Narrator: Today, we have the pleasure of hearing
from Scott Paul. Scott Paul is the CEO and founder of Wooly,
a software company
that grows brand advocates and communities. As a side hustle, he also
manages an e-commerce school called Tangible In the past, Scott has worked as
a VP at Disney after selling his marketing agency to them in 2015.
Currently he lives on a ranch in Utah trying to figure out how to raise his kids and alpacas. In this session, Scott is going to show us behind the
influencer marketing curtain. He’ll explain how companies find influencers
and how you can become an influencer yourself. We are so excited to hear from
you today, Scott! Take it away! Trevor: All right. I’m excited today to have Scott Paul
with us from Wooly. I’m somewhat familiar with the platform.
I have actually been on a call,
I forgot who was with but it was someone at your organization.
Probably last year sometime. We’re greatly interested in the
influencer marketing space. We just added a new module to our Mimic Social
simulation on influencer marketing. So, it’s really top of mind for us.
We’re excited to dive into that subject a little bit more with Scott and then
also learn more about the platform. So, Scott, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Wooly;
How you guys got started, what you guys do. Scott: Yeah. Well, I think I have to rewind to about 2013
and tell quick story. (actually 2012) I was developing an app on the iPhone,
kind of a social media app, and we ran into what,
at the time, was this new thing called Instagram Influencers, who
were just kind of a coming out of the woodwork. These these individuals who
would have hundreds of thousands of followers. And today, this is common
place. We all know what that is but, back in 2011-12 it wasn’t common.
To get installs for my app, we ended up paying these people to talk about our app and
it was incredible. We had been, for months, trying to get downloads and
all of a sudden, we pay a seventeen-year-old,
you know, $20 to talk about our app on their fashion account on Instagram and, boom,
we’d have 3000 installs immediately. So this
was my introduction to the power and the immediacy, the effect of this using these influencers.
That app, we actually didn’t continue to do it because we got so
good at activating these new and up-and-coming influencers that we actually
made a company around that called Instafluence. Disney bought that company in 2015 and I got to go to work with
Disney in LA and and be in the middle of this growing industry of influencer marketers from YouTube and Instagram; at the
time there was some Vine going on before that was shut down.
So, I’ve been in the evolution of this since 2012 and what Wooly is today is,
what I would say, the evolution of influencer marketing after these 7 years.
It’s the idea that every brand, every company should be doing something
with influencers. But influencers aren’t just those people that you see that have
hundreds or thousands or millions of followers, influencers are
you, influencers are me. We don’t even like to use the word
“influencer” we like to talk around words like “advocates” and “ambassadors”
because “influencers” kind of conotes that there’s some type of large audience
or massive reach but influence can happen when you have 200 followers
or just a family that follows you. So, we’ll talk about that a
little today. Trevor: Cool! So, really cool about the founding story of Wooly.
I didn’t know that you were connected with Disney so that’s really neat. Scott: It started in LA actually while I was at Disney; it was a
it was a side project. Trevor: So are you the founder/CEO of Wooly? Is that
your role right now? Scott: Yeah founder, CEO. Team of about 20 here
in the US and Ukraine. Trevor: Oh cool! What parts of Ukraine are you guys in? Scott: We have eight developers in Lviv, eastern part and I got to go there last month and it’s probably one of my favorite towns in
all of Europe at this point. Trevor: Cool! So, let’s talk about some of the big
problems that you guys are solving. You kind of give us a background of how you
got started but maybe from a company or a brand or maybe an influencer
perspective, what are the problems that the Wooly platform is solving right now? Scott: Well, the problem is, going back to Disney, I’ll tell you a story about a brand that
came to us. It was actually three that kind of had the same problem.
The first would be when Subaru came to us, they wanted to do a campaign where they
could work with Subaru drivers that also had big YouTube followings. Well, at Disney, we knew people that had big YouTube
followings, but we didn’t know what car they drove and I was so surprised that
they wanted to spend two-and-a-half million dollars with us and
that they relied on us to have that type of data of who actually drives their cars.
I thought, “well, doesn’t Subaru know who drives their cars and who has a big
following?” So, I saw a huge problem. What ended up happening is we bought
some famous YouTubers Subarus and, kind of, faked it like that they were driving
Subarus all their life. And so, I saw a huge problem with
brands not being able to know who’s actually using their products and
has influence and they go through all these agencies to try to do this work and it’s
fake and it’s not authentic. Same thing happened with T-Mobile. No, not T-Mobile,
Sprint came to us wanting people that use Sprint. Well, we couldn’t find
anyone so we just bought Sprint phones for all the biggest Viners, at the
time, and they all did one week with the Sprint phone doing cool things and
then threw it away, went back to Verizon the next week. This is a problem! This is not the promise that I felt influencer marketing could do for us. Actually, I think people
want authentic. They want to see what people really like, what people
really use, not just who’s got the most money to take them to the product.
