Stacy sits down with Vice President and Group Director for digital at MKTG, Keith Stoeckeler, to discuss how he utilizes influencer marketing as true brand partnerships and not just an amplification of the brand.
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- Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them. I’m Stacey Jones, the founder of Influencer Marketing and branded content agency, Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for top experts to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. While it is impossible to be well versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy or money. Whether you’re doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.
- Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them. Here’s your host Stacey Jones.
- I’m delighted to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Keith Stoeckeler, who is the Vice President Group Director for Digital at MKTG. He’s joining us to discuss his 14 years of experience in digital marketing. Since 2016, Keith has been responsible for all of MKTG’s digital work and staff of 15, and previously to that, Keith led the digital strategy for the healthcare division over at CDM New York, working with Pfizer, Novartis and other brands.
- Before that he was hired to help build the digital offerings at Fleishman Hillard New York and he’s also worked across eight Procter and Gamble brands that publicist New York as well as on the Harley Davidson and Subaru accounts at are Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis. Today, we’re going to talk about influencer marketing as true brand partnerships, and not just an amplification of the brand. Well, learn what has worked from Keith’s experience, but maybe could be avoided if you’re doing this yourself and not working with an agency to represent your brand, and where other brands are missing the mark. Keith, welcome.
- Hey Stacy. Nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
- Well, we’re very happy to hear from you today. I am always so enthused to have someone who has deep influencer marketing expertise because I love chatting about this subject. What I’d love to do is have you start off telling us a little bit more about you, how long you’ve been doing, what you do, what your background is, where you’re at, what got you to where you’re doing what you’re doing today, and what do you think you’re going to be doing in the future.
- Sure. Okay. This is my 14th year in advertising and marketing. I’ve only worked at ad agencies. I did not know that that’s what I wanted to do, but fell into it by way of a really great internships in my last semester of college. Started my career in account management and as I progressed and worked for larger agencies realized the different departments and aspects of an agency. I got into brand planning and strategy and then that became digital strategy. I think since 2008 or so the last 10 years I’ve been focused in digital, which then transitioned to social.
- I’ve been working within those two mediums exclusively for probably the last 10 years. Currently, at MKTG I’m focused in sports entertainment and a lot of properties like that. It’s a fun thing day in and day out. We do a lot of content marketing, social, digital, whether it’s web or app or influencer partnerships, talent negotiation. So, a lot of different things. But all things really content at the end of the day. So, it’s been a lot of fun.
- You’re on the show to talk specifically about influencer marketing because you told me you love that subject. What makes it to you so killer that brands and agencies really need to be considering using it if they’re not already?
- Well, I love it because I think it’s taken such a quick growth and certainly an equally quick change. It was once admittedly not a great practice where brands and people were looking for just people with high follower counts thinking that it was another way to amplify or they were likening it to placing a print ad in a People Magazine if you will. So, I’m getting a lot of impressions.
- That’s still practiced today, sadly. I think that’s what we’re trying to counsel brands and people away from is start to form true partnerships. But I love it just because of how quickly it’s taken shape and how it’s still very much the Wild West with the FTC regulations and people just thinking that they’re not going to get cracked down on when they post something that’s clearly a partnership. There’s still so much to do and so much to mold and I enjoy working on it day in and day out. It’s very much for those reasons.
- Oh, and I also love it because it’s one of the fastest marketing practices that can actually get results and get going versus something that might take quite a long time to develop and coordinate and arrange.
- Yeah. I remember, I think it was a study last year they were saying for every dollar spent influencer marketing a brand’s making around six or seven. I think that’s really what has driven marketers to look into it but certainly by way of channels like Instagram and YouTube and everything else, these big major influencers was once the draw? I think now we’re looking more towards micro influencers or really anybody that you may know who just has a passion for something who could talk credibly about it. A lot of times we’re building campaigns around those people too. So, the scale is just on equal ends of the spectrum, depending on what projects you’re doing, and what would make the most sense for it.
- When you’re working with influencers, are you typically looking at opportunities to build larger partnerships, or are you looking at more one hit wonders, and they’re posting and sharing content that they’ve created just a single time?
