Feeling Burned Out? So Am I…

Today, Jessy is going to share her recent thoughts and feelings about the influencer marketing industry.



Jessy: Hey guys, what is up? 

This episode is gonna be a little bit different. You’ve got just me. I just wanted to share some thoughts that I’ve had over the past, few weeks. I know I’ve raised this on our socials, like in the Facebook group and stuff and, it’s been cool seeing you guys chime in with your thoughts and I guess I just wanted to like, flush out my ideas a little bit further here on the podcast and, just share what’s been on my mind.

So, I’ve been doing this for a while, and when I say I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve been in influencer marketing, is what I mean for quite a while, just broadly. I started out in talent management, and now, I’ve been doing some consulting and also WIIM, and come into contact with so many different people and I have just been feeling a little, discouraged lately and really questioning why I’m feeling that in the first place.

It’s brought me back to like why did I get into this industry in the first place? Because I remember feeling so inspired and enthusiastic and just, it was overwhelmingly positive feelings when I first got into influencer marketing and I was like, why did I feel that way 10 ish years ago?

And when I think back to it, I just think of all of the opportunities that seemed primed for picking and all of the challenges ahead and it was a very exciting time. I come from super old-school media. I used to represent actors and commercials at a very old-school talent agency where people had worked there for 30-plus years and were not retiring anytime soon.

And it was like just when influencer marketing was like starting to prove itself and show itself to be a really lucrative area of media. And even at that time, I saw the writing on the wall with the work that I was doing with actors in commercials and, living here in New York, it’s incredibly professionalized, so much so that it’s unionized.

You guys may have heard of SAG-AFTRA, and so everything was dictated by that union, and while there are certainly some pluses and some positives to that, like just it wasn’t keeping up with where media was even at that time. This is 10 years ago.

And so I just saw a writing on the wall in that, I thought that commercials were going out the window, the way that people consumed that sort of content was changing so much and I was just getting bored. I felt then the way that I feel now. Oh, I’m like putting this together as we speak. 

I know I’ve told this on this podcast before, but the story goes that a former colleague of mine who left to go work in casting, knew that I was uninspired, knew that I wanted to go in a different direction, and she was actually the one that tipped me off on exploring what it would be instead of representing actors to represent influencers.

So I give her full credit to this day. And Chelsea, what’s up? I see you, girl. You’re the reason I’m here today, literally. And I give her full credit because she really tipped me off to something powerful. So I end up representing influencers but, just in the early days, it felt so different. The waters felt uncharted, but like it was exciting and there was so much potential.

Anyways, I bring all this up because, I have just been feeling incredibly uninspired lately with the work that’s been coming out, and the progress that’s been made because here’s what really got it for me, if I think back to myself, 10 years ago just getting started in this industry, I would’ve not thought we would be where we are now 10 years later. I absolutely would’ve thought that we would just be further along that people would’ve been bought into this and like more impact would have been coming from our industry and there wouldn’t be so much muddiness and uncertainty and discord.

I don’t have a problem with Discord but, it feels there’s just like a lack of progress and I talked about that. I gotta be honest. So, like where does that come from? I’m seeing, really low-performance data come from campaigns that I’m privy to where the expectation is that they’re gonna get results of sub 10% return on their investment and reach that is just pitiful.

And these are people that are doing it right, like they are putting some paid spend behind it. They’re really investing time to find the right partners and the right influencers and, they’re creating what seems like decent content, but there’s just something missing. And I’m trying to figure out what that is.

I know I’ve spoken about, this and basically said I don’t necessarily have all the answers, but I have a lot of questions and I have a lot of concerns and that is absolutely the case. I wonder if part of it is, that our expectations are too low. It’s like, why are these results so pitiful?

You need to like and demand better. You need to not accept less, and I think that is part of it. I wonder if that’s part of it, that our expectations are just too low and we’re not pushing ourselves hard enough. I also just am absolutely bored by the content that’s coming out.

Just generally, like of course there are exceptions, of course, there’s cool shit that’s coming out, but the amount of boring, hashtag ad and it’s like a person holding a thing. It feels like that. Like it just feels so lackluster, uninspired, and not very creative at all. 

And I think that I’m a little more removed now, am doing WIIM and doing consulting now, and removed, I think is actually the wrong word. I approach all of this with a much fresher set of eyes because I’m privy to a lot of stuff but I’m not immersed in it and I think that it provides a little bit better perspective in that I’m able to be a little bit more critical of what I’m seeing.

Also, I can just put on my consumer hat and asked myself like, would I buy this product based on this ad? And I remember being more easily influenced by influencers back in the day, and I’m just not now. You can argue like maybe it’s of course that I work in the industry and I’m a little like jaded, or maybe I’m just like, I’ve gotten older and it takes something different to get me to buy something.

