Contextual Commerce With Julian Greene Of Blogist (@juliangreene)

As 10-year veteran in the influencer industry, one of the biggest issues I personally struggled with as a marketer when serving as the Head of Influencer marketing at a variety of different direct to consumer businesses was the lack of standardization when it came to influencer spend and understanding the true ROI on an influencer campaign. I founded Blogist four years ago to fix this, and with thousands of influencers now in our network, many of whom that we now manage, we are able to pull both qualitative and quantitative insights on their business for brands to understand the expected impact they will see working with the right influencer.



[00:00:00] Jessy: Hi everyone, and welcome to the WIIM podcast. Women in influencer marketing is a first of its kind exclusive networking group made up of inspirational women. This podcast is where we explore influencer marketing and get real about women in business. Find us wherever you download podcasts, and of course you can always find us iamwiim.com.

That’s iamwiim.com. What is up, everyone? Welcome back to the Women In Influencer Marketing Podcast. My name is Jesse Grossman and I am your host, and at today’s episode. Oh my gosh. It’s really good. So we’ve got Julian Greene from Blogist and if you don’t know about Blogist you absolutely should. They’re doing such great things in the influencer space, and I’m super excited for you to hear from Julian because she is so enthusiastic and just like an exciting person to know. Before we jump into this week’s episode, though, I am excited to tell you all about our next, masterclass. So yes, we do masterclasses at least once a quarter at the very minimum.

And the next one that we’re doing is on September 15th. And it’s all about Web3 and the creator economy. So this has been such a fad. People are talking a lot about NFTs and a lot of the people in WIIM, I know for sure, know very little about Web3. They know a little tiny bit about NFTs, but I’m sure not all the possibility and all the reasons that I am personally, so enthused.

So I’m excited to be presenting personally our next masterclass. And we’re also bringing in a special guest who is an expert in this space. I’m certainly not an expert, she is, so we’re gonna learn together. So definitely check out our website. It’s iamwiim.com/events for all the information, September 15th, Web3, and the creator economy.

And if you are a member and you’re like, oh, I really wanna go, but I can’t. I have my Hawaiian getaway or more likely you have a bunch of meetings. Don’t worry because for our members. All of our master classes are available in a library so that you can watch them on your own time on demand. You could just head to that same site.

It’s iamwiim.com/events, and you just go to the library. And if you miss it and you’re not a member, you just, you can watch it later as well, but you just have to pay a little extra because, tickets and the replays and all that could be complimentary if you opted into our membership. So definitely check it out.

There’s tons and tons of more events that we have coming up. All right, guys, I’m excited for you to learn a little bit more about our guest. She’s a ten year vet in the influencer industry. One of the biggest issues she struggled with as a marketer when she was the head of influencer marketing at a ton of different director consumer businesses, was the lack of standardization when it came to influencer spend and understanding the true ROI of an influencer campaign.

Oh my gosh. Of course. So she founded Blogist four years ago to fix this, and with thousands of influencers now in her network, many of whom she manages, they’re able to pull both qualitative and quantitative insights on their business for brands understand the expected impact they will see when working with the right influencer.

So now you can understand why I think Blogist is just awesome. They’re talking all about data and all about justifying ROI and how you choose the right influencer. It’s the perfect combination of everything. So I hope you enjoy this episode.

Alright, so I am so stoked to have you on today. We are chit chatting like a little bit before we started recording. And you guys have so much going on.

[00:04:34] Julian: Yeah.

[00:04:34] Jessy: I’m, so intrigued by Blogist, and I don’t know the different things that you guys offer like your mission.

[00:04:42] Julian: Yeah.

[00:04:43] Jessy: I’m really impressed with like, you have a very clear mission of who you’re looking to support who you’re looking to help and educate.

So I’m excited to get into that, but before we get into all the nitty gritty of that, I always just like to get to know our guests a little bit more personally.I would love to just hear a little bit more from you before we get into the nitty gritty of , how you grew up? Where are you from? I wanna hear a little bit more about your family?

[00:05:15] Julian: Yeah.

[00:05:15] Jessy: And like even what you were like as a kid?

[00:05:18] Julian: I love it. So I’m Julian, everyone. I grew up in a small town in upstate New York, about two hours north of the city. I then went to college in Boston, but growing up, one of the things that I really was drawn to, was just the heart and soul of New York city. I knew I always wanted to live in New York.

I knew I always wanted to be in business. And a funny story I always love to tell. I think so many entrepreneurs, they share the stories of what their first business was. And so funny enough, my first job, in high school. Rather than a lot of my friends, I grew up in a very historic village. And actually a lot of people used to work at these different historic societies and houses and they were babysitters.

But what I wanted to do was find a way that I could really challenge myself. So I was having a hard time finding a job. And interestingly enough, on Craigslist, I found this posting for someone who their responsibility was going to different restaurants and getting me a place to work. And my job was actually going to restaurants and making balloon animals for people who were at the restaurant waiting for their dinner.

So when I was 16 years old, this is my first job. I just got a car. It was a red punch buggy. I was so excited about it. And my first job was, it was my business. And I would go to the local Outback steakhouse in Albany, New York, which is hysterical. And I would go up to people when they were waiting for their dinners and I would make them balloon animals.

And one of the things that I really was drawn to was this opportunity to make people excited and happy. They loved getting to know someone who was 16 and bubbly and was just trying to be there to help make them have a great night. And so I would make balloon animals for these individual. And oftentimes I’d go to people who were maybe a little older.

They had a few drinks. So I knew they would tip me well. And for two hours I would leave there with $400 in cash. And I always hated doing it, but I was always so proud of myself once I’d leave the restaurant, because I had all this money. I have 400 bucks in cash, you’re 16 years old. That’s amazing.

And I was really proud of my myself. And so when I was 16, I really started picking up this like a entrepreneurial high, where I think oftentimes so many of us, we go into a situation and we’re not excited about it. We dread it. But when we leave, we’re so proud of ourselves and that passion, that fire has really always been a core part of who I have been in my career is doing things that made me feel a little uncomfortable, put me out of my comfort zone.