- Well, it depends. I think we want to stay away from the one hit wonders, as you mentioned. Unless it makes clear sense. If it’s a specific project, and we need a very specific person, and we may not do that project again, then yes, at the end of the day, it may be that we worked with somebody once. But that certainly wasn’t our intent. I think we look to make significant partnerships, whether that’s length of subcontract or length of the term, that they’re going to work with us. That’s really because we’ve seen such great return on investment. We’ve seen these influencers go well above and beyond the scope because we’ve treated them well, we’ve brought them in as a brand partner, they’re collaborating, they’re co creating content with us. And they’re not just this end marketing vehicle of, hey, we’re the smart people at the agency, we’ve got it all figured out. Now, you go and amplify this thing. That’s not what it should be.
- We’re finding that’s really where our focus is and where we’ve seen a lot of success.
- Yeah, I think that a lot of people think that influencers are literally what you said earlier, they are the magazine and they’re serving as an outlet only, and they forget the fact that these are creative individuals who are actually crafting the content, they’re directing it, they’re producing it, they’re starring in it, they’re copywriting it, they’re doing all sorts of different things along the lines of actually developing true content in partnership for that brand.
- Right. I think, for me, one of the most obvious benefits of long term partnerships is that there’s this trust created between this person or these people and the brand. I think influencers devote more posts, Instagram videos, whatever it might be to a specific company then they’re following that … They see that, they see that this is much more visible. Such as one post, it’s a series of posts. Maybe they are introducing this collaboration that’s going to be an ongoing effort with this brand. But it looks much more genuine and there’s a stronger connection to the brand.
- At the end of the day, last year the whole buzzword was authenticity, so I’ll bring that up again. But as followers and as fans of this person, we want for the influencer’s content to be authentic. That’s one of the ways to do it by having this ongoing partnership where it’s very clear to this person’s fans and followers that they’ve entered some type of long term agreement. They seem to be treated very well by the brand and therefore it’s not just this pop part of, they’re renting my fee. That’s certainly not what this should be about.
- Can you share any case studies or examples of projects you’ve worked on that you’ve had a lot of fun with that you think an influencer has really shown great partnership with the brand?
- Yes. We worked with a telecommunications brands and like I said, we work a lot in sports and entertainment. With one of the sporting seasons, we had a, I would call her a micro influencer and of course with most things is they work with us and work with other brands, they just elevate their career. But at the time, relatively small person who had a significant following, but a very specific following. What we did, given that it was a telecom brand, and I think you can do this no matter what brand you are is think about what sort of benefits or value in kinds you can give this influencer beyond just payment.
- In this case, it was a free phone for the year, free service for the year, plus the contract that we arranged for her. We had a very specific contract, a very specific amount of appearances, a very specific amount of content that we would generate. But knowing we had a one year arrangement with her, we thought about her for other things as they came up organically. Separate to that, we produced the concert for that same brand. But we thought of this influencer is hey, why don’t we fly you out? Why don’t you co-create content with us at this concert. Of course, she was into it. And yes, it was incremental, but she was very favorable in terms of negotiating that deal with us because we had already gone out on a limb and signed a 12 month deal with her. What was to be let’s say 80 posts are well over 100. So, the ROI on that is just really high because she really cared and she really went above and beyond. But I also think it was because our team looked out for her and made sure that we did right by her. I think the length of that contract allowed us to be very flexible and some things that popped up organically that we thought she might be a good fit for.
- That’s awesome. How did your telecom client repurpose her content? Did they reshare it through their own social channels, did they extend the life of the content any other way? Because we’ve seen that a lot of brands are experienced in just the general world, but sometimes the campaign stops with the influencer and doesn’t actually get taken on by the brand side to extend it and build like center.
- Right. I think, to me, that’s really the definition of that whole rent to feed approach. If you’re only thinking about the content living on the influencers channels, it’s not really good approach. Unless it’s a channel that use a brand don’t have a presence, we did this for a while when Snapchat was first coming out and every brand was thinking, oh, I need to have a presence on Snapchat. That may not be true. So, we want to help you understand if your audience’s is on Snapchat or whatever the platform in question is. But one way to put your content on a platform that you don’t have a presence is to do that through an influencer. I guess I would just say it’s based on use case.
