Strategy Sessions Podcast Episode 11: Influencer Season

Featuring Sedge Beswick

Influencer Season continues the run of terrible names for podcasts with amazing guests.

This week, Sedge Beswick, joins Andi to discuss influencer marketing. Sedge is Founder and MD of SEEN Connects an Influencer Marketing agency that works with clients like Nike, eBay and Panasonic.

We discuss:

  • The Kardashians (luckily only briefly)
  • Being a Nike fan
  • Strategy first
  • Measuring the ROI of influencer marketing
  • Robbie Williams v Metallica
  • Growing an agency
  • The ASA guidelines
  • Questions NEVER to ask her at a dinner party
  • Lessons for her younger self

Listen / Download


Show Notes

Sedge Beswick

As one of the first in the UK to work within social media, Sedge forged her path with global brands before launching SEEN Connects: a globally-based, innovative influencer marketing agency.

Just some of the brands on Connects’ client list are Nike, Bumble, Panasonic and eBay. Connects’ influencer relationships include household names, such as musician Lewis Capaldi and television presenter Laura Whitmore.

Sedge’s expertise is regularly called upon by global news networks, such as BBC News and Sky News, as well as print publications like the Financial Times.

As a habitual contributor to The Drum magazine, Sedge offers invaluable insight into the influencer industry. She is a visiting university lecturer and an accomplished public speaker, having hosted workshops for No.10 Downing Street and Google.

Passionate about education, Sedge also set up a mentor programme to support young people going into the marketing industry, and is now responsible for having placed over 50 young people into jobs in the UK.

Sedge’s two books are:

140 Ultimate Twitter Lols
Make Instagram Your Business

Seen Connects website
Find Sedge on LinkedIn or Instagram

Andi Jarvis

If you have any questions or want to talk about anything that was discussed in the show, the best place to get me is on Twitter or LinkedIn.

If you don’t get the podcast emailed to you (and a monthly newsletter) you can sign up for it on the Eximo Marketing website.

Make sure you subscribe to get the podcast every fortnight and if you enjoyed the show, please give it a 5* rating.

Andi Jarvis, Eximo Marketing.

Interview Transcription

This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.

Right today on the strategy sessions, we welcome Sedge Beswick, who is going to talk to us about influencer marketing. Welcome to the show.

Hello. Thanks for having me.

Thank you for your time. Influencer marketing is one of those areas that I think everybody thinks they understand and everybody thinks they know. But I think it’s possibly the most misunderstood area of marketing. What’s your view on it?

My background, I’ve always worked in social media, and I think it’s a similar thing where because people had a Facebook account, because they had an Instagram account, they all think that they’re pros. And I think with influence marketing because they might follow like someone who’s done an ad before, they all think they can do it.

So, yeah, hopefully by the end of this session, I want to realize it’s a bit more complicated and there is a bit of a science behind it when you do do it the right way. But I am the first person to tell you there are a lot of people doing it the wrong way.

And I always like to talk about when things go wrong on the show because I think you learn a lot from mistakes. So what are the common things? You see what people make a mess of when they start approaching influencer marketing?

Yeah, so I think I mean, there’s a lot. So one would be that people tend to just get 500 people and they’ll hope that it’ll stick and they’ll hope one or two will post about it and post about it the right way. And less is absolutely more and really choosing the absolute right people that are aligned to your business and to your brand. You know, there’s so many beauty brands out there that send every single color of their foundation to every single influencer.

Let’s talk about the waste there, but also do 50 percent of those people and make sure you understand their shade and send them a product that they can actually use.

And there’s also stuff around the assay guidelines and people that just don’t make any effort to understand it or to know it or to bother to get under the skin of it. And I think that can really be quite damaging for the wider industry within the influence of space. Then this stuff is the Wild West. People don’t know what to charge. They don’t know what they should be charging. So then you get all the fun when you get a brand that goes to someone and they just say yes without any negotiation.

And then that person thinks that that is their market. Right. And they could have been paid sometimes 50, 60 percent over what they should have been paid beforehand. And so, yes, I mean, I could go on all day, but there’s a lot of little things and then there’s much larger, more complicated things and where people kind of do keep making the same mistakes than the influence of space.

So I want to come back to the stuff in a little bit. We had said I’ll up who’s the CMO of Channel four on the podcast a couple of shows ago.

He also sits on the NASA council. So we didn’t really get into influencer marketing, but I’ve got a lot of time for the I but I do think there might be a little bit muddled in some of their regulations and guidance, but we’ll come back to that later. But what I want to talk about first is your agency, which is seen connect, takes a very different approach to influencer marketing. A couple of things I liked when I looked on your website was the House Rules.

First of all, the three House rules do not explain what they are and why you thought things are going on the homepage for everybody to see.

Yeah, I mean, there on the home page there on social, there are no desks and house rules are very much around. And so the first one is it’s not about how much you pay, but it’s about how much you can. So you see so many businesses that will pay, as I said, at the end of the first point, so much more than they should do or anyone can get in touch with the Cardassian agent and pay them a small fortune.

But actually, what does that mean and what does that do? Because the next day a Kardashian will be promoting someone else that might be a completely competitive product. So for us, it’s much more how to use influencers almost as an extension of your existing business, as an extension of your social team, your party, where actually you really kind of get full value in them and full understanding of what their weaknesses are or where they may need more support or more advice and more help.

