Brittany Hennessy is the best-selling author of “INFLUENCER: Building Your Personal Brand In The Age Of Social Media” and a Co-Founder of CARBON AUGUST, a digital platform providing resources for influencers.
She is the co-founder of Carbon August, an influencer education company that produces the Influencer Business Plan, the Influencer Launch Plan, and The Miner: Your weekly dose of OMG, LOL and WTF in influencer marketing.
Brittany is a pioneer in the influencer industry and has booked influencers for Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Esquire, Town & Country, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, Travel Channel, Food Network, Lifetime and more.
She has judged the Influencer Marketing Awards and is a member of the Real-Time Academy of Short Form Arts and Sciences where she judges the annual Shorty Awards and the Shorty Social Good Awards.
How did you first got involved with influencers at Hearst magazine?
Brittany Hennesy: Actually, by the time I got to Hearst, I was already super expert, as expert as you can be at that point. Because I used to be a blogger a long time ago, in 2007 till 2010, and I had a nightlife blog.
I got nominated for a Paper Magazine Award. I was the North American ambassador for Nivea. I used to. Before we were influencers, we were just blogging. I liked the role. I was an influencer for Svedka and I was the first influencer for popchips when popchips first came out and you couldn’t even buy them in the store yet. We just were sponsoring events. And so I did a lot of blogging stuff, then I went and did social media for Lucille Roberts, which was a women’s gym in the Tri-state area, which got sold to New York Sports Club.
And then while I was there looking for my next move, a friend I knew from blogging, she used to be the publicist for, I think Belvedere or Grey. It was one of the vodkas. She said, “I’m going to this agency. I speak brand, but I need someone who speaks like blogger. Can you come start this department with me?” So I went to Horizon Media and helped run their first influencer team. And we did a lot of work with Food Network, Travel Channel, Lifetime, lots of TV.
Do you know about Taylor Valentine?
Brittany Hennesy: Yes, I do very well.
Sherri Langburt: So I had a blog and I couldn’t monetize because it was 2007 and I kept people who did… I wanted to be like people who did. And he’s like, “Go find 100 bloggers and come call me back.” He was the person who put me in this space as an agency. If not, I just still would’ve been blogging.
Brittany Hennesy: Oh, cool. Yeah, he’s great. So he was the chief invention officer while I was at Horizon, which was cool. And we did a lot of family stuff, Little Caesar’s, Culturelle, and lots of spirits, and car dealerships, and fast food chains. And I did that and it was cool. It was very much soup to nuts. Everything from pitching the brand all the way to analytics. And I really liked the casting part. Before I got into influencer marketing, I worked at a cast. I worked at a talent agency, Abrams Artists, which is now A3 and reps, budget influencers. I worked the on-camera commercial department.
I really liked working with talent, watching them grow. So I was on. I was on the lookout for a job where I could just cast. And this was 2015, so most things were not that evolved yet. It still was, be on the influencer team, but have 600 other jobs. And I was like, I don’t want to do that. I just want to cast. And then the Hearst position was available. I really wanted that job. It was hard to get, because everybody knows it’s impossible to get into these companies, the HR black hole.
But a friend that I knew from my Nivea trip, she was the style director on that team. And she was booking the fashion influencers. The beauty director was booking the beauty influencers, and that’s how they came up with this job because they were like, “We’re editors. We don’t have time to deal with these influencers.” So she was like, “Wait, do you want to do this job because they need to hire you.” And she got me in for an interview, and I think within five days I had the job.
So I was the first person to start the influencer team over at Hearst, and just figure out what does it mean to be an influencer that’s featured in a publication? And shipping influencer’s clothing, having them shoot 10 items and then turning that into a listicle on Cosmo, and casting for Red Book, and Esquire, and Seventeen, and Women’s Health.
It just was the first time I think really anybody had been in a position to do all these different, both sexes, all different ages, across beauty, across fashion, travel, fitness. You just learn so much when you can compare all of those things together. YouTube and Instagram and blogs and Snapchat. We were doing Snapchat and Musical.ly, which is now TikTok, because we had Seventeen. So just having to be on top of everything, see what people were charging across the board.
