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  • First of all, I think this is a conspiracy. Every fucking time I post, I swear it's like, "This post is doing 90% better". 90% better is a lot better, and I see it way too often. That is one thing. If you have a business account, Instagram is trying to sell you advertising, obviously, and get you to pay to promote your posts, so when a post is doing well, it will say, "Hey, this post is doing 90% better than your usual posts. Do you want to promote it?" The idea being people are already resonating with this.

    Do you want to pay to make sure more people see it? You know the amount of people that are seeing an Instagram post are between 15% and 50%-- really between like 2% and 90%. I would say the solid average is probably between 15% and 40%, so you can pay to maybe have 60% of your audience see it or to have people who aren't part of your audience see it.

    Should influencers be paying to promote their feed? I don't think that that's super valuable. I don't think it's a sustainable way to grow an audience. I think that the chances of somebody looking at your post, clicking to your profile and following you off of a promoted post that you've done are essentially zero. I would not promote it unless there's a business reason to do so outside of gaining a following. If you have a message that you're trying to get across, if, obviously, you're working with a brand and they want you to promote it, that's the time you would do that obviously.

    Let's say you're launching a new clothing line or a collaboration with a jewelry brand and you want as many people as humanly possible to see it, I would put some money behind that. Don't listen to Instagram and put money behind posts just because they're doing well. If you're going to pay to promote your posts, make sure there's a reason other than "I want to gain followers" because I don't think that will work.
    Episode #130
    - Influencer Marketing in 2019, Instagram Story Content, Boosting
  • I maybe listen to the audio of 1% to 5% of Insta stories, so if you're speaking to camera, there is almost no chance that I'm listening. Now, I caveat that by saying I love you all, but when you go through your morning skincare routines and you're talking through how you're putting on moisturizer or what you're doing with your makeup, I'm not listening to that because obviously, it's not interesting to me. I don't need to learn how to do a cat eye better. I'm already fucking great at it. In general, I personally find myself never listening to the audio on Instagram. Do you?

    Tim: Never.

    James: Tim doesn't either. Does the language matter? Do the captions matter? Absolutely. I think that you need to be telling a story without audio because I just have no faith that anyone is listening to the audio. A lot of times, you're at work. You're in a meeting. You're in a cab. You're in the subway. You're in the line for coffee. Maybe if your headphone's in but you're probably listening to music and you don't want to hear someone talking or the beeping or the wind or this.
    Tell the story without using your voice unless you're doing a walk through or tutorial or something that was very much like people are like, "Okay, I'm going to listen to this". That's different, obviously. Even still, as you're talking, I would think about how you are using captions to tell the story as well because there's just absolutely fucking no way a 100% of people are going to listen to it.

    If you're just talking to camera, I have to assume 75% minimum of people aren't going to listen to it so very important to use captions and use text creatively to tell a story. Also, go back to what we're just talking about with the end of the year stories. Insta stories have become a enormous part of Instagram, bigger in a lot of ways than the feed, and there is still not a lot of thought put behind these things. You need to spend the time to make sure that what you're doing is interesting.

    Look, there's slice-of-life stuff that is totally interesting and doesn't need to be super editorial. I follow a lot of influencers that are very casual and just talking to camera. I'll give a few examples. Grace Atwood, Helena from Brooklyn Blonde; Sai, Scout the City, three influencers that almost never are uploading professional photos, almost never building stories ahead of time. They're very off-the-cuff, and I think they do a great job. That said, they also are usually showing something that I think their audience would find interesting.

    I think that Helena and Sai do a lot of their kids because people are very interested in their children, so there's a lot of that content that's just not really thought out. It's just like, "Here my kids doing something cute", or 'Here, I'm trying to get a jacket on, and they're throwing a tantrum". I think that that totally works for them. Grace Atwood as well, she does a little more that's maybe thought out beforehand, but I don't find myself skipping the stories that often because it does feel a little more intentional and less like "I'm bored, so I'm going to post a story". On the flip side, I've been talking a lot about my friend Aaron. He's been doing these stories that are very pre-- What do I want to say? He's doing these stories that are essentially short films. Tim will play it here, but he's shooting video, not posting it, and then going back in Final Cut Pro and creating these little short films, and then overlaying photos really quickly at the end. I think they're fantastic. I think they're great for people that have the technical, creative skills to do things like that. Again, that story what Aaron is doing would never make sense on Helena or Sai's accounts because that's just not who they are.

