We Have Entered the Age of Influence


This is a special bonus episode. Many of you know I host a weekly live stream for Cornett called Digging Deeper that is also a podcast. Before we launched this show, Winfluence, we had a few interviews specific to influence and influence marketing I wanted to make sure were available to you here.

The first one of those I’ve pulled together is with author Neal Schaffer. His new book The Age of Influence, is a great resource for anyone wishing to understand influencer marketing from a process standpoint. From strategy to tactics, Neal shares the how tos and examples of those doing it well.

We talked back in June of this year and discussed the differences in his book and what will come in mine when Winfluence the book hits shelves in January. And Neal shared a lot of great insight into a lot of the ideas we discuss here on Winfluence — the philosophical approach, where the different types of tools lie in the process, how to measure the effectiveness of influencer campaigns and beyond.

Neal has been cranking out great advice across the spectrum of social media and digital marketing for some time and our chat over on Digging Deeper was so good, I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it.

 

Winfluence Podcast – Neal Schaffer Transcript

Jason Falls 0:00
I guess you and I have been like minded in a lot of ways for a long time. But what are the odds, we both be writing a book about the same specific topic? At the same time, of course, you got a little head start on me, what led you to want to write this book and then I’ll compare it to my reasoning. And we will start to show people how we’re different there.

Neal Schaffer 0:17
And before that, just have to say, I don’t I don’t even know if you remember this, because I was a nobody at the time. But I actually remember first meeting you at BlogWorld. Oh, yeah, maybe or not in the evenings at some strip mall in Las Vegas, and you were there holding this big glass of beer. And I’m like, that was I think I had a cowboy hat on. I’m like, This dude is cool.

Jason Falls 0:36
Yeah,

Neal Schaffer 0:37
I can’t believe we’re here today as well. So, um, yeah, you know, I, you know, like yourself, Jason. I mean, you do a lot of speaking, I do a lot of speaking. I also do a lot of consulting with clients, what have you. And I just found that starting two or three years ago, there were a lot of questions that I was getting, not just about influencer marketing, but also a lot of marketers that were saying, How do I also become an influencer? So as I did a little bit more research, I realized there was this huge gap between what everybody perceived influence marketing to be, and what the reality and how powerful it can be for not just, you know, well, now we talk about tech talkers, what have you, but really, any company in any industry can leverage the concept. And, you know, marketers were be misled, they were getting it wrong. And I mean, I came to, it’s amazing that there’s another person in the world who feels the same way in you, Jason, I’m really excited to hear that. Because when I wrote the book, I’m like, Are people really gonna, you know, I thought that I remember reaching out to people in the industry, and the industry is very Instagram centric, as you can imagine, and getting like pushback, like who are you, I was looking for case studies, I really wanted to interview players. And I realized, okay, this is going to be somewhat of a disruptive book, right? Because maybe some will not like what I have to say. But, you know, it’s been great getting your feedback. And others since the book came out that says, Wow, it’s really you know, it really brings together See, I always have this concept called leverage the other and leverage the other was bringing together employee advocacy, brand advocacy, and influencer marketing into one concept. And I’ve been talking about it since, I don’t know 2013 2014, I’ll never, never forget, it was a conference, you know, in like, 2018, where I’m like, let’s just blow up the word employee advocacy. And let’s just consider employees as influencers, and let’s just treat them the same as if they were influences the same, it’s the same whether they’re fans or employees or influencers, where we’re collaborating with other people. And we can do it in very creative ways if we allow ourselves to, and we can reap the benefits. And what’s happened since then Jason is, you know, the social networks have only become more pay to play. Organic social media continues to die from a performance market marketing aspect, advertisements are still advertisements. And we still, you know, trust in content creators who who are influencers just keep creating greater and greater content, like, you know, any brand, could it become a tech talker? Could it become a YouTuber? Could it become that lifestyle, influencer a brand, they just they can’t do it, right? They’re not people. It’s not the same, they don’t have the well, they probably have the creativity in house but they can’t unleash it, like influencers have free rein to do so. And even with COVID-19, the trends are still driving this concept of influencer marketing even further. So. So yeah, I’m excited that you know, your books gonna be coming out soon. I can’t wait to read it and, and help pimp it as well. And I hope more people really open up because I see, you know, if I was to look at the things you could do in digital marketing, I see influencer marketing as this huge, untapped potential for businesses.

