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  • The TL;DR answer to this is I think they're insane. I think it's insane that it's happening, but I guess on a level I understand it. I think that there is again so much attention put into this space, and I think being legitimized and validated by a brand is a big part of it, and so there is a trend now where people are pretending to do sponsored posts. It's crazy. They're giving free advertising hashtag, doing hashtag ad on posts that were not sponsored. This actually happened to us in a campaign. I won't say for what client, but we had a few influencers jump in and hashtag sponsored hashtag ad.

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

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

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

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

    I don't think people are doing it as a growth tactic, I think they're doing it to try and like spit in the eye of other influencers and say, "I got this campaign." This is what I think. I think it's more about flexing and pretending you have a relationship that you don't than it is trying to get the brand's approval or attention, which is even more pathetic. If you're faking getting campaigns to flex on other influencers, that's just so sad.
    Episode #136
    - Understanding What Brands Want, Fake Sponsored Posts, Opening Up
  • I think this comes from a conversation we had about vulnerability being a good way to create a relationship with your audience. It's a great way to do that. It's also probably the hardest way to do that personally, because opening yourself up and being vulnerable is, by nature, difficult.

    Look, if that's not natural for you, I don't think that it's going to work for you. I think you have to look at yourself and say, "Am I hesitant to be vulnerable, or do I feel incapable of doing that?" There might be wounds that are too fresh that you can't talk about, there may be things that you don't yet totally understand about yourself that you can't talk about. That's okay. You do not in any way have to open yourself up completely to your audience. You don't have to do it at all.

    It's just a arrow in the quiver, it's just a way to build a relationship with an audience. I wouldn't say that I am ever vulnerable on A Drink with James. I'm not really telling you all anything about my life, I'm not sharing any of my big struggles. I feel like I have some sort of relationship with the people that watch the show, and I think that I have heard that that's felt from the other side and that's done without vulnerability.

    Again, I think it's important to know anyone you're getting advice from that not everything works for all people, and you have to find something that's going to work for you. I think that a core tenant of the show is something we've talked about all the time, it's just trying things. Doing something once doesn't mean you have to do it a hundred or a thousand times. Starting to peel back the layers and starting to show your audience a little bit behind the curtain of who you are, what you're feeling, what you're struggling with, that is a process that can be unrolled slowly over months or years.

    It doesn't have to happen all at once. You don't have to say, "Guys, I want to share the 10 biggest insecurities I have about myself." That's not how you have to get into it. That may not even work. Start slow and if it doesn't feel natural, or if it doesn't make you happy, or it's not helping you in any way, then I wouldn't do it.

    I think that the argument for being vulnerable is probably that by opening yourself up, you can realize that other people have been through the same thing. That by sharing your experiences you can start to build a community around you that also shared those experiences or feel a certain amount of empathy for you about those experiences, but by no means do you have to do it.

    This is not an equation. I think we've said often on the show that like this is not a thing where you say, "Then I get to do this and this comes out." You could feel like you're being vulnerable, and they could just say, "I don't care. I'm here for pretty pictures, not your life story." Each count is different, each life is different, and it's best to do it if you feel like works for you.Yes, I'd say probably the worst thing you can have, other than like open mic stand-up comedy is, is forced vulnerability. That's going to seem not great.
    Episode #136
    - Understanding What Brands Want, Fake Sponsored Posts, Opening Up
  • I'll answer this question in two ways. The most important KPI for the vast majority of brands is going to be, did it move the needle? Did it sell anything? Now, that is the most difficult KPI to chase as well. I think it's not entirely realistically-- Jesus, I don't think it's entirely realistic. I've been on Instagram since day one. As I've said many times, every purchase decision I've made is heavily influenced by the platform, but I never buy things directly from the platform. Tracking sales through Instagram is always going to be a trailing indicator of what's actually happening, not a leading one.

