Behind Capital One Spark Business' SXSW Event-Based Influencer Marketing Strategy


Last month, you may have heard of a tiny little event called SXSW which took place in Austin, Texas. Well, that statement may have been true ten years ago but not today. Everyone on the planet has heard of, if not been to, SXSW.

It's no surprise that brands, beginning in 2010 or so, took note of the event's popularity and began their ever-expanding presence at the event. Some took a distaste to this expansion into a territory deemed by some as sacred and only worthy of attendance by geeks, coders, bloggers and the like. Others embraced the inevitable change and rolled with it.

This year, as with recent prior years, brands had a large presence at SXSW. But it's not just presence we see anymore. It's active participation social media to extend the brand's presence beyond attendees to the greater world at large. In addition to organic and paid efforts, many brands employ the proverbial social media influencer to aid in that effort.

At SXSW this year, Capital One had a large presence during the Interactive portion of SXSW with the Capital One House at Antone's and the Capital One Spark Small Business House.

You can see a photographic collection of other brands present at SXSW this year here.

But back to Capital One and influencer marketing. Influencer marketing, of course, has become one of the most widespread and fastest-growing strategies brands are implementing to attract new customers and event-based influencer marketing campaigns are becoming increasingly popular.

Capital One Spark Business set up an influencer program with entrepreneur, business advisor, author and speaker Murray Newlands. At this year's SXSW, Newlands teamed with Capital One to help the brand promote its presence at the Spark Small Business House and, as well, the brand's larger offering to attendees and the larger public.

Of its presence at SXSW this year, Capital One wrote on the SXSW website, "During the day, stop by #CapitalOneHouse to learn more about Design Thinking, Women in Tech or even to or Data Science. You'll also get a chance to see some of their coolest product demos like Auto Navigator, Credit Wise, and the Capital One Wallet. And for the small business crowd stop by on Monday, March 14 for a celebrity lunch with Anthony Bourdain."

I spoke with Newlands, who is also a personal friend, and he had a few tips to share with brands considering a partnership with influencers.

First off, it's all about alignment. Newlands is a small business entrepreneur himself as well as an individual well-versed in technology and startup culture making him the right fit for Capital One's small business efforts. Of the partnership, Newlands said, "When a brand is looking to run an event campaign, it's crucial that they find the right influencer that represents the values of the brand, and has an audience that will be excited to hear about the event and participate further."

Second, it's all about connecting the brand with the influencer's following. Newlands has 804,000 Twitter followers, 115,000 Instagram followers, 391,000 Vine followers, 43,750 Facebook followers, 29,200 Pinterest followers and 4,845 Facebook friends. Clearly, he's not Kim Kardashian but, then again, Capital One Spark Business was implementing a B2B effort here and the alignment with an individual firmly planted in the B2B space is far more intelligent than hooking up with a celebrity who loves to take naked pictures of herself and call it empowerment.

Third, it's about sharing appropriate branded and un-branded content with the influencer's followers in a way that, as we can't help but say in this business, "resonates" with the target audience. It all began with Newlands crafting a pre-SXSW blog post which explained to readers how he' himself, began his business career as small business owner, how he parlayed that, and others, into success and how a brand like Spark Business can help small business owners succeed.

Of the alignment between small business entrepreneurs and Capital One Small Business, Newlands, wrote, "Every entrepreneur and small business owner has a 'secret sauce' that gives him or her a unique edge. The small business experts at Capital One Spark Business have long recognized these unique traits and the needs of small business owners, which is why they're heading to SXSW, one of the premier destinations for aspiring and establishing entrepreneurs alike."

Newlands then shared that blog post to all of his relevant social media platforms posting to Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, PicCollage and Facebook. Let's take a look:


In life, business and love Be fearless Be confident Just go for it Quote by @capitalonespark @KeriGohman #secretsauce #sxsw #ad

A photo posted by Motivation Videos & Tips. (@murraynewlands) on


Here's the video posted to Facebook which has garnered 43,000 views, 881 likes, 16 comments and 14 shares:

At the @CapitalOneSpark House at #SXSW sharing my #SecretSauce w/@KeriGohman. #ad

Posted by Murray Newlands on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Oh and let's not for get about the 360 picture (yes, it's the new, new thing and everyone is doing it) Newlands took inside the Capital One House:

All of this social media activity was followed up post-SXSW with another blog post which hosted an interview with Capital One SVP Head of New Ventures for Small Business Banking David Talach.

Like I said earlier, this was not a Kim Kardashian level event. But it didn't need to be. After all, it seem Kardashian herself has financial matters covered and her followers are mostly 16 year old girls who don't even have a checking account yet. So while this influencer strategy may seem unsexy, unsexy is exactly what Capital One needed in this instance; to connect with small business entrepreneurs by partnering with a social media influencer who, himself, is a small business entrepreneur.

by Steve Hall    Apr- 7-16   Click to Comment   
Topic: SXSW