But really at the end of the day, I was proud of myself. So as a kid, I found myself in a ton of different leadership opportunities. I definitely wasn’t really textbooks savvy. My brother he’s in med school right now. He’s gonna be the doctor of our family. And for me, I was always the one who pushed the norms.

And I actually struggled figuring out where I wanted to go to college. And I heard about this thing called public relations, which was really exciting to me. And I was, wow I can work with a company and share their message and share their story. And so I applied to a few different colleges and ended up getting into Boston university and they have one of the best PR programs in the country I could talk about BU for days it’s an amazing school.

But really what my time at BU did was allowed me to train this entrepreneurial spirit in me and really realize that if you have an idea and you wanna put the work in, you can do it. So I feel like I’ve always had this quirky entreprenurial spirit funny enough and weird.

I know you were talking about what do my parents do? My dad he’s in sales and I think I get a lot of that kind of sales business energy from him and my mom’s a pastor actually. And I think that a big part of my career to date, has been in the past four years, building my business at Blogist a lot of what we do is coaching people and really working to hear their problems and gather and help them with solutions and being a very empathetic individual has really been important.

I think I actually get a lot of that from my mom. Who’s a pastor, you have to be empathetic. So it’s wild, how your story really defines who you are and brings you to where you are today. And this influencer industry, something I love so much is we’re writing the rules here.

Like the women in influencer marketing group, we’re writing the rules here in this industry. And so I think who knows what our story will be, but all these defining moments in your life and really understanding, like what makes you, you, that can help us as we grow in our career. So yeah I hope that’s a helpful story.

I started my first business 16 and then, started my second business when I was 26, which is crazy. So yeah.

[00:09:45] Jessy: I love your story so much. It’s a great story. And it’s so uniquely you. So I think that is so cool. Tell me a little bit more about like your entrepreneurial bug and what is it that you love so much about being an entrepreneur?

You started 16.

[00:10:04] Julian: Yeah it is just fun to tell my story about starting my first business. I think for me, I’ve always been someone who wants to really make an impact in the world. And so talking a little bit about my journey in PR, I actually moved to New York and worked at a leading agency. Weber Shamwick is the name. And I was an account coordinator there.

And for me, I spent my entire career well, my entire time in college, interning at a ton of different places. I was like the intern queen. I think I had 17 internships, which was absolutely out of control. I didn’t have great grades, but I loved the opportunity to really like, get to know different businesses and agencies in Boston.

And so I thought that what I had to do, because that’s just what you do when you in PR is you go work at a PR agency. And something that I really noticed about myself and I find myself to be a pretty introspective person. Maybe it’s years of therapy, I don’t know is knowing when you’re not great at something.

And so think now actually, as I have a team, that’s really run like an agency. I see a lot of reasons why agencies are structured the way they are, right. There’s opportunity for growth there’s opportunity to really collaborate. There’s a ton of different pillars within the agency. But something that I really struggled with in a very honest way is I’m really not detail oriented.

 I’m the opposite of detail oriented. In my role, actually and it’s funny kind of thinking back 10 years ago. And now where I am today, my job I was on the Amazon retail team and my job was to do two things. So I would make these recap reports for Amazon, whenever they were placed in refinery 29 or New York times, what have you and I, what I would also have to do is I would send, product to these things called mommy bloggers back in the day. And so my job on am on the Amazon retail team was I would send like instant pots to mommy bloggers. And I was like, this is so cool that these women are building businesses around their story. And that really, it ignited something in me where I was like, okay, I wanna see what’s going on in this world of mommy bloggers.

And at the time I didn’t get the promotion that I wanted. And I think it really was because I’m not detail oriented and I’m someone who has an opinion and really wants to make an impact. And so I wanted to try my hand in the world of startups because I knew agency life wasn’t for me. And I think as I’m so grateful for my career journey in the world of startups, because I think when you are in a team and a business, that really wants to celebrate your ideas. And no matter how big our business gets, one of the core focuses for me as a founder is to make sure that everyone realizes that there is no role, there is no idea that’s too big and everyone can make an impact.

And so, for me when I was an account coordinator, I was 22. I didn’t really feel like in a massive agency that my voice was heard. And so I’ve always really found that I thrive in environments where no matter how old I am, I can make an impact. And so I think that’s really been my guiding light as I’ve started a business is Julian there, someone has to do it.

It might as well be you and raise your hand and say, I wanna help. And I just think by nature working in the startup world, you have that opportunity to really raise your hand and say, I wanna do this. And I wanna challenge myself and I don’t wanna necessarily be a part of a conventional norm.

So I think if that answers your question, it’s always just been a part of who I am. And I think this ability to say, I see an opportunity and I wanna help create a solution. I think it’s so important. And now as a leader too, it’s something that I really. I want my team to do as much as possible because there really is no job that’s too big and no job that’s too small and there’s no idea that’s too crazy. Let’s do it if you wanna do it.

And , I think in our industry and why I’ve been so drawn to the influencer industry is because it’s growing and changing every single day. And so I really fundamentally believe that there needs to be more conversation and people who wanna raise their hand to help because we’re in an industry that needs help. We’re growing daily. But also if I look back to 10 years ago, when I was sending instant pots to mommy bloggers on the Amazon retail team. Some of the core issues that I had 10 years ago exist today. And so I think that this industry is so exciting because you have no matter what your role is, you have an opportunity to make a change.

And so I think that’s really been a core guiding light in my just excitement towards what I do every day, because you’re not just sitting there, sending PR pitches to journalists. You’re sending, you’re building out these crazy strategic campaigns and you’re helping people too. So I think this idea of never settling and always being someone to raise your hand and you are never too young to help someone and make an impact in a business.

