Close
This video is not currently available.

Episode #
-

Search Drink With James

For example, type "Instagram" to search questions about Instagram



Displaying - of results for ""

No results for ""

  • Now, it is 100% important for all influencers to have relationships with brands, especially as you get bigger and you're represented. Let's say you have half a million followers and you're paying $5,000 for a post and I reach out to you, and your agent responds, and we negotiate, and you post. Great, cool.

    I've just given you five grand and you can't even be fucking bothered to answer an email and just say like, "This is so exciting. I love the brand so much. I'm going to kick you over to my agent, and hope this works out, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." I think that as an influencer, you need to insist on having the relationship because that is really all you have. Again, as we were talking before about this stuff becoming commoditized, don't fool yourself in thinking that the influencer space is not going to be commoditized.

    As supply rushes into the market as it is right now, individual demand for each individual influencer will fall in accordance with how much the supply is going up. Your ability to continue to do what you do and charge your rates will be predicated on, one, your ability to create action and actually get your audience to do something, and two, your relationship with those brands. You need to concurrently be working on both of those things. It is just so irresponsible to not have a direct relationship with the brands.

    This is the whole joy of having an agent is that they get to be the bad guy who pushes on the contract terms, who pushes on the price, who pushes on the amount of deliverables and how long you have to be at the events and all that stuff. You get to be the final one who, once a year, you go out to dinner or drinks with them. You send them champagne when you see that they got engaged. Again, how many times do we have to say it, follow your brand contacts on Instagram and comment on their shit. This is very simple. This is very, very simple.

    You have half a million followers and you're commenting on their photos and all their friends are like, "Oh, my God that influencer is like you guys know each other." Like, "Yes, we work together. It's not a big deal." That's a moment, for the person at that brand, that is cool that you can create 20 times a day very easily. Again, follow all your brand contacts and mute them. Then once a week, go into the accounts that you've muted, go in, interact a little bit, do some commenting, boom, done. This is an hour of your life, people, and I promise it will bear fruit.

    If you have an agent and you are not maintaining your brand relationships you need to rapidly change that. If your agent is keeping you from those brand relationships fire them without question don't hesitate just done because if if you stop working together they take those relationships with them to wherever they go next you don't get to keep them. You need to make it a big part of what you're doing.I don't know what percentage of your time you should be spending doing this but if it was less than 10% I would be alarmed.
    Episode #140
    - Niche Mastery, Sponsored Instagram Stories, Brand Interactions
  • The question was actually, are influencers over 40 on our radar? and some suggestions for influencers who are operating in the food segment. I'll blow that out to talk about niches in general. One, short answer, to the first part of the question, we definitely are looking at influencers with older audiences. A lot of the purchasing power in the United States is locked up in people that are over the age of 40. Those audiences are increasingly coming to Instagram a little late, and those audiences are generally smaller, but we're finding that they operate and act a lot like influencer audiences used to years ago. They're more engaged. They're more ready to buy. They're ready to buy. They're ready to swipe up. They're excited.

    We are finding a lot of effectiveness working with older influencers, and it's definitely a place for watching. It's something we're really excited about. That's just absolutely, if anyone's watching the show and you're over 40, keep going. I think the next couple years are going to be great for influencers who are over 40, as far as the volume of brand deals that start coming in because it's just this very interesting untapped market that is full of people ready to take their wallet out, which is a marketer's dream, really. Speaking to other nations, in general, I think that, again, there's this thought that everything's been done and there's no space for you to come and do something interesting.

    When I thought of food, I initially thought of Infatuation, which I'm sure you guys have heard of. This was a blog started by a couple of guys who were in the music industry, and now, quite a big business. They bought Zagat Guide recently. When they launched, they weren't doing anything different. They were doing food reviews. They were doing them in their voice, and they had a little bit of differentiation as far as tagging restaurants as being big for good groups or big for people watching.