I know that I’m not alone and I’m wondering where the influencers are gonna reach me like I am a millennial. I’ve got money to spend and I wanna spend it, and no one’s really convincing me to buy shit. I wanna buy your stuff. I wanna spend money, I wanna be influenced, and I just see right through it.

I don’t believe any of these influencers, I don’t believe that half of them want the products themselves. I’m uninspired even by the brands who are promoting on their own channels. I just feel like we’re recycling tactics and no one is really pushing themselves to do something innovative.

So I brought this up in our Facebook group and I loved the commentary. A lot of you guys were saying that I’m not alone. You’ve been thinking about this for a while. And you brought some really interesting things up. So I’m gonna read this from my phone actually, because this was one of the comments that came in, and I’m not gonna say the person’s name simply because it’s our private Facebook group, and I wanna be respectful of people’s identities and thoughts and want to be anonymous. So, they just said I so feel this, in general, I don’t think it’s from a lack of desire to be innovative, but rather to echo some of the sentiment already stated, I think it can be difficult when so many parties all have unique standards, goals, and KPIs. The agent, the talent, and the brand, and in order to be innovative, it feels like all parties involved need to collectively hold hands, trust each other and agree to something new, which can be challenging if expectations are misaligned, especially when you couple that with a market like today where everyone is under added pressure to produce results.

I think that was just so well stated. So I wanted to read that one to you guys. First of all, this is a common theme today. I was talking to somebody else earlier about, just like how do you work well? How do you work well I would like to be the one that says, oh, I work well under pressure, but that’s actually not true at all whatsoever.

I don’t crack under pressure, but I don’t work best under pressure. I work best when I have the freedom to have some creativity. That’s just me personally. So absolutely to this person’s point, there is so much pressure these days to produce these results, and like hard for people to do constantly, always.

I also really resonated with the point about like just having things be misaligned. It almost feels as if things are just messy and someone else in the comment section was, let me pull it up actually, they were talking about basically how we haven’t addressed the basics of success yet.

And so how can we push the envelope if we haven’t even done that yet? And like to go back to my earlier point, to think back to 10 years ago when we were all having these conversations about, the value of influencer marketing, pricing, the like just certain things that weren’t standard, but there was no expectation for them to be, cuz we were just getting started out.

I certainly would not have thought that 10 years later we would still be having those same conversations. So this is a rant. Again I’m like, I don’t have answers necessarily just, criticism and strong opinions. And I hate only offering that I hate only contributing that to the conversation.

But, hopefully, get you guys thinking of what else you have issues with. What else are you struggling with? We gotta make a list. We have to figure out where the problems lie. And actually address the issues. I told you guys I come from this world where actors were in unions and everything was unionized and it was too strict as a talent manager, I loved the fact that everything was up for negotiation. I loved that.

That’s why I enjoyed representing influencers versus actors in the first place because you could just, do one negotiation, or do two negotiations side by side and see how much leeway you had with influencers and how there really wasn’t much to negotiate when it came to actors, cuz it was all pre-negotiated by the union.

It’s very much a double-edged sword, and I’ve been on the other side of having all of the standardizations and I can vouch and say that like it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be because I would rather be in charge of that negotiation versus a union who may not be privy to like the same insights that you are.

Basically, they may not negotiate as well as you would, and the time that it takes for them to negotiate something to be standard in our industry by the time that gets accomplished, things might have changed so significantly. It’s like getting any big company or any red tape involved. It just takes longer and you can’t be so nimble.

So I’m certainly not gonna say that the fix to the problem is unionizing or anything like that, which a lot of people have proposed in the past. I actually do not think that is the answer at all. One could argue that education is the solution.

But a lot of us say that we educate and, maybe standardization of that education could be helpful. A lot of us went to college for example, and we had great educations perhaps, but like each institution teaches whatever they wanna teach, however, they wanna teach it and so we all leave college educated.

But do we get the same level of education? Absolutely not. I don’t even wanna say probably not, absolutely not. So who would be deemed the educator and is that even right? I don’t know, man. I have so many issues with academia broadly that that doesn’t seem like the answer either.

I don’t know. I wonder what the answer is. And I think that Again, I don’t have the answers today. Trying to see if I can come up with any or some ideas, but, I really just wanna put out there that, it’s disappointing. 

It’s disappointing to see, and I’m someone who has conversations with people about this industry on a weekly basis, sometimes multiple times a week for this podcast, for our socials, just like observing things in our Facebook group and our Slack community and all that. 

And like I’m disappointed with what I’m seeing. I think broadly I wish that people were taking more risks. I wish we were seeing better results.

I do think that part of it is just simply because we’re at the WIIM of the social media platforms themselves, who all have their own agendas and It’s interesting, right? There’s been such a topic of conversation these days about oh my God, the social media platforms are starting to monetize.

