Watch The Social Media Influencer Panel Discussion on Gaining Your Edge On Influence

Today, everyone has a voice, a platform and considers themselves an influencer. In this panel you will hear from seasoned Influencers on how they have established themselves on a path to success and learn first-hand tips and tricks they’ve picked up along the way. Participating influencers include beauty guru Ariana Pierce, Vine musician Rajiv Dhall, millennial entrepreneur Tanner Bell, and YouTube stars Corey Scherer and Blake Grigsby.

– Thank you so much. Well thank you everyone for having us today. We’re so excited to be here. My name is Ariana Pierce. I’ll be the moderator today. I am the author of “Skip the Party, Start a Business,” and the CEO of Superstar Nail Lacquer which is one of the first vegan and toxic free nail polish brands. I’m so excited to be talking to you guys today and we have four amazing influencers up here. I mean from singers to dancers to YouTubers, they’re absolutely amazing so I’m so excited to hear from them and I know you guys are going to get a lot of information.

We’re gonna dive right in because we only have a few minutes, and so I want you guys to hear all the information that you can from these guys. They are super cool. I’m like so happy to be the only girl up here right now, it’s awesome. I want you guys just to first introduce yourselves, tell us a little bit about who you are, and then we’ll dive right into the questions. We’ll start with Blake.

– My name is Blake Grigsby. I produce YouTube videos that are mostly social experiment prank type videos that are very positive in nature and all very real, not fake, so – (laughing) that’s a good thing. Yeah, if you google, “I am desperate,” I’ll be the first thing that comes up on Google.

(laughs) You laugh, it’s true. – It’s true. (audience laughs) It is.

– Thanks Mom. (laughs)

– Alright, Tanner.

– I’m Tanner Bell. I’m a DIY blogger but I work with brands on a digital aspect with our digital agency, where we’re able to help brands take their DIY products and sort of figure out how they’re going to relate to the actual consumers. We have a lot of fun producing all the content with all of our amazing brand partners.

– I’m Corey Scherer, and I’m a professional dancer and choreographer, and then I also do comedy skits and whatnot on social media, so if you look me up you’ll see a mixture of dancing and then really weird content. (laughs)

– My name is Rajiv Dhall. (audience member hoots) I am a singer. I perform exclusively without clothes on. It’s a new trend. Totally just kidding, nobody laughed. (Corey & audience laughs) But yeah, I make music, I post videos on YouTube, as well as little skits and things like that.

– Awesome.

Well now you guys know everyone. Okay so we’re gonna dive right into the questions. The first thing that we wanna talk about is you all’s journey. A lot of people they see you guys and if they look you up right now on YouTube or your Instagram, they’re gonna say, “Wow, they

have this many followers, “or they have the check on their Instagram,” and this is amazing but how did you get to where you are today? Anyone of you can start with that question and we want it to be really quick, so that way you can just tell everyone how did you get to this place of success, as an influencer.

– Dedication. You just have to be on it.

– Yeah, I agree. You cannot skip a day where you’re not focusing on it. You have to give your all 24-7, and years will go by and you can make only this much progression, but all it takes is that one video

– Right. or that one thing to take you know, three years of this

– Right. to go to that, in just one week.

– Yeah. It’s insane. It’s all about patience and dedication and just believing in yourself.

– And is that what happened with you, with your dancing?

– Oh yeah, yeah.

– Can you give a story about what happened?

– Yeah, so I started doing social media.

I started posting vines when I was like 17 or 18, and at the time I was traveling, teaching at dance studios and competitions, and my friend was like, “Hey, download this ap.” I downloaded it and then people started following me. I was like, “Oh, I, I didn’t know I could gain followers “like this, – Wow, yeah, wow. “this is cool.” I was like, “Hm, I might continue doing this.” So I kept posting and it took about almost two years – Wow. until it started going, and then but once it started going I was like, “Oh, okay, I like this. (laughs) “I’m gonna keep doing this.” It’s really just about the grind.

– Awesome.

– You can’t stop.

– I think also what’s really important is that none of us just set out to be famous

– That’s true, yeah. or anything like that. I think it was all like we were passionate, whether like Corey and dancing or me with music. You have something that you’re passionate about and you do it because you love it and then you know,

– Right. that’s what kind of takes you to the next level.

– [Corey] Exactly.

– A lot of people

– Right. were kind of just like, “Oh I wanna get famous,

– Right. “I wanna post famous stuff.” I don’t think that’s really how it works.

– You can’t be fake. That’s what’s really interesting too. I have like little kids that come up to me, telling me that their job career that they want is to be YouTube famous. Then I ask them what they want to do on YouTube, they’re like, “I don’t know.

