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  • Every successful business finds that success by trial and error, by experimentation. I think what gets frustrating in the influencer space is there is a lack of interest in experimenting. There is a lack of interest in testing things, and there's a lack of interest in data-drive growth. I think if you're frustrated with your low engagement levels, try something different. Try a new kind of post, try a new way of talking to people, try a new posting schedule. Whatever it might be, try new things and track how they do.

    I on average I get 6,000 to 8,000 people seeing my posts. I've got 22,000 followers, 6,000 to 8,000 people on an average post see it. Now, the freshman class post I did with Sarah Jessica and Oscar, where I wrote the whole thing about why we're doing for a freshman class has 76,000 impressions, three times my following size. Now, that is probably not replicable, but if I was looking at it saying, "How do I increase engagement?" I would probably write more.

    It seems like the posts where I write a lot and I have something actually meaningful to say, do a lot better for me and for my audience. I would do that. I wouldn't have learned that if I didn't write a post with a caption this long.

    Again, you're not always going to have these big moments and this big things to say, but it always frustrates me when I speak to influencers who have been doing this for a year or two years or five years. I don't know what's happening, and you go to their feed, and you cannot see any experimentation happening. You can't see them trying anything new. It's like, "How are you going to unlock what is going to take you to the next level if you just do the same thing over and over and over and over again?"

    If you look at this as a business that's going to go on for years, even if you say, "Okay, I'm going to look at the next two years of my Instagram." One week of that is one-- What's 1/104? It's less than 1%. If you look at the next two years and you take one week, and you say, "I'm going to do something drastically different this week," that is like 0.9% of the next two years of your content.

    Which is to say it doesn't mean anything, and the things you do with one week of your feed have no lasting effect over two years of that feed. If you learn something in that week, if you learn something that works or you learn something that doesn't work, that is massively valuable over the next two years. If you can figure out in a week of fairly significant experimentation that you can get 10% more reach on your posts if you do this thing, and then you extrapolate that 10% reach out over the course of two years, the change is enormous.

    You're talking magnitudes more people that are going to be seeing your posts, more and more people that are going to be following. It would make a enormous difference. That's if you could go from 10,000 people seeing your posts to 11,000 people, but you have to experiment and you have to have spreadsheets, and you have to say, "Week one. Experiment one. This is what I'm doing. These are the results.Week two. Another experiment. These were the results."

    Do that, find the things that work, find the things that don't work. Once you find something that works, go in hard on that and try and get better and better at it. Then, continue to loop in new experiments so you can learn. This is not rocket science, but you cannot just post the same shit over and over again, not get the results you want, and then whine about it. That's not an option, not an option that I care to listen to.
    Episode #119
    - Increasing Engagement, Dealing with Harassment, Collaborating
  • Hey, I think we've talked a little bit about this before, but the byproduct of having a following is having people that don't like you very much. That's number one. You are going to get hate. You're going to get people saying mean things.

    Unfortunately, that's the nature of the internet. That is what you've signed up for. Nobody has forced you to have a following. Nobody has said, "You have to post photos of yourself every day and get hundreds of thousands of followers."

    The side effect of being in the public eye is that sometimes the public eye doesn't think you're so great and sometimes they want to say that. I understand it sucks when people are mean on the internet, that is kind of the internet. That's one thing. Let's put it in kind of a few categories. We'll answer that, what do I do when people are just being shitty, or saying just a mean thing?

    Harassment is different thing. People harassing you, the platforms have gotten better about taking these things very seriously. Report them, go through the official channels to report them. Generally, these things shut get shut down. Reach out to Instagram, reach out to Twitter, wherever this is happening and try and deal with it in an official capacity because harassment is different than someone being mean to you and saying, "Hey, you don't look so good in that," or, "I think you look ugly," or, "I hate you."

    Harassment, deal with it officially. I wouldn't poke the bear. I wouldn't engage. Just try and get them off the platform. Again, Instagram and Twitter have gotten much much better about that because they have come under so much heat for allowing it for so long and kind of turning a blind eye.

    We've got the category of someone being mean to you, right? You've got one where someone is just saying a shitty thing to you. They're saying something shitty about the way you look, they're saying something shitty about whatever - something bigoted, something sexist. That stuff sucks and there is absolutely no basis for it whatsoever. I wouldn't seek you're following on them. I wouldn't start a big fight with them. I would just block them, report it as harassment as well. Just go through the official thing the official channels to deal with that.

