Today we will be talking with Stacey Jones, who is the CEO of Hollywood branded. And she’s an expert in influencer marketing. And she’s going to tell us all about influencer marketing, and especially what kind of mistakes people make when they think about launching the influencer marketing campaigns. Welcome, Stacey.
Well, I’m so happy to be here today and chatting with you and your listeners.
Awesome. So first of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself so that we can get to know you better? Of course.
So I have. I’m the CEO and founder of Hollywood branded. And what that is, is a pop culture, partner to brands so that we can bring in. We do pop culture partnerships, where we tie into brands to TV shows, to feature films, to influencers, to celebrities, to red carpet events, anything that is in Hollywood that is very fun and exciting, where we can actually leverage the brand into the content of any of those platforms or into the conversations. And I founded the agency back in 2007. And before that ran an agency that was very similar, but didn’t have quite all the hoops that we offer as well, for more than a decade. And that is kind of what I do.
Awesome. That’s great. So now, before we go any further maybe tell us a little bit about what influencer marketing is.
Sure. So influencer marketing really is leveraging someone who has a voice and a fan base, or ability to get in front of other people to help promote your brand. So back in the day, this was always thought of celebrity endorsements, right? That’s that was the precursor to influencer marketing. It’s how can I get a celebrity to talk about my brand because everyone loves celebrities. And over the decades, back in the mid-2000s, influencer marketing started popping up, really with the Kardashians. That was one of the biggest first, you know, looks that we had of an introduction of this wild and wacky world that I now live in. And it was Paris Hilton, it was Kim Kardashian, it was all of these personalities who had reality TV shows. And everyone’s like, what’s going on, people are paying attention to these people who are just, you know, they’re nothing special. They have the show. And everyone’s tuned in and they have their social media. And everyone’s tuned in to what they’re posting about. And that was really the advent of influencer marketing where it started.
You know, when we talk about influencer marketing, typically, you know, you, we think about big names, like you just mentioned. And it’s always associated with big costs and big budgets and all that. Now, our audience, they are, you know, bootstraps, or they’re professionals. How, you know, how do you reconcile that, you know, a big-budget influencer marketing campaign? For somebody who’s just starting off?
I don’t understand why you don’t think everyone can spend three-quarters of a million dollars for a single Instagram post. Shocking, right? So influencers are very interesting because they are a marketing platform that a brand of any size can work with. So there are four levels of influencers really out there you have your Nano influencer, those are your smaller influencers, who have at least a couple of thousand followers and a lot of your listeners I guarantee are nano influencers themselves, right. And what’s really cool about Nano influencers is they have the highest engagement rates, any other type of influencers I’m going to talk about, which means that their fan base, which is oftentimes their friends and their followers, people who truly actually know who this person is, they read what they write, they look at the pictures, they post, they follow them, and there’s this genuine authenticity, because you trust the people, you know, because otherwise, you know, why are you friends with them, you think that you actually trust them and like them, right? So the step above that is a micro-influencer, a micro-influencer is someone who has 10,000, or more like 10, to 15,000 followers. And these influencers, they’ve kind of figured out their craft a little bit more than the nano influencers, their contents a little bit more polished, they have a little bit more ability to spin things, but maybe they’re not getting paid so much money quite yet. So they’re so very affordable to work with. And then above that is your macro influence or your macro-influencers 50,000 into a million followers. And so these people really actually do know what they’re doing. They have a way to actually engage, they know how to create the content, they know how to get a follower base, and you’re going to be paying them a little bit more for that polish, and more. So they’re going to expect to get paid your Nanos and your micros, you might not have to pay in cash. And then that’s the fourth level is your celebrity social influencer, who is someone who has millions of followers who you quite frankly, if you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re bootstrapping your dream, you are not going to be able to afford them. And you don’t even need to consider it and you shouldn’t even be sad about it. And you shouldn’t even try to actually go after them to get them to post about you. Because it’s not worth it. You should be focusing on your Nanos, in your micros
Awesome. Thanks a lot for explaining that. Now, you know, in today’s world, like you know, in the digital marketing arena, like you have a CEO, you have email marketing, paid ads. So where do you see influencer marketing fitting in there? Like, should it be at the top of the list or somewhere in the middle?