    In general, I think they focused a little less on the food than a normal food review would and more on the experience of dining out in that place. One of my things that got me reading Infatuation was their review of Rao's, which is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. The first line is like, "If you can't have a good time at Rao's, you're an asshole," which would just not be in a normal food review, but it was just a food review site. I think that, again, there's this potential frustration of like everything's been done but the guys who started that, it wasn't innovative.

    It was just a fucking food review site. There's nothing different about it really. It's just that their voice and their point of view is different, and it has become this big thing. There is always an opportunity, in any of these niches, to do something. The other thing I think with Infatuation, specifically, is they're a food brand, but most of the advertising that they seem to work with is lifestyle brands because food has become such a part of lifestyle. That's not becoming.

    Obviously, food has always been pretty important to people's lives and living, but interesting that when you see the people that they work with, the brands that they work with, it's generally not people in the food space. I think that, again, if you're a travel influencer and you're frustrated because it's harder to make money, I do think there is a way to cross verticals and start integrating other things. If you're a travel influencer, can you work with beauty or fashion brands? Absolutely. You have to be a little more aggressive in getting those people to come to you because they're not thinking of you.

    Obviously, Infatuation is now quite big, and they're a very hip company right now, but I imagine, in the beginning, they were doing a lot of pitching. Amex wasn't just coming to them being like, "Hey, I want to do this big thing." They were probably saying like, "Hey, we have this really exciting thing happening, and it's involving food and people and all this thing, and you can pull your lifestyle brand into this in a really exciting way."

    If you're in a niche that is outside of the verticals that are pulling a lot of money, and for influencers right now, you can think about how can those brands work with you? As always, think about what you're doing different. What is the thing that you're doing that no one else is doing? Because there is always room to just reinvent an existing business. Like, again, Infatuation is a reinvention of a Zagat Guide. Funny that they ended up buying it. Tesla is just a reinvention of Ford. Amazon is probably in some ways a reinvention of like Walmart. It's the same thing just done in a little different way.

    There's always room for you. There's always room to do something interesting, but you have to be doing it in a way that is different and unique to you. I think, long term, if I was not in any niche, I would worry about being too replaceable. Because Infatuation is built on their tone of voice and their perspective of the world, right now, they can't be replaced because they own that whole way of talking about restaurants. They have a really good defensible position, as far as the business goes.

    If your brand and that brand can be your Instagram feed, is just like plain white toast, nobody's mad about toast but not a lot of people are super passionate about it either. That's actually probably not true. People do really like toast but probably not white toast. You have to worry about being replaced easily. You become interchangeable with a lot of people. Things start to commoditize and prices fall.

    If you're not in a niche and you don't have something super specific that is specific to you, then people can price shop and say, "Okay, I'm looking for an LA blogger who's wearing high pony and Adidas track pants all the time." It's like, "Okay, there's 1000 of those." You can price shop a little more than you could if you have something really specific and unique that you do because you can hold your ground and say, "This is me, and if you want me you have to pay a premium for that."
    Episode #140
    - Niche Mastery, Sponsored Instagram Stories, Brand Interactions
  • I want to refine my position and explain myself a little bit better. I am not saying that if you were doing a post for a brand that that should be the only story that you do that entire day, I am saying that if you're doing a post for a brand and you're doing two story screens and you've done 20 that day, that you're probably doing that brand a disservice.

    There's a balance of making sure that you are giving the brand the space and attention that they paid for without jeopardizing the performance of your feed on that day. I think as I said before, there's no magic number of what exactly is right, it's just I think asking yourself, "Do I feel like if I was the brand and I paid for this, would I feel happy with it? Would I feel like it was well-integrated into your day?"

    That's another thing. It's not just how many or how few stories that you post that day in addition to your sponsor. For me, it's about how it integrates into the larger story of that day. I think as I said before, if it's like, "I'm at brunch," and then boom, "Here's a sponsored post," and then, I'm at meetings, or running around, or working out and it just goes on, then it does feel more like just a commercial where it shouldn't, it should feel engaging.