That’s always been a guiding principle and what I look for and I strive for in a job. And ultimately as my career grows and expands, I hope that I can do that for other people. It’s so exciting in the world of influence and marketing. Like half of the most successful creators are under the age of 25.

That’s so cool to me that, age does not define your worth age, does not define your success. And for me, it’s all about. What is your story and how can you help people and how can you make an impact? So…

[00:15:14] Jessy: I love that all so much.

So let’s talk more about the impact that you’re making today with Blogist.

So I know that you’re making an impact with your team and people listening on this show today. Blogist is a really incredible company. And I wanna hear all about it. Tell us like the latest and greatest, and also what you guys are best known for?

[00:15:41] Julian: Yeah. So Jesse, something that resonated with me when we were talking before the podcast is being super honest and transparent.

And I think that that’s one of the biggest fundamental flaws and issues that I see in our industry is there’s a lot of fluff, but there isn’t a lot of really honest commentary about how do you create a business. And how do you thrive as an influencer and how as a company, do you find success working with influencers?

And so I spent my career working in the D2C startup space in New York. I feel really blessed and privileged to have had that opportunity. And over time, my role evolved into working directly as the head of influence marketing at a leading direct to consumer startup. And one of the biggest things that I noticed four and a half years ago when I left the business was there was never a company, and it was very clear to me that what management was four and a half years ago, it was really rooted in this just idea of brokering deal. And I never saw, and after working with a variety of creators, a business that was actually there to help celebrate and support creators and help give them a roadmap to find success.

Because the coolest thing to me about some of the most impactful creators that we have the privilege of working with is they have this incredible story to tell. And what they did is they decided to share it, be incredibly vulnerable and share their story on the internet but perhaps they weren’t marketers by trade.

Right. And so, interestingly enough, what I started doing when I worked at my last role is I started coaching creators on how do you build an actual business. Because my hypothesis has always been, and it’s really going to gone to show with the brands that we’ve been so fortunate to work with is the more that you can be there.

And we, as an industry can be there to help educate creators on how do you actually build a business. And then through that, take those data points like what’s converting really well for influencers these days. Is it using Instagram stories? Is it posting on Instagram and driving back to a blog?

The more that we can help creators really create a systematic business. And what I mean by that is not just posting on Instagram every day, but setting up strong sales funnels. So when you show up on Instagram, how do you then drive traffic to your website and how do you make money from affiliate links?

Things like SEO optimization, things like Facebook groups, the more as an industry that we can create businesses that are rooted in helping creators create a true business. I fundamentally believe and I think that that’s really been a core just beat of our business is that’s how the entire industry will thrive for a variety of different reasons.

One of them is these influencers will become powerhouses. And I’ll definitely talk a little bit about our current roster and like our community of influencers that we work with, but the more that we can help them. Truly understand, how do you create a business in a way that’s helpful. Because I find in working with so many creators the world of the internet, it’s incredibly isolating and lonely, and you’re seeing what another person is doing on the internet.

Like in no other career. Do you see your counterparts in such a public way? Right. And oftentimes, they’ll see, maybe this influencer did a collab with Nordstrom. Why can’t I do that? And every influencer has a different business. There is no person that is the same. And in order for this industry to grow, I fundamentally believe that we need to help these creators truly understand how to build a business.

So that’s what we did. What we did is we set out to build the first ever influencer first marketplace. And so the heart and soul of our business is really rooted in celebrating and supporting creators. And what we do through that is we’ve built out a service division as well as a technology division.

To help creators truly build their businesses in a way that can ultimately allow this industry to grow and thrive. Because coming from the brand side, I’ve experienced a lot of campaigns that didn’t work and so what would happen is I’d run a campaign because maybe I casted the wrong influencer and I didn’t see the results that I wanted to.

And so now what I had to do was go back to my VP of marketing and say, hey, we just ran a 20 K campaign. I didn’t see the results that I wanted to. And there is a variety of different reasons for that, but I think maybe it was, came down to the fact that I didn’t work with an influencer who had a strong sales funnel or I didn’t build out a content strategy that aligned with what the influencer thought that we should do to really drive the impact we wanted to. And so for me, when I think about how can we make the biggest impact in the world working and helping creators truly understand how do you build a strong business.

 So it ultimately brands, when they work with that influencer, it’s gonna be such an amazing campaign. They keep coming and coming and coming back. I can’t tell you how many times, like I talked to some of our, my amazing counterparts, many of them who are in the women in influencer marketing group. And so oftentimes people will say I tested an influencer and I didn’t see the success that I wanted to, and I fundamentally believe thats because what’s happened over the past few years is there’s been such polarization around this term influencer. And there’s so many people who are like, I saw this influencer. If she made a million dollars, I wanna be like that too.

No one has the same business. And what unfortunately has happened is there’s been some creators who have gone through the back door, done things like loop giveaways to buy fake followers and that not only impacts, the influencer themselves, it impacts and hurts our industry because when a brand works that creator, what happens is they’re not gonna see the measurable results they want because half their followers are based in Argentina. So that’s just a little high level overview of how, what I’m thinking about the industry right now.

But back to the first question around what do we do? So we have an influencer first marketplace, an influencer sign up to be a part of our business. And what we do is we help them. Really truly understand how do I grow? How do I build a business? And through that my business partner was a software developer.

And what we did is we built out a series of tools to help influencer stay organized. So if there’s any managers listening as podcasts, one of the big things that we’ve been able to successfully build is a collaboration tool for influencers and managers. So that influencers don’t have to worry about all the crazy details that we experience today, like, okay, when’s the product getting delivered? What are the usage rights? What are the exclusivity terms?

