PewDiePie is making headlines again – for all the wrong reasons.
Last week, Wall Street Journal reported that PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, posted videos with anti-Semitic messages. As reported in Adweek, YouTube has taken PewDiePie off the “Google Preferred” list, which aggregates the top content on YouTube, and is dropping a planned second season of the Scare PewDiePie webseries. The Disney-owned Maker Studios, meanwhile, said it’s also severed ties with the star.
This all comes less than a year after PewDiePie made the news for his undisclosed sponsored videos for Warner Bros. back in 2016. Then, WB settled with the FTC for their promotional videos for the video game “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” after the FTC ruled that the influencer videos were not clearly labeled as sponsored.
What Does This Means for Brands?
When influencers mess up like this, it can be embarrassing for both the influencers and the brands associated with them.
So what does this mean for brands working with influencers? As our CEO, Devon Wijesinghe, said in Adweek, “Whether or not you work with [influencers] for paid marketing or happen to advertise on their videos, the standard of vetting should only be getting higher.”
In this case, as writer Sami Main pointed out, Disney maybe should have seen this coming. PewDiePie is known for his controversial statements and views, so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that those views have landed him in trouble.
How to Find Influencers That Work For Your Brand
Influencer fails like this are pretty rare – but when they happen, they’re embarrassing. Just look at the public outcry after Scott Disick’s Instagram mishap. Here are some actionable ways to avoid picking the wrong influencers:
They’re a Fan
This might seem obvious, but if an influencer has naturally mentioned your brand or product on social, then you should embrace that! This kind of earned media is the most powerful form of influence – and it means a natural connection.
You Share Fans
If an influencer hasn’t talked about you, you want to make sure that a possible connection would at least make sense. Is this someone your audience already follows on social? If so, a collaboration between you two will boost your brand’s credibility in your followers’ eyes.
They’re On the Right Networks
If you’re a video game brand, you’re probably looking for influencers active on Twitch and YouTube – not Pinterest or Instagram. Otherwise, your target audience may not even see their content.
They Pass the Test
Look for someone who has similar values and posts the kind of content you’re looking for. A controversial figure like PewDiePie might work well for some brands known for their edge, but not so much for brands owned by the typically family-friendly Disney.