    When we talk to brands, we-- It's important I think for influencers to understand how to talk to brands about this. When executing a campaign, they certainly are going to want you to report them some KPIs. It's important to make sure that the KPI matches the campaigns. What we do is, when we talk to brands, we tell them that they have to pick a keystone KPI, so what is the thing that they're going to look at, the most important KPI. We make sure that that keystone KPI corresponds with the point of the campaign.

    Meaning, if it's a brand awareness campaign that is meant to create beautiful content and getting more people to know who the brand is, then sales is a pretty terrible KPI for that because you don't find out about a brand and purchase-- become a customer of it in the same interaction. For brand awareness campaign, the right KPI would probably be engagement and reach. Whereas on a bottom of the funnel campaign, something for a brand everyone knows about, and maybe you're introducing a sale, or a special edition, then the KPI might be clicks on your Insta story or blog and whatever the potential sales are from that as well.

    Important to know what's the campaign's point and make sure the KPI that you're choosing corresponds. If a brand was trying to drive interest in a new product, the KPI for that might be the conversation that's happening in your comments, people asking product's questions, the DMs that you're getting about it. As an influencer, you should be able to take the data that's coming in from a post and help to tell a story. It is important, I think, in the brand work that you do to ask them before it starts, what's the KPIs that you're tracking? What's your keystone KPI, what's the main thing that you absolutely need to happen for this campaign to be successful? If you don't understand how they are quantifying success on a campaign, then how could you possibly hope to be successful in that campaign?

    I think a lot of companies say that, "We want brand awareness, we want sales, we want click-throughs, we want great content, and we want all of these things." All of that is possible across multiple posts. All of that is not possible in a single. It's why we ask for the keystone KPI, the main KPI above all others so that we know, "Yes, we will try and touch as many points as possible and speak to the KPIs that are important to you, but we know the one that is make or break, ride or die, this thing absolutely has to happen," so that we can brief and create content that meets that challenge.
    Episode #136
    - Understanding What Brands Want, Fake Sponsored Posts, Opening Up
  • I know there's a few AI influencers out there. I don't follow the computer influencers. I don't know that much about them. That won't stop me from talking about it, but I will just caveat that by saying I don't really know much about them. First of all, AI is a grossly overused term for just technology, because I don't actually think that the AI influencers are AI, they're just computer-generated influencers with people behind them.

    I don't think they have sentient AI making their own decisions about what they're posting. I don't know that it's totally AI. Now, what will happen in the influencer space? There is talk of like, "Are these computer-generated influencers going to start to take over?" There's a couple out there that have a huge following. I would say that's because of the novelty of it, not because they're especially interesting.

    Do I think that there can be tens of thousands of influencers that aren't real people? Potentially. I do think that from the little I know about AI, the most difficult thing is to program in spontaneity and creativity, because the nature of it is that it is an equation that is constantly running, taking in inputs and spitting out outputs. I think we're pretty far away from being able to replicate spontaneity and creativity.

    I don't think there's going to be a huge problem in the influencer space. Now, how can it help you? I think that we can probably start to see some programs that will do a better job of looking at your feed, understanding what's working, what's not, maybe pulling out insights that you don't understand, maybe looking at globally what's happening in social and Instagram, and able to find seams for different influencers and people on strategies that are working, or things that aren't being talked about that might leave some wide space for you to grab.

    I could see programs like that actually being quite beneficial to influencers in just being able to crunch an incredible amount of data. We all live in our sphere of influence. You have your feed, and it's pretty hard to get outside of your feed, and especially as the world becomes increasingly dependent on algorithms. This is a frustration I have with music, is that if you listen to a lot of Spotify, and then you are looking into Spotify and discover playlists to find new music, by nature of that, your music taste will start to narrow, because as we talked about with AIs, spontaneity is difficult. I think I've talked about this before potentially, have I?

