Who are social media influencers and how can they help your business?
In this episode, Tyler Farnsworth joins the podcast to cover a marketing topic we haven’t dug into yet: influencer marketing.
We talk about the role influencers play in marketing today, finding the right social media influencer for your campaign, and how you should reach out to them.
It's the antidote to marketing bullshit.
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Louis: Bonjour Bonjour, and welcome to another episode of EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founders, and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I'm your host, Louis Grenier.In today's episode, we're going to talk about something we've never really talked about in this podcast in detail, which is influencer marketing. We're going to try to define what it truly is, why it matters and how to start doing that yourself.
My guest today is on a crusade to get rid the world of boring marketing just like me which is pretty cool. He's the managing director of the influencer marketing company called August United, which is there to help digital natives with deep expertise in connecting brands with the people they serve.
His clients include the Kroger company, Children International, PetSmart, Persil ProClean and all of those exciting brands. Tyler, welcome aboard, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Tyler: Louis, excited to be here. When I first learned about your podcast, I knew we were going to be friends. Like you mentioned, to rid the world of boring marketing, we're definitely cut from the same cloth so happy to be here today.
Louis: So let's get started with a question that has been burning me. It's not even a question, it's more a leading question, more statement in fact. I have a confidence to make in front of you and a confidence to make to those people listening to us right now, I fucking hate the term influencer marketing. To the point where I can't even speak about it too much.
But that's because I'm super contrarian in nature. Every time someone talks about something for too much and too many people use the same term, I kind of say that I'm sick of it. Although I'm not stupid, I do understand what it truly means, and this is what I want to get into in this episode. What it actually means behind the term that is kind of a buzzword at the minute?
How can you really truly arrange that to make your marketing better? So explain to me like I'm five, what does it mean influencer marketing?
Tyler: Yeah Louis, I don't disagree with you at all, that term bugs me too. And that's difficult when I run an influencer marketing agency. The term and the way it's said today really rose in prominence in the past couple of years.
It wasn't put together in that way, even though the reality of influential people, or people and talking about products in this sort of way have been happening since the advent of marketing. Ever since marketing started there have been individuals who had larger than average reach or prominence, who have been talking about a product or a service.
Now the way we see things happening today is different, it's different than we saw in the past 100, 200 years. And we see a lot of that has happened because of the rise of social--and social media. We saw really some of the democratization of 'celebrity'.
People have created pockets of audiences, the megaphones have gotten bigger, the world has gotten flatter or has become flatter. Because of that, you see this term that has risen in prominence for better or for worse.
And like you I feel like every day I see some new article around ... that why influencer marketing is the best thing ever, or the death of influencer marketing, or top 10 tips, or whatever, and it drives you bonkers.
With that though, when I first got into the space I feel like we talked about things differently. People would say blogger relations, blogger outreach. And then you saw this rise of the term influencer marketing. And to me, it bugs me like the word guru.
You know the word guru? Your social media guru that just drives you insane, it's kind of the same way. What we see and the folks that we work with -- we refer to them as creators, as people. Maybe their name, maybe we call them by their name right, that's a funny concept.
Louis: Oh, that is weird.
Tyler: Oh my gosh. But we like working with people who understand what they bring to the table. And they don't call themselves influencers, they call themselves their name.
Louis: The good ones don't.
Tyler: The good ones don't. Yeah, that is exactly right.
Louis: It goes back to what you said, so I like what you said. I think we are definitely on the wavelength, which is also a weird thing that is always bugging me when it comes to describing things that you do even if you don't necessarily like the term.
So it's the same with growth hacking, I can't stand the term. Because everybody's talking about it they don't even understand what it means, but people are searching for this term and therefore you kind of need to be there to answer their question. But then and maybe steer away in the right direction, which I think this is kind of what you're doing. You have to mention influencer marketing because that's what people fucking talk about.
But, in your vision, in the way you do things you don't believe that this is necessarily the way to think about it. So just, one thing to clarify though, you said that influencer marketing has always been here since the start of marketing. I would even say beyond that. I would say before that, like 2,000 years ago even before that.
Tyler: Yeah, exactly.
Louis: People will still talk about each other and say this guy who built this fucking arrow and bow for me to kill this animal is actually pretty good, you need to check it out.
And if I'm a chief of a tribe--I'm summarizing in a very, gruesome, stupid term. But if I'm a chief of a tribe with 50 people in this tribe. And I say to someone, "This guy they're making arrows is pretty fucking good." That's influencer marketing 101, that's marketing 101 right?
Louis: So it wasn't ... We didn't need to wait for marketing to start being a proper discipline to actually have that happen, because that's what people do between each other right?
Tyler: Exactly, you got it.
Louis: Right, so I wanted to talk about this because that's what I always try to do in this podcast, is like going back to the root of what marketing truly is. And so avoiding the buzzwords or at least explaining it.