So, Wooly was born out of that problem. I thought maybe there’s a
way that a brand can actually identify the customers that they have who
are not just users of their products, but also are talking about it
on social or they have following on Linkedin, a following on YouTube, a
following on Twitter, a following on Instagram. And sure enough, in about 2017,
no 16, we were able to reverse engineer the way that you search
for influencers. So, what we would do is we’d get the
brand, like, lets think of an e-commerce company. We’d take an e-commerce company like Purple Mattress.
A lot of people heard of that. That was one of our first clients.
We would take all the transactions that they’ve had where
people are buying the mattress online with the directed to consumer company and
we would we would kind of do a lookup. From the email that they would purchase
the mattress with, we could actually look up the public
information behind that email and often the email that you signed up with Twitter or
Instagram with is public data. And so, we would reverse lookup all the emails of
these customers and then attach or append to those emails their social
handles and, it seems like a really simple concept, but what it ended up doing is
that now Purple can look at its entire customer base and have a social CRM.
They can see who’s been purchasing and who are they on social.
For a large percentage of their customers, we were able to enrich that.
And I was all done with computers, you know. We’re not individually googling every email but
you know it follows all the data privacy, We’re not
going against your data privacy it’s public information. But that that ability
to look up your customers and see who they are in social now informs you if,
like, “Oh, interesting. we had Tim Cook or some massive celebrity buy from us!”
And so, a lot of e-commerce brands use us to find out who are some of these
interesting profiles that buy from, that are using their products.
And then, something that I’ll get to next is, we realized that it wasn’t just celebrities
that were interesting to work with. It was the people that wanted to advocate and collaborate with you and that could be
the smallest Instagram account out there but, someone that really
cares and loves your brand. So, today, it’s a much different product than what
it was three years ago. Trevor: Awesome! So, as a young adult or a student
who just graduates, gets to the first job, maybe tasked on the marketing
team and, for whatever company they’re in, they’re looking at going into
influencer marketing or brand advocacy, whatever you want to call it. What are a few of the biggest mistakes you see
a brand or a company
make when they first make that decision to dive into influencer marketing and how
can that students maybe help steer them away from making those mistakes? Scott: Yeah. Well, I think some of the things that you can avoid is going to these companies that have made networks of
influencers where it’s kind of a gang of like, “Oh you can come into
our network and find and recruit influencers.” Well, a lot of people
go there and just typically that’s not going to be a great place to find influence.
These are people that are trying to get money and work with brands
and they’re usually not the right fit. They’re what I’m going
to call “professional influencers” or “wanna-be influencers” where
they’re trying to make money and they’re they’re signed up to all these networks
to try to get gigs. That’s not what you want. You’re a student, you just got a job at some apparel company or even a whole manufacturing company or whoever. All these brands are trying
to be significant on a social and one of the ways to do social media is to,
not just always create the content yourself, but to have the customers
create content, you know? We call that U.G.C. (user-generated content)
and the best way to source that is to just go to your actual customers and ask them. “Hey! Did you like the hot tub you just bought?” “How’s your home?”
“How was your experience with this service?” “How do you like this mattress?”
And you, kind of, just, invite them to make content whether
they’re influential or not. I think a mistake
you can make is just going and trying to pay existing influencers to do something
for you because, first of all, it’s going to cost you money and when you pay that
money, you’re going to be paying a mercenary or someone that is
already selling out their social account. It’s just not that authentic.
So, avoid that paid strategy and start with asking your customers.
Start by getting out that Google Sheet and developing a list of
names and accounts that are customers or they’re people
that are really in that targeted, you know, demographic of who you’d want to work with.
If you’re selling running shoes, go find a bunch of, you know,
people are talking and posting photos about running and trail running or whatever it
is and just kind of build your own list. So, it’s it’s free. I mean, that’s the
thing that I think people need to keep in mind. It is absolutely free to get into
the influencer marketing. There is no big pay-gate or paywall that prohibits people
from doing it. You can put a little bit of time and exercise into building up a
Google sheet and then asking and inviting people, especially if you have
a good product to work with. If your product has customers and has value, there are people out there that will want to work with you.