    I go back to a point again we talk about a lot is that I think Helen, Sai and Grace Atwood all know who they are, and they've very comfortable with who they are. They're really authentic, and they're not trying to be someone else. It just comes off as interesting, and you're like, "This is this person, so I'm interested in it". Christina does exactly what I'm saying- from [unintelligible 00:21:19] -does exactly what I'm saying you shouldn't do. She's just like, "I'm walking to the gym. I'm eating Cheetos", all those things. We've talked about it before, but it works because it's her. You see young influencers sometimes they're trying to emulate other people, and it just comes off as inauthentic, and it comes off as boring for me.

    I think the first step in all of this, and it's 2019, it's a new year, is really figuring out who you are. Write it down. Write down what your beliefs are. Write down what your values are. Write down what you care about and what you don't. Write down the things that you don't talk about or you do. Write down the brands that you care about and the brands you wouldn't work with. Try and have some guiding principles in your life.

    I think again, if we go back to question one about what's coming on in 2019, it's just going to get more competitive, and you have to carve out your own niche, and you have to be able to do something interesting. It's so competitive now that there is definitely someone out there doing what you're doing better than you're doing it. You have to be yourself and really lean into that this year. I think that's going to be very important.
    Episode #130
    - Influencer Marketing in 2019, Instagram Story Content, Boosting
  • One, there is increasingly backlash. I think there will be more and more backlash as influencer marketing grows and as it becomes a bigger part of the lexicon like the popular pop culture lexicon. As influencer becomes more of a thing, I think we're going to see more of a backlash. We're going to see more articles lashing out about influencers. We're going to see more think pieces about how influencers are ruining the world. That is one thing I think we're going to see is just more negative sentiment. I think we're going to see more of it. It's going to grow.

    Marketing budgets are set months before January 1st, so there's already a pretty clear indication about how much influencer marketing is going to grow this year, and that growth is fairly significant. Barring a catastrophic economic collapse, which doesn't seem to be coming on, the markets are a little jittery right now, but it's because Trump is trying to burn the world down, and the markets don't like when that happens.

    Generally, America's economy by most indicators is pretty strong right now. It doesn't seem like we are headed for a recession. I think we're probably headed for a little correction at some point where we'll dip down a bit because things are a little inflated right now, but that is neither here nor there. Let's move on. Influencer marketing will grow. That is number two, thing that you can expect. Number three, with that growth is going to come more competition. It's just going to get harder and harder not only to grow but to get the jobs. For easy numbers, if five years ago there was a 100 influencers and then a 1000, and then 10,000 and then 40,000 and a 100,000, I think that the growth and supply of influencers is greatly outpacing the growth in demand for sponsored posts and things like that, so I think it is going to get harder and harder to win those deals. I think you're going to have to fight more and more.

    I think that influencers should really focus on retention; think of your retention numbers. Go back. This is a good thing to do in the beginning of the year. Go back. Write down every single campaign you did last year or every gifting campaign you had, every brand you worked with, every event you went- got invited to, whatever it might be, and think about retaining those clients A good business at minimum has 60%, 70% retention, so if you think about that, 70% of the clients you worked with this year, you should work with next year-- Sorry, 70% of the clients you worked with last year, you should work with this year.

    If it is looking like it's 20%, there's a pretty big problem either with your performance or the way you're following up with brands. Something is wrong, so try and track those retention numbers. If you have been doing this for a while and you're more established, try and look at 2017 versus 2018, see how many clients you retained from 2017 to 2018. It is much easier and more lucrative to keep an old client and keep them coming back than it is to find a new one. We talk a lot about lifetime value of the client; think about that. Don't optimize for a single campaign or a single project. Try and keep clients for years.

    As the industry gets more and more competitive, I think that the smart influencers will focus on retention and maintaining the relationships that they already have. Other than that, I think there's going to be big changes in Instagram. I think there will be some kind of marketplace selling something. They absolutely have to bring commerce into the platform. It is starting to look like it's not going to outpace Facebook but that it is going to become a bigger and bigger part of Instagram's advertising-- sorry, Facebook's overall advertising. Facebook's revenue is 98% of it is from advertising, so it's massively important for them. I do think they need to link it to commerce in some way. I think there will be more shopping involved in it in some way. I'm not exactly sure what that looks like, but I think it's only natural. I think you'll just see more changes.