- If your goal is we’d like to have our branded content on Snapchat but we ourselves don’t have a brand channel, work through an influencer and then 100% of that content on that platform goes through the influencer. But in general, you want it to be pretty diversified and have a nice cadence between the influencer, the brand and their specific channels. In the case of the example I was talking through, yes, it was a mixture of her channels, the brand channels, we also did some promoted stuff with some other influencers. And then naturally as we’re getting her involved in content with other people whether that’s other athletes, other musicians, those people’s feeds, we put content on. It’s a good mix and if you go into this absent of any idea of where the content is going to live or even a formal content calendar, that’s certainly a miss. You want to treat this like any form of marketing and really plan it out to make sure that you’ve approached it the right way. You’ve got, what if this content does really well, what are we doing next or what’s the video we might have already shot that’s in the can and we’re holding it to release it if things go very well? And then what if it’s not? What’s the one thing or multiple things you’re going to do to drive that engagement if that one video you thought was going to perform very well does not?
- Do you all ever also include boosting of the content that you’re having your influencers do? So that you’re either white listing or you’re giving additional dollars to that influencer to ensure more eyeballs. Are you hoping and praying that whether the algorithms just are friendly to you that day that it’s going to get out to enough of that influencer’s audience on its own?
- No, great question. Certainly, you want to incorporate a … I think it depends on again, back to that content calendar, what’s the best use? You certainly could put paid across everything, and I would say that that’s fine. I think organic as we’re seeing, organic content is really, I don’t want to call it dead, but it pretty much is depending on the platform. I would say best case is to put paid on everything.
- But strategically, if we’re doing an event around big sporting event, it’s going to take a lot to cut through the clutter. In that way, we definitely want to have paid. But if it’s something where we’re announcing a partnership, or it’s something that’s not hitting a specific time in the calendar where we feel like we’re going to have a lot of competition, we may try and see how that performs organically. But certainly, if we’re talking Twitter and white listing, you want to plan for that in advance, you want to make sure that that person’s agreed to it and you’re ready to go so that you could put pay behind it quickly. That process takes a while if you haven’t sorted that out in the beginning.
- For all of you listeners who don’t know what white listing is and I guarantee there’s a lot of you who don’t because it’s not a common topic that most people chat about. Is really just about the influencer opening up channels to allow your brand to have lights to pay and put dollars behind their platform. That’s just something that you should keep in mind that you can do versus just giving additional dollars for them to do it themselves.
- Keith, what are some of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to understanding influencer marketing in your opinion?
- I think brands look at it as just pure amplification. If I want to put out a video and I want to get X number of hits, sadly we’re still taking briefs where people are asking to go viral, this is legitimately still things that we’re combating in the year 2019. But influencers have been seen, I think a little bit unfairly as one way to just purely amplify something. Have no real connection to the brand and it’s a way for me to generate enough to use on something. That is what we try not to do but I certainly think that that’s what a lot of the market thinks.
- I don’t know if you watched the Fyre Fest docs on either Hulu or Netflix, but I think if somebody does regardless of if they work in this industry or they’re just interested in music, it would be a very good learning opportunity to see how they marketed this because they really did influencer well. Where they miss stepped is they had all these models make it look like organically they wanted to be part of this music festival when in theory, they were being paid. So, none of them were disclosing their affiliation with Fyre Fest and then the FTC got involved and I think rightfully so.
- But if you look at that, I think they did a really good job of influencer marketing. They just fell short at the last 10 yard line using a football analogy.
- No, absolutely. It’s a really great documentary and just the story in general. I think the influencers learned themselves something from this. It used to be that people didn’t want to reveal that there was an ad. Now, the FTC requires it, you have to do a hashtag, you have to do a sponsored, you have to do it above the fold. You have to make sure people know that. But for influencers like oh, maybe I don’t want to share, maybe I don’t want to say that this ad I don’t want to come across as being so money based. All of these models who are involved in the festival, they now look like they were organically, authentically endorsing something and they could have actually safeguarded themselves a little bit if they had the hashtag ad. Hashtag sponsor and been able to put a little bit of separation in between them. Don’t you think, Keith?
- Absolutely. I think that’s where the team behind Fyre Fest they made a number of mistakes. But as it relates to just influencer marketing, that was the largest that I think whether it was ego or they just wanted to market it in a way where a consumer would think that these models just thought wow, this is the biggest event of the year and of course I’m going, that was their failure. They should have and could have to your point, just disclosed it. I don’t think there would have been any negative repercussions from that. I still think followers of these models and whoever else they enlisted would have still been equally as interested in Fyre Fest if they had known it was an ad.
