How to Keep Your Agency Relevant By Staying On Trend
By Jason Swenk on May 19, 2021
With just a little over two years as the CEO and co-founder of The Influencer Marketing Factory, Alessandro Bogliari and his team have built an amazing global influencer marketing agency. They help brands and companies launch influencer marketing campaigns on TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube. Alessandro joins us today to talk about how to identify trends and what to do in order to really separate your agency from everybody else.
3 Golden Nuggets
1. Starting on a budget. Growing his company from just two workers to 20 in a short amount of time, Alessandro highlights the importance of being able to grow your agency on a budget. You can still get amazing results on a budget rather than spending money you don’t have.
2. Don’t just hop on a trend. Every time you create content for social media you should always take into account the specific medium, demographics, and type of user experience. Don’t just hop on the new hot thing before you understand it.
3. Be curious. Dedicate some time to research, listen, and read about what’s trending right now. Engage with the new generations and given let them show you how they use social media. You have to keep up. Don’t just read about the new thing in the newspaper, because by the time it gets there, it’s already been happening for a month and it’s old news.
Sponsors and Resources
Oribi: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by Oribi. Check out Oribi.io/smartagency for a free trial. Plus when you sign up for Oribi get 20% off the first three months with promo code: Smart Agency
Jason: [00:00:00] On this episode, I talk with an amazing agency owner who’s grown his agency to really big and in a very short time for really looking at the trends. And so we go through, how can you identify the trends and what do you actually need to do in order to do that major land grab and really separate your agency from everybody else?
It’s a really cool story. I hope enjoy it.
Hey Alessandro, how are you doing? Welcome to the show.
Alessandro: [00:00:30] Yeah. Thank you so much for having me, Jason.
Jason: [00:00:32] Yes. I’m excited to have you on and tell your story. So tell us who you are and what do you do?
Alessandro: [00:00:39] Sure I am the CEO and co-founder of The Influencer Marketing Factory. We are a global influencer marketing agency. We specialize mostly in TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. Um, we are based in the States, but we also have people in Europe I’m from Italy originally. So I understand the importance of having people both in the US and Europe.
And we mostly help the brands and companies from Fortune 100 up to, you know, direct to consumer stuff of companies, get in front and engage with gen Z and millennials on like major social media. So that’s what we do. We help them from the beginning of the like, understanding the KPIs up to reporting and digital analysis.
Jason: [00:01:17] That’s awesome. Now, how did you get started?
Alessandro: [00:01:20] Uh, I started a couple of years ago. So the agency is like, you know, fairly new. Uh, started no funding, no VC, just a couple of people. Uh, both Italian and because we started that as a new journey and we understood before I’d say anyone else I think is like, you know, one of the few agencies that understood the potential of TikTok, back in late 2020, early 2019.
Although other agencies and companies were still thinking that like, you know, TikToK was a kids app. It was just something for lip-sync and dancing, but I was a big fan of Vine and it was discontinued, but I was so love with it. When I saw TikTok and I was watching so many videos on YouTube about TikTok compilations, it was a different environment.
It was a little bit more cringy, let’s say that, you know, with furries and gamers and everything, but I saw the potential. I was seeing Instagram going down in terms of organic creation. And TikTok was giving the opportunity in a really democratic way to give like in a meritocratic way for everyone to get the spotlight that they did deserve.
So we said, let’s really focus on that and invest on that. And we, we, we have done that. We started growing, we started getting amazing clients on like Sony Music, Universal, Warner Music Group. Then we got Google and some others. And these friends.
And yeah, from two people now we’re 20. Again, between Europe and the States. And, uh, so again, it started like, you know, uh, just totally like organic and we’re actually growing in that way. And I’m so proud of what we have achieved so far.
Jason: [00:02:51] Tell me a lot of people listening want to understand, because there’s always new shiny red objects out there. Okay. And so kind of what you described is going after the shiny red object and it actually working, which is amazing.
And there’s always, you know, new apps coming out like clubhouse is out and everyone’s talking about it and you know, saying, oh, that’s the next big thing and all that kind of stuff. So tell me the, kind of the, the story about. How did you go, all right, let’s go all in on this and not just get distracted by all those other things.