    AI doesn't know to jump outside of your tastes and say, "Maybe this week you want to listen to the Blues," if you've never listened to the Blues, and so it will just ignore that completely, unless there's other people who listen to similar things of you listening to the Blues, it might make that assumption. Even if we were building algorithms to help us understand what content we specifically should be posting, I would be weary of depending too much on it, because again, I think that when you see new trends in social, it's generally people bucking the current trends in a fairly dramatic way.

    I don't think a computer can predict what your direction should be if you're moving away from the current trend yet. AI might get that advanced eventually, but we're certainly not there yet. I wouldn't worry about it. If we get to that point, we're probably all about to die. Anyway, if you believe what Elon says, we're probably all going to end up being enslaved by machines, I will probably be dead by then, but any of our younger influencers out there watching this now, you might have to deal with it. So good luck battling our robot overlords.
    Episode #135
    - Influencer Peaks, Find Balance, Artificial Intelligence
  • Again, I think we've answered something similar in the past. This is your feed, I think you have to first ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Am I doing it because I want to grow and I want to get a lot of followers, or am I doing it because I enjoy it?"

    I think that if you follow only what your audience responds to, I think you quickly will grow to hate your Instagram account. I remember talking with a huge influencer years ago, and she was saying how she hated the persona that she had created on Instagram. Her account was so big, it was in the millions of followers. That she couldn't exit from that persona, and so she felt like there was two versions of her. The version of her on her feed and the reality of her life.

    She grew to resent and hate what she did every day because she was put into a corner of posting about the things that people wanted to see, which was her really happy and smiley and travelling and doing all these amazing and cheap things, but she was battling some mental health issues, battling some physical health issues. She was going through all this stuff that she didn't feel allowed to talk about because what people wanted was this other thing.

    I think it's a slippery slope. I think you're foolish to ignore what your audience is responding to, and you're foolish to be beholden to it as well. I think you have to find the balance that works for you, and ask yourself why are they responding to certain things, but also make sure that you're continuing to enjoy it. If I was going to post stuff that did well on my Instagram, it would just be a picture of me and my girlfriend every day. That seems to do the best.

    Not that I wouldn't want to post a photo of me and my girlfriend every day, but that's not realistically why I started an Instagram account, and so I don't do that. I think I could probably have a bigger following if I'd talked more about influencers and about strategies and stuff on my personal account. I do that 12 hours a day, I don't want to do it on my personal Instagram account. You have to figure out what's in it for you, why you're doing it, and make sure you balance understanding why things are doing well with doing something that actually makes you happy.

    I've never really considered going into influencer strategy on my personal Instagram. I think, one, it just muddies what we're doing. It's a complex thing. I feel like it's pretty hard to separate where I as a sentient being end and Fohr starts. I feel like they're pretty connected, but I would rather the following be funneled to Fohr. If you're interested in specifically influencer stuff, we have a whole team here that is working on cutting these videos up, pulling in insights, posting stuff that specifically influencers would be interested in.

    I guess I've thought about it, but ultimately, it's just not something I want to do. Again, I love talking about this stuff obviously. I love that it's gotten a response and it's making people happy, but I don't want to be beholden to-- If I have this Instagram account for 15 more years, I don't know that I want to be spending every day having to throw up influencer tips into my Instagram because that's what I build my following on. That's for the company, that's for work, that's not for me personally.
    Episode #135
    - Influencer Peaks, Find Balance, Artificial Intelligence
  • Short answer is no. The longer answer is a little more complex than that. I do think if you're in a really small niche, then you can hit a ceiling where the only way to grow is to either try and exit that niche or wait for the ceiling that you've hit to get higher. That can be a little more frustrating, but if you are into something-- Let's just take-- you guys know I'm a cyclist, let's just take that.

