Published on
April 5, 2024
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[00:00:00] Paul: All right. I think we're live, Dimitri. So we're going to give a few minutes for folks to come in. Where are you right now again? Sunny Florida. Florida?

[00:00:12] Dmitri: Yeah. Sunny Florida. Got great weather. I'm I'm only, you know, inside for you, Paul. Otherwise, I'd be out there enjoying the weather, pretending, you know, to not be working.

[00:00:25] Paul: Not for me. For everyone else here. Right?

[00:00:27] Dmitri: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

[00:00:29] Paul: All right. We gotta get value. Yeah, I know, it's crazy. It's surprising that this is February weather. We're lucky. Did you always. Did you always work remotely, or is it pretty new for you?

[00:00:39] Dmitri: No, I pandemic, you know, but I was in LA for ten years. So I got to really enjoy the weather, you know? But, yeah, I was on site for, for everything up until the pandemic. And then it's been fully remote since then. Also because I moved out of LA, moved to Austin, and then moved to Florida about six months ago. So, yeah, I'm, I'm I'm doing the fully remote thing for the foreseeable future.

[00:01:10] Paul: It's interesting. It's hard to go back once you get fully, fully dialed in.

[00:01:14] Dmitri: Yeah, it really is because, you know, all that extra time spent commuting and you're just you come into your desk and you pull your laptop open, you sit and you start responding to emails and you're like, why am I here again?

[00:01:25] Paul: Yeah. No I think especially I feel like for teams that are fully everybody's in the office, you do get some of that magic. I think a lot of teams do great work remotely with good process, and it gives you access to talent everywhere, everywhere else. I think when things are hybrid, it becomes tough, right? Where you got like half people in the office one day, so you can't even talk to the people you want to talk to. You still got to go to the office to jump on zoom. So yeah.

[00:01:50] Dmitri: Yeah, I think the the future, ideally the future is hybrid, but not on a weekly basis. It's on like a monthly basis. So like for, for three days a month, everyone comes into the office and you kind of have those in-person interactions and time. It's almost like, you know, every company's annual offsite, but it's like a monthly on site. So you're just they're actually more frequent.

[00:02:16] Paul: But the main thing is that when people are in the office, you just have everyone that's coordinated. So you get that serendipity and all that.

[00:02:22] Dmitri: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

[00:02:25] Paul: All right. Cool. Well, we're gonna get started now. Thanks, everyone for joining. And thanks, Dimitri, for coming. My name is Paul. I'm CEO, co-founder of archive. We are just starting this new webinar series. We're super excited to bring some of our favorite operators in the space, especially when it comes to influencer marketing. Bring them on board and share some stories about what they've seen, work, share some tactics, and especially given how frequently things are changing when it comes to influencer marketing, like TikTok, shops basically didn't exist like last time we checked. We want to just help everybody get a pulse of what's going on and learn from folks like Dimitri here, who's super experienced, so really excited about our webinars. But we don't like the name. It's kind of corporate and jargony. So if you have any ideas of what we should call them, let us know. Drop some ideas in the comments. So our first guest for our first webinar is Dimitri. He's one of the smartest people I've got to interact with in the space. He's got almost a decade of experience. You know, you'll recognize some of the companies he's run programs for. We've got Ruggable, we've got Quince. Dimitri's set up over 6000 influencer partnerships. Drove a billion impressions and over 100 million in revenue. I mean, that's more than a number of agencies combined. So we're super lucky to have Dimitri here. Welcome. Really excited to continue to learn from you and share some of your great experience.

[00:03:55] Dmitri: Thank you. Yeah, I'm excited to be here and excited to dive in.

[00:04:00] Paul: Let's do it. So to give everybody a sense of what we're going to cover, I'll walk through our agenda real quick. So we've got a 30 minute a little bit of a mix of an informal chat with some topics that we pre-planned. We're going to cover Dimitri's work at Quince Ruggable. We're going to talk about niche tech testing. We're going to talk about performance how to think about influencer relationships as you scale programs. And then of course we will have some Q&A. Great. So Dimitri, before and we have an awesome slide with a lot of these fancy stats that Dimitri has achieved in his lifetime, which a lot of people and agencies will not hit. So excited to, you know, have you here, Dimitri? Cool. But before we start instead of just going straight into the agenda, what we had planned a little while back, what's top of mind these days when you think about influencer marketing land, like what's going through your head this week?

