What is Real-Time Influencer Marketing?

Plus how The UPS Store earned 8 million+ views with a timely TikTok partnership

In partnership with

I got to watch Ryan Reynolds speak this week! The nice folks at Meltwater Summit brought me in to watch Deadpool share marketing thoughts (along with some other smart folks). I’m sharing the conference tidbits on my LinkedIn and Instagram—come hang with me?

But let’s talk about a new creator tactic I’m loving, plus:

  • What is real-time influencer marketing?

  • New Instagram features with Reel Collabs

  • Twitter revenue down 40% year over year

Why your brand should try real-time influencer marketing + a case study

You’ve heard of real-time marketing. Ever since Oreo dropped that Dunk In The Dark tweet during the Super Bowl blackout 11 years ago, brands have asked social media managers & analytics platforms to keep a look out for any opportunities for brands to engage ~with the culture~, even though 99% of the time it’s a fool’s errand.

But, there’s a new form of real-time marketing I’m very fond of, that I think more brands should invest in. Let’s talk about real-time influencer marketing.

What is Real-Time Influencer Marketing?

Fair question, since I just made it up. Real-time influencer marketing is when you engage with creators right as they’re having significant cultural moments, or maybe more simply, notable virality.

Activating quickly with viral influencers can offer some unique advantages over traditional influencer marketing.

  • When content goes viral, creators increased performance on their next couple weeks of content thanks to the algorithm + cultural interest

  • Creators are motivated to cash in on their newfound virality

  • Most creators won’t have updated their sponsorship rates from one viral post

  • Their followers appreciate when brands support their fav creators.

I’ll cover how your brand can be prepped for real-time influencer marketing later—let’s get into the example that inspired this article.

The viral moment: 2 tall creators meet cute, earn 33 million views

Tyler Bergantino is a TallToker. Standing at 6’9” with 1.5 million followers, his content’s often about overgrown experience, with videos on tall dating, shoe shopping, and height in general. When he collabed with 6’1” Gabby Gonzales, a fellow creator also covering the height life, it made sense to expect some solid engagement numbers.

But the resulting content felt a whole lot like a meet cute, the comment section basically demanded they go on a date, pushing the original TikTok to 33 million views.


that breaks my heart @Gabbers 🇨🇴

And now? They’re dating, and dating publicly. Their view counts are off the charts. If I’m reading Social Blade correctly, Gabby’s grown from 260k followers to 880k+ in just 20 days. That’s almost a full month of virality, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping.

Which is why it’s so smart that UPS threw them a brand deal that made as much sense for the budding relationship as the brand themselves.

The Brand Deal: The UPS Store “shipped” the couple

Because love can never be easy, Tyler’s in South Carolina while Gabby’s over in Miami—this is long distance.

Enter The UPS Store—yes, UPS, the shipping company, what can brown do for you UPS. The brand had the bright idea to help Tyler send Gabby a care package via their services. Even better, the brand actually signed both of the talls for 2-part deal. Tyler sent the gifts on his TikTok, but didn’t reveal the contents—you had to hit Gabby’s page to watch her open the goods.

Let’s watch, starting with Tyler.


@The UPS Store ships Gab and I 🤍💜 @Gabbers 🇨🇴 #ad

Now, the unboxing with Gabby!


@The UPS Store this made my day🥹 #ad Thank you @Tyler Bergantino 🤍💜

I love it so much. Honestly, this’ll be an influencer play I mention for years.

  • The product (shipping) is a natural tie to the influencers (long distance relationship)

  • The creative idea (care package) is something anyone could do for a loved one

  • The creators’ followers feel like the brand is supporting the story they’re living for.

8 million+ views can’t be wrong. 10/10, no notes, put it in the influencer deal hall of fame (god, I hope that doesn’t exist).

How can you brand activate real-time influencer marketing?

Hopefully you’re already working with influencers as both paid media vehicles and content creators for your owned channels. The next step: keeping a slush fund available for real-time activations.

Now, I wanna be careful here. Influencer managers, I don’t want you holding back your budgets for just-in-case situations—use that money! I’m suggesting you fight for additional budget, either proactively so your organization is ready for real-time opportunities or reactively when it makes too much sense to not invest (though, let’s be real, most companies can’t activate budget fast enough to properly engage trends).

When should your brand try real-time influencer marketing

This one’s easy. Give real-time influencer marketing a shot when it makes so much sense for your brand that passing seems like a huge miss.

This isn’t the time for huge creative brainstorms, or decisions by committee, or red tape. I hope you’re activating because you already have the idea, or the creators you aspire to work with would easily come to an idea because partnership is so obvious.

Also recognize it’s a top of funnel moment, not about conversion. You’re here to spread the good word.

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Social Cues

There are so many social big thinkers out there, writing all kinds of amazing strategies, analysis, and breakdowns. All ships rise with the tide, so here are a few reads from other places I think you could learn from.

Instagram now allows adding collaborators to Reels after posting. This is actually a kinda big deal—I could see brands and creators both requesting collabs after the fact to get content on profiles after creators’ initial push.

What if TikTok Ads had AI-generated avatars of your favorite creators? I don’t know, man, the future is weird, I’m still processing CGI Princess Leia.

Twitter revenue has plumeted 40% year over year. Twitter made my career, but I hope it sinks into the ocean under Elon.