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  • First of all, if you haven't started the TikTok, what are you doing? You need to start one immediately. A few reasons. One. Look, I signed up for TikTok six months ago or something, and I've been spending some time on it everyday, just trying to understand what's happening there and consuming content. Recently, I was like, "I should start posting," just so I can learn. I'm not trying to be Internet famous. I've been there. Done that. No fucking big deal.

    I'm like, "I should start posting those so I can understand, so I can bequeath that knowledge to you fine people." I realized I hadn't actually signed up for TikTok, that I just downloaded the app and you can browse TikTok without signing up for an account. When I tried to get James Nord which I have everywhere else, they were like, "You can be James Nord 37." It was like 37 other James Nords have already signed up. I don't have my username. It is massively depressing and obviously, I can never post there because posting off of James P Nord is depressing.

    For nothing else, if you haven't signed up and squalor on your username, make sure you do that immediately. Look, I'm not going to sit here and tell you how to make TikTok videos, I am still learning myself. Again, Fohr is about to start one. By the time this video comes out, we will have a TikTok that we're just totally experimenting with. We have no fucking idea what we're doing but we're trying stuff. I do want to bring in an influencer working order messaged me yesterday and she said, "I took your advice," which more of you should be doing.

    "I took your advice. I started a TikTok. I was a lurker for a while, and then I decided on a strategy. Had a video that hit 10 million views, 1.7 million likes." She had a bunch of followers on her TikTok obviously but also those followers have now jumped over to her Instagram. I thought, "Well, why not bring someone on board who has gone from a total noob to getting some viral success on TikTok?" We're on a kick to a conversation I had with Krista about what style blogger should be doing on TikTok. Kick it.

    JAMES: All right. Krista, thank you for joining us. I think just for a little bit of context, you're a full-time influencer, but let's give the people just a little background on who you are.

    KRISTA: Yes. I run a fashion lifestyle blog called Covering The Basis, and I've been doing that for seven years. Seriously for about six, maybe five years. I just went full-time this past December, so I'm coming up on one full year.

    JAMES: Congratulations.

    KRISTA: Thank you so much. [laughs]

    JAMES: I don't see a lot of fashion and lifestyle bloggers running out to start TikTok. When did you started TikTok? What made you do that?

    KRISTA: Well, you did.

    JAMES: You're welcome.

    KRISTA: Give us a round of applause. [laughs] I watch A Drink with James religiously every Monday and you were talking about TikTok. I was like, okay, I'd heard about it, and I knew it about. When it was Musically, I was like, "No way," because my little cousin was on it and just making the most annoying slow-mo videos, and I was like, "Get out of here." When you brought it back up, I was like, "Okay, JAMES is talking about it. It's something." I download the app and I was just lurking for a bit.

    I guess this is back in August, and just figuring out what TikTok was with the content. It was actually, at first, kind of weird, and then it got strangely addicting. I just started scrolling and scrolling. You kind of pay attention to trends because there will be multiple videos either with the same sound or the same kind of video concept. I think I posted one of the dogs I walk. There was a cute video I posted in the Instagram stories that I had saved, and I used the sound of a dog talking to itself overlaid on this video and I posted it.

    That was my first post. It did 400 views and I was like, "Whoa." That's pretty cool because I didn't have any followers and I maybe gained like 12 followers. Then I was like, "Okay." You overtime started figuring out what you want to post, and I tested out a few, and they did not do well, so I just deleted them. Nobody was seeing them anyway. Then I posted one, that once again I had saved to my Instagram story of me learning how to curl my hair with heat, that Liv Tyler-- I saw it on a Liv Tyler vogue video. I saved it from my stories and I posted it on TikTok, and the next morning it had 160,000 views. I was like, "Cool."

    JAMES: Did you feel like you had any idea why that did well?

    KRISTA: I think it was because it was helpful. It was different. It wasn't curling your hair using a curling iron, it was just blow drying it and then curling and clipping it to your robe while you get ready. Then once you're done, you take it out and you get these nice wavy curls.

    JAMES: Kind of like a life-hack.

    KRISTA: Yes, I guess. It was weird. I got a lot of DMs on Instagram stories from it, so it made sense that it did well. I just didn't know that there was appetite for that because I'd never really seen anything like that. Now I see a lot of hair tutorials.

    JAMES: Your next one that you messaged me about that did really, really well was nothing like that.

    KRISTA: No, it was insane. I'd posted a few more, trying to figure out why I can make TikTok for me in my space, because obviously I do fashion lifestyle stuff, and the popular ones on TikTok are dances. I posted a couple of fashion ones and they didn't do very well, but I kept them up because I really liked them. Then I was scrolling through one day and there's this trend and it's like A-O whatever check, Rich parents check, Texas check, and there is one that said New York check.

