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  • The question was like, she was saying that she can tell, especially in stories, when things are resonating because she'll get a lot of DMs about it and she can tell when things aren't resonating because she doesn't get any DMs. I will say that DMs and how many messages influencers receive off their stories is a metric that we track in our campaigns and for the same reason, if there's a lot of DMs, we think that's a super highly engaged post. People are asking questions or commenting on it. That's something we definitely pay attention to. You should be looking at your DMs as a metric to understand how engaged your audience is in your Insta stories specifically.

    Now, should you answer them? I think the concern is obviously, as you grow, it gets really, really difficult to answer them. It's a conversation we were having with Grace. She said she struggled-- She wanted to answer all of her DMs. It was already a lot with 100,000 followers and sometimes she had to take breaks. Personally, I don't really understand influencers, especially bigger influencers who still feel like they need to be answering all of their DMs.

    If your DMs are like the info@four.com email address, nobody would expect the CEO of a company to be answering the general info at address. If you train people effectively to speak in your voice, if you teach them the responses that you would give and if you give them a way to escalate things that they feel do need to be personally answered by you, then I don't understand why you would feel the need to answer all of your DMs. The experience for your audience is going to be exactly the same.

    They're going to have a question. That question is going to be answered. I think that the audience doesn't get a huge amount of benefit from you personally answering the DMs or more often than not, not answering them because you're too busy, and you end up feeling a lot of guilt and stress that you should be answering these DMs and you're not. For me, if this was my business and my job, I would make it a point to answer every DM that was a question. When that felt like it was not worth my time, I would have somebody help me do that and make sure that you're still involved in it, that you're seeing reports on the kinds of questions that are being answered. Again, if there's anything that is a brand or something that you should be paying attention to or a question that the person who's helping you doesn't know that they're escalating that to you, but I wouldn't feel the pressure to answer every DM on your own. It's not scalable, it's impossible, so why do it.

    I do think if you had people helping you, it is potentially a way to really make that audience feel connected to you and feel like you really do care and you're putting in the effort. I do think it is a way to build a deeper relationship with that audience. If you're going to have someone else answer your DMs, how do you balance that? I think you could tell your audience. You could say, "Hey, I have someone that helps out with the DMs." Most of the DMs I assume are questions about the product and about, "I'm looking for this, I'm looking for that, who made that dress? Who makes those shoes?"

    It does not matter who answers that. I don't see a situation where you run into a follower and they're like, "Oh, my God, we've been like having a DM conversation for years." You're like, "What? I don't answer my DMs." "What?" Even if someone is helping you out with DMs, it's not like you don't have the phone and that you're not on top of this stuff. I've seen also back in the glory days when we had a sane president who didn't take to his own Twitter account that much. I think when he had a tweet, he would put Barack at the end to let you know that he actually wrote it, not somebody from his staff. I do that sometimes on the Four account. If I'm going through one night and I'm answering DMs, I'll put JN or James just to be like, "Hey, this is me who's talking."

    You could do that. The ones you personally answer, you could say that. Again, I think that if the audience's goal is to get an answer, then it's enough to get an answer, and if you think of what you're doing as a business, then that business needs to scale. Nobody could expect that you'd be answering all those DMs. It's just not a good use of your time. I really believe that, for the audience, it's a much better experience to know that I can send you a message and within a couple of hours get an actual answer rather than never get an answer.

    You can see how it feels shitty to send someone a message, especially a thoughtful one with a question and then just not get it answered. The problem is Instagram, it's not like a normal email inbox, obviously, it's difficult to manage a huge volume of messages whereas, again, in an email you can have filters, you can sit on the plane for two hours and bang out 400 emails really easily. There are ways to get through big volumes of messages on emails but there's really not on Instagram.

    I think it's just on you to train that person effectively. You write the responses. Again, if that person is working for you, they should know your tone of voice, how you talk about things. Again, this is why brands have brand guidelines. The person who is tweeting for a brand, they're speaking in that brand's voice. They had to be trained to know what is that voice. Do they use exclamation points or not? Do they sign off with an XO or do they not? Do they use emojis or not? This is all goes into what a brand is. It would be pretty easy to train someone to answer questions the way you do and then, again, just make sure they have a way to escalate things, and say, "Hey, if you get a chance today, there's five messages in your DM inbox that I feel like would be worth you answering."

