Entrepreneur Edition with Influencer Expert Kayla Mueller – Part One
August 17, 2022
Influencer marketing may not be for everybody. By the end of this podcast episode, you’ll know exactly what influencer marketing is, how brands benefit from it and how to decide whether it’s a fit for you. With spending on influencer marketing forecast to reach $5 billion in 2023, this is a must-listen podcast to plan your content strategy as we approach the fourth quarter. Tune into Part One of The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with Kayla Mueller, Senior Creative Strategist at Popular Pays, a Lightricks Company, and Orange Label Social Media Supervisor Chelsea Ragland.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:00:00] This is The 19, a podcast that delivers marketing insights from Orange Label in 19 minutes or less. This year, the agency is celebrating 50 years of working with established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset. What does this mean for you? It means enriched conversations and stories with marketing and leadership experts aimed at improving lives.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:00:29] Kayla is the Senior Creative Strategist at Popular Pays, a Lightricks Company, and faculty associate at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. From Oscar Mayer’s viral face mask influencer campaign to stunning travel content for travel app Liist, Kayla is a creative force for content, curation and influencer strategy and has fun while doing it. Kayla, welcome to The 19!
Kayla Mueller: [00:00:53] Thank you, Chelsea. I’m so excited to be here!
Chelsea Ragland: [00:01:00] Awesome. Can you tell us a little bit about your background in digital advertising and influencer marketing?
Kayla Mueller: [00:01:06] Definitely. I was first drawn to advertising. I had an email internship and I loved advertising. I thought it was incredible how you could target different people. And then after that, after school, I went and worked in paid search for a few years at a big agency. That was a really cool experience, and then I found myself at a boutique PR firm. So there I was, kind of leading social media strategy photoshoots, social calendar planning, a lot of different things and influencer marketing there as well. And then I kind of found myself now at Popular Pays, a Lightricks Company, where I’m a Senior Creative Strategist and I make a lot of RFPs for brands. I’m sure we’ll get more into what my specific role looks like, but it is really humbling to be in the world of digital. I think it’s almost been eight years at this point and it’s really cool to see how it has evolved and it’s just a really exciting space to be these days. So, I’m really grateful.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:02:10] Absolutely. And we’ve seen such great success with our clients’ influencer marketing campaigns. For those that may be unfamiliar, how would you define influencer marketing?
Kayla Mueller: [00:02:20] Yeah, that’s a good question because we talk about those words. We use some of these words all the time. There’s so many marketing and advertising buzzwords. So I think it’s so important to kind of take a step back and revisit what those words are. I think at its core, to simplify, influencer marketing is word-of-mouth advertising. It’s hearing that a friend has bought something and it makes you want to buy it or learn more about it. And it’s kind of that referral and testimonial type of process. So it’s really, at the end of the day, partnering with humans, people, and gathering testimonials from them to promote a product or service. And I think one reason why influencer marketing is so successful and why influencers are so helpful to a marketing strategy is that it’s a human testimonial, right? So it’s, it’s humans and people talking about a brand or service instead of just a brand, making a social media post or things like that. So that’s why I think at its core, why influencer is so helpful. It’s just people.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:03:20] I love that. Yeah, great way to differentiate it. And can you share a little bit to about the difference between influencers and creators?
Kayla Mueller: [00:03:29] Yeah, that’s a great, great question because I think sometimes people always lump it together in one. And I think there’s benefits to kind of identifying which people are in which categories. So at the heart of it, I think of content creators as people who take photos, shoot videos, edit, they kind of have a whole skill set of any of those capabilities. They love content, but they might not necessarily want to be influencers. They might not want to be working even with brands on their own social feeds or posting. But there’s still some, like, fantastic photographers out there who don’t have even a desire to be an influencer. And I think that’s totally okay. But there’s a lot of opportunity for brands to still work with people who want to create content. And then the other side of that is influencers, so they work with brands. Brands partner with them for their influence. It’s really in a way kind of buying their audience, their engaged followers and their trust in a way. So I really think influencers has to deal with like posting social sharing, engaging with the audience in that regard. And I think one benefit to identifying the difference in those two groups is that I think sometimes brands can just partner with content creators. It’s something I’m kind of passionate about, where instead of paying a creator just because they have a large audience and they have tons of reach in a specific area, like if a brand just wants an asset to repurpose somewhere, they can just pay a creator for that and build those relationships as well. So I’m sure we’ll dive more into that, but I do think it’s helpful to identify the difference in those two types of people who are working with brands.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:05:14] Yeah, that’s a great way for brands to be able to reference and utilize both sides. That brings me to my next question. Insider Intelligence forecasts that influencer marketing spending will reach $4.14 billion in 2022 and nearly $5 billion in 2023. Why do you think this industry continues to see such great growth?