And actually you can then negotiate better rates and negotiate better contracts because it feels like a two way partnership is a budgeting exercise.

And we also then have and it’s not about reach, but it’s about authenticity.

This one this one touched my heart when I saw that. Yes.

Yeah. I’m like, look, we do we do some of the big heavy hitters. We’ve just done a partnership with Louis Paldi. We have done footballers such as Germaine Genius or Cambridge. We do Frankie Bridge like. But the difference is it has to be the right person. So we do a lot around archetypal alignments, that kind of tapping into the twelve psyche’s. And it makes sense that you think Harley Davidson and you think like outlaw, you think Reppel and you can imagine this kind of like bearded tattooed guy on a motorbike.

But actually, you know, there’s businesses that have that really defined archetype element to their product and the service. But then they’ll put a corporation on a Harley Davidson and hope that it also I mean, I did not mean to make this a car and say I’ve got the CV shows next, that I am of a generation where I will proudly say never seen one.

But that’s OK. That’s all right. That’s just a bit of everything.

I actually haven’t seen it and I feel like I probably should have with my job, but I just can’t.

Yeah, I’m with you, I would say, at really making sure that you use the right people, the right personalities for your brand again. Thinking about that bodging exercise from a customer point of view, from a consumer point of view, it makes sense. So you don’t see it and go, that’s a bit awkward. Or, you know, you’ve got the boot example. You got someone’s ass out. And I the but holding some slamming products you like, well, they’re not walking around, but to show people that slimming product and they look bangin already.

And then last but by no means least is content that tries to help versus content that tries to sell. So again, it’s the same way if you’re kind of shoving a product in someone’s face and going by this, try this. Actually, there’s no education. There’s no understanding around what it is and what that does. So one of my favorite geeky stats is they have to same a piece of content eleven point four times before you convert. And actually that’s where influences play a brilliant part of the education, the understanding, you know, this is a pair of trainers, but for running, this is the length you can go to whilst running in them.

This is the Warm-Up exercises versus his trainers go and buy them. And so, yeah, just more helpful content, I’d say.

I’ve worked a number of episodes to have someone on the show who we can talk about cultural stuff, young and archetypes with.

No, I don’t want to get too deep into the psychology of it, but it’s it’s early psychology principles that people want to behave and take on these different archetypes.

And it’s interesting that you use that to help match your clients to to brands and things like that. So what was behind that?

It’s a good question. Like so many years ago now, it’s kind of something I’ve always I think when I worked there for five years, associate DNA was just crystal clear. You understood it. You knew exactly who we were talking to and it worked. And we never talked about archetypes when we were a source. But when I set the business, I was going to meet a few different agencies and a few different brands. Even I was really getting the sense of exactly who that persona is, who that brand is.

But then when they were talking about the influences that they worked with, it was just so ridiculous. Like we were working with we actually worked I’ve been working with this brand ever since, but is a fashion retailer. And they said, oh, don’t worry about influence marketing such it doesn’t work for us. And that customer was apparently living a busy life outside of London, juggling usually two jobs, usually two or three kids. And then they were paying people from like made in Chelsea to promote their products.

And I was like, all right. So you’re telling me this person with a Chanel handbag walking around Chelsea go into the biggest place? It’s for dinner. Of course, that’s not going to move the dial. So that’s kind of what I was like. Right. How do I explain this? Like use someone else’s logic just in case they don’t believe me? I’m just really selling the archetypal element. And yeah, when the teams start, they go through quite an intense workshop from Joe, who heads up our celebrity and influenza division around what that archetypal alignment means, what it looks like.

And then some we go into a brand like a Jack Daniels has a very clear and defined these are our archetypes and other brands have it, but they just don’t realise what it is or they call it something different. So as soon as you can kind of explain that like, oh, yeah, I know what our brand persona is and I know actually who would be right and who would be aligned to the business.

But from now, the other thing and again, I don’t know enough about John to make this a whole podcast about him, but I remember from studying is about how some people wear different masks at different times during the day, during their lives and things like that, which kind of I thought was a great jumping off point into that question of authenticity again. But more about from the influences and when you see other influences jumping between different brands, although it is the social really a reflection of their real life, or is it all put on?

And how do you manage that when brands are looking for maybe authenticity or looking to talk about certain subjects, whether that’s pride, whether that’s Black Lives Matter.

And there’s this issue of is it just all fake for social or is it real? And how do you manage all of that? Yeah.

So no influence or not? No one person is just defined by one thing. So even when I tried to think about my archetype like I am, I would say I’m a rebel. I don’t do things by the book and I challenge the status quo. I would say that I kind of like tap into the justice side of things so I never take things too seriously. But then equally, sometimes I have to go into a meeting and it might be with a huge bank and I have to put on a blow dry, put on a pair of stilettos and I’m like an adult.

So you again, like that’s not me being a fake person, but that’s understanding the room and knowing how you have to play things and how you have to kind of dial different parts of your personality up or down.

And I think even if you take sorry, I’m going to say covid already I hate myself covid Clexane, Kovik like I’d say I’d do a shot, but it’s twelve o’clock, so that might not be the right day.

But we, you know, the biggest influence that everyone is now fully, fully aware of is Joe Wick’s the body coach. He became the nation’s PE teacher. He’s definitely going to get an OBE. The queen like those things are given and he goes straight into the kind of hero category, because whilst everyone was thinking about and trying to adapt to this new world, he was at the forefront. He was doing his bit not for himself, but to help other people.

