Increased Expectations for Influencers: Audience Engagement, Ghosting, & Product Trials - Ep. 13

Last updated on
April 20, 2022
James Nord

Today’s episode is about increased expectations for influencers–from responding to DMs and engaging with your online community, to professionalism standards, to earlier requests for product trials. You can submit your questions here.

This episode includes:

  • Engaging with Your Audience
  • Ghosting & Delivering Bad News
  • Requesting Product Trials

Pulling out the Blueberry Suit

James Nord: Welcome, Negronis with Nord episode number 13. You might notice that I have my blueberry suit on today. Today's a very exciting. Today is the first spring suiting day of the year. I've reached deep into of the recesses of my closet and pulled this bad boy out. Obviously you cannot wear a bright blue suit in January when it's 20 degrees out. It's been in the seventies in New York. We're not at the point yet where I can put the wool suits away, but we see a path.

I think I was talking just last week about how depressed I was and how cold I was. Feels like a never-ending winter. That's all changed. I just came back from Miami, which affirmed my love for New York. I'm not a Miami guy. I know a lot of people are moving down there. I understand that they don't have any state income tax, which is honestly quite appealing, but not appealing enough to move there. Also, unfortunately it was the Bitcoin conference in Miami while I was down there. And let me just say, rich people, most of them do not know how to spend it. They're going to continue driving their lime green Lamborghinis. Potentially a war crime.

Anyway, enough about Miami. What are we going to talk about this week? So I've been thinking a bit about how these platforms are changing. We are coming up in this place where we now have influencers who have been putting (beep) on the internet for almost 20 years. We have seen enough of this happen, where influencers who were active today, who were publishing on the internet before other influencers were conceived, much less born. That industry is matured. And I think it gives us this space to kind of step back and say, "What is happening? What are some of the changes?"

Increased Expectations for Influencers

We talked about the vibe shift and some of that, right? And obviously that's more of a culture thing and that Instagram, TikTok are mirrors of culture, so they will always change what content is working, what's not, things like that. But the fundamentals of the business, they take a little longer to change, and it's been feeling like that change is happening. And there is a level of dedication and professionalism and time that has to be allocated to these platforms that didn't exist before. You could be passively successful on Instagram five years ago. I don't think you can do that anymore.

I think about my own account, which is shrinking and shriveling and dying. My engagement is not good. My reach is not good. I'm not growing as an account, and I don't post as much as I should. But the bigger issue is I don't think I'm spending enough time on the platform or on the content to have it be successful. And I think the level of investment that you need to make this work is really going up.

Engaging with Your Audience

We had Ndeye on the show a few episodes ago, talking about Sephora Squad and her journey. And a week after that, I saw in her stories that she had said, "Hey, everyone, I'm going to get to everyone's DMs, but I have 1200 DMs," in one day. And at the end of that day at like one in the morning, she'd posted that she had gotten through 1200 DMs in a day, and I just was in awe of her, and it opened my eyes to just how difficult it can be and how much time you need to put in to be successful in these platforms.

And I was talking to some of the team this morning about things that we could talk about out on the show and things that they're seeing. They were all talking about just how important it is to engage with your audience in the comments, and talking about how on TikTok, there's this culture that you are expected to respond to comments. You're expected to engage with the community, and that wasn't really the case in Instagram. It used to be that you are a person that is being followed, and the expectation is that you're going to create something interesting for the masses. They will consume it. And that's kind of it. We didn't even have DMs for a long time. If I DM somebody with 300,000 followers, I don't expect them to respond, but that is becoming the expectation.

We talked about mental health, the issues with that and how important it is to set boundaries, figure out your ideal work/life balance between being online and living in the real world. In America, or corporate America, right now, we're focused on work/life balance, mental health, burn out all these things, right? They're big conversations amongst business leaders in America. As these communities expect engagement, expect answers from you, you have to figure out a way, if you want to be successful here, and it seems like engaging with the community is a big part of what is driving success of these accounts. How are you going to do that?

Obviously it would be great for Instagram to roll out more robust tools for being able to answer DMs on your computer. They will do that soon. It takes them three or four years to create any product. What you're going to see is that influencer culture is no longer going to be rooted in Instagram influencer culture, but it will be rooted in TikTok influencer culture, and the norms and practices and boundaries, and all of that are normal on TikTok, are going to start to be expected on all these other platforms. And you have to think about how you are going to fit into that new world.

Expectations for Communicating

We focus a lot on how you can be a better partner, how you can run your business this more effectively. I do that because it is harder for me to give out advice on what kind of content you can create, because each community is so different. What works for one person is not going to work for another person, but there are truths and there are best practices and standards in how you run your business that we can teach you.