Kayla Mueller: [00:05:37] Yeah, great question. So in social in digital platforms, evolve, placements evolve, capabilities evolve. And I think with some changes we’ve seen recently, there’s a slight decline in brand organic social reach. So it really depends how a platform has its algorithm, how creators are set up to promote brands. But I think there’s more opportunity there than just influencers posting to their audience because now it’s extended to just the general internet where people are seeing content from Instagram, you know, going those viral videos that you see on your Facebook feed like content. It’s always changing and flowing where that is. But I think if you treat your creators really well, they can help you source so much content. For example, on TikTok specifically, it’s really hard unless somebody is like very creative and they have a lot of time to be able to source tons of TikToks for a brand. But a brand wants to build out their TikTok presence. Like why not work with influencers to get a really diverse group of people promoting their content, and like, just like, I just think that brands need to connect these days. Gone are the days where brands are just posting something and they’re putting that out there and hoping that their audience comes to them. I think showing that UGC element is huge for brands across the board. So I think using influencers is just like it’s almost essential the way I look at it these days.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:07:10] Yeah, I know we’re so far past kind of that one-sided pushing things out there, notion of social. So just that authentic connection and trustworthiness they build.
Kayla Mueller: [00:07:21] Absolutely.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:07:22] Yeah. Would you say that every brand or industry is ripe for influencer marketing?
Kayla Mueller: [00:07:28] Personally, I would say that not every brand is the right fit for influencer marketing. I think there’s many products and services, household names and products that have been selling for years before influencer marketing digitally even existed. So I don’t know if every brand needs it. However, I think by having like a really fresh social strategy that involves influencer marketing, you can really like stay up to date. You can kind of gain the attention of different audiences, you can stay relevant. I think influencer marketing is a great tactic. Something to be mindful of is I think brands think I need to be on this platform because it’s new. Everybody’s doing it and we love thinking that way. As marketers, yes, you need a channel, you need a strategy, you need to do this. But I think it’s important to be mindful. There’s companies of all different sizes, there’s teams of all different sizes and people with different resources where there’s a lot of time and investment that goes into managing an influencer campaign, regardless of how you do it and how you work with talent and different creators. So I think that’s something to think about, is just thinking of do you have the right resources to invest in this? Will you be able to manage it ongoing? Do you have the bandwidth to monitor the comments that collect on the TikTok videos on the Instagram Reels? Like I think thinking through the resources and really like taking a step back, looking at what the brand’s goals are and then kind of looking there, if you want to go into influencer, which platforms make the most sense to test and it kind of goes from there.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:09:07] Yeah or which partners to work with to kind of ease the workload on your team. Yeah.
Kayla Mueller: [00:09:13] Totally.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:09:14] That’s great. What would you say to marketers or leadership who are hesitant to step into the influencer space? Maybe their brand’s playful, they would be perfect for it, either retail or other industries, you suggest?
Kayla Mueller: [00:09:27] Yeah, great question. Have definitely heard of that. I know people have different perceptions of different platforms. I think a test is always great because you never know. Like even if a brand or a marketing team has existed and been successful in doing what they needed to do, sometimes it’s good to just test something. I’m a huge proponent to that. So even if it’s as simple as like, let’s invest 5K in an influencer test, like let’s partner with two creators, see what we can do, and then kind of revisit and go from there because you might be putting tons of money into paid search, paid social and not be getting the return that you’re looking for. So I think it’s so important to kind of take a step back, look at that pie chart of the marketing spend and investment and just see with what our goals are like, what channel, what platform, what initiative is making the most impact for the team. So shameless plug here. If you’re not working with an agency like Orange Label, if you’re not working with a team, my team is Popular Pays, a Lightricks Company, and we are a software to help streamline the process of influencer marketing and content creations. A huge piece of that is that we help streamline the effort so everything is in one place. I’ve historically managed influencer marketing, just like in Microsoft Excel and emails. It was tough, I’ll put it that way. So there’s like a bunch of different software tools out there, agencies who know exactly how to run influencer marketing. Where you can do it the right way, because if you’re just jumping into it, it can be extremely overwhelming. It can be really hard to know what to charge for different deliverables. It’s really hard to know if creators are the right creator for you. I’m sure we’ll get into that too, but I think just really being open to test it and then kind of know which type of team or tool can help you with that test is crucial and then just see how it goes. If influencer isn’t working for your brand, nobody’s going to make you do it. And you’re not like, it’s totally okay if it’s not a fit for your team. But I think there’s so much opportunity and it’s always good to just test it.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:11:42] Definitely. Yeah, I think that’s a big piece of it is learning which team to leverage and really having that expert voice since it is such a new and evolving space.