    Don't turn it into a huge fight and turn your following against them. You then just give that person your platform. You know, you've just handed your platform over to someone for free. For what reason? To say, "Fucking, you shouldn't say this." I don't see how that's a win for you. I think you have then taken someone who said something hurtful and given them the platform that they wanted in the first place, which is a lot of attention.

    When influencers go after people in that way, I don't think the person they go after is sitting at home being like, "Oh my gosh, I feel so bad for doing this." I think they're laughing because I think that was the whole point. That is what trolling is. Trolling is saying ridiculous shit that is completely not based in any sort of reality to get someone to respond. That's it. If you respond, you've just done the exact thing that they want. Block them, delete the comment, move on, don't engage.

    Now, other side. What if someone says to you, "Hey, it feels like you've been doing a lot of sponsored posts recently. Hey, it kind of sucks how you used to always talk about affordable things. And now all you talk about is luxury stuff that nobody could afford. Hey, maybe, you know, don't talk about something this way. Like, it might be nice for you that you don't have to shop at Target but I do, so like, if you could not be like a complete bitch about that, that would be nice." Something like that. Right?

    If they say something that is based on some action or behavior of yours. Again, the first reaction is to jump down their throat and say, "Hey, this is my job. I'm doing sponsored posts because I have a living to make. And this is my, this is like me trying to make a living. So like, you don't have to follow me, just unfollow." Again, I would step back. Understand that you cannot win arguments.
    If somebody is saying something like that, I think the best thing to do is say, "Hey, thank you so much for the feedback. I totally hear you. You know, this is the way I make money and I try and do sponsored posts that are going to be, you know, that I think my audience would be interested in. I'm totally happy to have a conversation on email, if you feel like I've been doing posts that aren't in line with what you're interested in, in your life."

    "Hey, I totally understand that I used to talk about a lot more affordable options. I've been fortunate enough recently that my, you know, my financial situation has changed, and I am able to afford things that are more expensive. But you're right, I shouldn't completely forget about why you guys came here in the first place. And I should include more affordable options."

    You can shut down criticism very quickly by just listening to it and looking at yourself and saying, like, "What if they're not wrong? Maybe they are saying this thing in a way that hurt my feelings initially." And we're animal, we're just reptiles. When somebody punches, you want to punch back. If you can just wait a couple minutes and step back and say, "Okay, sure, they said this thing that in a way that was hurtful and there was a better way to do it. But what if, instead of attacking them for giving their honest opinion, I engage them and ask them a question and listened."

    This is not dissimilar to how I ended up meeting Valerie @onacurve, from a few episodes back. She had a criticism of me, I listened and I didn't say, "You got it wrong. You interpreted it wrong. That's not what I meant." I said, "You're totally right. That was off. You know, that was not the right way to say things, I'd love to talk more about it." I've learned so much from her and from the other people who are commenting on that post by just stepping back and listening.

    Don't engage the trolls, but if your audience is saying, "I don't agree with what you're doing anymore," or, "I don't recognize this Instagram anymore," or, "I'm not finding it valuable," and you attack them instead of engaging them, I think you will find that in a couple of years will be looking and your community will be gone, and you'll say, "What happened?" and it is because you thought you were better than your followers, and you're not, you are in service of them.

    By hitting the Follow button hundreds of thousands of times, they've given you a life beyond your wildest imagination. When one of them has the guts to stand up and say, "Hey, I think you're kind of boring now, and I think you used to be awesome," that should scare you enough to reach out and say, "Let's talk about this." Not to say, "I'm going to seek my like- my people on you and make you feel really shitty for saying this thing."

    It's a harder thing to do. I encourage you to do it though. Here's some general life advice. Listen to the people in your life who don't necessarily think you're the shit. Listen to the people in your life who criticize you openly. Especially for my influencers out here who are watching who have a following over 100, 200, 300, 500,000 followers. Once you have a bigger following you getting this echo chamber where you start to believe that you're great, but you're not great. You're nothing. You're nothing, but a very lucky individual. You have the life you have because of you're following.

    If you start to believe the things that people say about you online, either way, if you start to believe when everyone is like, "Oh my god, you're amazing. You're a goddess. You're perfect. I love you so much. You're such an inspiration," that shit starts going to your head and you start actually thinking you're this big inspiration, and you're probably not. That is a hard thing for everyone to realize, that you're just not that special. That's humanity. We have our little slice of time on this earth to try and make a mark.