    I think thinking about that-- If it's a skincare post, making sure you're doing it in the time that you would normally be doing your skincare routine, just being a little more considered about how you're integrating that brand into the day. Do I notice that the fewer stories you post, the worse they do? Not really.

    Again, it's person-to-person. I think the thing that we are starting to track more and more is what is a person's average fall-off rate on their stories. If you did five stories in a day, how many views did you have in the first one versus the last one, which for us, is telling us how engaged your audience is. Are they getting to your stories and just being like, "No, don't like this person," and doing a hard swipe over to the next person, or do they sit and they watch every single one?

    Another thing to think about as far as sponsored stories goes is that you need to think about how you are going to, again, create something effective for the brand and for your audience. If the brand is giving you a trackable link on your swipe up, what that should trigger in your brain is, they were going to look at how many people swipe up on this story. Let's just say, to keep the math simple, they paid you $2,000 for a post and 10 people swiped up on your post. Now they've paid $200 per visit. That is very expensive.

    If you think about average Facebook click-through, let's say it's $2 a click, so if you were going to perform as well as Facebook, for that same $2,000, you should get a thousand visits. Now that would be pretty high for an influencer, but if someone's giving you a trackable link, know they are looking that and know they are looking at how you did versus everyone else in the campaign.

    It's pretty hard to justify a price if I'm looking at the trackable link and saying, "Only 14 people swiped up and they have 100,000 followers." There's no one that's going to look at that and say like, "You did a great job." Think about your stories especially if they have a swipe up and ask yourself like, "How am I going to get people to flick their thumb up and check it out?," because your job is not to put the link in your story and hit publish, your job is to get people to swipe on it. I just think that, fundamentally, influencers misunderstand that.

    They think, "My job is to hit publish on my Instagram post and to hit publish on my story, and that is it," and that is 100% not your job. Brands are paying you because they want the money they give you to turn into more money. If the money they pay you doesn't turn into more money, then they're never going to work with you again.

    It is hard to track sales on Instagram, and I don't think Instagram is a good commerce platform in general, but looking at overall trends, if I'm a brand and I made a million dollars last year and I spent half a million dollars this year on influencers and I make a million dollars again, do you think I'm going to spend half a million dollars again the next year on influencers? No. That is existentially the biggest threat to this entire industry, is that this stuff stops working or it gets too expensive for it to be justified.

    I think influencers, again, just fundamentally don't understand their larger role in advertising campaigns and what they need to be thinking about when they hit publish, which is, "How am I getting people to, one, go to this place and eventually buy this thing?"

    Before you go and hit publish, you know how we always say like, "Ask yourself if this is going to be of benefit to your audience, is it going to educate them, inspire them, or entertain them?" Also ask yourself if this is a sponsored post, "Do I think I'm doing a good job of selling this, and is this the way I talked about this going to create some kind of action in my audience?" It is fundamental to your job. You're a salesperson, you're being paid to sell shit, and you need to be considering this.
    Episode #140
    - Niche Mastery, Sponsored Instagram Stories, Brand Interactions
  • Brands have incredibly robust teams that are creating content. Do I think that brands are starting to think about how they can create content that looks and feels like Instagram native content? Yes. We're doing a lot more campaigns recently. It is a content creation play where we're working with people from 5,000 to 25,000 followers.

    We don't care as much about their reach, but we just want their viewpoint. We want their content. You think about a brand that's doing their own shoot. Maybe they can hire two models. Decent models, $1,500 a day. That's on the low-end. Photographer, three grand for the day. Production, you're in 10 grand for the day. You're going to shoot 20 looks that day. You got these two models. You shoot your 20 looks for 10 grand. Great. For the same amount of money, you could potentially work with 30 micro influencers who are going to shoot in 30 different locations and have 30 different points of view.