And we have a great project management system in our blogs creator studio we call it, that can allow influencers and managers to collaborate. And so the more that we can create tools and services for these creators and help them, the more that the entire creator economy is gonna grow. So…

[00:22:02] Jessy: I appreciate all of that so much. I think it is so cool what you guys have built. I’m probably a little biased because I’m out here on these streets, like trying to do very similar things with a different audience. And basically I am all for education and empowerment and transparency. It’s so important. And I am such a supporter of everything that you’ve done that you’re doing. I’m just excited for everyone listening to learn more about it .And I’m sure, a lot of people have heard of Blogist too, and I hope that they now have an even better understanding of what you guys are all about. I wanna talk a little bit about standardization, because I think it’s interesting that you mentioned earlier in this conversation.

Things that I was experiencing 10 years ago or early on in my career there, many of them are still an issue to this very day. So if things were more standardized, would that be helped? My question to you is do you think there should be more or less standardization in our industry?

[00:23:20] Julian: Yeah. So influence marketing 101 that I don’t think enough people talk about is, when you wanna run a campaign, the number one and most important thing is to define what is your goal? So if my goal is, I am like, we did a great campaign with Nike at the beginning of the pandemic and their goal was to activate with amazing creators who could tell a story and create advertorial content for them to use as Facebook ads and Instagram ads.

So the goal of that campaign was to build a full soup to net influencer activation, where they didn’t have to pay for a photographer. They didn’t have to pay for a makeup artist. So the influencer did everything, right? So it was a content play and there’s so much power in that. But one of the biggest things that I think our industry’s really hurting in is.

We’re hitting a recession brands want to see measurable results when it comes to running an influencer campaign. And in order to do that, what you need to do is really take a step back and to say, what, how will I define success from this campaign? And for me, one of the big pain points that I am experiencing, and I think our industry’s really struggling with two is how do we actually measure the success of an influencer campaign?

Because we haven’t made it easy. Truly for influencers to really create strong sales funnels. And I don’t think we as marketers and as brand marketers have ever had the opportunity to really come together and say, how do we view marketing as a part or influencer marketing, excuse me, as a part of the commerce experience.

 So to me, I think creators are the future of commerce. I fully believe that. And the reason for that is because they are curating incredible stories, right? Influencers by nature. I think about this term, Gweneth Paltro termed it she coined it back in the day with goop contextual commerce. And that is what an influencer is, is they are someone who creates a story, Jesse, I was talking to you earlier. My skin’s been really dry. And so I’m currently doing this like water bottle challenge I saw in TikTok so I bought this crazy water bottle and for me, if I was an influencer and we use this analogy a lot in our team with our clients you know, share the things that you are personally going through.

 Because the more that you can talk about them, the more likely that someone will end up purchasing it, because it’s not just a random product that you ordered one day and you’re like, I’m gonna try it. Like, it’s actually something that you’ve consciously you’ve struggled with and therefore you wanna try it so you can help your audience.

So it’s this idea of creating context around your content, contextual commerce. And I really think this is a big breaking point in our industry because over time we viewed influencers as a brand play, and I still do believe that bra influencers are a brand play, but we also need to understand what am I gonna get from the impact that I am going to ultimately, see when I work with an influencer. And unfortunately I think what’s happened over the past few years is one of two things. So PR agency is they threw a ton of money at influencer, but never really took a step back. And I like being really honest, cuz these are the things and these are the struggles that we’re experiencing every day.

In the beginning of the pandemic, people were throwing money at influencer or these sponsored posts. And who are we to say? No, like we don’t wanna do that campaign like no, we’re gonna do it. But there was no fundamental, like taking a step back and saying, what is the goal I wanna see?

And what are the measurable results that I wanna see? And so thinking back to the beginning of the year, one of the biggest things that we saw when we were having these conversations with brands is they completely cut their budgets. Because they all said, we didn’t see the results that we wanted to last year and therefore we’re pivoting our efforts.

 But to me, in a world where I look at Facebook ads going through the roof, every like Google ads are through the roof, influencer marketing can be such a viable marketing channel. But we haven’t solved the problem of really understanding how do we give creators the best opportunities to make as much money for as possible from selling items and through that, give brands the data that they need to find the best creator.

So if I’m a water bottle company, I wanna find Julian because I know what if I were to work with Julian on my TikTok account, selling these water bottles. She’s the number one influencer who can sell a ton of water bottles for me. And so for me, one of the things that I’m really excited about is the conversations that are going on as we think about like affiliate marketing 2.0, and really figuring out how we can empower and give creators as much as possible for selling product. So they’re not so resistant around the world of affiliate.

And they’re really excited to be able to create stories that they can ultimately sell these items because at the end of the day, they’re making money and now brands too can see some sort of measurable results. So a big thing that I spend my time thinking about is how can we create a world of standardization?

And I know that is a really polarizing topic because of course an influencer for me. Have they been around a long time I use this kind of thought of IP and intellectual property and name recognition. The creator’s been around a long time. That person, if I’m working with them, that comes with , a dollar value because they have been spending years and years and years tirelessly building a business in a community for someone who maybe went viral on TikTok and they haven’t created a strong business yet they haven’t worked with Blogist yet to, create a strong business yet. They haven’t set up different sales funnels. But to me, in order for us to find any sort of momentum and success, we as marketers need to come together and really set up baselines of how do we view influencer marketing as it pertains to overall marketing.

Something that I dream about is we get to a place where the people that work in the influencer world, there are key roles that we know we can go to, to activate and engage and run the best influencer campaign. One day I hope that I can wake up and the influencer industry is the same as like the modeling industry.

There’s a photographer, there’s a model, there’s a producer, there’s standard ways that brands view working with say a management business. One of the things that we really struggle with is brands won’t pay us for our time running the campaigns, because they say that fee needs to be baked in.

But if you’re reducing influence or spend like by 50% are some of the campaigns that we’re seeing right now. I’m not gonna be able to grow a business that ultimately helps the influencer industry and the influencer isn’t gonna see any sort of impact either because the budgets are cut. And I get it though, because brands weren’t seeing what they wanted to.

And so I think that we’re in this really big inflection point right now where influencer rates are incredibly high and I believe that influencers need to be paid for what they deserve.

