Whether you’re new to social media, or an online superstar, Kris Lal and his team at Curator can make you shine more.
Working with “premium influencers” around the world, Kris and his clan consults, creates, manages, negotiates contracts, and runs digital campaigns “to grow your social media equity and reach”. He’s still on a high when he meets Verve for coffee having snagged a gig with Air New Zealand just a couple of days before.
“There are a few other companies here in Auckland that do similar things, but they’re not offering the same service,” says Kris, who previously sold luxury watches for duty free, and is an influencer in his own right, with 36,000 followers on Instagram. “Everything is very personality-driven, and what we do is very bespoke. I’m very honest with people — for some types of business, social media is just not going to help them in the short term, and I tell them straight away.”
Kris will only take on clients for whom he can promise results. “We cut out the middleman,” he says, “and do the research. I can tell you exactly what brands each one of our influencers’ followers are interested in so that we can find the perfect fit for that business. We are organic, we don’t simply stick a picture on the page and make it look like advertising. Plus, my sales and marketing background helps.”
A 2016 study by TapInfluence found social media marketing to be 11 times more effective than banner ads, and of all the platforms, Instagram is fast becoming the most powerful marketing tool, boasting the highest rates of engagement. Of its 700 million users (400 million daily), half follow at least one brand, and, according to Inc.com, 17.5% of Instagrammers follow up with searching, shopping or sharing with friends when inspired by a particular post. By the end of this year, more than 70% of brands are predicted to have an Instagram account.
“Most people just don’t understand social media,” says Kris. “To be really successful you must invest a lot of time stay up-to-date stop and join groups to build follower and interaction numbers.” He compares social media to “a beast”: “It’s a living, breathing organism and depending on what you say to it, you can become famous or notorious very quickly. It’s about understanding how the crazy thing works. It can be very intimidating for those who are not part of that world.”
Kris has worked with all manner of clients, from small businesses to globally-renowned musicians (“T-Boz of TLC, America’s biggest-selling girl group ever, is a very goodfriend”), but no matter what their success or celebrity so far, he says that it’s vital people learn to think outside the box: “Take a restaurant for example. It may be that a comedian could get you a lot more followers — and customers — so you have to open your eyes to a different way of doing things. It’s about fresh perspective, giving clients different options.”
Kris aims to do such a good job that he become surplus to requirements when it comes to the client’s next endeavour. “We work with a brand to say this is how we do it, to impart our knowledge so that they can then do it for themselves,” he says. “It’s not that we don’t want their business but there is no better feeling that teaching someone set of skills then seeing them implement it for themselves. It’s not all about the money — and that’s the way it should be.”
Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces