E12: Morgan Kling: Influencer Marketing Expert and Creator of CloutHQ

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Morgan Kling joins me on episode 12 of Site Unseen to talk about the power of influencer marketing and the company he started around this new method of digital marketing.

At an early age, he knew the traditional route wasn’t for him. He decided to forgo college and the corporate world that follows, and jump into entrepreneurship. From doing odd jobs and freelancing, to contracting and business ownership, he has truly built a name for himself from the ground up. He has even been recognized by Forbes in their article “Make Way For Generation Z Entrepreneurs Saying No To College.”

Morgan Kling’s success comes in part from his innovative product ideas and business plan. He joined the beginnings of the influencer industry and recognized an emerging market. He founded Market Boost, a digital marketing agency focused on influencer marketing. Then, he designed a product to make advertising easier for business-to-consumer companies and started CloutHQ, a digital platform for companies to easily find Instagram influencers.

Visit the websites MarketBoost.biz and CloutHQ.com to learn more about Morgan Kling’s influencer marketing products.

Episode Transcript

David Hitt: 00:18 Hello and welcome to another episode of Site Unseen. Site Unseen is our studio’s digital marketing podcast where we cover issues related to the digital marketing agency in web development studio today. On our podcast we look at trending topics, which sort of lie at the intersection of design, development, and marketing.

Today we’re going to be talking to Morgan Kling. Morgan is the founder and CEO of CloutHQ, a curated database of Instagram influencers, and also the founder of the digital marketing agency Market Boost. Morgan, welcome to our show.

Morgan Kling: 00:56 Thanks for having me, David.

David Hitt: 00:57 You’re welcome. You’re welcome. So I have, throughout my career, followed the trajectory of people who I sort of was lucky enough to encounter at a very early point in their career, recognize their precociousness, and watch them succeed fabulously.

And by way of introduction, when I was doing some research on you, I came across a couple of articles that profiled your level of precociousness, which from my understanding involved just sort of becoming an entrepreneur right after you finished high school. And doing everything that you’ve done, i.e. start an agency and start this product CloutHQ, which we’re going to be spending a fair amount of time talking about today, all without the sort of traditional precursor life events that some entrepreneurs feel as though are mandatory prior to going out on their own. Do I have that sort of general sketch outline correct about you?

Morgan Kling: 02:07 Yeah, yeah. You’ve got a pretty close. There’s a little bit of a gap after high school, but I jumped right into entrepreneurship pretty close out after.

David Hitt: 02:14 So why don’t you just step us through that process? I mean, I think, the first place, I should say that, historically, I’ve owned my own studio for about 20 years. And I have hired a variety of people with both traditional and nontraditional backgrounds. And some of the most talented individuals that I’ve been lucky enough to employ over the years, I’ve actually come from very nontraditional backgrounds. So before I even talked to you, you’re talking to someone who is a fellow skeptic with regard to the importance of traditional preparation. But why don’t you just sketch your journey for us?

Morgan Kling: 03:03 Definitely. Yeah. I appreciate the opportunity. Maybe I can sway you one way or the other. I grew up in a really small town in Southern Michigan, population was about 10,000 people. And the economy there was mostly driven by factory work, mostly labor jobs, and things like that. And growing up in that town, the future for me, best case scenario, if I followed along the route that was conventional at that time would have most likely have been working in a factory, or working in a labor position, or engineering, or something like that.

And I realized that there was a limit to what I was going to be able to do when it came to challenging myself intellectually working as one of those types of roles. So as soon as I graduated high school, I moved to Texas. I moved to the oil field spot in Texas, Odessa. And I started doing sales, working with trucking companies to get them up to compliance with federal regulations. And so with that I spent about three months going to different trucking companies, talking to the founders, learning what their problems were, and trying to help them solve those. And then out of nowhere, the oil market crashed. So it went from $110 a barrel down to $40 a barrel, and three months later I was out of a job there.

David Hitt: 04:10 So if I can pause you for a moment, what year was that?

Morgan Kling: 04:14 That would have been 2014.

David Hitt: 04:18 Okay. And how did you end up sort of taking a job in Michigan, and taking a job with a trucking entity in Texas?

Morgan Kling: 04:29 Yeah, so my mom had a consulting company in Odessa, Texas where she was helping them remain compliant.