    I understand there's probably some complexities there because someone else is in your account, which I think makes people nervous rightly so. They're speaking on your behalf, which can make you nervous. If you would be nervous about that, I would argue that maybe that employee isn't the right person for you. Sometimes when there are big complicated things to do, we distract ourselves with small simple things to do. While you should be out emailing brands and pitching them a new project, you might say, "Well, I've got two hours of DMS to answer. I'll do that instead because that's easy and I don't get rejected. That's something I know how to do."

    In running any business you constantly have to be growing out of the things that you're doing and growing into new things and then finding capable people to take over the things that you left behind. I read that John D. Rockefeller book Titan, which if you ever want to read a 900-page book on John D. Rockefeller, it was excellent. At Standard Oil, they would say, "The day you got hired you should be trying to get out of that job as soon as humanly possible and get the next job and have someone else take your job." It was just constantly about growth and constantly about figuring out a way to operate at a higher level and have someone else do those other things. I wouldn't get caught up too much in the minutia of answering 200 DMs a day. It's not worth your time.
    Episode #152
    - Responding to all DMs, Creator profile switch, Bilingual content
  • The short answer is, absolutely. We just did a campaign with Sephora with bilingual influencers. As the world just becomes a more global and connected place that is something, that we're seeing asked for more and more. If you are bilingual, I would encourage you to post in both languages. It doesn't have to necessarily be every post, but I do think that having a bilingual audience is an increasingly appealing thing.

    We work with bilingual influencers all the time. I would say we probably work with bilingual influencers more than just Spanish speakers or just French speakers or something like that. I think that's probably partially because most of the work we do is in the US and they want to make sure they're getting benefits on both sides. It would be harder for us to work with an Italian who just moved over here who was bilingual because there's not a huge population in America that's just Italian speaker.

    That would probably be less interesting to a brand, but certainly, Spanish speakers living in the US who are speaking to both audiences is absolutely something we would work with. We'll work with those influencers on campaigns that are specifically targeting those communities that aren't speaking English. We also will work with bilingual influencers on campaigns that are just targeting English speaking customers. I don't think that you necessarily pigeonhole yourself.

    I think Andrea from Dear Milano does a good job of this. If you can check out hers. It's not every post is in Spanish, but certainly, some of them are and some of them are in Spanish and English. I think she does a great job of balancing. It's probably someone to look at if you are wondering how to balance both languages.
    Episode #152
    - Responding to all DMs, Creator profile switch, Bilingual content
  • If you're not familiar, they just rolled them out in beta. Instagram has a new creator profile. It's got more in-depth analytics online. It's got a new inbox that's split up in primary, general and then the private, whatever randos messaging you, inbox and some other tools to help you grow and understand your profile. Then I think you'll be able to do the shopping stuff later on down the line. Should you switch? I think anytime Instagram does something, I hear people saying like, "I switched to a creator account and that made me lose all my reach. Instagram stopped serving my stuff to other people."

    Again, that stuff is not true. I saw that terrible meme. It's not even a meme, but I saw that thing getting spread around Instagram, again, that was like, "Hey, everyone, Instagram is limiting everyone's post to 10% of their audience seeing it. Like this, if you're seeing." It was some screenshot that I've seen floating around. Once again, we'll say that Instagram is not throttling views in any predatory way. They're not saying, "Everyone has switched over to creator profile. We're going to just make sure that they're not reaching anyone so that they have to buy advertising to get in front of people." Instagram's endgame is not in making money off influencers, is not getting you guys to run ads so that you have more reach. Why would they throttle how many people see your posts?

    They're going to make money off you by you selling products through like their new e-com shopping platform. They're going to make money off you from ads. There's a lot of ways for them to make money off of you. It is not in you having to buy advertising so that your post can be seen by more of your audience. If your posts aren't being seen by your audience, it is because your audience is no longer engaged or super interested in what you have to say. I think you have to rethink your content strategy. That really is the only answer.

    Should you switch to create creator? Again, right now that's not something you can choose to do. I think they just rolled it out to a small batch of people. I haven't seen a big change in my account. The new inbox, I think if you were a heavier DM user, could be nice because you can keep your friends in your primary inbox and then you have a general inbox for everyone else. You can switch back to a business profile in your account as well. It never hurts to try these things out and see what they have to offer. I would say if you're into it, go for it. It is not going to change your reach numbers, at all.
    Episode #152
    - Responding to all DMs, Creator profile switch, Bilingual content
  • I was reminded recently of a quote from this incredible Kanye West interview that journalist Zane. That's his name? Stupid name. Journalist Zane did. If you haven't seen this interview it is right before Kanye fell off the cliff. I watched the whole thing many times, I thought it was fascinating and maybe Tim can put a link up to it. It's pretty long but there's this one part where Kanye is talking about celebrities that have their products and selling products and all these things. He's talking about how years ago Lady Gaga was made creative director of Polaroid and he's like, “Look I like Lady Gaga, I like some of her music, what the fuck does Lady Gaga know about photography?” The point was she had no authenticity to be the creative director of Polaroid.

