Insider Look at New Instagram Release with Tim Sovay of CreatorIQ (@TimSovay)

Today we’re speaking with Tim Sovay of CreatorIQ. He currently serves as the Chief Business Development & Partnerships officer of CreatorIQ, the leading software platform for global brands & agencies to manage, measure, and scale their influencer marketing programs.



Intro: Hey guys, welcome back. I am very happy to be here with you guys today. No, I am not putting on a sexy voice for you. This is my unfortunate laryngitis voice. The good news is, I’m not sick, I just sound like I’m sick, so I appreciate you bearing with me today. If you tune into this podcast regularly, you know that this isn’t quite my normal voice.

I had to cancel so many other podcast recordings because this is the best version of my voice that I’ve had in over a week. I have talked to other people, and they’re like, oh my God, I lost my voice a month ago, or I lost my voice. I’m like, what is that? I’ve actually like never really experienced this before, and for someone who’s very reliant upon my voice for podcasts for just like meetings with people like this has been crazy trying to navigate this.

Anyways, that is the explanation of why I sound a little squeaky, but I’m super excited to be back here with you guys today. I like pre-match a bunch of our last episodes and then went on a little vacation with my family for spring break, so it’s very nice to be back.

We have a really cool episode today, very timely. We recorded, let’s see, on the 21st of April and we’re getting it out just a few days later, if you’re listening live, it’s the 25th. So just within a few days because there were some like really interesting updates that were like chatted about a ton in the community, both on Facebook, Slack, all over about Instagram’s API access that was given to very specific influencer tech companies that allowed for things like this dedicated brand inbox, on Instagram. 

So there were a lot of questions that I think you guys had on it, rightfully so. And I immediately reached out to, Tim Savoy from Creator IQ. I saw his name quoted in a few of the pieces about it and we had just recently met in Vegas, earlier this year. We did a panel together. 

So he was super gracious enough to just come on very last minute. I so appreciated it. Cause I wanna get you guys the lowdown, like the latest on what does that actually mean for you guys on a day-to-day, whether you’re a talent manager, are you still gonna be privy to these conversations?

What’s the future of what Instagram is building in terms of their creator marketplace? We talked even a little bit about TikTok as well, and like you guys, Creator IQ has been around for the longest time. They’re honestly, always been at the forefront of innovation in terms of scaling our influencer marketing work and they’re direct partners and very privy to all the conversations with all the platforms.

You’ll get a very cool inside peek to what they’re planning and just this update in particular. With all that being said, before we jump into learning a little bit more about Tim, I wanted to also share that we have so many virtual and in-person events coming up. I gotta share a few of them with you, on the 25th of April today.

If you are tuning in and hopefully catch it in time at 1:00 PM Eastern. We have content that converts, which is gonna be an incredible panel that I’m very excited about. All of these virtual events though, if you don’t have any gadget live, replays are always available. Members get free tickets to our masterclass, free access to our entire content library, including replays of events that you’re just a little busy to catch live and then a lot of our other events are of course, are in person.

So for example, some of those we have our LA experience that is queued up June 20th guys. That is the date. Very specifically timed with VidCon, which I will be speaking at this year, you guys. Oh my God, I’m so excited. Hopefully I won’t sound like this, but we timed it so that it’s the day before VidCon starts.

My hope is that you guys are already going to LA cause VidCon is amazing and it brings together tens of thousands of people in the industry. And you’ll come for one extra day because on June 20th is our LA Experience meetup. Our meetups are amazing. I’m not even gonna mince words. They’re so fun. They’re like the most incredible opportunity to really get to know other women in the industry and we keep it really fun. 

We always have gift bags. We have so many like with good food, drinks, snacks, and activities, so like it’s such a good time. New York announced as well July 27th, and we have other dates in other cities that we’ll be announcing soon.

So those are in person, our virtual ones, like content that converts writing, social copy that converts. We have tons of talent manager meetups that are on the docket. It’s all on our website. We have a hiring event coming up. We have so many events that are on the calendar and adding more all the time.

All you have to do is check out Iamwim.com/events and you’ll find out all that information. And the last request that I have before we learn a little bit more about Tim and hear our conversation with him today, if you’re joining this topic or any other of the topics that we talk about on the show, I would love your feedback on that because like podcasting is tricky sometimes. 