(Tanner laughs)

“I just wanna make YouTube videos.” I think that’s one of the biggest things too, is find out what you’re passionate about and what you love to do, because it’s a full time job with part time pay or less, and you have to love what you’re doing throughout, because as you said, audience can read if you’re – True. not lovin it, and you know, you guys are talented and good looking, and I’m just that guy.

(audience laughs)

So it’s about, you know,making what you have and make it work.

– I mean I started in my basement. Like I was a

– That’s true. fifth grader wanting to learn how to use a machine on –

– ‘Cuz you started when you were what, 13?

– I started when I was in the fifth grade, so I was like 11 or 12.

– That’s right. Oh okay, you were younger, okay.

– I didn’t have any friends that did what my hobby was.

– Still don’t. Still don’t have any friends, look at me now. (laughter) Really success story (laughs), but what I did was I found out there was this thing called like a community online. Who knew? I was like, “Well, I love watching these people “but there’s no one to talk to about my crafts.” So I started a YouTube channel and just started sharing my experiences. One thing led to another, I figured out that this was actually like marketing and like it was fun and I loved it, and I mean it took three years – Right. before I even made an income, but I had this community and it was just amazing.

– That’s awesome.

– Creativity came first, business came second.

– Yeah.

– Right, so be patient.

– I mean it was fifth grade.

– Yeah, exactly. That’s awesome

– He’s still 18 right now, just to let you know.

– Thank you.

– Just, he’s been doing it for years.

– That’s awesome. So many influencers, they always ask questions about collaborating, so that’s really big. I know most, all of you up here have collaborated with some type of brand. Can you tell us, how do you balance your voice and the brand’s voice without turning off your audience, and where it sounds very authentic? Can you talk to us about that today?

– I think that comes with the conversation with the brand

– Yeah.

– and really understanding,I think the people that are really good to work with, especially in an influencer way, are the people that listen to what you want and know they can deliver it.

– Yeah, true.

– Because I also, I’ll get random requests that are like, “Can you do this and work with us?” And I’ll go, “Well you know what? “I don’t think it’ll do well on my channel,” and then I’ll usually

suggest a friend or two, going, “These are the guys “you might want to talk to.”

– That’s good. I think that those are the people that you really wanna find especially because it’s

an over saturated market. There’s a lot of influencers. It means that there’s a lot of opportunity to take advantage of but, you know finding those people that are willing to pass the torch if they don’t feel like they can truly bring the product that you want to get out of it.
– And as an influencer, it takes a lot of gut to say no to something, because we’re living … We don’t know where our next month income is coming from.

– Right. So to have the guts to say, “You know what, this is not good for my brand. “Here’s why, and check out Blake over here. “He can help you.”

– Yeah. You know, I worked with Walmart Family Mobile to do a really fun ambassadorship campaign and they were like, “Do you think this will go well?” I’m like, “Yes,”

– Yeah. because me and my grandmother go to Walmart every week.

– Right. I had a blog series where me and Mammaw shop. She gives commentary on what she wants to buy, (panel laughs) and like every week. I mean she’s really mad at Walmart right now ‘cuz they took the cow tails out of the store.

– [Blake] What?!

– Yes! And it’s just

– Get Walmart here. (laughs) I wish, but she’s really wanting the cow tails back. Please help me, I’m having to order them on Amazon now.

– Wow. Do you guys have anything to add to that?

– I mean, I definitely agree. I think it’s important to work with brands that are gonna organically

– That fit you. you know, go on your feed and not gonna be uncomfortable. I think that’s the number one way to make the voice work.

– That’s true. Whenever I do deals with like music companies or speaker companies, it’s stuff that people kind of expect to see from me, as well as you know, when the demographic is right, but if somebody was like, “You wanna do a diaper ad?” It would be weird (panel laughs) and nobody would be into it, and it would be very forced.

– I mean I’d do it, but.

– Exactly. It’s just, it’s very important to –

– I’d do it.

– reach out to influencers and work with creators that are kind of like minded and have a similar demographic.

– Yeah, that’s really good. Alright cool, that was awesome. So Tanner, I’m gonna throw

this question on you. What was the favorite campaign that you worked on with a brand agency, and why?

– Well, it was IZEA, no. (laughs) The campaign we worked on with was with Cort Furniture Rentals, which is here ‘cuz I met them earlier. (audience member hoots) Woo, go Cort, woo!