    Kevin and Mike who left were founders of Instagram. They, for years, fought against Zuckerberg and the other executives of Facebook to not change Instagram. Now that they're gone, I think we're going to see pretty big changes. Y'all saw the new scrolling that was there for 30 seconds where everyone was freaking the fuck out where you could no longer scroll with the thumb. It was all tapping. I think it was a good chance they could screw the platform up a good amount this year because I don't-- I think Mark Zuckerberg is amazing, and I think he is like a once-in-a-generation entrepreneur. I don't really believe in the executive team there that much.

    I think the business has gotten too big to have-- What I want to say? Kevin and Mike who started it, they were driven by their belief system and what Instagram was and what the community should be, and the business of Instagram is too big now to make decisions based on that. They're going to make all their decisions on "how can I make more money out of this". Especially as Facebook usage continues to fall especially amongst young people, they're going to need to squeeze more and more and more out of Instagram, and I think in the same way that Facebook every year got less and less and less interesting, I think that Instagram will probably do the same thing.

    Last point, I think that that opens up space for new platform. I am hoping really that a platform comes along this year that can start to challenge Instagram and that can be interesting and kind of fill the gap that I think Instagram isn't filling now because I think it's honestly too powerful. It's too ubiquitous, and it needs a challenger. Now that Snapchat's been beheaded essentially, I think there's room for someone else. We'll see who that'll be.
    Episode #130
    - Influencer Marketing in 2019, Instagram Story Content, Boosting
  • I assume when you say that Instagram is recommending, it means when it's saying your followers are on Instagram. One, this week we have year-in-review coming out. f you are a member of Fohr, you should be getting a link with your year-in-review. It has your best time, the times that your posts perform best. It's got a bunch of information on your growth and your engagement and your color palette and all these different things.

    If you haven't seen the email, you should be able to just go to your Fohr profile/ whatever it's going to be-- Tim will put it up here and you'll be able to get that year-in-review. That would be interesting. The other thing is, with Instagram, just because your followers are online at a certain time doesn't mean that's the best time for you to post. I assume that the times people are online are pretty consistent across the country, and so, every influencer is seeing that. It's also probably when a lot of posts are getting posted, which means there's more competition for eyeballs, which means maybe it's harder to get the algorithm to tick over in your way.

    That's total conjecture. I have no data to support that, but if you look at advertising, primetime TV is the most expensive time to buy ads on television because most people are watching Super Bowl, most expensive ad time in the year. Why? Because that's when the most eyeballs are on it. If 9:00 AM on the EST is like the heaviest time that people are on Instagram, there's probably a lot of people posting at that time, which means it's harder for your posts to get seen. Again, I always say, and I think that you guys are probably sick of hearing it, experiment, experiment, experiment, and track.

    If the times that Instagram lays out for you aren't working, try different times for a week, track it. The next week try different times, track it, see what happens. It's impossible to get a 100% accurate assessment because different posts will perform differently based on the quality of that post and how much people are responding to it. Unfortunately with Instagram, without years of data, it is difficult to narrow down what the impact of time of day is. Because if you think of any statistics, you say, "What are my variables here?" Time of day, what the content of the post, quality of the post, contents of the caption, quality of the caption.

    There's probably many more. When you have that many variables where you don't have control groups across it, you can't test for the one. It is essentially impossible to test for the variable of time of day on Instagram because all these other variables that exist and you can't narrow it down. What we were hoping in giving you when your best engagement is, over a year, is that I do think those trends start to emerge. While looking at two photos, a photo you posted at 9:00 and one you posted at 5:00 PM, isn't valuable, looking at a 100 photos you posted at 9:00 AM and a 100 you posted at 5:00 PM probably will tell a clearer picture.

    Take a look at that. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you share the Insta stories. That's it. That's it, guys. Well, something I was going to talk about but I don't know where to put it, but it's just something I've been thinking about. I'll leave you with this, something I've been thinking about. There is something I think and worry about but might actually be good for us and all of you in the long term. I feel in general the world is turning against Facebook and Instagram as platforms. For years and years it was mostly positive press. Facebook and Instagram haven't gotten a piece of positive press in 10 months. Media is turning against it.