If you’re on social you get like direct feedback and comments and things like that. I see that a number of people are listening to this show. you guys have to be proactive for me to know who it is exactly and to get any feedback. So I am desperate for feedback. I just want this show to be amazing for you guys.

We’ve been at this for years. We’re actually approaching 200 episodes, which honestly blows my mind and just want your feedback. So if you would be so kind, if this topic is one that like really resonates with you, or if there’s other episodes you’re like this was awesome, please do more or do less whatever you want, I really wanna hear from you. 

The way that would be ideal, leave a comment, if you’re watching on YouTube super easy to do that of course. Tell me like, this is a topic I want, this topic was great, do more, do different, whatever it is. Or if you’re listening to the show, just leave a review and say the same thing.

But that feedback guys, I would freaking adore it. I would really appreciate it. So with all that being said, I am excited to introduce you to Tim Svey from Creator IQ. So little bit about him Tim currently serves as the Chief Business Development and Partnerships Officer at Creator IQ, which is the leading software platform for global brands and agencies to manage, to measure and to scale their influencer marketing programs. 

Previously, he served in senior roles at the audience at Edelman, the Walt Disney Company and Summit Entertainment. He has over 15 years of experience of a forefront of innovation across digital and social media marketing.

And his work has received recognition in the industry by Cannes Lions, Four As, The Webby Awards, The MarTech Awards and the Influencer Marketing Awards. So we will link his LinkedIn and ways for you to get in touch with him as well in the show notes of course. But without further ado, you guys, I’m super excited for you to meet Tim.

He’s good people. You’re gonna really enjoy this chat.

Jessy: So we have got on the show for you guys today. Tim, I am super excited to see you again because the last time we connected was it like two, three months ago in Vegas? About January? Yeah, January of this year, 2023 in Vegas. On a stage, not in this virtual sort of format and it was a fun time at a creator economy conference.

So it’s good to see you again. How are you?

Tim: I’m doing well. Thank you for having me. Always better to see you in person, but honored to be here today and really excited to talk about Instagram and some of the trends we’re seeing on our side.

Jessy: Totally, it’s agreed. Nothing really beats an in person like interaction with someone. So it was cool to get to know you a little bit there and it’ll be nice to get to know you even more today. I appreciate you coming on the show. Today it was a very last minute request transparently, so I’m very appreciative that you took me up on it.

You guys were like in the news a little bit, with some really cool updates in terms of, a ton of work, but specifically some cool Instagram, API access and like new features and stuff, which we’ll get into in a little bit. That was like the impetus of why I wanted to have you on.

But before we get into all of that, we definitely heard a bit about you on paper in the intro to this podcast, but I think it’s way more interesting personally. Just learn a little bit more about you as a human, I’d love to hear in your own words, where’d you grow up? 

Tell us about Tim as like a younger guy and how you got to where you are today. I wanna hear that story?

Tim: All right, so going back in the way back machine. So I grew up in San Diego, went to UCLA spent four years at UCLA and then spent the next about, 17 or 18 in Los Angeles. I actually started my career in feature film marketing, so I was lucky enough to work at movie studios.

So think, Walt Disney Studios where I got to work on movies like Pirates of the Caribbean series and Pixar movies like Up and Ratatouie and Wally, and movies like National Treasure. Then before, heading over to some entertainment where I worked on movies like Twilight and Red and really what I saw in that time was this kind of crazy intersection of the growth of social and digital marketing. 

Yes, I launched MySpace campaigns. Yes, I launched Facebook campaigns when it was college only. So just been around the space for a really long time. But what I saw in that time honestly was the power of celebrity on social.

And really there’s this idea that yes, people love the movie Twilight in the Twilight Series, but they’re obsessed with the actors and the talent. At the same time you saw the rise of early days YouTube creators, So I started a influencer marketing company back in early 2011. So I’ve actually been in this space for more than 12 years, which is pretty crazy to say.

But, I’ve really bet my career on the importance of this category. And I often joke with colleagues or industry friends that I do feel like we spent the first 8, 9, 10 years trying to future sell creator marketing and the power that this industry had, just this promise of things to come.