    She has authenticity in being one of the coolest fucking people on the planet and being a creative genius but that authenticity just naturally follow her through to Polaroid. While that title she had got some press for Polaroid it didn't do anything for the brand because she doesn't know anything about photography. That's not the thing that she's-- even if she's interested in it we as the public didn't know that, we don't grant her the authenticity, we don't believe that she knows something about it. It's an interesting point and something for you all to think about and we've talked about this before but how important craft is.

    I came into this job never doing it before, it's hard to prepare to be CEO of a company because how do you do that other than just doing it. I understood that I knew nothing and I tried to build my life around the pursuit of getting better at this job. In continuing to say I know nothing, I have no idea what I'm doing and I am trying to get better at it every day. That means when I leave the office the books I'm listening to, the people I'm talking to, the connections that I'm trying to make are in pursuit of getting better at this job. It is never-ending because of its complexities and because the job always changes.

    I'm constantly unprepared for it every single day because most of this stuff I've never done. I don't have anyone around me that's done it and so you have to try and invest in yourself to get better. I think that for influencers one of the traps that some people could fall into is that you're making so much money and you're so busy that you're not actually doing anything to improve your craft. You're not doing anything to get better at what you do and you know I encourage all of you to step back and say, “What have I done this week to be better at this job?”

    Not just-- Excuse me, not just the business side of, “I've learned more about working with brands, I'm watching this show which may or may not help.” What are you doing to be more interesting, effective, entertaining, educational to your audience? Have you stepped back and said, “You know what I think would be really helpful not taking this next sponsored post, my 15th sponsored post of the month. Actually, what I think would be helpful is that I'm going to test these five moisturizers for two weeks and actually tell people what I think and which one I think is best with no money involved.”

    This question is veering off the tracks a little bit but one of the existential threats to this space is that nobody ever says anything negative and we've talked about that before. How the fuck can I believe you if you never say anything negative, you never put yourself on the line, everything's amazing, everything's your favorite, everything is great and that is boring. It doesn't have to be mean and I understand you're trying to make sure that you don't ruin any potential brand partnerships but you can also be honest about things. I can say. “Look, I own a lot of suits, supply suits and they're not really very well made.”

    After a couple of years, they start falling apart, recently the canvassing in a couple of my suits has become unglued. They don't last very long, they're 500 dollar suits, of course, they don't last long. How the fuck can you make a suit 500 dollars? I don't know but they're not that nice. That's okay, I still I'm a customer but I'm being honest about it and there is just not a lot of honesty which hurts authenticity because you never say anything negative about any brand. Which again I think can really,4 really help you, in the long run, saying something negative because people look to your opinion.

    I just think that in following influencers recently it's a constant barrage of only talking about good things and never anything that is not perfect. After a while I again I think it's hard to retain your authenticity and the other side of that is not pushing yourself to get better for your audience and for your brand partners. Not pushing yourself to learn more about photography, to learn more about video. A guy named Patrick just launched a YouTube channel, he's putting himself out there, right? He's trying something new, I appreciate that and he's doing it different.

    He was making burgers with Bobby Flay, he has entry into that world which is nice because of his following but he is going outside of his comfort zone and trying to do something different. Marcel did the same with YouTube a couple of years ago in launching his channel and fucking doing hip hop dancing for some unknown reason. Its worked really well for Marcel and he's put himself out there. That’s what he always does. What are you doing to get better at your job? Because if you worry yourself with the minutiae of answering emails, answering DMs and emails from your followers.

    Going on ungodly amounts of trips, it can feel like you're really busy, it can feel like you're really progressing in the world but are you? Are you going to walk away from this the next three years with a tangible life's skills that you didn't have before? Another quick example I mentioned because it worked and because it's ballsy and again not everyone can do it but it's been so fascinating to watch Jamie Beck over the last couple of years. Who is making-- I'm sorry Jamie I know you watch this or listen to it, I can't stress enough how well she was doing.

    She was making the kind of money and I don't know this I just know-- I just assume she was making the kind of life-changing money here in New York and stepped away from that life, essentially does no brand work anymore and spent the last two years focusing on art and craft. She is so much better as a photographer today than she was two years ago and that when you think about her lifetime earnings is so much more valuable than anything she could have made staying busy in the two years before that. Again Jamie is an artist not everybody can do that but you guys you have to be getting better at your jobs constantly.