So a lot of times people come to us brands come to us and they think that influencer marketing should be something that’s a direct driver to sales, right? It’s like, Oh, you saw it on an influencer marketing platform you saw on Instagram, you swiped up. You saw it on Facebook, you clicked you saw on Twitter, you went through and you purchased on Amazon, that can happen. But really, you know, companies and brands need to understand that that’s not really the purpose of influencer marketing. influencer marketing is here to establish a brand presence to grow brand awareness, just like a TV commercial, a print ad, a press release, anything that goes in that whole world of PR or advertising. That’s really the core base of influencer marketing versus it’s not an infomercial. It’s not a Call in now, buy now. It’s more along the lines of a branding mechanism. So as far as you know, the level of if you’re thinking about funnels of advertising, right, like the top of the funnel, influencer marketing is a top of the funnel marketing tactic.
Cool. Yeah. Good. And influencer marketing again, you know, is associated with more consumer products or, or digital products. But do you think it works for other types of businesses, b2b businesses, or maybe traditional brick and mortar businesses?
Well, funnily enough, I am an influencer for a b2b brand. And that’s because I have a podcast, right? It’s because I speak with a lot of media. So I’m able to talk about the brand frequently. I have quite a bit of LinkedIn followers as well. And so anyone you know it, your idea of an influencer is not necessarily a fashion influencer. It’s not necessarily someone who is fitting in these different spheres. Business influencers are very real. We build as an agency influencer campaign specifically targeted to a b2b market, where we can work with you know, BlackBerry’s example, when they were relaunched by TCL, we were looking at young entrepreneurs, and people who were at the top of their game, especially in tech and kind of more of the emerging digital businesses who were thought, leaders. So you can do a b2b influencer campaign targeting thought leaders who happen to just be influencers for the circles around them, the people that they see on a day to day basis, or their social media.
Great. So now, let’s turn towards the core of this interview, which is mistakes you typically see people make when they think about influencer marketing or the plan of the campaign. What kind of mistakes do they typically make?
I’ll try. So, okay. So with influencers, one of the biggest issues, one of the biggest mistakes people make are that they think that they should control everything that an influencer is going to say, right or show about their brand. And what people have to remember is what they’re actually hiring is an individual who is going to be the producer, the director, the writer, the editor, the videographer, the photographer, and often times the model, who is actually going to be crafting and creating you are hiring on are partnering with a creative soul. And they don’t want just simply throw your ad up on their feed. No, their followers don’t want to see that. And you’re bringing on this influencer, who is a powerhouse of knowing how they need to engage with their follower base. And you have to trust them to do so. But you also have to know that you should provide them with some guidelines like this is an important messaging that you want to get across. These are the important hashtags to get across. So all of that super important. In the United States. Also, a big issue is that we are governed by the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, and the FDA, as well, where we have to legally do a hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, and different parts of the world have different beliefs in this. So in the United States, you have to have this, if you don’t have it, then you are actually violating the law and the brands can get in trouble and get a fine the influencer can get in trouble with getting a fine. Even I as an agency owner could get in trouble our agency if we did the deal, and that didn’t happen. So you need to know. And that’s, this is a mistake. That’s common, you need to know the laws of your country too for what you’re asking to have done. And you also need to understand that social media is something that’s global now. And so if you have an influencer, who is working in one country, and they have a lot of follower bases all over the world, they’re going to go with the general laws, which are to call out an ad. So as a brand or a corporation, you need to accept the fact that your post is going to have sponsored or added in it. That’s something that’s important now.
Cool. All right. And then how do you? How do you, you know, maintain your creative sort of process? And make sure whatever the influencer is posting is in line with your brand, like, you know, I? Is there a way to give them some feedback?
Yes. So when we do a partnership with an influencer, we do a contract for every deal. it doesn’t matter if it’s a product trade, or if we’re paying them money, there’s going to be a piece of paper that outlines what their deliverables are, and what we’re giving them an exchange. And that’s going to include the dates that are expected, that’s going to include the information and the messaging that they’re expecting, is also going to include very often, sometimes not so much when it’s a free trade deal. But definitely, those dollars, that we get to eyeball what that post looks like before it goes up. So that we can make sure that there’s just another set of eyes on it, and that the post is brand-friendly. I see. I see.
Are there any tools, any software packages and things of that nature, which can help people manage this process?
