December 3, 2022

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Top influencer marketers at brands list: Dunkin, Chipotle, Seatgeek

  • Insider is recognizing the top influencer-marketing execs at brands like Chipotle and HelloFresh.
  • These 17 power players have run innovative campaigns and created lasting partnerships.
  • They work with creators on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Being an effective influencer-marketing exec sometimes means knowing when to give up control.

“I think a lot of brands make the mistake of sending over these incredibly complex and restrictive creative briefs,” said Ian Borthwick, SeatGeek’s director of influencer marketing. “Ultimately, those produce bad influencer marketing. It’s important to take the backseat and let the influencer do what they do best.”

As the influencer industry grows, more companies are turning to digital stars to help drive sales. By 2022, brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing, according to Insider Intelligence.

Influencer-marketing campaigns happen across all major social-media platforms, like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, and podcasting apps. Marketers hire social stars to promote a brand or product in exchange for compensation.

Typically, the goal of a campaign is to promote a product or service and convert an influencer’s followers into paying customers.

Some brands hire an outside agency to run all influencer marketing efforts, and others have built a in-house team.

These professionals will set out with a specific goal, expectation, and way to measure the overall campaign. They decide what audience the brand they work for should reach and then pair with an influencer who has the right target audience. 

Insider is recognizing the leading execs in influencer marketing who work for a brand’s in-house team. In this inaugural list, we are highlighting professionals that have built lasting and creative partnerships with influencers.

Their work ranges from funding a YouTube reality show (Seatgeek) to giving a student a $25,000 scholarship (Chipotle) to naming a drink after TikTok’s top creator (Dunkin’). All of them have found creative ways to promote their brands in partnership with digital creators.

D'Amelio is an incredible influencer representative of just about anything, but especially something like Dunkin'.

In 2020, Dunkin’ launched a drink with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio called “The Charli.”

Rachel Framingheddu Murray/Dunkin’ via Getty Images


The state of influencer marketing in 2021

There are a few trends that are driving the influencer-marketing industry in 2021.

Long-term partnerships have become vital for both brands and influencers. Brands have begun to hire more “nano” and “micro” level influencers. And TikTok, the popular short-form video app, has caught the attention of brands looking to reach Gen-Z customers. 

“TikTok is here to stay and brands know that,” said Brian Sorel, the COO of the influencer-marketing company NeoReach. “I don’t think anything compares to the rush we are seeing on TikTok. Even when Instagram releases something like Reels or Snap responds with Spotlight, most of the new market spend is being funneled to TikTok.”

But even with TikTok’s viral success, Instagram remains the top platform for running a campaign. 79{de3fc13d4eb210e6ea91a63b91641ad51ecf4a1f1306988bf846a537e7024eeb} of brands predominantly use Instagram for influencer campaigns, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. 

And when it comes to a campaign on Instagram, brands are hiring more nano and micro influencers. Nano influencers generally have between 2,500 and 10,000 followers on Instagram and often specialize in a specific niche, with a small and engaged community. Micro influencers have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers on Instagram.

An example: FabFitFun, a lifestyle subscription box brand, looks for influencers who haven’t worked with brands before, said Jolie Jankowitz, the brand’s senior director of influencer marketing and talent partnerships.

“We’re seeing, especially from really big brands, a real excitement over nano and micro,” said Danielle Wiley, the founder and CEO of the influencer-marketing agency Sway Group. “When you’re keeping a close eye on your budgets and looking at every single dollar, it just becomes a lot harder to justify some of those celebrity spends because they don’t have the results.”

But top marketers aren’t cutting out mega influencers completely. Top stars with high engagement, like David Dobrik and Charli D’Amelio, have driven interest with numerous brands from Chipotle to Dunkin’.

Many marketers on this power list derive their success from working with a mix of mega influencers and those with smaller follower counts.

To form this list, Insider relied on a mix of our own reporting, nominations from readers, and industry experts to narrow down the finalists. We chose these professionals based on who is successfully building partnerships with influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok; planning the most creative campaigns; and on their impact on the influencer space broadly.

The influencer marketing executives are listed in alphabetical order by brand below:

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