So now we're going to talk about influencer marketing as a term, but I think people will understand that we don't mean in this buzzy, shitty way but in the true spirit of marketing. Which is building relationships with others, making sure that they talk to each other, making sure that they spread the word and all of that.
Tyler: Exactly. And I--
Louis: So before we go into ... Sorry to cut you again, but before you go into the step by step that I want to go into, which is step by step to try to build the kind of an influencer marketing campaign or try to get some traction there.
Let me ask you one question, beside what we mentioned there, can you kind of come up with probably the biggest misconception when it comes to influencer marketing in your opinion?
Tyler: Yeah, whilst we talk about the tactic I think it's really risen out of the fact that a lot of marketers do a really bad job. The reason why this tactic has become interesting is because so many people have rejected traditional advertising. They're saying no, they're installing ad blockers, they're not watching traditional TV, they're skipping commercials.
They're wanting to spend time viewing content from people that they don't feel are going to sell to them, and that right there is part of the challenge. It's that just as there is good influencer partnerships, there are also really terrible influencer partnerships.
And in many ways, if done wrong it can be perceived as being even worse than if you're just doing a traditional ad, because it can look like ... You know that movie from Jim Carrey, the Truman Show? I don't know if you remember that film.
Tyler: Where the wife held up the product and said, "Hey, look at this, buy this." And he looks over at her like, "What are you doing?" And for me, I sometimes see certain influencer partnerships look like that. They're very cringy, they're very awkward, and they're the complete opposite of the way that they should be.
And so with that, that's kind of the basis of where we start. To where we say, "Hey, what sorts of things are you as an organization trying to do?"
"Why does it make sense that you go into leveraging this tactic?"
"How do you integrate it with the rest of your marketing tactic?"
I wanted to start there, of saying it's not a silver bullet, we find that it's a very quality tactic when used in conjunction with a holistic campaign.
Louis: So before we jump into this step by step, which I feel you almost started with step one there. But taking a step back you said there is like bad influencers and good influencers or at least we summarize it this way.
You started to talk about those bad type of influencer relationship. Where this influencer will actually take a product and make it so obvious that it's sponsored that you just cringe. Is there any other way you would describe a bad influencer relation, like a bad way to go about it?
Tyler: Yeah. There are a couple of things much like traditional PR, where you would see kind of old-school PR people would put out a pitch and just send it out indiscriminately to a thousand journalists and hope that it gets picked up.
We see that same tactic happening in the world of influencer marketing today. What you see is this rise of entrepreneurs who have created SaaS platforms to help automate influencer marketing. And really what it does is it just sprays and praise, throw spaghetti against the wall and we see the output being very low-quality partnerships, low-quality content.
And in many ways, I see it has been more negative for the brand. And so that kind of thing where you're just spraying out your pitch to a thousand people who you haven't vetted, you haven't looked at, you haven't honed in on, that's not a good look.
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but some of the things that we look for, we put together what we call an influencer litmus test or a creator litmus test. That has a series of parameters that we feel are important for that brand. It's a little bit unique for each brand depending upon what the goals of the campaign are, who the brand is, what are the types of things they care about, who their customers are, what their customers look like.
So one of the misconceptions out the gate is everyone thinks, "Oh if they have a lot of followers; that's an influencer." Absolutely not, you almost couldn't be further from the truth.
Follower count does not equal influence, not by a long shot. Someone could have 10 million followers and I don't give a rip about what they say, I'm not going to do anything just because they say it. And there are a lot of other things that go into it for us to identify, for this brand does it make sense for us to partner with them? And I can go into those things if it makes sense.
Louis: Absolutely, I can't wait to get into that now you've teased us enough. Let's take an example of I represent a company, I work in marketing. What are the typical, let's say like the type of companies you're the most familiar with, like type of industries just briefly?
Tyler: Yeah, CPG so Consumer Packaged Good, multi-location retail, anything in there.
Louis: So let's pick multi-location retail. Let's say we have how many stores, 50?
Louis: 50 stores and we are a clothing brand. Yeah, is that something you're familiar with as well, you've worked with them in the past?
Tyler: That'll work.
Louis: Alright, so let's say we sell shorts because it's the summer, and we specialize in shorts. That's only what we sell. What is usually the core objective when people come to you as a ... what is the trigger? They want to increase sales, they want to launch a new product, what is usually the trigger you see?
Tyler: Exactly. In a lot of ways they're entering a new market either by geography or by product type, they're increasing sales because of seasonality, so there are other elements that are going on depending upon the season.
Like you said launching a new product or a new product line, trying to enter a new audience that they haven't connected with before. Those are a lot of the core objectives.