    This girl had a great view but it was nothing compared to mine. I was like, "My view is a lot better." I took the sound and I recorded it, and I posted it I think maybe two days before I messaged you. I posted it that morning, and by 6 PM that night, had 45,000 views, and I was like, "Wow. This is it. This is the crème de la crème. It's going so big." I remember coming back from an engagement party. Dropped my friend off on the upper Eastside, it had 80,000 views. I was like, "Okay, cool."

    By the time we had gotten home to my apartment in Hells Kitchen, it had 110 and I was like, "Whoa." I started paying attention, refreshing it. Every second would get 2,000 to 3,000 views.

    JAMES: It's crazy.

    KRISTA: By 1 AM that night, it hit a million. Next day, it hit-- I think it plateaued around 8.9 million, and I hit a million likes at 4 PM. I had been tracking it, so it's just so fascinating. Well, another A Drink with James you had talked about what really is considered a view on TikTok, and I was thinking like, "How many people are actually viewing this?" When I hit a million likes, that's when I was like, "Okay, people are really engaging with it."

    JAMES: That's wild. Why did that work? Was it because instead of just doing something helpful, you were doing one of those challenges or one of those trends on TikTok that everyone does their own version of?

    KRISTA: I think it was successful because of what is successful on social media is people just bragging about their lives. I have a pretty good view. I think a lot of people don't see that. A lot of people don't live in New York or see this kind of apartments. When people talk about New York, they think rats and trash and whatnot. I think it was cool for people to see that and see the Empire State Building and the water. It's just a really great view. Every time I post it on the stories once again, it does really well. I get a lot of DMs about it. I think people are just fascinated by things they don't have or have never seen before.

    JAMES: Is this your first time in social, in general, like going traditionally viral?

    KRISTA: Yes.

    JAMES: Because you can't really go viral on Instagram. It's very difficult.

    KRISTA: No, not anymore.

    JAMES: It's not a sharing platform. Like you can on Twitter or used to be able to on Tumblr. What has happened, obviously, you've gained followers in your TikTok. Has anything happened to your Instagram or other platforms that you feel like it's been helpful?

    KRISTA: Yes. Before the video, I had maybe 200 followers and now I have 89,000, it's my thought, which is actually more than my Instagram, which is so frustrating.

    JAMES: It's frustrating, right?

    KRISTA: Ye, but was cool was I was getting during that, a couple past week, I've been getting more and more followers from it. I think I've gained 1,000 Instagram followers, which for me because every week we're losing more and more followers. It was cool because people were messaging me, people we're reaching out. They were like, "I found you on TikTok, I love your content." That's been the whole point of my TikTok. That's the whole point of my Instagram and any social is to always drive people back to my blog. Getting people from TikTok to Instagram, getting them engaged, and then having them read the blog is always my end goal. It was pretty cool to see that happen.

    JAMES: It's amazing. I think that so many people watching this, they know in the back of their minds, they know they should be paying more attention to TikTok. It comes up in every single sales meeting that we have. People while they're not yet maybe spending aggressively on TikTok, they're thinking about it and they're asking us, "What do you think about TikTok? [unintelligible 00:21:58] on TikTok?"
    I think people are saying, "Look, I'm too old for it. I'm not right. I'm not funny. I can't dance, whatever." I don't know if you can dance. I haven't seen your stand up act. I don't know if you're funny, but you've been successful. What do you say to people who have known they maybe should start publishing videos, but they feel afraid to?

    KRISTA: Definitely just get on the app. You don't even have to start publishing, you really need to start paying attention to what people are publishing, what works, what doesn't and then try and see how you can adapt that to you. People always said I was too old for Twitter, I was too old for Instagram at one point or the other. I wasn't, but somebody was at one point. I always kick myself going back in the day of not being more aggressive on Pinterest, not being more aggressive on Twitter, on Instagram. I'm thinking, I'm not going to let this one pass me by.

    I think I'm better on video than I am in just photos because it shows a little bit more of my personality. I say just do it. I've posted a ton. I just deleted. I didn't think it did very well because nobody's really looking at your profile, there just looking at that individual video. If you just kind of-- I know that was back in the day of people would post on Instagram and then delete it, but it's just a good way to get to know the app and understand.