Jason Falls 3:38
Well, I’m not going to disagree with you there, of course, but um, so you talk about the why of influencer marketing in the first part of the book. I want to pose the question to you this way, if I’m a business owner, who doesn’t do much with digital or social, I’ve got a presence. And you start talking to me about influencers, I’m going to say, why would I invest in that I don’t think somebody hold my product while they appear to have a perfect life on Instagram is going to sell more stuff. How do you respond to that? Why? Why should they think about influencer marketing?

Neal Schaffer 4:06
Great question. So I like to use this analogy. Jason, I don’t know if you know, but I speak Japanese and do business in Japan. And they’re actually they’re pretty far behind on social media. In fact, a lot of digital media, believe it or not digital marketing. So when I had a chance to speak to a lot of small business owners there, and I gave the speech on influencer marketing there, a lot of light bulbs went off. And afterwards, they think, man, like, you know, how did your business get to be where it is today, and everybody says word of mouth. Right? Without digital and social there. It was basically word of mouth. And these are companies that aren’t really doing a lot of organic social, but they immediately saw I can just not do organic, social and just work with influencers and get an even better, you know, a better benefit of doing that. So I think that’s really what it’s about, that you No, we are digital first today, at least consumers are we have been for a while businesses with COVID-19 are finally realizing that. So if you need to be where your customers are their digital and when we talk about digital, we talk search social email. So you probably have, hopefully, hopefully, you have a blog, you have content, right, you’re showing up in search engines, maybe doing pay per click, hopefully, you’re doing email marketing and marketing automation. But the social side is the piece that most companies are, they’re realizing it’s become pay to play there. They’re doing a lot of advertising. And what I’m saying is, let’s shift some of that budget. And I’m not talking about you know, an influencer is not a YouTuber, or TikTok or an Instagramer. It could be a LinkedIn or it could be a Twitter. It’s someone that has a community on any given social network that talks that they build a community around the topic of their expertise. So the topic might be fashion, it might also be, you know, slack bot API programming. I mean, I don’t know, right? It’s it’s, it’s irrelevant of industry, really, it’s a matter of do they have a topic? Do you have a community? And at the heart of it, are they a content creator. So here’s the powerful thing, Jason, that’s really happened, since I’ve written the book is there’s been a migration of companies that just see influencers as pure content amplifiers, but they see them as content creators that they are. And they’re starting to bring influencers in house as content creators. And that’s where I love the introduction about the creativity aspect, in that at the end of the day, these people will probably make better content than you can because that’s, that’s all they do. And whether it is and it’s not just photos, it’s not just stories, it’s not just stupid, TikTok videos, although my daughter loves them. And it’s not just YouTubers, it’s text, it’s podcasts, it’s any content medium out there. The other thing is that influencers might be more in tune with your customers. And you are, because they’ve built the community, right? They speak to these people on a daily basis. They know a lot, they know a lot of people. So instead of that, you know, one of the mistakes a lot of companies and that person that you’re referring to, is probably saying, Oh, I just send them a piece of content. And I give them a paragraph, and they’re just gonna publish it on, you know, on social, and it’s like, no, a lot of companies try to treat influencers that way. But it’s really when you give them the freedom to, to do what they do best. And when you tap into them for ideas, you begin to unleash just a lot of value from collaborating with them. So they become a lot more than just content creators. They become almost like a, you know, a group of people that are well tuned in social and with your audience that you can tap into, for feedback for product ideas, you run into a crisis, hopefully you have this group of influencers you’ve been working with, that can come to your rescue and social media. So it goes a lot deeper than just that pure. Oh, I’ll send them this and they’ll post it for me.