Louis: Okay, so let's say we have a new line of shorts that are actually super useful because they have pockets specifically for your smartphone and all the rest of things like this. So it's for like those type of people who to store everything in their shorts, and wear shorts even in the winter.
We have come to you and we want to launch this new product line. That's kind of who we are and what we're trying to do. What is step one? You're taken onboard, what do you typically do, what's the very first step?
Tyler: Yeah. We start by understanding their customer, their current customer and see if that differs from their desired customer. To your point, if they are, if they've been selling these kinds of shorts previously, then that may be a good thing.
If it's a brand new product we're trying to understand who that market is, who it makes sense for. Because that's where we start first. We don't go right to finding influencers that could make sense before understanding the customer.
We also understand from a multi-location retail standpoint, where are the stores based? Is it e-comm, so we can buy anywhere in the US, or anywhere around the world? Or are they physical, in person brick and mortar?
We do a lot of work with brick and mortar. For example, if they were only based in Southern California, we're not going to identify influencers who have large audiences all around the world. In many ways you're going to spend more money, and you're going to have a lot of spill.
We'll start defining geographically--if that makes sense--where folks are going to fit. If it is, like I mentioned ecomm or we can sell anywhere, we'll take a look at folks that are going to align with that, the core demo for that brand. So who do these shorts make sense for? What are the age groups? What are the gender breakdowns? Are their body type things that make sense for that brand?
Then we'll go out and identify typically a large group. It's almost a funnel, where we'll identify a larger group of influencers than we know we'll end up working with.
Louis: Let me cut you right there because we need to drill into more detail. You said understanding customer. Let's say that this brand sells only in the US. To make it simple, let's say we sell in the US as an e-commerce and we have a few stores around. Let's say we want to be in the US, sell in the US for this new product line.
You talk about understanding customer, which is funny because ... I mean it's not really funny, it's more interesting is that every single time we go through this type of exercise with guest, it's usually step one always.
And that goes back to the fact that I pick the right guest, or at least they force themselves to talk about the same thing because that's the basis of marketing. If you don't understand people then you're fucked.
How do you do that though? How do you typically go about understanding customers? Their customers?
Tyler: Yeah. So my agency is focused exclusively on influencer marketing. Traditionally we're either working with a partner, like a consumer experience agency or a research group, or we're partnering with the brand who has already done work like that.
They are providing us with personas, they're providing us with data that they have from other sources. We also look at competitive research. So there are folks that we've worked with that we gain insight from as well to connect in the space. We traditionally aren't performing the first party research or primary search, it's usually coming from partners.
Louis: Makes sense.
Tyler: But we'll take that data, break it down and then that's what helps create that influencer litmus test I was talking about before.
Louis: Right, so let's go into that. So let's say you have, I give you the basic data. I say those are the key personas, those are the people who tend to buy from us. Our new product is not that different from previous ones so we can safely say our ideal customers right now are going to be the same.
They spend X, they're this size group, they live there. The basic demographic kind of information. So I give you that and then this is where the magic happens in a sense. So you started to talk about identifying this large pull of influencers. What do you mean by that?
Tyler: Yeah. That litmus test I was talking about is somewhat of a filter that we build, that says, "Okay of the influencer pool that exists out there, or the creator pool that exists out there, we need to pass people through this filter." There are certain key things we look at from both a ... from a subjective side and from a ... and just say, "Okay subjectively, what sorts of things do we care about?" And from an objective side.
We'll look at things like where we start in many ways, geography. So where are these people based? And not just where are they based, but where is their audience based, and that's an important distinction. Just because they're based in New York City or in San Francisco doesn't mean that their audiences is. If it is a very geo-focused brand then that's a key thing for us to look at.
Is 60% of their audience based in the United States? Okay. If it is that or more, that's going to fit within our filter. Let's look at their reach. I mean even though we talked about total following isn't the most important thing, it is important, we want to take a look at that.
So we'll identify what their reach is, or what their total audience is. Looking at their engagement and understanding what their engagement, how much of it is quality. Quality engagement versus fake engagement.
Are they having things that are clearly from bot accounts, same thing with followers. We have a tool that we leverage for fake followers to identify how many of their followers are real or are not.
Louis: Let's get into detail. I'm going to keep cutting because--
Tyler: No, it's alright.
Louis: --I don't want to forget what you're mentioning. You say that in a very casual manner, but I'm pretty sure a lot of people will have no fucking clue where to start even when you mention that. How do you go about even starting with a list of potential so-called influencers? Where do you get that? Is it proprietary data because you build yourself? Is it just Twitter and LinkedIn? How do you typically start?
Tyler: At this point here in 2018 there are a lot of different ways. For us, we've been in the space a long time so we have a lot of relationships and a database of folks that we work with. But there are numerous tools that exist out there that help you, and a lot of them have become very robust.
One of our core partners is a group called Grin, they're out of Sacramento, California. They're an outstanding group of people. There are from a SaaS perspective for influencer searching, there are a number of tools and they're always changing. They're always evolving, new ones are coming out all the time.
But that's from a paid perspective, and so if you're not doing this all the time you're probably not leveraging a tool like that. You can do things as simple as going on something like Instagram, identifying an influencer who you like, who makes sense.
Looking at associated accounts, who do they follow? Who follows them? When you're on Instagram and up next to the area where you follow somebody, there's a button, the arrow that you can push. And the arrow pops down and it will say, I forget the exact terminology, but it will indicate that these are associated accounts to that account.
And that's from a fairly simple standpoint, that's a pretty solid way ... I'm just pulling it back up right now to take a look at it. But that's a pretty solid way to look at accounts that are similar to that Instagramer that you thought was really good, and that can help you start a base.
Louis: You could do the same on Twitter. So when you follow--
Tyler: You do the same on Twitter, yep.
Louis: --follow someone on Twitter I think it starts to suggest people who are similar. It sounds like, I think it goes back to like marketing 101. It goes back to the craft of doing the work, there is no shortcut and silver bullet as you mentioned at the start.
You need to do the work. I mean you have now relations with a lot of influencers and people who can help, and so it get easier. But when you start out you have to do the work. So it means potentially searching for hours on Twitter or Instagram.
Making a list on Excel and just identifying one by one those people. And just keeping at it. You can also have, pay like a virtual assistant, or have someone in your team or an intern if you have the money to do that. Or you have to do it yourself right? Are we talking about this particular way of doing here?
Tyler: Yeah, exactly. I would say that a lot of folks don't realize the amount of time that does go into it from the beginning. Which is why you see people use the tactic like we talked about earlier. They send an email out to a thousand 'influencers' and see what sticks. You'll find that the people who are very high quality are not going to respond to those kinds of emails.
We're friends with a lot of these creators, and we know these people get hundreds of emails a day, from brands who are just saying, "Hey, I'm going to send you my product in exchange for a post." That kind of stuff doesn't work anymore. You have to build a relationship, you have to be a real person, you have to be a human being.
These are people, they're not ad units, influencers are not ad units, don't think about them like that. Creators are not ad units, they're people. They're really good people who create really great content.
And if you're not treating them like a partner, you're not going to do any quality work in that space.
Louis: I already visualize what you just said as a quote that you're going to share everywhere. I think it's gonna be quite controversial. I like it. But that makes sense exactly, which is exactly the spirit of this podcast. That's it, people are people, and it's just about people at the end of the day, it's always about people.
So let's say we have a rough start. We are starting to have at a list that is kind of basic. Let's say, 100-200 people, who we feel fit our brand ethos and what we believe in and what we want to ... and have an audience that we can potentially influence.
But how do you find out where the audience lives? As an example, I'm not an influencer but I'm based in Dublin, yet the vast majority of people listening to this podcast are in the US. This is a typical example. I do have people in Dublin listening, but if you compare there is just no comparison. So how do you find that out actually?
Tyler: Yeah Louis, first off you are an influencer. People listen to you.
Louis: Stop it ... don't say that. Laughs.
Tyler: Laughs. They change their behaviors based upon that, and that's part of the struggle there is. At the core everyone is an influencer, it just depends on at what scale right. But to answer your question, it depends a bit. And I know that's a hard answer, but we rely on tools to be able to do that.
Otherwise, it's just very manual. Because you would have to request that data, it's not public. So you'd have to request that data from each individual influencer from their insights, and so that's not practical. We do leverage tools through some of our tool partners that can help us look at where the audience are based.
Now there are certain platforms that are more liberal with their API data to be able to share that, and others aren't. With Instagram we get a pretty good set of data even still with some of the API changes, with Twitter we get a very good set of data, with YouTube you can get some good data as well to identify whether audiences is.
Louis: What tools are available? And I don't like to talk about tools that much, but it feels like, you can't really get a feel from just looking at it manually, right? It's tough.
Tyler: Yeah, you can't.
Louis: I don't like to talk about tools in details, because I want this episode to be still valuable in five years right? But still, I think we have to go there somehow. What type of tools do you recommend for people to start that you think are quite robust and reliable right now in 2018?
Tyler: We change, I wouldn't say often, but to your point there even since we've been in the space the tools evolve, and the concepts stays the same. That we want to find out where their followers live. And currently we use, we work with a partner called Lumanu. They're one of our favorite partners. They do a really wonderful job, and this is part of the evolution of influencer marketing.
Their tool helps us identify followers, so fake followers but also helps us identify where people live, the gender breakdown of the following as well, which is important. So a couple other pieces of demo info.
One thing their tool also allows us to do, and this is something that's changed in the world of influencer marketing over the past few years. People got into the space solely because of the quality of the organic reach of that influencer. Well, with adjustments to algorithms, organic reach is good but it's not going to get you everywhere.
When you've put in all the work to create the campaign, create the strategy, identify the right influencers, get them on board, get them talking about you. You don't simply want to rely on the organic reach that occurs. So some things we've been doing with that partner is paid social augmentation out to keep audiences. Audiences that are like-minded, audiences that are lookalike, audiences that fit the certain demos or targeting that we feel is important.
I know that goes a little bit deeper than what you asked, but a bit of additional spend on top of whatever our partnership was can get us quite a bit of additional reach and quality reach.
Louis: Before we talk about distribution and reach, and I do want to get into more details on that because that's an interesting idea. Let's consider that you know roughly that those type of influencers fit, have their users like the people following them fit kind of the demographics that we have as a brand selling short.
Like they're in the US the vast majority, and they're targeting the same age group around. So what are the information, the filters that you use to make sure that you select only like the sweet of the sweet spot?
Tyler: Yeah. So what is their engagement rate? What does that look like? We're really not working with anyone with lower than a two and 2.5% engagement rate at the low end. So if their engagement rate is higher, that's going to be a big deal. How often are they working with other brands?
What is their split between sponsored posts and organic posts? And when they do work with other brands what does it look like? How is it received by their audience, how do they treat the brand? Is it just you know, is it just simple, is it boring is it not good, or is it received well? Do they do a good job there?
And so those are a couple of the things. What is their content quality? Is it something that we feel that we as a brand could repurpose on our own social channels? Could we leverage it in other areas outside of social?
Do we see that there's opportunity to be a partner with them for--in the long term--not just for a single campaign? All of these things are things that help us to look at whether we should bring them down to our core group of folks that we really want on board for the campaign.
Louis: You mention engagement rate. Can you just define it for people who haven't heard the term yet?
Tyler: So based upon their total follower size, what is the percentage of their audience who engages? Likes and comments is what we're really looking at here. What is the percentage of their audience that engages with any sort of regularity?
We look at an average over a period of time that changes a bit, but usually looking at about a three-month average, and identify what that percentage of engagement is.
Louis: So if I have 10,000 followers on Twitter, and I post a tweet and I get two likes, then you're not going to contact me. But if I get ... I'm doing the math here.
Tyler: 200 likes?
Louis: 200 likes and then that's what? That's 2%?
Tyler: Yes, it should be.
Louis: Yes I say 10,000 so that's 2%. So 200 likes that's a lot of fucking likes.
Tyler: It is, Twitter's hard. Twitter doesn't have quality engagement in most cases. And because of that--no offense to my friends at Twitter because I love the platform--we don't do a lot of partnerships on Twitter.
For some brands, it makes sense. B2B brands, things with sports, things with politics if you want to go that route, that makes a lot of sense. I would say most of our partnerships today take place on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Vast majority on Instagram and Facebook.
Louis: To keep things to a point where in five years people will wonder what Instagram is or Facebook is because they might be dead in five years who knows. But like they core rule that you have really is making sure that you look at platforms that people are currently on and people are currently active on. That's why they do it isn't it?
Tyler: Yes, exactly.
Louis: I do feel the same about Twitter right now. But who fucking knows in one year maybe they're going to change things. If you're listening to this podcast right now, do not think that we're going to tell you that this where you need to be.
Look at the rule behind what Tyler mentioned. Which is make sure that you think of the platform that are working right now. Where are people in and are they active in this platform? I think that's probably good information.
Tyler: That's spot on, that's spot on.
Louis: So 2% minimum, it means on YouTube then you post a view you have an audience of 10,000 subscribers and then you have what? 200 plus likes on it, comments.
Tyler: Yeah, YouTube is a bit of a different animal. It's not set up the same way from a social perspective as you see with Facebook and Instagram. View counts really rule there versus comments and likes or thumbs up. We take those into account, those are important.
It can show you the health of an audience and the engagement level of an audience. People just don't comment or like on YouTube as much as they do on the other platforms. For us, it really is looking at view counts and what kind of use that creator's getting with regularity.
Louis: Okay. Let's say we've run through the filtering machine. When do you say, okay we have the right amount of people to get in touch? Are we talking about 20 people, 50, how many?
Tyler: That, my friend, is a tough question. We have run campaigns with two people that reach 15 million people throughout the Super Bowl, right? Because these people were huge and they did some incredible video.
We've run campaigns with 100+ people, with 500 people. There's not an easy answer to that. It really goes down to what are the needs of the campaign? Are you going to run a campaign where you activate two large macro-style influencers and support, so that are national reach? And we might do that.