    Again, if you're lucky enough to find some success, and to find a group of people who are interested in you and interested in your life and some of them raise their hand and say that, "I don't like what's happening," take the time to listen.
    Episode #119
    - Increasing Engagement, Dealing with Harassment, Collaborating
  • Instagram and YouTube and the blogosphere as it were, full of amazing people. You all should be working together more frequently especially or if you're at similar levels, especially if you have an audience that you think would be into the other person but you feel like maybe they don't follow each other.

    I'll tell you one thing, if you reach out to someone, whatever you do, brand or influencer, never utter the word, never write down the word collab. If you ever tell someone you want to collab, "Yo, let's collab, it'd be great to collab," that is an immediate hard pass. First, let's just say what you shouldn't do. Don't say collab. That's really it in the what you shouldn't do column, just don't say collab. It's a fucking atrocity of a word.

    How should you do it? Structurally, what's the best way to connect with them? You guys know how to get into touch with each other. I think it's more about what should you do. I think I've talked before about what Sai and Helena from Scout The City and Brooklyn Blonde, they've been doing these kind of like fun projects that are not sponsored, that are not paid, that are just supposed to be entertaining for their audience.

    If you're doing a collaboration it should come from place not of how can I gain followers? How can I get in front of more brands? Et cetera, et cetera. Yes, it should do those things ideally if it's done well, but what does this person have that I don't have and how can we do something interesting together? Or do I just like vibe with this person really well creatively and I think we can a really fun story?

    I think it should be rooted in what is a story that you want to tell that you can't tell on your own and who can help you tell that story more effectively and work with that person? Those are the best collaborations. Those are the things that feel authentic and fun and interesting. It's not as fun when you can tell the like, especially during Fashion Month, you get small influencers who try and get photos with bigger influencers and they post that photo and maybe in hopes that the bigger influencer will repost it.

    There's this whole social climbing you can't sit here, seats taken, popularity contest thing that happens with influencers taking photos of each other, especially leaving shows during Fashion Month. That is not interesting at all. Trying to get a photo with Shay or with I don't fucking know who you'd be out there getting photos with. Yes, you see Tezza on the street, you're like, "Oh, let's get a photo together and maybe she'll post it." That's not a collaboration. What is that? That's just not interesting.

    All the time, I see influencers posting photos together and I'm like, "I know you talk shit on each other. I know one of you does not like the other person, you're just doing this hoping that they will repost it so that you can get followers." I had drinks with you last week you were talking on this person for like 30 minutes and now you're smiling and being like, "I ran into my fave outside of Selene." That is not a collaboration, okay? That is sad.

    Let's not do that and let's step back and say, "I have a creative vision. I am incapable of executing that vision of my own," one, or, "I think that vision will be even clearer if this other person is involved," two, and do something beautiful together that's interesting and send it to me because I'm always down to see beautiful and interesting things.

    Yes, when you're targeting these these people to reach out to, you want to look to someone who's about your size, maybe a little bigger, maybe a little smaller in terms of follower size. Don't put a big influencer in a position of having to say no to you because it will feel predatory. It will feel like you grabbed them outside of a show because you see all the street-style photographers and you're hoping that they'll take a photo of the two of you together and that will get on vogue.com and then she'll have to post it as well and you'll get more followers because she'll tag you. That feels parasitic. It feels predatory kind of.
    Smaller followings, followings about the same size, a little bit bigger, totally reach out.

    The other side is if you have something to offer as far as you're a filmmaker or you're amazing photographer, I think then your work can speak for it, it's not about your followers.

    If you're an incredible photographer and you have 3,000 followers but you really want to shoot with this influencer, then I would say feel free to reach out because it's the work that should be interesting to them, not the fact that you guys are going to be in a photo together.

    It depends on what your angle is but definitely be cognizant of following size and don't make someone say no to something that you know they're never going to do because I don't know. I know there's the like nothing ventured nothing gained state of mind and I'm generally am very like for that. It's a small industry and best to I think be realistic.
    Episode #119
    - Increasing Engagement, Dealing with Harassment, Collaborating
  • I'm not as sure on the influencer side, advertising is cyclical. I will tell you our slow times are July and September. I don't know why. Those have historically been slow months for us but advertising works in waves. If you're a style influencer brands don't want to spend money on advertising when things are on sale. Anytime there's stuff on sale there's generally not as much advertising going on because you don't want to drive people to your site to buy something on sale. You don't want to advertise the fact that you're on sale because it means you couldn't sell it full price.