    I don't know if it would be advantageous for a brand to bring it in-house because you would start to lose what makes influencers so interesting and special, which is the ability to get those varied and wide points of view fairly affordably and fairly easily. I do see brands relying on, specifically micro influencers, more for content creation. I do see photographers who are creating content for brands beginning to suffer because they can't compete with the scale and price that micro influencers are able to give. I think a big part of it is that you get the photographer and the model and the production, you get all in one and it's insanely cheap.

    It's just one person out of 30 you're working with. Even if you don't love it, it doesn't matter because you've got 29 other amazing people doing things. There's less risk inherently in doing it. We are in a very real way seeing that as a trend. I think it's something that will become a trend. I think, most influencers, the goal, correct me if I'm wrong, is not to work in-house and be behind the desk. You want to leave that to the desk jockeys like us who sit and stare at a screen for 10 hours a day. How would you go to Positano three times a year if you had a full-time job in an office, I say? If you're a small influencer, seriously think about that as something to offer brands.

    Again, you have 10,000 followers. That's essentially meaningless for most big brands. The ability to give 10, 20 high-res images, that's huge and valuable. The ability to do that once a month for the next year could be really valuable. That could probably net you more money than trying to sell your 10,000 followers, which the most you probably get is $150 a post to do that, so you're not getting rich doing that. It's definitely something to consider.
    Episode #139
    - Instagram Story Best Practices, In-House Influencers, Growth Issues
  • Well, one you probably can't. That's probably the short answer. If no one is seeing you or you feel like you're not being seen, you can't grow. That's a problem that you probably are going to need to solve very, very quickly. Dissecting it a bit, you feel you're not being seen. Again, I can't stress enough, the Instagram algorithm is not predatory. It is not attacking certain influencers. It doesn't wake up and say, "I fucking hate that person. Them, I'm not going to let anyone see their posts. I'm going to let them see everyone else's."

    No, it is a fairly simple equation that takes into account who's engaging with your posts, who you're engaging with and then tries to serve content to the people who they think want to see it. That's it. It's pretty simple. It is standard across the whole platform. I can't say that with complete confidence. Maybe there's different tiers and the way it works if you're under 500 is different than if you're at a million. I'm sure that it is different across different tiers. As you look at your peers, that algorithm is the same for everyone. I think that going back to question number one, you just have to focus on the absolute fundamentals.

    Are you being interesting? Are you being engaging? Do people care? Maybe the hard truth is that people don't care about the content you're putting out. It's not to say it's not good, it's not interesting. It's just that the audience that happens to follow you doesn't give a shit about it. That's a problem. A pretty big one. It is solvable potentially. It's also potentially not solvable. That is the core question. It's not how do I hack Instagrams algorithm, it's how to I be more interesting, engaging and special so that people want to follow me, want to engage with me, want to tell their friends about me.

    That is the absolute thing. It's like you have to get to that point where people are sitting with their friends saying, "You have to follow this person. Do you follow this person? You have to--" That's how I found Tezza. I was sitting at lunch with a friend. I said, "Who should I be following right now?" He said, "Everything Tezza does, I just want to copy." I was like, "Who the hell is that person?" and I followed her. That is where you have to get and you have to be-- Again, let's go back to the very beginning. Be honest with yourself, know thyself, ask yourself the hard questions and answer them honestly. Are you being interesting enough?

    If you can't confidently say "yes," then you should change something about the content that you're producing, not worry about the Instagram algorithm.
    Episode #139
    - Instagram Story Best Practices, In-House Influencers, Growth Issues
  • Springs me to a little mini rant. It's not really rant, really. It's just a fact. Fashion week is a fucking bore. I am ready to gouge my fucking eyes out. How can it be that fashion bloggers are just going to Paris once a month now? I feel we're doing Paris a disservice here, people. It is just relentless. It is so boring. Influencers that I love. I am just hard swiping, hard swiping past their stories.