Jason Falls 7:53
I love your speaking of … I want to dive into creativity a little bit, because obviously, that’s a theme that we talked about here and digging deeper. But I love your take on visual influence. So take me down that road, because I think a lot of people out there hearing that term for the first time and don’t quite understand what that is. It’s certainly an angled all this. I haven’t isolated and focused on. So this is really super useful for folks to consider. So you have a section in the book where you talk about visual influence, tell us what that is and what influencers are doing it. Well.

Neal Schaffer 8:23
Yeah. So you know, I talked about these various trends that are pushing influencer marketing to become more and more important. And one of them is visual social, because, you know, Instagram is not new. It’s been around since 2012, or 13. At that time, we saw Pinterest emerge, we saw Snapchat emerge later. Now we have TikTok, we’ve always had YouTube. But these are platforms that I believe businesses have really struggled at, right? How do you depict your brand, your product, your service visually, and it is especially impactful for B2B brands you can imagine, but even consumer brands, you know, early on in my career, there was one pretty famous e-commerce company and the social media team reached out to me, he goes, Neil, you know, our boss says we need to use the creative assets from our advertising team. And these are the same people that are putting together visual ads. So he goes Neil, our posts look like ads, they’re not getting any engagement, right? And of course, and in fact, when you look on social media, on visual networks, you see that a lot of the content there look like as you scroll through your Instagram feed, it’s almost like you can spot the ads. It’s like, Okay, this is not from a brand. This is from a brand This is from a brand. And I’ve come to the conclusion in the book that that brands just they just don’t get it. They can’t get it because there’s so when they’re approached the social media so mired in their own product in themselves, they you know, with blog content, maybe more and more of them. Still few are more audience centric, but in their visual content, they haven’t been audience centric, but guess what, influencers who are content creators, they’re all audience centric. They’re only posting content They know people are going to engage with it. It’s a completely different paradigm that brands just have not been able to grasp. So that’s why we’ve seen especially on Snapchat at the beginning. That’s why we’ve seen influencer takeovers Can you imagine big brands letting you know people in their in their 20s or late teens take over their social media account? But it’s happening. And we don’t see as much of it now as we did before. But even there are some brands and some, you know, Disneyland is the one that I bring them the book, can you imagine Disneyland, allowing others to take photos and publishing those photos as their own Disneyland’s Instagram feed from its onset is 100%. user generated content, they just cannot, you know, compete with the creativity and the authenticity of its user base. And I think they were really smart to come to that conclusion, why compete when you don’t, with so much democratization of media out there? I mean, you never own your brand, because you can’t own the perception. And it’s even more so today. So why not embrace it? Why not embrace how others perceive of your brand? Why not celebrate? The fans celebrate those around you? If you want to incite word of mouth celebrate the word of mouth, they already have to incite even more. And, and that’s where I think working together, especially visually speaking, working together with influences, that you’re going to get your biggest bang for the time and money to invest.

Jason Falls 11:23
Absolutely good take on that. Now, you know, one of my favorite things to talk about are the technologies and tools that can help us do all this influencer tools ranging in features from simple database lookup tools to manage services, where you say, I want to do an influencer campaign that does this, and they go build it for you, and you just write a check. Give us a rundown of what’s out there. What can businesses find to help them and then maybe tell us some of your favorites? What are what are the ones that your clients are using?