    You have to make sure that if your life is getting really busy, that you start divesting yourself from those the minutiae of the work, you start delegating works so that you can continue to focus on personal growth and getting better because you could come out of this industry in five years or this industry could walk away from you in five years and you could have a little pile of cash and literally nothing else. You may have done a collaboration with a brand and called yourself a designer but you're not a designer you're someone with an audience that the brand wanted access to.

    Now, that audience isn't there, the brand doesn't want access to that audience, you're not a designer you were a marketing tool, but take the power that you have and the power that influencers have today and use it to get better at something. Again Kanye West, flawed as he was, took his fame and turned it into an internship at Louis Vuitton. He interned there. He said, “I have the ability to throw myself into something and learn from the smartest people in the world.

    To get better to reach my larger eventual goals.” He could have just put out a line without doing any of that but he spent years trying to learn because for him he didn't want it to be like a lady Gaga thing of like, “What the fuck does Kanye west know about clothing?” Being able to wear clothes does not mean you can design them. It doesn't mean you can't design them but think about how you're using your influence and think about how you're cashing in on it, and think about the long term there are things that you can get out of this other than money and things that are probably more valuable in the long run.
    Episode #150
    - Converting Posts to Sales, Instagram Shopping, Designing Products
  • Let me tell you the proverbial curtain is about to be pulled back on this entire industry. It is very clear that Instagram is aggressively moving into shopping and that shopping is going to be available for influencers in their stories and on their posts very soon.

    This is completely game-changing. I have talked for so long about how I don't buy things on Instagram because it's such a complex process. One of my longest stunning employees here, Emma she recently sent an email to the team where she saw someone's sponsored post and then took the steps to try and buy it and it was like 14 or 15 steps and she spent 10 minutes on it because she kept having to put a password then it wasn't the right password. Then she had to confirm it and go to her email.

    It was an incredibly complex process. I think what she was trying to show us is like just how hard it was, she saw a sponsored post and said, "What happens if I want to buy this product right now and she spent 15 minutes trying and couldn't get it done in the end. Instagram shopping is going to change that dramatically and we won't be able to hide behind that idea anymore. That followers aren't shoppers or that it's really hard to buy on mobile or Instagram doesn't want you to leave the app so it's difficult to purchase.

    Those excuses are going to go away. You are going to begin to be responsible for the value you can provide. It's going to be interesting for influencer. If you're an influencer and you charge $1,000 and you do a sponsored post for a product that's 10 bucks and you sell two of them and it's through Instagram shopping, one click, their credit card info is saved, their address has saved. There's no friction whatsoever. It's just like apple pay thumbprint. It's going to be difficult to explain that away.

    I think we are entering a really exciting time for some influencers and probably a really scary one for others because the ROI metrics are going to be so much more apparent about who is driving value and who is not. That is why I think it is really interesting and important to talk about it today and to start to talk about sales because you can train an audience, and you can move your followers to become purchasers.

    That is possible for some people hopefully you already have that, your audiences already there looking to shop with you. I think you have to take your head out of the sand. Know that this is coming and it is going to fundamentally change this industry and the way that we look at, who we pay? How much we pay them? How we consider? What we consider a success? The world is going to be dramatically different in a year. For some people, that's going to be great and for some people, it's going to be a fucking nightmare. It is important to figure out what side of that you are on and start preparing for it.
    Episode #150
    - Converting Posts to Sales, Instagram Shopping, Designing Products
  • Question one is more of a request for comment on a situation that happened last week where an influencer with 2.6 million followers only ended up selling 36 units of a clothing line that she produced and why that happened, and what influencers can learn from that. Why do I think an influencer with 2.6 million followers only sold 36 items from a clothing launch that they apparently worked years off? Because that is not a good result obviously. I could sell 36 something right now to you guys. I could just be like, "Buy this shit," and some of you would do it. Although, I have been asking you guys to send me whiskey for years, and I get like two bottles a month, so maybe I'm not such a good salesman. I digress. Okay, we're going to juxtapose two things. One, influencer with 2.6 million followers sold 36 items from a launch, not good. Two, Danielle Bernstein about 2 million followers recently launched a collaboration with a swimwear company sold 2 million dollars in 12 hours, good okay. Those are two sides of a coin.

    Let's figure out what happened.