    People are starting to ask themselves, "Is this helping me or hurting me? Is this something I want my children to be on or not? What is this doing to us, to our mental health? What is this doing to our attention spans?" Another thing that I've been thinking about is, is the government going to break up Facebook? It's pretty clear that Facebook is a monopoly, they have the top five apps in the App Store are all own by them. I think the government will eventually break up Facebook and Instagram, and separate them potentially as two different companies.

    There is no competition, nobody compete with them. It's insane that we haven't had an apps in Snapchat which was founded five years ago, I think. Not a single App has been able to put a dent in Facebook or Instagram's growth or user base. They control vast majority of the advertising dollars in the world now. I don't think the government is going to put up with it much longer. I think that what all these negative stories are doing is setting up a situation where lawmakers can have a reason to go in and break this company up.

    I don't know what that means for influencers. Again, Instagram will still exist, I just don't know that it will always be owned by Facebook. That's something to think about. Diversify your platforms, get on to other platforms, build a blog, build an email base. I know we talk a lot about Instagram, but it will die one day and I hope that you guys take the time between-- in the holidays when things are a little quieter, to think about how you are going to achieve autonomy and how you are going to build a business that will sustain you, not for a couple of years but for a couple of decades.
    Episode #129
    - 2018 Lessons, Asking Followers About Content, Posting Times
  • I'll play both sides of the coin. One, I see a lot of influencers doing polls with their audience. "Do you want iPhone photos or DSLR photos? Do you want fashion posts or lifestyle posts?" I think that that's potentially interesting, but it's probably also too broad. If you were just DMing a single person to ask them what they want, and you've got 100,000 followers, not a lot of insight is going to be pulled out of that one person.

    Also, I don't believe that you should be running your Instagram account based off of a consensus view of what your viewers voted on that they want to see. They followed you for your vision. That's what they want to see. I think that we talked about it a few shows ago, something that Kristie from Facebook Instagram said. Kristie Dash, she said that a lot of times when people's engagement falls, it's that they're overthinking what they're doing. There's no better example of overthinking what you're doing than constantly polling your audience to see what they want and reacting to that.

    Again, that's not why they followed you. People probably followed you because you were doing something they hadn't seen before, they didn't know that they wanted. A lot of people when they hit "follow", they probably didn't follow you because they sat down that morning and said, "I feel like I really need to follow a new style influencer who has like a beachy but elevated vibe, who also doesn't live in LA," whatever. I don't know, I'm pulling shit on my ass, but what I'm saying is following you was probably serendipity. They probably saw something and said, "Oh, that's interesting. I'll follow that."

    Again, I would go back to that as your North Star. It is important to speak to your audience at some points. Again, I don't think that Instagram polling is maybe the best way to do it, and I don't know if it's specific enough. If you really want some insights on your following, go to Type Form. It's free to sign up. Create an actual survey link to it, ask your followers. Get some real data. It will be anonymous as well so they probably feel more likely to be honest with you than they would in a poll.

    I think a lot of times when people ask questions, the bias is also pretty clear. People just want to please other people, and so, they answer it alongside that bias instead of giving you real answers. I would question the usefulness of Instagram polling to help decide the direction of your account, but gathering data on what your following is interested in, what they like and don't like, can be useful. So, it's a yes and no answer to that question. Hopefully, in some ways, it's helpful.
    Episode #129
    - 2018 Lessons, Asking Followers About Content, Posting Times
  • I have learned a lot. Much of it not applicable to Instagram, but just in growing this business. We didn't grow headcount that much this year, but we doubled the size of our business from a revenue perspective, which was amazing. We did it with, by only increasing the OpEx, so our salaries and things like that by 25%. I personally feel like I learned a lot about the value of process and investing in things that you can't necessarily be sure are instantly going to have a payoff.

    What that means for what you all do is take it as it is but we, definitely, as a business, as for this year, took a kind of long view on what we wanted to do and the investments that we wanted to make. Those have certainly paid off, but again, those investments weren't instantly. They weren't things that paid off instantly like advertising would or something like that, where you spend a dollar, you get two back.

    I think I certainly respect the long view. To that end, doing Drink with James, and watching Instagram and you all's growth and struggles, in general, I think I continue to just be reinforced how difficult it is to build something meaningful, and to build something that grows on its own and is consistently getting larger. We've been doing A Drink with James about how long now? Two and a half years?