    I think that there is no sweet spot of number of stories that is too many and number that is not enough. I will say sometimes if it looks like a perforated edge on the top like you tore a little piece of paper off like it's too many, but when Jamie Beck does one of her exhaustive tutorials that's all interesting content. There's no reason that in that case 30 frames is not too much. Maybe if you're just storing your eggs and then you walk and then you're going to the gym and you're like, "Go to gym," then you fucking work out. Can we please please please, for the love of God and all that is holy, stop filming your fucking workouts.

    I'm not alone in this. There are people I respect very much who are like, "This is going to be the thing that this generation regrets. It's filming all of their workouts. It is so boring." if I have to look at another leg lift when I wake up in the morning, I'm going to scream. You might be saying yourself, "James, you film yourself riding your bike all the time." That is a very different thing. That is me on a bicycle showing you Central Park being all beautiful, not me in a gym showing you my crunches.

    I don't know how to do a crunch. Anyway, I digress. The fundamentals are the same that we always talk about. Ask yourself, "Is this entertaining, educational valuable for my audience or am I bored? Do I want to flex or am I just not thinking?" If it's this hand the board not thinking, want to flex, then you shouldn't post it. I think that a lot of the Fashion Week's stuff I'm looking at, there's just no thought and I understand those are very busy times. I can't imagine going to six shows in a day and running to five different events with brands. You don't have to do all that. No one's got the gun in your back saying, "You have to go to the Dior breakfast and then you have to go to the Chanel show." Those are amazing opportunities and things that you definitely shouldn't turn down if you get to do it. How do you show it to your audience in a way that is interesting, because for most people, I think, there's six weeks now out of the year where you just want to shut Instagram off because it's the same shit every day. It shows. I think when this all started eight years ago or so when influencers, bloggers started going to shows, it was exciting because it was new.

    It's like my Positano rant. Positano was amazing. It is an incredible place and one of the most beautiful special places in the world. As it relates to Instagram, it's just played out and it's fucking boring now because you can't do anything special or interesting, so you're just there doing the same shit. Now, it's like every Fashion Week, I'm just seeing the same exact content. Everyone's at the same cafes in Paris. They're going to the same shows. It's all about the influencer. It's nothing about what is interesting to their audience. I think there is no magic number of stories.

    If you have compelling interesting content, throw 30 up a day. Fucking go for it. If you have a big personality and people love seeing that and there's no end to the amount of stories they'll watch, then story all day. I implore you. Especially if you're in Fashion Week, you're just posting stuff mindlessly. I think you do yourself a huge disservice. I think that most influencers could definitely benefit from cutting down the amount of things they're saying "yes" to, especially around Fashion Week and cutting down the amount they're posting and stepping back at the end of the day and thinking about how to tell that story.

    If you're starting to feel like, "My stories feel like they're kind of getting away from me, I'm just throwing stuff up," maybe step back for a few days and switch to publishing them all at once and at night and really thinking through that story and doing something interesting. If the idea is to educate, entertain, inspire, there are different ways to do that. Stories for so long, was this off-the-cuff "just do it in the moment" thing. I think especially in times like Fashion Week where there's a lot of content, I think you have to step back and do something different.

    I've talked about my friend Aaron and his stories. I think he's done a really good job at this of stepping back and creating little almost short films. He did one for Fashion Week. If you go to Aaron's profile, Aaron is not cool. He's got a Fashion Week highlight. You can see what I'm saying. I think there is a case to be made for stepping back and doing something more thoughtful and mindful with your stories. Don't just do story vomit on your audience. We also just had Cass on Fohr Ground. She touches a little bit on this, but you have to find what works for you.