There are there’s a lot, but frankly, they’re really expensive. So if someone is, you know, really bootstrapping it, you don’t want to pay for software that’s going to do that. You’re going to want to do a lot of searches, using Instagram, looking at hashtags, and you’re gonna be able to come up with a lot of options. I mean, there are so many influencers and different directions to go. It’s just, it’s hunting and pecking. If you do want to use tools, I mean, there’s a lot, but they’re going to usually cost between 10 and 20,000+ a year, to have done as in dollars.
Yeah, yeah. And you mentioned Instagram, now, you know, the whole landscape of social media networks, it keeps changing, new ones come and go and, you know, the popularity increases or decreases. So at this time, in 2000, mid-2019, what platform do you recommend, to your clients to find the right type of?
Well, that’s going to depend on how old the target demographic is. So if we have someone who’s going after a Gen Y, which is millennials, or Gen Z, which are, you know, your teens and early 20-year-olds, we’re going to say Instagram, and that’s it, you want Instagram, it, we’re going to be looking at a 50 plus demographic, you’re looking at women, you’re looking at moms, 50 plus 40, odd plus who are on Facebook. But there are no young ones on Facebook anymore. They left. If you’re going after business, and you’re looking at really like a business for platforms, speaking with people, you went LinkedIn, are you on Twitter?
And let’s go back to the mistakes again. So you know, you mentioned a few, are there any other mistakes that you see people make?
Sure. And so other mistakes that people make? Are they don’t allow the influencer enough time to actually post? So you have a conversation with an influencer? You’re like, yes, perfect. We’re moving forward. Okay, now you’re contracting it, mostly, you’re getting that done, you’re sending out the product to them, you have to do that, they have to get the product. And if you’re working with the nano or micro-influencer, they’re not doing this as a full-time job, they have another job. This is their side hustle. This is the little thing that they’re doing that late night and on the weekends. And if you’re sitting there saying, where’s my post, where’s my post, where’s my post, you’re not giving them enough room to breathe and actually get that post done. So they’re not a machine, you’re working as a partner and as a team. So that’s one mistake that I see people make. And I also see, you know, I mentioned this earlier is that people really do think that influencers should be instant sales drivers. And it can work that way. But what you’re really trying to do is get content that shareable and you’re trying to get an influencer to post and share to their fan base. And then you’re trying to get the content that they’ve created. And this is something that so many people make a mistake with. You’re supposed to, as a brand, as a company, you’re supposed to take that content, and like it and comment it and reshare it across your own platforms. And I do not know why. So many people will work with influencers as a company. And then they never share what that influencer just did across their own social feeds. So it’s just it’s a two-way game, right? So you’re trying to help build the influencer. They’re trying to help build you, you want it to be an organic, fun conversation and not one-sided.
Exactly, exactly. All right. So how have you come across any instance where influencer marketing actually hard the brand rather than help them?
So where’s the money, it would hurt our brand would be one, if someone does not include that hashtag add hashtag sponsor, that’s going to be a problem because it could get you in a legal issue, right. And it’s also where it can hurt a brand, you work with an influencer, who they are kind of, you know, they love the brands, they love the brands a little too much, where every post is always a brand brand brand brand, well, then that’s not so good for the brand, because their competitors probably going to get up there really, really quickly, too. So that’s not something you want to go because there’s no authenticity in that. Now you’re just like another name and logo being thrown up there. So that’s the problem.
Yeah. Well, I mean, I will put out an example and maybe, you know, you have some insights around that, you know, the example of Tiger Woods, let’s say, you know, okay, he gets in trouble. So now the brands who are associated with him, how do they get out of that sort of, you know, Limelight and, and move away from if they want to move away from him? How does that work?