    Speaker 2: Yes.

    James: We’re 130 episodes in two and a half years. It has been a decent amount of work and a pretty slow burn, but every week, we feel the momentum picking up a little bit, a little bit, little by little. Certainly for, as a business, again, it's like this year was our most fun year. We were growing. Things were going well. It felt like the bets that we made were paying off. Behind that year was five years of second-guessing ourselves, of struggle, of barely making ends meet, running out of money, having to move money over from our personal accounts to cover employees' payrolls. There was half a decade of shit.

    We had a few months this year, where things felt pretty good. So, I continue to just think that success is mostly your ability to like stay in the game and keep driving and be consistent. Keep trying to evolve, keep trying to change, and push what you're doing. Think that things look a lot different looking back than they do in the moment. I know a lot of you all are probably sitting at the end of this year and feeling potentially disappointed with how much you grew your Instagram, or you didn't get as many brand deals as you wanted, or you meant to re-launch that blog and you didn't do it, or you launched a YouTube channel but you didn't stay consistent.

    You might be feeling frustrated by those things, but again, I encourage you to look at the-- take the long view. Look at where you were two, three years ago. Think about where you want to be two, three years from now. Don't be so hard on yourself. Give yourself a break for a couple of weeks, then go back to being hard on yourself in the new year. Gaining that insight came from living it, from seeing it through, from dedicating yourself to something. I think there is such value in dedicating yourself fully to something for a long time. It's why I'm a big believer in routines.

    Actually, for me, I know a lot of people, their dream is to travel a lot. That's not my dream at all, really. I'd like a routine. I like to wake up at 5:30. I like to exercise for an hour and a half, two hours in the morning. I like to come to work. I like to eat the same things I like to do. I think that that routine, it's like it builds a muscle memory for work. I think that working on something consistently, 10 hours a day, for years and years and years is infinitely valuable and so rewarding, and something that most people don't do.

    I think that being in this business, I don't have a choice. I can't just go get another job. So even when things sucked, I had people counting on me. I had to figure it out. I had to figure out a way to stay positive. I had to figure out a way to keep making money so I could pay their salaries. I had to be the cheerleader for the business. There was no one there telling me it was going to be okay. I think that you’re forced to take that long view, or you'll go fucking crazy, because there's always people that are more successful than you. There's always things you could have done that you're not doing.

    I don't think that you should never look at the minutia and the day-to-day and stress about what you're doing this week versus last week, but it is valuable. Especially if you're running that Instagram account, you're like the head of that snake, it's valuable to take that longer view sometimes and look at what you've done. Because most people's lives year over year don't change significantly at all. In the history of work, a lot of people would work, every five years they might get a promotion, but other than that, it's just flat, monotonous thing.

    I think that our generation, and having access to the internet, that inspires you to say, "No. I don't want that. I want to change. Every year, I want things to be very different." Again, I think there's value in putting your head down and working on something for-- Certainly for me, for half a decade, it's been really valuable. I'm stoked to see what it'll feel like five more years from now. I'm more and more inspired by people who have been doing something for 20, 30 years, just to see the wealth of knowledge that they have. Again, I think living that allows you to have the long view.
    Episode #129
    - 2018 Lessons, Asking Followers About Content, Posting Times
  • We talk about the power of in-person meetings, we talk a lot about the power of going to events, certainly if you live in New York or LA and you're an influencer. One of the great benefits of living in those cities is the access to brand events and being able to get face time with brands. Can you be successful without those things? 100%. Money in the advertising world which is what you guys are in. Money follows eyeballs. Eyeballs are the great equalizer in advertising. It is the only thing that matters.

    What eyeballs can you put my message in front of and do those eyeballs give a shit about you and that message? I think that even without getting in front of the brands, even without going to those meetings, if you have a powerful community that is watching you and listening to you, brands will follow It is harder without that face time to stay top of mind, it is harder to build the relationships without going to events, it's harder because you don't get seen with all these other influencers, and again, you don't get to meet everyone at these brands, but it is definitely possible. It's just a little longer road, but again, end of the day, you could go to every event and you could have in-person meetings every day with brands and if you don't have the eyeballs and those eyeballs don't care about what you're publishing, you're not going to get anything.