    I don't know and I might change my mind on this six months from now, but I don't think now you have to have consistent quantity of stories day to day. I think some days you might have one story. One single frame that's interesting. One day you might have 30. I think it should be driven by what you're interested, inspired by and then what you think your audience would be interested in. It's not supposed to be a live stream of your life. At least, I don't think so.
    Episode #139
    - Instagram Story Best Practices, In-House Influencers, Growth Issues
  • Well, first of all, Instagram is not a great traffic driver in general. It is built and designed to keep you inside of the app. Again, think of your own behavior. How often do you swipe up on posts? How often do you click a link on a bio? Not that often. I think by design, Instagram isn't great at driving traffic. It is the thing that most brands are interested in.

    It's certainly more requested right now than a blog post, but if you still have a blog, SEO continues to be super important, especially if your posts are answering a question that people are going to be putting into Google. If it is, "Five best places to go on vacation with your kids," that is something that you should SEO the fucking shit out of. If it is just like, "Here's my Tuesday outfit," SEO is going to be less important. If you think about-- and this is the same for YouTube videos, where like if your video is answering a question, it could get a lot of traffic because people are searching for those questions.

    The better your blog post does, the more traffic it is going to get. Same with your YouTube video, if it is answering a question, how to do a cat eye? Then it's going to get more traffic than potentially like my cat eye tips. It's certainly something to consider. Again, blogs, while diminishing in perceived value for brands I think will continue to be valuable. If you're a blogger out there who's had a blog for a while and still has one, I would encourage you to continue to put effort into that and keep it going.

    Instagram can come and go vine, tumbler, ticktock whatever it is, but your blog is something that you kind of own and you can take with you and it's platform agnostic.
    Episode #138
    - Sponsored Instagram Stories, Passion vs. Engagement
  • First, our stories has become bigger than the feed, as far as total impressions go. People are spending more time in stories than they are scrolling through their feeds. They're increasingly important. We have seen brands more and more doing just stories campaigns. Generally, your story views are about 20% of what your reach is, so you could probably divide your fee by five if you were just charging for stories.

    I will say that when we think about a story at four, that's three frames. One story is not worth anything, so it's got to be at least three frames. For us, one story deliverable is three frames, because I just don't think you can tell a story in one frame. That is something to consider. Even if they don't stipulate that it's three frames, I think you should be giving a brand at least three frames in that. It's becoming an amplification piece for in-feed posts, obviously, and I think you can't charge that much for it. It's now like the expectation that like you're going to be driving to that.

    Just like back in the day, Instagram, people didn't charge for Instagram. It was just you charged for a blog post and Instagram was something that you drove people to your blog post. As stories gets bigger and bigger, you might be able to charge additional for that, but right now I think you kind of have to loop it in. Something else I've been thinking about is that what makes a in-feed post valuable, one it's getting five times as many eyeballs on it as your stories are, but two, it's got generally 100% share of voice for that day.

    Most people post one Instagram photo a day at most. So if I'm doing a sponsored post that day, that's the only post I'm doing. What's been throwing me off about stories is that people will do 15 stories in a day, and let's say 3 of them are sponsored. So now, 3 of your 15 stories that day are sponsored and the brand has almost no share of voice that day. So I'm going through your feed, I'm seeing you had breakfast with your kids, you're running to a meeting, and bam, you're doing a sponsored post. Then you're back to having lunch with a friend.

    It's pretty jarring, and it's the thing in influencer marketing that feels most like a commercial. I don't say that is not necessarily a good thing. I think influencers, if you have a sponsored post happening on a certain day, I think you should be vastly cutting down the amount of stories that you're doing that day and giving that brand a larger share of voice in your stories on that day. Because, again, if you're doing 3 of 15, and if the 3 are at the end of the day, the chances that someone even gets through your stories, all 12 of them, to get to the sponsored post is really low because they just drop off every single story.

    So the brand's just not getting a huge amount of value. I would consider, especially if you're getting paid, and it's a decent payday, I would consider at least having the amount of stories you're doing that day. I think we will get to a point where brands will start to ask that you're not doing any other stories that day, because I think every subsequent story that you publish makes the ones that you published before less memorable and less interesting. I think if you're making money off of those things especially, you need to think about making sure that brand is getting value.

