• Hopefully you all saw Julie and Thomas' episode last week. I so respect them. I think they are great at what they do as far as influencer work goes, they're great at what they do as far as starting that dress line. They were so thoughtful and intelligent. If you haven't seen the episode, you definitely should. It pours into question number one, which is that you might have noticed that there was a conversation going on in the comments of an Instagram post of ours about engagement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You really just have to make sure you're playing the long game and thinking about, "Where am I going to be in 5 or 10 years?" Not necessarily, "Where am I going to be in five days?" Okay.
    Episode #138
    - Sponsored Instagram Stories, Passion vs. Engagement