    In team, I fucked up, there's a few things that were wrong and I didn't study this in huge depth, because honestly didn't seem like I really needed to. It was apparently obvious from the very beginning. One, the product was totally wrong for her. It was like street wear and that just wasn't what she was in. It made absolutely no sense why she was creating a product line that didn't feel natural to her feed. She posted about it once like the day before launch and like once a couple days after and that was essentially it. She did a terrible job promoting it, talked about it a couple times and didn't sell anything. Then threw a big hissy fit said "This was a big failure," ended up deleting all those posts. It's a whole internet drama thing that I'm not really getting into.

    What is interesting is that I think if I can take some liberties here and get inside of her brain. I think it is not dissimilar to what some of our clients think which is, "This influencer with 2.6 million followers is going to do one post and things are going to change immediately." From that one post the train is going to rocket out of the station and people are going to start fucking throwing money at it. It's going to be great. I guarantee that is the mindset a lot of clients have, especially when they work with a big influencer. I've had clients come in and be like, "Look, they've got a million followers if 10% buy something that's a hundred thousand people. If it's five dollars that's five hundred thousand dollars." In what fucking world is 10% of an audience buying something that they see for the first time? We're just like "Red flag. Whoa, that is never never, never, never, never happening ever.", but that is the expectation that some brands have and maybe the expectation that this woman had which was, "I would do a post or two and this will work and I will just print money."

    Let's look at Danielle who did a better job, obviously. She sold two million dollars of this stuff in 12 hours. One it was her third collaboration with that same brand so this was not new. Even just looking at this specific collaboration which did exponentially better than the ones before it. Well, but they did grow. I think the first one did half a million dollars total. This next one did a million dollars and then this one did two million in 12 hours. I think she posted like eight or nine times about it before it even launched. Which is a huge amount, for Danielle who at her following can charge 10K or more for a post. You're talking about eighty to a hundred thousand dollars of free posts that she could have sold, that she was doing in the run-up to this launch.

    She shot it in Italy. It was a swimwear brand. She shot it in Italy. She took her followers on that shoot. She showed the product beforehand. I think that honestly, I wouldn't have been as comfortable if I was the brand with her sharing so much of the product beforehand but I kudos to her. I think it worked really, really well.

    She continued to tease the launch but she did it while keeping people engaged by showing the product. Where a lot of people are like, "I have something really exciting launching tomorrow." You do that song and dance for a month and then you show the product and it's not-- While people may be aware that you're launching something, they're not aware of what the product looks like. I think her doing those eight or nine posts beforehand is huge. They say that people need to see something seven times before they can get to a place to be convinced to buy it or consider purchase.

    I think it's not a coincidence that all that posting the Danielle did ended up having a great effect. The other thing is the kinds of posts. Most people would think I'm going to just do all editorial post. She shot incredible editorial in Italy with her photographer from New York, which again was really smart because the photos, she was comfortable. The photos were great and they looked and felt like her feed not like the brand hired a campaign photographer that shot in a way that she was uncomfortable with.

    What was really interesting was she posted all of the product. She posted the line sheet from the collaboration. Literally, every product on a white flat lay so you could zoom in and look at it. What is interesting is that every post was leading up to “You're going to buy this.” Not “Look at me, look how special I am for designing something or doing this collaboration and look how beautiful I look in the swimmer.” It was all about getting people to the point where they were comfortable buying something.

    We have a blog post that we'll link in this that I wrote for brands about how I thought this worked. I think it's a really important juxtaposition and it would be great to go look at that, look up some articles in the woman who didn't sell things. There's a few articles online about it, a few tweets, storms and stuff. Look at our blog posts on Danielle and go through her feed and think about that when you're thinking about not just your own line but how to be effective for your brand partners.

    You have to integrate this stuff into your life. It has to be, it can't just be transactional one and done. That's on the brands as well, a lot of our clients just want one post from an influencer. We push back on that like there's only so much we can do and sometimes they're getting those larger scale effects from working with a lot of influencers saying, "I'm assuming if I work with a 100 influencers that are similar that a consumer will see this post five or six or seven or eight times instead of seeing eight times from one person, which could get a little repetitive."

    You have to understand the science behind how you change people's minds. Lastly, this is actually driving the entire brand conference that we're having in June. If you all are branding, you haven't signed up quick plug, you should sign up for the brand conference. We are running low on seats, but we still have some. Tim will put that link in there as well. There's this bit of common knowledge and advertising, like not advertising.

    There's this just this fact of life that you can't change someone's mind or convince them of something with facts. You have to do it with stories. Stories are so compelling and they do such a good job, boring into your mind and getting you to do things. Listen to any political speech. Does the politicians stand up there and say, "It's not fair that so many people are leaving college with student debt?"