    That's one point on stories. Another quick one is that on stories specifically, I think you really need to think about how to sell that product service good, whatever it is, to your audience. We talked about this thing, conversational conversion, which is like if I'm convincing you to become a customer of a brand and I'm just your friend, I'm going to talk about that in a certain way. Try and use that same tone, that same vocabulary, and the same structure of your pitch to talk to your audience about why to use a product.

    Especially on stories if you're talking to camera and you're just spitting off key messaging with the brand's put out, it doesn't sound authentic. So you definitely have to talk to your brand partners and say, "Okay. Here's my in-feed post for my stories. I want to do something a little more conversational, a little more authentic, here's what I'm thinking". Pass it by them before you do that, but I think it's going to be much more effective.

    If you were going to give a brand more share voice, I would 100% say, "Hey, just so you know something we do or I do when I work with brands, is that I'm going to cut down the amount of stories I do that day to make sure that you're going to get as many views as possible and that you get to kind of take ownership over my feed for that day". You definitely want to call it out if you're doing it. It's going to make you look awesome. No influencers are doing this is. Literally no one has ever said this to us ever.

    It's going to make you look great. I think it's going to make the partnership go better. It's going to make you memorable. Tell them that you're doing it, you're not charging for it. This is something you do to make sure things work. They're going to look at you and say like, "Oh, this person's like looking out for me. That's great". So.
    Episode #138
    - Sponsored Instagram Stories, Passion vs. Engagement
  • Hopefully you all saw Julie and Thomas' episode last week. I so respect them. I think they are great at what they do as far as influencer work goes, they're great at what they do as far as starting that dress line. They were so thoughtful and intelligent. If you haven't seen the episode, you definitely should. It pours into question number one, which is that you might have noticed that there was a conversation going on in the comments of an Instagram post of ours about engagement.

    Julia had said that she is not paying attention to engagement as much when she posts. She's just trying to post in the moment and post what she feels passionate about. Some people were like, "Yes, that's nice for you. You have over a million followers. You don't need to focus on this, but brands are focused on it." Props to Julia for jumping in there and explaining yourself. I tried to jump in as well, but I just want to talk about that a little more.

    We as a company are walking away from engagement as the success metric for how we pick an influencer and how we report on success to our clients. Part of the problem is engagement is you can buy it. It's pretty easy to buy, it's pretty easy to fake. Even if you're not buying it, you can be part of a comment pod. If you're a smaller influencer who's getting 300 or 400 likes on a photo, and you're part of a comment pod and you're getting 100 of those likes from that comment pod, 25% of your engagement isn't real, which is pretty substantial.

    We are building technology right now that is going to be able to verify real vs fake engagement. We will be able to tell if you're part of a comment pod and we will be able to tell if you're buying likes and comments. That is going to be bad for people who are doing that, but it just speaks to the fact that because we can't verify it, it is something we look at, certainly, but it is by no means-- If someone doesn't have great engagement, it doesn't mean that we won't work with them.

    I think that it goes back to something I say many times where like, if there's something that you think is precluding you from working with the brand, you need to figure out what the story you're going to tell the brand is that is going to convince them that that thing that could be a problem isn't actually that big of a problem. It's my eight-mile analogy. You point out the things that could stop you from getting a job beforehand, and you give explanations or reasons why they're happening and why they're not that big of a deal to the brand.

    If my engagement was a little low, I would say, "While across the board my engagement may not be as high as other influencers, it's because I am not doing cheap things to try and get engagement. I am posting things I love. That means that people who are following me are more attached to the things I'm doing. I'm not just throwing shit at them and pandering to what Instagram likes." You could talk about what's going on in your DMs. I was just talking to-- I think I was talking about Grace Atwoodin the last episode, but she's got a really vibrant private Facebook group that she runs. She talks about that.