    Outside of pro cyclists, which I don't put in the influencer space, the biggest cycling influencer I know maybe has 200,000 followers. So if all you talked about was bikes, I think it would get hard to get above that number because there's just not that many people interested in looking at photos of bikes all the time. I do think eventually you could get beyond that 200, 300, 400 or 500K level, but you have to wait, again, for the ceiling to rise. You have to think about where are you in relation to where is the person who has the most following in the space that you're playing in.

    Now, if you're not in a niche and you feel like you've hit a ceiling, I think that's more of a personal problem. Yes, I think that if we're being realistic, that there are individuals out there that would have a really hard time building a bigger following than they have. I would put myself in that category. If I said, "I'm quitting this job today and I want to have half a million followers in the next two years," I think I would really struggle to make that happen because of my level of talent, because of the kinds of things that I'm interested in, because of the person I am, because I'm fucking old and nobody cares.

    These things would make it difficult for me to get a following, unless something else happened, i.e, I got famous for some other reason, God willing. So yes. I think it can be tough and I think that we've had this conversation before and it's one that you have to have with yourself of just, there are some people that it's not going to happen for. If you are like, "I want this to be my job and I want to be a beauty or fashion or travel influencer," there are some people it's not going to happen for. That is just the world.

    You can say, "I want to be a photographer." It doesn't mean that you get to be a photographer. You can say, "I want to be a huge beauty YouTuber." It doesn't mean that that is actually going to happen. There is a huge amount of luck in it. There's a huge amount that has to do with timing. There's a huge amount to do with the situation in which you were born, and unfortunately, there are-- I think for a lot of people, there are ceilings that will be very hard to cross.

    You need to ask yourself, "Is this a ceiling that is there because of something situational, because of the types of content I'm talking about, or societal pressures, or biases, or is that ceiling there because I am not as talented as the people that I am trying to outpace?" That is a difficult, but important conversation to have with yourself because I think you can still enjoy Instagram and not have a huge following, you can still get a benefit from it and not have a huge following, but nobody is owed a following because they post.

    I think that there is this feeling sometimes that. "I'm doing everything right, I'm listening to this show, I'm listening to every podcast I can get my hands on, and I'm spending two hours a day interacting with people. I'm doing giveaways, and I've got a professional photographer, and I'm doing everything right, why isn't it working?" Sometimes it's the wrong time or you're not the right person. That's a shitty thing, but it doesn't mean that there's not going to be an opportunity around the bend. I think we are entering the twilight of Instagram, specifically, Instagram's hold over social media.

    I think that their dominance at some point will be tested, and that new platform, whatever it might be, there will be a lot of opportunity there. The world also might change where it gets harder for everyone to build a following that large. Something that I've been thinking about recently of just like, "Is it going to get more and more fractured and our followings going to get more and more niche and smaller, especially as bigger influencers flood their feeds with sponsored posts and lose their authenticity?

    "Are we going to see next something Navy or Kim Kardashian? Are we going to see a next version of that, or does it become much harder or impossible to grow to a certain level because there is so much supply out there of content?" There's only so much you can put out into the world. Again, if you look at other media industries, cable, magazines, newspapers, there's this period where there's huge growth in the amount of content that there is and then that industry eventually collapses on itself and eats itself and the strong survives.

    The New York Times has-- I just saw Today's has the most subscribers they've had in 13 years. The strong survive. Wall Street Journal does well, The New York Times is doing well, Washington Post is doing well, The New Yorker is doing pretty well, I think Vogue is honestly still doing fairly well, but you lose the people that weren't at the top. That's why it's vitally important to, when you think about your life, think about the things that you are good at and make sure that you're dedicating your life based around things that you are better than most people in the world at.

    Procter & Gamble will not stay in a market if they are not number one or two, and usually, obviously prefer to be number one. If they're in deodorant and their product is number three and they can't get to number two, they sell it and they exit, because for them it's not worth being number three, four, or five, six. They have been a pretty rare company that's been able to continue to be dominant for decades.