But what we also need to do is have an honest conversation about impact. Are we as an industry, are we viewing influencers as a way to gain impressions? Are we viewing influencers as a way to just drive sales? If it’s driving sales, then we’re going in the wrong way because influencer like influencers, I don’t buy something the first time I see a promo code, they are meant to be storytellers that can create an amazing narrative around a product like my water bottle.

Struggling with dry skin. I’m gonna buy this water bottle and I wanna talk about it all the time. And then from there, when my follower is ready to go buy a water bottle, they’re gonna buy from me. And so we’re at this breaking point because one side of the industry views influencers as okay, post this story, I’m gonna reduce your rate. And if you sell some water bottles for me, I’ll pay you commission. But that in order for us as consumers to buy something, I need to see it over and over and over again. I’m not gonna buy it in two seconds and I need to know where to go and buy that product too.

And so. We’ve really made it difficult, unfortunately, for creators to actually do what we want them to do, which is build a story that drives impact, because what we’re doing is we’re reducing their rates. And oftentimes the affiliate payouts are not even that high. It’s two to 3%. And so they’re disincentivized to even think about affiliate because they would rather get that upfront base fee. To produce content, help the bottom line of their business. But through that base fee brands are frustrated because they’re not seeing, like in terms of the return on their ad spend, they’re not nearly breaking even. And budgets are being cut. So I think when I really feel, when I think about the future of the industry, we’re at this very exciting inflection point I believe where we need to use spaces like this podcast and use spaces like LinkedIn as marketers, to have more conversations about how do we view influencer marketing and how can we create tools so it makes the influencer’s life easier so that they can actually create stories that drive impact. And then through that brands will actually see measurable results. So I think that we’re getting to that place, but the past two years has been a wild ride in the influencer industry. I think a lot of money was thrown to it.

And now we’re taking a step back and looking around and saying, whoa, what just happened here? And one of the biggest observations that I see. Is budgets are being cut from the influencer side. I understand that because maybe the campaigns didn’t run like they wanted to, but the brands never set the campaigns up in the way that they should.

They weren’t structured with any sort of promo code, any sort of affiliate link. So it’s just these upfront fees. And now brands are doing a full 180 and saying, let’s just do an affiliate program, but these affiliate payouts are ridiculous. It’s like 3% commission on a water bottle that’s 20 bucks. If I’m an influencer, I’m absolutely not gonna wanna do any sort of affiliate campaign and it’s gonna make the lives of brands really difficult too. Because they’re gonna spend their days trying to go out and build an affiliate program. And ultimately, they’re gonna have a really hard time landing deals because influencers, they want upfront fees. They don’t want a 3% commission on a water bottle.

So I really think that we, as an industry, need to come together, have more conversations. I’m incredibly passionate about this. I think honesty and education is the most important thing. And the more that we can share, just transparent feedback around. Okay. You’re seeing branded campaigns come in. What do those look like?

What kind of influencers are landing deals right now? The more that we as an industry can take the wins and help all other creators modify their businesses so they can ultimately become the powerhouses that all these brands wanna see. And I really think that like creator commerce is the future. We just need to work with one another to build out new technology, to help make that happen.

[00:33:47] Jesse: Contextual commerce. That’s so interesting. All I wanna say is like preach and snap and your preacher’s daughter too. So I guess it, there you go.

[00:34:00] Julian: My preacher’s daughter energy. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I’m very passionate,

[00:34:02] Jessy: Coming from somewhere it makes perfect sense. Be very proud. I love what you’re saying so much.

I also wanna get like specific too. I’m gonna put you on the spot a little bit. Have there been any campaigns that either you’ve run or been involved in or you’ve just observed that you think have run either particularly well or not? You don’t have to name the brand, but you can, if you want and what do you, what have you seen that, you know, you’re like Wow.

That was impressive. Or oh my God, I can’t believe they did that.

[00:34:38] Julian: Yeah. So I’ll do the bad first, because I guess maybe I’m a half glassful kind of person. I’m a very honest person. So one of the things I spoke about is the fact that I want standardization, not from a measure perspective, but also from who are the human beings that work on influencer campaigns.

And so at the beginning of last year and I don’t remember the agency but they were the agency of record and I’ll just say it, eyeglass world was the name of the company. And they’re , like a US franchise eyeglass store and they wanted to activate with influencers. And one of the goals was to bring foot traffic into the stores, which I think is awesome.

But when the PR agency reached out to us, one of the things that I honestly think they should have cared more about and they didn’t was truly understanding where does that influencer’s audience live, right? Because if your goal is foot traffic into the store, then you need to make sure that influencer’s community lives in the area that you’re actually like activating because you want them to go to the store.

So that coupled with the fact that these budgets were insane and we’re not gonna say no to it, like it was a six month contract and it was insane budgets. And for honestly, like it was pretty reasonable deliverables and the campaign wrapped. and I always felt that one of the biggest things and I hope for people who are growing up in the world of PR now, and this is something I talked to my all mater about too.

I think PR has changed so much where PR and marketing really are intersecting and you can’t just have an earned media lens. If you are putting the same amount of budget into an influencer campaign, as you are to say, your Facebook ad spend, you need to understand a little bit of what are your KPIs that you’re measuring against?

And so we worked as an influencer and I knew that it wasn’t gonna dry the foot traffic. It would and, we had honest conversations with them around what were your goals and how do you define success? And they honestly couldn’t articulate it and it was strange. And I really think that’s one of the reasons that we got here today was because in 2020, we were all like, what else are we gonna do? We’re gonna spend money on influencer. PR agencies were doing that really. It was PR agencies, but the way that they viewed influencer is really not. It doesn’t align with how we, I see this industry going. And it was just like this insane contract with no real KPIs attached to it.

And so even working with the creator, we didn’t really even understand like, what should the key messaging be like, how do I build a thought provoking story that over time will make my follower go to the store? Because to me, the power of a long term partnership, it’s this idea of repetition and like priming someone with a thought like, hey, I’ve been struggling with my glasses that I wear, where can I go?