He then donated all of the ad revenue from YouTube to NHS charities, his businesses and what he’s doing. He kind of slowed down and stopped, whereas actually, you know, he is playing the long game because he’s now in bidding wars with different sporting giants for him to be the face of that brands. He has got his partnership with gusto. He’s talking to Tesco about having his own food range. So there are three immediate, different and conflicting brands.

But actually, it makes sense when you understand him and the fact he is a family man and he’s got his two kids and he has talked about his past and things that have gone on to define who he is. And again, it makes that person far more relatable, like I’m a Nike diehard through and through. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not wearing head to toe. Nike, actually, I my socks and Nike.

I got Michael Jordan behind you as well. Oh, yeah. So, yeah, maybe I should chose a different example, but how do you mix things up? And I think again, when a Nike use Virgile and off-White collaboration’s but Virgil’s really good mates with Kanye and wears Adidas like that’s just the world’s has kind of evolved and changed. And people do use different brands and different partnerships with different things.

So when you’re going through your process, which is the other thing I look from your website strategy first, it’s the Strategy Sessions podcast. That’s what I do in marketing is the strategy element.

So how difficult can that be when you’re talking to clients to get them to stop already thinking of the execution and get the strategy on the page first?

That’s a brilliant question. It varies. It varies quite dramatically. Actually, the bigger you go in terms of a client and spend, actually, the more they want to have that strategy in a really robust place.

And usually around October, November time, that’s when they’re like, right, let’s stop, let’s analyze, let’s get that strategy in order.

And then that new strategy will kick off from January. And we like this.

But you never use strategy that you write five years later, just five minutes later, it’s often pointless and completely updated. So those brands that are really interested in constantly evolving, that looking at that are the ones that we do see the best results with because they don’t stand still. Yeah, no, no, it’s I think that’s right that the companies and sometimes I think I find a lot of companies know what their strategy is. They don’t necessarily have it organized in some sort of way.

But you can talk to them about it and other companies that, yeah, you’re right, the bigger you get, the more it’s look, this is what we’re trying to achieve and this is why we’re trying to go. So that takes me into then right at the other end, when you’re trying to measure success of campaigns, do you always try and take it back to what those strategic objectives were?

Because you talked about it’s not just about reaching the an important and I think I actually think that’s also like, again, one of your earlier questions. Like what? What is one of the biggest mistakes? People making influence marketing is they go they jump into that execution and then they finish. You go, oh, that wasn’t quite right. Or that didn’t do what I want it to do. And when I go in and I work with with brands that I’ve worked with, influences in the past, either in-house or agency, I might call what did you want to do?

What did you set out to achieve? And what we want to start with influences.

And if that’s not an objective, it can be an objective. And you succeeded. Well done. Why aren’t you doing this again? Exactly.

Exactly. So and actually, I think it’s this different things that influences can do. And one is social media is 24/7. Graft is hard work. If you are the social media manager, social media executive, you’re expected to make all this content. You need to do video. You need to be a wordsmith. You need to be in the numbers to understand what’s working. You’ve got to do tick tock, find the trends first. You’ve got to make YouTube and actually like shit.

Often it’s one person. And actually influences can play an amazing role at creating content for brands that aligns the brand calendar, that trade in calendar. And actually sometimes it might just be that we want to be able to make a load of brilliant content. And that’s OK. But no, that that’s the role and that’s the purpose. You know, then we get into the fun stuff, which is, you know, we want to drive new customers through influences.

We want to drive awareness. We want the heavy hits in the sales. But again, unless you set that out at the start, you don’t know what success looks like or what success actually is. And and I think I’ve kind of forgotten the question slightly here.

I thought it was a great answer.

Whatever the question was, I want to that also makes me want to talk about the funnel as well, because you can use influencer marketing from awareness all the way down through to action.

But do you have a view of where it works best in the funnel?

It totally varies based on the vertical that you are in. So, for example, we have done stuff within automotive before. I never go into a room and say like, hey, maybe I can sell ten thousand cars from your forecourt and Wolverhampton tomorrow. Let’s just get as one influence to drive around looking at a car. Not going to happen. So from an automotive perspective, mass awareness, but also some of those like weird things that you just never think of with a car or never comes up in a conversation in a forecourt.

The influence is can articulate that and explain it in a way that is like real to that world. And that’s where that kind of helps and plays a role. Whereas when it gets into like Ekom fashion and you can do far more specifically based on this influencer, and sometimes it could be the influence or drive and increase in your following. And you can we target them. But other people well, you know, drive as a retailer that we worked with and Holly Willoughby sold one hundred and fifty units per SKU on average of forty three minutes, like that’s the granular level of detail that you can go into.

I won’t tell you how many customer complaints that drive because they carry one item.

And yeah, that just kind of the balances that you’ve got to play.

I think I did some work in the car sector once and what really surprised me, it wasn’t surprising when you think about it, was that the outside of the car, the shape and the look gets people to come in and want to test drive it. But it’s the interior of the car that is the decision that makes the purchase decision.

And then when you look at all, most car advertising is all about the outside of the car. I know. And sort of trying to work my way through that funnel process of, OK, so that’s to capture them, to get them in, but not to convert the sale. And I couldn’t quite get my head around while I did some things in certain ways. But I do think influencer never considered it for that sort of sex. It would be really useful how they did.