    No. They say, "I talked to a young man yesterday in Wisconsin and he put himself through college and he came out and he has $180,000 in debt and his first job is paying $35,000 a year and he is now going to be under the weight of this debt for the next 30 years and it's not acceptable." You have to humanize it and put a story behind it. That is why politicians make up these bullshit stories about people that they meet who-- There’s no way they're meeting these people.

    There's a story for everything. Again, thinking of Danielle, she crafted a story about this line that was about more of the product. She took her followers through the product development phase and actually show those happening. She took them on the campaign shoot and showed them what was happening. She posted the actual product beforehand. She was excited. You could feel that excitement. I was just on a phone call with a potential client-- Fingers crossed.

    I was talking about influencers posts and I was saying, “You know when you're young and you're interviewing for something on the phone and your mom or dad says like, make sure you smile on the phone because you can hear it.” When you smile on the phone, it comes across in your voice that enthusiasm. I was talking to the client, I was like, "We want the same thing with influencers. We want the post to feel like they're smiling when they write it. We want them to feel really excited about it.”

    That is what makes stories compelling. They feel real and honest and that they touch on some emotion. If you're trying to sell shit to people, you have to do it with stories. Those stories have to be rooted in the product but you have to have a story and you have to be able to tell it effectively. With Instagram changing the way the platform works and Wish shopping coming in, I cannot stress enough how important it's going to be able to move product on your Instagram feed if you want to continue to have a career here.
    Episode #150
    - Converting Posts to Sales, Instagram Shopping, Designing Products
  • Something that I think influencers, you guys aren't thinking enough about is lifetime value of a customer. We've talked about that before where it's not about optimizing for how much money can I get out of this brand today, but optimizing for how much money can I get out of this brand over the next three to five years. That is where you really unlock value. You guys live in a world that is cyclical and is up and down.

    I talk to influencers all the time. They say like, "One month I'll have 10 sponsored posts, and then over the next two months, I'll have three." It's really up and down and there's boom and bust periods that are really frustrating. Well, one way to alleviate that kind of cyclical bumpy nature of how you're making money is to build long-term partnerships with brands and build relationships with them, and have those brands come back to you over and over again.

    To build long term partnerships, again, you have to think about the relationship in terms of what is the lifetime value of this customer, and optimizing for that, not for the short term. You've posted your post. Obviously, the first thing you need to do, as we said, is you've got to send a report. Send the content. Either send the content through to them. Show them if you got any DMs. Highlight comments where people talked about the product. Whatever you can do to make it look like your audience really resonated with this product and with this collaboration, the better.

    Then you have to ask for the sale. You always have to say like-- If you hadn't gotten on the phone with them yet, I would say, "We'd love to get on the phone and talk about projects you have coming down the pipeline." If you feel like you already have a relationship with them, even when you send them that report saying like, "Hey, love for you to keep me in mind as you do have budget moving forward, and I'd love to be a part of any of the paid campaigns that you're working on." If you don't ask for things, it is obviously much less likely that you are going to get them.

    Make sure you're asking for the sale and make sure you are keeping a relationship up with that brand. We have brands that it's taken us three or four years to close them. In those three or four years, we did work for free. We sent them lists. We sent them reports. We did a little favor here and there for them. We didn't ask for the money right away because we felt like what we were doing is proving ourselves and building a relationship long term. Those relationships have ended up paying incredibly well for us, but it is because we took the long term "This is a marathon, not a sprint" view. You really can turn a brand off pretty quickly by trying to soon to extract money out of the relationship. It is a little different if you're sitting at 200,000, 300,000, 400,000 followers because there's just an inherent value to those posts that is hard to deny, and there is only so much content you can post and such. Giving it free to someone else means you can't charge another brand.

    That said, all the successful big influencers I know are posting for free, posting about brands for free constantly because they're savvy and they know that what better way to get someone's attention than giving them something for free that's worth $3,000 and saying, "Okay, I put my money where my mouth is. I gave you something and now it is your turn to give me something." Those are the levers that make all this stuff work. You have to learn how to pull them and be strategic about it if you're going to be successful.
    Episode #149
    - Everything you need to know about gifting campaigns start to finish
  • What happens a lot is influencers are like, "I love the product. I'd love to have it. Just to be upfront, I can't promise anything coverage-wise." The brand says, "Totally understand. I just want to get it in your hands and let you know the thoughts."