    JAMES: The stakes are so low. I think that's the thing. It's like who the fuck cares? Nobody is watching. If nobody sees it, then no one's watching. I think that what's cool about TikTok is you don't have to say to your Instagram audience, "Hey guys, go follow me on TikTok." The point is to your point, can I get a new audience and then eventually drive them back to your flagship, which is your blog?

    KRISTA: You think about a Vine influencer back in the day. All those people had tens of millions of followers on Vine, got them all over to YouTube, all over to Instagram, and now they're wildly successful.

    JAMES: This is the time in any platform when you can get that explosive grove. Who the hell knows what is going on with their explorer and their algorithm in China.

    KRISTA: It's crazy [laughs].

    JAMES: I think it will be much harder to grow. Every day it will get harder to have what happened to you happen on TikTok. I think the time is now to just try. What's the worst that can happen?

    KRISTA: I've seen a lot of, actually, celebrities in the past month and bigger influencers start coming on. That's when you know. like Will Smith is on there.

    JAMES: Something's happening.

    KRISTA: Yes, you got to get in. [laughter]

    JAMES: Is there anything else people should know about TikTok, things that you feel you didn't understand in the beginning that you get now?

    KRISTA: Their video editing software in the app is awesome. It's super simple. At first, it's really intimidating. What I would do is I would just film a video of me not doing anything, start editing it in the video. It's fascinating. I used to upload it from my camera roll, now I'm doing it in the app. It's really cool. It's really brilliant. I'm just waiting for Instagram to knock it off.

    JAMES: Okay. Well, look, you guys can-- they're definitely going to very, very soon.

    KRISTA: I know [laughs].

    JAMES: You guys can find her on Instagram or TikTok or her blog, DM her, send her your TikTok. She's going to critique you. She's going to be pissed at me because she'd be like, "I'm not critiquing people's shitty TikToks."

    KRISTA: I'll do it [laughs].

    JAMES: She'll do it. Look, I think this is such a great story for even us who've been like, "Shit, we should start for Fohr." It's just like, just do it. Everyone's learning this platform right now. It is totally okay to make a fool of yourself. If the video sucks, just delete it. You've been doing this for four months, you have more followers than you do in your Instagram.

    KRISTA: It's insane.

    JAMES: That's good and to your point very frustrating. I think if you guys can learn anything from Krista is just do it. You never know what's going to happen.
    Episode #172
    - Getting started on TikTok, Future of Influencer Marketing, Unboxing
  • This is a constant, constant, constant question. I think the Wall Street Journal just had an article about how brands are souring from influencers. Whatever, this is all a bunch of bullshit, it's not true. Let's talk about the fundamentals of advertising again, What are brands buying? They are purchasing attention. Brands that are incapable of getting attention on their own need to buy it, right?

    If you think about a brand like Glossier, they do a good amount of advertising, but in the early days, they didn't have to do much advertising because they were getting so much attention on their own that they didn't have to pay to inject themselves into the conversation. You think about a big drug store brand. Nothing wrong with that brand, great products, they have to work harder to inject themselves into that conversation. To inject themselves into that conversation, they have to be where the conversation is happening, right?

    With Instagram, especially, or let's just talk social. People are spending multiple hours of the day, on average, on social media. Millions, and millions, and millions of consumers spending hours of their day on social, consuming content. If that continues, there is no fucking way brands will stop working with influencers. There's no way they will stop working on social and buying ads there. They're buying attention.

    You as an influencer, say if 50,000 people that follow you, and they all love you and they think you're God's gift to the earth. You are a gatekeeper to speaking to them, so you have brand here. Brand wants to talk to your 50,000 people here. What do they have to do? They got to pay a fucking toll, right? You're the bridge control sitting under the bridge, and they've got to pay the toll to get to your audience.

    Now, what makes influencer marketing so great is that when they pay that toll, you turn around to your audience and tell them a story about this brand. Whereas in traditional advertising, they pay the toll on the bridge, and they pop their heads up and talk to your audience. Well, that audience doesn't give a shit what the brand has to say. They don't know the brand, they know you. Fundamentally changes advertising from interruptive. I'm enjoying a piece of content I like.

    I as an ad, I'm interrupting that content and you as the consumer feel like, "This is the toll I'm paying for free content," and then the content starts again. What we have now is, "I'm enjoying this content, some of it happens to be an ad, I don't really notice it." It is just fundamentally different and fundamentally better, and anyone that argues it is not, I guarantee their jobs depend on that not being true. When a reporter writes an article about how influencers are shit, think about, "Let me just have a little thought here. How does that reporter get paid?"