- Yeah, 100%. Are there any other misconceptions that you can think of when it comes to thinking about influencer marketing?
- I think an understanding of the value. I would say that on both sides. I think some brands don’t understand why things cost a certain way and we could have that discussion about other things beyond just influencer marketing. But I think they feel like well, it’s just a tweet or it’s just an Instagram post. Why is it valued at that?
- There’s oftentimes a lot of back and forth on that. I also think you know coming out at the other way, I think a lot of influencers are charging way too much and potentially pricing themselves out of things. But I also understand that it’s important to them, it’s their brand and they can treat it however they want. I just think there’s always this dance as I’m sure you do with the brand and the influencer and trying to get to the right number. But I think it’s going to take a while, or at least I attribute it to that. It’s so new. A lot of brands and marketers just don’t know how to put a value on it, don’t really know what the return on investment is. I think they’re not willing, some are not willing to spend what I think is the right number to do what they want to do with an influencer marketing.
- If a brand comes to the table and they come to you and say, “Hey, Keith, we’re interested in building out an influencer marketing campaign. We have this product we’re launching, we’re changing these things up.” What realistically is a very minimum number? I’m not saying fortune 500 companies here, I’m just saying a company that’s been out there for a few years. What do you think is the minimum spend that they need to plan for in order to concept and develop out an influencer marketing campaign and launch it?
- I think it depends on how long. Are we talking it’s a quarter, it’s six months, it’s a year? I think it varies based on the product and the opportunity. I think if we could go maybe monthly, that’s one way to answer that regardless of length of time. I would equate it a little bit like paid social. Any number is going to move the needle up a little bit. Of course, the more you fund it, the better. I think what we tell people within paid social is even for something between $10,000 and $20,000 a month, I think is going to do significant improvement in brand awareness and getting people to see your content. It just depends on what it is.
- I know there’s sites where you can send out a brief to thousands upon thousands of influencers. You set a price, and we don’t do that, but I think if you wanted to and you wanted to just one day wake up and have 500 different people tweeting about your brand, you could probably pay each of them $50, $100, whatever it is. But the point of influencer marketing being so new is I think everybody fancies himself an influencer in some way shape or form.
- There’s always going to be somebody who’s willing to take $25 to send out a tweet, I just don’t think that’s the best use of your money. I think in aggregate, you’re probably talking about low thousands, but of course anything beyond that would just be fantastic.
- Plus, you’re also thinking about the people who are charging this $25 to post, that’s not necessarily saying they’re going to put so much time into developing the content, and that content takeaway is what’s so fantastic about influencer marketing as well. So that you actually have something that’s sculpted and created that is very genuine and unique that can be repurposed over and over if you do a partnership and contract stating so.
- Yeah, absolutely. I think if we’re talking a small brand or an established brand who may not be, to your point fortune 500 whatever the level was, think about value in kind. Think about something that might be interesting. We do a lot of these deals all the time where working in sports and entertainment, this weekend of course is the Super Bowl. If we were to run an influencer marketing campaign in Atlanta for a brand that has Super Bowl affiliations or the ability to market around the Super Bowl, we may have an influencer who can go to the game. You’re talking about a bucket list opportunity. Maybe I don’t need to pay that person.
- It depends on who the person is and what’s valuable to them. Certainly, currency and dollars work. But there’s also these behind the scenes at concerts, at sporting events at whatever it is as well as giving product. There’s a lot of ways to structure these deals to give compensation to the influencer beyond just financial.
- When it comes to platforms, what’s your take on good versus eh platforms with social media? Do you like Instagram? Do you like Instagram Stories? Do you like Facebook? Do you like Twitter? Do you like Snapchat still?
- Yes, I like Snapchat but purely for the AR function. I think they’ve done a lot with that, and I think this year they may do something pretty great with it as it relates to maybe shopping. But I don’t know so much influencer unless you’re eCom or retail, maybe you want to stay in Snap. But outside of that, I’m not sure. I do like Instagram, I do think something’s going to happen with Instagram this year. I just think the fact that the founders are gone and Facebook is sinking their teeth even further into it. I don’t know if that’s going to be a positive outcome.