    It definitely is cyclical. There are definitely slow times. You should be able to answer this question yourself because you should be keeping financials and you should have every month, how many brand deals you got, how much money you made. You should be tracking month over a month what you're making but maybe, more importantly, tracking year over year what are you making, what did you do in Q1 of 2017 versus 2018? What are your goals for Q1 of 2019? What does that mean? What's your average deal size this year versus last year? How are you going to try and grow that this year?

    What is your retention rate? Lay out every client that you work with in a year and then look, every client that you worked with in 2017, how many of those did you work with in 2018? If the number is 10%, you have a huge retention problem. For some reason brands aren't coming back. If it's 70%, awesome, you're doing a great job and you should pat yourself on the back but you need to understand your financial situation, you need to understand your business, and you should be able to plan around that.

    We now can look at it and say, "Okay, we know September is usually hard for us. We're not totally sure why but now we just plan for September to be tight. We know that we're not going to make as much there. As we plan out our spending for the year, we know that we might be 20% down in September than what we usually are." It's important to look at your own calendar and look at how things are working for you, and if there are peaks and valleys and don't assume necessarily that those peaks and valleys will just flatten out at some point.

    We have found that those trends are pretty sticky and that they recur over and over again. Get your finances in order people. It is incredibly important. If you don't understand your business and your money then you are going to have a very hard time being successful. I don't understand it. I'm not good at it. I don't care or not excuses. I have an agent is not an excuse. I have a business manager is not an excuse. There isn't a successful entrepreneur business person in the world who doesn't have a pretty deep understanding of the financial health of their organization. I don't know what else to say.

    Here's something, good person to follow if you want some tips Justin Bridges, someone that we interviewed before you can-- I don't know what episode he is but Tim might put it up somewhere or you can just search in the search engine. We talked a bit about this but he also talks about money management and how to manage your money more effectively on his Instagram all the time. He's a creative who used to work in finance. He also will answer any questions on Instagram if you sent him a DM about finances and how to manage things. There are resources out there. It doesn't have to be that scary. Get your bills in order of people.
    Episode #118
    - Instagram Founders Leaving, Follow-up Reports, Slow Times of Year
  • We talked about this last night. We had a for you on sales and negotiation. The report is one of your best sales tools that you can use. After a campaign is done, you want to send a robust report to that brand. This is your chance to tell your story because then, if you don't send them a report or if you don't send them a note about how the post did for you, what they have to go off of is how many likes did you get and how many comments did you get? That's it.

    If they worked with 50 people and your engagement was somewhere in the middle, then you just are somewhere in the middle because you haven't reframed those numbers for them, you haven't added context for that brand. This is what reports do at their best. They don't just give you the numbers that are there. They provide context. They allow you to tell a story about why the money they spent was well spent with you, and why you think that you have in some way influenced your audience, told their brand story effectively, whatever it might be.

    What should be in that report are the numbers that help you tell that story more effectively. Obviously, you need your basic likes, comments, things like that but I think you should also be putting yourself from your insights, from your business insights. Put your rich, put your impressions, put your saves. Saves is I think, a big one that isn't included that should be. Did you get any DMs? How many DMs did you get about the product? Say that, actually screenshot your DMs. If it is a product and people are asking you questions about the products screenshot those DM conversations, put those in the report. Pull out some of the more favorable product focused comments, put those in the report.

    You need to tell the story of why they should work with you again. This isn't about what happened in the last campaign. It is but more so it is about why they want to work with you in the next campaign. Make sure you're telling that story. When you look at the numbers, you look at what you're going to send them ask yourself if you think those numbers are impressive enough or if that story, is compelling enough that they would want to work with you again. When to send it? I'd say I think three days after a post you're not getting likes or comments on that anymore. Three to five days after the post is done, I would try and send the report. Some of you might be like, "I'm too busy. I can't do that."

    To that, I say you're fucking crazy. You're not too busy, you can definitely do that. If you're so busy doing sponsored content that you can't spend 10 minutes putting together a simple report, then you need to hire somebody to help you do that because that's not an acceptable excuse. We're running close to 80 campaigns this week. We don't get to tell our clients, "Sorry, we couldn't do any reporting because I'm too busy working with another brand. I don't care about you anymore. I already have your money." That's what it tells a brand.