To where it's like, "Hey, we're launching a certain line of these shorts that have the autograph of an interesting person on the back of them." But then we're going to leverage smaller local, micro influencers who live within a 10-mile radius of our shops. We're going to activate 30 of those people around the country in support of this full summer campaign for our shorts.
There's not a hard and fast rule. You have to look at what are the goals, what are we trying to drive, what are our KPIs on the back end, where do our people exist, what do they care about, what is our budget? All of that helps us design what will be the most impact or what will give us the most impact for this campaign. Sometimes it's five, sometimes it's two, sometimes it's 100.
Louis: Let's say we've selected 100 people more in the micro-influencer--I can't believe I just said that but anyway--more on the micro-influencer side. So in layman's term more on the fact that those people are just maybe like me, don't have a lot of people giving a shit about them, but at least the ones that give a shit actually engage in a sense.
They send email, they would listen to a podcast, rather than those national style influencers. So I don't know, I'm going to take a stupid example because he maybe too big, but Obama. That was the worst fucking idea I could find. Obama, that's a super fucking influencer. He tweets about you, and then you're golden for the next while, at least of people who believe in the same thing that he supports.
That's what I meant by micro-influencer. So let's say we select 100 of those people, smaller type. How do you get in touch with them, and what do you offer? Like who do you start building this relationship?
Tyler: Yeah. So it depends on the type of influencer. If it's a creator that is smaller, they're local, you're going to send them an email or you're going to reach out to them via their platform of choice with a direct message.
I do it personally. Don't use a platform to spray and pray. Get out there, talk to them in a way that is going to stand out, understanding that they are probably getting a lot of outreach from other brands or other groups. If you have any sort of connection in common that you can make a referral to, that's going to work out even better.
My advice is don't give too much detail in your first outreach to them, because if you believe in what you're doing, you're going to want to talk to them. A lot of times we'll talk to people over the phone or over a Skype call because we want that personal relationship even if it is a smaller influencer.
When it's a large creator, in most cases you're not going to reach them directly. They're working with a manager or some sort of intermediary, and you're usually getting to that person first. It's important to be able to understand that, to be able to present what your idea is in a way that attracts attention, and then eventually you'll get to talk to that person as well.
That's really your large celebrity style type folks or ... I guess I'll back up on that, not always. We're seeing more and more creators be represented by talent management firms. And that becomes a bit of a challenge. You need to be able to talk to that talent manager in a good way and present a compelling case.
Louis: Yes. Because they act as a gatekeeper, right?
Louis: That's the reason why they want them. It's like, "I'm so sick of getting a hundred emails every day, filter them out for me.
Tyler: Exactly, you've got it.
Louis: So how do you stand out then? I know it's natural for you because I think we're on the same wavelength and it's pretty easy for you to build a relationship, start small. But for someone who hasn't done that and is wondering where the fuck do I start?
How do you send this first email, this first DM, what do you typically look at? Do you look at what they care about, do you look at the latest Instagram post and try to make a connection there. You mention looking at potential, someone who might know this person as well, which I think is pretty much spot on as well, as a way to do that. How do you typically like to start this relationship?
Tyler: Yeah. You have to be interesting. I would say like starting a relationship with almost anyone, with a person, don't be boring. Do something that stands out, do something that's kind of funny, maybe it gets them to chuckle a little bit.
But you have to be sensitive to who they are, what they care about. What you'll find is that like anything, there's a value exchange. Right now I'm on the phone with you, or you and I are on this podcast because there's a value exchange. I like talking to you, you like talking to me.
I can share some things that are important to me and you get to produce a podcast that your listeners enjoy--the same thing with influencers. What sort of value am I bringing to them? It's not always just monetary. Money's not going to do it. I mean money is a good thing, but are you bringing some sort of interesting opportunity, approach?
Is there something you've gleaned from who they are that you feel will get them excited? Like I had mentioned, I try not to provide too much detail in that first email. I mean not to be shady, I just want to have enough interest piqued to be able to have a good conversation. So that we can adequately talk about it, talk about what's exciting, talk about where we're going and why we think they would be a good partner for it.
Louis: I'm going to give you an example. If you're listening to this podcast right now, I'm going to give you an example of probably my proudest moment when it comes to reaching out to so-called influencers on this podcast.
I remember vividly. It was like more than a year ago at this stage and I had a list of people I wanted to interview on this podcast. No credibility, the podcast wasn't where it is now, even though it's not fucking huge. But it has a bit more credibility now.
And I wondered ... I was looking at my bookshelves with all of those books from Seth Godin, which was the first guy I actually learned marketing about. He doesn't say plenty of practical things, but anyway that's not the subject. I emailed the guy and I wanted to reach out to him.