The stuff that we’ve done is around the interior. Yes, standing what’s inside or the functions where you can press a different button and different like, you know, my other half will happily listen to Robbie Williams, but I’m all about the Metallica.

So we’ve got these two extreme ones. And you can have your settings. You jump into the car, it knows which playlist to play. Like you’re never going to be able to do that from driving through town and stay in the outside. So it’s yeah. Solid in those the perks and the small details of the car to get them across.

Is your other half going to forgive you for outing them on a podcast? That I must say probably really in funds. I mean it’s not nineteen ninety nine anymore.

Probably not, probably not enough. Well it’s been lovely knowing you.

Right. Let’s talk about some, some great examples of of influence somatic marketing. So I don’t just want to be negative. I could talk about the negatives of this all day.

Lots of people probably older. Markets, certainly those are sort of 40 and upwards, but down on influencer marketing, it’s just teenage girls selling makeup to teenage girls. But there’s more to it than that. Talk us through a couple of campaigns you’ve worked on. Maybe give us an example of something that’s really kind of big hitting, but also something that maybe people wouldn’t necessarily expect influencer marketing would work for.

Yeah, OK.

So, I mean, one of the ones we’ve just done, I mentioned it was capacity before, so you might have seen some price, although obviously Louis Cataldie now might not be right for 40 plus after he Wants to Be a Millionaire. Did you see that? I didn’t know what to do.

Oh, my God. This is so good. So it’s He Wants to Be a Millionaire. Louis Capacity’s. But on a social saying that is just sold however many million tracks. And the question was something along the lines of like which singer songwriter has just sold however many million tracks that is this year.

And it was like the equivalent of like a Robbie Williams. And then it was Louis Cataldie. And this woman used all three lifelines and was just like, I have no idea who this is capacity was. And he’s been create his own teeshirt range.

And he’s like, I have no idea who the hell they’re escapology.

Or like when you’ve got a lifeline and you still don’t know who he is, it’s so funny because he was like in my world, he’s like, you know, I’m I think I’m really successful. I’m so fortunate for my career. I’ve worked really hard and these are the things I’ve delivered. But then actually there’s this whole market. People just have no idea who I am.

Yeah, it does seem like the best bump’s ever. Louis Capaldi, you’re just brilliant.

Really, really fun. Really entertaining. Doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is. Yeah, it’s what you want. You don’t want to get on set and then have a you have to really warm someone up. But he, we did a campaign with him and with a retailer and he’d been talking about the fact that he put on quite a lot of weight during lockdown. He was getting his deep fried pizzas delivered because he’s Glaswegian and we kind of picked up on that.

Yeah. And he had a new music video that needed to shoot. We couldn’t send our production team to his house to capture and create this content. It was like literally and I’m not exaggerating in his shed. And we’re through face time on multiple different people trying to, like, direct a music video. And that for me was brilliant because I think the total was like seventeen million people listened in a week or tuned in. I didn’t have the numbers, but we it was fun.

It gets the team kind of thinking differently and having to adapt to how they could do stuff. But actually the whole music video was around the products, around fitness and different gym equipment. And then we tied into the outfits that he was wearing. We auctioned off. And so then he’s a big, big advocate of mine, charity, smaller charities that on NHS charities have been really struggling throughout the last of the last nine months of the year because everyone’s focus is on NHS, NHS, how can I help?

And so, again, it meant he could give back whilst not even having a shed. And the content is brilliant. It’s funny. It’s so online for the brand. He’s personally brilliant for the brand too. So yeah, that was a really fun one. Then we’ve got what other stuff can we do is a. Try to think of it like, as you say, most people think fashion and retail. I mean, you did mention earlier you went in for a meeting at a bank in your heels.

I don’t know if that was just an example. Do you work with banks?

Because that would seem like an interesting sector to be doing influencer marketing. Yeah.

So actually, we were just talking to a banker last week and an. The big one, and that the the and it was a similar thing of like how would this work? Let’s start the conversation for ten. And actually the way I always think about influences is that they are businesses within their own right. And like you say, sometimes there might be a 14 year old girl who’s selling beauty. Sometimes it might be a 16 year old guy who’s into gaming or twitch.

And they’re coming up with these ideas around product ranges. They have got unbelievable retention rates in terms of viewing that content. But actually, how do they set themselves up as a business in the sense from a financial perspective, they might want to make investments in other businesses. And that’s why I think banks actually can do a hell of a lot more to support, educate. And again, going back to the kind of rulebook that we have. It’s not about how much you pay.

It’s about how much you care. So how do you support them to make better investments to save that money more? Because I know a 14 year old me was absolutely not saving the money because because I wasn’t making money, whereas they are and they don’t necessarily have the infrastructure and the support around them to know what to do because sometimes those parents don’t understand what they are doing either. Yeah, no.

I must be quite a difficult world as well because it it’s moved so quickly through a generation who, like you said, don’t maybe understand what their kids are doing. Look, my daughter is a massive fan of Tiana Wilson, which seems to be a whole family enterprise involved, which is probably a good thing.

But with the influences getting involved in whether it’s banks or whatever it is, they’re always a worry about a backlash from people over thinking it’s not a good fit or from reputational issues such as an influence that goes off into something not particularly great. How does that sort of factor into the conversations you have?

