumming up conversation and encouraging UGC. So utilizing this untapped type of creator will absolutely up your influencer marketing game. 

How we’ve used tastemakers in practice

Tastemakers aren’t for everyone, but when you get the partnership right, they can be game-changing.

We worked with Activision on launch campaigns for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. 

The goal was to ensure maximum viral potential appealing to the masses while remaining relevant to loyal COD fans. They used creators specializing in visual effects, miniature set design, 3D sculpting, and woodworking.

The results speak for themselves. 

Tastemaker campaigns achieved an average engagement rate of 2.4% compared to 1.75% compared with traditional influencer marketing.

And it wasn’t just engagement rates that went up. The campaigns saw over 27M organic views showing just how far this kind of content can go. It helped grow follower counts in other countries – their French TikTok grew from 0 to 192K followers, and the campaign was Activision’s most successful video game launch to date.

Plus, there was an organic, omnichannel presence, with people sharing some of the content on other social media platforms. Tastemakers have a high potential for increasing user-generated content as fans repost the art to their personal channels. An example of this is when a fan shared this ‘X’ post, resulting in over 460k views.

Blending data with Brainlabber expertise, we have tried, tested, and achieved significant cut-through with tastemaker content. 

The power of the tastemaker is pretty clear. And brands need to use it. 

Discover untapped potential

Dan says, “Tastemakers are not for every brand in the world, and if you’re doing it, you’ve got to find the right ones. So, if you’re a confectionery brand, then great, you can use so many. But it might not be the right direction if you’re a finance brand.”

Tastemakers aren’t for everyone. Could they work for a finance company? Or a government body? Maybe not… 

Or maybe, just maybe, they could.

No one could have anticipated that a creator like Francis Bourgeois (a trainspotter and enthusiast) would be the face of Gucci on socials. Yet, because of his uniqueness, entertaining mass virality, popularity, and the fact he aligned with the brand, it worked. 

It all depends on the audience, goals, overall campaigns, and the rest of your strategy. 

We’ve seen tastemaker content work for brands like Activision, but maybe there is scope to bring less “creative” viewed brands into a more creative gaze. It’s all about understanding the “taste” of your audiences, and just what tastemakers could bring to the table. 

If you’re looking for an efficient and cost-effective marketing strategy, tastemakers are for you. Unhinged, untapped, and unidentified, this unique category of influencers gets greater results in both brand awareness and engagement campaigns. 
But you need to know what you’re doing: using the wrong tastemaker could have the opposite effect on your brand. To make it simple, talk to our Brainlabbers. We work with multiple proprietary technology tools, and build on our testing and experience to create tastemaker campaigns that drive result, after result, after result, after… you get the picture.