And really seeing early days, brands invest but not ultimately get to that scale, that we all hope for. And I feel like it’s only the last two or three years that we’ve had the opportunity to realize the potential of the space. So weirdly, we are still early days, 10, 11, 12 years into it but when you see investments from platforms like Instagram and what we’re gonna talk about today, it’s a really exciting time to be in the space.

Jessy: A hundred percent. We’ve definitely talked about a bit on this show, even about the idea of scaling influencer marketing, which is a whole conversation unto itself. I think it’s really like admirable what you guys are looking to do and have achieved in a lot of ways in terms of that like scalability.

And, I also wonder if all aspects of relationships can truly be scaled. So I think it’s like a pick and choose scenario, choose your own adventure. But there certainly are a lot of ways that it can be and for those ways, as someone might like myself who’s obsessed with like automations and just scaling in general, I think that it’s a really interesting convo.

I love story, I think it’s really fascinating. I didn’t know some of that, so I’m really extra glad that I asked about it today so we can all learn together. I’d love to dig into a little bit about this recent news that came out, which was very cool to hear that basically brands can now reach creators directly on Instagram through a dedicated channel, which didn’t exist prior. 

Sure there are some people who follow some of the reverse engineers, who preview things to come, with Instagram. I love some of those accounts, but this wasn’t on my radar. So it was very exciting and surprising to hear and got a lot of chatter within the WIIM community.

And of course, Creator IQ is a partner with Instagram on this. So I hear that you don’t need to even switch platforms and it makes it streamlined.

 My first question to you is, could you just walk us through and explain like exactly how this all works as a Creator IQ customer?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. And look, I think the real benefit to a platform like Creator IQ is that, when we look across our customers, and today we work with about called a thousand really amazing brands and their agencies who are looking to provide better visibility, better measurement, better scale to use your word, on their influencer marketing campaigns.

And when we talk about scale, our top customers are now working with hundreds of thousands of creators on an annual basis globally. That’s just insane to me, I didn’t think those numbers are possible, but we are truly seeing scale. So that’s one side of it. The other really exciting thing is you’re seeing these investments by the social platforms, whether it be, a creator focused by Instagram and YouTube being the OG of investing in creators for over a decade now to the growth TikTok.

But what’s important to know is, Instagram is still the number one platform for influencer marketing, by our customers. Actually, 9 out of 10 campaigns on our platform in 2022 included Instagram as a platform. So it doesn’t mean it was Instagram only, there’s actually most are multi-platform in general, but 9 out of 10.

We looked at 40,000 campaigns and 9 out of 10 included Instagram. So when Instagram launches a new product, a new API, we certainly listen and we’re really excited to be their partner on this. But our customers really care. So just a little background on the Instagram creator marketplace.

So the marketplace launched, I think it was late last summer, sometime in kinda summer of 2022, to a really small alpha. And what select number of brands, select number creators, is really just through the front door of Instagram. But the goal like other platforms is to reduce the friction and get better deal flow monetization for creators directly through brands and creators partnering something that we all do all day long. 

But when the platforms build a product, they typically test without an API first. Once they’re really confident with it, they will launch an API to really, again, using the same word, help the product scale.

And so what the Instagram Creator Marketplace API allows us to do is pull all the same benefits that get walking through the front door of the marketplace on Instagram for our customers. So fundamentally, breaking that down what it means is that you can now direct message creators into a priority inbox in their Dms, directly from Creator IQ. 

And you can message back and forth, see that those messages inside Creator IQ whether that be asking someone if they wanna join a campaign, approve content, different functionality and again, you can do that alongside the work you’re doing in that given campaign for TikTok, for YouTube, for Twitch, whatever other platforms you’re working on.

And why this is really important is one that I mentioned that instagram is still hugely critical part ecosystem. But we also see direct messages being that first kind of point of contact for many brands and many creators. So it may eventually move to email or other formats, but oftentimes, brand managers, campaign managers are really knocking on the front door directly through Dms.

And so that means that these Dms are now separated from all the other fan and follower engagement and commenting and everything in a priority inbox. So again, it should increase deal flow, should increase opportunities, for creators and hopefully streamline that communication for brands.

