Sharing the love (and the likes): Insights from NZ’s top social media influencers

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If last week’s sold-out #smcakl (Social Media Club Auckland) event was anything to go by, the trend of social influencer marketing shows no sign of slowing down for brands, marketers and digital strategists alike.

The #smcakl event held last Wednesday night was the organisation’s biggest event to date with a crowd filling the NZI Building to hear from top Kiwi influencers as well as social influencer talent agent Julie Cooper from Johnson & Laird Management and Janessa Bartsch of Benefit Cosmetics.

Ahead of the Marketing Association’s upcoming Social Influencer-themed Brainy Breakfast, Johnson & Laird Management surveyed some of their local social media stars about their view on the current state of social.

Rockin’ & railin’
J&Lers Jamie Curry & Shannon Harris, New Zealand’s most successful vloggers and social influecers, have railed against recent business reports decrying Twitter by naming the short-form blogging platform as their favourite social channel of the moment.

Curry says of Twitter: “There’s always something going on and it’s easy to stay informed on things happening around the world.”

And Shannon Harris (aka ShaaanXO) reckons it’s the speed and the mood of Twitter that keeps her coming back for more: “It’s so fast to share pictures and links and thoughts, and is a fun way to interact with my followers! I find it more casual and chill than Facebook and Instagram.”

While Twitter may be the destination du jour for New Zealand’s reigning social media queens, both Curry and Harris remain resolutely multi-platform when it comes to producing effective content. “We encourage our social talent to have multiple social channels, as it is the most effective way to cross-pollinate their branded content seamlessly and drive awareness to the campaign while meeting the client’s objectives,” Harris says.

Cooper singled out out a January 2017 Sephora campaign which ran on ShaaanXO’s YouTube and Instagram platforms as an example of just one of Johnson & Laird Management’s recent international successes:

Key stats: 450k+ views, 3.1 million watch time minutes (NZ watch time 114k watch time minutes), 21k likes, 1.5k comments

Key stats: 29k+ likes,130 comments

Closer to home, J&Lers Jimi Jackson, Cougar Boys and Toravel created original content as part of the Swim Reaper campaign launched by Water Safety NZ in collaboration with ACC in attempt to bring down New Zealand’s high drowning toll.

Key stats: 1.3 million people reached, 495k views, 2.4k shares

Key stats: 1.7 million people reached, 400k views, 1.8k shares

  • Toravel Facebook video for Swim Reaper campaign here

Key stats: 1.8k likes

For budding social influencers who are keen to follow in their footsteps, both Curry and Harris shared a couple of lessons learned along the way of their social careers. Curry offers some sage advice from a Kiwi who’s grown up in the spotlight of the internet when she admits that the thing she wishes she knew when she was first starting out as an online influencer is that “everything you post on the internet will be there forever”.

As for Harris, she says she started out very naïve about the time investment required in building a successful social media career. “I wish I knew how much time it all took when I was starting out! I used to juggle school, work and YouTube and social media and it consumed my life! Even now doing YouTube and social full time, it takes just as much time if not more! It is so rewarding though, I wouldn’t change a thing!”

More social insights from J&Lers Jimi Jackson & Toravel


What’s your current fave social platform and why?
YouTube – because the fan base is more loyal. They don’t just like or want to watch one part of you they want the whole lot. You can share your whole life with them and they’ll love you for it which is awesome. Plus, YouTube pays you! Mwahahaha …

Have you noticed any changes in terms of your social activity in the past year?
It’s only getting bigger and better but a lot harder. There are a lot of social media stars around now where there weren’t many when I first started. It’s harder for original creators to be successful and easier for fake click bait social media thieves to go viral. When I started all my social activity was on Facebook only but these days I am sharing across other social platforms.

Are you doing anything different now compared to the last year or so?
I have a TV show and movie being released this year. Dates still to be confirmed but all you need to know is both projects are amazing and you’ll be seeing this face a lot more often! Other than that just working on little side projects like my clothing label, writing new shows/web series. Mainly just trying to become a bigger and better social media influencer!

What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
I wish I knew how big social media was gonna be, how important it was especially for the young generation. People were saying it years ago and now it is social media is the future of business. Just wishing I knew what I know now back then so I could’ve probably branded myself a bit better. More professional. But, then again, me starting out who I was – the fresh white Maori out of nowhere making little crack up skits being myself is one of the reasons why I blew up: people liking me for who I am and just being myself and keeping it real. I reckon if I knew then what I know now I probably would have tried to change myself. Who knows though? Still the same homie since day one!

What’s your social goal for 2017?
Be a bigger and better social media influencer. I want to be the biggest in New Zealand and Australia then crack into the American market and get onto the same level as their creators. I pretty much want to be a massive YouTuber that acts in movies and TV shows as well. And maybe even music and modeling. Whatever! I wanna do it all if I can!


What’s your current fave social platform and why? 
Instagram, it’s to the point, picture/video then caption. Simple that’s why I love it!

What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Next time I have an idea, turn it into something straight away! So many times I’ve written something down as an idea and someone has done it a few weeks later and it’s done really well.

What’s your social goal for 2017?
My social media goal for this year is to start vlogging my travel with a few videos I have ready to go and also with the cougar boys make more people laugh and collab with friends new and old more often and WEEKLY UPLOADS!

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