    Their employer sells advertisements to try and reach their audience. As money flows away from those sources into influencers, those traditional media outlets are feeling pretty pissed off about that, and it is in their best interest to try and make influencer marketing seem like a scam, like it doesn't work, it's not effective. If they can devalue what you do, maybe they can get more money to flow to them. Just like fundamentally, it's not going anywhere because it is where people are spending that time. That's the synopsis.
    Episode #172
    - Getting started on TikTok, Future of Influencer Marketing, Unboxing
  • Now, if you've been watching the show for a while you know I'm not a big fan of unboxings. We can put up a couple of other links where I talk about it, just want to mention a few things. One, there are different kinds of unboxings. I actually love it when an influencer does an unboxing for a luxury product that they've purchased.

    I think that's really fun, I was talking to Helena from Brooklyn Blonde about this. I think if you have saved up and you are really excited about a product and you are finally able to afford it and you put that box down and you show yourself opening it. Buying luxury products is an act of delusion, nobody needs a pay of $1,200 boots. It has to be fun, and I think that when you see someone doing that and buying something that they really care about and taking apart the beautiful packaging, I think that feels really special and I think that's interesting and I think audiences enjoy that generally.

    When you're ripping through 50 random things that brands sent you and just being like, "Thanks", next, "Thanks", next, "Thanks". That is not interesting, at all. I think the problem with it is, I talk to "normal people" about this all the time. My friends who aren't in this industry, my mom, whoever. To a lot of people it just feels like bragging, it feels like you're rubbing their fucking nose in it. I don't think that influencers are super aware about how fucking annoying their lives can be to people that are following you.

    You are living a reality that is so different than most peoples', that it can be exciting and something that starts exciting can turn really annoying, really, really quickly. The reason I think that showing every free product that you get does a huge disservice to yourself. I think it is really, really uninteresting. I think when we talk about, "Does this thing educate, inspire or entertain?" I don't think it does any of those things. I think it's you saying, "I need to give these brands some love and I'm too fucking lazy to actually do anything about it and write a post about it, so I'm just going to hold my phone and say what I got."

    It's lazy, it is boring, I wish it would go away, but for some reason, it doesn't and if there is just one piece of advice, any influencer I see that goes out of town for a while, comes back and posts all the boxes stacked upside of their $7,000 a month apartment that they have in New York City. It's like, "Oh my God, look at all these boxes," that's an immediate unfollow for me. You have to be so fucking delusional to post that and think people are going to find that entertaining. "Oh my gosh, look at the thousands and thousands of dollars of free shit that brands sent me while I was away on a free vacation." You just can't post that stuff.
    Episode #172
    - Getting started on TikTok, Future of Influencer Marketing, Unboxing
  • Now, I just told you engagement was important. That is kind of true to us. Engagement isn't as important of a metric of success for us, and it's not as important of a metric of validating whether we want to work with an influencer. It does still largely drive the algorithm. Unfortunately, it is the most common input into Instagram. Other than scrolling, it's the most common thing that you do, is like something. So engagement is a big driver of the algorithm, and to get great reach, you do need to probably get pretty good engagement. It does happen that you can have less than great engagement and decent reach. Usually, we see that when someone has really engaged stories, but I digress.

    What can you be doing to get more engagement today? I think we're going to throw some examples up here real quick. It's just a very small example I think of what you can do tomorrow to improve your engagement. I have a friend, she's an artist, she's super talented, she lives upstate, she messaged me and said-- she sent me this photo here and she said, "What's going on with Instagram? I hate it. This is the worst engagement I've ever gotten."

    I was like, "I have a couple of ideas for you. Let's chat." She came in and we had lunch. She was telling me the story of how she just had her second baby and she generally would do her art from 10 PM to two in the morning. Because of the children and because she had to get up so early, she just hasn't had as much time to be creative. She hasn't had as much time to work late at night as she wants. The collection of art that she just released is really pared down and it's really kind of minimalist and stark. Some of that was because she just didn't have time to work on it, but it also for her felt like a representation of where she was in her life.

    I sat there and I was like, "Okay, that's the story." If you looked at her first post it just said, "Hey, here's some new work that I'm releasing." It got like 77 likes. I said, "Do you know what? Post essentially the same photo again, post the same photo of that work again but tell that story in your caption. Just tell a little more personal story." The next day she posted a photo of the art again, she told that story and it got 270 likes and 30 comments. Almost, was that four times as much engagement? 400% increase in engagement just on the caption.

    I think that people underestimate captions one, and they underestimate what stepping back and taking the time to actually think about what story you want to tell and think about what we talked about, educate, inspire, entertain, are you doing those things? Or are you just dialing it in and saying, "Oh shit, I need an Instagram post for today. Let me just grab this photo, and I'll say, Monday vibes or something." That is a bullshit post and it's going to get bullshit engagement.