[00:04:55] Dmitri: Yeah, yeah. I you know, all the programs I've done have been performance. So I'm always thinking about performance and ways to make it better. And, you know, social commerce. How does that factor into it? What are, you know, the latest things that platforms are providing that influencers are using and obviously what what brands are using in terms of tools and tech to to try to drive better performance. So you mentioned TikTok shop. It's a very top of mind where at this kind of really interesting place right now where the brands that were early on continue to have amazing success, but also continued. I continue to hear that like the onboarding process was a nightmare. There's it can be a little buggy, it can be a little questionable. But generally seeing really good success and then other brands that, you know, don't even want to try to participate, they feel like either they're starting to hear rumblings that like it's negatively impacting the TikTok feed. And so does that mean that TikTok is going to commit to it, or is it going to go the route of IG shops and like so that's that's very top of mind. For sure. And then also, you know, the ongoing things with attribution and promo codes and you know, Google getting rid of cookies and, and so like, yeah, thinking about all those things.

[00:06:20] Paul: Yeah. And TikTok shops is interesting because it really plays at the intersection of all of that where because it's a closed ecosystem, all of the cookie issues, all of the attribution issues kind of go away. But I think on the other hand, it feels like there's it feels like a big arbitrage opportunity, kind of like early days of dropshipping where you've got these kids just like cranking out these random videos that just aren't super authentic, that are going viral. Maybe don't put the brand in the best light. But they're driving a lot of sales because of the incentives that TikTok is pumping. So we've actually seen a few brands kind of want to pace out because of, you know, brand risk and brand concern. But on the other hand one of our customers has been just ripping on TikTok shops. They three in the last, like 8 to 9 months. And 80% of their revenue now is TikTok shop. So again, is that worth the brand hit? Is their brand hit? Who knows. We'll come back to a little.

[00:07:16] Dmitri: And is it sustainable?

[00:07:18] Paul: Well that's. Yeah.

[00:07:20] Dmitri: Yeah yeah. You don't know.

[00:07:22] Paul: Because the so so for those that don't know, TikTok has been driving a lot of incentives. So I think there's some behind the scenes incentives where, yeah, TikTok shop videos are going to be more likely to more likely to get shown, are going to get more traffic. Obviously, TikTok is doing that. Most social platforms do that. But actually initially TikTok was paying for shipping fees and they were paying for discounts. So brands would sign up on TikTok shops and be like, wait, why is my thing like 30% off? Like, who's paying for free shipping plus 30% off? Turns out TikTok's paying, so there's a big investment there. I think it's tapering off a little bit. And again, it's very I'm curious to see what happens as. It either makes it or doesn't. Yeah. Anyway, back to the regular programming we'll touch on. We'll talk a little bit more about TikTok shops when we talk about attribution. But, you know, we wanted to cover two big challenges with influencer marketing. You know, data gaps and issues with attribution. Can you give us a little bit of a primer of what those things mean and how they manifest themselves in an actual program?

[00:08:31] Dmitri: Yeah. So when you talk about influencer performance, you're talking about directly attributable sales to a given influencer or, you know, program at large. But it has to be to a given influencer, because if you're working with enough influencers and, you know, suddenly the number is skyrocket, you're trying to pinpoint, you know, movement through traffic driven or maybe like UTM links, which could work. But you don't have like that specific data that you need to actually know what's working and what isn't and who's performing and who isn't. So it's just kind of comes down to links and codes. And the other major thing that's really challenging is, well, it always has been. It continues to be is all these platforms are geared towards not getting people or keeping people on the platform. Right. So links are only in Instagram Stories or only in TikTok bios or YouTube descriptions. And so it's it's challenging to get people to click on those links, and then it's even more challenging to get them to go all the way through to purchase. And so the way that most influencer programs are structured, which I disagree with, but it's just kind of been the norm, is like you're directly attributable revenue, meaning the the revenue generated through the code or through the link is what your program is doing. But it doesn't look at any of the other halo effects about how your impacting social followership or, you know, driving introducing people into the retargeting campaigns for paid media and a thousand other things that we all like.

[00:10:13] Dmitri: If you are even somewhat dipped your toe in the influencer world, you're kind of like, oh yeah, there's a ton of value here. And so just kind of looking at it through a peephole, as always, is always really tough. But the other thing is and it's going backwards here, it's the first bullet is you don't know what is going to you don't know who's going to perform. When you work with somebody. Like, you can look at all the and this is what I do for all the programs I run is we establish audience demos that we're looking for. We're establishing the types of influencers and the content types and the engagement rates that we're looking at that make sense. And then we're reaching out and we're negotiating and we're trying to back into a math that is, you know, if we pay you $1,000, do we think we're going to get more than $1,000 in sales in return? And somebody can have all the boxes checked and not check a single and then not drive a single sale. And then other people can have some of the boxes checked and drive a ton of sales, like we've all kind of seen on LinkedIn. These, to me, they're super annoying. But all these posts about like I worked with a super celebrity and they drove three sales, and then I worked with a micro influencer and they drove $400,000 in revenue.