- So, something’s going to happen. Potentially it’s involved with influencer marketing where so much is happening within Instagram. And maybe the FTC is certainly or finally going to start regulating it. I see just something happening there. But yeah, we still like Instagram. We do like Stories. There’s ways to really treat Instagram like a full marketing campaign. Think about what you’re posting to the grid or your profile and what separately but related you’re posting to Stories. That could mean the finished photo or the finished video is on the grid and the profile and the behind the scenes is in the Story. Here’s what it took to make that piece of content or here’s the influencer taking the phone and taking a selfie video of the fact that he or she is partnering with this brand.
- There’s so many ways to tell a comprehensive story on Instagram. Twitter we love, YouTube we love too, but it’s really about putting out content natively to those platforms. If you are going to post something on Twitter, don’t take me to Instagram, don’t take me to YouTube. Very few people want to see the Extended Cut that lives on YouTube. It’s just going to take a lot for somebody to click off of the social network they’re currently consuming your content on.
- Do you think that brands should work with the same influencer across multiple platforms or concentrate on the platform that the influencer’s strongest at?
- I think it depends. I would certainly say let’s work with the influencers channels where they could perform best. Especially if we’re talking about content creators. Whether that’s video, photo, creative people who are in Instagram doing pretty creative things. We were early days, when vine was still a thing, and we were working with influencers there, it was supremely focused on the content creators, people that would make very engaging six second pieces of content.
- Of course, in that case, I wouldn’t want to take that person off of their platform of choice, or where they really built a career. You want to lean into that. But if it’s right for the brand, and we want to push certain channels, we’ve got to figure out a way to do that in a way that makes sense. If it’s somebody who’s really great on camera, naturally, we want to use the channels that will highlight that. If it’s somebody who’s a really good speaker or a great writer or somebody who can think quickly, maybe we’ll do like a Twitter Ask me anything and they’ll take over the brand’s channel for a certain part of time. It just depends on who the person is, but naturally, you want to lean into what they do really well. You don’t want to push against that.
- With influencers on Instagram, are you finding that some of them are more open and receptive to Stories versus posting on their profile or on the campaigns that you’re doing that you’re insisting on doing both profile as well as Story if you’re going to be doing Stories?
- Yes, certainly both. I think I want to say in Q4 of last year, high 70s, maybe 80% of people who were in Instagram in visit were consuming Stories. That section of the platform has really taken off. We certainly want to have a mix. But like I said, it’s really based on the story that we’re telling. If it makes sense to unfold through Instagram Stories, then let’s do that. If it’s something that should look finished and polished and hey, here’s my work with brand whatever, that could live on the grid. You also want to think about, and this is one potential pitfall people make is in their contracts, they don’t state how long that content should be up.
- Some influencers will remove that the second this deal is over and debatable and probably another 45 minutes we can spend on if that’s the right thing to do. But just know that and if you want this to live for a certain period of time, make sure that you’ve contracted that. But back to partnering with influencers for a significant period of time, doing that allows an influencer to produce multiple posts in conjunction with this brand or company throughout the process.
- Different content can come up on the grid, can come up on the Story. So, it just allows for this nice mix of content throughout the campaign rather than yeah, I posted my picture to the grid, I fulfilled my part of the contract.
- We’ve also seen that if you don’t have and experience, I learned from, if you don’t have that length of time, the moment you pay that influencer, sometimes that content comes down within minutes. It’s shortened, actually.
- Yeah absolutely. I also think it affords the ability to really A/B test. We don’t talk a lot about that in social as much as we should. We did a lot when banners were still a thing or web copy or whatever it is, but if you’re working with multiple influencers you can have them post basically the same message. Let’s see what performs well and then let’s fund the one that does. Different images, different looks, there’s so many things you can do to test and then isolate what really was the thing that made the difference and then let’s continue to do that.
- That’s the benefit of long term partnerships and the benefit of using a platform like Instagram as a whole platform and not just thinking about it as I have to post something finished to the grid. What can I do in Stories? We don’t use IGTV a lot, but certainly that’s another element of Instagram that somebody can consider as a way to tell the story of this campaign.
- That’s awesome. What advice do you have to give brand managers who want to start trying influencer marketing? What do you think is the first steps they need to take to get that started?