And then how did that turn into landing the Fortune 100 companies that you’re talking about. Cause a lot of people are going well, how do you land some of these big brands? Like I remember that’s how, you know, my agency brain worked many years ago going, man, how does this one company get, you know, to work with Coke and how does this one company get to work with Home Depot and that kind of stuff.
And then, so tell that story a little bit.
Alessandro: [00:03:51] Yeah, of course. I have to say that I have to mention that I’ve done many years as a growth hacker and a growth marketer, as you want to call it. So it’s a lot of like out of the box marketing ideas, it’s a lot of like data scraping, SEO, both like white and black and gray, you know.
It’s understanding how you can be on a budget. And still get amazing results also without adding maybe millions in your pockets. Because when we started, you know, we, we started at zero in terms of investments. So you have to think about like, okay, what is the typical way we don’t have the money to do that. How can you start in a little way? And so, to be honest, like I spent a lot time doing SEO since day one and, um, thanks to that, we got the majority, like we get 95% of our clients, maybe now 90 because of a lot of it it’s retention and word of mouth.
But we’ve got those thanks to SEO, good positioning, referrals, the position we’re on listed. I mean, now just today we are fourth on Google for in terms of marketing agency. And, again, we started two years ago. If you look for TikTok, like, marketing agency, we are second in the US.
So what we have done is that, while we saw for that opportunity especially for TikTok, we created a landing page. And we started doing some backlinking and the competition was zero, right? Like no one had anything about TikToK. And we went all in. We had nothing to lose. We were not like in, in this for two-three years, we were starting from a few weeks. So we said, you know, why go, yeah I mean, we were doing Instagram and YouTube of course, but it was so competitive.
So we said how we can get like an advantage on that and getting in on SEO where no one is dealing there. That was TikTok, we thought. We did that, we did our landing page, easy one. We created some really good backlinks. I’ve been also working a lot with journalist that we’d did a lot of for free. That’s why we have been featured on a lot of publications. Writers, Wallstreet Journal. I personally write on Forbes and many others. We got on ID week and so on.
So, you know, those really good backlinks at Google understands that they are valuable and you start getting the right positioning. And what happened is that managers at these big companies, they, what did they do, they, our people hopped on a ride, so they go on Google and they look for a solution and they find you.
And then after that to start creating case studies, you build up your credibility, your awareness of your branding, your positioning, and after that. If Sony is doing something, Universal Music and Warner Music Group, are going to look at that and say, hey, they are doing this, can we do that? They do some digging and then they found out about the company or the agency behind that, and we start growing.
So it’s, step-by-step, it’s super long. It’s super like, you know, sometimes probably it takes a lot of energy, but again, you can start for some action. I think the SEO is an amazing way to start, especially if you think about budget.
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I think it’s really, really smart. Like you said, there’s nothing for you to lose. Like let’s just go after TikTok, there’s no one doing it. And especially if a big company comes to you for TikTok, they’re going to want Instagram and all the other ones out there. So it’s just a really smart strategy. And I like how you systematically went through it.
Let’s kind of switch focus a little bit, and let’s talk about Instagram Reels and TikToK, and let’s have some fun about how agencies could use it, because I see a lot of agencies using it very poorly. So let’s talk, what’s working, you know, when it comes to developing that kind of content or content strategy around it.
Alessandro: [00:09:01] Definitely. Yeah. Good question. I can see a lot of companies that are trying to understand the differences. We just released one week ago, uh, an infographic about basically Reels versus TikTok. We have scrapped and analyzed the 60 active influencers on both platforms that, that, you know, like uploaded at least many videos.
And what we noticed is that in terms of the average views it’s pretty the same, like the same in terms of like, you know, of course, like, you know, there are some people getting 50 million, others are getting less, but on average we saw the same. Instagram Reels, Instagram is definitely pushing a lot Instagram Reels, but just because they want to be like, you know, still they’re the cool kids, right? They want still to be in a way understanding, especially gen Z.
But what we noticed is that this is that, this is what I say all the time. Instagram Reels is still, in my opinion, even if it’s pushing, Instagram, it is still network-oriented, you know? So you follow your, your friends and friends of friends, but at the end of the day, it’s mostly about like the people that you start following. While on TikTok, it’s a sort of an inverse funnel. No matter what we’re following, you’re going to see all the time, new content, amazing content from people that you do not follow. Based on the content that you liked. So it’s more content-oriented.