David Hitt: 04:34 I see.

Morgan Kling: 04:35 And she had been given the opportunity to open up a new division of that business to offer electronic logging devices to those trucking companies. And at the time I was interested in sales, and it just seemed like a natural fit for me to come down there and try to help her out.

David Hitt: 04:48 And at that point in time had you decided to not go to college?

Morgan Kling: 04:52 Yeah. So I decided about halfway through my senior year. I was never a classroom learner, for whatever reason, just the way that my personality works, and the way that my brain works, sitting through a classroom, like a lecture, I just couldn’t absorb information very well. I couldn’t really focus. The teacher would talk, and a few minutes later-

David Hitt: 05:08 You sound like a lot of entrepreneurs.

Morgan Kling: 05:11 Exactly.

David Hitt: 05:12 Why does this story sound familiar?

Morgan Kling: 05:15 Yeah, I mean, that’s pretty much how I came to that conclusion. I realized if I did go to college, I’d have to take out a lot of student loans because my family wasn’t overly financially set where they could afford to pay for my college. And I knew if I did that, it would mean I was taking out student loans. It wasn’t really an option for me because I knew that if I was going to be able to make significant progress in my personal life and my professional development in the early stages, that I would need to have enough cash available in order to experiment with things. And I just didn’t think that was going to be an option if I had taken out a bunch of student loans.

David Hitt: 05:19 Sure. So you had this brief gig in Texas, and then the market crashed. And then what did you do?

Morgan Kling: 05:59 Yeah, so I moved back to Michigan. I got an apartment that I couldn’t quite afford. I found a job as a diesel technician, basically just turning wrenches on semi trucks. And eventually I got a job at FedEx. I worked there for about six months. And I started to realize that if I were to continue with this job, which is what everybody was telling me I should do, hold out longer, climb the corporate ladder, build a 401(k), things like that.

It was just too hard on my body at the time. It was a lot of manual labor like working third shift and outside when it’s snowing, sleeting, hurricanes, whatever it might be. Always working outside, and under these trucks and stuff. And I really just didn’t think that was a good way to put my body to use, and really challenge myself.

So about six months into that job, I realized that I needed to start looking for an exit plan. And I started saving as much money as I could. And then later that fall I started talking to people that were doing things online, like building small Shopify stores, building online e-commerce brands, things like that.

And I just started reaching out to them to see if there’s a way that I could help them, or exchange services so that I could better understand this world that they were living in, and making a lot of money. And so from there I just started building relationships and asking people if there’s things I could do to help them. And trying to find a way that I could contribute so that I could learn something from the experience.

David Hitt: 07:16 And what do you think you learned, and how did you parlay those skills into your next step?

Morgan Kling: 07:25 I learned a lot. It’s too much to list in terms of how the timeline evolved. I would say some of the early takeaways that I had that were not really presented to me in high school, or directly after in the corporate world, was just to think bigger, and to realize that the opportunities that are presented to people, especially in this country, they’re infinite. They’re endless. You can really build whatever you want if you just really set your mind to it, and you really sit down, and really question your ideas and your logic behind decisions you’re making.

So that was definitely the biggest takeaway is being surrounded by people that were, at the time I was 19, 20 years old, and I was interacting with people who were 16, and they were making several hundred thousands of dollars a year. And for me that was such a shock. I remember the first time I talked to somebody that was younger than me, and they said they had $10,000 in their savings account. And I was just absolutely blown away. I couldn’t believe it. Somebody this young can save that much money.

And as I started building relationships with those people, I realized that it never stops. And that there’s no ceiling to what you can build in terms of a brand, in terms of providing value to people. You can scale that as far as you want to scale it. And that’s something I never really got to see in the corporate world because you’re so tied down by the standards that are expected of you. And it’s very much so like here’s your to do list for today, and go out and do that. You’re not really able to stretch yourself, and it’s really difficult to challenge yourself and to try to become better when you’re being managed by people that have quotas to hit, things like that. So I would just say better understanding what’s possible.

David Hitt: 09:00 So the process you’re describing where you were reaching out, networking, learning about a world you sought to enter, presumably that also involved your entering it in some capacity. What did you start out as, a freelancer? Or did you brand your current agency at that time? The name of your studio is Market Boost, correct?