    I will say that our team we have fairly robust technology that helps us build these reports. We almost never get a report from an influencer. I think that's partially because they know we have a reporting system but the people I talked to at brands is saying the same thing that they're not getting reports. It's a very simple way to differentiate yourself. It shows the level of care and professionalism but also just a level of respect for the work that you've done. If a brand paid you $300,000 and you spent an hour on that post, you've just made $300,000 in an hour which congratulations.

    Maybe spend another 30 minutes putting together a report or even just an email, it doesn't have to be in a PDF, it doesn't have to be design, that might be ideal but it could just be an email that lays out everything that happened, spend the time. It also might be worth trying to get them on the phone for 15 minutes to talk through it, what worked well, what didn't. Regardless if it is just an email, ask for the next sale, "I'd love to get on the phone this week, talk through this and anything you guys have coming up in the future. We'd love to work with you again. Whatever you're working on let me know.

    I know holiday is coming up, let me know. What you guys are focused on I'd love to be a part of it whatever." That report is the place where you're going to ask for the next sale. Showing a level of professionalism and care and telling a good compelling story about why your content was effective, it's just good business, it makes sense. I cannot understand how every influencer isn't spending time doing these reports. It is low-hanging fruit for you, take it. That was my gift to you this week. I still have another question to answer but that's the big nugget for you.
    Episode #118
    - Instagram Founders Leaving, Follow-up Reports, Slow Times of Year
  • First of all, gutsy bold move on their part. I have always had a lot of respect for the founders of Instagram. I've always said that all of you should be worshipping at the feet of them for creating this incredible product. I think it's tough to work for Mark Zuckerberg.

    I think that it is tough to be a company that Facebook has purchased. Now we've had two groups of founders leave. The Whatsapp founder left as well. He unlike Kevin and Mike, he left $850 million on the table. He wanted to get out of Facebook so badly that he essentially paid $850 million to leave early but when you make billions, I guess 850 million isn't that much, I don't know. Great problems to have but what do I think will happen? I think that Kevin and Mike from what I understand were very staunch defenders of Instagram and trying to keep Instagram what it was meant to b and trying to keep it a really special place, that is as ad-free as possible.

    I think that with them gone, without somebody constantly fighting, you might see a faster integration of Facebook into Instagram. You already have started to see sometimes in your feed you can see Facebook notifications coming in to your Instagram feed which is really dumb and annoying. Look other side of it is look, one, Facebook is unbelievable company but 98%of the revenue comes from advertising. They're an advertising company Will you see more ads on Instagram? Probably and we'll probably start to see different ad products coming in at a higher velocity.

    We might see things rolled out that aren't as well thought out. I actually thought the IGTV launch was pretty piss-poor and I'm still what two, three months into IGTV. Never find myself using it. I think it's a pretty worthless product. We might see things getting launched more quickly but Facebook knows how valuable Instagram is. They know it's their only link to young people. Anymore young people do not like Facebook obviously.

    I do think that that Mark is cautious enough that he is not going to ruin the platform. He knows what they have there and they need to try and keep it pretty similar to what it is now. I don't think there's going to be any big change. I don't think there's going to be any big change for influencers in the short term. I wish Kevin and Mike well and again I think we should all raise a glass and say, "Thank you for building this amazing app and for staying." They are rich beyond their wildest imaginations and it's probably pretty annoying going to work and fighting with people every single day.

    They could be sitting in an island drinking and spending money and just like they could literally have a bonfire every night and just burn cash and they would never run out of money, but they chose to go to work because they chose to defend the community and defend that platform that is quite honorable. I think that Instagram is certainly a worse place for them not being at the helm anymore. We'll see what happens. But the nice thing is that we all have free will and if they fuck it up really bad, somebody will come up with another platform and that is the way things work. It happened to Tumblr, it happened to My Space before that, it happened to Frenzo before that, it happened to Facebook before somewhere in the middle there.

    This is a natural thing, we've always said on the show that I don't have any confidence that Instagram is going to continue to play as significant a role in culture as it is today in five years. There's just no way that that's going to happen. Mostly because young people don't use it. Super young people don't use it and eventually, whatever the kids are using will all get on. We'll see what that is.
    Episode #118
    - Instagram Founders Leaving, Follow-up Reports, Slow Times of Year
  • Well, first of all, if you're asking yourself that question and that's just a choice you can make, to just start traveling heavily, more power to you. I would just do that because that sounds really fun, if you can do that, fuck it, do it, go live the dream, send us photos.

