FanFront with Baron Davis, and Why Fan Content is Authentic

Last month, we hosted our inaugural FanFront in New York to talk about our favorite group of people: fans on YouTube. We invited some of our closest brand and agency partners to investigate the growing influence of fan content on YouTube and how marketers and advertisers should engage with them, all in the name of achieving that elusive concept every marketing strategy craves: authenticity.

We held a panel discussion between ZEFR co-CEOs Zach James and Rich Raddon, Medialink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan, and two time NBA All-Star Baron Davis. Davis had this to say about authenticity:

“…The best content is authentic. [Marketing] has to be authentic to be effective. Fans are brands now, with their own authentic messaging and influence. Big brands and sites can always pay for eyeballs, but creating authenticity is difficult to purchase or create without the right tools.”

Davis should know. After retiring from the NBA in 2012, Davis transitioned to a marketing role for the Knicks, creating the #knickstape viral campaign that quickly dwarfed the team’s previous campaigns (and still runs strong today).

But, more than anything else that was said on stage during FanFront, it’s this video we showed that brought the power of fans’ authenticity to life:

In the video above, YouTuber YoAntyKicks unboxes a limited edition sneaker that was released in collaboration with FinishLine and Adidas Boost. While the untrained eye might simply spot an eccentric young man with a love for sneakers, chocolate milk, and hip-hop, our group of brand marketers and agency heads didn’t miss the power of his authenticity. And, YouTube delivers authentic content about countless brands, not just shoes. Whether you’re talking about unboxing videos, haul videos, or torture tests, there are limitless hours of fan created content around brands on YouTube. Every single one of them tells an authentic story about how fans really think.

YoAntyKicks, with 27K fans and 1.5M views on his personal YouTube channel, is just one of many influential “Sneakerheads” creating branded content on YouTube. How many? Enough so that 86% of branded content comes from fans. This content is influencing shoppers enough to make purchasing decisions. In case you missed it, 53% of shoppers are influenced by YouTube videos, and we wrote an eBook about the most popular types of videos (including unboxings).

Start Engaging Your Fans

How do you get involved with these fans? It starts with acknowledging the massive amount and influence of fan content on YouTube. Take a look at this graph:

branded content from fans

Once you’ve come to appreciate the size and scope of this fan content, it takes a knowledge of the specific communities of fans that help to sustain this influence. Finally, you need to learn the language of these fan communities in order to find and track their influence over time.

After the event, Davis had this to say:


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