So, that’s kind of what I advocate. It’s that you just get to work.
It’s free to start and it’ll impress your bosses if you go and do this work.
If you go out and put together the first list of influencers or ambassadors or whatever
you want to call them, I mean, if someone did that for my brand I’d be quite
impressed and pleased with them. So, that’s what I would go do if I got on the marketing team at a company out of college. Trevor: Yeah! That’s awesome.
I think that the thing to note here if you’re a student, and you mentioned this,
is to first start with your customers because I think,
naturally you’re going to think “I’m going to go find my hashtags and
then I’m going to find the top accounts posting on those hashtags first,”
so start there rather than going for
three-year customers first. So, I love that idea. Yeah. For a brand, okay, so, I’m a student. I’m excited. I’m jazzed about
leading this new program or being a contributing member of this influencer
marketing campaign or program. What are some ways that you’ve seen through Wooly that companies and brands are tracking.
Is it affiliates? Is it through affiliate sales? Like, what are some ways that an influencer marketing campaign can easily measure success? Scott: That’s actually a great question and probably the most
sought-after like KPI or metric or arched way people are trying to get ROI, and these are a lot of acronyms,
but they want to return on investment. If I’m going to invest money
in influencer marketing or, you know, affiliate marketing,
how do I measure that spend? Every company does this different and it’s really based
on, like, what are the objectives of a company. Some people care a lot about awareness, right?
Big companies. I was talking with Hulu and they care about, they were
caring about brand lists and awareness. So, they have a team that’s all about
just getting more mentions, more talking more remarking happening on social media
and reaching more people. It’s kind of like a Super Bowl ad;
you’re buying reach, you’re buying eyeballs. It’s a media spin. So, influence marketing can be seen as
that or even just using your customers. You’re just using them to reach their 500 followers
and you’re adding that up. We had 1400 people post and times the amount of people that potentially reached
or people that liked the comment. That’s some number that we measure and
see how well we did the week before, the month before. That’s for awareness. So, those are easier because they’re not tied to sales. But, you have other companies.
Usually, these are companies that have smaller budgets, are not as focused on branding, and
are looking for transaction, right? They want to have you post about their shoes and
they want to sell shoes right then and there. They want to use a code and
be able to track that we gave, you know, free pair of shoes to this influencer or we
paid this influencer and the result was they moved 14 pairs of sneakers
and we paid them this cut and we got the type of return on investment.
Those are really the two basic ways that we see people approaching the problem of, like,
how they measure how to report the success. Obviously, some companies do both.
Hulu actually has another project, a different team
that’s all about more subscriptions, right? So, they want more subscribers for their
influencer dollar spend. The funny thing is both if you focus on
awareness, you will still get sales, and if you focus on sales, like, just
trying to do you know affiliate code stuff, you do have the effect of getting
the awareness as well. There are people who won’t buy
but keep seeing the product. They kind of, you know, blend into each other
but I’m always happier when a brand understands the value of
awareness and consideration and having the conversation out there
because they are not so tied to the, “oh influencer marketing didn’t work
because we did it once and it didn’t pay off on the sales we got immediately.”
Like, that’s just short-sighted. That’s like trying SEO for one month
and then deciding it didn’t work. You really have to seed these programs.
You really have to go in with a long-term strategy say, “we are going to
do this for a full year. We’re going to build up a team that talks about us, not
just once and then they’re gone but, like, try to work with people who will
actually, kind of, stay close to the brand for several posts or stories and
Instagram and video and here and there.” And really seed
the program and give it some chance to do well and think about awareness and
think about the transactional side of it. And realize that it takes, you know, seven
times to like actually get a customer to buy, so you’re not going to
convert most of your customers on the first little code that you put out.
So, I do think it’s more short-sighted to just be thinking transactionally on
social media and doing influencers and the better consumer brands
that I’ve seen care more about the branding and awareness and that’s kind
of the biggest takeaway. And at Disney, most of our work was awareness and
consideration that versus transactional type campaigns. Trevor: Okay. So.
Let’s flip sides here and let’s come at it from the student or the young adult side.
So, let’s say I’m a student and I’ve got a certain interest in a category,
whether that’s lifestyle, fashion, fitness, outdoors, sports, where that might be.
But I want to become an authority, I want to become an influencer. What are some
tips you have for me just to start off with? Like let’s just say I’m already on the socials,
I already have a platform there. What maybe is content related,
what tips do you have for me to get started so that I’m
attractable to brands in that space. Scott: Well, it’s funny because Wooly
and the software like ours, we’re looking for you. We’re looking for customers that
are talking about the brand and so the thing you need to do is, first of all, be telling stories.
