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Brian Mandler & Brian Nelson of The Network Effect: “Creator advocates”

We consistently make our core creators aware that they now have real influence across those that follow them. We urge them to recognize their followers as more than just a number and as a community of passionate people. Each creator should know they they now have the opportunity to facilitate real change on what matters […]

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We consistently make our core creators aware that they now have real influence across those that follow them. We urge them to recognize their followers as more than just a number and as a community of passionate people. Each creator should know they they now have the opportunity to facilitate real change on what matters to them most.


As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Mandler & Brian Nelson, founders of The Network Effect.

Brian Mandler and Brian Nelson bring their combined career experiences to their highly successful venture, The Network Effect. As pioneers of TikTok since inception, the duo launched a digital brand agency that has successfully taken their clients beyond the normal advertising model and into the core of this powerhouse engagement platform.

Brian Mandler has built his career at the nexus of entertainment and technology. With executive roles at Google/YouTube, SayNow (acquired by Google), in2une music (acquired by Kobalt/AWAL), and YouNow, he continuously explores innovative ways to build community through digital platforms, extend reach and drive engagement.

As an established mainstream talent manager of 25 years, Brian Nelson’s work with global talent provides him with a unique perspective surrounding both brands and the modern-day creator ecosystem. Nelson has forged relationships and built unique digital marketing campaigns with entertainment and Fortune 500 companies around the world.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Of course! We are happy to contribute!

We both have extensive backgrounds in entertainment and tech. When Brian (Mandler) sent me the musical.ly beta (5 years ago) we immediately saw the potential and were literally astounded. Why? We saw the potential for immediate massive audience growth & engagement, and a vehicle for how the Gen-Z audience in particular wants to view AND create short form content. We then prioritized working inside of the platform daily.

  • Brian Nelson

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

For me it has been working directly with artists like Taylor Swift, Mick Jagger and especially my business partner and good friend Joss Stone. I remember being on the Universal lot with a Super-Group project called “Super Heavy.” It was a surreal experience as to whom was in the band. I ended up having to take the reins a bit because all of the managers were reluctant to approach Mick Jagger. I jumped right in and we kicked things off with a great day shoot. For me it’s about moments, just like short form video for us now. Great moments!

  • Brian Nelson

After my stint as a digital executive at major record labels, I joined SayNow as head of Business Development & Content, where we built social phone numbers for public figures and brands. This experience allowed me to focus on all areas of social growth, content development, innovation, experimentation and expansion for the company and its product. 18 months after I joined the start-up, we were acquired by Google (where I spent the next 5+ years of my career in entertainment/product partnerships).

  • Brian Mandler

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Specific to the core product, we let TikTok innovate with their tech. Every week we are astounded by their product developments and the speed by which they deploy. Where we focus our time and energy at The Network Effect is on innovation, not duplication. Every project, product, artist, client approach is unique to their goals and ethos.

  • Brian Mandler

We spend 4–6 hours a day diving into existing and emerging platforms to understand new trends, behaviors, tendencies and which creators are starting to build traction. We then build concepts along with actions which consistently spark trends vs copying what everyone is already doing. This strategy has resulted in billions of on-brand views for our clients.

  • Brian Nelson

How do you think this might change the world?

While our approach may not change the world per se, we do see it as a revolutionary approach to “influencer marketing” (which by the way is a term we both despise). We believe that in order to build effective brand/product traction via short form, you need to effectively build “life integrations” with the right creators and brands. There needs to be a proper “fit” where a similar ethos is shared. Our content strategies are not accomplished over a day, a week or a month, but over multiple months. Building this foundation is what makes our approach unique.

  • Brian Mandler

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

This is more of a broad question about modern day tech. For us it’s about experimenting with feelings and habits. It’s also about engaging with a certain type of creator or content and what we predict the actions will be based on how the audience feels and reacts. We are at the forefront of a very fast-moving Gen-Z powered space. To understand that you must have acted inside the short form revolution from its inception like we have.

  • Brian Nelson

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

We’ve both put decades of work into studying audience habits. When we started to see short form video blossom with Vine we were both standing at attention. Then when musical.ly rolled out publicly, we KNEW it was going to work. Fast forward to today with TikTok/Triller/Dubsmash/Instagram Reels (forthcoming), we can boldly say that short form content is not a FAD, it’s a FORMAT which is here to stay.

  • Brian Mandler

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We are an experiential marketing team. So, for us, innovation is a daily thing. Even down to starting trends with the user base. I can tell you that we intricately know how Gen-Z adapts and adopts to existing and emerging social platforms. This allows us to effectively weave the brand’s initiatives into the emotions of the viewer.

Also, word of mouth for our agency and approach has been very strong. When brand executives want to understand these new platforms, we have been receiving consistent outreach

  • Brian Mandler

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have to say my business partner and co-founder Brian Mandler has been the most influential to me. The deep knowledge he has in technology, marketing and innovation really helped me to take a dig in, learn fast, and deeply understand all aspects of short form content and how we can effectively move the needle.

  • Brian Nelson

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We both believe strongly in offering our expertise to those who want or need it . We both pride ourselves in being “creator advocates”. We work with many creators in this space on all aspects of their career. Especially those who are first experiencing attention. With decades of experience combined in the entertainment industry, we advise on a wide range of topics including contracts, content & growth strategies, emerging platforms of focus, brand narrative and career development. In most cases, what you have not experienced yet you simply don’t know. We have seen ALOT through our careers, and offer unique perspectives especially what pitfalls to avoid.

  • Brian Mandler

You are both people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

We consistently make our core creators aware that they now have real influence across those that follow them. We urge them to recognize their followers as more than just a number and as a community of passionate people. Each creator should know they they now have the opportunity to facilitate real change on what matters to them most.

  • Brian Mandler

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ll take a bit of a different approach here. It certainly is not “if you can’t beat them, join them ” 🙂

We both believe in the notion of innovation over duplication. Our space changes daily and we pride ourselves in adopting our clients to this in real-time.

  • Brian Nelson

How can our readers follow you on social media?

TikTok — https://www.tiktok.com/@thenetworkeffect?lang=en

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/thenetworkeffectofficial/

Linkedin — https://www.linkedin.com/company/thenetworkeffectllc/

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