    I think what a big takeaway from Quigley's episode was how much time she's spending on her captions and that she thinks first about what she wants to say and then she translates that into a photo. For my friend who's an artist upstate who's not trying to be an influencer, but is feeling the same frustrations you all are, that engagement is harder to get when she opened up and told a real story about herself was a little vulnerable.

    400% increase in engagement. You can do that today. You can say that my next post, I'm going to try and say something impactful, I'm going to try and say something that is honest and true, and feels like something that is worth spending a minute reading and double-tapping and liking because I don't care about your Monday vibes. That's not interesting to me, that doesn't get me closer to you. It's just you throwing noise into my feed. You can't throw noise into people's life and expect them to thank you for it.
    Episode #171
    - FWRD x Givenchy Giveaway, Instagram Reach, Better Engagement Rates
  • If you've been watching the show for a while, you know that at Fohr, we don't really look at engagement rates. Reach impressions are our north star. That is a big part of the way that we validate that you have a real authentic, vibrant following. It is also a way that we report on the success of a campaign.

    If you looked at one of the reports that we give our clients, the first numbers you see are not engagement rates. They are reach numbers, impressions numbers, how many saves, how many clicks. Those numbers to us are more important than engagement. It may feel like that is still what people talk about.

    I do think that less sophisticated marketers who are working in influencer marketing are still hyper-focused on engagement, but some of our top-performing influencers on the platform, top-performing as far as driving action and sales for our clients, have terrible engagement rates but they have great reach They have a really beautiful connection with their audience. They actually feel like there's a community there. Those are the things that we focus on.

    For us, engagement rates aren't super important. With likes disappearing, potentially in the next few months, I think that they'll be less important platform-wide in the not so distant future. If you're focused on reach, you're doing the right thing. Keep your head down. The world will change and you will be right very soon.
    Episode #171
    - FWRD x Givenchy Giveaway, Instagram Reach, Better Engagement Rates
  • For those of you who don't know, Givenchy launched a new bag with FWRD recently. They seem to have gifted it to quite a few influencers. What is shocking and disappointing in this day and age is that I'm looking right here at 28 influencers who posted about this bag within a day. Obviously, no fucking way they bought this bag.

    I don't think 28 people that all actually kind of look the same-- There's actually a few problems with this list in general. There's not really a lot of diversity on it either. 28 people all post about the same bag within the same day. How many people disclose that it was gifted for people? Luxury brands sometimes live in a fucking dream world where they don't think the rules really apply to them, and they don't want to be seen as having gifted someone something. So they actively ask for influencers to not disclose those relationships. We 100% will never do that.

    We would never work with a brand that asks us not to disclose that something was gifted or that it was paid for in a partnership. There are real potential ramifications for you as an influencer. You could have been part of the Givenchy launch and thought, "This is fun. I just got a free bag. I'm going to post about it, and they didn't want us to disclose, who cares," but when they bomb Instagram like this, and this was as of yesterday, maybe there's 40 or 50 people that have posted about it now, this shit is like blatant cheating. It's like blatant not following the rules.

    That's what gets the attention of the regulators over at the FTC, and if they decide to make an example of this campaign, it is you as an influencer that ends up getting impacted. The reason we won't do it, one, it's against the law, two the FTC could tell us that we are not allowed to do influencer marketing for anyone for a number of years. This happened a number of years ago.

    There was a campaign of some dress, some retailer, I can't remember exactly who it was, where a lot of people got in trouble for this. So if a brand asks you not to disclose something, walk away, don't do it. If you don't think your audience can handle you telling them something is gifted, then you haven't done a good job building trust with them, but it is not worth risking your career to build a relationship with a luxury brand. If it's gifted, you have to say it's gifted.
    Episode #171
    - FWRD x Givenchy Giveaway, Instagram Reach, Better Engagement Rates
  • Look, we'll keep this one pretty short. The great thing about travel is everyone loves it, everyone loves to look at places they haven't been that they want to go, everyone wants to think about getting away. It's really inspirational, it's entertaining, it's fun to look at, gets great engagement, the really difficult part is there's no money in it. That might change but you have to understand the way that hotels and airlines operate. First of all, airlines make no money essentially, the margins to say that an airline's margins are razor-thin is probably an understatement.