Like, be active. So, if you really want to do this, you have
to have some cadence of posting and the signal needs to be strong, meaning you
can’t just be posting about nothing and think that somebody is going to find you. You have to start making a theme around who you are
and what your personal brand is and, secondly, if you love products and at the
end of the day companies are going to pay you or hire you or work with you or
make you an ambassador, they’re often product companies.
They have a good or service to sell and you want to signal to them that you’re there
and you like their brand. So, I think tagging if you’re out there and you’re
consuming food that you like at a restaurant, make sure you’re tagging that restaurant
and saying thank you and talking about your experience. Make sure you’re out there
when you get your brand new electric bicycle that you shout out specialized
how much you love this thing. Not just once, but several
times when you’re out making content and you’re mountain biking in the woods.
So, be thinking that these brands have systems, like Wooly, that listen to social media.
We’re looking and listening. We actually actively, today, listened for
brands like Cotopaxi, Arc’teryx, Salomon shoes and skis, and like,
if you’re using those products and then tagging them
when you make content, we’re going to find you, we’re going to actually invite you into the family,
a little closer. Same with Blendtec.
Same with Purple. I can go down the list of the brands
that are becoming aware of this and they want to hear from you.
And they have programs to turn you into a brand ambassador.
So, I guess the take away there is signal to these brands and you want to work with them.
Secondly, I would say that you need to make sure that your feed isn’t all over the place.
If you’re on social media and you’re active, you can’t just do everything all the time and unfortunately, you kind of to curate your
own feed and, you know, once people become influencers, they do two things.
Close friend of mine is an influencer and she has an account that’s just made
for brands and that’s where she posts her fashion stuff, and does
all the filtering and photography. And then, she has her personal one where
she’s posting family trips and doesn’t think at all about the filters.
And so, if you’re really trying to go at this and want to create
a brand for you on social media, a personal brand, you might have to,
kind of, create two accounts. Because if you mix it up with
your personal life sometimes, and you don’t edit stuff, you know,
some brands like that heavy curated stuff. Others don’t, actually.
But, just be thinking about what your scene is and how you’re doing it.
And I think the last thing would be just try to stay on theme,
on brand, you know. If you’re an outdoors
enthusiast, you know, it would be very awkward if you just, all of a sudden,
start doing a bunch of unboxing videos for technology products.
Make sure that you have a theme. I mean, that’s what brands are looking for.
In a system that we use at Disney, everybody that we had, we categorized them.
Every person we looked at, we would say, “this person is lifestyle,
this person is fashion, this person of technology, this person is gaming, this
person is…” I mean, we had it down to, like, ethnicity and, you know, “did they wear glasses?”
We had all these things that we would categorize.
And so, the brands are doing that. They’re usually looking for people that meet the profile or persona that they
are trying to go after. And so, the more your feed or your account has that distinction that I can look at it in two seconds and say, “oh. This person is a
female gamer making, you know humor content.” Like, that’s,
“oh, perfect! Put them in the list, put them in the talent sheet. We’re going to go after them.” So, that’s the other thing. Just kind of be thinking about that if you really
want to go after this in a serious way. Create a category for
yourself that you just, kind of, stick to. Trevor: Okay. That’s that’s phenomenal advice!
Great, solid “how-to” gems right there. Let’s play out some expectations.
So, let’s say I’m not coming into this as a student with a
super large influence or large following. What does that
progression look like as far as compensation? Is it, you know, “I purchase
product from them, then they give me products, then I’m getting paid commission, and then they’re paying me, like, a
monthly retainer to promote?” Like, from what you see, what does
that progression look like? I’m sure it’s different with different brands but
maybe there’s some themes out there that kind of paint a picture for students. Scott: Yeah, I wouldn’t have any illusion that becoming an influencer is,
like, a job choice that you make. It’s kind of a “you have it or you don’t.”
Even some of the biggest influencers that I work with have been
doing it for a long time and pay photographers, are barely making a living wage. It can be fun as a student to have this on the side.
You can definitely get free products. There’s brands that want to, you know, just give you product in exchange for a
post or something, but, you know, stay in school. Don’t quit the day job completely because you’re going to be an influencer unless you make co- Oh sorry! Lost you there, a phone call came in. Trevor: Yeah, you’re good. We’re still rolling. Scott: Okay, yep, I’m back, okay.