The other benefit is, we are pulling all of the creators from the Creator marketplace directly into Creator IQ. So now you’ll see in Creator IQ a little logo or an icon, whether it be in our discovery solution or in our customers, CRMs, there’s a symbol that lets them know that this creator is in fact part of the Instagram creator marketplace. 

Which again, that means they’re Instagram approved if you will. So there’s some brand safety measures and some confidence you can have working with them. And then in the future, we hope to gain, additional insights around those creators with the direct partnership that we have, a little bit of a tease of what we hope to do in the future.

Jessy: I appreciate it. We all love a good tease, so thank you for more insight of what to expect and what this will eventually roll out into being, we love a good tease, so thank you. It’s super interesting and correct me if I’m wrong, it sounds like the creator marketplace generally is a place to like filter through the best of the basket, the people who are really professionalized their influence and they’re part of that program.

It sounds like there’s some guardrails in place in terms or like criteria that gets them into that and then it unlock business tools and features, which that sounds great, because there are so many creators out there. I saw a very interesting stat somewhat recently where I wanna say it’s like less than maybe 2% of people who consider themselves creators are actually making meaningful money from it.

There’s such a wide breadth of people who consider themselves creators, small amount who are the ones, maybe who are managed, the ones who are, making the money that we aspire to, like maybe half a million or more, six figures at least or more. So that’s great to just be able to arm creators with tools that they need to get to that point, if that’s what they aspire to do and then specifically the idea of having a segmented inbox.

Sure, some of our audience listening today are creators and so it’s cool for them to hear that. Majority of our audience though are people on the brand side, managers too. And I know that they have a lot of questions on how does this affect their day-to-day? So let’s start with just like talent managers. So like we said, we’re talking about the marketplace probably the majority of it, perhaps being unmanaged talent maybe, is there a use case for managers though, perhaps Yes, perhaps no, with this specific announcement?

 Is there anything that managers you think should know or a way that they could utilize, these tools?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. And actually before I address that, I promise I’ll come back to managers, but you made such a good point in your summary. At the end of the day, it’s funny for me to say this, we’re a B2B software company through and through. We are selling SaaS, software, a pretty fantastic solution to large brands and agencies, to help them figure out the business side of this industry.

But we have never lost sight, even as a software company that creators are at the center of this ecosystem. If we are not developing for brands, if we’re not partnering with the social platforms via, data partnerships or APIs on down the line that benefit the creator, we’re never gonna win.

If there’s not a sustainable, industry for creators sustainable income the ability for them to invest in their communities, invest in their content. Pay them on time or in a timely manner, everything falls apart and at the end of the day we as brands, and it used to be the brand world, really need to think about creators first and that symbiotic relationship.

Hey just why social platforms really need to think about creators and the tools that, they’re building because creators drive really important stats for them. Social platforms care about time spent on the platform. Creator content is the most consumed type of content. They care about engagement of that content and the reality that comes with it.

Creator content is the most engaging content on the platform. So during the day, we all kind of circle around creators and can’t lose sight of how important they are. They’re the focal point of this entire ecosystem. But back to your point around talent managers. There are all different shapes, sizes, types of deals that happen in the industry.

if you’re fortunate enough to have, a manager, oftentimes that engagement may start with an email. Or a creator receives a direct message from a top brand like Nike, maybe pass that opportunity onto to their manager. There’s also things like performance or affiliate type engagements where this platform or this solution right now via the marketplace doesn’t support, affiliate yet.

This is traditional, brand plus creator quote unquote hashtag ad type campaigns. So I think, to answer your questions early days, I know that we’re thinking a lot about this and how to expand use cases and we’re working with our friends over at Instagram to think through expanded use cases, but there’s still gonna be thousands and thousands of engagements and campaigns and relationships that happen outside of the API. 

The hope is that this is, quote use a baseball reference like the first inning nine inning game where we are just getting started. And you’ve seen what other platforms have done like TikTok where they actually announced a manager portal as part of their marketplace. I believe a creator can have someone attached to profile to help them see the deal, sift through the deals. So who knows? Don’t have those details on the Instagram side but, again, everyone’s focus is to reduce that friction between brands and creators and hopefully, increase deal flow, increase content output, and increase, revenue and monetization for creators.