Morgan Kling: 09:28 That’s correct.

David Hitt: 09:29 Right. And have you had that brand since day one, or how did that come about? And then we can sort of segue into talking about what you do there.

Morgan Kling: 09:41 Yeah. So I started with Market Boost. In the very early days, it was just basically just me being a freelancer and offering agency services, like contracting outside people to do some of the work that I wasn’t able to accomplish. And then from there, as I started to work with bigger clients, and take on bigger gigs, I was able to build a small team to help me with some of these projects. And then came the automations, and different things like that.

David Hitt: 10:04 Where were those teams located?

Morgan Kling: 10:08 All over the place. So I mean, I’ve worked with people from the Philippines, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, remote contractors, mostly that I find online on contractor websites like Upwork.

David Hitt: 10:18 Right, right, right. Okay. So why don’t you tell me about the evolution of Market Boost, and where you stand with that currently?

Morgan Kling: 10:29 Yeah, so I started in September of 2016, I think it was. That’s when I officially organized the company. And I did that for about three months, working with different clients, just really doing anything, offering any service that I thought I could put together better than whoever I was talking to could. And really trying to bring together resources of other people and asking for guidance on things. So I did that for about three months.

I realized that there was this whole other part of the digital marketing industry called influencer marketing. And I found a startup in San Antonio, Texas that was looking for a campaign manager to manage the budgets of some of the clients that they were working with. So after about three months, I moved to San Antonio, and I worked with them as a contractor for about 10 months while I was still running my agency. And I was basically managing the budgets for their clients.

And throughout that process it kind of opened my eyes to an influencer industry, and to a emerging market that was going to exist, that I was very confident was going to continue to exist and continue to grow in the the online advertising space. And so with them, I worked with them for about 10 months. At some point we kind of just were seeing things different ways. They we’re seeing that it was important to focus on one area of the market. I was seeing that there was a bigger opportunity that if we focused on the whole of the market.

And at that point I decided to leave that company. And then from there I started taking on bigger clients and building out some of the softwares that would allow me to automate those processes internally. And then eventually that led me building a software as a service company for other people’s brands.

David Hitt: 11:59 Right. So let’s talk about influencer marketing. For those of us that might be more website development oriented, what is influencer marketing defined broadly?

Morgan Kling: 12:13 Yeah, great question. Influencer marketing is defined as, or at least how I define it, is using the voices of trusted people to promote a brand or a product. So basically there’s a good group of people on social media and online that have a big audience because they’ve spent the time to cultivate relationships with people online. And influencer marketing is basically collaborating with those people in order to promote a product to their audience.

David Hitt: 12:39 Got you. That all makes sense. And I already knew what it was to begin with. But let’s take a case study to sort of delve deeper for, again, those that maybe aren’t intimately familiar with the power of influencer marketing. Give us an example within your professional history of how influencer marketing has been used successfully by a client, or a client of an agency you were working for.

Morgan Kling: 13:16 Definitely. So there’s a ton of examples of brands that we’re able to see irrational type growth from influencer marketing. The term is not super widely used, but I would just see it as when you spend money you can usually expect between a certain range of an ROI, or return on ad spend. And influencer marketing for some of the brands was producing a crazy irrational ROI like 100X or 200X, just insane numbers.

So there’s a lot of examples of early direct consumer brands that were able to leverage it right at the beginning of the wave. MVMT Watches was a great example, Tuft and Needle, a more recent one. Snow Teeth Whitening, Ivory Ella, Fullscreen, there’s a lot of brands that they had the connections in the influencer marketing space in the early days, and they just started to deploy content to these different audiences.

And at the time it was super undervalued. There wasn’t a lot of other advertisers buying up that ad space. And so they were able to get a really massive amount of volume of people talking about their products online. And just recently MVMT Watches, it was two guys, they started that in a college dorm room, just shipping watches off AliExpress or Alibaba, and they were using influencers a lot. And they had just basically stayed on that track of working with people to promote the brand, and in investing in Facebook advertising. And they were able to grow the brand into the hundreds of millions of dollars and were recently acquired by Movado Watch Group.

David Hitt: 14:36 Right. So is influencer marketing used for both brand awareness, and to sell product, and/or is it better in some applications than others?