And it was exciting and frustrating and interesting, all at the same time. But I really saw that influencers had no idea what they were doing. That’s really what I saw. I see agencies were popping up. I remember when DVA started, when Socialite started, and seeing all of these people coming into the fold. And so some influencers had guidance, but the average influencer had no idea how much to charge, had no sense of how to do business with a major corporation.
They were just doing in it. Yeah. Oh that again started on the legal. They had no idea how to read a contract. And so that’s when I wrote my book, I was like, listen, somebody is going to help these people. And I’m one of the few people who have been in this industry long enough, and at a brand, at an agency, and at a publisher, to be able to see this is what I’ve learned is constant across all these things. And so I wrote the book which turned out to be very necessary for the community.
Sherri Langburt: Oh, yeah. Yes. And so does continuing education, and support and resources, which you do, which we will get into. Thank you.
Where do you think the biggest shift has been in the types of campaigns that you did back then or way back at the beginning to today? What do you think the biggest change has been?
Brittany Hennesy: I think the biggest change is that influencers, they’ve turned into one-person shows, which is very cool. Because in the beginning, Grey didn’t really have… First of all, you still had, these YouTubers had a sheet in the background of their video and poor lighting. And if you watch some of your favorite YouTubers, their first videos, you’re like, “This is terrible.” And everyone shooting content on their terrible phones. And even the WordPress themes looked really bad. So I think it was just people hacking away at it.
But now there are so many tools that influencers can let their personalities shine, because the actual work of creating the content is much easier. So you just see things that are more creative. I think from a video standpoint, even this current photo trend where it’s an influencer doing six different things in one video, you just can do cooler stuff. And we couldn’t really do that back then. A lot of it was like, let’s use the bag spill, because it’s really all you can do. And it worked and yeah, Instagram didn’t have stories.
There was no video. It was like, if you liked video, you were a YouTuber. If you like texts, you were a blogger. If you don’t want to do too much work, you had Instagram only. That was pretty much it. But now you have people who are making alter egos. Crystal Lynn has rich mom on TikTok, which is her alter ego. And it’s a comedy profile.
People didn’t know Crystal Lynn was funny. I think people can just be themselves and be funny or being more entertaining, while educating their audiences. And you just have more opportunities and there’s more money. So it’s easier to do things. Cash makes everything easier.
Do you think blogging is still valuable?
Brittany Hennesy: I think blogging was important before, and I think it’s the most important thing now.
Sherri Langburt: Me too.
Brittany Hennesy: There’s always some new platform. Now everyone’s trying to get on Clubhouse and community. There’s always some new platform. There’s always some new thing. The blog is the one thing that’s constant. That’s where you talk to your audience. And you can make money there. I know a lot of food bloggers. They don’t do branded content at all and they don’t need to, because they make a ton of money off of their blog. Between display advertising through Mediavine and affiliate links, then killing it.
I think the people you saw didn’t flail out in 2020, a lot of them were bloggers, because this was a year that branded content was very tough for a lot of people. Brands are furloughing people, there just wasn’t money, whole quarters of campaigns got canceled. But if you had a blog and you just kept doing your affiliate links, which now everybody’s shopping online, and you’re doing your display ads, maybe your traffic’s going through the roof. A lot of those influencers did really, really well. They had their best years yet in the middle of a pandemic.
Sherri Langburt: Because everyone’s at home clicking on articles. How do I cook a stew?
Brittany Hennesy: Yeah. That’s right. I need air fryer recipe. It’s like, “Oh, these look really good. Now, I need to buy an air fryer.” Well, here’s the link to do that. And now you make ad revenue and commission on the air fryer that you just sold.
Those people were able to pivot, to lean into those other revenue streams. A bunch of people launched products. My friend, Lindsay Silberman, launched a candle company, and it sold out in 24 minutes. But these are bloggers who understand e-commerce, who understand SEO. This year, the bloggers they’ve always had more than just photo tools. And a lot of people who don’t have a blog, they don’t know what to do if they can’t post a picture and get paid for it.
Those opportunities were out the window. And who knows if they’ll ever come back the same way, because I know plenty of influencers who are like, “I always did branded content. Coincidentally in 2020, I really leaned into my blog. It paid off big time. And I get to create whatever I want, whenever I want, and make the same amount of money.” So they’re not even going to go back. Branded content might be the icing on the cake, but for so many influencers, it’s not the whole cake anymore, which is very interesting.
Sherri Langburt: Well, I think it’s super important, I always say. And because we build into a lot of our programs. And it’s sometimes a challenge, but I always say it helps with SEO. If I’m going to go search for recipes, maybe Pinterest will come up in my searches, but Instagram and Facebook aren’t coming up.
Brittany Hennesy: Right.
When did you launch Carbon August and why did you move from the brand to the influencer side?
Brittany Hennesy: So Carbon August is a company I co-founded with my husband, Alexander. And we just do lots of influencer stuff. So anything can fit under the umbrella. But like you said, it’s much more influencer education-focused. So we actually rebranded. And we’re now Carbon August: A Influencer Education Company. One, because I’ve learned over my years in the industry, that you can be an expert, and you can probably tell brands what they should do all you want, they’ll listen to you. So, it’s so frustrating to be like, “You should pick this influencer. This is going to be amazing. And here’s this great idea she has for her content.”
A lot of brands still want to be very safe or they don’t have money to execute the amazing ideas. So you end up with an okay idea. And I just was bored of that. And if I’m going to work for myself, I’m not going to do something that I don’t absolutely love. And I love getting on the phone with influencers who have an idea, and walking through a plan, or figuring out how they could tweak their brand to get on the radar of their dream company, or making courses for people who are like, “Okay, I need someone to hold my hand, and give me assignments to do every day until I get this done.”
And these are all things I’ve been able to do now. And even helping bigger companies educate the influencers that are on their platform, or if they have a league, working with those influencers and doing private IG chats, and just helping influencers be better influencers. And it’s so rewarding, it’s so much fun, and influencers are not going anywhere. So it’s a great way to be a part of the industry and help shape the future by working with all the talent.
Where do you think influencers need the most help? What are they coming to you for? Is it, “I don’t know how to get new business, or I don’t know how to negotiate.’ What’s the most troublesome area for influencers?
Brittany Hennesy: I would say no matter what size or how much experience they have, it’s figuring out how much to charge and looking at the contracts. And I got lucky because in between doing literally everything I’ve ever done, I went to law school for a year.
So I quit that because I did not like it, but that’s where I met my husband. So it’s great. But the contracts don’t scare me. And so I’m not afraid to be like, “This isn’t fair. This isn’t fair. You shouldn’t let the brand have this. If they want this, you need to charge more.” I think influencers, a bunch of them hire me to do that, to either get on the phone with them and walk through their contracts or just do their contracts on their behalf, because so many of them they’re so happy that the brand noticed them, that they don’t want to fight for what they’re worth.
And it’s like, but they noticed you because you’re really good. You don’t just accept anything they throw at you like, “Oh my God, thank you for noticing me and offering me this campaign.” No, they’re hiring you because you’re going to raise awareness and sell products. So they’re hiring you to do a job that you’re really good at, so you need to charge accordingly. And don’t let them take advantage of you.
I just think this is why a lot of influencers love when they get a manager or an agent, because then they can just be the nice, sweet influencer that’s so great to work with, and so creative. And then your agent or your manager is the awkward person who’s always fighting with the brand. But when you don’t have representation, you have to be both faces. And I think that’s really difficult for people to hold your ground, be firm, be able to walk away and not be nervous that, that’s the last time you’ll ever work with that brand.
Sherri Langburt: And I think also, we hear a lot of, “But I’m creative. I don’t want to have to deal with that side of things.”
Brittany Hennesy: Yes. Yes.
How do you figure out what an influencer, a brand should pay? Where do you begin?
Brittany Hennesy: I always break it out into production, distribution, exclusivity, and then usage. And then maybe there are some bonus things in there if the influencer is a little famous, or people buy everything she mentions, or something like that. So production is how much is it going to cost to even create this content? And I think influencers forget how many hats they wear. A brand could hire any agency. And that comes with a hairstylist, a makeup stylist, a photographer, an editor, someone who’s going to be a prop stylist, the wardrobe person. And influencers are all of those things. So you figure out hourly.
Okay, I have to go shop. The brand told me to go through 700 pages of their website and pick an outfit. You have to charge for that. That’s part of production. You have to. Maybe you do your own hair and makeup, or maybe you hire someone to do your hair and makeup. You charge for that. You’ve got to do the mood board and send to them. You charge for that. The couching, you have to charge for all of these things. So I tell people to figure out an hourly that they’re comfortable with, which is $15, because that’s minimum wage in a lot of states, all the way up to $150, if that’s what you do for a living, or more than that.