    If you could have one or the other, proximity to events and meetings or actual influence over people, take the influence, the rest will follow.
    Episode #128
    - Average Engagement Percentages, YouTube Rates, Event Attendance
  • I consider Instagram more of an awareness tool, YouTube more of conversion tool. First of all, I know this show is very Instagram heavy and I hope that that changes. We don't talk about YouTube more because I don't know enough about YouTube. I feel pretty confident speaking about blogs and speaking about Instagram and if anyone cared, speaking a little bit about Twitter, but no one does. I just don't know YouTube that much. I don't spend a lot of time on YouTube watching videos. I don't post these videos and so I'm not actually running this account and so my knowledge is not as deep as it should be. We also don't run a lot of campaigns with YouTube.

    We're doing more of that, we're actively pursuing it. YouTube is still locked up by the MCNs that it's difficult to get any market share there. That is why I haven't talked about YouTube. I think YouTube is exponentially more powerful than Instagram by magnitudes. I think growing of following on YouTube is much more valuable and much more impactful than growing up following on Instagram. I think that you won't get-- I think someone with 100,000 Instagram followers and 100,000 YouTube subscribers, the Instagram following is more easily understood by the general population. Of 100,000 Instagram followers, people are like, "Oh shit. That's a lot of Instagram followers." I have a 100,000 YouTube subscribers, people are like, "What the fuck are you talking about? What do you like, wait, what? What do you do?"

    I just don't think it's in a like public lexicon as much. I don't feel confident speaking to what the future of YouTube is. I will say that as more and more influencers flock to Instagram, as Instagram becomes more and more full of brand messaging both sponsored and unsponsored, YouTube becomes more and more valuable and more and more interesting because it is not as saturated. Just take a quick left turn. We talked about sponsored content, the fact that there's too much-sponsored content. There's too much brand content. I mean even the organic shit, it's like more than 50% of my feed is posts about brands. These platforms were meant to be about your life and brands and the things you wear and the things you put on your face are part of your life. They are not your entire fucking life.

    The whole platform is just become so brand focussed, so brand messaging focused even on the organic side. It gets less and less interesting almost every time I open it which is an opportunity for YouTube and for people that are creating content on YouTube because I do think that because it is less popular with advertisers, it is less saturated with brand messaging and I do think that the people following Youtube feeds and subscribing to YouTube feeds rather and watching videos are more engaged and certainly more likely to purchase than somebody on an Instagram account. The future of YouTube is I think it becomes more and more powerful especially if Instagram starts to stumble which I think over the next couple of years, it will.
    Episode #128
    - Average Engagement Percentages, YouTube Rates, Event Attendance
  • Good question. There's a bunch of questions this week on engagement. Let's start out with a few truths. A few things we absolutely know to be true. As you're following grows, engagement falls. That happens with every person on Instagram. We have seen that trend for five years, for as long as we've been watching it.

    As your following grows, your engagement percentage will fall. That is to be expected. If you have a similar amount of followers but you're getting less engagement, go back to a lot of the stuff that we have talked about in the past of trying new things, of understanding that taste change and platforms change, and people just get sick of the stuff you're doing and maybe you need to change it up.

    There's a lot you can do from a content perspective to try and reinvigorate your following. Something else to remember is, thinking about why people like a post. We've talked about this before that there is no reason for your followers to like or comment on your post. If they see the post they get the same benefit out of seeing the post and not liking it as they do seeing it and liking it.

    The only reason they would like it is if they want to send a message to you essentially saying, "Hey. I saw this and I liked it." In a relationship that implies that they think you're going to see it. I think one of the reasons that engagement falls as the following grows is that people become less certain that you're even going to see that like. It's like spitting into the ocean.

    It's like it's not going to do anything and so people don't like it. Also, I think you have to continue to foster that relationship. Let me say, I think when a lot of influencers start out they are audience-focused. They say, "I want to put things out into the world. I have a point of view that is not represented. I have a unique sense of style. I have a story to tell. Whatever it is I have something to put out there. I think I can help people."

    They are focused on that audience. What do people want to see? I think as people grow and as that following gets more serious and as it becomes a business, something that you're making money off of, I think sometimes the mindset changes from being audience-focused to being me-focused. Influencers start to think, "How can I get more brand deals? How can I get a free stay at a hotel? Me. Me. Me. How can I get more followers?"