Well, so that’s a bigger issue with influencer marketing that, you know, it’s more time celebrity endorsements a lot of times also. So Nike is an example stood by Tiger Woods, right, other brands decided to not stand by them, and they canceled contracts. And it’s a decision that brands have to make about what they’re going to do and what they’re going to say. We’ve seen this with Paula Deen, we’ve seen this with Duck Dynasty, with Phil Robertson, saying the wrong things. We’ve seen this where there are names that are well known. And they just open their mouth and say the wrong thing. Kevin Hart, as an example, with you know, he was supposed to help the Oscars. So celebrities are known either through media or through social media, for saying the wrong thing, sometimes doing the wrong thing, getting in trouble. And brands have to figure out how they’re going to do the dance of distancing themselves or coming back and saying, “Hey, we don’t support that he is someone who is part of our culture, the culture as far as sharing about us. But he does not, we do not share that black brand belief. And what we actually can counsel companies on we’re doing somebody endorsement deals is to do multiple layers. So you don’t have just one spokesperson who is representing you, so that you can kind of share the weight, because it’s unlikely that all of your celebrity spokespeople at the same time are going to mess up. So if it’s not all focused on one person, then it’s shared. And that’s the same thing with when you’re looking at smaller, smaller influencers. If you’re having multiple people posting about you, it’s a little less drastic,
I say, cool. And now let’s talk about the mechanics of how this thing works. So you mentioned, you know, you can go to Instagram, look for certain hashtags. But once you find the right influencer, how do you approach them? How do you, you know, request them or start the conversation about influencer marketing.
So a couple of things, if you’re interested in them, you should probably look at some of their posts and make comments and you should follow them a little bit and create a relationship. This is a social relationship game, this is not dial up. And that’s it. So you want to catch their eyes as well. So start following them start commenting on their feed, say something that’s pithy that gets their attention. As far as contacting them, you’re going to want to just DM them. That’s easy, right? You just direct message, you just reach out. And a lot of times you’ll have influencers who have their email addresses and their bios on Instagram or their headers for Facebook. And then if that’s the case, email them and reach out and say, “Hey, this is who I am, this is my brand. And I’m really interested in working with you because and this is important, not a cut and paste, hey, I’m interested in working with you give me a call. How about I’m interested in working with you, because two weeks ago, you did this phenomenal, phenomenal video, and I loved it so much. And I cannot even imagine what if you like if you could do something like that for a company.” And I dig in a little bit who these people are customizable a little bit, so that they actually are like, Oh, I’m interested in working with you too, especially as you’re starting to work with bigger influencers, because the bigger influencers are getting reached out to by many brands, the littler influencers are like, “Oh my god, yes, someone wants to work with me. Someone wants to work with me.” Right? So there’s a whole level of who you’re reaching out to and how you’re actually engaging with them.
Yeah, cool. And in terms of media, you know, these days video is becoming really popular audio is also becoming very popular. Do you recommend any type of like any certain media format, in terms of you know, what works better for influencer marketing? What should be should we focus more on video posts, audio posts, or image posts or text?
So video posts are going to have the highest engagement. And then secondly, your photo. And thirdly, your text, no one really wants just to text, right? I mean, we just had our team member the other day on our Facebook account, post something on it, and I was looking at this feed. and I’m like, Where’s the picture? And she’s like, there was no picture? I was like why didn’t you add a picture? Of a boy and you add a picture she was well, there’s no picture. And it’s so disconcerting. Now, we’re not used to seeing things that are text-only really, we’re used to seeing things that are very visual that are part of that.
Sure, sure. Can you share with us any success stories that, you know, you seem like a company grew from zero from nothing to you know, big-name through influencer marketing?
Yeah. So you know, I think that you can look at a lot of the fast fashion houses that exist where they literally leverage nearly popped up overnight. They popped up overnight, they don’t do any sort of digital or TV or print advertising. And they all leverage influencers, like Fashion Nova. Fashion Nova was a really good example. Where they’re leveraging their influencers are giving them clothing, they’re giving them their own little channels on their social platforms. And they’re taking what the influencer is sharing with their own. And as I said, they’re being smart about it, they’re bringing it back. And they’re sharing on their own social channels, their own catalogs that are online, on their website, all the copy, and content that the influencers are making as well.
Cool. And you mentioned this earlier, as well, that, you know, if you’re not paying them, you need to give them your product or service. Now, that works very well in the consumer market. But let’s say we are doing b2b market, we are providing some sort of service to another business. How do you and you know, we are just starting off and we do want to pay money? Like how do you compensate the influencer in that scenario?