    Something to think about with travel, I think there are different types of travel influencers. You can have a travel influencer who is going to places that maybe you will never go to, very exotic, very hard to reach, unknown places that maybe it's a once in a lifetime type trip for you but isn't something that is like, "Here is my guide to Paris", it's like, "Here's my guide to this obscure Uzbekistani city that you've never heard of." Then there is travel influencers who are like, "Here's cute cafes in Paris, here's cute cafes in Copenhagen, here is my favorite vintage shopping in London, here is my favorite cocktail bar in New York City".

    I think first it's understanding, when you talk about travel, what kind of travel influencer are you going to be. Most people don't have the time, money or stomach to do the adventure-based difficult travel, most people want to stay in the four seasons, myself included, be pampered, go to chic places and drink Manhattan's and always be able to order a turkey club at midnight with room service should you need to, that's just me.

    Also, that is my travel meal, I don't know why, I never eat turkey clubs, ever, in my life, I would never just order a club, every time when room service, my order is a turkey club, what is your room service order? Let me know. That's a side note, now, moving on. The other kind of influencer, if you're going to be like a guy named Patrick. I look at where a guy named Patrick goes, I look at where Olivier Lopez from lust for life goes when they're in cities because I think that they have great taste and I know that they're well traveled and they go to cute cafes, bars and restaurants and they shop at interesting places.

    If you're going to be an influencer like that, I think a great way to start is by looking at your own city and saying, "What can I--" Start documenting, seeing if your audience is reacting well to it, start with the place that you live. Now, if you want to be the other kind of influencer, I think there's a way to test that as well. You live in Portland, you're surrounded by immense amounts of natural beauty, wilderness, weird towns and all sorts of things, you can go further afield on the weekends. You can travel locally and just start to tell those stories, maybe do both, see what your audience is reacting to.

    I joked earlier but I wouldn't dump $50,000 into traveling around the world creating content to try and up your engagement and become a travel influencer because I don't think it's going to pay. Part two, travel doesn't pay. Travel companies have almost no budget across the board, it's changing a little bit. Hotel groups are very difficult to work with, they generally want to just comp the rooms.

    Most hotel groups are a central company and then the hotel properties are almost like franchises, the corporate doesn't have a lot of power over what happens in each place. You could have a great relationship with the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, that doesn't mean that you're going to be able to stay at the Ritz in Paris, totally different teams that don't really communicate at all, they really operate as completely separate businesses.

    Travel has it's complexities with making a living off of it, amazing things do for a lot of influencers, it's one of the biggest perks. I don't know a lot of influencers making a living off of travel exclusively, that is something to consider. The other thing with being a travel influencer [sigh], either way is you're going to have to be a great photographer. You're going to have to be able to go to a city and capture it without you in it necessarily, in a really unique and interesting way.

    Again, another reason to start at home, try and cover Portland in a way that makes it seem really exciting and amazing. I love Portland, I think it's fun, maybe start there.
    Episode #117
    - Building Audience Trust, Increasing Conversions, Travel Content
  • Talked about this a little before, touching it briefly, I don't think most people, when they look at Instagram because generally, it is a diversion, it is something that you look at for a minute or two at a time, I don't think most people come to Instagram with the purpose of shopping, which is different than blogs where you'd go to a URL and I think that you are more willing, ready and able to shop when you're on a desktop usually.

    You're there, you have logged in to all these shops, you're logged into Net-a-Porter, you're logged into Amazon, you're logged into Nordstrom, whatever it is that makes it very easy, the links are all there, there's not only links to the products they have but to five other options that are cheaper. Blogs are set up to get you to shop. There's also, you can search a blog, all these things that make it just quite a bit more actionable.

    Instagram is obviously chasing shopping, they're launching or have launched a stand-alone shopping app. A lot of times Instagram launches stand-alone apps and then tries to learn a thing or two about it in that stand-alone and then integrate that back into the app. We could see a world certainly where influencers can link directly to the posts in their Instagram and you can shop through there.

    I think that would make sense, I think that would be awesome for everyone, it won't be awesome for affiliate networks because they would scrub that affiliate out, that is something to consider. Instagram definitely wants to tackle shopping, they want to understand it, they want to have more people buying stuff on Instagram because Instagram is set up to do what? Sell advertising. If it is a lot easier to shop on their app, they're going to have the ability to sell a lot more ads.