Kayla Mueller: [00:11:52] Absolutely.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:11:53] So what should marketers take note of to find success in their next influencer campaign?
Kayla Mueller: [00:11:58] That is a really good question. I think influencer marketing is a two-way partnership. So I’ve kind of talked about like the human element influencers, content creators are people and looking it as a mutually beneficial opportunity is really important. It’s not just a transactional we’re paying you to write about, to post about us, say something nice, here’s the brand guidelines and go really thinking of it as How can we both work together? What are your needs? What are our needs? Can we meet in the middle? Can it even turn into an ongoing partnership and collaboration? You never know if brands aren’t looking to collaborate and they’re not looking to hear different ideas and different opinions and different suggestions and they’re not like flexible. Influencer is going to be really hard for them. So it might not be a fit, but I think creators are creators for a reason, right? Influencers are influencers for a reason. There’s people who care about what they have to say and they know what works really well. For example, like if a brand is like, I want a feed post and a creator’s like, wow, like Reels, like my Reels do so well, can I make a Reel? And then the brand is like kind of want you to do a feed post. There has to be an open dialog between like for example, just what the deliverables are or even like if a, if a brand has a brief instead of telling just creators exactly what they’re looking for, we want you to wear this outfit. We want you to do this dance. We want you to like very specific. And you see that out there. That happens where brands are very specific in what they’re looking for. I’ve seen the most success when brands are like, Here’s our guidelines, here’s our goal. We picked you for a reason. We vetted you. We trust you. Go create like let them do their job. And I think, yeah, the most successful influencer campaigns where I’ve even like I don’t want to say got stuck. I’ve, I’ve bought something through an Instagram Story because an influencer was talking about it. So that’s where the creator’s being authentic to what they want to talk about. So yeah, as long as they’re vetted properly, like check out their profile, what is their engagement look like? Do they have authentic followers? Are they talking about a competitor? All those considerations like once you do the pre work, I think once you find the right creator, let them do their job and hopefully you’re happy with it. And then after you do like a collaboration with a specific creator, take a step back and like when it’s done, look at it and be like, How did this do? What size creator was best for this goal? Was it mega? Was it micro somewhere in between? Do you not know yet? Do you want to keep testing then do that. So it’s it’s really a process, but I think it’s really fun and it’s something I love about it is that it’s so different for every brand. There’s not one solution. Should I do a Reel or a TikTok? See what works best for your brand. There’s a lot of things where we see different results among brands like best practices are fantastic. It’s really good to have that know what’s going on in the industry, but also being smart enough to know I need to test what works for my brand and then go from there I think is a really important piece of that puzzle.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:15:10] Yeah, that’s fantastic advice. Kind of give the creator or influencer space to do what they’re best at doing and then pause after and kind of take stock of how things went. That’s a great approach.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:15:25] Thank you for listening to part one of the 19: Entrepreneur Edition with Senior Creative Strategist, Kayla Mueller. To learn more about Popular Pays, a Lightricks Company, head to popularpays.com. For more on Orange Label’s influencer and social media marketing services, visit orangelabelmarketing.com or send us an email to email@example.com.
Chelsea Ragland: [00:15:57] A special thank you goes out to our contributors Senior Studio Manager Kelsey Phillips, Micah Panzich, who edits our show, and Senior Content Writer Ashley Ruiz. Be sure to subscribe to The 19 on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify, and if you like what you heard today, leave us a review.