Joe Gagliese of Viral Nation: Five Ways That Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand
Educate your audience! Influencers have cultivated a tremendous audience that relies on them for everything from fashion and design trends to health and wellness advice.
As part of my series about “How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Gagliese.
A driven and results-focused entrepreneur, at 24, Joe Gagliese co-founded Viral Nation. As CEO, Joe provides strategic direction and leadership to marketing campaigns, talent representation, and partnership development. He is a subject matter expert in social media marketing and has worked tirelessly to position Viral Nation as an industry leader, working with the top 100 global brands and has key relationships with thousands of global influencers.
Gagliese meticulously calculates risk and reward, with a gift of seeing opportunity where others don’t. Over a five-year span, he and his co-founder Mat have built an exceptionally talented team and have scaled business a remarkable 300%-400% year over year, with no outside investment.
Committed to his entrepreneurial roots, Joe never turns away the ‘little guy’; helping businesses who are suffering, become some of the highest-grossing companies to date. He is also committed to sharing his advice for success with future leaders in his role as Entrepreneur in residence at the University of Toronto.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is your “backstory”? What brought you to this point in your career?
As far back as I can remember I’ve been an entrepreneur. Early on, Mat and I developed glow in the dark dog collars, sold phone cases in the back of university classrooms, and gradually built SAAS platforms and a successful liquidation company. Throughout all of these ventures,
the one thing that was abundantly clear was our determination to create something that would significantly change the industry we enter.
Once we tapped into this world of social media we knew we found our calling. We started out representing talent and saw a wealth of opportunity to grow this new form of marketing. As agents, we forged deep relationships with many of the largest and fastest growing influencers, giving us a front seat to inner workings of these emerging platforms. We became so entrenched in the day-to-day and really wanted to monopolize on the early success of our agency. We identified our goal — to be among the top performing agencies in the influencer marketing space; the most innovative and advanced with the best reputation.
This drive is what propelled us to expand beyond just the talent agency. Today, Viral Nation is proud to work directly with some of the largest global brands and we continue to educate and push the boundaries within social media. We recently launched Influsoft — a proprietary technology that powers our client campaigns with data and insights. In addition to analytics, it seamlessly allows some of the world’s largest brands to manage and track their social accounts and campaigns.
We also continue to expand globally with capabilities and representation around the world. We rarely stop moving. Mat and I are constantly sharing ideas and juggling projects that are up and coming. We are always looking for ways to make waves in the industry.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
My partner Mat was running an eSports event for a client at a venue that holds 7,000 people and the power went out. To keep guests entertained, we started a random talent show on stage with the influencers. They started singing the national anthem. Everyone had a good laugh and was very entertained until the power came back on.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Giving back is the ultimate reward for us. We are always looking for unique ways to help our community and take a special interest in small business and entrepreneurial ventures At the beginning of the pandemic, our influencers collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO) to share important information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, raising awareness globally.
On a more local level, the devastation to small businesses in our community was profound. We worked with a number of businesses to raise money and help them transition to online businesses, growing online communities that would help them stay open. The campaigns we developed not only increased awareness but created a platform for selling their products or services online. It’s really rewarding to know that we are tangibly helping businesses keep their doors open through our efforts.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
Business ideas alone are worth very little. There is no supplement for determination, creating meaningful connections and being a savvy business person. Having the foresight and vision to think beyond current needs is what drives our agency forward in a competitive industry. . That same vision is also what fuels our growth into new ventures and opportunities.
None of us can achieve success without a bit of help along the way. Is there a particular person who made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?
Our success hinges on our people. Mat and I are so grateful for our amazing team who have joined us on this incredible journey. Pre-Covid, we worked on one of the first and largest global mobile eSports tournaments for our client. As with events of this size and scope, there was a lot of coordination involved — planning, flights, logistics, production and managing multiple influencers was paramount in order to pull this huge activation off. We were so impressed with the care and diligence that the team put in to ensure that the event would be executed flawlessly. In the end, the team earned rave reviews from our client.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Mat and I worked very hard to launch Influsoft — Viral Nation’s proprietary technology that offers the highest degree of analytics, tracking and influencer sourcing capabilities to our clients. At our agency, our strategies are rooted in data — Influsoft is the technology that helps bring campaigns to a new level by identifying crucial audience insights that help define the consumer journey. Ultimately, we built something that gives our team and the brands we work with the most information industry wide allowing us to make the best decisions based on data — not our guts.
What are your “Top Five Ways That Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)
First, let me say that influencers are some of the most incredible entrepreneurs. They have forged amazing connections through their audience and have earned their loyalty and trust by bringing them into their lives. As an influencer, you have the opportunity to create and define your own path, and achieve goals on your own terms. Being able to monetize their brand is an amazing privilege and one that we don’t take lightly. The advice we offer is:
Find your passion and figure out how it fits into your channel — sell the product or service to your audience. We have helped many of our exclusive talent launch their own product with great success.
Get to know your audience well and use those skills to collaborate with brands. Create content for brands you align with and share those reviews with your audience across your channels. Make sure to work with brands you can genuinely endorse. This ensures authentic partnerships and maintains the trust you have built with your audience.
Take advantage of affiliate marketing programs. Influencers select brands that they align with and push sales of products they use to earn a commission. Many retailers play in this space but Amazon has truly mastered this strategy by mobilizing influencers to push products and increase their revenue potential when their audience purchases via affiliate links.
As influencer marketing becomes more prevalent, consulting is another potential source of revenue. Whether offering brands strategic guidance or mentoring other influencers, consulting is a great way to put their knowledge and experience in the space to work — offering tips, best practices and education for clients.
Educate your audience! Influencers have cultivated a tremendous audience that relies on them for everything from fashion and design trends to health and wellness advice. Develop and sell online courses on your niche. Whether it’s ecommerce, investing, recipes or design, audiences are far more likely to want to learn from someone who has done it themselves and who they consider an expert in their field.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
One of my passions has always been helping others. I also love teaching — it’s something that I have always wanted to do and in my position I have been fortunate enough to have some amazing opportunities to teach others my craft, and speak about business and entrepreneurship in general.
If I could inspire a movement, it would be to help support small businesses. Over the past year because of the pandemic, we have seen the demise of many local and small businesses who were not set up to be digitally present. We started an initiative to help bring awareness to small businesses struggling to translate their businesses online. I would love to expand this initiative to help more businesses who are facing distress due to uncertainty. I believe that change at a smaller level at scale could really spark these local businesses and make way for new opportunities.
We are very blessed that 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. :-)
Warren Buffet: Although Mr. Buffet is an extremely successful businessman, he is known for maintaining a simplistic lifestyle. What really speaks to me though, is his gift for being able to think ahead of the crowd. He used his talents to the best of his ability to make something exceptional for himself. I resonate with his approach to business and thinking long-term. I also learned how important it is to invest in yourself. I’d love to have a conversation with him about a trend or company that has piqued his interest lately, or what makes companies attractive to him. I’d also love to hear his perspective on the current economic climate and what he hopes the money he has donated will accomplish.
What is the best way our readers can follow your work online?
Follow our social pages across Instagram and Linkedin for the latest news and updates from Viral Nation — our team regularly creates content on the latest industry trends and news and what’s hot at VN. We are currently undergoing a revamp of our own brand and website so stay tuned to see the exciting future Viral Nation properties.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!