    I think there's some pretty powerful lessons there, that if you don't think-- I think I talked about this in the Fohr Ground with Tim, is that if you don't think you can be the best in the world at something, I think that it will be pretty difficult for you to find the kind of transformative success that a lot of you are looking after. I just would encourage everyone to be honest, and if you feel like you're at a ceiling, try and ask yourself, "Is this a ceiling I think I can break or have I done everything I can out of this and I'm going to try something else?"

    Again, I felt like when I was shooting that I hit a wall, and I was like, "This is as far as I can take it." I can shoot for 15 more years, and I will get marginally better, but I'll never be able to take it farther than this. So I'm going to say thank you. I'm going to Marie Kondo this entire industry and be like, "I have gotten joy from you and now I discard you."

    I still do it for fun and I still enjoy it, I just didn't have to make it my job, and I was able to do something that ideally, hopefully, one day makes me quite a bit more successful than I would have been as a photographer. Embrace the unknown, understand and ask yourself what those ceilings are there for. That was a long one.
    Episode #135
    - Influencer Peaks, Find Balance, Artificial Intelligence
  • Generally we were getting a lot of questions about pitching. There's definitely an episode, you can go to the search engine or Tim will find the episode and look for it. We've talked a lot about pitching and negotiation and the whole sales process. I'll answer the second part of the question first, when should you pitch something.

    I would give brands, at least, I'd reach out two months before I wanted something to happen probably, not much longer than that. Brands don't have as much visibility into what's going on three, six, nine months from now as you think that they would, so I would generally pitch two months before. If it was something like Coachella or Holiday or something that was going to be really busy and you think the brand is going to be planning a little further in advance, I would reach out a little earlier than that, but also remember that a part of the process of winning a pitch and getting someone's business is building a relationship with them. That takes time.

    You think about the initial emails and then maybe you;re going to get in a call. Maybe that's going to take a week between that, and then you're going to send them a proposal, and they're gong to want to look at that for a week or two. Then you're going to go back and forth. This process does take at least a month probably, to even get to a place where there could be a decision. It's never to early to reach out and trying to build a relationship. That is 100%, the first thing you should be doing. Again brands increasingly are not wanting to work with influencers that are not organically fans of the brand already, so your first step if you want to work with a brand, you should be able to show them that you are a fan.

    We have our content search feature. If you haven't used it in a while, it's on your profile, click on content. You can do a search for anything, you can pull up every time you've mentioned a brand, so if I have my new Leica that I just bought, I can go to my content search I can type in Leica, it will show every post that I've done with them, so if I was talking to Leica's head of digital and I wanted to say, "Hey I just got this camera, I'd love to work with you guys.", I would be able to show them that I actually am a fan. Very easy step ones I would say is be able to prove that you have an affinity for the brand and work to build a relationship.

    One other thing that I think I haven't mentioned yet on the show about pitching is how to get ahead of potential problems. A lot of times the issue is when you email someone a pitch, they can look at it and make a decision on whether they want to work with you or not before they ever talk to you. Sometimes it's amazing. We pitched this company for their business and sent this full proposal through. We were really happy with it, very confident we were going to get the job. We didn't end up winning it. After they told us that they went with another company, we asked why and they said that they loved the proposal, it felt too elevated and they thought that they wanted to work with influencers who are less elevated and editorial.

    We were like, "We obviously also have influencers that are not elevated an editorial." Because we didn't have a great, a strong relationship with them, they saw a proposal, full of editorial imagery and said, "This company only does editorial stuff, so they're not right for this campaign." We lost the business because of something that the client assumed about us that was not true. This happens all the time. You want to take a look at one, your pitch, two, your profile. Try and think, what are the things that could potentially, that brands could potentially think, or that could potentially disqualify me?