    Again, back to point one, you shouldn't accept the product if you don't think you're going to post about it. Then you're just stealing. It doesn't help the brand if you just use the product and don't talk about it. In my email to brands today, I did say that I don't think brands should be doing gifting without opting in. I think that the brand sending you guys a bunch of shit without talking to you and having a relationship with you is a big part of the problem. I'm structuring this on when a brand does the right thing, they reach out to you first and you say, "Sure, send along."

    In that scenario, they send it along. If the product doesn't meet your expectations, if it doesn't fit, if you don't like it as much, if you use it, it's skincare, use it for a bit and you're just not feeling it, I would honestly reach out to the brand and say, "Thanks so much. Used the product and it didn't fit, or the fit was a little off. Keep me in mind for future things." Proactively giving a reason if you're not going to post it for a specific reason, and that reason is you didn't like the product. I would reach out to the brand and try and gracefully tell them that because they are going to follow up with you.

    Your options are lie or just be a shithead and ghost them. Option three, which is saying something difficult of like, "I didn't actually like the product. It felt cheap." Or something like that, not it felt cheap, but like, "It wasn't exactly what I thought. It didn't fit," whatever, is a much more graceful way to get them off the trail. Now, if you accepted the product, you have to expect that brands are going to follow up, "Did you like it? I hope you got it."

    Again, you can preempt a lot of this stuff by being professional. When you get the product, reaching out to the brand, "Hey, I received the package today. Looking forward to trying it out." Again, what your goal is here is to build a relationship because you can turn relationships into money. In building a relationship, you want to be overly communicative because it will also show a level of professionalism that just generally doesn't exist in the influencer space. You communicate.

    Understand that the brand, even if they say they're not expecting you to post, they're expecting you to post. You will have to either have a reason why you didn't post because if we accept the fact that when brands send something and you say, "Sure, send it through," they're expecting you to post and you don't, no matter what, they're coming out of that feeling like you're an entitled brat, and they're never going to work with you again. You really need to be strategic in the stuff that you take and then managing those relationships.

    Again, if the product is decent and you like it, giving them at least a story is not that hard. Here's the reality of adulthood, even if you feel like people's expectations are unfair, they exist and you're being held to them. Know that and react to it. You can really set yourself apart in the influencer space in being communicative. If you say, "Sure, send me a product," make sure to incorporate it in some way into your feed.
    Episode #149
    - Everything you need to know about gifting campaigns start to finish
  • I think the first thing, and this is fundamental to any sales conversations that you're having is that you have to first understand the power balance of the relationship. Is this brand a really established loved brand that has more clout than you do or are they a brand new brand and you're a big influencer and they want you to use your position in the industry and your audience to try and pull their clout up?

    Those are two really different scenarios and I would treat them in two different ways. Obviously, if Chanel reaches out and says they want to send you a bag, you're not going to say you're not going to send them your price sheet, obviously. That's an extreme example, but there are more nuanced ones. I think understanding the power balance is super important to being able to do this stuff effectively.

    A brand reaches out and they say, "Hey, I want to send you something." I've talked before about how I hate unboxing videos. I think they're trashy. I think they're boring. I think they're lazy. I would love to not see them anymore. I think the first is that you should not take the product if you don't want it and you don't think that you would post about it. If there is no way you're going to post about it, you're just going to give the product to your assistant or to your mom, I don't think you should be taking that product.

    I think it's a waste of your time. It's a waste of the brand's time and it's just disingenuous. You should first put yourself in that mindset of being like, "Would I, in any way, incorporate this into my stories or into a post?" If no, just respectfully pass and say, "Right now, I'm not accepting gifting. Thank you so much. Keep me in mind for future paid opportunities." That's an easy classy way to get out of that.

    I think a lot of influencers, what they do is they reach back out and they say like, "Do you have a budget?" Again, I think that is not the way to do it. You have to understand the steps of a relationship. Part of the sales relationship is validating yourself and building trust with that partner. Asking for money before you've ever talked or before you've done any work for them is probably not going to bear fruit for you.

    Again, also think about do some research on the brand. Figure out if you think they have money. Dig into the brand a little bit, see how long they've been around before you go out asking for money. Certainly, if Procter & Gamble is reaching out to you, yes, they have marketing budgets, but if it is a brand that looks like it launched six months ago, then asking for a budget is probably a waste of your and their time.

    I think, one, understand what is the possibility that this could turn into something bigger. Now, if it is a brand that you think you would want to build a relationship with, again, I always would stress to try and get on the phone, try and talk to them. Try and start to build a relationship because, again, it's really hard to just sell people right away. It's much easier once they know you.