I sent him a two-line email. So I only said--
Louis: Seth, thanks to you marketing is getting a better name. Would you like to be on my podcast about fighting bad marketing or something on those lines. That's it, two liner. I really wasn't expecting an answer. Seriously, because I've reached out to Gary Vaynerchuk because I really want him on the podcast to rip into pieces as much as I could.
But I wasn't expecting it, and the day after he came back to me and said, "Yeah." That's it, two fucking lines right? But that's a best practice example.
Tyler: I love it.
Louis: But I sent so many other emails that wasn't replied right. I think what worked there was one, he's super busy, so I just sent him a two liner. Two, I think I deeply connected with what he cares as well. Like the fact that this podcast is really against the normal way of talking about marketing, and the fact that I think he's truly in line with that.
He really believes the same thing, that worked. That's an example, can you share an example of a way that could inspire people to start a conversation? What worked in the past, a particular example you have in mind that the people could get inspired by?
Tyler: No, I think your example is exactly the kind of thing. The things that we do, like you said, we keep it very simple. For example, we work with a brand in Southern California that that sells grocery. At the onset that might not seem incredibly exciting, but when you start bringing ... really looking at a grocery store there are a lot of interesting things there.
One of our core messages was the fact that the produce is fresh and that it is local. We reached out to a group of creators in that area to join us for a tour of an avocado grove. Taking them to the farmer to take a look at how they grow, where they come from, how they're used, these sorts of things.
The outreach was quite simple on that. A simple outreach of we'd like ... This was a couple years ago now, but I want to say that the subject line was just, "How much do you love avocados?"
We know that there's some zeitgeist, some excitement around that. We explained very simply, the fact that we love who they are and the value that they bring to the Southern California community, and that we wanted them to be one of our selected guests for this day at the grove.
Looking at that, like we knew that each one of these creators had a passion for food, a passion for freshness, and they were Southern California based. We knew these things going into it, and so we assumed based upon that research, that they would be interested in what we've got going on. And that's just one example, but there are a million like that, like your example with Seth.
Seth is a phenomenal individual, but very ... he's a busy guy, like you mentioned. So you spoke to the things that were important to him and hit him in a way that worked, that was good.
Louis: I think a lesson I can extract from what you're saying is, the idea, the angle, the core of what you're trying to offer is more important than the way you reach out almost, because this is the core of the message.
Tyler: Yeah it is.
Louis: So this visit to the avocado grove which, I think if I remember well, avocados are actually quite difficult to grow if I remember well.
Tyler: They are.
Louis: I'm not an expert, you seem to be. I'll get you on a podcast about avocados I promise.
Tyler: There we go.
Louis: But I think using the law of reciprocity which is the basis of building your relationship with people, you give before receiving. You don't expect anything in return, I mean you kind of do in this scenario, but you also really are willing to give something before expecting anything.
In this instance I was giving an hour airtime to Seth Godin, he doesn't necessarily need it, but he also love to talk about marketing and he expected something a bit different, which he had and it made a very good episode. On your side, you offered a free visit to a place that probably most of them never went but that's something that excited them. I would expect it to be difficult for them to say no to this.
That's kind of I suppose where you need to go when you try to build a relationship. You need to be willing to give value first, to find a way to do that, before saying, "Hey, by the way, can you fucking promote my thing?"
Tyler: Yeah. I think that's a bit where the world of influencer marketing is going, at least the people who are doing it right. They understand that it's not just a flash in the pan. Just a simple this for that quid pro quo exchange of goods and services, but rather working with creators. Creative people who create content that's interesting, that's engaging and working with them to help them fulfill something that's important to them. One example, there's actually maybe two quick examples is that alright?
Tyler: One is a brand that we don't work with but I'd like, it's a brand called Pura Vida Bracelets. They make little bracelets. They work with a creator who we really like and her name's Haley. They've done a wonderful job of creating a bracelet in conjunction with her, that has her ... She has a really distinctive color scheme to her feed.
So they create a group of bracelets that are her bracelets. They work with her to promote and talk about those bracelets, so she works with them regularly but it's natural to who she is. She's a very ... she's out there, she's traveling a lot, she's doing a lot of things. And so when she talks about the bracelets that are back in stock, it's not odd, it's not in your face.
She often will do it on Instagram stories with a swipe up link to be able to go and purchase it. Recently she spent some time in Mexico with a lot of other partners that that brand works with, and they had a brand summit down there. It was just this thing that you could tell it's a very long-term relationship, they respect her creative ability, they respect her as a creator. In turn, she has loyalty back to them that clearly is showcasing results and sales.
The other one I want to talk about is--you mentioned at the beginning we've had the opportunity to work with PetSmart. Here in the United States, a major pet retailer brand. One of the things that they wanted to do was refresh their puppy training video series on YouTube.