Neal Schaffer 11:52
Sure, I mean, if you take a step back, so with influencer marketing, there are agencies that will do it all for you. There’s a lot of tools, but the tools are very Instagram centric. And this is the problem is that the industry you know, most majority of influencer marketing budgets have gone into Instagram. And in general, I think the you know, B2C marketing spend is more than B2B marketing spend as an aggregate so that that’s part to blame. But if you take a step back, right, social listening tools can can obviously get you can get you a lot of data, obviously, who’s talking about you. And if you’re able to map who’s talking about you with Who are your fans, and social with Who are your customers, you begin to build this database of people that you map in social according to what I call the brand affinity model, which is start with people that already know like and trust you, rather than try to, you know, try to engage with celebrities that may never want to work with you. So so those are tools is a really cool one for if you have a Shopify CMS for your website, and it’s the only one I know of right now called Caro car. Oh, I think it’s GetCaro.com. And they will do exactly what I’m talking about. They will integrate your your email marketing database with your shopping cart history, because it’s in Shopify, with your Instagram followers. And in the dashboard, it will map out who are the influencers that are already already a brand affinity for you, and it’s a brilliant, brilliant technology is starting to get a lot of funding, it is free or was free now they’re going to be offering tools outside of Instagram outside of Shopify. I do believe they’re the leaders right now in doing this. And I see more and more brands realizing the value of doing that, and are starting to you know, create some of the programs. So I would if you’re on Shopify, that That to me is a no brainer. But even if you’re not, I would definitely look out for them. But But you know, any social listening tool, we’ll get you, we’ll get you a lot of data that you can use, you know, above and beyond that we then get into what we would call blogger outreach tools. Yes, blogger outreach is a type of influencer marketing, right. And some of these blogger outreach tools grouphigh as an example of one of the oldest ones that have now evolved into, they brought in an Instagram database so we can use them both for bloggers, what have you. There’s one that I really like a newer tool for blogger outreach called Respona — R-e-s-p-o-n-a, and they’re actually created by the folks that Visme and Visme have a free infographic and graphic tool, but they also have a paid version. And this is something they just released like December of last year. So it even includes things like HARO monitoring, where you can automatically get alerts and pitch through the same tool. And I’ve had some good success with that tool. You know, along those lines, you have tools like tracker that have been around clear. If you’re in a B2B influencer marketing Onalytica is a great tool that I highly recommend. And then when we get outside of that we get into more of influencer discovery tools. These are very much like I said, very Instagram centric. But one company that I’ve worked with that I think is doing great as a company called Open Influence. And in fact, my work with them influenced the last chapter of The Age of Influence, because they were very early on at implementing artificial intelligence in their technology, artificial intelligence to try to find fake followers fake engagement, but also when people are engaging with a photo, what are the visual elements that they are engaging with? What What is successful about that photo? How can we predict if a brand wants to work with this influencer with this visual how well that campaign will perform and there, they’ve been doing this for a few years now. So that’s how far these influencer discovery these cloud like databases of people work. And speaking of that, there’s a company called write relevance, which are really like it’s the closest thing to cloud. So I also teach at Rutgers Business School and we’ll do an exercise using RightRelevance.com to do a keyword and it’ll rank people according to their influence along that keyword, very Twitter centric, like Klout was, but you know, it’s a free tool that you can use. So there’s a lot of influencer discovery tools out there. And then you get a new influencer marketplaces. And if it’s like, you know, my boss wants me to launch an influencer campaign yesterday, I need to get something up. You can go to influencer marketplace, and there’s a ton of them out there. Right. And then you know, above and beyond that you have the agencies and then you have a lot of other tools, a tool like BuzzSumo, right, could also help you find influences. There’s a new kid on the block called SparkToro, which is created by Rand Fishkin from Moz, which is trying to do, it’s different. But you can use it in a similar way. Even something like nimble a social CRM, you can pull in social feeds, you can pull in Twitter lists, and you can quickly build an influencer pool from the work that others have done on Twitter. So there’s a lot of ways you can piecemeal tools together. But hopefully, that gives you an idea of the landscape and that influencer discovery tool. We see now influencer agencies are now basically opening up their tool for others to use. These tools are feeding into each other’s API. So I think there’s going to be a shakeout in the industry at some point. Definitely Open Influence. There are some other companies out there. And in the book, and I also have a blog post, I keep updated. You know, in the book, there’s, I have an introduction of 10 tools for each one of these, you know, functions or types I’m talking about, but there’s a lot of technology out there to help you.

Jason Falls 17:17
It’s true. And I tried to jot down a handful of them so that I can land them in the show notes. That won’t be a comprehensive list, but we’ll make sure that we link back to Neil’s list on his blog. So that’s that’s good. Real quickly checking in with the crowd over here. We’ve got a couple other people coming in. Niklesh Tiwari says Good morning, Jason. And Neil. So good morning to you. Manas Falaj says hi morning from Iran. So we aren’t we’re global. That’s That’s awesome. And so Cathy Coliver also come in very interesting on your comments there about visual influence. So COVID has really taken a toll on certain segments of influence. influencers, travel folks are hurting pretty bad. Food and restaurant types are having a hard time too. But then there are others who have shifted how they create content and what type of content they create stay afloat. Do you see COVID having an effect on the marketplace here? Or will it eventually be something that kind of settles back to some version of normal?