Morgan Kling: 14:46 Yeah, it’s definitely better in some applications than others overall. You won’t lose if you approach influencer marketing as a branding opportunity because you’re getting impressions, and it’s delivered from somebody that that audience already trusts. And there’s also a side of customer acquisition that you can use influencer marketing for.

And the thing right now is it’s pretty inconsistent, and it’s hard to track attribution on sales that certain influencers are driving. So the clients that I talk to, I tend to steer them towards the branding approach because it’s something that you’re going to be able to cultivate a personality behind the company with. But there’s certainly brands that are able to make a lot of money from a single post from an influencer, or a celebrity, or something like that.

One example I can give is a previous client of mine, they were reaching out to YouTube influencers to promote one of their products. And they had found one person on YouTube that had, I think it was 88,000 subscribers on their channel, paid them $2,000 for a sponsored video. I think it got 20,000 views or something like that. And then ended up making them $140,000 in revenue. So there’s certainly areas that-

David Hitt: 15:51 What were they selling?

Morgan Kling: 15:52 It was a car detailing product.

David Hitt: 15:54 Okay.

Morgan Kling: 15:55 Yeah. Higher price point for them compared to their competitors. But that would be one example of how you can still make a good ROI in influencer marketing. And also he’s building a significant brand in that case where the value of having that trusted persona and trusted personality in this space will provide a lot of value down the road as well.

David Hitt: 16:17 Right. So I think this is bringing us to a sort of the big reveal of kind of why you’re here. You started a software as a service product called CloutHQ. Why don’t you tell our users what that is precisely?

Morgan Kling: 16:35 Yeah. CloutHQ is a crowdsourced influencer marketing database. Basically what we do is we have a public database on our website where anybody can go to in search and filter through influencers. And all of those influencers are added to the database by other brands who have shown an interest in them. And so we have a CloutHQ Chrome extension that our users are able to audit accounts that way. They can audit Instagram accounts. See what the engagement rate is, average comments, average views, things like that.

And we have a web hook set up so that whenever somebody scans a profile on there, it’s automatically added to our database. And then we have other filters that keep an eye on where the interest is going in the influencer space, and seeing what influencers are most popular. And then those are also added. But there’s always a human filter somewhere involved in there. And rather than us curating that influencer database ourselves, we’ve decided to use the minds of brand experts and advertising experts in the field to do that.

David Hitt: 17:32 So that sounds interesting, and raises more questions. Explain to me sort of the process through which influencers get added to the database manually.

Morgan Kling: 17:47 Yeah, so there’s the Chrome extension. Whenever somebody audits an Instagram account, all of the data that is presented in that audit-

David Hitt: 17:56 So whenever one of your users who has this Chrome extension installed audits an Instagram account.

Morgan Kling: 18:01 Correct.

David Hitt: 18:03 Okay, got you.

Morgan Kling: 18:04 And then we have other filters on Instagram that looks for spikes in engagement on certain influencers. And if it hits a certain parameter, then those influencers are also added to the database. And they go through a double check process so that not any influencers added to it. Like right now there’s a lot of influencers spanning across a million different types of niches and product interests. But in that case, we’re just looking for the rising stars in the influencer community. So that we can add them there, and help brands better find and connect with them.

David Hitt: 18:33 So essentially, you have some way of monitoring or auditing in aggregate what’s going on in Instagram. And you’re looking for statistics related to engagement I guess. What specifically statistics are you looking forward to determine whether or not someone should be added to the database?

Morgan Kling: 18:54 Yeah, it’s mostly product category interest. So if we notice a big influx of brands that are selling hair care items are signing up for the platform, we’ll deploy a script that goes out and looks for influencers that have matching attributes to somebody who would be a good fit to promote a haircare product. And same thing with other types of niches. It’s mostly just looking at what the demand on the platform is, and what specific types of influencers people are looking for, and then adding those influencers to the database.

David Hitt: 19:20 So who do you find is buying subscriptions to CloutHQ?

Morgan Kling: 19:25 Yes, we service mostly entry-level companies. A lot of Shopify stores, social media managers, direct response marketers that maybe have been tasked with managing their influencer department for a brand. It’s mostly the entry level-

David Hitt: 19:36 How about agencies?