    If you think there's an opportunity there, try and push them to get on the phone. Try and talk it out. Say, "Hey, I don't usually do gifting but I'd love to get on the phone and talk about this and see what the possibilities are for the future." Another way to build a relationship with the brand if you think that it is somebody that could, down the line, be a good partner for you is to accept the gifting and commit to doing something and proving to them that you're invested and that you're interested.

    I think it's a two-way street. The gifting has become this gross thing and some of it is the fault of the influencers and some of it is the fault of the brands. I think, for the most part, everyone is treating things too transactionally. Brands are just like, "I want to send this shit to an influencer and get them to post it on their stories." Influencers are like, "I've never heard of you or heard from you before, but I want you to pay me immediately."

    In general, thinking longer term and saying like, "Is this a partner that I want to build a long term relationship with?" If yes, let's move the conversation forward. If no, respectfully decline and move on. It is incredibly important. Again, in any negotiation, I think you have to be able to see yourself from someone else's point of view. As an influencer, you have to understand how entitled and bratty you sound to brands. I think in some cases, influencers can be entitled and bratty, and in some cases, brands have completely unrealistic expectations about what an influencer should do for free. There's a middle ground there and I'd love for us to get there.

    It's become fairly toxic where brands are like, "Fuck these influencers. Every time I try and send them something that's worth $500, all they do is ask for payment." Again, part of this is also understanding where your following is at. If it's a $500 product and you have 20,000 followers, then that product is worth $300 more than I would ever pay you for a sponsored post. If you want the product, they're paying for it. If you don't want the product and you don't think it's worth $500, then move on.

    Again, I just sent an email to brands about gifting today. I'm yelling at them too. Don't feel like I'm just yelling at influencers. You have to root this stuff in reality and understand what is reasonable. Being an influencer with 15,000 followers, sending back prices when a brand reaches out for gifting is ridiculous. It's like a 22-year-old coming in for an interview and being like, "Cool, can you show me where my office is?" It's like, "You don't get an office. You're 22 years old." You'd be lucky if you get a coffee cup." Understanding where you're at is super important to doing this stuff in a way that feels genuine and honest.
    Episode #149
    - Everything you need to know about gifting campaigns start to finish
  • I'm not going to be one of those people that says like imitation is the sincerest form of flattery because honestly, it's really annoying. It's annoying to do something and to have it stolen, this is why I think that all the meme accounts are total trash, I've never been like a @thefatjewish or @fuckjerry fan, I don't think it's interesting when people just steal other people's stuff and put it up and like I died I just don't really think that takes a huge amount of talent, not saying that there's not funny stuff on that account but it doesn't have anything to do with fuck Jerry or the fat Jew so like it's not interesting. Those dudes are millionaires, and they did that off stealing other people's jokes but I digress.

    It is annoying when people steal things from you especially if you are not in a position of power, like it's one thing to be like very successful and to do something and to have people try and emulate it, that's annoying but not as annoying as not being successful and having someone successful with a much bigger platform come and steal your thing, so now you can't be seen as like the genesis of that and now it looks like you are copying the person that stole from you, which is incredibly annoying but happens all the time.

    I think that like for me it's probably just not a really interesting thing to think about that much because what are you going to do? There's literally nothing you can do I think that if you find yourself in life doing something that works and that brings you success, other people will look at it and say, "okay, I'm going to do that too." I mean when we started this company we're the first influencer marketing platform in the world. Now, I'm not going to say that people copied us it's not like that crazy of an idea, but it certainly has been frustrating over the years to see hundreds of companies launch doing what we're doing, but I think what I have found to be true in life is that ideas are essentially meaningless and execution is really the only thing that matters.

    The idea of Fohr Card when we started it. It was really not that great of an idea, it wasn't like I invented a fucking personal computer or something. The idea hasn't really meant anything. I think that what is more important is your ability to execute on it and your ability to do it well. I think that our society, in general, places too much value on ideas. I know that when people are thinking about starting a business they're like, "I'd love to be an entrepreneur but I just don't have a great idea."

    To that you'd say again, most businesses, they're not original ideas. Facebook was just another version of MySpace, and it wasn't really any different other than like it started in colleges and it was blue. The only thing that's mattered is execution. Mark is an incredible executive and he's made really good decisions and some bad ones over the last 15 years or so. That has made all the difference, not the idea of Facebook, the idea of Facebook is meaningless when compared to the execution of it. I think if you can focus less on ideas and more on executing them effectively that is where you will find your success.
    Episode #147
    - Instagram removes likes in Canada, Staying Relevant, Stealing Ideas
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