Cogni recently hosted a panel where we sat down with an exciting array of innovators. The panel consisted of three seasoned Los Angeles-based entrepreneurs (Nithin Mettu, Dee Murthy, Nate Chandra), as well as two rising influencers with a true entrepreneurial instinct and spirit (Heather Hopkins, Naeem Al-Obaidi). There is no question that in the current “age of the influencer”, being your own brand is a must for solo-preneurs; but what does that mean? We wanted to hear from the pros themselves on just how they steered their way to success in the digital space.
The importance of media–specifically social media–as an entrepreneur is at an all time high, and each of our panelists has had to navigate these tricky waters in the birth and growth of their current ventures. When asked what challenges they face in the social media space, Naeem, a crypto-currency and investment influencer, explained that knowing and communicating your monetary worth as an influencer can be a rather large hurdle:
“When you have all of these influencers pricing themselves, there’s no sort-of base [when it comes to pricing]. So, using data and tracking is a huge part of this. Because brands don’t want to give an influencer a certain amount of compensation if they’re not bringing in the right ROI … The data part is huge hear, because it creates a transparency between me–the influencer–and brands.”
Looking to the other side of the influencer marketing aisle, Nate Chandra, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at blockchain influencer marketing platform Buttrfly, echoed Naeem’s thoughts on the difficulty of accurately pricing influencers and the subsequent importance of data. However, he also mentioned that data plays another crucial role in resolving a major industry pain-point: matching compatible brands and influencers. “It’s actually done similarly to a dating app”, Nate described, “because it’s actively using data to make relevant matches”.
Dee Murthy, co-founder and CEO of online menswear company Menlo Club, explained the challenges that come with being the face of a major brand. “You have to get used to sharing your entire life … If you don’t share both the wins and losses, to me, it’s fake. You’ve got to show when you’re struggling, too, and that’s hard.” It was very evident that each of our panelists mirrored this sentiment, that authenticity isn’t something you can build overnight, and it’s a constant struggle to ensure you’re “being real” with your audience. Nithin Mettu chimed in, “There’s a two-way flow of information now, there’s interaction, there’s authenticity, and there’s a connection”. No longer can influencers sit back in the same way A-list celebrities can on social media, there’s a new requirement to directly engage with your audience regularly; you can’t talk to them, you must talk with them.
In addition to authenticity, the overarching theme of adaptability was also present throughout the conversation. Media platforms and formats are changing every day, and anyone who aims to be successful on these platforms must be open and quick to make changes. Heather Hopkins, lifestyle influencer and dating-app founder, described her recent shift from the entertainment industry to the tech word, “all of my branding is shifting. This is a really cool time because I get to really turn my engines and think of new creative concepts to shift my audience towards the new direction”.
There is no one definitive guide book that will successfully navigate you through the vast world of social media. But, the insights we gained from these five incredible social entrepreneurs might be enough to steer you in the right direction.
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