Morgan Kling: 19:38 We have some agencies. The problem with providing a software as a service to an agency in that case is it requires a lot of different features. And then at this point the main focus is creating an easy way to find and connect with the influencers. Whereas on the agency side, they’re usually asking for more in depth features, and more advanced features that can integrate. And it’s just something that we don’t offer at this time.

David Hitt: 20:01 I see. And this is an Instagram specific influencer database? Correct?

Morgan Kling: 20:08 That’s correct.

David Hitt: 20:09 And why did you choose Instagram, and do you think you’re going to stop at Instagram?

Morgan Kling: 20:16 That’s a good question. Instagram, I chose Instagram because there’s the most volume of influencers on there. Choosing between Instagram and YouTube, basically it came down to what data was going to be made available that we could actually go out and collect and publish on the website. YouTube has a really good way of protecting that data and making it difficult to get.

Whereas Instagram is a little bit easier to kind of sneak around their third script limits, and their scraping limits, and things like that. So that’s how I came to the decision of only doing Instagram. As far as what the future looks like, Facebook has already shown an interest in rolling out an influencer platform of their own. And I think they’ve shown that they’re not overly friendly to platforms that monetize based on what they’re providing to their customers, and to their users. And so I’m keeping an eye on what the risk looks like to continue only serving Instagram influencers.

David Hitt: 21:09 You’re concerned that they might limit access to crucial data that you’re currently able to gain access to. Is that correct?

Morgan Kling: 21:15 Exactly. And then the first party data problem, anything that we’re getting, any of the data that we’re able to run through our algorithms is all scraped off the HTML of an Instagram profile. And so we don’t really have access to a lot of the first party data that’s required to make an exceptionally great influencer platform in order to add the search filters in there. They’ve pretty much closed that off to one or two different influencer platforms, which are very enterprise level, and not accessible to the general market.

David Hitt: 21:44 Okay. So maybe if you could just step our viewers through a typical use of your product? Either invent sort of a hypothetical case study, and a hypothetical product vertical that somebody might use your product, use CloutHQ for, or talk about a real world instance that you’re aware of?

Morgan Kling: 22:12 For sure. So let’s say you have a brand that is selling CBD tinctures. You’re selling products that are meant to help people relieve their pain. A normal journey that somebody would take, they would go to the website, they would sign up, they would start looking for the influencers that are going to be a good fit to promote that product.

So a lot of people that talk about pain relief, or talk about recovery, or talk about alternative health options that people have. You would find people like that. And then you would send them a message asking them if they would be interested in collaborating with you. And rather than creating a giant Google Sheet, like the alternative is, if you don’t have software, you create a giant Google Sheet, and you email people one by one. Or if you get fancy, you set up a Zapier, or something like that. With our platform you can create one giant list, and you can reach out to everybody at the same time. And so that makes it easier on the most time consuming-

David Hitt: 23:01 So the built in outreach component to CloutHQ is a sort of a differentiator.

Morgan Kling: 23:07 Exactly. Yeah. That’s the biggest time saver that we offer is the outreach part, which is neck and neck with the actual identification of influencer side.

David Hitt: 23:17 Right. How did you come up with the idea to do this?

Morgan Kling: 23:27 Yeah. When I was running the campaigns for different brands, the main point of friction that I would hit most consistently, like no matter what new company I was working with, I always knew that I was going to have to go out and find influencers for that brand. Because at the time, even though I had a pretty decent sized database, there’s just too many different types of companies, and too many different segments of influencers.

And I found myself on Google looking for public influencer databases like every month. Just praying that somebody would release this giant database of influencers that I could search through, and find their email addresses, and reach out to them for my clients. And I never found that. I kept looking, kept looking, never found it. And at the time I was building internal software to help me do my job better with the clients I was working with.

And the developer that I had coding the platform had recommended that if you create a software as a service around this, I think it’s something that other people would be willing to pay for. So from there kind of just made sense. And I figured if nobody else is going to create a public influencer database, it may as well be me. I have the data, I have the time to actually create something like this. And that’s kind of how it got started.

David Hitt: 24:29 How long ago was that? When did the product launch?

Morgan Kling: 24:32 It was September of last year, so just about a year.