Neal Schaffer 18:16
Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely had an impact. Like you said, in those areas, I have a niece that works at one of these influencer marketing, discovery tools, companies, just by chance. And I know that a month ago, they laid off 30% of their staff. So I can’t say any company names, obviously. So so it’s definitely been hurting some players in the industry. But there are other players that actually have seen an increase in business. And I think if you look at this very holistically, there’s a lot of marketing budget that’s waiting to be used. So it’s actually the conversation out with Jay Baer recently who said he believes that there’s some unused marketing budgets, like for events that are now being pushed into working with influencers, and it’s done virtually. But especially when you think about these types of podcasts, or all these virtual live streams, we see almost every day on Facebook, or webinars across a wide variety of topics. brands are realizing even today that they can still work with influencers and tap into them to help make sure that you know that they’re relevant social media. So yes, I think temporarily, it’s hurts some industries. But I think that, you know, virtually, if you can’t meet your customer physically, how do you meet them digitally? I think it’s actually opened up opportunities and a lot of eyes. And, you know, the long term aspect, like I said, long term trends, I don’t think we’re going to change anything. But But yeah, it’s, it’s made, you know, brands work with influencers in different ways. And smart influencers have pivoted, as you said, and they’re finding new mediums, you know, new ways to work together, virtually like like companies are doing now. So, I think that those aspects are going to continue because you know, without a vaccine This is gotta continue for I don’t know how long so that’s my take on it at least,

Jason Falls 20:04
That’s true. You know, the thing that always that that I think is going to be an interesting balancing act or balancing outcome here is the rub on influencer marketing, at least from the mainstream perspective, which I’ll talk about when in a second, when you’re off the show, I want to rant on that a little bit. But the rub on influencers was always they’re superficial, they don’t actually deliver value, they can’t motivate their audiences to do things, all that kind of stuff. Those are the types of influencers that are going to not survive this. Because the ones who can create content that really understand the brands they work with and their audiences and how to push the right buttons to motivate them to do things. Those are the ones that work the brands are gonna keep paying, because they’re the ones who are actually delivering value. So I think we may see a layer of that sort of superficial does not really effective influencer kind of go away because brands are a wising up to it, and be, you know, they really have to be creative about how they change their content creation in their model, in order to be able to sort of survive situations.

Neal Schaffer 21:08
That’s a great point, Jason, we’ve seen that especially not just influences but the celebrity level celebrities who you know would never would never do you know, live stream would never show up without makeup without being in the studio showing up at their home. regular clothes, no makeup and and yes, you’re absolutely right, that there are is definitely a portion of influencers that we’re all about that idealistic, lifestyle looking influencer. And yeah, it looks it does not look real. I mean, it never was real, but people could aspire to that, right. But now it just looks extremely artificial in today’s day and age. And those influencers that have pivoted to the real, are the ones that succeed those that relied on that look and feel because they they were friends or maybe married or had a boy or girlfriend who was a really good photographer videographer, but they could pull it pulled off that look right, and had a chance to go traveling around the world, the valley and get some cool photos or Hawaii. Yeah, they can’t do that. So you’re absolutely right. I do think that that that that there will be a shakedown and those people will have to change or you know, the budget is going to go away for that because we can’t travel and and people don’t want that right now they’re they you know people are hurting they’re losing their jobs. They have loved ones that might be sick or or what have you. So it’s definitely a different reality that that influencers have to pivot.

Jason Falls 22:28
Yep. All right. Real quickly, I want to ask you your favorite influencer marketing case studies, whether you wrote about them in your book or not doesn’t matter just when you think of the best influencer marketing case study. And let’s break it down, maybe B2B and B2C. So give me two. What are your favorite influencer marketing case studies that you’ve learned about in your research and whatnot?