    A lot of times, what people want to do, is when they get shown something new, they think about how can I discount this and move on? A lot of times, when you meet someone new, you're not thinking, "Oh, my gosh. I am looking for reasons to really like this person." A lot of times, you're thinking, "I want a reason to say I don't like this person, so I can just get out of this conversation and move on." That is just how our brains naturally work. It'a a chemical thing. It's not a choice that you're making. People will look for holes in you, in your feed, in your presentation that they can just say, "Not right for us. Move on."

    If there is something that you feel like a brand might assume, that will disqualify you from something, I like to do, we say this in our pitches sometimes, we're like, think about it like the last rap in 8 Mile with Eminem. In that last rap battle, he says everything that the person's going to say shitty about him. He gets ahead of all those things, and then makes it so that that person can't say any of those things about Eminem. First of all, great moment in movie, music history. Also, it makes sense for you as an influencer.

    If your following is only 20,000, and you're pitching a brand, and you know, they're probably wanting to work with someone bigger, talk about that in the email. Say, "I know I only have 20,000 followers. I know you may think that is not big enough for you to work with. Let me tell you why that's not the case." If your audience, if you've just moved from Italy, and 70% of your audience is in Italy, but 30% is in the US, you want to say, "Hey, look. I know you look at my account, you some of it's in Italian. You see that I've just moved here. Yes, 70% of my audience is in Italy. I understand that your marketing budgets are for the US only, so I'm happy to come down on my rates, because I really want to build a relationship and start to work with you."

    Get ahead of any of the potential problems. A lot of times, when we go to pitch brands, we're the smallest company in the running to try and win the business. We don't try and hide that, we talk about it. We say, "Yes, we are smaller than every other company that is pitching you. Yes, that means that we have less resources, but it also means we care a lot more. You're going to be a bigger part of our business than the other people who are pitching. We're going to care a lot more. You're going to get the best of the best resources that we have, not just whoever isn't working on something."

    We try and take that potential negative and turn it into a positive, because if you don't do that, they will take the potential negative and just make it an actual negative. They will disqualify you, and you'll never be able to start the relationship. A good activity, I think, for those who are out there actively pitching, is look at your account. Think about all of the shitty things that someone might assume about you, or all of the reasons that someone who doesn't know you might say that you're not a fit for their brand. Write them out. Write out what your response to that would be. Then, think about which one of those you should put in the email. I think it's an effective strategy. Let me know if it works.
    Episode #134
    - Pitching 101, Finding Inspiration, Filler Content
  • Short answer. Let's just dissect the words that we're saying here. Filler content, okay?

    If you feel like something is filler content, I think you probably shouldn't be posting it. By its very definition, it is not interesting. One, I totally understand that feeling where you've been super busy, it's been shitty in New York or something. You've got no new photos, you haven't posted in two days. You're not feeling inspired, but you have this really cute photo from a vacation you went on two months ago that you haven't posted. You're going to post it and say, "Who's dreaming of a beach vacation? Where should I go next?"

    I mean, is that filler content? I think you could argue one way or another if it's a photo that is-- it's a great photo that people like and other people are also sitting in New York in the shitty weather dreaming about going somewhere warm. I could see how it gets good engagement. It doesn't seem like something that a more established influencer would do. I think that with the algorithm change and with how competitive Instagram has gotten, I think every single post matters more and more. Every time you post you're going to lose followers, and you have to make sure that you're gaining more followers than you're losing. Actually posting it could hurt you rather than help you.

    Probably pretty rare for somebody to unfollow you if you're not posting. Someone really has to dislike you if for no reason they're just like, "I wonder if I follow this person, because I want to unfollow them right now." People usually unfollow you when they see a post of yours and they just say, "You know what I don't like this person anymore I'm out." When I clean up my account, I scroll through my feed and when I see posts that I'm like, "Why do I follow that person?" I unfollow them.