[00:11:33] Dmitri: It's like all these stories are extrapolated from like unique instances. And that's fine. That's good for you. But what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to build a scalable program that's based off of consistent learnings and being able to forecast potential partnerships and revenue through the people we work with. But that's really tough. The only other way that you can get that data, the performance and sales data, is by working with like an affiliate platform that, you know, can say, this person drove this much in revenue in the previous month. One, you know, those cost money. Two it's not it's rarely like, you know, if they're working with a competitor of yours and they drove $20,000 for that product, it doesn't mean they'll drive $20,000 for yours. Whether or not they've worked with a competitive brand and whether they're actively working with them, or if there's an opportunity for you to kind of put yours in front of their audience and see if they like it more. There's basically just a thousand unknowns when you're kind of trying to say, this is going to be a performance partnership or trying to drive sales. And so the best you can do is start small make assumptions, test your hypothesis. If it works great, do more of that. If it doesn't understand, try to track the data points that. You are that you can and learn and iterate and test again. So yeah.

[00:13:10] Paul: When and so when you're working with influencers, we're trying to scale the program here. We've got a couple different formats. Right. It May 12th months from now, we're thinking about, like, really testing reels because we know that Instagram is juicing the algorithm, and there's a big opportunity to get a lot of reach through that. On the other hand, stories are where you're going to track conversions. So if you're running a program, you're working with a bunch of influencers. Do you have a playbook or mental model when it comes to picking stories, reels, feed posts? You know, TikTok? Is it a combination of the above? How do you balance the platform advantages versus hey, we actually need to track these sales, or else I don't know, how can I justify spending more money on this?

[00:13:52] Dmitri: Yeah, yeah. I leaving content licensing and paid media off the table for a minute. Instagram is still largely the best performance platform, and I typically go for a combination of reels and stories. Yes. Stories is the only way that you're going to drive clicks to a link. But that's also why I like promo codes, because you can put a promo code in the caption of a reel and still, you know, do that or, you know, there's there's tech there. Basically, people can say like comment, you know, skincare and I'll DM I'll automatically DM you a link to the to the thing. So there's like certain workarounds. Now any make.

[00:14:38] Paul: Tech providers or platforms to call out that you've used that you like. I feel like that's a great tip for people that want to try that, to handle the, hey, you know, comment XYZ and we'll DM you, I guess, or comment

[00:14:51] Dmitri: I don't I, I'm not on the creator side, so I haven't actually used it myself. If you're aware of any. Yeah. This is.

[00:14:59] Paul: Something. So this is something that typically maybe one of the creators you work with is going to be like, hey, Dimitri, we have this partnership. You might not be telling them to do this, but they might be like, hey, I've got an idea. Instead of putting the promo code in the reel, which might feel like an ad and maybe not perform as well, we'll just ask people to comment. It's going to juice the algorithm, too, because we've got all these comments. But you're seeing creators kind of innovate.

[00:15:22] Dmitri: Yeah, yeah. And it's a relatively new strategy. I'm seeing a lot more in the past, like as recently as, like the past 90 days. So Yeah, it's it's definitely something that I want to like understand what tech is doing that. And if you are aware of it put it in the comments. Because like it's it's super powerful. I think it's it's honestly a win win where you can kind of get people on in-feed posts to one, engage juice the algorithm, and then to still get a link that's, that's driving directly to, you know, either their affiliate store or to the site directly.

[00:16:01] Paul: Let's talk about forecasting and predicting value. Right. You talked about, you know, you get some data from influencers, obviously. Do they seem legit? All these kinds of factors. And then you mentioned like forecasting if they're going to do well, and then maybe you do a small test with them and then reengage. It's actually funny because I feel like, you know, a number, a large number of the best influencer marketers I know have a finance background and are just really good at forecasting, and that's how they're able to scale their performance program. Obviously, you've got some great chops there too, but can you maybe walk people through what that formula could look like? What are the inputs and what what does the formula look like to go from, hey, I've got this data about this influencer. I want to predict if I should spend $1000 or $10,000, and maybe we get Roas, maybe not.

[00:16:49] Dmitri: Yeah. Man, having a finance background would be really nice. I do not have that. So here's what I do. I look at the engagement. So, and this is part of the way that I kind of say that there's value to a real post. I look at the engagement and I should say, like image posts as well, but, like, I don't know, as a, as a brand marketer, I don't know why you ask an influencer to damage post if the if the option for a real is there, it's just so much more engaging to watch a video than it is to look at an image.

[00:17:21] Paul: And you can use that for ads later on.

