As brand partnerships become commonplace across livestream platforms, it can be easy to get lost in the noise and shift focus from what creators do best: making content.
One of our most recent collaborations, “Drops With Swagg,” was an eight episode Twitch series sponsored by JD Sports. The show successfully integrated branded content that actually engaged with the community, reaching over 200K views per episode at the moment of publishing this blog. The series featured weekly episodes including the latest fashion drops, special guests, and community competitions meaningful to Swagg’s existing audience base.
Here are our takeaways that can help you master influencer branded partnerships:
Our production watchword for this show was “keep it simple.” From game-play integration to live shopping on the sponsor website, to discussing the latest in hypebeast fashion trends, our goal was to not over-complicate and over-produce our solutions. We wanted this to be a clean experience that could be tweaked episode to episode as we saw what worked (or didn’t). We prioritized agility to optimize the episodes from one week to another by creating a pretty basic structure for each episode, and let Swagg take it where he saw fit. Once we set up a fun framework for our host to play in, he was happy to make it his own.
That said, we did take the time to design some really stellar graphics to bring everything together! Using both the JD Sports brand colors, with a dash of pink from Swagg’s own aesthetic, the graphics bring everything together into a single, coherent package.
The one place where we really went all-out with the production value was in the three pre-recorded interviews. While our set was simple (and clearly in line with JD Sports’ branding), we pulled out our fanciest cameras and lenses and got creative with our lighting design to make the interviews look really high-end.
With fashion products as our backdrop and friendly conversation with our talent at the forefront, the pre-recorded segments became a great way to break up the live show and add something special to the episodes. They’re almost like mini commercials within the content, but the viewers don’t perceive them that way, which makes all the difference.
We decided early in the creative process that we wanted to give Swagg a special guest each week to chat with. He’s got a devoted audience, but while he’s got great style and loves sneakers, his area of expertise is primarily his lightning-fast gaming. So we teamed him up each week with special guests from the streaming community who each brought their own expert insight to the streetwear and sneaker culture conversation, while still feeling relatable to the overall Twitch audience. No need for celebs, just other friends who love the space and want to share that love! It made for a great conversation, both between Swagg and his guests and with viewers in the chat feed as well.
While we did give away great merch each stream, which obviously got viewers excited, the segment that got viewers MOST enthusiastic was the Fit Review. In this segment we pulled outfits submitted by viewers on Instagram (tagged #dropswithswagg) for our host and weekly guest to critique and give feedback on. Viewers love to see themselves as part of the stream; whether it’s a featured comment, or their photo on screen. We knew this was going to be a winner, and in the end Swagg, his guests, and his audience were all the most engaged with this part of the show. Without it being a specific call-out to the brand sponsor, Fit Review was a great way to keep the conversation focused on what JD Sports cares about: their sneaker enthusiasts and streetwear fans.
In the two episodes featuring gameplay, Swagg invited a gamer from his community to play against one of his more familiar friends, which delighted the viewers. They were rooting hard for the previously faceless members of the community to take the stage and show off their skills, and were hugely supportive of them. The halo effect of that experience obviously ripples back to positivity towards the sponsor, as they see the brand making an effort to interact with the community in ways that are meaningful to their collective ethos.
Overall, the key to mastering influencer branded partnerships is making sure the content feels organic, and that the influencer stays true to their audience. Keeping the production simple without compromising on style will ensure both the talent and brand are happy. It’s important to embrace your talent’s comfort zone so they can create that all-important content. Lastly, don’t ignore your community – they are there for a reason! Engage with viewers via interactive hashtags, competitions they can participate in, and even by featuring them in the show. As the internet becomes saturated with influencer/brand partnerships, elevate your content by tapping into these elements to stand out from the crowd!
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Lillian Diaz-Przybyl is a Producer and Head of Creative Development at Butcher Bird Studios. A true platform-agnostic, Lillian specializes in bringing stories to life in innovative formats and for unconventional audiences including commercial work with Microsoft and Airbnb and directing live stream and broadcast content for Twitch and Netflix. She served as co-creator and showrunner of Butcher Bird’s first narrative series, “Orbital Redux.”