I think that’s one of the brand’s biggest concerns normally is well, if that person is making that content and they’re sitting over here doing it, what happens?

If so, we always would have a morality clause in our contracts which basically advises the talent of if you were in this situation, these are the promises to which you need to work and don’t slack off the brand, but equally give a clear review and an honest review. So actually, if you’re not sure this isn’t the partnership or right for you and we’ve got a job to do to educate and make sure that the brands understand what that morality clause means.

But equally, unless it is a risque brand or a brand that is slightly controversial, we’re not going to put someone forward for a Nike campaign that actually there are massive. I can’t think of something that I think is politically correct right now, but has done things in the past that they are still doing, that might have a negative implication on the brand. So that’s our role to make sure that not only are they the right people in terms of brand fit, but there’s actually there shouldn’t be any risk.

And then the stress and the panic from us comes off like we’ve told you, they will post on X, Y, Z days. And that’s for us to stress and to make sure that that content is delivered on time versus when you speak to brands like, well, I ask this person’s post in September and October, I paid them. They’ve still not done it. We like well, what actually measures did you have in place to make sure that that was fair and you were helping them to kind of deliver against that, too?

Yeah, it seems that the best brands to do this, sort of the brands you do is the best. Treat it like every other area of the business, you know, like you pay on delivery all the time and paid in advance.

And just those basics seems to be missing sometimes. I think when new people forget, the basics should still apply.

And I also think with influences, it’s often. The like, for me, it’s part of the marketing mix, it is well and truly that it should be in the same documentation when you’re planning your Christmas campaign to twenty, twenty one activation, whereas it is often like an actor, an afterthought and a I’ve managed to scrape together this budget, but it needs to go together here. Like last year we received a Black Friday Braith for influences on Black Friday.

OK, let me just see if I can find my magic wand over. No, no, no. Exactly.

And that’s where mistakes or errors will will happen, because you’re just not giving the right amount of time to make sure that it’s executed and delivered properly. Yeah.

And you mentioned about stuff being delivered on certain dates and certain times. We’ve had quite an interest in someone with covid, but also things like Black Lives Matter.

So the blackout Tuesday when things started taking over social media that way, what’s the approach there when if you’ve got content due to drop for a brand and all of a sudden the day before you go, oh, shit, tomorrow’s blackout Tuesday. What’s the process there?

What’s the thoughts on? Yeah, so if there is something that isn’t forward planning, that happens to be a really key moment or something that you really should honor and kind of take that time to appreciate and give it, it’s the light it needs, then we work so closely with the influences we can say heads up. And sometimes they would have heard of some of these things, like we needed to change this. I had a really classic example of Azar’s where we had an influence, a network they opposed.

I think it was twice a day onto social media. They each had a chosen platform and one of the girls had posted a picture of friends. And it was like, holiday is always a good idea. And it was a schedule piece of content rather than her outfit looks. And literally about four minutes after that schedule post had gone live was when a plane crashed in France.

And, you know, it was horrendous. A lot of people lost their lives and the influence at the time was actually on a plane so we couldn’t get hold of her. And that, for me was the biggest lesson when actually you control that content, too. So it was run today. So immediately we got everyone’s password. So if anything like that was to happen, we reacted. We have to wait three hours because not another person had access to her rended social handle.

So you have to learn those things the hard way, I think.

And all the best lessons come that way. Yeah.

Yeah. But it is anything like you say with Blackout Tuesday, we kind of heard about that the week before. We were able to then change the content and actually we advised all brands and set top brands. Never mind Blackout Tuesday like this needs the time. Let’s pause everything and start again the next week. And so yeah, we can kind of work with the brands that way to educate them, but also to support the influencer, too.

OK, so influencer marketing into A.S.A. guidelines, you said earlier on we talk about them a little bit.

I haven’t been too involved in influencer marketing, probably for sort of four or five years when a lot of the guidelines were kind of coming out. And what I was based in Belfast at the time, we were working all Ireland. So we had to jurisdictions to try and get on top of the regulations in the Republic of Ireland and the UK regulations. And it was a massive pain in the ass, to be honest with you. But some of the regulations seem to make sense like they are in Ireland and things like that hashtag.

But it seemed in the early days that it was easy to sort of bury that, especially, say, on Instagram, where you might be putting twenty hashtags. Some influences were just drop in hashtag ad right in the middle of their hashtag stream. You didn’t know it was offensive content. Now, I know a lot of brands are saying we want that authenticity and we want people to know this is paid for content. But I’m equally sure there’s a whole pile of brands.

We’re like, let’s just, you know, keep it on the down low.

So what’s your view of, firstly of the ACA regulations?

Are they fit for purpose, in your view, and about the the way they implement them and tackle abuse of those of those regulations?

Yeah. So first off, we won’t work with any brand that does not want to comply to the ACA guidelines. We have had probably two or three in the four and a half years we’ve been running. Brands say to us, no, no, no, no, no, we don’t, we don’t need to comply to them. And for me, there’s no point. Like, I don’t want that person, the influence of that celebrity to be the one that’s called out and made an example of on a campaign that we were doing.

I would never want to see any of the team working on stuff. What they think. They don’t have to be compliant. And I think people think influence marketing is this new shiny thing.

Like when I watch triple eleven, twelve years ago, I was still I was doing influencer marketing, which is called something different, and then the word no and legislate registrations.