And then the next post is, oh, I drove by the eyeglass world here in Texas. And okay, now I’m gonna go there as my next post. And I think that there hasn’t been enough deep conversation around, with big, like large scale campaigns. What do you even do? What are the measurable results? And then how do you even build a story narrative to make sure that it drives the greatest impact.

So it was just like, it blew my mind the amount of money and the lack of like analytical thinking that was around it. So that I would say is one of my biggest. The biggest like red herring campaign I’ve ever seen was a huge campaign. It was just like weird in terms of big campaigns. I wanna think about that.

One of the things that I hear. One of the things that really stands out to me last year, two I really do believe that when you get to a certain spot influencers, don’t necess they’re not influencers anymore they truly are brands. They have an IP, they have a name there’s name recognition involved.

 And so I spent a lot of my career in the plus size fashion space. I really believe that social media has the opportunity to democratize how we view ourselves, because we can see someone like us on the internet, which is so powerful. And a really big retailer. We have a great relationship with them, but they put a big emphasis around the fact that they were gonna carry size double zero to five X.

It might be four X, but I think five X in stores and rather than hiring models for the campaign, what they did is they hired amazing storytellers and content creators who have spent over 10 years talking about this need for size inclusivity. And what happened was they hired this amazing creator that I feel so fortunate to work with.

And she was one of the faces of the campaign. She then was nationwide in the store and also shared this amazing partnership on her social channels. And the amplification was just bananas to me because what was happening was her followers were then going into the store, snapping a photo in times square.

I see my favorite influencer in times square. And so for me, I really think there’s this second echelon to the crater economy, which is true like IP and name recognition and utilizing these individuals. To be even more than a sales driver, like their story that’s this story idea.

And like building a story around something that they’re so passionate about will drive to lasting impact for the brand. So I’m so excited to see that a lot of companies have really pivoted to viewing influencers as like brand advocates and being that brand advocate. Someone who’s been on the front lines, like champion championing, diversity representation and inclusion, and actually like having.

Extended sizes in store. What a crazy concept and using that person as the face of the campaign. If I go to a store and I see an influencer that I follow and I love, I’m gonna be so excited to see that person versus, maybe an econ model that I don’t know, it’s, she’s beautiful, but doesn’t have that same social impact.

Like it’s not gonna get that same added amplification. And so, I was really proud to work on that campaign. Cause I think the brand understood the power that, that influencer could drive. For them around this big activation, because it was so much more than her being a model. It was her name and the fact that she had spent her entire career really focused on being there to make sure that brands understood how important it was to represent different body types, ages and races, as a brand and in their campaigns and in their product selection too.

[00:41:15] Jessy: I love that so much. How cool is that? Interesting to hear the different campaigns that are floating out. Everyone’s trying to reach different goals and they’re really, truly all over the place. And because they’re so different, I think that sometimes people just lose sight of that, meaning they get so stuck in a routine of oh, I don’t know, we need to do this. We need to do that.

 And they lose sight of the fact that every campaign is different and therefore needs different things to be done, different types of influencers to do it. They need to like really put on fresh set of eyes to be able to look at each campaign differently.

[00:41:59] Julian: And the thing Jesse I’ll say too, is the one caveat to that first campaign is I empathize with a lot of people on the brand side because I know how many inbound inquiries they get from influencers and managers.

And I think a lot of times it becomes a little overwhelming. And so maybe your vision can become clouded around who is the best creator to work with. So I look forward to a world where my poor counterparts on the brand side and agency side, like they’re not inundated with influencer pitches.

I think pitching is so important. But sometimes what happens is they get so many pitches that like, think things become a little cloudy and we need to find a better solution. So I think the byproduct that first campaign too might have been like, Someone reaching out a lot and then feeling like, okay, I had to work with this person finally.

And I think it all just comes down to, we need to talk more and have more open conversations.

[00:42:46] Jessy: Oh my God. A thousand percent, a million percent and just people get, so I don’t know, people get uncomfortable about, talking about hard topics. It sounds like both you and I we mentioned that, you’re in therapy.

I had my therapy appointment right before we got on the call today. So I’m feeling good. You’re feeling good. Were people who are comfortable talking about difficult topics. And I wish more people worked through those uncomfortable moments because it is truly the communication and healthy communication.

That really makes such a difference, we’re talking a bit about like talent managers today and that’s my background personally. And we have a huge, incredible talent management community and WIIM and whenever I hear them getting the most frustrated or the most disheartened, if it’s their business, they’re saying things like, this person ghosted me or things wanna awry.

And I don’t know, the vibe totally changed and I wish it didn’t and it doesn’t have to. Things can go awry in a partnership and you can just talk about it and work through it together. I wish that people felt like they were on the same team more often than they act like it, because I do think it would help tremendously.

I’ve also seen instances where people just say things like, wow, I really messed this up. If you could help me with this, I’d really appreciate it. And just take ownership of things that go aray oh my God. Does that really make a huge difference? That was one of the best pieces of advice that one of my mentors gave me so early on .Is we’re human and we mess up.

And if you simply just acknowledge that and take ownership of it, then it completely diffuses the situation. Whereas everybody otherwise would be like very anxious and stressed and worrying about what we’re gonna do next. And maybe starting to blame people for what went wrong and who did it and whatever.

Simply by saying actually I was the one that did it. Like raising your hand and just taking ownership and just being human for a second.

 I’ve been in situations like that, where other to give other people credit where they’ve done that. And I’m so much more willing to like, step up and really go above and beyond to help them. Because if somebody’s just honest about something that they screwed up and you can totally relate. You’re like, oh my God, I’ve been in that situation. Like I’ve messed up too and yeah. I’m happy to help you. Thank you for just being transparent. Like I appreciate that.

Have you ever been in an instance like that and communication really was key to having a partnership be successful.