How dare they? And a lot of people have a lot of issues with that. I’ve got on the record to say, I know this is probably gonna be an unpopular decision amongst most people. I see no issue whatsoever with Instagram, Twitter, or Discord charging for additional services. You can absolutely opt into the free version, but if you want more, you pay.

The reason I bring that up is because Instagram, TikTok, none of those people are taking a percentage of earnings from any of the partnerships that are happening. They see that influencer marketing is a billion, multi-billion dollar industry and they’re seeing a very small percentage of that.

They’re certainly not seeing anything because of all the whitelisting that’s happening in the paid social, et cetera, that’s money that’s going to them. But it’s a pretty small percentage. 

If one influencer makes, five grand on a partnership and they’re hiring 10 of them, they’re just seeing the ad revenue, but not any of that money. So, if they’re not invested in that side of it, they’re probably gonna demote that content.

You talk to influencers all day, who will tell you that if you second, you stick a hashtag ad or a hashtag sponsored or a branded partnership tool that content gets less reach. I used to be like, eh, I don’t know.

I don’t know. I would be surprised if they were wrong. Like they’re right. They have to be right. Because again like, these social platforms, they’re in business for themselves. And so unless all of us, have skin in the game, I don’t know why they would promote that.

They don’t have any skin in that game, why would they promote something that they don’t get a piece of? So maybe that’s part of the answer like, maybe right now it’s, our own world of influencer marketing and we utilize these social platforms, which are so integral to what we do, except there’s very little partnership there.

And if there was, and we all were like in it together and had collective skin in the game. Then maybe it would work more to our advantage, collectively. So, it’s interesting. I wonder if that’s part of the answer. I don’t know. I’m just spitballing here. 

Anyways, thank you guys for listening to my rant. I’m aware that like I’m a little bit of a downer today. Not certainly like talking about all the innovations that are happening. It’s not always good. It doesn’t always need to be good and great and dandy, and I think it’s important to call out where the pitfalls are.

I wanna feel the way that I did 10 years ago, and I know that life circumstances change and perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps it’s me in the industry that is different, but I really would love to feel that enthusiasm again and be a little bit more bright-eyed and excited by what our industry can do. I’m still like an eternal optimist, so I do see it coming around.

But I’d also love for us to just have more conversations and have more action. To make it better. I think the actions are actually the most important. And I think that’s probably what’s happening the least. So let’s keep talking guys. Let me know what you think. Go onto our socials @iamwiim on Instagram, for example.

We always post a little promo about each week’s episode. Let me know your thoughts. So if you guys, would be so kind as to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts in particular. It would so help the show. This show, is free. 

We don’t ask for anything but some social currency would go such a long way if you share our Instagram post, out into your stories, send it to a friend, the link to the show, tell them to subscribe, tell ’em to take a listen. But, review on Apple podcasts would mean so much, and I’m gonna start reading some of the reviews that have come in to give you guys credit shout you out. So we’re gonna read one this week and maybe yours will be next week. So this one is sobering, entertaining, insightful, and actionable.

Whether you’re well-established as an influencer or just getting started carving out a profitable niche that’s ready to grow. This is a must-listen podcast for you. Jessy does an incredible job leading conversations that cover a huge breadth of topics related to the ins and outs of a thriving business and life, which you can be proud of with leaders who’ve actually experienced success themselves.

Highly recommend listening and subscribing. Thank you so much for leading that review and again, I hope you guys please keep listening, subscribing, check us out. Leave us a review, and check us out on Instagram of course, Iamwiim, TikTok the same, and YouTube we’re @wiim y’all. We got that name on there. Anyways, check us out on all the places. 

Definitely consider, checking out our membership as well, which you could find all the details on it. Iamwiim.com. It’s I A M W I I M. C O M. Our membership is for the top of the top influencer marketers. Consider us a networking group and your biggest resource of women who are cheering you on throughout your career. That’s what the membership is. Love you guys so, so much, and I will see you next week.


Founder of Women in Influencer Marketing and CEO of Tribe Monday

Jessy Grossman is a long time entrepreneur in the digital media space. She’s passionate about supporting women in business and being at the forefront of innovation. She’s been quoted in Forbes and was awarded a spot in the “Influencer Top 50” by Talking Influence. In less than two years she created one of the fastest growing talent agencies in the country. Amidst unprecedented growth, she sold the multi-six-figure agency and pivoted to focus on her long-time passion project: Women in Influencer Marketing (better known as WIIM). Founded in 2017, today WIIM is the premiere professional organization for those who work with influencers. The community offers networking and new business opportunities, career services, continuous education and more. Jessy also does consulting, advising and influencer marketing recruiting with her company Tribe Monday. You can find inspiring stories and more about Jessy on the WIIM Podcast. Check out iamwiim.com and tribemonday.com for more information.

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