If you’re a professional makeup artist, and this is a beauty brand, charge them for that. They could have hired someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing, but they did it. They hired you. So you’re coming out with an hourly rate across all these things, just to create the content. This has nothing to do with how many followers you have, your engagement rate, your target demo. Social agencies, and creative agencies, and ad agencies, they don’t have any of that stuff. They just charge clients to give them a photo, which is what you’re doing.
So you have your production fee, then you have distribution, which is how much does it cost for this piece of content I’ve created to take up real estate on my brand. That’s when you’re looking at follower count, engagement rate, target demo. Are they trying to reach vegan moms who love cruelty-free beauty? And you’re the only one who has this audience, then you can charge more for that. And I liked the… What is it? What is it? $100 for 10,000 followers. I like that rule, but that’s the production rule, which gets… That’s the distribution number.
Which gets added to, that’s not the final number. That’s when people are like, that’s the final number. I’m like, “No.”
So if your whole audience are moms of triplets, because you’re a mom of triplets, you can charge way more than a regular mom who has one kid or just different kids, single kids, because somebody is going to buy three of whatever that you’re promoting. And so you can charge more for that.
You really have to figure out, what can you offer, but where are you relative to your peers who are offering the same thing? Are you a travel blogger but for 10 years you were a flight attendant? That’s very different than a travel blogger who just loves to travel. You speak flight attendant. This is a whole different level of working in the airport.
Sherri Langburt: It’s funny you say that. We just did a campaign recently for a book that was about, they asked us, “Can you find us a flight attendant?” So it was all about influencers who were flight attendants.
Brittany Hennesy: Right.
Sherri Langburt: That’s a random area, but yeah.
Brittany Hennesy: Random, but these people have flown more hours than most people, because they fly for a living. So you have a different area of expertise. So you want to think about all of those things and come up with a number, add that to your production. Then exclusivity, I always tell people if you can’t work with a competitor for three months, and you’ll probably have to turn down three jobs, you have to charge for that too. And say, “I’m not going to do this for you and take money out of my own pocket.” So brands have to pay for that. And then you can start to negotiate with how likely is it that you’ll get booked by another brand.
But I did a campaign that was for foundation exclusivity. I was like, “This is a beauty YouTuber. She does foundation every month. One time minimum, a month.” You have to pay her for this. And if brands want it, why brands should not ask for exclusivity, it’s a whole other conversation, because I think it’s ridiculous. But more than a week, two days in internet time is an eternity. You need three months exclusivity flat, but you figure that out. And then usage. Are they just going to repost this on their Instagram? Are they going to turn it into a billboard?
You’ve got to pay for these things because I don’t think people realize that you said the factor of exclusivity, because if you do a Jergens campaign, it doesn’t matter if your campaign only lasted one month. If they can put your face on a billboard for the next 11 months, you are Jergens’ influencer for one year, because they can use your face. And so because you’re a Jergens influencer for one year due to usage, that means Olay will not work with you. So, that’s money you’re going to lose. And so people really have to look at-
Sherri Langburt: Well, assuming you got Olay.
Brittany Hennesy: Right, assuming you get Olay. But if that’s a brand that maybe you work with every year to do some winter skincare routine, well, if you can still be under contract with Jergens, and lots of people ask you to disclose that information, there’s a good chance that they won’t hire you, because they don’t want their billboard for Olay to be next to your other billboard for Jergens. So these are just things to keep in mind in coming up with your pricing.
It’s what are you creating? How much does it cost for you to take up space on your channel? And then by doing this deal, what does your future revenue look like? And that’s why people should be keeping track of their branded content deals. Every month I do a lipstick. Four times a year, I do a moisturizer. Then you will have a better understanding at well, historically speaking, I’ve never booked a competitor in this window. So the odds that I’ll book a competitor this year, not very hot. So then you can charge a little bit for exclusivity, but not a whole lot, because it’s not worth that much.
Sherri Langburt: But then that is back to the influence. You have to be a little bit fair too. If you know that no chance you’re going to get booked for something.
Brittany Hennesy: Yeah.