David Hitt: 24:35 September 2018. Okay. And can you share with us any hiccups, or problems, in and around launch?

Morgan Kling: 24:46 There’s too many to list. Not really. We had a pretty good launch. We started seeing growth right off the bat. When I first started, it was my first software company, and I wasn’t really aware of some of the common pitfalls that software companies have, mainly like developer debt or technical debt. And so as we were coding the platform, I was seeing it from the approach of, okay, this screen is supposed to do this, so make it do this. And I never really stopped to really reflect on with the infrastructure behind that would look like.

And so after about three months, it was right around early December to early January, our servers got overloaded because we had gotten featured in a pretty big publication, entrepreneur.com. It sent a bunch of traffic to us, and our servers got really full, really fast, and our site basically became inoperable for a few weeks. And so that was definitely the biggest kick in the face for me was having to better understand the infrastructure side, and not so much just to how can we create screens that do what we’re expecting them to do.

David Hitt: 25:45 What was your response to that?

Morgan Kling: 25:47 Yeah, I hired a new developer to go through and refactor all of the code. So the developer that I had, he was kind of half in, half out. One day he’d show up, and then I wouldn’t hear from him for two days. It was just bad management on my side, and bad leadership on my side. And at some point it kind of just became obvious that if I was going to scale a platform that I would need somebody to create it very well and very nicely built-

David Hitt: 26:10 From the standard of all best practices.

Morgan Kling: 26:13 Exactly. Yeah. So I had found another developer to refactor all the code, and basically rewrite the whole platform.

David Hitt: 26:18 Right. So I played with your product a bit. And first off I found it really quite simple to use. I find a lot of the fundamental challenges I have with some software service products is understanding the sort of basic paradigm, like understand exactly what problems they’re trying to solve. I mean it may sound counterintuitive, or maybe I’m an idiot, but lots of online software service vendors have great difficulty sort of explaining what it is that their products do, and sort of underscoring what problems they’re solving precisely.

And yours is a pretty straightforward value proposition, I think, assuming one understands the power of influencer marketing. Then your tool is an Instagram sort of oriented approach to skinning that cat. And I stepped myself through the process of locating influencers. And I noticed that you, essentially, I don’t know what you call them, but when you’ve identified an influencer in your database, you see sort of a screen’s worth of information that has some probably jQuery enabled tabbed metrics associated with that user. And I’m curious to know what do you call that? Do you call it their profile page? What exactly is this?

Morgan Kling: 27:50 Yeah, that would be the influencer listing, and then that data would be the analytics on that.

David Hitt: 27:54 Right. So to what degree did you choose those analytics? Or to what degree are you just sort of tethered to whatever it is you’re able to pull out of Instagram’s API, or however you’re getting that information? And to what degree did you sort of curate that information, and what does that information tell somebody, and what are the particular metrics that you think typically inform decisions regarding outreach?

Morgan Kling: 28:19 Yeah, great question. I created that set of data based on the most common questions that I was getting from brands that were reaching out to me. So during the whole process I was managing a community of, when I first started there was like 3,000 members, and today it’s like 12,000 brands that we’re looking to collaborate with influencers.

So throughout the process of creating the software, I was getting a lot of messages to my Facebook account asking questions about influencer marketing, like what to look for, how to scope out fraud, things like that. And I basically just went down the list of, okay, the most common thing people are asking me for is how to find out the engagement rate of an account. And then it would also be nice if people could see the average likes and comments on some of these accounts, and the average video views.

And it kind of just expanded from there, looking at what we’re able to get from looking at Instagram’s data outside of just their API. They limited the API shortly after we launched, and they restricted it, like I said, just to a handful of different platforms. So we were limited to the amount of data that we could collect off the screens of an Instagram account rather than through their API.

So putting that data to use, as an advertiser, you want to make sure that whatever money you spend to have somebody promote your product is going to be put to the best use, and you want to make sure if one influencer’s asking for $100, and their engagement rate is 0.5%, and another influencer is asking $100, but their engagement rate is 5.5%, obviously you want to know how to choose between one of those two influencers.

So the engagement rate is the most anchored metric that people look at, and that’s the most common metric that people look at. And then followers. It’s kind of funny because everybody looks at how many followers somebody has because it represents the size of the audience. But oftentimes the followers is kind of something that just like it’s briefly briefly looked at. But people are mostly concerned at what the engagement rate of a profiles is going to be.