[00:17:24] Dmitri: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And so I look at the engagement and my estimate is 1% of people that engage with the video are potential purchasers. So if they get 100 likes per reel, I'm estimating that that's going to drive one purchase. I multiply that number by the average order value of the product that we're promoting. If it's, you know, a $40 you know, lipstick or whatever then we're going to get $40 back. And then if I layer in stories, I look at the average story impressions, the average story views, let's call that 5000. I'm taking 2% of those to be clickthroughs. So what is 2% of 5000? It is 100. And then I'm, I'm expecting 100 clicks on that story, and then I take the average conversion rate of the site of the brand site and multiply that. So 100 clicks average e-comm conversion rates are between, you know, two and 4%. Let's call it 3%. So expecting three purchases at a $40 AOV, it's $120 plus the the one purchase from the reel. It's $160. I'm not paying this person more than $100 for the content posting, because if it's $200, I'm not expecting to even get my money back. So that's how I have kind of done the math so far. I've actually shockingly been surprised that those numbers hold up pretty well. Especially on the stories front, like the the clicks and then the number of conversions going through. But as you can tell, like those numbers, those percentages are really low. Like you have to get thousands, tens of thousands of engagements and story views to drive like a significant number to justify, you know, a spend. And even based off the numbers that I got, somebody with a, you know, that's getting reels that are a thousand views and a hundred likes or like 70 likes and 30 comments or whatever, and 5000, you know story views. That person is not charging a hundred bucks, that person is charging like 700 or even like a thousand.

[00:19:54] Paul: And those and those. Those numbers go up, but the engagement numbers typically go down over time. I mean, have you seen that being in this space for a while?

[00:20:04] Dmitri: Yeah. Yeah of course. Like yeah. The the more your followership goes up the more your engagement rate goes down. Their inversely. Yeah.

[00:20:12] Paul: So there's two factors right. So the like you said the more followership there are two factors that make it really hard for these programs to run efficiently. Number one. And over time I think number one, as the followership increases, right, the percentages go down with engagement. So that becomes harder. But I think, number two, given how competitive the space has become and the amount of brands doing deals and whatnot, and also the algorithm shifting I feel like the just the rates for influencers are higher and the expected performance is lower, right? Like if you look back five years from now, it was like super easy. I'm sure you go through your list of influencers and it's like, okay, cool. You run the model good good. No no good good. No no. And now it's like no, no no no no no no no no okay cool. Found one. No no no no no no no no. You know.

[00:21:00] Dmitri: Yes. Yeah. The economics are super tough. And and rates have continued to go up over the last like 18 months. Plus at this point it's probably over two years. And so yeah, it's, it's becoming increasingly difficult. And this is something that I've told every brand I've worked at since ruggable that like, if you're launching an influencer program today, performance is going to be really tough for you because you're just coming, coming into the space and saying like, hey, I'd love to work with you. And they go, okay, cool. Yeah, it sounds like a cool brand, cool product. It's a thousand bucks and let's do it like I you do that math and you're like, I could literally pay you 75, like $75. And that's a huge. Yeah, no, it's not going to work. So at this point, my recommendation is, you know, and I think we might get into this in a minute. But like you have to basically launch with a really foundational seeding strategy. I use that as like just get product out, try to increase your organic tags and mentions and then through the tags and mentions, those are the people that you pick out and you're like, hey, let's talk about an actual partnership here where I can give you like more specific deliverables. There's more specific talking points than just completely organic. And hopefully we can get something that that works out for both of us, but really, it's like, yeah, it's doing that at scale.

[00:22:27] Paul: Let's talk about the playbook a little bit. We talked about this. We talked about attribution performance. You just gave us a little preview of gifting. Imagine you're coming in, you know, to run influencer at my awesome brand. We're doing 20 million a year of revenue. Our influencer programs trash. We need your help, Dimitri. Walk us through the playbook. How are you going to get us profitable and scaling here?

[00:22:57] Dmitri: Yeah, yeah. So the first thing is identifying who the existing audience is and finding the influencer match. So at Ruggable, you know, it was largely female audience, you know, 30 plus interest, you know, had kids, had pets interested in interior design. So I was like, okay, let's work with moms, let's work with interior designers, let's work with pet accounts and like just general lifestyle, which spanned across all those categories that. So that's that's a and then the next is identifying a really developing the creative brief that either can apply across all those categories. So the reason I like working across categories. Whereas I think at this point a lot of brands are trying to develop unique briefs for every single like type of influencer. It's just it's not super scalable. It slows things down when you're like, okay, for you, we want you to do this, this, and you're going to talk about that product, and then you're going to mention this. And then for you, it's going to be something different. It's going to be a different product. Like the way for for streamlining and scalability. I like 1 to 2 hero products and like 1 to 2 briefs. And I try to make those briefs comprehensive in the sense that like one prompt can apply to a large group of people. But it's a, it's a question that the brand is posing to them. So they're still able to like, put their spin. What's

[00:24:25] Paul: What's an example there. That's an interesting take.

[00:24:28] Dmitri: Yeah. So yeah, at Ruggable, it was telling on a story about why a machine washable rug would make a difference in yours and your family's lives. So if you're a mom, you're talking about how your kids are constantly spilling on the rug, or you have a husband who is spilling all the time because he's a sloppy mess personal experience. And then if you are a pet owner or a pet count, these pets have accidents on the rugs. If you're an interior designer, you want to, you know, curate a space or you want to switch up the space. So they all told these really engaging stories, but they were all very different. And that's what was super powerful. I didn't have to, like, redo the brief every time. I just created one prompt that could apply. So identifying.

