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How brands can and SHOULD engage with influencers at CES

Hotwire Global

Whilst most brands are heads down in 2019 planning (with a bit of holiday celebrations on the side), for innovative technology brands there is only one thing on their mind – CES.

The world’s biggest consumer electronics show, as every established tech brand knows, is a chance for companies to show off what they have been working on for the last year on a global stage. It’s the ‘big reveal’ – the opportunity to get in front of the most influential press in the world who, they hope, will help tell their new product story to their audience for them.

But it’s not just journalists that brands need to impress these days. Because, as most know, their audiences are looking not just to traditional media, but to influencers like Instagrammers and YouTubers who have a tribe of people subscribing to their channel to hear what he or she has to say about the latest tech and lifestyle products.

So, to help brands get to grips with what these tech influencers are looking to get out of CES next year, we interviewed some of the biggest names in YouTube tech, including Sam Sheffer, The Tech Chap, Gadgetsboy and Linus Tech Tips. The outcome: a global perspective on how brands should engage with them at CES.

is king

The biggest difference between an influencer and journalist is social media and more rich content. Journalists may take a few quick snaps and a short 10 second video for the website, but influencers will spend time getting a great Instagram photo, Insta-story, tweet and a longer form YouTube video. In essence, give influencers something great to show off on their socials – something that looks good, stands out, is bright, colorful and unique.

Attract them with competitions / giveaways that influencers posting on social media can win (including your clients @ & #’s). Entries then could be made into a supercut video afterwards for the brand (combining the entries together for a short video showing off what influencers think of it). Traditional journalists may not see a full news story or article in it, but influencers may see a great Instagram opportunity (which no doubt would get greater reach anyway!)

If you’re after longer-form content, e.g. a dedicated 5 minute YouTube video from an influencer, or a series of Insta-stories – it’s common practice to reach out and offer a fee for their time. Yes, it’s an #ad, but it’s an easy and effective way of getting coverage. (Rough guide – for every 100k followers an influencer has on YouTube, they’ll charge £1K/$2K per video).

Tom Honeyands, The Tech Chap

Co-create with a clear brief

Make the brief clear.  I’ve worked with brands before who didn’t make the deliverables very clear, leading to reshoots and a lot of disagreement on what works and what doesn’t. The brief should by no means tell the influencer how to create their content but should serve as a guide in making sure the key messages and what not to do/say or brand guidelines are met.

Tomi Adebayo, Gadgetsboy

Be upfront. I’d encourage all brands to be clear from the start whether this is an earned opportunity or a paid gig.

Sam Sheffer

Get the timing right

Try to connect in advance of CES. We get SO MANY emails from companies exhibiting or showing something off at CES that it becomes tough to go through the week leading up. We’re already receiving emails for CES in October and are starting to plan out our CES schedule. We begin booking meetings in November for CES, so by the time we get to January, it becomes much harder for us to accommodate a meeting with a brand unless their product or service is really game changing.

Don’t tease. We can sign an NDA! Seriously though, sending an email to us with a vague “It’s Coming” subject line from a brand we’ve never heard of, doesn’t help us to determine whether what they’re showing off is going to be a good fit for our channel. CES is our most busy time of year and we are there to create content, so we need to plan accordingly. To give a bit of insight into how we operate, at CES 2018 when our Linus Tech Tips channel was around 5,000,000 subscribers, we brought 11 people and split up into three teams to create and release 43 videos to our channel over a week’s time. We’re flexible and always try to make things work if there’s something, but there’s a chance we’ll miss something because we didn’t know the details and couldn’t plan for it.

Colton Potter, Linus Tech Tips

Think about their medium

YouTube influencers are filming their videos and aren’t going to get great footage if they’re filming among a busy crowd in dark conditions. Getting a special demo where we can look at the products in a quiet environment with good lighting will allow us to get the footage we need for great content.

Sam Sheffer


So, there we have it – advice from some of the biggest influencers in technology. The reality is if you’ve got something great to showcase, these guys will listen, but just make sure you know how to speak their language and work together to really show off what you want the world to see.

If you’re heading to the show drop me a line