Love you guys. This dorm season with everyone going back to school, we partnered together on a really fun summer campaign where we’re able to talk about Cort Furniture Rentals in your dorm room and how our brand was actually … My co owner of our website A Little Craft in Your Day, ah! was going off to college, so we were able to partner and talk about how you’re able to use Cort Furniture Rentals to supply your whole dorm, and then after, you know, you can send it back. It’s amazing we’re able to showcase some really fun projects and our audience loved

– Yeah, that’s awesome. hearing about because it’s one of those things that no one knew about, so it was a really authentic way to segway a story with the brand.

– That was great. Do you have a favorite?

– I don’t know if I … I love, only I accept them, like slowly and I only work with people that I know I like to work with,

– Right. but I think what I love from the brands as just a thing is just the ability to collaborate creatively. I have a lot of brands that come with an idea and I think that’s great. Always come with an idea just to kind of get an idea of what you’re looking for, but I love the ones that are like, “If you have anything else or anything that you think might do better.” Is that a proper … I don’t know. I don’t write the copy. But if you have a better idea that might be more successful, then we can kind of pitch and work creatively back and forth and I think that’s similar to what Dunkin, I think that’s his name, from Disney,

– Yeah. was talking about the yes and. I come from an improv background and that’s a big rule of improvisation, is yes and, always adding on. I think that that is really great, especially with working with people over the phone, where it’s just like, “I think that this would be a good idea.”

I had, I worked with RCN – Mmhmm. on a campaign, and they called me … They just text, they

sent me an email saying, “You have a call in like five minutes. “Can you do that?” I was like, “Eh, sure,” and I know what RCN is, but then they just call me and go, “Okay, what ideas do you have?” I was like, “For what?” “For a video.” I was like, “Okay,” and then on the phone I think I pitched like 15 different ideas and we went with one of them, and it did quite well, so I think that flexibility – Yes of understanding that you’re … The creator that you’re working with really understands their audience specifically – Right. is something to take advantage of, for you guys.

– Keeping the door open for more ideas –

– Yeah.

– Yeah.

– Is always like a great thing.

– Yeah. Do you guys have a favorite campaign that you ever worked on?

– Hm, my favorite was through, you know IZEA.

I did a …

– Awesome. It was for Wendy’s.

– Cool, that’s awesome It was amazing because not only did I get some free like chicken fries and stuff

– That’s it. but the promo, I just poured them all over me and then put it in slow motion

– Wow.

– and it’s just, there was –

– [Tanner] You got paid for that?

– That’s what I’m saying!

– That sounds like fun. That’s what I’m saying!

– That’s like the best campaign ever.

– It was amazing, I was like, just pour some food all over me and just

– Wow. it was life changing.

– Awesome. I loved it, you know. That was my favorite

– Life changing. ‘cuz not only did I get

– (laughing) Life changing. to promote the product, but I got to eat it.

– Oh wow.

– So it was great.

– I mean that’s fantastic.

– Yeah.

– I need that. Pass that along to me.

– I’ll hook you up. Okay, great.

– I got you, I got you. Do you have anything? – I’ve done some really great campaigns. I worked with Poptarts. That was really cool.

– Oh wow, that’s cool. I’m a big Poptart guy.

– Yeah. I got to have an exclusive flavor early, which was awesome. Wendy’s was really fun, work with Wendy’s. I did something with Hershey’s that was really cool. They just sent me like a bunch of candy, and I’ve seven years old mentally and that was like perfect for me. (laughter) I just got to eat candy all day and film it. But yeah, I’ve had a lot of really cool campaigns.

– Okay and then our next question is what can brands and agencies do to be more enticing to create content for?

– (laughs) The email that you send the brand or the influencer, if you reach out to them directly, make sure your email is well formatted,

– Yeah. and also make sure that the name’s correct.

– Oh yeah. I know when

– Oh man. it’s just like you’re sending it to everybody. I got one that says, “Hey Muscle Milk, “can you please …” (panel laughs)

I was like, “Is this a nickname or …?” (laughter) Something?

– Flattering nickname. Yeah.

– Muscle Milk, I like that. I should be sitting on that couch, but (panel laughs) make sure that the email’s well thought out and really kind of bring something unique to the table. If you have a service or something that could be provide … Like you know, we’ll give you the exclusive Poptart flavor in advance, anything that makes you set yourself apart.

– Apart, right. We get reached out to

– A million times a day. constantly, a lot of times by small little things. They’re like, “We’ll give you a watch,” and then you know, yeah, some of them, the emails are really poorly formatted, so if you spend time reaching out the right way. I also got reached out to a brand that said they would give me like 500 dollars to make a video but they’ll spend a lot on marketing it, so it helps

– Right. improve my audience, and they also guarantee a push to it, and I was like, “That’s pretty interesting.” So if you think of any other unique ways to reach out to people, I think that’s a huge bonus.