[00:25:18] Paul: That's a really good way to just strike the balance between we talked about this a lot. Hey, we need to be somewhat prescriptive to the influencer so that they don't just say, hey, I bought a rug that's not even say that it's machine washable. Right? That would be the the whole point, right? You can't mention that. But also give them giving them a lot of space to be creative. So that's a that's a great example.

[00:25:40] Dmitri: Yeah. The the analogy I like to use is as a brand, you're, you're building a house for these influencers, you're putting the walls up, you're putting the roof down, and you're deciding where the kitchen is and where the stairs are or where your bedroom is. They're the interior designers. They're the interior decorators. They're going to come in. You're what? Buy the house. Those walls are basically the guidelines and restrictions upon which you're saying, like, don't go outside of here. Like, don't make any false claims. Don't, you know, say that this is going to solve every problem in your entire life, but it is washable. It's safe for kids and pets. You know, for quince, it was like this quality is literally comparable to top tier brands, but it's half the price. For one skin, it's this is science backed like scientifically proven. And so you're just trying to, like, keep them in a certain space, but within there they should be able to paint the walls and do whatever style of furniture that they like and, you know, do all the fun things that you get to do as an interior decorator. So yeah. And then like going back to, like, laying out the program, you're you're identifying your verticals, you're developing your briefs, and then you're, you're starting small through seeding. I think, like, I feel like 90, ten.

[00:27:05] Dmitri: So 90 being you're reaching out to influencers that are relevant but relatively small micro influencers because they have traditionally the best rate of return the best ROI for, for these partnerships. But you still want to spend a little bit of your effort on, like, the open sky people. So it's definitely worth it. It's worth your effort and time and investment to identify the North Stars for for influencers and partners of your brand and try to actually go after them. And they're not going to care that you sent them free product. But if they get it and they see it and they use it and you're able to develop an organic relationship, then everything is downhill from there. Like you're still going to have to pay them an exorbitant sum of money. You're still going to have to deal with contracts and agents or managers, but it's it's the fact that they're on board is always the toughest thing. Because everything else, if you're just a brand approaching them and saying, like, we want to work with Brad Pitt, like, great, do you have $10 million minimum to for even for me to even bring this up to him? Like I don't know. And so just like the seating, the seating strategy makes that a lot more organic and palatable when you're talking about larger budgets.

[00:28:24] Paul: Yeah. And what's. So seating is a great way to start. You've run some big programs. What would say is the largest amount of influencers you've had in a program? Roughly.

[00:28:37] Dmitri: We worked with over 5000 at Ruggable.

[00:28:40] Paul: Okay, so 5000 is a lot. Can you just call out a couple breaking points as you scale that people typically get wrong, right. You're working with 100 influencers. You can do it in a spreadsheet nice and easy. How do you get to 1000? How do you get from 1000 to 5000? Like what are the you know, if someone's at either stage, right. Maybe the 100 stage and they can't get to 1000 or they're at 1000, they can't get to 5000. What are the most likely gripes, pains, bottlenecks?

[00:29:08] Dmitri: Yeah. So you called one out, which is like managing your workflow and a spreadsheet. It's one thing to do. Thing to do a program that's campaign based. So you can kind of you have these peaks and valleys where you're, you know, doing a bunch of outreach and negotiation, contracting, execution within a certain time frame. And then that ends, then you're on to the next one, or maybe there's a little bit of overlap, but it's really limiting, right? Because you might be wanting to find certain people. Or maybe this the right influencer isn't the right fit for this campaign or whatever. So I like to do things from an evergreen perspective where you're constantly reaching out to finding new people, contracting, negotiating, executing, and it allows you to test and learn a lot faster than doing these individual campaigns. But the challenge with that is you end up having like dozens and dozens of concurrent conversations that are all at different stages. So your inbox becomes these four people have content that needs to be approved. These three people are asking for contracts. These nine people are coming back to you with negotiated rates that, you know, you have to determine whether or not makes sense for you to agree with or continue negotiating or pass on.

[00:30:26] Dmitri: So a platform is very quickly like once you scale to 200 partnerships, you need something to help you manage the workflow. But also even earlier than that, like the moment you start building lists and searching for influencers, doing so organically sucks. Like it's it's that's it's a nightmare process. I will say that like. Platforms, and a lot of ways haven't solved this problem either, like the search and discovery, because it's it's usually just it's keyword based. And there's the thumbs up that keeps happening for some unknown reason. It's keyword based. It's, you know, based off filters. It's it's pulling content from their captions and their bios, which are all over the place. So like if you're looking at something like hairspray, you're the results are going to be absurd. And so all these platforms have like, we've got 10 million creators in our database and it ends up being a negative factor because it's too many to look through like these.