Again, talking with five members of our team this morning who are the ones executing these campaigns, working with thousands of influencers a year. They know more about this than anyone. When I asked, "What can influencers do to make themselves more appealing to work with?", all that immediately, the answer is being better partners, being more communicative, being more professional. It is the single thing you can do that is going to drive your business more.

When I asked, "What can influencers do to make themselves more appealing to work with?" the answer is being better partners, being more communicative, being more professional.

Advice on Ghosting

A couple of just quick tips and things that we talked about. So one, I do think there is a lack of understanding from the influencer community of what it is like and what the lives and expectations for the brand people are like. There was a lot of talk this morning about ghosting, influencers ghosting them. Every single campaign, they have people that for days they can't get in touch with them. Their content was due. It's not there.

Look, and I had understand, right? When you have to disappoint somebody, when you told someone, "I will have content on the 17th," and it's the 16th and your three tequila sodas in, "I actually haven't made that yet. And there's no way I'm going to get that content to them tomorrow," it doesn't feel great to email somebody and say, "Hey, I just don't. I don't have that." Every single person this morning said that at least one, generally multiple people, are ghosting them because they're late on content. And I cannot stress enough how much that throws these teams for a loop, right?

Our clients want to know where's the content. You aren't answering emails. We don't have a response. Let's say you're those three tequila sodas in and you wrote a quick email, "Hey, Annie, bad news. Some things came up. I'm not going to be able to get the content due tomorrow. I'll have it by the 19th. I hope that's okay. So sorry for any inconvenience." That's it. Totally understand. It gives us a way to go back to the client, tell them what's going on. We don't look stupid and it's not going to affect you.

Those influencers that ghost you, that don't answer emails when they're late, do you work with them again? Across the board, no. You get one shot. And if you do that, it doesn't matter. If you're late and you communicate, they said they'd be willing to work with you again. But if you're late and you ghost them and you put things off and you're hard to get in touch with, they just will not work with you again.

Here at Fohr, we say that bad news should travel faster than good news. And I think that for you, that's a great way to think about your communication. Anytime you have to disappoint a client, anytime you're going to miss a deadline or whatever, that should be communicated faster than if you had a piece of really, really good news. When something goes well at work, how excited you would be to send them that email being like, "Oh my gosh, this is going viral on TikTok. This is amazing, right?" Your bad news should travel faster than that.

Make a commitment. When I have a piece of bad news, I committed to delivering it to the recipient within 15 minutes. Not have that hanging over your head and just rip the bandaid off and give that bad news. Influencers sometimes don't understand the shock waves that that sends. Sometimes brands refuse to approve content until they have all of it. So we might have 50 pieces of content that needs to be approved, three influencers who haven't given it to us, and the whole campaign now is delayed three or four days because we can't get in touch with somebody, right? It affects more than you. And often as an influencer, you are a small but important part of a much bigger machine. And if you don't deliver on your part, you can screw everything else up, and it's why you need to communicate really, really quickly.

Product Trial Timelines

Okay. One more quick one in regards to timelines. Something else that was mentioned was that influencers are asking to try the product before they say yes to a campaign. I love that philosophically, that we do not want you doing a campaign unless you really love the product. And unless you feel like you can wholeheartedly tell your audience that they should pay attention to it, and that what you're saying about it is true. 100% never stop doing that. That is vitally important. It is also unrealistic that a brand can give you weeks to try it before you sign on, because we often don't have that much time. We're often given a week, maybe two weeks, to onboard people. So if you don't ask for the product until a week into the negotiation and you want to use it for two weeks, it's just literally not possible for us to support that.

Few things you can do. If trying the product before you sign on is necessary, mention that in the first email. Before you start talking pricing or anything, mention that you will have to try it before you sign on, and can they send it out now. Or sign on and ultimately, if the product isn't something that you can support, then you respectfully pull out. It's probably unlikely that will happen. Most products nowadays are pretty good. But just know that you might be shooting yourself in the foot by saying that you have to get the product before you sign on to something. And it's just a timeline thing. And it's really nothing that a company like Fohr can control sometimes because we have our clients and we have to adhere to their timeline.

So a good reminder that you are part of this bigger strategy and bigger thing, and you have to understand kind of how you fit into that. If you can make that client's life easier, access to future opportunities and campaigns is going to be greatly increased. And that is all I really have to say today. So as always, ask us questions, I will answer them and we'll see you next week.

Cheers, and thanks for watching.

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