    They will do anything in their power to sell more ads, that is the entire purpose of the company. I wouldn't delude myself that they're trying to do anything else other than sell advertising at this point, they will figure it out. The second question is with affiliates, I think we will see less and less affiliates on Instagram because I think Instagram will offer a native solution to be able to sell things. I'm not sure that they'll be paying influencers out for that but on the influencer's space, if it easier to buy things and if brands are seeing a huge amount of sales come through Instagram, that is great for all of you, that's great for all of us.

    It would be amazing to be able to have much more direct ROI of the sales on Instagram, it would be much easier to justify your prices, to justify working with you and to justify moving advertising away from more traditional mediums into Instagram. God willing, they'll launch something that works and we all get to make a lot more money, I don't know if I got that but no, I did.
    Episode #117
    - Building Audience Trust, Increasing Conversions, Travel Content
  • This is something that I've been thinking about a good amount. Let's go back to what I just said in the intro. Something that's interesting with influencers is that oftentimes you get compared to journalists. The difference is I almost never see influencers say something negative about any brand because they don't want to jeopardize their ability to potentially work with that brand.

    I'm not saying you should be putting brands on blast, but if you only blow sunshine and flowers up the ass of every brand in the world, how am I ever going to believe anything that you say? I think that there is room to have an honest conversation about some brands to say, "This was awesome. I didn't love this or it worked really well for this, it wouldn't work as well for this specific thing."

    I'm not saying you should be doing that on the sponsored post because that's an advertisement someone buys, that is not organic earned media that is paid media. Whatever they want you to say is essentially what you're going to say. In your organic posts, in your day-to-day, as you talk about brands, try and be honest with your audience. Try and tell them your actual honest opinion. Could it jeopardize your ability to work with that brand in the future? Yes and no, in the short term, it might.

    It would depend on your tone. If you're like, "This is the worst product I've ever seen in my life. Nobody should ever buy it." Then in what world would you want to work with that brand anyway. Now, I wouldn't suggest that's the way to frame the conversation about a brand, but saying, "Hey, I bought this moisturizer, my skin felt better. I didn't feel like it was $50 and it didn't feel twice as good as my $20 moisturizer so I'm not sure that I would suggest it. It was nice and I did like this about it." That to me feels honest without saying this product is a waste of money.

    The other thing is just like, even if it's an overwhelmingly positive review and you love the product, you can't love everything about it. I love this suit but it is terribly uncomfortable and it is so hot. The end it is gratuitously expensive and you cannot justify its cost in any way, shape or form and you look like a child. You look like you're wearing a child's suit. There are cons with wearing a Thom Browne suit. It is not perfect, it is definitely not for everyone.

    I think that, as you think about that with the brands that you're talking about, even if you love something, the ability to say, "Yes, but this is annoying or like this was a little frustrating or this is something to think about." I think that can build trust with your audience. Because they're saying, "Oh, okay. You said something a little bit negative or it seems like you talked about this product as a normal human does, which is not, "Oh, my god I love it so much. Guys, I have to tell you. I found this new moisturizer. I love it, I am obsessed. I love it, it's my favorite."" It's like cool, you said that last week about another moisturizer and you could say that next week about another one.

    How do you build trust? You can still do that and say, I'm obsessed but what are some things you don't love? I'm a car guy, I love cars. There's this guy who's a YouTuber, Chris Harris, who reviews cars. He says some shit about Ferrari years ago and called them out in a big way. They blocked him not only from reviewing their cars but from purchasing them. He wanted to buy a Ferrari and they literally would not sell him one. He had to buy it used because Ferrari refused to sell him a car.

    Now, he has eventually repaired his relationship, part of that being that he's gotten so popular. He's so respected that Ferrari could no longer avoid him or ignore him. Also, it's just like old news, I think they just got over it. What I'm saying is that, even if you hurt brands feelings a little bit in the short-term, it's not to say that in the future you can't work with them. It's also not to say that your goal in doing this, is not to make every single brand in the world love you, it is to build an audience that trusts you and respects you.