The content they had up there was poor, it was outdated. Rather than just doing it the same way of bringing in one of their people and doing another potentially poor video, we worked with them to identify an influencer that could make a lot of sense to bring in as a partner.
We brought this guy in who is a daily vlogger he understands the space. He can talk on YouTube in a different way than the brand can. For example, at the end of each episode, he would peek behind some plants and say subscribe. And a brand it would just be weird, it'd be awkward, it'd be cringy if a brand ever did that.
But what we did with him is we created a series of 10 different videos that were showing you how to train your puppy. Potty training, crate training, treats, washing and bathing, these sorts of things. And we brought in a trainer that was fun and unique and engaging as well from the PetSmart side who could represent the brand.
This YouTuber represented all of us, who just got a new dog, a new puppy and wanted to learn. And that series was awesome, it ended up winning US Shorty award this year for audience honor. People loved it. It's a YouTube series, and YouTube partnership. And it's one that this YouTube creator got a chance to have a series of content that was engaging, that was fun, that was unique, that was a bit different than what his audience typically sees.
That content then lived on the PetSmart YouTube channel versus on his channel. He could go to all of his followers and say, "Hey guys, there's a whole series of videos with me that you haven't seen yet." And it was exclusive content, think about it like a Netflix original. You can't see it anywhere else except here.
This is where I'm seeing a lot of the world of influencer marketing shifting toward. Not just one off, simple spray and pray style campaigns, but longer term partnerships that are more real. That have more of a value exchange for the influencer and for the influencer's audience.
Louis: Awesome. I think it's a good way to do to finish step by step together and gear towards the last question of the show that I always ask every single guest. Once again thanks so much for going through this exercise, I know it's not easy to get through in detail, but you are awesome. So what do you think our listeners and marketeers in general should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years, 50 years?
Tyler: It goes back to what we talked about earlier, Louis. You have to understand people, you have to do. Brands need to learn and marketers need to learn how to truly talk to people in the way, and in the place that they want to be spoken to. If you can't understand that, because that's going to change.
Twitter is not going to be around, Facebook's not going to be around, Instagram might not be around, who knows. But people are, and people have a desire to consume interesting, entertaining, engaging useful, content, that's not going to change.
If we can bring value, if we can bring entertainment, if we can bring utility. If we can deliver upon those things in the right place, at the right time, with the right message, you're going to be okay as a marketer.
Louis: Amen. I agree with that 100%, I repeat that every single fucking episode. So thanks for listening, We actually didn't connect on that, we didn't agree that that's what you will say we just--
Tyler: No we didn't.
Tyler: That's what I believe.
Louis: Exactly. So what are the top three resources you will recommend listeners, it could be a book, a podcast, a conference, anything?
Tyler: Yeah. From books standpoint you mentioned Seth Godin, I'm a huge Seth Godin fan. Any of his books I love, and I see a lot of value in them. I am partial to Purple Cow and love that. There's a book by a guy named Luke Sullivan called 'Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This' that I love. It talks a lot about conflict and leveraging conflict in marketing, and there's a lot of value there that I learned from.
And then there's a book called 'The Storytelling Edge' by a friend of mine named Shane Snow. It talks a lot about leveraging the world of story and being able to connect with people. He wrote that with a guy named Joe Lazauskas as well. Contagious by Jonah Berger, I love that book as well from understanding how people consume content on social.
From a conference standpoint if you're an inbound marketer, there's a conference called CTA by a group, a company called Unbounce up at Vancouver. Wonderful people, one of the best conferences I've ever been to. They just put on a good show and bring in really good content.
In the United States, there is a conference series called Digital Summit that do a good job, and they do a really good job, and they have conferences all around the country. From a podcast standpoint, Everyone Hates Marketers, it's a great one.
I also love Marketing Over Coffee, it's a great podcast as well. There are a lot, and I could probably go on and on about different resources but, as a marketer you just have to be a student, you have to be a constant student and be out there always learning.
Louis: I think you forgot to mention at the start that Oli Gardner from Unbounce is the one who recommended me to talk to you?
Tyler: Oh no way, all right, good deal. Oli is an outstanding individual, outstanding individual.
Louis: Yeah, his presentation skills ... if you haven't got the chance to watch him live at a conference, try to do it because he's pretty on his show. He's well rehearsed and it's scaringly rehearsed, I mean it's insane. He's a fucking--
Louis: He's done an amazing job, yeah. Tyler what a pleasure to talk to you today, thank you so much for taking the time. Where can listeners connect with you and learn more from you?
Tyler: You bet. I'm on Twitter at @tylerfarnsworthTyler. LinkedIn, feel free to connect there as well. From a company standpoint - AugustUnited.com is the website, but yeah I'd be happy to take any question for anyone who would want to reach out.
Louis: Alright. Once again, thank you so much.
Tyler: Louis, thanks a lot buddy.