    What's crazy is they completely forget the thing that got them to have a following in the first place which is being audience-focused and focusing on delivering value to your audience every day and they start thinking about themselves. They start focusing less on the content and more on getting brand deals and more on schmoozing with other influencers or going to five events every night.

    That stuff is important but generally, you can see an influencer's rise and them getting busier with a fall in growth and engagement because they're no longer focusing as much on the content and they're not focusing on the audience. If things worked for you at one point and they're not working now it probably either means that you changed something that was working.

    I.e. You used to be audience-focused now your you-focused or something has changed in the world and you need to adapt to it. I.e. The style of photography or the thing that you're doing is no longer as popular and you need to evolve and grow. Look at those two things. What engagement is normal? Tim, do you put things up here?

    Tim: Yes.

    James: We'll put a chart up here of what the average engagement is for each following level. You guys screenshot that and see where you're at. Those are averages over 30 days. Take your last 15-20 photos, add all the engagement divided by the number of photos, divided by your following number. That's your engagement percentage. Benchmark it against these.

    It's a good question. What makes me like a photo? First, I would ask yourselves that. Go to your Instagram, go to your settings, go to photos I liked, and look through it. If you're not on a liking spree, trying to get people to engage with you, I think what will surprise you is how few photos you like. I like a handful of photos a day and usually, it is either, again people I have relationships with who I want them to see that I saw it.

    They are announcing something exciting, there's some life change or they just look great or have a cool photo. I really do feel like they're going to see it and so it is maintaining that connection between myself and the person I know. That's usually the only reason I like something. I think you know with the algorithm, I have started liking photos a little bit more of accounts that I want to see more often. That is something that drives my behavior as well because I know the algorithm does take into account if you're visiting their profile, liking their photos, commenting on it. That's probably another driver for me. I think I've maybe misspoken when I talked about relationship. There are people online that I feel like I have a relationship with who I've never met or spoken to, but I've been following them for years and I still feel like I have a relationship with them even if we've never DM'd or anything like that.

    Somehow they've created that connection. I'm sure that is what you'll have done with your audience. They feel connected with you. Maybe some of you'll think we have a relationship, we don't, but maybe you feel that way. Look at that. Go to your liked photos and ask yourself for each of them, "Why did I like these?" and try and use those learnings in your own feed. We say something here at four all the time when we're talking about sales and strategy and we say that, "The specific is universal." So if you can find a specific example, why did you like this photo, you can probably extrapolate that out much further to why anyone would like any photo.
    Episode #128
    - Average Engagement Percentages, YouTube Rates, Event Attendance
  • Hashtags like everything else on Instagram have gotten more crowded, there's a billion users on it now. It is hard to get noticed on a hashtag especially if you're using #beauty, #fashion, #ootd. There is no chance that's going to be effective for you. Spamming hashtags does not work.

    In an effort to understand the platform a little bit more I started following a few hashtags that are a little more niche. Now I told you that I rented a film, a camera when I went to Italy this summer which is a unbelievably pretentious sentence but what can I do. Know thyself. I'm interested in potentially buying one for myself, so I started following the Leica M6 which is what the camera is called, the hashtag so #leicam6 and #filmphotography.

    I find those to be pretty interesting. I've actually followed a couple people from those hashtags. The content is interesting, they don't spam me with it. When we went to Facebook the other day Christie Dash said that everyone should follow #fluffypuppy if you want your life to be better. I do think hashtags if the people are following them Instagram says that that's what the data shows, that people are using them.

    The important thing is to pick a more niche hashtags. If you focus on natural hair probably more likely to find followers that actually care about you rather than #hair or #beauty. Those big hashtags are also a place where people go in who are trying to get engagement so they go into the hashtag. This used to be a trick everyone did. Go into a hashtag that you use #ootd and like 100 photos.

    Hopefully those people see that you liked their photo will go to your profile and like your photos or follow you, or something like that. I would avoid the bigger hashtags but try and find more niche ones that are targeted to your actual photo. Hashtagging 30 hashtags, dot, dot, dot and then the 30 hashtags-- I don't think that works anymore and any of the likes or follows that you get from doing that are going to be from just bots and spam accounts.

    That is not an effective strategy but the hashtags can still be used effectively.
    Episode #127
    - Influencer Rates in 2019, Unboxing Videos, Hashtags
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