    Have that trust and respect to be so important that brands are clamoring to work with you. That's the goal. If in the process of doing that, you piss a few brands off, do you really care? Again, I think that there's a respectful way to do it but you have to be honest. I know all of you could sit here and watch this and be like, "I am honest." It's like, "Right, you're not because I literally never hear anything, not even negative. I never hear like a "This is good."" I'd encourage you to try and integrate some of that, try and be a little bit more honest, see where it takes you. That was a long tangent and let me just rattle off a few other points.

    Influencers I trust are generally because they are like thought leaders or they have an incredible amount of knowledge. Going back to this guy, Chris Harris, who I love, who's just a charming interesting dude, he's also an incredible driver. He races, he wins races, he's just an amateur, he's never been pro. Put him in a car, the guy can drive. He can do things in a car that I could never do. He understands cars in a way that I would never understand them.

    He has my trust there because he is an expert in that very specific field, generally, sports cars. I think influencers that have that level of passion, I'd look at Mariana in the beauty space. She really does seem as someone who's more of a lifestyle influencer than the hardcore beauty people. She does seem to have obviously, quite a passion for skincare. It's something she's always talked about and she's talked about intelligently and she does a good job of reviewing products, I'm obviously not buying the same things as Mariana. I rented a Leica when I was in Italy, a big part of it is that reason is I've been following Joe Greer who's Maddie's husband, he's Maddie Greer's husband.

    Also a photographer, he's great, he shoots a lot of film like her. I love his work, I wanted to try and emulate it. Again, he is someone that I would trust to talk about shooting film Leicas because he does it and he does it really well, it's something he consistently talks about. Obviously, understanding your vertical and understanding the niche you're speaking to is the a good way to build trust.
    Episode #117
    - Building Audience Trust, Increasing Conversions, Travel Content
  • A perfect springboard off the last one, yes, there is a homogeny in the space, yes, everyone's seen the same things, gimmicks, niches often work, it is harder to get widespread huge success, it's harder to grow a niche account to 500,000 followers, but it might be easier to grow it to 20,000 or 30,000 followers and maybe inside of that niche you can become a superstar. This is your classic big fish little pond, but I don't think of it in a negative connotation, and as far as will people be interested in the niche? There's a billion Instagram users, one billion, okay, 30% of them never use it, there's 700 million people logging into the site, you're trying to get a 100,000 followers, you can definitely, doesn't matter what your niche is, my assumption is that there is a following out there that is interested in it, finding that the following can be very difficult.

    Again, as we were saying with using our example of communities and punk, the more niche an interest, the more they guard their communities. I'm a cyclist, Tim's a runner, these are niche small communities that have hierarchies inside them and have rules about how you can dress, what you can wear, in cycling the big differentiator is like shaving your legs or not. These things matter if you show up to a group ride and you have the wrong jersey on and your legs aren't shaved, people look at you and say this person doesn't know what they're doing.

    I think that if you look at the beauty community, or beauty as a community they are probably more accepting, but as you zero into a very small niche in beauty and say, "Okay, I'm just going to speak to this tiny community," I think they generally would be more protective of that community, so it'd be harder for you potentially to come in and get that community to look at you as a leader, because being passionate about something that is weird and different, it's a very specific type of person that involves themselves in those communities and that person is generally quite passionate, quite invested, they love this weird thing that they're into, so I think you have to be that much better to be successful in that niche.

    There's pros and cons of both sides of speaking to the masses and doing something more broad and trying to do it that way and in going into something super niche, I think if you again, your North Star should be what am I passionate about, what are the things I like? If you are a beauty influencer and you're thinking what this isn't really getting me out of bed anymore and what I want to talk about is wood working, then you should fucking talk about wood working, I mean, my feed, again I'm not an influencer by any means, but if you look at a couple years ago I almost exclusively talked about fashion, and then I almost exclusively talked about cycling, and now most of my followers are y'all, my engaged followers are influencers, so more and more I am still documenting my life, but I'm trying to talk about influencers and talk about the space, and weave some of that in because that is who my following is, I do think that you can change and try different things, and just because you built a following one way doesn't mean that those people won't be interested in something else, and you should just do it you're into. If you're super passionate about something I think it'll come off and people will enjoy following that, and if they don't though unfollow you, who fuck cares, go find someone else to follow you that cares about what you have to say. I think end of the day, the goal is to be interesting. You got to ask yourself in what place, in what community, in what vertical can I create the most interesting, entertaining and educational content and do that, do it well, do it consistently, enjoy it.
    Episode #115
    - Campaign Effectiveness, Lookalike Influencers, Niches
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