Podcast: Univision’s Matt Kaplan and Influencer Ana Alvarado on Connecting Brands with the Hispanic Community

E.B. Moss:  Matt, give us the overview on Univision (UCI) and the audience you reach.

Matt Kaplan:  Univision is focused on reaching the U.S. Hispanic consumer.  We have broadcast networks Univision and Unimas, two Spanish language cable networks -- Galavision and Univision Deportes Network -- and two English language networks, Fusion and El Rey.  Our morning show, Despierta América, just celebrated its 20th anniversary.  We're also well known for our novellas and, very relevant for our audience today, news, since our community knows we're reporting authentically.  We've really doubled down on sports with all of Liga MX and just signed on UEFA.

Moss:  How do you help brand partners engage more with your audience?

Kaplan:  Because digital is a space with such innovation we always have to be looking at what's next and what's new and bring that to the community.  The Univision Creator Network launched two years ago to work with Hispanic influencers.  It's increasingly important to our brands and our own business ... because we serve a community.  Influencers are a natural extension of that, because their audiences are really buying into them.  I think as you speak with Ana [Alvarado] you'll see that connection based on authenticity.  These platforms have brought down the barriers to entry for those social media creators.  We're wholly focused on U.S. Hispanics and we recognize those who are building a connection with that audience, so we're bringing them into the family.

Moss:  How do you find them and then bring them on board to talk about brands?

Kaplan:  We have a team to identify and bring on Hispanic influencers.  We really vet them to find the right talent for the right brand, so the message is authentic and doesn't burn the relationship [with] the audience they've worked so hard to build.  I help [a select group of] brands activate with influencers.  [Brands] have to trust; to be willing to let go a little bit, then they get enormous engagement rates because influencers are able to move people via the content they create.  We're measuring that success with traditional branded content KPIs like views, engagement rates, likes and shares.

Moss:  Describe the tactics and platforms of a typical influencer campaign.

Kaplan:  One example is for Mazda.  We had Alan Estrada, a travel influencer, create content [tied] to Hiroshima, Mazda's headquarters and [align Mazda with] Japanese craftsmanship and traditions.  Alan created beautiful content around Yabusame archers who are known for being in particular harmony with the horse, so you could see the parallel to a driver in a car.  Alan will publish this content across his handles, primarily YouTube, and then we'll distribute across UCI's handles [edited to be platform-specific].  Our approach to both influencer programs and branded content in general is social first.

Moss:  Have you seen a lot of lift in UCI's own followers since utilizing influencers?

Kaplan:  Our following has steadily increased.  If you aggregate all our fans across all our platforms, it's over 170 million in the U.S.  There is duplication, but [we have] a big enough number to let us test content that generates data to derive insights.  One data point example: Rosy McMichael, one of our influencers, did a segment on Despierta América and she heavily promoted her appearance to her fan base.  During her segment, we observed an almost 20 percent lift in ratings points in her key demo of women 18-34.

Moss:  What are the top three things that you think any brand needs to think about if they're going to use an influencer?

Kaplan:  First, what is the process?  How are we going to go about finding the right influencer?  Second, give influencers the freedom to do their thing -- to create the content, because they know their audiences and they know what they're going to respond to.  Third is having a distribution strategy.  It's great to use the influencer footprint.  It's a miss to not think bigger.

Moss:  Now in the hot seat: Ana Alvarado, known to a million people across different social media platforms as @LipstickFables. Ana, how did @LipstickFables come about?

Ana Alvarado:  Five years or six years ago I was doing make-up and fashion.  I love lipsticks.  I thought of my videos telling a story and thought Lipstick Fables sounds fun.

Moss:  What was the first thing that put you on the map as an influencer?

Alvarado:  I decided to do something different for fun and did one video called Things Hondurans Say.  It was basically a parody on how we have our own slang, and it just went viral.  I was shocked. [I had averaged maybe 50 views a day] and it got over 5,000 views in one day.  I started on YouTube, then Instagram came out with their videos, so I've been doing small skits that become viral quickly.  [So now, though I love fashion and make-up] my main thing is comedy!

Moss:  Weren't you one of the first influencers Univision tapped to leverage Facebook Watch?

Alvarado:  Yes.  I'm doing a parody on the Kardashians, called La Kardachas.  It's a twist, and people have been accepting it well and we're extremely happy.

Moss:  When Univision asks you to talk about a brand how do your fans react?

Alvarado:  Univision has been very careful choosing the brands to work with us.  Matt said something so important: You always have to keep it authentic.  Make sure you don't burn those bridges you built with your audience with fake stuff or a straight-up ad.  They want to see something that feels like it's real; then they will support both you and the brand.  Every brand I've worked with, like Bud Light and Sprint, I've been able to do my own thing.  That has worked for the brand, too.

Moss:  Can you tell me about the Sprint campaign?

Alvarado:  That was an interesting campaign because Sprint wanted us to find ways to use their handles, iPads and phones.  So I did a road trip to Mexico with two other influencers from the Univision Creatives Network and got to know the culture.  We ended up in the Rise Up as One Concert where we did a live stream.  It was a lot of fun.

Moss:  I want to be an influencer.

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E.B. Moss

E.B. Moss built ad sales marketing departments for Lifetime Television, National Cable Communications and Food Network as well as audio companies Cumulus/Westwood One and AdLarge Media. Now, as Managing Editor/Vice President, Content Strategy for... read more