Sherri Langburt: So, I agree. Exclusivity is a little bit more about being realistic.
Brittany Hennesy: Yeah. That’s why, when it’s sunscreen, it’s like, “First of all, nobody else is hiring you for sunscreen. You’re lucky you even got this one.” So you don’t need to be… if you need sunscreen exclusivity, it’s my rate for every month. But you won’t have to turn down a sunscreen campaign every month. So you’re projecting lost revenue. And you have to be honest about that, because there’s no sense in lying. If you’re not there yet, and you can’t charge that, then you’re not there yet, and you can’t charge that.
Perfectly okay that you only do 10 branded campaigns a year, and some other people do 100. Well, their exclusivity is worth more than yours because they turn down more work than you do. That’s how you have to think about it. I think people have to be fair. They have to look at their own books. And that’s why this whole comparing yourself to another influencer is ridiculous, because you have no idea how many deals they get offered, how many deals they turn down. You just know, well, we have same follower count, and content and engagement rate, so we must be worth the same. No, not even close. But those things are at the bottom when you consider everything else,
How do you handle situations when your contract with an influencer, you might’ve sent them product, they agreed to the terms, everything’s great, and then they go MIA. And maybe they’re late and they’re not responding, or they completely just don’t even respond. What do you do?
Brittany Hennesy: Those things are hard. That’s a story of my life at Hearst. Even with influencers who had agents. You’re like, Hi, you’re the agent. Where is this piece of content?” And they’re like, “Well she’s taking a little longer.” I’m like, “I don’t care. It was due two days ago.” So one, give yourself lots of buffer.
There are certain influencers who make amazing content, have great communities, but I know they are notoriously late. And so if the client wants them and I have to hire them, they get a due date. That’s like, “This is due in four days,” when it’s actually due in two weeks, because I know it will take them two weeks to get it to me.
Sherri Langburt: That’s right. Yeah.
Brittany Hennesy: And so I don’t want to have to be stressed just about that. And also I think so much of it, the way influencer business has done in general is a little rough, because for the most part, influencers have to complete an entire campaign to get paid, which is not fair. And it’s ridiculous in 2020 with how fast you can pay people. So I always love campaigns where it’s like, “Listen, you’ll get 50% of your money when you create the content. If you create it tomorrow, you get 50% of your money tomorrow. If it takes you until the last day it’s due, oh then that’s when it is. And then you get the other 50 when you post.”
When you have those numbers, you’d be surprised how fast you get content, because people want their money. If they know they’re not going to get paid till the whole thing’s over, and this is a four-week campaign, and the payment terms are net 60. If that’s already like, “I’m getting this money in five months. Who cares?” They take it a lot less seriously, which should not be the case, but you can’t run a business on what should be the case. You run a business on what is the case.
So I think just if you have the power, and I know lots of times people do not, but if you have the power to structure your payments, where influencers are incentivized to do things quickly, then I would definitely do that. Or you can change things up where if you can get this to us by this date, your payment terms will be net 15 instead of net 30. You try to get creative to get people to move, because influencers, for them that’s a job like anything else, and they need incentives.
Sherri Langburt: Yeah. It’s just so hard when there’s 20, 30, 40 influencers on a campaign. So starting to do one person, another person, it’s an accounting nightmare for some companies.
Brittany Hennesy: Oh yeah.
Have you ever been in a situation, where an influencers just goes MIA?
Sherri Langburt: I had one woman telling me yesterday, literally, the woman accepted a dishwasher and a whole kitchen and all the appliances. And they had to go to her house and take it out of her house.
Brittany Hennesy: Oh my goodness. That’s so much of doing a lot of background on influencers. It’s tough. Brands should always talk it up to what is follow up? When you create an event that sells tickets, even if people buy tickets, you assume 10% of people are not going to show up. You just do. So it doesn’t matter that, that person bought a ticket, they still might not come. And I think you have to do the same thing with influencer campaigns, if you can, which is overbook. If you need to produce 10 pieces of content-
Sherri Langburt: You put 12 people on it, or just-
Brittany Hennesy: That’s right. Because the odds that one person, and it could be for a really good reason. It could be that the week they’re supposed to shoot the content, there’s a hurricane where they live or they don’t have internet, or they get sick. Or there’s, even if influencers are doing things to the best of their ability, things go wrong. So you should never only have the minimum number of people necessary to complete your campaign. You should always, always, always, always overbook.