Neal Schaffer 22:48
Well, my favorite B2C is actually something not in the book, but it’s something that I presented on Social Media Marketing World. So relatively new case study. It’s from a watch companies. This is B2C called Rosefeld, who I believe have headquarters in Amsterdam in New York City. And they basically created the type of program that I preach about in the book, which is, and I don’t know if they’re actually using that Caro tool, but in a similar way, they wanted to create a program that would be inclusive to everybody who loves the brand. So it’s open. And they went through their followers, their customers, their email database, reached out to people that already knew love and trust the brand. And they created three different tiers of membership in this community that they created, you could think of some that have more influence than others became more of the content amplifiers. Some that maybe didn’t have as big of a following, but had the creative skills became more of content co creators, and then others who were very social became recruiters of new people into the community. And they’ve seen you know, I don’t know the exact numbers but in all these influencer marketing case studies, the numbers are pretty impressive. But you know, obviously shifting their budget, they’ve seen much greater ROI. They’ve seen higher conversion on on sales pages, shopping carts. What a lot of smart companies now are doing are leveraging influencer content, not just for their organic content, but for their paid ads, where they are more they perform better, but also on their website, where they’re helping, you know, companies and products convert at a higher rate as well. So this is one that I like to share. It’s still early on in the program, but they all they already have some impressive results on the B2B side. Wow, there’s a lot of different ones. You know that the roundup blog post is something that in the B2B side we’ve we’ve seen if we’re in social media, we see it like every other day, right? There’s some great case studies that it’s still effective in building backlinks building traffic and email signups. There’s one in the book from AHREFs, bestexpertroundups.com a guy that’s in Romania that’s all he does is he’s expert roundups and and they just got amazing results in the book. Awesome. Talking about Adobe Summit events are really powerful for working with influencers in B2B. And now they can be done virtually as well. And just, you know, the number of impressions of tweets that went out from influencers that were invited to attend Adobe Summit was worth millions of dollars in advertising money for the cost of probably just you know, airfare and hotel. So these are just some of the the numbers, as I remember talking to the CEO of Open Influence about influencer marketing ROI. And he goes, Neal, it’s not about you’re going to generate ROI. The question is how much because when you collaborate with people that have influence, assuming you chose the right one, you’re going to get something out of it. It’s really what you want to get out of it. And how are you going to measure it?

Jason Falls 25:42
Exactly. The book here is The Age of Influence. I think that’s it right in the screen there. Neal Schaffer. It’s from HarperCollins Leadership and Amacom. Neil, where can people find the book online? And where can people find you online?

Unknown Speaker 25:57
Well, the book is everywhere. Fine. books are sold, as we like to say there’s a audio version, ebook. So wherever you’re on the world, Amazon is the no brainer. So go there. I am Neal Schaffer. I am the RealNeal. That’s any al there’s a few Schaffers out there. So it’s s-c-h-a-f-f-e-r, don’t screw up that last name, spelling, please. So it’s Neal Schaffer and social media, NealSchaffer.com. I also have a podcast. And I wore my asked me about my podcast t shirt here. And its called the Maximize Your Social Influence with Neal Schaffer Podcast. If you’re interested in this perspective on influence in digital and social media, and how it can help grow your business through innovative marketing, I hope you’ll check out the podcast. And we’ll have you on there, Jason?

Jason Falls 26:38
Well, I’ll be glad to be on it. And let’s get it closer to my book. So that makes more sense to people then. But yeah, all those links that he just talked about, I jumped over into the comments section. I’ll make sure that they’re in the show notes on the show, as well. Neil, thank you so much for getting up so early with us love the book, hope people go out and buy it. And I appreciate you spending time with us today, man.

Neal Schaffer 26:58
Thank you, Jason. It’s an honor to be here. And yeah, I look forward to your book as well.

Transcribed by otter.ai

The Winfluence theme music is “One More Look” featuring Jacquire King and Stephan Sharp by The K Club found on Facebook Sound Collection.



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