Jessy: And I’d love to hear from you, I assume they are like privy to a lot of the conversations generally about the direction of where all of these tools are going in, whether it’s on like the platform specific side or the tool side. And as a former talent manager myself, I had a front row seat into the mess that currently exists or did years ago especially.

There’s so many variables, so many moving parts and like we’re all trying to amplify the work that we’re doing but we need the tools to be able to do that cause it’s just impossible to organize yourself and professionalize it otherwise. So I’m curious,

 if you had any like predictions of what additional tools or features you think might be on the horizon, what conversations are you privy to that you might be able to share with us?

Tim: I’ll plead the fifth on anything directly with the social platforms. Obviously wanna keep those relationships strong. But here’s what I’ll tell you that there’s such an opportunity and it feels like a massive opportunity maybe a little overwhelming the same time.

But as I started off the conversation, I don’t think there’s a more exciting time to be in the category and hopefully companies like Creator IQ and our peers and others in this space helping solve for this. But, I think what’s so exciting is the focus on creator content, has never been higher.

And maybe this is an internal term, but to help paint that picture, we talk a lot about at our company is this and with our customers is this shift from influencer marketing to creator led marketing. And again, having been in the space for 12 years, influencer marketing oftentimes sat almost in its own silo. 

It wasn’t measured alongside or we didn’t know how to measure it alongside other more mature channels like programmatic or digital video or even television. And really what we’ve seen this shift from is just kinda like generic relationship of I pay a creator to organically post about my brand and that real or YouTube video or TikTok gets x many views and engagements or impressions, and it stops there. 

We can use that asset in so many more different ways now. We know that creator led creative or content performance better than generic brand content. We should be using this content for paid media amplification via, Instagram Ads Manager, Spark ads on TikTok.

We have seen brands scale their creator affiliate networks into the tens of thousands with massive ROI or return on spend for those programs we’re seeing ambassador programs really take off with creators of all shapes and sizes. A lot of this is being driven by the content graph on TikTok or now the content graph on say for Instagram reels where your follower count doesn’t matter as much as anymore. We’re moving from a follower graph or a fan graph to a content graph. So you hear the success stories on Instagram, and especially TikTok all the time of, hey, 200 followers yesterday.

I have 2 million views on this video, and I’ve gone from 200 followers to 10,000, 30,000, 50,000. And so you don’t have to be a megastar to be able to reach these goals or opportunities. But what’s really exciting is that what we’re seeing it move from a silo,

almost to an overlay of how can I utilize this content across all my other marketing streams? And I think what it does is, yes, it puts a bigger lens on the industry, but those brands who can really, understand it bring that subject matter expertise in house, it unlocks a huge amount of opportunity for them.

And more than ever, we’re seeing increasing budgets, increasing resources, internally, externally with partners, which makes it a really exciting time.

Jessy: It’s a super exciting time. I wanna push you more from pleading the fifth, but I won’t. But I wanna hear all the juicy details, so if you could promise me that when things are like released, that you’ll come back and you’ll share them once they’re out into the world. I would appreciate it.

Tim: A hundred percent. And what I will say and I’ve talked a little bit or teased a little bit about some of the things that we’re thinking about. We also understand that kind of pain the frustration that all of us feel day to day in the trenches, really trying to scale our teams, fight for budgets better visibility.

What’s really exciting and you look across the board, as I think I mentioned earlier, It’s a really good sign when the social platforms are making such massive investments into creator. When you see things, even Spark Ads, which mentioned on TikTok and just the amount of focus there or Meta just released branded content ads, essentially replacing ad permissioning what was known as whitelisting a long time ago.

That means they are building creator specific ad products. That means they’re investing their engineering resources, product resources, partnership, resources in these areas. And that’s nothing sneeze these times when there’s really increased pressure to show ROI on that side of the house too.

So increased investment by the social platforms is a really good sign for all of us in the industry.