- Well, it is the first step but it’s also essentially not something that’s a short first step. You really have to find the right influencers. Sometimes that takes time, but once you find the right people, I think you’ll find such success. I think it’s two thirds or something along those lines of marketers who want to get into influencer marketing feel like they’re struggling because they can’t find the right influencers. That can mean because the influencer comes with certain areas or tones or approaches or audiences that they have and then that can be construed as a selling point or a negotiation point that then becomes a drawback to brands. Because potentially that doesn’t line up with the company’s branding or their vision.
- I can see why somebody may try it, find out they’re getting discouraged, and then they may stop. But, the first step is really find out who and what type of content is going to be a fit for you, and make sure you’re spending the ample amount of time to get that shortlist. Because then I think it’s easier for you to develop an influencer marketing program once you start to see the kind of people who could potentially be your influencers.
- When do you think a brand realizes that they are starting to see success? Is it through the numbers? Is it through … And I hate it when brands say that this is what they want, but I’m still going to ask a question, through sales that are instantly triggered by influencers who are posting? What do you think the right measurement is that brands should be looking at to say, yes, this is successful. Is it the content, the amount of content, those direct response sales, tracking that goes through a website and how much website traffic’s increased? What are those markers?
- Yeah I think it really depends on what your campaign is really all about. Are you looking to get video views, are you trying to sell something, are you trying to get awareness? It really depends on your KPI. But we didn’t talk a lot about that. But I think that’s potentially one benefit of using influencers, maybe one is on Instagram who has the certain threshold of a follower account that allows them to create that swipe up function within Stories that could drive to a website.
- That potentially is, if you want to drive somewhere, you want to sell something or you want somebody to land on the website, you want to be partnering with influencers who have the ability to do that within Instagram, because not everybody does. So that could potentially be the one lesson there. But no, it’s really ultimately about what are your goals? I think for many of our programs, it could be about awareness. In that case, it’s, what sort of engagement took place on these content pieces, on these videos? What sort of comments did we get? Did the public, did her fans or his fans understand what we were trying to do? Did they come away with a more favorable view of the brand? It really just depends. It’s not unlike any other form of marketing where you have to make sure you’re clear on your goals and your objectives to know if you’re being successful.
- When it comes down to starting a program, is this something that you suggest brands DIY it themselves and put together or that they do outreach to an agency and get some assistance with?
- I think if you’re clear on what you want, it could be some time, but if you have the right people who have the right amount of time, you could potentially go at it on your own. I think the benefit of an agency you’re talking to somebody who works in this day in and day out, is they have people they’ve worked with before, people they can recommend, people who are like that that profile. They can get you a shortlist of people and they can really help you quickly see if this is going to be something that works for you. Because for not every action and not every brand is influencer marketing the solution.
- I do think it’s worth, even if it’s a first meeting or a few couple of first meetings to get with an agency or somebody that does this, to understand if this is going to be the right approach. I also think they can help you feel a lot more comfortable about it. They can provide you more ideas on the kind of content that you might want to develop, the kind of influence you might want to partner with. I think a lot of brands think they know, but once we talk to them some more. It’s have you considered this vertical? What about somebody that sits in eSports, for example? That’s a thriving community right now, is that something that makes sense for you guys? It really depends, but that’s ultimately the benefit of speaking to an agency or someone that deals with this, that they can help you really shape this in a meaningful way.
- What gets messy if you don’t do influencer marketing right?
- It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of coordination, it’s a lot of approval of content, ensuring messaging is right. If we’re just talking one influencer, maybe somebody would think that’s manageable, I can do that on my own. But if you’re talking about a number of influencers across a certain period of time or in parallel with one another, it can get quite messy to your point. there’s a lot of coordination and logistics that I think that’s the benefit of bringing on an agency, is you’re not dealing with one person, you’re dealing with a team of people, they’re bringing in the right people for the right project. Whether that scale or the opportunity of the project. It can get messy unless you’re equipped with the amount of people and the amount of time to handle the logistics and work through the contracts and make sure you’re not missing anything.
- There’s been plenty of times that we’ve talked to influencers at a point in their career where I’m talking to their family member who is their “agent”, and then you talk to them a year later and they have real agent. It just depends on who you’re meeting with. If you’re comfortable talking to an influencer who’s found some success, and you’re talking to their family member to negotiate the deal, maybe that’s something you feel like you can do, by all means go ahead and do it. But there’s a lot that goes into it.