– That’s great.

– I think it’s really just about, maybe try to figure out what is the brand able to do for the audience. If you’re able to provide some type of giveaway of your service, you know, just think about …’Cuz from an influencer’s perspective, I think we all want to represent, we’re like the spokesperson for our audience. You know, I think everyone’s audience replicates them in some form

– Right. and profession. There’s something that entices them to be you know, part of the community. Really think of them as like their family and there are people that are a part of them that they’re really gonna want to represent. At the end of the day, if my audience is happy, I’m happy.

– That’s true. That’s so good. Okay, we’re wrapping up soon and I know there are people in the audience that are influencers, and they say, “You know, I need some advice on maybe videos “or getting more views, or getting more followers “or engagement,” or anything that comes with being an influencer nowadays. Do you guys any kind of advice that you can give to the audience, and I want each of you to answer this question, that you can give to them to help them out.

– The number one thing, and I cannot stress this enough, because I went through this, is you’ll see a trend and you’re like, “Oh, that’s trending,

– Right.

“I’m gonna hop on that.

“I’m gonna start making videos like that.” But trends go.

– Right. Within months, or even weeks, you know even days. If you just post content and you just have to be you. You have to post content that you like, that you love. Be yourself because people are gonna follow you, people are gonna wanna work with you,

– Right. they’re gonna wanna interact with you, for you being you. That’s really all I can say.

– That’s really good. You have, you just, I can’t stress it enough. Like don’t copy.

– Right. Post being you.

– Authentically you. And then it might take longer because you’re not posting these click bait titles

– Right. and whatnot, because you’re being yourself, but it’s worth it in the long run.

– [Ariana] Right.

– I think it just goes back to what we said in the beginning and what Corey was just saying. You know, it’s important to do what you’re passionate about first, and then

– Right. you know, it will come if you’re patient, and there’s gonna come a point where if you’re not being 100 percent authentic to you and you want to continue to do it seriously, you’re gonna have to confront that,

– Right. and then there’s gonna be a big brand change where you’re like “You know, guys I wanna do this now,” or, “I wanna be this way.” It’s just really important to do what makes you happy

– Yeah. and something you feel like you can sustain, or else you’re gonna have to … You’ll end up having to confront that problem at some point.

– That’s really good.

– I think the main thing is that for one, you wanna be authentic, like they said, but two you wanna be strategic. If you’re posting content and you’re wondering, “Well my video isn’t getting any views,” well let’s think about it. Is it optimized for search? If you just started a YouTube channel, if you just started your blog, you wanna make sure that your content is search engine optimized. You wanna make sure that it’s visible. I mean it takes six to eight weeks for Google to index your content.

– That’s true. Let’s take a moment … Six to eight weeks. Everyone’s wanting insto gratification,

– That’s good, yeah. you know with our gen Z, you know my generation, we want things like this.

– Right. Like we want money like this, we want fame like this. It takes six to eight weeks for Google to even look at your content.

– Right.

– Yeah.

– So like take time back.

– It’s true. Create quality content that you love,

– That’s so good. because you’re not doing it for the money if you’re an influencer, ‘cuz it takes time. You need to put in some work, have some fun with it, just be authentic but be strategic.

– Yeah. If something’s not working, figure it out why not, test something else out, and have fun with it. There’s not a rule book to any of this. I mean if you all read it and if you just made (mumbles) I haven’t figured it out.

– Oh my gosh, it’s flashing time’s up!

– Oh no!

– Can I answer?! Consistency. Thank you.

(panel laughs)

– That was great, thank you so much guys.

– If you guys have any other questions, I know we didn’t get a lot of time and we wanted to take some questions after you, we’ll be here the rest of the day. I don’t know, I assume you guys will be here at the part tonight too?

– Yeah.

– Oh yeah, I’m out. Sorry guys, no. Totally that was another joke.

– Laugh, everyone laugh.

– But we’ll go out by the –

– Just go.

– We need friends so –

– Yeah, me and Blake need friends, so we’re gonna stand outside by registration.

– They’re fine, look at ’em!

– (laughs) We’re gonna stand out by registration and answer any questions, be friends, maybe you wanna come too?

– Absolutely.

– Yeah, of course, yeah we’ll all go. Party time.

– Oh, she really wants us off.

– Oh my god.

– Thank you guys so much for having us, thank you.

– Have a great day.

– Thanks guys.

– Yay! (laughs)

(audience applauds)