Yeah, so, don’t quit the day jobs to become an influencer unless you have a plan to
actually make content about how you can quit your day job to become an influencer.
Now that’s kind of fun! I’d like to watch that. That would be funny.
So, yeah, it’s the progression. There are people out there who are
willing to coach you and train you and teach you how to make better content.
Lots of online courses. One of my friends at Disney has a site.
It’s MikeSocial.com. He does courses and teaches you how to do this and he works with more influencers
than anybody I’ve ever met but, at the end of the day, like, you got to really
want that and be disciplined. it’s not for everybody and
it’s not going to be a high-paying, you know, endeavor unless you have that
breakout much similar to, you know, going to Hollywood and trying to become an actress. I would say that probably the easiest thing you can do like I said is find the brands that you
love and just talk about them and, you know, you might get a free barbecue grill
or you might get some free backpacks and stuff and that could satisfy your itch to try this but, if you want to really go out there and do this professionally it’s quite the endeavor and
you kind of have to have that “it” factor and really know what you’re doing,
really resonate with an audience but it’s definitely possible,
I wouldn’t talk anyone out of it. Just don’t go in there blindly thinking that it’s like, “oh, I’m going to
be an influencer when I grow up.” It’s an interesting goal.
I also think we’re hitting a point where too many people are trying
to become influencer and the market is definitely saturated.
There’s a lot of options now as a brand. Or the money. There’s not infinite money out there that’s going to go to, you know,
1 million people who have accounts that have thousands of followers.
The money pile isn’t getting that much bigger although a lot of money is
going into this industry that was traditionally on television, going to you know
media, or other places. So, it’s definitely a fun place to be but
not everyone can make a living doing that. Trevor: Yeah, no, I love that.
I think if we take a step back and just think of it like a normal occupation, you
know, a professional athlete doesn’t just say they’re a professional athlete,
so now they’re professional athlete. There’s lots of work, lots of practice, lots of
hours, lots of coming up with unique spins and how they can be
different within the crowd that they’re in. So, yeah, I love how you
painted that picture of, it’s not like you just, wake up one morning
and say, “I’m an influencer,” but that there are some fun opportunities
especially for college students- Scott: Well, I can say this much, if I can interject.
The side that might be fun for a lot of people is that every brand, every company,
not just brand, but everybody is going to be taking this more seriously in the next 10 years,
working with customers, working with influencers.
It might be that you’re on the insider marketing team or that you want to have a company.
There’s other ways than other than being the talent or the creator.
You could also be in the brokering side of it or working in the company and helping
to build up their their program. Increasingly, every company
that we’ve on-boarded for Wooly is actually hiring up and trying to
bring in more of these people who know how to work on social media with creators.
I think it’s going to be one of the most in-demand jobs
coming up in the next 10 years; is people who know how to do social
media with the customers of a certain brand and how to source and create
content with customers versus all in-house, all high paid, you know,
photography that you try to do. You just can’t keep up if you’re making all
the content on your own. It makes so much more sense to send out your products and
get photos from customers that are really good, often better than yours.
So, be thinking in a career that that’s going to be a place where,
if you’re going into marketing, you know, that you definitely want to sharpen the
skillset on this kind of influencer marketing space and creating storytelling with creators and for a brand. So, that, I say,
you could actually grow up and say “I wanna do that” and you could easily get a job. Trevor: Love it! I think that’s a great way to
round out this interview with Scott Paul
CEO and founder of Wooly. Scott, we appreciate you
carving out just a few minutes of your time today and talking about influencer
marketing and some of the cool things you guys are doing in that space at Wooley.
So, where can people go to check out what Wooly is doing at the dot-com,
socials? What do you have for us? Scott: I would actually say just Wooly.com.
We’re relaunching here, pretty soon, our whole messaging as a company in
about a month or two but, Wooly, W-O-O-L-Y .com but for me, i’ve actually tried
to build a little bit of a persona on Linkedin. So, that’s kind of, my platform
where I talk about experiences that we’re having with our customers,
that stuff I’m seeing in social media, and kinda this “ambassador marketing,”
“influencer marketing” space. So, follow me: Scott Paul on LinkedIn. You’ll find me pretty quickly if you search. And I make a lot of content there that I’m trying to talk about this space and in the way that I’m seeing it Trevor: Awesome! Okay! Well, we will link up those links in the show notes.
Scott, appreciate your time today! Good luck at Wooly and we’re excited to see
some of the fun things you guys are doing! Scott: Hey! Thank you! Goodbye!