It was very it was really, really the Wild West and it still is. So I do think the agencies, the brands and the talent all have a role to understand what those guidelines are, to make sure that it is clear and transparent. And if your audience is right, they will support and you’re working with the right brands, they will support you for the fact that this is your career and that you’re managing to get these amazing partnerships. And audiences are more responsive when it’s longer term partnerships.

So, again, one of your earlier points was know you might work with Brand X on a Monday, brand Y on a Tuesday, and then it feels a bit gross and it just feels like you’re in it for the cash versus the kind of supporting, the educating. And so, you know, that’s why brands will do three months, six months, 12 months contracts. And the audience goes, well, we know you don’t say yes to everything because you’ve kind of got brands been your staple, your hair brands.

And we know that that content still works and still resonates. And you kind of get used to it being as part of that content plan. But yeah, and then I think platforms like Instagram, I think are leading the way with the paid full partnership tag. So it isn’t something that you can hide and bury. Nineteen of twenty hashtags. It’s super, super clear at the top. But equally if and influencers trying. To fake ads and say that they’re working with brands when they’re not to appeal to other brands, that people partnerships can just be denied, you’re out of work that way.

So a lot of talk about you for a bit as well, because you’ve mentioned, obviously, you worked at Red Bull or Texas and you’ve been running seen for four or five years now. Yeah, four and a half. Four and a half. Five years.

How many people are seen? What sort of size of agency is it now? And so full time team is twenty one. And then we’ve got quite a lot of freelancers for specialist stuff that we bring in and out for different activations.

So how do you manage that process of you started an agency, you love what you do, you can see your passion for it, but now you’re also responsible for training and development of 21 people, quarterly reviews and things like that. Which which do you really love? So which but so you’re thinking, oh, yeah, I didn’t sign up for this.

You know, the funny thing, the stuff that I love to azar’s and I was there for five years is now the stuff that I really don’t enjoy. That side of the fence is really where I used to love my want once my team and like really understanding where they wanted to get to was the end goal. And I probably spent far too much time doing that.

And and I still obviously enjoy it. But I’ve got a really senior like four directors that are responsible for kind of the team management, making sure that they’re happy, making sure that they’ve kind of got everything that they want and that they need. And because that’s the stuff I usually at one o’clock in the morning, wake up, OK, I’ve forgot to get that one to one and I’ve got to reorganize that meeting.

And it’s almost too many things to juggle sometimes.

But yeah, the stuff I love developing the accounts, which is something I’ve never done before. I really love sailing, which is something I did not realize that I could do. And then I my big thing is like, what’s next? And start trying to think ahead. So whilst we’re influencer marketing agency, we’ve got a podcast production arm, we’ve got a content production on 1st of December. We’ll finally have a paid model set up. And it’s for me just doing a kind of his a patrinos post about it would not keep me excited.

So it’s kind of constantly thinking about how we and how we can make sure that our clients innovate the space.

And did the agency start that way or did you start with influencer marketing and we’ll do content production, or did you just start with will connect you to the influences and and develop what’s been the sort of evolution of the agency?

Yeah, well, the agency was a happy accident for one. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I kind of started. And what we my whole thing was I my experience is all brand side. That is where what I know and what I love. And for me it was how do we kind of almost make sure brands understand that that is an Arawa that you can attribute to influencer marketing when you do it the right way. So that was kind of the as we were going in and it started off more like campaign to campaign, to campaign with different clients.

And then that’s where I was like, oh, some of you, you don’t have the strategy. Look down. Let’s let’s take it back a step. And then it kind of evolved into the different areas of production and stuff to OK, which bits to enjoy now.

So is it is the production exciting but now or do you still get sort of switched on by doing all the strategy with the client?

I love a strategy and I always find it quite surprising and quite interesting the different where different businesses are at. So because I was a source and we were watertight and our strategies and the processes around strategy, I just assumed every business would be the same. I was at the agency.

I wouldn’t have a business if everybody was tight on strategy, but I literally was like twenty seven steps agency went into the first meeting and they didn’t even have a content strategy, social strategy, a PR strategy. And then there was me going, oh my God, let’s have an influence. The strategy over here and then a celebrity strategy. And they were like, whoa, let’s take it back a step and like work out what a marketing strategy is.

And I find quite fun, quite interesting to see in the different stages by different businesses. And the shoots are always exciting. I don’t really go on the on set much, but I, I get the kind of adrenaline rush for when you see that content. So you’ve been in those meetings, you’ve workshopped them, you found out what those brands want and then you see the end product. Yeah. That was, that was great.

Talk to me as well about the way you your influencer. So you’ve got everything from big name celebrities. You mentioned a couple of them down to I can’t remember the name used for the sort of the entry level, but what was the thinking behind them.

Yeah. So we don’t use micro macro because that means something different to every single person that you speak to. And sometimes what we found like in year one, we were going in and saying macro and the person in the room was thinking something completely different in terms of that tailoring system. So we tend to have like the celebrity and we do a lot of celebrity endorsements, celebrity partnerships, and then we’ve got a stop. All the way through to early, which is like a nonno traditionally like a two thousand, ten thousand follower, and they all play a completely different role.

So when we kind of work with those brands, we put in the strategies together. Once we know those budgets, that’s when we will say, actually, you retailer need every single one of these test ticked and turn it on. But they all do something different. Whereas actually and we work with Tommy Tipi, which is a we said you’ve got kids that, you know, Tommy to be is a parenting brand from meal prep through to napi beans. And actually what works for them is drive in that new customer straight through to that site.