That means that, um, what we see is that we can see on TikToK, a better engagement into sub-community. Whenever you go to a TikTok video and there is a trend, or there is a meme on that video, you’re going to find tons of people commenting on that and making references to maybe a sub-Reddit that they saw like, you know, some time ago. Or they are talking about now, like, you know, the Game Stop, everything that happened there.
While, um, Instagram it’s, a bit more still on the likes, but the comments are more like, you know, I want to say didascalic, but, um, they have less engagement and community, like no type of things. So again, they are pushing a lot on that. But TikTok, the big difference is the strong community.
So brands, I think that they should understand that, that difference. What I say all the time is that you, if you’re a brand, you cannot expect to take it on YouTube video, cut it, putting it vertical and put it on TikTok. It’s a different medium, different demographics, different type of user experience.
You should shoot all the time a video thinking about the type of medium is going to go. The same also goes for Instagram reels and TikTok. Just one week ago Instagram said, if you’re going to put videos with TikTok watermark on it, we’re going to show it to less people, right? They want to have original content on that.
So I think that a lot of brands sometimes fail it because they make cringey media started to jump on trends, but they have the opposite effect. They try to be cool, but actually they don’t understand what happens. That’s why I think that only few brands, whenever they give the opportunity to gen Z employees in the company to jump on that and actually really like make content, in that way they kill it because it’s not trying to recreate something that is cool, but actually it’s sending someone that understands their own generation and make that type of content.
So long story short, make a content all the time for the right type of audience, the right type of medium, and try not to repurpose the same on different social media, because the majority of times it’s just not going to work.
Jason: [00:12:17] Yeah, it’s kind of like doing a commercial for CNN and then running that same commercial on the Cartoon Network.
Alessandro: [00:12:23] Yeah. Exactly.
Jason: [00:12:24] Or Nickelodeon, I would be like, people are going to be like, what, what is this?
Alessandro: [00:12:29] Yeah, exactly.
Jason: [00:12:31] Awesome. Well, this has all been great, Alessandro. Is there anything I did not ask you that you think would benefit the agency owners listening in?
Alessandro: [00:12:40] I’d say, try all the time to understand what is trending. Like not only of course reading the different newspapers out there. Whenever you read the news, it means that it’s already been happening for a month, you know, in the communities. Go on, uh, different apps go on the app store, like, and see what apps are trending. What is going to be the future of things.
Whenever possible, talk with gen Z and millennials to understand what is really happening in the background, you know, behind the scenes, because they’re gonna go and look for the next app. Right now it’s TikTok, what is it going to be next.
Personally, I’m watching a lot closely what is happening in China for such a commerce. And I’m pretty sure that we all know what is happening there. Uh, like, it started already two years ago. It’s going to be now in the US and after in the, in Europe and then after Latin America. So instead of just watching what is happening on, in the US and only closely, like, reading the newspaper, try to get like really in the work in progress. Talk with people that are creating the next trends.
And if you jump on those and you’re going to be, as we have done in the past, that the agencies that are going to not just understanding those. But understand a blue ocean market getting there before the others and you’re going to have a super competitive advantage. So yeah, listen, read a lot that talk with people, do surveys, getting the game there because at the time that you see that in the newspaper, it’s already old.
Jason: [00:14:03] I love it. I love it, man. And, uh, what’s the website people can go and check you guys out.
Alessandro: [00:14:08] Sure, uh, they can check on influencermarketingfactory.com. It’s our website. They’re going to find, find the case studies. We also trying to keep up like it with different blog posts about of course, like, you know, TikTok, but also now more and more on social commerce, we’re going to also work now in our reports.
So yes, that is the best way to do that. And I need to want also just to connect with me. Uh, you know, they can find me on Instagram with @alexeidos, that is my username, if they want to. And I’m always open to like, you know, get, if they have any questions super epic to like, you know, help anyone that wants maybe to start agency or some young people that want to understand more about what does it mean to be an entrepreneur.
Jason: [00:14:44] Awesome man. Well, thanks so much to go check out those resources. And if you want to be surrounded by amazing people that can see the things you might not be able to see that understand the agency world, and you want to be in the know and really see those trends. I would like to invite all of you to go check out the Digital Agency Elite.
This is our exclusive agency owner mastermind, where we’re constantly scaling faster. We’re growing and having a lot of fun. So make sure you guys go to digitalagencyelite.com and until next time have a Swenk day.