    I heard a fact once a couple years ago said that most airlines make eight cents per ticket, that's what they make. Flying your ass from New York to San Francisco, they make eight cents on that flight. Then you ask, "Oh my gosh. Why don't I have better food? Why are they treating me like cattle?" The price of an airline ticket is so low, it's truly shocking that you can fly across the country for $300. They are, again, essentially making no money on that. Airlines don't have the massive advertising budgets that-- Well, let's look at fragrance. If on a $200 ticket an airline makes 8 cents, on a $200 bottle of perfume, that brand probably makes $185.

    Who do you think has more money to advertise? The fragrance, right? This is why beauty companies vastly outspend fashion companies in this space because the margins are shockingly good so they have so much money to spend on advertising. Airlines don't, hotels don't. These things have become commoditized and as they became commoditized, the biggest factor in driving bookings and sales is price. They're all competing on price and so they just can't play around with advertising and money in the same way. It's going to be really hard as a travel influencer to make money because there's just not a lot of advertising dollars out there.

    All the advertising dollars that do exist for travel are very, very focused on performance, on bookings. The Four Seasons overall might be spending money to try and build a brand, but the Four Seasons in Boston just wants you to book the hotel. Delta is doing things to try and make you think about it as a different airline but what are they focused on next week? Is making sure that their planes are full. There's just not the same brand-driven advertising spend that exists in other markets because to do that they probably have to double the price of the flight and then we'd all complain about that. It's probably not going to happen and I think being a travel influencer, you may live a pretty cool life, but making the kind of money that beauty influencer makes is I would say will never happen, ever. Too long didn't listen. The biggest pitfall being a travel influencer you're probably never going to make a lot of money.
    Episode #170
    - Inflating View Counts, Agents and Managers, Travel Influencers
  • One, people say agent when they're really either talking about agent or manager. That is two different things. An agent should be someone out there bringing you deals. I think that if you have an agent at least Year 1, at least 20% of the deals you close should come from them, not you. I think that should move toward 50% potentially as your relationship with them progresses. An agent you should be able to tell, "In the next year I want to work with Nike, I want to work with the Four Seasons, I want to work with Apple", and that person should go out and make that happen.

    If you're not ready for that, they should tell you what you need to do to get ready for that. An agent is out there as your agent. If you just think about the word, they are like an extension of you out there trying to grow your business, trying to bring you more deals, bring you more attention, opportunities, et cetera. A manager, in my mind, is more taking inbound requests, trying to negotiate up for you, trying to get you a little bit of money, helping to manage your inbox, helping to manage your brand deals, et cetera. Unfortunately, I think both manager and agent take the 20% out of what you make.

    I am shocked that influencers give 20% of their money away for someone to check their fucking email. Truly, I don't understand it. I understand being bad at it, but I don't understand giving 20% away with no cap. If you bring in a $200,000 deal, you're going to give them $40,000 to answer your email and negotiate that. We are not negotiating major motion picture deals with licensing and action figures. These things are-- they can be complex but for most people, especially if you're under a million followers, they are not that complex.

    I think that a lot of influencers are flushing a lot of money down the toilet because they don't want to answer their email and they feel icky negotiating. Now, an agent can be incredibly helpful when they're good. Something that I think is really important, whether it is an agent or a manager, that person works for you not the other way around. You need to train them how to operate inside of your universe. You should have standards for how do you answer an email? How quickly do you answer an email? What tone do you use? How do you turn people down? How do you relay bad news? How do you relay good news? What does your reporting look like?

    How do they speak about you? Do they bring you deals before they answer or do you want them to negotiate before they bring you-- try and get the negotiation to a point of a number before they bring you the deal? These are all important things that should come not from your agent, but from you. You are giving your money away for them to work for you. You are their boss. I think that if I had an agent here, I'm happy to have this conversation in future episodes, they would say it's more of a partnership. I think that's kind of bullshit. I do think it is a partnership but at the end of the day, as the influencer you're the talent.

    If they are making over 50%, over 50% of the money is coming from you, from inbound brand deals, they work for you and they need to operate in the way that you find effective and you need to make sure they're not out there giving you a bad name. I've said this before, I will say it until I'm blue in the face, there are influencers that we love, that we love working with, that we can't work with because their agents are so incompetent. It's a really sad thing when it happens and I always wonder if influencers are auditing their agents, if they're looking at the emails they send, if they look at how long it takes.

    If your agent takes 36 hours to get back to a brand with big money that wants to pay you, I would fucking fire them instantly. I don't put up with that shit in here if I hear of a client trying to get in touch with one of our employees, I lose my fucking mind. You can answer an email, it is your job and influencers need to be auditing these relationships because while there are many great agents out there, there are people ruining their client's reputation in the space. I don't think enough people talk about it and I don't think enough influencers think to check it. Get in there, look at those emails, ask to see the chains.

