It got very weird, very quickly in the penultimate episode of the first season for “Above the Fold” during which Jeff and Francis were joined by digital marketing sage Shane Barker — who may or may not be Paul Rudd, just based on his voice.

After getting off to an auspicious seven-minute start with a story about a medical procedure gone awry that devolved rapidly from there, the trio shared a wide-ranging conversation on influencer marketing and smart marketing that had its fair share of detours into the strange and unusual, with plenty of jokes and sidebars along the way.

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Marketing under the influence

Episode 17 revisited a topic from a recent show: influencer marketing. The trend (think Instagram celebrities and personalities using their profiles to market products from partner brands) has gained a lot of attention lately, and not for the best reasons.

Is influencer marketing inherently bad? Are there ways to make the strategy work for you? What is a good amount of emoji comments?

Scratch that third thought — at least, because emojis don’t equal real engagement in influencer marketing. But what does constitute true results? The guys try to answer that question and nail down how influencer marketing can be successful.

Welcome to the machine

The second topic involved smarter marketing and how voice, augmented reality and virtual reality are figuring into more brand campaigns. The spark here was some marketing intelligence fails that included Amazon constantly recommending a toilet seat to one customer after a single purchase.

A main thread here was voice assistants, and how Amazon and Alexa are listening to your needs — but also when you’re not really aware. While Jeff and Shane were a bit cautious on the smart home device, Francis seemed to signal his complete surrender to our computer overlords when recounting a questionable personal anecdote.

Trying to find the boundaries of data, privacy and marketing is difficult when you’ve “invited the vampire into your home,” as Jeff put it.

Context-free quote of the week:

“I always wondered how this was going to end, and apparently it ends with peanut butter leg and dogs.” – Francis

What’s your take on influencer marketing? Can it really work? Let us know what you think in a comment!

Dom, an English major and journalism enthusiast, was just happy to get a job out of college writing and editing professionally. That it turned out to be in the burgeoning content marketing industry with Brafton was all the better.