[00:31:39] Paul: The search kind of like pulls, like random hashtags that people are just kind of like dumping.

[00:31:43] Dmitri: Yeah, yeah. Or you're like, I gotta find something really specific. So then you add on all these filters and you get like 14 results. You're like, there's nothing.

[00:31:50] Paul: Yeah, I know the, the I mean, the problem is that most of these platforms right now and I think there's huge innovation in AI coming through. So we'll see a change soon. Like you can now understand the content like the visual photo or the video. Whereas typically you have to rely on okay, cool. Like what the caption says. Love this fit. All right. Great. Like yeah kind of outfit is it. What kind of person is in there. So I think that's actually gets solved really, really nicely over the next year or so, hopefully.

[00:32:19] Dmitri: Yeah. I'm, I'm looking forward to that. And also the next gen of that would be even like, yeah, it's it's great that it identified, you know, this specific product in one of their posts, but is it in more than one post or are they talking about regularly. Because that's the other thing that search always pulls up. It's like, yeah, they did mention Hairspray one time in 2019, like everything.

[00:32:40] Paul: Else is about fishing and some other random stuff.

[00:32:43] Dmitri: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:32:45] Paul: Cool. I want to talk a little bit about relationships. We talked about scaling, getting a lot of people. But relationships are also important. You had this quote again, if you're trying to build a community based on authenticity, vetting the influencers, what you talked about a little bit and also relationships are super important. Can you talk a little bit about what that really meant at Ruggable? Like, what does it mean for someone to be authentic? Right. Like, obviously no fake followers, you know, the obvious stuff, but how does it actually impact your operations? Like what do you look for? How do you screen for it, and how do you bake that into your process as you scale?

[00:33:30] Dmitri: Yeah, the the biggest thing about authenticity, and this goes hand in hand with seeding is like, are they actually excited to receive it or are they just looking for a payday in terms of a flat fee for a collaboration? And so one, you have inbound requests, which are huge, like the people who are actually reaching out to you, I think often get overlooked. And there's a lot of like.

[00:33:56] Paul: Yeah, 100%, a lot of don't check those inboxes.

[00:34:01] Dmitri: Yeah. Like I will say there, there's definitely quite a bit of like scheimer's. I don't know if scheimer's is the right word, but just like fake artists, just like, yeah, I'm an influencer and it's because they bought 100,000 followers and are paying for likes on every post. And so yes, you want to you want to be wary of those. But truthfully, authenticity means that they actually love the brand. They actually love the product. So that's where like social listening comes into play. Super important that you're actually wanting to build a connection. And it's not just the brand shouting from a megaphone. And then, you know, your your community managers liking all the people that are tagging you, but actually engaging and saying like, oh, they told this incredible story. We we were able to do this really well at Ruggable because there was just a really unique you really unique problems that, that a washable rug did actually solve for, for, for people like a lot of people had like handicapped or disabled pets that the rug provided them so much peace of mind that, like, they just didn't care if the pet had an accident, you know and they would tell us these stories and then we would want to like, okay, how do we turn this into something that is like, super valuable and in a lot of ways, like, really promotes them, not just us, but like, how do we get how do we give this person a platform? Because the story, just like it means so much to them, but it means so much to us, you know? That's where like, authenticity is really just like the chef's kiss like that. That's where it comes in. And then, yeah, all the other things that you mentioned, like, you know, the, the vetting tools and, and the protocols of making sure that the audience is, is. Correct at the demos line up and then the that the audience is authentic. So yeah, I think that ultimately it really just kind of comes down to like, are you are you paying attention because that's your your community is there. It's your it's your customer base.

[00:36:14] Paul: The hard thing is paying attention as you scale, right?

[00:36:17] Dmitri: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Because you're so focused on influencer partnerships are so labor intensive that I, it makes a lot of sense that influencer and social is combined, but it should be like they're separate programs within the same kind of bubble and umbrella. Yeah.

[00:36:34] Paul: Yeah, 100%. So, you know, we talk about relationships and authenticity. We also talk about forecasting and being like, yo, you got to deliver or else you're cut. Right. How do you balance both sides of the transactional and also the importance for there to be some sort of like a relationship? The you know, we used to say, you know, influencer homies, you know, they get the homie hookup, right? Like you want them to feel like they actually are, you know, one text away from the founder if possible or whatever that could look like. How how do you balance both? And have you seen performance incentives, for example, whether it's affiliate commission or bonusing people out, if they get a certain number of views, help bridge that?