    If you hear of anything negative feedback about the agent, I would be like, "Hey, I want to look at every single email you've sent on my behalf in the last two months and audit that stuff." I would get very, very serious about it. End of the day, what we want is this thing to be great and to be a great relationship but it is a relationship. You have to train your employees and again, while this isn't a traditional employer-employee relationship, you need to train them. How do you want them to sign off on the email? Is it cheers? Is it regards, regards and cheers or regards and XO are two very different vibes. I think as an influencer, you need to be setting those standards.

    The short answer to the question of what should an influencer agent relationship look like? It should look how you want it to look. You are paying them and again, it's different than a traditional model to agent relationship where people come to the agency and then the agency says, this is who I have and then they book the model. In that relationship, the agency has more power than the talent but people, if they're coming to you, you have the power and you should set the standards.
    Episode #170
    - Inflating View Counts, Agents and Managers, Travel Influencers
  • Facebook is in the news again. What do I think about the $40 million fine Facebook got for inflating video views. First of all, it's a total fucking joke. For those of you who don't have the context, Facebook just got fined $40 million which for them is literally probably their serial budget for their staff every year so it's nothing. They got fined $40 million for inflating video views. Here is why that is such a sad depressing story that I think isn't getting enough play and that the fine is not nearly high enough for what happened.

    Facebook knowingly inflated the number of views their videos were getting. They had it so that if you watched a video for three seconds which is essentially just scrolling over it, it would count as a view. That seems innocuous enough. The problem is that once they launched native video, the views that brands were getting, people were getting, were absolutely staggering. I saw this guy who is the head of video content for Vox talking about it. He was saying they were consistently getting videos that were getting a hundred million views.

    I don't really know what hugely viral videos on YouTube do but a hundred million views is staggering and Vox not known for incredibly viral video, was getting consistently being able to pull in over a hundred million views. What happened was all of these companies shifted their strategy to Facebook video. I'm sure if you all follow digital marketing news you heard this idea of a pivot to video, you know how all these news organizations were pivoting to video. This was 100% driven by Facebook native video.

    Facebook was pushing people hard to invest in their platform. They were co-branding videos with people, they were courting money behind this, they were actively courting brands and for a lot of news organizations that were already on the brink of destruction, they invested huge amounts of money into teams, into studios and pulled resources away from editorial, pulled resources away from their own website and went a 100% in on Facebook native video. Months later, it turned out to all be a lie and Facebook came out and said, "Oh so sorry, yes, we are completely inflating video views." Those videos that were getting a hundred million, the guy from Vox was like, "We were lucky if we could break a million now."

    These entire teams that they had built, all of a sudden, it just wasn't a viable business and it completely destroyed a lot of companies. I think it's a big reason Mic, M-I-C, that news organization, they recently shut down. A lot of companies have gone out of business, declared bankruptcy or had huge layoffs and a big part of that story is the failed pivot to video. A big part of the story of why people pivoted to video was because the numbers that were coming out of Facebook were so unbelievable that it felt like the silver bullet that was going to save them and so they put all their eggs in that basket just to have it fuckin destroyed.

    Facebook plays dumb a little says, "Oh, it was a mistake, we didn't mean to. When we caught the bug a few months in, we changed it. I think it speaks to a darker and scarier side of the platform. It's something that we've talked about with IGTV. I know that YouTubers have been frustrated with the views that they're getting on YouTube and then they start posting to IGTV and they were seeing much higher views.

    I talked to YouTubers and they're like, "We're thinking about leaving YouTube and going to IGTV." I was like, "Fuckin do not do that. That is a terrible, terrible idea because I can almost guarantee the only reason that you're getting these high view counts on IGTV is because the way they count a view is substantially different than Facebook's." That turned out to be the case. IGTV you had to do 5 or 10 seconds for a view. Facebook, you got to do 30 seconds. These things really, really matter.

    A lot of people don't make it past the 15-second mark on a video, they make it past the five or 10-second mark and that is not a view but influencers are seeing that and you're so focused on chasing growth and chasing those numbers that you might follow that to a place that doesn't really make sense to you. I was just trying to look up what TikTok counts as a view. In my very quick search, I couldn't find it.