Sherri Langburt: Agreed. Agreed. Thank you. I just wanted to get the other perspective for our team and other teams out there who often face the unfortunate situations and yeah, it’s true. Especially this year with COVID, there’s been a lot of, “Oh, I’m going to be late or this happened.” So it’s unfortunate, and we obviously all have to be understanding when there are circumstances.
You and I spoke earlier this year about diversity in the influencer marketing industry. What policies and protocols do we use to make sure it continues and it’s not being forgotten?
Brittany Hennesy: I think for some brands, they did some performative work. Other companies really tried to figure out how can we change this? But I think at the end of the day, it’s less about wanting to do X, Y, and Z, or thinking about diversity, and more about hiring influencer casting people, who don’t suck. And that’s what I think. Because when I look at casting a campaign, I would look and be like, “Okay, we’re going to have four people in this campaign.” I know in a perfect world, I would have one black influencer, one white influencer, one Asian influencer and one Hispanic influencer. In a perfect world. And then maybe one of them could be plus-sized, one of them could be LGBTQ.
Maybe we can add on these other things too, because lots of times, those things are harder to see just based on what limited information you’re working with. Maybe you don’t know. But, that’s in a perfect world. It’s very hard when you’re an influencer and you get a casting opportunity, and you need to turn it out in 24 hours, to do that level of insight, if you are not constantly preparing for it. And so I think that’s what influencer teams need to do. If you’re casting, your job is to know who influencers are. That’s literally the whole purpose of your job.
So if someone tells you, “Name 10 skincare influencers,” there are enough that one of them should be white, one of them should be black, one of them should be Asian. You should know, because you should know all of the people. And it hurts, it’s something I really had to take seriously. Because I had to be able to name 10 YouTubers who can talk about prom, and 10 moms who can talk about anti-aging for Red Book. That’s a big range, but you have to be able to do it.
And most companies, your brand has a specific type of person who is on-brand for them.You don’t even need to know every age group, both sexes, you just need to know of a limited window of people who fit your brand profile. So then just do the work.
And in your free time, follow more people. Most people follow people who look just like them. And a lot of these influencer companies are full of younger millennial and Gen Z, who are doing that very, make a list work. Once you get to negotiation stuff, you end up with some older millennials, but the bare minimum of pull me a list, is someone who’s probably really young. And the first list they’re going to give you are all the influencers they follow, because then I get to do a campaign with my favorite influencer. That’s their incentive. And so their incentives can’t just be bad.
It has to be, “I need a well-rounded diverse. I need the best list you can possibly put together.” Which means as a brand, you need to give them time where they have at least one day a week where they could just sit and watch a bunch of YouTube videos, and find new people.
Read a bunch of blog articles and find new influencers. I think you can’t constantly be managing campaigns to the point where you can’t look for new talent. Assuming brands are not being racist, there’s some other issue. This is what I think that issue is. You just name the people who come to the top of your… the first few people you think of, and those are usually the people you follow. And those are usually the people who look like you. And then that’s why we end up in this wreck. Because it’s not just the diversity, right?
It’s also, the same girls get booked all the time. Because it’s like, “I need this immediately.” And okay, even in the black community. Everyone’s like, “Can we have Hannah Bronfman.
Sherri Langburt: But it’s also familiarity. You work with these people. Let’s say she doesn’t have time. She’s always on a constant break, she’s going to be on time, she’s within budget.
Brittany Hennesy: Yeah. You pick these people because their content is great, you book them before you already know they’re going to deliver, and lots of times you have to do those things because you don’t have room for error. You don’t have enough time to make a list.
Sherri Langburt: You don’t have time.
Brittany Hennesy: You don’t have. So I think so much of the industry wanting to go forward, people have to get their shit together a little earlier. You’ve got to give people time to do research so I don’t just send you the same list that I sent you the last time, because that’s all I had time to put together. And I would push people. I work with a mega retailer and they wanted diversity.
I was like, “Then you cannot have this list today. If you want me to find the best in every category that fits this, you can have it at the end of the week. So what do you want? Diversity or speed?” And they chose diversity. And they got a better list, because they gave me time to work on it. So it has to be a priority.