[00:37:19] Dmitri: Yeah. Performance incentives largely. I've not seen work that well. It's just it's just a matter of like creators want to get paid for doing the work. And I understand that, and that makes sense. But again, from the brand perspective, we're looking at it deeply from an economic standpoint. Like I get that. But if your view if you're getting 30,000 views per reel or per YouTube video and then the sponsored one gets 6000, like I'm going to feel screwed over and it's not your fault, but it's, you know, like there's no and all the influencers and their managers and agents be like, not our fault. Sorry. So you can do other things, you know, like boosting posts or whatever to try to like counteract that. But yeah, it's really challenging. And it's it's something that I think speaking from the brand side, you know, I think a lot of creators and managers would disagree with me. But like, I think there's got to be something that changes. It makes it a little bit more like not metric based, but a little bit more balanced. Because truthfully, like, I'm never going to work with you again. And going back to the first point, like performance matters, that's kind of the first lens. But as we've seen, like performance has kind of gone downhill. Rates have gone up. It's getting more and more difficult to like make those economics work. And so I developed like a multi multi-tiered like value proposal from every influencer.

[00:38:56] Dmitri: So if you drive performance that's fantastic. Let's keep working together on a performance basis. If you don't drive performance but the content's amazing. Great. Let's work on content licensing together. Let's do stuff for paid ads. Let's do more creative executions that are less focused on like what we'll do well on your feed, but more focused on what we'll do well for us. For a paid ad standpoint, if the contest just okay and the performance isn't really there, but they have a high reach for a low cost. So like the CPMs make sense, then you're an awareness ambassador. Like we'll work with you on promoting promos or holiday tentpoles or seasonal stuff or new product launches, like just getting the word out. It's a brand awareness campaign. And then there's kind of affiliate as the last one, which is based entirely on like, brand love and loyalty. You want to try to still maintain a relationship and, like, incentivize those people. So give them an affiliate link, maybe some free product and a regular connection to the brand. So that way it's not like, oh, no, no one's performing like there's no value provided to the brand. That's not true. Like there's all these different ways that we can continue to work with somebody and, you know, for some type of value that they provide. But yeah, it's just kind of comes over to where you can, you know, where you can see the most value. Yeah.

[00:40:23] Paul: So it's I think it's it's becoming rare to find these unicorn influencers that can create great content, drive a bunch of results, get a ton of reach. But if you're able to identify, hey, you know, person A is going to create awesome content. Like let's just pair with them, give them a thousand bucks a month, whatever that is. Create two ads. We don't even need you to post on the feed, but you're an awesome content creator storyteller. Awesome. Yeah. And then the flip side, right, you can optimize for folks that just have a little bit more reach and awareness to broadcast your new product launches, all that. Kind of stuff. Awesome. Cool. Well, we're gonna just wrap here with the general topics. I want to make sure we leave some time for questions. Dimitri, this was super, super dense and valuable. Thanks for walking through a lot of these ideas. Playbook strategies. I learned a couple of things, and I'm sure folks in the audience did as well. So we have some time for questions. We have a few already, but I encourage people to drop in any questions in the comments, and we'll get through a couple of them. The first one I want to start off with is you know, someone asked Dimitri, you talked about attribution and closing the loop and having better tracking. And now TikTok shops does exactly that. Where do you see the future? There. So a little bit kind of like touching that original topic, but curious to kind of actually double click there. We've got this closed loop ecosystem you mentioned it was hard for brands to just keep track and predict. Now we've got TikTok shops. Where do you think it's going to go?

[00:42:01] Dmitri: Yeah, I think TikToks TikTok shops has certain restrictions on it. So, you know, you have to ship your product to their warehouse. They act like a three pl for you. Then they ship it from there. So like it's like working with Amazon, but it's also a little less reliable. And again, it's it's just highly dependent on a platform that is shifting all the time. And I think largely like the congressional stuff and like it getting banned is largely out of the picture now. But again, like you're betting a large portion of your strategy on that. And so again, if you're able to like surpass their restrictions and get into the program and test it, I'm all for it because of like it being that closed loop directly, you understand what the ROI is. But beyond that, I think affiliate is the, the biggest part of, you know, the future, the future as it relates to performance. You know, it's it's influencers having their own stores, you know, with with multiple products in there that are curated and people know. So like kind of similar to right now how if you're scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, you could come across a product and you might click through and be interested in it.

[00:43:19] Dmitri: Maybe you'll purchase it or you won't go on with your life. Whatever. But people are going to have their favorite creator shops, and they already do. But I think it's going to continue to get bigger. Because one, they realize that they're supporting that creator, but two, they're becoming a lot more aware of, like, oh, I love this person's style, their home style, their clothing style. So I'm just going to go to their shop because even like if you're paying attention to like the fashion influencers on Instagram and their bios, they'll put like, I'm five, three size small, you know this is my size waist. This is my size. Like pant leg, whatever. So that you're like, oh, I'm also that size. I'm going to follow this influencer because I like your style is literally my exact same size. So I know what it'll look like when I, when I put it on, you know. So I see a ton of value. Yeah, yeah. From the, from the affiliate standpoint there.