    When you see these insane numbers coming out of a platform, it's important to make sure that we are judging it accordingly and we're making sure that we have an even way to judge these platforms to see how effective they are because you don't want to put your-- One, no matter what, you need to diversify. You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. You can't just blindly trust that these platforms are telling you because they're not to make the world a better place, not to make you money, not to make you feel warm and fuzzy, they're there to deliver value for their shareholders. Facebook is one of the best companies in the history of mankind to do that thing, to provide value to their shareholders.
    That is the one and only driving force of their business. If you need proof of that look no further than the fact that they're allowing politicians to run ads with lies in them. Something you could never do on cable, you could never do in a newspaper. Facebook just says, "Fuck it, we don't care. Run an ad to lie." I have yet to see a reasonable cohesive coherent reason why they do that other than it's too hard to fact-check this stuff. So fuck it and we make a lot more money if we let the lies through. I think it is a huge problem. I think that Facebook has changed my life and many other people's, essentially my whole business is based on it.

    I sometimes worry about its impact on democracy and y'all are not only complicit but big drivers in this space. I think that something we've been talking about over the last few weeks is just what is your responsibility to understand the impact that we're having on the world and to potentially change our behavior to change that impact in some way.
    Episode #170
    - Inflating View Counts, Agents and Managers, Travel Influencers
  • Short answer, yes and no. It is the brand's job to deliver a brief that gives the influencer the flexibility to inject their voice into that post to tell their story and how that story intersects with the product. How their life has been improved by the product. How their skin has changed. How it makes them feel. Whatever it is. The brand has to give them a brief that allows them to inject their personality and their point of view into it. That's why we follow them.

    We follow them because we respect and in some way, crave their point of view. It is 100% a brand shop to do that. A lot of the work that we do is helping our brands craft strategies that are going to be flexible enough to give the influencer the space to spread their beautiful wings and fly around but constricted enough that they don't fly off the rails and talk about the product in a way that the brand doesn't want. The way I think about it, a lot of times, is bumpers in a bowling alley. That lane is yours. You can do it with it what you want but if you start to veer off into a place that doesn't make sense for the brand, we're just going to pop you back into the middle and make sure you're protected.

    For the influencer, it's great because it gives them the chance to be creative with constraints and the brand, it's great because they're getting great content but they're also getting the safety, they're getting the peace of mind that they're going to get the kind of content they want and it's going to be safe for their brand. When a brand briefs influencers and sends them the captions and tells them exactly what they want them to post, tells them how they want the photo to look exactly, I hate that shit. I think it's terrible. I think it is stupid. I think it's just bad business but, end of the day, it's the brand's money.

    If they want to say, "Meet us at Montauk, Sunday at 6:00 PM." And they want to start a bonfire with $150,000 and that's the way they want to promote their launch, that's their right. It's their money. It's then the responsibility of the influencer to either push back on a bad brief or walk away. Stat that was on Instagram recently is 34% of influencers accept over half of the deals that are sent their way. That sounds about right to me and I think that any time an influencer turns down a deal, not because they didn't think they're getting paid enough but because they don't think it's a good match for them. Their clout, for me, goes up a level. I just respect that much more.

    I'm that much more willing to push the team to work with them. That's not to say, don't say, "My new strategy is I'm going to just say no to all these four campaigns." But, when you believe in something and if something doesn't align with your beliefs, no matter how much money it is, it's okay to just walk away. And so, it is your job to stay relatable, real and relevant. It's the brand's job to allow you to advertise for them while doing those things. Nobody's forcing you to take this money. No one's forcing you to take the deals. If you're walking into a deal and it stinks and you feel like this is not going to be good.

    As I've said before, if you're at least a week or two out, respectfully bowing out, I think is better than doing a half ass job. Actually, just real quick story then we're going to end this episode. I was on a trip once with an Influencer. They were like, they had this brand deal that they were supposed to do when they got back. They were going to be really tired. They were like, get back in the morning from this trip. That afternoon, we're going to have to leave and go somewhere else. They were really dreading it. It was like four or five days out. I was like, just email them and say like, "I'm so sorry. I overestimated the amount of energy I was going to have. I don't think I can do this.

    I don't think I can bring the energy that I know you guys are expecting and that I expect of myself to this deal. I really respectfully have to bow out of it. Please, let me know if I can help you find anyone else. I can make intros if there's any Influencers that I'm friends with that you think would be great. I'm really sorry, again, let me know if you want to jump on a call." That is always going to be okay. You can do that. Now, ghosting a brand and just deciding not to post about them and then never fucking emailing them. I'd do a whole episode on that. That is not okay. Being respectful and bowing out early enough to allow the brand to fill your spot is okay. That's probably a long episode and well, I got nothing else to say. I'm out.
    Episode #169
    - Instagram App Updates, Investing in Digital Products, Brand Roles
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