[00:45:46] Julian: I think relationships and communication are the most important thing in our industry. And one of the things that I struggle with is you go on LinkedIn and you see a lot of these performance marketing people. Who are like this influencer didn’t perform this one time I worked with them and I’m like, it’s because at the end of the day, like you have no idea what could happen.

 Instagram stories, the link could stop working or the swipe up something stops working. Like we work in the world of the internet and there’s so many things that break and we need to remember that creators are human beings and they are just trying to figure it out. We’re all trying to figure it out as we’re building this industry.

And the more that we can talk in a collaborative way. And I think back to that last campaign that was so successful, it really stemmed from having a kickoff meeting where we talked about. Okay. I see this amazing creator. How can we blow this outta the park? And the more that we can talk and really understand how can we build something that works, understanding that at the end of the day, a campaign’s not gonna be a hundred percent perfect.

And there’s a ver it’s because there’s human beings involved, right? There’s a product can be delayed. The photographer could get sick. There’s so many moving pieces. And I think the most impactful campaigns are the ones where they identify a goal. And then they just can say, well, they understand they’re human beings and we’re all just doing our best.

And I think so oftentimes. One of the things that I really empathize for every amazing creator that we work with. You are wearing a million hats. And I think so many people on the brand side don’t realize how much they have to do. The shooting, the editing, the comments, like there’s so much involved.

And I think a lot of people think it’s as robotic as getting a product and shooting it and then sending things over. But how many press events do you have to go to? How many fashion shows you have to go to, to build this business. And so I think that’s so spot on Jesse, it applies to so many parts of our industry, whether it be just, how do you make a successful campaign happen?

 How do you, when you’re running the campaign you have to realize that there’s gonna be some moments in time. It’s not gonna perform in the way that you think it will because breakage happens like the world of the Internet’s changing every day there, your blog could go down. And I wanna stop playing the blame game and I want to start using our voices.

And thoughts to inspire each individual who is in our industry, whether it be the creator, the manager, the VP of marketing, like we’re all in this together. And the more that we kind of point fingers the less inspired and the more burnt out. I talk a lot to, I talk to a lot of creators daily about burnout because there’s so much pointing fingers and I really believe that we need to utilize.

Like this industry we need to surround the influencer community and know that we trust them and we respect them and we wanna help them because the more we help them, the more our industry grows. And unfortunately, I don’t think that that’s where we are and we really need to get there cuz we’re all human beings and we’re all doing our best.

And sometimes you have a bad day and I don’t think people realize that when you are a creator, your name is tied to your business. And that comes with, for some reason like brands not realizing you can have a sick day. If you have COVID, you can’t shoot a photo. And so we all just need to realize that we’re human beings and we’re doing our best, and that applies to so many different elements of our industry.

[00:49:27] Jessy: It really truly does. I would love to hear from you as one of the final questions that I get to ask you just today. And there’s so much more I wanna dig into, I’m gonna give you rapid fire, a few seconds each of like business advice that you would give to influencers or their managers.

Cause we touched on this. So you touched on this in the beginning and I was like, wait, this could be an entire podcast episode. You mentioned things like funnels and SEO and stuff like that. And, , even just like running their business, like a business, whatever that means to you. So I’m just gonna shout out a topic and whatever comes to mind is like the top piece of the best piece of advice that you could give would be amazing.

Are you down ?

[00:50:18] Julian: Oh, absolutely.

[00:50:19] Jessy: Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Sweet. So let’s start with SEO. What’s the best bit of advice that comes to the top of your mind?

[00:50:28] Julian: I want creators to really understand that there’s this idea of passive versus active search and Instagram is a passive platform I’m scrolling through.

I see something, I might buy it later. But the reason why Google is so fricking awesome is because if you have an SEO rich blog, if I’m going, and this dresses from Abercrombie, I’m searching floral dresses from Abercrombie blog. If you have an SEO rich blog, and you really spent the time to do your due diligence, Your blog is gonna come up on the top of that search page.

And the likelihood of them buying from you is exponentially greater. So I want you to really understand that at the end of the day, as a creator, you are a business. And one of your roles is to, if you want to, is to create content that can ultimately help people and curate items that they can buy.

And the power of SEO and blogs is the fact that people are physically searching for that topic. And if your blog comes up, the likelihood of them buying from you is so much greater.

[00:51:26] Jessy: So much greater. All right. Next topic, funnels. Let’s talk about funnels for a second. What’s some advice that comes to the top of your mind when we talk about funnels?

[00:51:37] Julian: I want you as a creator to really train your audience, to buy from you.

I say that with so much emphasis. The people that I admire the most. So there’s an amazing creator who I feel fortunate to have worked with from day one. She had 10,000 followers when we met she now has over 300,000, has one of the most amazing businesses of anyone I met her name’s Carolyn Maria.

She’s an amazing influencer. And what she has done is she’s given her community the opportunity to easily buy and act upon what she’s sharing and the reason for it’s, because she’s trained them to know where to go. So her core focus is really helping women understand how to find the best fitting undergarments.

And she has this amazing shop section on her website. It’s so simple, it’s so straightforward, but when they’re ready to go buy a bra from Elomi, they know I’m gonna go to Carolyn’s website and I’m gonna click her link cuz she has everything that I need. And so the more that you can train your audience to know where do I go to shop?

Where do I go to shop? They’re gonna go to you before any other creator. So make it easy because I think a lot of times creators think, oh, it’s, I’m gonna bug people oh, go to my website to shop, go to my website, to shop. No, because your business is gonna keep growing, more people are gonna hit your Instagram account.

More people are gonna hit your TikTok account. And the more that you can give them the tools to actually act upon what you’re talking to them about? Well, the less annoying DMs you’re gonna get from your followers, because saying, Hey, where do I get that dress? Train them to go to your website or your LTK account, where they know they can buy those items because it’s gonna increase your affiliate revenue.