Do you work with male influencers?
Brittany Hennesy: I do feel like Esquire and car and driver, and road and track, and food, delish. A lot of chefs.
Sherri Langburt: We need more men. There needs to be. It’s just, you’re constantly searching like, “Oh, he doesn’t have enough followers. Oh.”
Brittany Hennesy: Yeah. You see them, but they tend to do other things. Women tend to be more lifestyle. Men tend to be topic-specific. Right? You want whiskey influencers? Here’s a whole list.
Sherri Langburt: Yeah. Me too.
Brittany Hennesy: You want cigar influencer, you want vintage watch, you want tailored, you want bespoke suits. You want athletic apparel, sneakers, it just tends to be different. If you like lifestyle, very few guys are like, “Here’s my life.” They don’t broadcast like that.
Sherri Langburt: Then we’re seeing more brands saying, “Do you have just general male lifestyle influencers who aren’t that?” And it’s very hard.
Brittany Hennesy: Yeah, because they don’t necessarily do that. If they’re going to make an Instagram and build a community, it’s around a shared interest. It’s not because you think I’m cute and you like my style. That’s why women follow influencers because they’re like, “Oh yeah, she’s so pretty. I’m going to follow her.” That’s literally why you follow someone. Men are like, “Let me look at his watch collection. Oh wow. That’s a serious. He’s got a Patek? Okay, I’m going to follow him.” They’re digging deep on how good are you at this thing you’re educating me on? Where female influencers are much more, “Oh my God, you’re so pretty. I like your life. I like your house, or you go to all these amazing places.”
For a lot of female influencers, it’s more about inspiration and aspiration than it is about education, which on the male side it’s education first, which also happens to go with, “I only know a lot about vintage watches because I own a lot of vintage watches.” And so you want to learn about these things, but you also love that they own them. So it goes hand in hand where plenty of female influencers, they don’t talk about not a single thing. It’s just a pretty picture of them, and the caption is, I love Spring.” And you’re just like, “There’s nothing going on here.” But she’s got a million followers. So, it’s crucial.
Sherri Langburt: But then you look at some of the food influencers. I don’t follow many of the fashion, beauty, but the food ones, the craft ones, it’s just amazing talent. Just amazing.
Brittany Hennesy: Yeah. But all of those things also tend to be food. They tend to be female because everything is, if you couldn’t get paid to do this, would you still be doing it? And would most men still be looking at cool cars? Yes. Collecting sneakers? Yes. Would they be doing crafts? Some of them, not most of them. A lot of people will do anything if they’re going to get paid for it.
But what were you doing naturally? So many of these lifestyle spaces just lend themselves to women, because that’s what they’re doing. That’s the content they’re consuming.Just look at actual magazine titles. How many men’s magazines are there versus women’s magazines? Now, go into specialties. How many car magazines are there? There are so many car magazines.
Sherri Langburt: Right?
Brittany Hennesy: It’s ridiculous. You don’t need this many. Why? We had two in Hearst alone. It’s just, why? What? because there’s different types of car ownership. These people are racers. These people are mechanics. It’s different. So once again, when you look at male versus female, the female population tends to be, “I want your life.” And the male population tends to be, “I want this specific skillset or thing that you have.” So, It’s just a different approach.
Do you work with any of the influencer platforms? Which are the best? What are your thoughts on influencer marketing platforms out there for discovery, for management, etc?
Brittany Hennesy: So obviously, full disclosure, I work with Four, so I’m their head of community management. So Four is a great platform, but I used Four when I worked at Horizon. So back when you could still search people’s tweets, I knew Jane back then. So they’re still in the game and have come a long way, but I think for the most part, in terms of searching for influencers, nothing is more effective than just sitting on your phone and going down the hole, just watching.
I would be at Hearst and I would be on Monday like today, I’m just going to watch YouTube videos all day and nobody asked me anything. And I’d watch 600 YouTube videos just to be like, “Okay, this person, her voice is like this. This person is much more serious. This person has a better set. This person has better edits. This person only does voiceovers. This person talks while she’s applying the makeup.” You learn all these things. You can type in, “YouTubers of this following,” you can type in search filters all you want, but that’s not going to tell you what the channel feels like.