    One, that filler content is giving people an opportunity to unfollow you, an opportunity that they will absolutely take because every single time you post you are going to lose followers, that is just a fact. Think about it that way, it could actually hurt you. Tim brings up a point where we had Fohr Ground launching last week and Drink with James, so Fohr Ground on Monday, Drink with James-- Fohr Ground on Friday, Drink with James on Monday, and we didn't want two photos of me back to back, which I feel like would have been fine, so we put up a post about a bar in a new series that we're doing from employees favorite bars. For me, that doesn't feel like filler content because it is part of a larger series.

    If your audience is connecting with it and it's a post that's going to do well, it's not really filler content, but I would push you-- I would ask you to push yourself to make sure it is something that is actually valuable to your audience, not something you're posting because you're bored. Being bored is not a good reason to post. Being bored is not a good reason to eat. Those are the two truths in this world that I know to be true.

    Being bored is a good reason to drink, personally I think, but not a good reason to eat, not a good reason to post. If you are posting something that feels like filler content, just put the extra time and to try and make it interesting and try and engage people. If not, it's okay to miss a day. It's okay to miss a week, it is fine. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You don't have to post every day. Your audience, I promise they will survive. Don't feel pressured. Feeling that pressure to post means you might have an unhealthy relationship with Instagram in general.

    If you feel like, "Fuck, I need to post. What am I going to do? I need to post. If I don't put up this photo that I haven't created recently and isn't really that interesting, something's going to be off." I would maybe say it's time to reevaluate the way you feel about the app in general. That's deep. That's a whole other conversation.
    Episode #134
    - Pitching 101, Finding Inspiration, Filler Content
  • First of all, every photo has been taken, essentially. That's actually true. What do they say? More photos get taken in a week now than got taken the first 50 years that cameras were around. Some crazy stat like that. It's shocking how many photos are taken right now.

    Here's something I used to do, when I was shooting more. One, you have to find inspiration in places that other people are not looking, right? If you were looking for inspiration on your Instagram, it's not a great place. You can't just go to Tessa's page, and be like, "All right. I got my inspiration." Literally, nobody is going to guess where this inspiration came from. You have to look where other people aren't looking.

    That goes back to you being an interesting and interested person. You have to be curious. You have to go down rabbit holes. How much do you know about 1950's avant-garde photography in Paris? I'm sure it exists. There is books on it. Have you looked at those books? Probably not. Have the people that are publishing photos on Instagram looked at those books? No, probably not. There could be some interesting stuff in there.

    I used to go to the library in New York City. I got a card that allowed you to make photocopies. I would go to the art books and go to the photography books. They have hundreds there. I would flip through them. I would make photocopies all night of stuff. There was incredible stuff in there that is not on the internet. There are a huge, obviously, a huge amount of photos that aren't on the internet, and certainly, aren't on the Pinterest boards you're looking at.

    As the world becomes more controlled by algorithms, it gets harder and harder to introduce surprise into it. Look at what's happening in music, your Discover Weekly. If you're a Spotify user, you listen to the music you listen to, and they build a profile for you. Then, they have your Discover Weekly. Then, that Discover Weekly becomes something that you lean on to listen to new music.

    Your vision, insofar as music is concerned, gets tighter, and tighter, and tighter, and tighter, as it becomes more controlled by the algorithm because algorithms don't allow for chance to happen. They don't allow for you to walk into a bar and hear a song that you've never heard and Shazam, it'd be like, "It's this blues magician from the 1940s who was a one-man-band." That isn't going to be put into the algorithm because there is no indication that you would like that, because you're not listening to other blues musicians from the 1940s.

    This is a much larger worry of mine in general. It's just that we are getting more boring as a society, as our tastes are driven by algorithms, because you're not pushing yourself to expand your taste. When I was really into music, I constantly was looking to expand the types of music I understood and the types of music I listened to. I don't like death metal, but if I heard there was a new metal album out that was really interesting, I would listen to it, to try and see if I could continue to grow what encompassed my tastes.