And it’s gonna increase your additional income streams, which that’s what you want as a business owner is to make your life easier too, because your community now knows where to go. So set the stage. Create a place where your community can easily shop from you and train them to go from your Instagram stories, your Link and bio to your website.

So they know where to shop.

[00:53:30] Jessy: Definitely. And I also wanna say I feel like this applies to non-traditional influencers as well. If you just are an entrepreneur, you have your own business, whatever it is train people to go to a certain place to purchase whatever you’re selling.

So, this really applies to everybody. Okay. Two more topics that I wanna hear about the next is negotiations. What do you have to say about negotiations?

[00:53:57] Julian: I will say time and time again, whenever a brand reaches out, be nice and do not just say, here are the rates. What I want you to do is I want you as a manager and I hear this from our amazing brand counterparts all the time.

The reason they love working with my team is because we’re professional and we’re data driven and we’re kind, and we wanna make sure that the brand can see the greatest success. So don’t just say, this is the influencers rates. That’s incredibly transactional and completely goes away from the core of what influencer marketing is, which is relationship oriented.

So as a manager, I want you to say, what are your goals? How can we make this? What do you want to see from this activation? And what we wanna do is we wanna tailor the rates to make sure that they align with your goals. So do you want to use these images as add. Do you want exclusivity? What are your goals?

And really make sure, I mean, the rates will probably be the same, but make sure that the brand feels like you are creating a tailored campaign for them based on what you know, will work with the influencer and be nice. Just be kind, don’t be an a-hole like be nice. And that’s how you’re ultimately gonna build the best relationship and negotiate the best rates for your client too.

And for your team.

[00:55:04] Jessy: I love that so much. That’s so good. My last question for this like lightening round, I wanna hear about growth. Everyone’s looking like how to grow, how to grow. You talked about loop giveaways earlier to I’ll just preface it. And I think you’ll agree like. Don’t do loop. Give us…

[00:55:21] Julian: No, do not touch with a 10 foot pole. No…

[00:55:24] Jessy: Don’t do that. But if there are other strategies or like best practices to think about consider or implement in terms of growth, what would you say?

[00:55:34] Julian: So this is where I put my social media hat on. Cuz I spent my days, my early career running brand influencer brand Instagram accounts. Excuse me. I think TikTok is a completely different ballgame than Instagram, but I’ll talk about Instagram.

Cause I do think that’s where the majority of money is still going, which is amazing. Cuz there’s so much community there. But as a brand, as an influencer and one of the reasons why I think brands should work with influencers more is because in order to grow on the internet, you need people with like-minded audiences to talk about you.

So oftentimes you’ll see creators have like friends, they talk about a lot and most likely they all have the same followers. And so one of the most impactful methods that we found for our creators to grow is identify a topic that you like. Maybe you are a parent. Mommy blogger your parenting influencer.

And you wanna try your hand at cooking, do some sort of cross collaborative giveaway or some sort of activation with maybe a chef who has an amazing following it has like-minded followers who wanna learn about you. So rule of thumb, when it comes to growing on the internet, having people with relevant followings who have some impactful crossover to you that will help grow your following. Don’t just work with someone who has literally the same following as you, cause it’s gonna be a slow slog to get there. Work with people who have some crossover and do something impactful. Do a Instagram live. Do a TikTok collaboration. Back in the day, the way that beauty vloggers grew is by doing, they would have a beauty vlogger who had a really successful channel come on their channel, and then they would promote that video on their channel.

Have someone impactful, talk about you. It’s a sure fire way to grow.

[00:57:14] Jessy: Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. I love that so much and these are like safe ways to grow. These are tried and true ways to grow, but you will grow if you follow that advice. And look, I will also say this, I’m talking all about growth, but let’s also caution people to say that, it’s not always about like follower growth, per se, for example, you and I are both in influence marketing and for anyone who might not be so experienced with it, it’s more about like the health of your audience. It’s more about the engagement of that audience not necessarily the overall growth of the audience. So…

[00:57:55] Julian: Just all about the community.

[00:57:57] Jessy: It’s all about the community. Yeah, totally. I have a feeling that our listeners are definitely gonna wanna get in touch. And so what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

[00:58:08] Julian: Yeah. So you can follow me on Instagram.

I’m @ Julian green. You can send me an email julian@bloggers.co. I love talking about influencer marketing on LinkedIn, so you can follow me on LinkedIn. Talk a lot about the honest things that we’re seeing. Yeah. So send me an email, follow me on Instagram. Follow me on LinkedIn. Love to get to know you and talk a little bit more about this amazing wild industry that we’re in.

[00:58:31] Jessy: Amazing. Thank you so much for joining today. Any parting words before we end the episode today?

[00:58:38] Julian: I just think the more we can talk and be super honest, the more we’ll be able to evolve as an industry. I’m really excited about what the future holds for myself the industry, the business, like overall this industry is so exciting to be in and I want more smart. Just individuals like you, Jesse and everyone in the WIIM group to come together and talk more. Because I think it’s so important. So…

[00:59:02] Jessy: I agree. And I love this conversation. There’s so much more to say. So I look forward to people reaching out to you. We’ll get you involved in WIIM more and just thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Appreciate it.

If you enjoyed this episode, we gotta have you back check out our website for more ways to get involved, including all the information you need about joining our collective. You can check out all the information@iamwhim.com, leave us a review, a rating, but the most important thing that we can ask you to do is to share this podcast.

Thanks for listening .

Tune in next week.

Julian Greene

Founder + CEO, BLOGIST

As 10-year veteran in the influencer industry, one of the biggest issues I personally struggled with as a marketer when serving as the Head of Influencer marketing at a variety of different direct to consumer businesses was the lack of standardization when it came to influencer spend and understanding the true ROI on an influencer campaign. I founded Blogist four years ago to fix this, and with thousands of influencers now in our network, many of whom that we now manage, we are able to pull both qualitative and quantitative insights on their business for brands to understand the expected impact they will see working with the right influencer.

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