Jessy: I agree, and I love that assessment I think its really exciting of a place to be. And in that spirit, beyond Instagram, you talked about like TikTok and some of the things that they had recently launched, like basically their own marketplace and each, they’re not part of the same company. Sure Facebook and Instagram are, but TikTok is its own separate beast. 

Is there anything that you’ve heard from your customers at Creator IQ that they’re particularly excited about when it comes to advancements at TikTok?

Tim: Yeah, great question. So I talked about how Instagram is still really largest player in this space. Again, included in 9 out of 10 campaigns in 2022 on, Creator IQ across all of our customers. The fastest growing platform though is TikTok. We saw an almost 300% increase in TikTok content between 2021 and in 2022.

It had a long way to catch up. if I’m remembering correctly, the usage of that platform by our clients doubling year over year. And it actually became the second most popular platform again behind Instagram, as far as being included in campaigns. Now, that’s not looking at 1 video versus 10 TikToks in a campaign, but at least that platform is being included.

We’re seeing a ton of growth there, by far the fastest growing. I think the competitive advantage that they have is that they’ve been creator first from day one. Instead of, retrofitting is the wrong word, but the size of meta is so massive. there’s competing priorities.

TikTok was able to be creator first. they’ve, a lot been nimble. They’ve had the play catch up, but we’ve seen a ton advancements internally with TikTok, for example, we can now report on audience demographic data around an individual TikTok versus looking at just a channel.

Why is that important? Cause we talked about the content graph earlier. The people who actually see an individual TikTok, oftentimes can have very different demographics than say what a creator’s following is. That’s because of the four you page how the algorithm is serving up content.

But more than, It’s really important to know who actually saw that piece of content before you make the decisions around your paid media strategy, around that piece, working with that creator, what was the fit, all those things that look at, all day long. So that’s really exciting that we get that granular level of data. Another one is we just launched I think in the last quarter, the ability to split organic versus paid metrics. That was something that wasn’t available TikTok until recently. We worked really closely their teams on launching that. Most recently we just launched what’s called campaign links through the TikTok API. So that makes it really easy via links for brands and creators to connect through that marketplace. And to be able to tag branded content partnership happening. 

So a ton of advancements there. I do feel like every month we’re like overwhelming launching new products, but, hopefully it’s, they’re all to the benefit, our customers and they’re really excited and anxiuos to bring these type of things in place. 

Jessy: Yes. To all of those things. Yes, excited, anxious, eager, all of the things. If anyone listening today or watching on our YouTube is interested in getting like the most up to date information about what you guys are releasing, knowing that you’re partners to the biggest platforms and you guys are definitely at the forefront of this, where can they subscribe or how do they get updates in terms of like new feature releases from you guys?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. So if you’re a customer and listening, hopefully you’re getting our customer emails or, 10 day notices in the platform. If you’re not a customer, please call. Hopefully I can change that. As a shameless plug, no, but you can always go to creatoriq.com, we have a very robust blog and product announcement section.

We also do have a newsletter that you can subscribe to, keep up to date on our LinkedIn. And all joking aside, I promise I won’t sell. If you ever do have any questions about anything we spoke about today or just wanna know more about the industry, please feel free to reach out to me on, LinkedIn.

I’m the only Tim Savoy on there. It should be pretty easy to track me down.

Jessy: You’re the only one really that’s pretty good is that you don’t, no one has to compete for attention. Tim, it’s been such a pleasure having you on today. Hopefully, I’ll have my voice back the next time we connect and we can have more conversations, just like this one.

So thank you all so much for tuning in, and I hope this conversation was insightful. Creator IQ is amazing and we’ll see you guys next week. Thanks, guys.

Tim: Thank you so much for having me. Bye.

Tim Sovay

Chief Business Development & Partnerships officer, CREATORIQ

Tim Sovay currently serves as the Chief Business Development & Partnerships officer of CreatorIQ, the leading software platform for global brands & agencies to manage, measure, and scale their influencer marketing programs. Previously, Tim has served in senior roles at theAudience, Edelman, The Walt Disney Company, and Summit Entertainment. With over 15 years of experience at the forefront of innovation across digital and social media marketing, Tim’s work has received recognition in the industry by the Cannes Lions, 4A’s, The Webby Awards, MarTech Awards, and Influencer Marketing Awards.

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