And that is the celebrity heavy hitters that you can literally have like a Mrs. Hinche going, oh my God, this just saved my life. Or a gem. Atkinson saying, I bought three perfect products because I have one upstairs, one downstairs and one at my mom’s. And it’s those real stories that make people go, oh, that makes so much sense.

I’m going to do that and make myself have an easier life.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. How often do you get people sitting? You don’t go, oh well, can I be an influencer or how do I become an influencer? Does that happen a lot?

You get people emailing you that sort of question of I just read that does nobody ever come to you and I want to be an influence. How does that happen?

Honestly, if I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked, I wouldn’t need the agency anymore. I just it’s one of those questions like I’ve got to ask it. But surely nobody embarrasses themselves that much by asking it. But no, people do all the time.

We do this different degrees. So we get we get a few different emails from people that come through our side and that’s fine.

And often some people might have a really interesting niche that hasn’t really become a thing yet. And they’re interesting for us to work with those people early on and support and mentor them. But the worst is when you’re at a dinner party and you’re like, it’s Friday, it’s nine PM, had a few glasses of wine.

And, you know, such and such as the half is saying to me, you know, I want and I’ve got four thousand Instagram followers and I want to get to 5000.

But then tonight can you help me. And there’s only so many times you could be polite in those situations. And I really missed my dad calls my green clockface and let you go fuck off.

Hope you can star in this. Absolutely.

It’s encouraged. Absolutely.

But it is that like it must be. Once every two weeks, it’ll be a drink or I’ll be dinner and obviously pre this life and someone will always say to me, Can you help? What do you think of this caption? Do you like this image?

You’re going to have to start telling people that you’re a mass murderer or a politician or something horrific like that just so they don’t ask you any questions. What do you do? I murder people in my spare time.

Let’s look just anything for a quiet life. So horrific.

So note to self. Never stop and influence marketing agency. I don’t think I can cope with it.

But you’re also an author as well. So you should just tell people. You can also tell us about the two books you’ve written. My favorite title is One Hundred and Forty Twitter Loans and make Instagram your business.

What took you to write books?

So the first book under 40 Twitchell’s I wrote in my third year associate makes some kids at school, but I was going through a few profit warnings.

I rightly or wrongly, I just love working and I love being busy and that is what kind of interests and excites me. And then acis having profit warnings when doing like sixty four different accounts that I was running at that time and everything kind of slowed down. I was and I do a lot of lecturing at universities and at the time it was very much I ever wanted to be Twitter famous.

So I basically took 140 because at the time there’s 140 characters on Twitter of the best accounts out there in different sections. I self published and exhausted by, I think was a thousand copies of the book. And and it was my way of like it was aimed more at students that if you want to be great on Twitter, if your first jobs in Twitter, make sure you follow these accounts. Think of that different ump’s in the interesting ways in which they run these accounts.

And I hated the process. I swore blind I’d never, ever do it again. The writing, it was fun. And then you’ve got to like, you know, upload it to a certain dimension and get a cover. The cover for that one is pretty shocking. But then I when I set up Conex, then I was like, got the everything’s evolved so dramatically and only people now want to be Instagram influences. And so I did the same similar process again, but it was calling out 100 hundred different amazing Instagram accounts and what the one thing they were using to make that account stand out.

So was different things around tips on how many hashtags you should be using to how many times you have to post. But all through the like, narrative of these amazing creators and gives me an opportunity to be like, I think you should what so is the next book tick tock?

You know what?

You’re not the first person to ask me that.

It’s got to be like it’s got to be I mean, maybe if I was going to have done it, I should have done it during lockdown when Tick Tock just went through the absolute roof and I didn’t need to leave the house, so I had to go my evenings to do it. I can still scarred.

So what do you see social going next and how how do you keep up with that as an agency? Because I think from what I can see, that the people who are exploding on Tick-Tock aren’t necessarily the ones who are big everywhere else. Some some of them are.

But I do think keep your eye on every new channel coming on. Is this going to run fast? What happens next?

Yeah, we definitely do. And I tend to divide them up between the team and like Cojo who heads up our data within the business, he kind of keeps his finger on the pulse of America. You know, the team are keeping an eye on things like Trilla at the moment to see whether that will take over. Tick tock, tick tock. Don’t seem remotely bothered by Trilla in the slightest, but kind of how does that evolve and what does that play on in terms of like social more broadly?

You know, we’ve been doing this for years, but it is evolving into that paid model more and more. And there is also the longer form content and not just YouTube, also Twitch TV. And then you’ve got the like tick tock, short, snappy bite size, more fun, playful, which again isn’t anything necessarily new, but it’s just constant cycles of evolution in terms of like where that content sits and where it lives. Like we’re all excited about Vine, however many years ago and now we’ve forgotten about it, but we’re doing the same thing.

I’ll take the rest in peace, find how it’s had ten thousand spins on Vine. Well, you kids now are looking at you go.

I don’t even know what you’re talking about exactly. Those are the days, the joys of getting older, the joys of.

So tell me, what advice would you really wish somebody had given you today? Was it to Red Bull? Was your first big job?

What advice do you wish somebody to give you back then to not be a prat all the time and one.