    There are other ways to talk about what makes you special and what makes you interesting. Engagement is just a piece, not a small piece, but it's only a piece of the equation. Just because you may not have exceptional engagement doesn't mean you can't get deals. You're all right that brands are looking at that. Not everyone is as sophisticated as us, unfortunately. Not everyone is our client, unfortunately. It then falls on you to be able to explain that away and explain not why your engagement isn't great, but what other awesome things are happening on your account.

    Focus on the good and it's your story to tell. Make sure you tell it in a way that serves you well.

    What I really respected about Julie and Thomas was their self-awareness. Their ability to say like, "That's not for me," with Fashion Week, with dressing like a cool girl. I thought it was really big of her to be able to say like, "Yes, I tried that for a while. I wanted to be that person and realized very quickly that it just wasn't for me, so I kind of walked away from it." I really respected that. I think that also just the patients that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Again, if you've been doing this for two years and you're raising your hand saying like, "Why don't I have more brand deals? Why don't I have 300,000 followers?"

    What their story shows is they've been doing this for, I think eight or nine years now, and while they had a decent amount of growth early and they benefited from the influencer community being smaller when they started, it has been a long slog. They waited four years from when they started working on the line until when they released it. That kind of patience, it is not the exception to the rule. I think most successful people, if you really dig into it, their stories do stretch out over years and decades, not months.

    You really just have to make sure you're playing the long game and thinking about, "Where am I going to be in 5 or 10 years?" Not necessarily, "Where am I going to be in five days?" Okay.
    Episode #138
    - Sponsored Instagram Stories, Passion vs. Engagement
  • The TL;DR answer to this is I think they're insane. I think it's insane that it's happening, but I guess on a level I understand it. I think that there is again so much attention put into this space, and I think being legitimized and validated by a brand is a big part of it, and so there is a trend now where people are pretending to do sponsored posts. It's crazy. They're giving free advertising hashtag, doing hashtag ad on posts that were not sponsored. This actually happened to us in a campaign. I won't say for what client, but we had a few influencers jump in and hashtag sponsored hashtag ad.

    They executed on the brief, they made the post to look like the other posts, and I believe we reached out and had them removed that. The brand did not think it was cute or funny. Certainly, brands are anxious to get a lot of organic content from influencers. I think that it is one of the best ways to get attention from a brand you want to work with is to do free posts for them and to do posts that are interesting, compelling, and tell a good brand story.

    I think maybe the worst way to get their attention is to pretend to be on a fucking campaign that you're not on. That is in no way shape or form going to do any good for you. It potentially is just going to lead to some embarrassment. I think any influencer doing that-- If I'm an influencer and I'm watching it, it could be frustrating that I would just shake your head and move on. I don't think that the people doing this have much staying power in the industry because you have to think about it from the brand side.

    Let's say someone says they do a sponsored post for a brand but don't, and that post or that person has a post on their account that creates some sort of uproar, and now people are like, "This brand is advertising with this influencer who just said this really insensitive thing a week ago," and it becomes a big story, and they say, "Wait, no. We never advertised with them."

    Then this is a big deal for brands, and who they pick as their brand ambassadors is a big deal for them. We do fairly thorough checks for brand safety to make sure that our brands aren't working with influencers that are caught up in some controversy. I encourage anyone who's ever thought about doing it, thought it would be funny, thought it would get the brand's attention to stay as far as humanly possible away from doing fake sponsored posts. It is pathetic, it is dumb, and it will do you no good.

    I don't think people are doing it as a growth tactic, I think they're doing it to try and like spit in the eye of other influencers and say, "I got this campaign." This is what I think. I think it's more about flexing and pretending you have a relationship that you don't than it is trying to get the brand's approval or attention, which is even more pathetic. If you're faking getting campaigns to flex on other influencers, that's just so sad.
    Episode #136
    - Understanding What Brands Want, Fake Sponsored Posts, Opening Up
  • Headshot

    Can't Get Enough?

    Want to stay up to date with the latest Drink with James content? Subscribe to Drink With James.