And that’s what you’re paying for. So, that’s the best way to just do it. It’s just to follow a ton of people. Ask influencers you’ve worked. “This is my goal, who do you like? Who are you following?” Because influencers follow a ton of influencers. And really just trying to figure out the world. In terms of management, that’s very different because you got to keep track of where’s the content? Who signed a contract? Pull the impressions and the improvement rate?
Sherri Langburt: Reporting.
Brittany Hennesy: And about the reporting. So, we’re usually really good. I had Tagore while I was at Hearst. I really liked that. And then the people’s champ was PeopleMap, which was great. And it was $20 a month. Everybody used it. We loved it. And then it folded in October. Because again, with these things, it’s all about having access to Instagram backend, to be able to pull this data. And only the people who are spending a ton of money and having meetings with Facebook can keep up with that. So I think we are still in a place where a lot of it is enterprise or a bust or enterprise or Excel Spreadsheet and tears. But I think we might get to a place where maybe that’s not so much the case.
Also, things are changing too. So much of it now is all these influencers have been pushing e-commerce. The new metric is going to be, did you sell something? And that’s affiliate, which is why I like rewardStyle. It’s killing it, because that’s what they do. Likes and impressions are great. But even if nobody saw this post, but the five people who saw it spent $10,000, this was a successful campaign.
Sherri Langburt: Yeah.
Brittany Hennesy: So it will depend on your metrics.
What’s new for Carbon August in 2021?
Brittany Hennesy: in 2021, we will actually launch Carbon August University. Which is a place where you can go and just learn a lot of things. If you’re like, “Okay, I want to do a newsletter this year.” It’ll have reviews on Flodesk and ConvertKit and Mailchimp, and this, that, and show you how to use everything. And here’s the differences in prices. Because I think now that people have finally realized influencer marketing is big business, and so many people are founders, and everyone’s a media company at this point, now your options are just endless. It’s like, “Oh, I need a lead generation platform. Which one?” It’s like, “Well, there are 50. Which one do you want?”
And so now there’s just too much information, where before it was if you want to do a newsletter, you have to use Mailchimp. You don’t have options. Now, you have a ton of options. It’s like, “Well, do you want them to be able to text in? Are you looking for something that has a lot of visual space?” So now it’s just who has time to research all these things? Nobody. So that is part of what we will be doing. It’s like, you want to do a text-in coaching service? Okay. Here are your best texting options. So just giving people, here are lots of things to read, so you can learn about how to be a really good influencer. So that will be fun. I will learn a lot doing it, just because I have to learn all these things so I can teach them.
My last question before we part ways for today is, name an influencer you love to follow, but hate to admit that you do.
Brittany Hennesy: I love Jake and Logan Paul. But I don’t care. I know it’s like, are they the worst? Sure. But they’re boxing now. Do you see this? Logan Paul is just going to box Floyd Mayweather. What? Talk about the come up. I remember booking him for Beef Jerky 100 years ago when he had 100,000 followers and we were like, “This is amazing. Do the Beef Jerky. Make this Beef Jerky video.” And now he is going to get paid millions of dollars to fight the top boxer in the world. Okay, their personal antics aside, because there is a laundry list of why they should not be your children’s role models.
Long, long list. But if you look even when they came out with the Team 10 House, they’re the first people to make an influencer house. Where you came in, because you had 3000 followers, they liked you, or you weren’t even on YouTube. And they were like, “You’d be a cool YouTuber. You should come into the house.” And in 24 hours, you had a million followers. Now, this is because 10 people with a million followers telling all their followers to follow you, you’re going to skyrocket.
Now, everyone has a TikTok collabhouse. There’s Fenty, Rihanna was making a TikTok house, everyone. It’s like, they were the first people to do that. And so as much of a mess that they are, you have to give influencer credit where credit is due. And they have pioneered a lot of different things that people are reaping the benefits, and don’t even know it was them. So, they are a mess. They are brothers who are a mess, but they’re one of those people who cross over. They’re boxers now. What?
Sherri Langburt: It’s awesome.
Brittany Hennesy: It’s crazy.
Sherri Langburt: Well, thank you so much, Brittany. Everyone look out for Carbon August. Brittany Hennessy, it’s such a pleasure to have you here, and I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a great 2021.
Brittany Hennesy: Thank you so much. This was amazing as usual.