- Well, to be fair there’s some really big celebrities out there who still have family members being their managers.
- Great point.
- Being a celebrity dad sometimes is always playing a role in there. SO, they have a falling and breaking up.
- Keep your circle tight, I get it.
- Are there any asked by brands that come to you that just make you shudder and want to immediately say, ah, influencer marketing is just not for you?
- I think they get an idea of a celebrity, a musician, a somebody and the question is, what would it take for that person to send a tweet? I just don’t know what the purpose of that is. Even if we agreed on a price, what’s the point? It’s a one tweet, flash in the pan, is anybody making a connection to your brand. We get that a good number of time throughout a week or a month or whatever it might be.
- That’s when I really think, I’m not sure that’s the right approach. Let’s talk to you about it. What are you ultimately looking to achieve? I think a lot of brands want to align with a certain person because maybe they just like that person, but they don’t understand if it’s worth the money and what that return on investment is going to be.
- Right. I think a lot of people when they come to you just as they do with us, they come and say oh, how much is so and so going to be? They don’t understand all the different factors, and that there’s not actually a standard media rate card for this world at all.
- Right. I don’t know if it’s just the sheer follower count, so they know they can have this huge increase in engagement. I’m not sure. I don’t often know and if they give us the real reason, but that’s typically the first sign of, I’m not sure this is it. Let’s see if we can work this a different way, because that to me is not the best use of influencer marketing and I want to make sure I understand what their objective is to help guide them in the right direction.
- And then, this podcast is all about marketing mistakes, how to avoid them. Are there any big mistakes you’ve seen brands make over the years with influencer marketing?
- We’ve seen it a lot, or at least I’m sure people have seen it a lot. Where a copy or a line of copy will be sent. Either that influencer, their agent, their team, their whatever passes along the info and it just gets cut and pasted into that caption. Things like hey, the agency is asking you to post the below. Please post that 10:00 AM. All of that gets included in the Instagram caption.
- Now, you have to be detailed, you have to have a certain plan. When you see stuff like that, it just looks like somebody emailed at some specific time what the copy had to be, and then naturally either the value wasn’t placed on that arrangement or it just wasn’t organized properly. But that’s the messy as you alluded to. It can get messy even down to the actual post. If there hasn’t been enough communication and people don’t know when to expect the copy, or there isn’t the content calendar that is being adhered to or whatever you want to say.
- But we see that a lot. It’s typically when brands are trying to get in late on somebody or something to activate. An athlete or celebrity is just juggling too many things at once.
- Yeah or their agent and manager is posting on their behalf.
- Yes, that as well.
- Because that happens frequently. Do you have any words of caution to a brand or an agency who wants to start actually even offering this type of service or helping their clients get influencer marketing through other partners so that they can help safeguard themselves?
- Sure, I think it’s hard to safeguard against everything. But you do have to give some consideration of is this the right approach? Is using celebrity and talent and influencers the right approach for you? Meaning, if we signed somebody in six, eight, a year from now, something comes out negatively about that person’s career, is that going to have any association to you? Are you going to be okay with that? I think you have to sort those things out first, to understand that this is the right approach for you.
- Every agency, us included, anybody that we know that works in the space tries to so diligently recommend people they think is going to be a good fit. But naturally, things happen. These people are human, they say things, there is TMZ. You just have to think about that, make sure you’re comfortable with it. You have some plan in case the worst does happen, are we going to rip down the content? Are we going to stop posting? What are those contingency plans? That would be my advice. It’s a lot of planning. If you take nothing from this conversation or anything else, it is not just find somebody that you think is going to push your brand and pay them money. It’s really a lot of thought, a lot of planning, and a lot of coordination to make sure that you do this right with the right person or the right people.
- Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another marketing practice that is more like herding cats. That’s what internet marketing is.
- Yeah, it definitely can be. Especially if you’re working with a number of them on the same campaign or project, you have X number of contracts and X number of things to do. With added people, it just comes added work and added issue sometimes. You just have to think about that as well. Maybe start out with one person, start out small, start out with somebody who may be organically already likes your brand and it would be thrilled to hear from you that you want to do a partnership with them. Maybe that’s the right approach, and dip your toe in it and see how you go from there.
- How have you seen this marketing practice evolve over the years? How have you seen influencer marketing grow or change?