So, no, I think in terms of, like, general advice, I really this is probably more when I was like eleven, but I did kind of mess around at school and didn’t necessarily take things as serious as I should. A maths is the big. I’m like, I’m in marketing and people associate marketing to coloring, and all day, every day my job is just mass, like presenting numbers to the board, you know, the profitability for different accounts.

So, yeah, if you’re that young, listen to the podcast. Pay attention.

So I think when I was kind of kicking off a Red Bull sorry if there are people that you should apologize to the parents for your potty mouth and your swearing earlier you said don’t say fuck anymore, please. Whatever you do, don’t want to upset any more children.

Sorry I interrupted you. Yeah, great point. But I think one of the things that when I worked at Red Bull, you got paid per hour. So I was I was there eighteen to twenty one and I was paid seven pound an hour, which is like mad when you’re that young, but you could choose how many hours you wanted to work. So for me I was like I did eight hours at uni, so I just worked and worked and worked.

And I actually really wish my boss at the time had been like, it’s all fun working, but actually strike strike a bit of a balance because I just had kind be ingrained in me even from such a young age to just and I am driven and I am like crazy ambitious. But it was when people are like, what hobby do you have? Do you do yoga or am I even if I tried now, I just don’t have that mindset and I can only chill out once I’ve like got everything off my to do list.

Yeah, they have work life balance so yeah. That’s something to get. That’s OK.

And oh what was the question I had for you.

So talk to us about a lesson that you’ve learned and we talk sometimes about companies that didn’t work, but what lesson did you learn the hard way?

I mean, a few have come up in this therapy sometimes, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s great.

One of the funniest ones I’ve ever had, and this is while I was a source and this was before live. I obviously again this year just live is Instagram live. LinkedIn live. Everyone’s giving you a notification about going live. But we used to bring in like quite a hefty external production team that would help us to do live based content. And the first time we did it, I did like a digital version of Pass the Parcel everyone. He tweeted in and answered a question correctly.

They could win a prize. It trended worldwide, which at the time should cost the business about five hundred grand. It gave me mega kudos internally because I was getting press coverage about doing life before anyone even knew it would be this mainstream thing.

And so I was like, Right, I’ll do it again. Valentine’s is coming. We’ll do a live version of Take Me Out and just. Was the worst thing I have ever done in my entire career. So we got all of the different models and I knew them more well, I was driving them flight, different pictures for social feeds. I prepped them through the agents to be like, right, these are the questions that we’re going to ask and if people could tweet in with the right answers.

And the first question was, if you weren’t a model, what would you be?

And the first one I wrote on a piece of paper model. And I was like, what’s that behind the scenes as a model? And I was like, oh my God, you don’t have to spell your own career. And the question was, if you weren’t a model, then I’m trying to lie. And again, I must have like twenty three at this point. And I’m trying to say to all these videographers, I can’t move on to everyone’s just feet and going these days those models are just a fake or like and I was like these amazing, amazing models.

They’ve got such a personality. But I’ve just I’ve now terrified them because they’re not used to doing things live. And then just everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong. One girl went to do like this little dance and a nazel dress slipped, ripped across her ass. And it was just in the end, we’ve been running for about twenty four minutes. There was probably three competition entries and everything else was just like basically abusing me indirectly. And then the next day I had to go in with my tail between my legs to the board and we were all tuning in because I’d made such this like amazing song and dance about how great it was to be like, cool, I didn’t get this right.

But my theory is always when you don’t get things right, you learn so much more than you do when things go to plan. Yeah. So I’ve never done that again.

It’s when you get the text message at some point about nine o’clock at night from the boss, but you just have a look at it and it says, oh, eight thirty appointment in his office that day.

But I was actually really did fuel the or it did in my day anyway. And again I haven’t been there for a while, but it fueled the mentality of like make mistakes. That’s totally fine because that means you’re doing things that other people haven’t done and there’s not a rule book written for it yet. And it’s a really good mentality mentality to instill in people at a young age, because it does make you far more ambitious, creative, and to just going to see what you end up with and what happens.

Brilliant, right.

Last last question is always the same to everybody. What question were you expecting me to ask that I haven’t seen?

Well, I listened to a few of your podcasts, and I knew this is going to be a question. And then I was like, right, what am I what what are you what do I think? I’ll get asked that you you haven’t asked and there’s nothing that’s really come to mind, which I know is a real copout from my side. And but we’ve kind of covid what works, what doesn’t and what’s gone wrong. A.S.A. guidelines. How do I kind of keep on top of things like nails?

It may. It just means I’m a superb interviewer. And so I should really ask at this point, how do I become an influencer then? I’ve got an audience. I mean, I’ve got an audience of about thirteen people on the podcast.

So surely can I be an influencer? I have to be filled with wine to tell you the answer to the ending of.

Yes, probably. Right.

If anybody wants to connect with you on social media, please, please, please. If you do connect with such on social media, do not ask or if you can be an influencer. You know what the answer is?

Of course. So how do people connect with what’s your preferred social channel and how do they find you on that Instagram?

On LinkedIn. And I’m Sedge which is Hegde with an S. There you go.

You’ve done nothing before as well. And the website I’ve seen Connect is

So SEENconnects. Excellent. Thank you very much for your time. It’s been brilliant. I wish everyone who I interviewed was as easy to get hold of and confirm as you did the homework as quickly as it did was as much fun to interview. So thank you very much for your time and. Yep, well, good luck with everything.

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