Five Ways That Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand, With Ryan Detert of Influential
“To me, leadership is all about leading by example. If your team sees you putting in the effort and making the sacrifices, then they will, in turn, follow your lead and do the same. It is also important to find a hole in the marketplace and come up with an innovative idea, by creating either a product or service that helps people solve a particular problem. You also have to be able to listen to your team and empower them to make decisions that will help propel your company forward.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Detert, Influential. With Influential, they have created partnerships with IBM Watson, Oracle (Moat), and WME. They recently raised a $12M Series B funding and their client list includes the likes of Walmart, Pepsi, Sony Pictures, and Hyundai.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was actually an influencer myself, 5 years ago. I don’t sing or dance. I have no talent. What I created are called niche accounts. It started with accounts like fake President Obama, Buddha, and Santa Claus and I found that these accounts, sometimes overnight, we’re getting tens to hundreds of thousands of followers. It was at this point I saw a business opportunity. I started verticalizing niche accounts like @Travel @Automotive and @FashionandStyle. We were selling posts on these accounts and selling 6-figure packages with our tens of millions of followers. I was building these accounts and growing the followings very rapidly and quickly learned that I could monetize them, but found that without transparent data, brand safety, and technology, brands wouldn’t spend significant budgets, so I set out to create a checklist of all the potential pitfalls that can happen in influencer marketing and that was the foundation for what became Influential. We developed an AI influencer platform that connected all of the biggest accounts on social media with the world’s top brands, using transparent data and machine learning.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
Early on in our company’s history, we actually had big events during major cultural moments of the year, like Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) and Super Bowl. We had a particularly amazing one in Vegas during EDC at Mike Tyson’s former mansion. Several hundred influencers and brands partied all weekend long and Mike got wind of what we were doing in his old house. He actually showed up and the party lost its mind, but he didn’t stay long, I think that the scene of a bunch of 20-somethings running around his pool and basketball court probably made him want to just tell everyone to just get out of his (former) house.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We have teamed up with the United Nations on multiple occasions to run campaigns for the International Day of Peace, as well as World AIDS Day. We had the pleasure of taking a team of 5 of our top influencers to the United Nations to meet Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations. We also did his first-ever (and possibly his last) Snap on Snapchat! In addition, we’ve worked with the World Food Program, the UN’s global feeding arm, on their #MillionMealsForLove campaign. Lastly, we teamed up with the American Red Cross to raise money for Hurricane Irma, which occurred where I’m from in South Florida.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
First and foremost, you must be willing to work harder than everyone else. This requires making a lot of sacrifices and losing a lot of sleep. To me, leadership is all about leading by example. If your team sees you putting in the effort and making the sacrifices, then they will, in turn, follow your lead and do the same. It is also important to find a hole in the marketplace and come up with an innovative idea, by creating either a product or service that helps people solve a particular problem. You also have to be able to listen to your team and empower them to make decisions that will help propel your company forward.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?
My mom, Anita Detert, has been major influence in my life. She’s a single mother, who raised 3 kids. I know everyone says their mother is a saint, but I honestly believe mine will be. What she’s done for charities like Camp Sunshine, where terminally ill children and their families spend time with others going through the same experience, and the Boca Raton Children’s museum, where she was the committee chair, is shown that she thinks about the health and wellness of others and puts those needs before her own. I hope to be half as selfless and caring as her in my life.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
We have been fortunate to be tapped for largely Fortune 500 campaigns, from Super Bowls to The Olympics. Currently, with a major QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) company, we are using first-to-market weather data to deliver a geo-targeted Instagram campaign, based on their hot and cold drinks. Using predictive weather data, we know where to serve the QSR’s most enticing product, based on the temperature and humidity a consumer is currently in. This affects which influencers to use and the content they create to align with specific weather that consumers would be experiencing.
What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)
There is an exact formula for how best to monetize, depending on your content, platform, and whether you want immediate or long-term money.
1) The quickest way to monetize is a branded deal on one of your existing social platforms. Working with an agency or brand-direct, you create content promoting a product that aligns with your audience. To get a deal, besides working with networks, you can DM or email a brand showing them why you would be a great advocate. Always make sure you are FTC compliant and use #Ad or #Sponsored.
2) If you have long-form content, platforms like YouTube, and most recently, Facebook, pay you for ads viewed on your channel. IGTV will invariably start letting influencers monetize their content. Take your existing Snap stories, IG stories and YouTube content and drip feed it to your audience, so that you have time to create new content, while building this new channel.
3) Get your fans and followers to supplement your content creation with a membership platform like Patreon. You can charge subscriptions for varying levels of access to you and your content.
4) Amplification. Selectively allow smaller influencers, who align with your audience, to buy a shout-out from you and expose them to your audience. Make sure you are FTC compliant.
5) Create merchandise, either branded with your logo or likeness, or be like Kylie Jenner and partner up with a manufacturer to create your own line of products.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)
If I could pick anyone’s brain on how to excel at life, I’d choose Elon Musk. He’s the modern day Howard Hughes, minus the OCD and jars of urine (look it up). I would want to understand how he has been able to tackle the biggest issues of our time, like renewable energy, transportation and space travel. Any one of those companies would put someone in rarified air. With 85 employees I try to find balance, so I can execute at the highest level. I can’t currently fathom multiple companies with thousands of employees.