    Going to libraries is a great way to do that. Looking at books that you've never looked at. Photocopy these stuff. Try and copy it. Understand that the Explore page on Instagram is never going to inspire you, because it's based on shit you already like. Your home page on Pinterest is never going to inspire you because it's based on shit you like. This is why the whole world looks like a $2 Slim Aarons fucking rip off, because everyone is looking at the same shit and taking the same photos, and it's not expanding our taste. We're just like, "Slim Aarons is the only photographer in the world that exists now, it seems like."

    I digress. You can get out of that with those paper things that they're bound with glue, or sometimes sewn, if they're really nice. They're called books, people. Look at one. I don't fucking know. One last point on that, Jamie Beck, Ann Street Studio, listen to her episode. Most of her photography, if not all of it, recently has been inspired by painting, renaissance painting. Your work, your photography does not have to be inspired by photography.

    I always feel like talking about inspiration is a little like eye-rolley when people are like, "I just like to walk around and travel." I'm so inspired by travel. What the fuck does that even mean, I'm so inspired by travel? Traveling is fun. Going on vacations is fun. The whole, "I'm so inspired by travel" thing, to me is a bore. I think inspiration is a more active pursuit. I think it is something that you have to work at and you have to-- again, you have to put the time to be inspired.

    There's a Picasso quote that says inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. You can't just sit around and be like, "Okay, inspiration come to me." You can't just go to Positano and be like, "I'm ready to be inspired." That's right people, it's coming up on summer, which means my fucking war against Positano is about to be waged again. Do not think that I've forgotten about the stain on the Italian coast that is Positano and the stain on Instagram that is the fucking photos from there. I love winter because I don't have to see photos of the same photo from Positano over and over again.
    Episode #134
    - Pitching 101, Finding Inspiration, Filler Content
  • I'm going to summarize because it was fairly long. Question number three is, essentially, an influencer who's getting great reach, 70% reach, which is fantastic, sometimes getting over a 100% reach using hashtags and things like that, but not gaining followers.

    Getting likes and getting reach but people aren't coming to the profile, off of the hashtags what can be done about that? And do brands care about where your reach comes from? Interesting question. I'll answer the second part of it first. I don't think currently brands are looking at where the reach comes from. They just want to make sure that eyeballs are on the post. So if 30% of your reach comes from Explorer, or 50% comes from Explorer, I don't think that really matters. I think what they just want to see is that you have good reach.

    Now, eventually, I could see that mattering because you can make an argument that if it came from Explorer, those people don't know you, and so inherently, they don't trust you as much, and so the value of that view is maybe less than a follower who's followed you for years. But, we are probably, at least a year away from people caring that much about that. We're just- still working on working on people to care about looking at reach instead of follower count, so I wouldn't worry to much about that.

    Now, let's think about what is happening when you're getting good reach from hashtags and from Explorer, but you're not getting the profile views or follows. I think potentially, and I can't speak to the person who asked the questions, actual count, but if I was going to guess, I would say that you're using hashtags that are used very broadly. Like #OOTD or #Fashion, and people are going through those hashtags liking photos to try and drive people back to their profiles.

    I would guess that some of those views and likes and engagement are coming from people who are trying to game the system themselves, so there's this echo-chamber of everyone trying to get something from someone else and not actually caring. This was the point when we visited Facebook/Instagram offices in New York City with the freshmen class. They said that when using hashtags, you should avoid those big ones like #OOTD or #Fashion, or whatever the big normal hashtags are, and try and focus more on niche-hashtags that are directly related to the exact type of content you are publishing on that day.

    I think that if you can do that, you probably have a better chance of converting the view to a profile view, and the profile view to a follow. If you're seeing a lot of reach, but not a lot of conversion or profile views, I would think you're on the wrong hashtags, and I would potentially say that, that is not super helpful for you in the long-term. So look to the niche-hashtags, look to something that does convert to you, or for you.
    Episode #133
    - Fyre Festival Documentary, Maintaining Privacy, User Behavior
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