- Its really changed a lot based on the platforms. I spoke a little bit about vine earlier, but we were doing a considerable amount of work with influencers on that platform, and then that platform goes away. Some of them go to Instagram, some of them go to Twitter, some of them decide to go full on into video on YouTube. It just really has changed a lot due to the platforms, and then due to the additions and the changes that these platforms have.
- Instagram, when it first started it’s nothing like what Instagram is now. Its given way to people to be creative in so many different ways. It’s such a fun space, but we’re a bit beholden to the people who create the content and the platforms they create them on.
- Are there any other ways brands and agencies can do influencer marketing better?
- I think they have to think about not one lump sum going to one person, and spreading it out and having different people deliver different messaging. Because it’s hard to get the right person. As we saw with Kylie Jenner and the Pepsi Ad, there’s always going to be somebody that’s polarizing to somebody else. So, try to figure out if you can have a wide net of people who can appeal to different audiences and different consumers maybe of your brand. Because one size fits all doesn’t work, and it certainly doesn’t work for influencer marketing.
- Totally agree. Do you have any last bits of advice?
- I guess my advice would just be my recommendation to get started. One of the things I like about digital and social, is it doesn’t have to be permanent, although in many cases it is because screenshots and screen grabs live forever. But if something isn’t working or the video didn’t come out right or the content that you thought this influencer was going to create wasn’t up to par, you don’t have to post it. You can delete something, you can edit something. So, try it. Because I think, you don’t know until you start to get into it and start to feel more comfortable to really know if this is right for you.
- Awesome. I know you and I were talking, you have a passion project that involves schools. How can our listeners help you a little bit out here?
- I do. Yes, thanks for bringing it up. Like I said, I’ve been in the industry about 14 years, this is my 14th year. I think I had a moment last year where I just felt like I’ve gotten to a certain point in my career, and I want to start sending the elevator back down, if you will, and what can I do to help? I’ve always been somebody who will answer an email, will take five minutes, will meet you for coffee, or a drink or whatever it is, so I can help you think through a job offer or an agency or whatever it might be.
- That wasn’t changing. But what I thought I wanted to do was focus more on schools and universities and Skype into classrooms, prepare presentations, talk to students, just let professors know that I was open to collaborate with them. Whether that was on their syllabus or … I know a lot of them are seeking funding on certain projects or programs. If I can help there, I’d like to. Currently sit on a board at Rutgers University and RIT in New York. I’m looking for other opportunities, other professors, teachers, instructors to collaborate with, because I’d certainly like to talk to you. Would certainly like to help your programs and we’d like to tell you some of the things that we’re doing in the agency world that I hope I can help some students get better prepared for.
- Awesome. How can people get in contact with you?
- Twitter is really the easiest because my handle is so short. It’s just KeithS, K-E-I-T-H-S. If you can find me there, my website is linked and you’re welcome to DM me or app me there. But if you prefer to go through my website, you’ll find my email, you’ll find my LinkedIn. However you’re comfortable connecting there. But I think the easiest gateway due to my very long and too many vowels in my last name, is to find me on Twitter.
- I don’t know, I figured that you actually just were a very sound digital marketing expert. The fact that you scored KeithS us on Twitter, that’s pretty phenomenal.
- Well, it didn’t start like that. I had my entire name, and I saw who had KeithS, and I saw they went a few months without tweeting. I know that with Twitter policy, if they go a year, it’s a dormant account, and I can take it. So, I put a calendar invite a year from that day, and lo and behold, they hadn’t tweeted in a year. In the business of what I’m in, I have connections at Twitter, but I basically said, hey, this has been a dormant account, can I have it? And took over it that day. I’ve been trying to get cheeseburger, but I’ve been in a pretty big battle with the person that owns that to get it. So, I don’t think I’m getting it anytime soon.
- Well, you did say you really like cheeseburgers and dogs.
- I do. I’m trying to lock up these handles and really take ownership of them. I’m happy and fortunate to have KeithS, so I don’t have to spell out my last name. Cheeseburger if you’re listening to this, I’d love to talk. I want your handle as well.
- So, Keith, thank you so much for being on today. I know I learned some things, and our listeners absolutely learned as well. Really appreciate your advice and your time, and looking forward to chatting in the near future.
- Absolutely. This was fantastic. I appreciate it. Again, thanks for having me on.
- Of course, we will chat later.
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