[00:44:12] Paul: A couple more quick fire questions so we can get through a number of them. Angel, thanks for your question. Angel asked, can you elaborate on best practices for leveraging micro versus macro influencers specifically for increasing engagement and authenticity?

[00:44:29] Dmitri: Yeah. So if you're if your goal is increasing engagement, authenticity, it's going to be a lot more micro than macro. Macro is really built towards just like splashing your name across a billboard on social. So the different strategies are largely pertaining to like the number of partners that you work with because, you know, that's that's the counterbalance is like you're going to get a lot more value by working with influencers, but it's a lot more work to work with a lot more influencers, just to reach the number of people that you could reach by working with one macro influencer. So one partnership is always going to be easier to do than 30 partnerships. But the value you have here is, is a lot more. So also, you kind of get to this point of this tipping point of you can only do so many partnerships by yourself. You can't automate these partnerships. So then you need another person. If you're on the brand side and you're like, can I get an intern? Can I get a coordinator like, you know, to help me scale this thing? And so.

[00:45:36] Paul: The interns.

[00:45:38] Dmitri: Yeah. Yes. Totally. But yeah. So, like, you have to consider that pathway as well, because, again, you could just work with five macro influencers and it's it's less overall work. In some ways I think in other ways that like contracting with a macro influencers agent is a nightmare sometimes. But you can reach a lot more people that way, you know, so you're taking it's basically like a baseball strategy of like trying to get on base or just swinging for home runs. Each has its potential value, but the safer strategy is just try to get on base.

[00:46:17] Paul: Especially as you're starting off. A question from Morgan. Thanks for dropping all your knowledge, Dmitri, I agree. Oh, that's not a question. Oh no, it is a question. I'd love your thoughts on defining a target CPM. So how do you define a target CPM? When you're running these programs, what are the inputs?

[00:46:37] Dmitri: Oh, this is a this is a good question because I typically work off of, like, media CPMs. So if you're, like, buying ads on a CPM basis, you know, on Google or YouTube or whatever, you know, you're probably paying in the range of like. And Paul. Feel free to like fact. Check me on this. 10 to $30 CPMs, right? So we're in that range depending on what it is. Yeah, I.

[00:47:07] Paul: Think just checking with peers in your industry, because it really depends. Right? If you're running ads for healthcare versus supplements. Right?

[00:47:13] Dmitri: It depends on the category.

[00:47:15] Paul: The key is just getting those numbers to benchmark. Right. So you can be like okay, cool. If we're going to spend Facebook ads for supplements in the US it's going to be $18 CPM.

[00:47:25] Dmitri: Right? Right. And so you're using that as a benchmark, but also understanding that like you're also getting the creative production element of this as well. So you have to, you know, fatten that up and build that cost on top. So you ultimately end up with like I get YouTube is always the top because YouTube is is the most synonymous with CPMs. Like no. One on no influencer that's focused on Instagram or TikTok is talking about CMS CPMs at all. And if you try to bring up CPM to them, they're like, what do you know? Like, I don't I don't care that you're aiming for a certain CPM. The views are going to be the views, whereas the views on YouTube are a bit more consistent. And so that number plays into it a bit more. But you know, I get I reach out to YouTubers and I get rates back that are like $250 CPMs. It's like, sorry, what.

[00:48:17] Paul: World? Yeah.

[00:48:18] Dmitri: Well, not not gonna happen.

[00:48:21] Paul: Model is gonna break.

[00:48:22] Dmitri: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So again, just kind of like and I'll say this like, it's always based off of what the rates are for these people that you're reaching out to. At this point, most influencers of any reasonable size have their rates. And so it's a negotiation from there. And you're just trying to get to a semi-reasonable CPM so that you can at least test with some with some scale.

[00:48:51] Paul: Awesome. Dimitri, thank you so much. This was great. Really appreciate you taking the time to educate here. A lot of great lessons and playbooks here. Where can people go to follow you, learn more, maybe all that stuff?

[00:49:08] Dmitri: Yeah, LinkedIn. Find me on LinkedIn. And yeah, I, I don't I will say I don't post super often. I'm not like a top voice or anything, but connect with me. And, you know, feel free to reach out directly. I love having these conversations. Clearly, I could talk about this for hours on end, so Yeah. Please, please reach out.

[00:49:35] Paul: Awesome. And we've got two quick follow ups. On behalf of archive follow us on LinkedIn. We've got more webinars coming soon. Hopefully they are close to as good as Dimitri's. We'll do our best. We've got two more this month, including one on whitelisting coming up next Friday. And then if you're interested in archive, we're an AI platform for social listening and UGC management. We work with over a thousand brands and help them, you know, track creators, find UGC, manage, UGC, all that good stuff. Check out archive comm slash demo if you'd like to learn more. We'd love to show you the platform and see if we can help you scale programs and get to 1000, 5000, maybe even 100,000 influencers. Thank you all for tuning in. We'll see you next time.