Really, they have to figure out what that is. So know, we worked with blackberry doing b2b and we were able to give back is that something that has a nice price tag to it and commodity to it, right? But when you’re working with a b2b, and it said, oh, we have this software solution, we want to share it. So okay, what can you do? And this is very similar with my own influencer partnerships that I have, it’s less, “Hey, what can you give me.” it’s more “How can you help amplify me or my company? Because that’s what I care about. How can you as a brand, help this influencer in some way, attain their goals? So are you a company and you have trade shows, and you have opportunities to bring in speakers? Could you invite this influencer to be a speaker on your behalf at a trade show? Could you do a case study or conversation with this influencer, where you do something and then you put some dollars and boosted on the line and you bring more attention back to their country? Me as well. You see this a lot with like HubSpot. HubSpot is an inbound marketing platform to help you better engage, they go out and they find business users who utilize it. And they do in an interview series. It’s not just about you know, hey, how do you like HubSpot? How do you use HubSpot? Yeah, your brand, they actually open the whole series with. Now tell me more about your company, paint the picture of who you are, who are the types of clients you help? Who would be a perfect customer? What are some of the great things that you’ve done, and now this person is talking and sharing and HubSpot is going to put this up on their own digital platforms and get hundreds of thousands of eyeballs on it? So there’s a benefit here because there’s the drive of traffic.
Cool. That’s great. Now, is there anything else that I haven’t asked you about influencer marketing that you may want to share with the audience today?
One thing to know about is about fake followers. So you have some influencers, and they’re not bad people, you know, they are not criminals standing there. And they’re planning on warding you and making you think that they have so many followers, a lot of influencers go out, and they see all these software platforms that say, buy 10,000 followers for $15, right? And there’s like 10,000 followers, if I had 10,000 followers added or 100,000 followers added, I’m going to look like I’m a lot more popular. And then people are going to want to work with me or follow me. And they’re not necessarily even thinking about brands. They’re thinking about just Oh, because people look at this, and they’re like, Oh, well, they have big numbers, so they must have cool things to say. So there’s a lot of influencers who have made the mistake of going out and purchasing followers. And that messes up everything. Because for one, it’s fake, it’s robot spam, it’s nothingness that, and if you’re paying for an influencer, because you’re like, well, you have 150,000 followers, and you’re paying them based off of a CPM model, a cost per thousand bases where for every thousand followers, you’re paying them X amount of money, you’re getting sold a pile of fakeness, right? It’s just not good. But it also goes beyond that it goes into the algorithms, Instagram knows if there are fake followers on an account, and they downgrade the account, they stamp it down, they push it down. And so if you partner with influencers who have fake followers, and they’re kind of unscrupulous about this, you’re really going to get nothing out of your partnership at all, except for maybe some content you could share.
Yeah. Okay. How do you get around that? Like, how do you can you tell that they have fake followers versus real ones.
So you’re looking at engagement, you know, the idea is that you have at least a 2% engagement. And that would be considered, you know, pretty decent. So if someone has 100 followers, you want at least two people commenting on all of their posts, or either liking it, commenting or sharing it. And that scales up with the more followers that they have, right? So you’re looking at a kind of as a numbers game, so that you can get an understanding that there’s someone who’s actually active, you can also look and see if the comment seems spammy. Like my mom called me the other day, she goes, Oh, I saw this post about you and a magazine had done this video is really neat. She goes, but you have to get all of those horrible things that people are saying, they just make no sense off the feed on Facebook. I’m like, What are you talking about? I’m trying to rack my brain. What did we do? Where did we post this on Hollywood branded? And I realized that the magazine and its money actually just had spam robots who were commenting and filling. And they do that to build up other accounts, these it’s all set up. It is very AI article official, robotic. There are reasons that people do it. But it doesn’t help you. And if you see this stuff going on, that’s a very good indication that the followers on that are fake.
Thank you so much for sharing that. And I’m pretty sure you know a lot of us, especially for people like me, who are not very active in social media. We learned a lot about influencer marketing. So thanks a lot for sharing your wisdom and advice. And now before I let you go, can you tell us a little bit about your company how people can reach out to all your services?
Sure. So my company is Hollywood branded.com. You can find us at Hollywood branded, com. How’s that? Pretty easy. All of our information on there. We also have an online classroom photo. So if you’re interested in social influencer marketing or celebrity endorsements, you can go to learn that Hollywood branded calm and we actually have some free classes that are listed on there as well that you can download.
Thank you so much. I’ll put that link in the show notes and perfect. Thanks a lot. Thank you for being with us. And once again, telling us all about influencer marketing.
Well, thank you so much for your time and thank you to all your listeners. Thanks