David Hitt: 30:07 I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit, I don’t do what you do, my sort of relationship with social media is persistent, but kind of tangential to what to what we do in our office. But I was sort of pouring through your product and looking at profiles. And it occurred to me, I looked at some metrics for some very well known celebrities on Instagram.

And it’s interesting to me is somebody like Celine Dion might have 3.5 million followers. But if you look at the number of posts she actually puts up, it’s like three a week, or two a week. She’s obviously become an influencer only by virtue of her celebrity, and not by her embrace or use of the platform.

And I’m wondering if you could just talk about the differences in terms of identifying influencers. Because I know that there are niche, specific vertical influencers who run channels on cosmetics, or run channels on auto detailing. And sort of a tactical approach that might govern a potential outreach strategy. Do you go after the sort of vertical centric, the person who’s really committed to an idea that sort of compliments your product, or do you go for Celine Dion?

Morgan Kling: 31:33 Yeah. It really depends on what the objective of the spend is. Some brands are spending so much money that they’re able to invest $100,000 into a single post, and it’s not a big chunk of their advertising budget. The way I like to break it down is there’s three different sectors of influencers.

The first one would be micro influencers. That might just be like the [inaudible 00:31:55] mom in a community. They have some influence over the people that follow them. Maybe it’s 3,000 followers or 5,000 followers, whatever. Those influencers are best for driving conversions and generating ROI. So in that case, obviously you need a higher volume in order to work with enough people to drive a significant amount of sales. But they have the most trusted advisorship when it comes to buying products because they’re still fairly small, and they don’t sell out their page every other day like some other influencers do.

David Hitt: 32:23 Right.

Morgan Kling: 32:25 And then the middle segment of the influencer market would be just general influencers. So people anywhere from like 25,000 to 150,000 followers. And those people are best for distribution because they still have a lot of engagement on their account, and they still are able to reach a lot of people. So if you’re looking to expand the brand awareness and brand recognition of what you’re promoting, the middle segment is where you would focus your budget on.

And then on the higher side, like the 200,000 plus like 2,000 all the way up to 100 million followers, like Kim Kardashian and people like that, those are best for credibility and building a rock solid brand authority behind what you’re promoting. And so those people are used a little bit differently. And a lot of times they’ll drive sales. It’s not something I would bet my last thousand dollars on, if it came down to that. But each sector of the market serves a little bit different of a purpose.

David Hitt: 38:18 Right. That’s always interesting to me. I mean like, I’ve never cared, I live in Philadelphia, and I’ve never cared what the official suppository of the Philadelphia Eagles is. Because why would they know about such a product? But it’s always interesting to me that in advertising it has been a truism that if you affiliate some sort of unrelated product with a celebrity, it has greater street credibility in the mind of the average consumer. Just sorry, that’s just an aside. I’m just way too skeptical as a human being to ever care about what products celebrities are using unless they’re directly related to their craft. You know what I mean?

Morgan Kling: 34:03 I totally understand. I’m a skeptic as well and you’re absolutely right.

David Hitt: 34:09 But it works! We can’t argue with success historically. People would stop doing it if it didn’t achieve results for people.

Morgan Kling: 34:18 Exactly.

David Hitt: 34:20 Morgan, is there anything else you’d like to sort of talk about? Because I’m pretty much finished with my immediate questions.

Morgan Kling: 34:27 I think we’ve pretty much hit all the major conversation topics that I think would be valuable for your audience. I think the last thing I may, if I can leave your audience with, is just to approach influencer marketing as a way to build trust through an audience, and really inspire people to fall in love with your brand. Influencer marketing is, in my opinion, the best way to do that, and in a lot of other very successful brands’ opinions to do that.

And I would just really encourage anybody, if you’re interested in influencer marketing, or if it’s something that you see could possibly be valuable for your brand, just look into it, experiment a little bit, and see if you get any attraction. Because I think most people are surprised after they get through the initial stages of setting up the infrastructure. Most people are surprised in what they get in return. So I would just encourage people to look into it.

David Hitt: 35:13 Great. And let our audience know one more time where they can find CloutHQ.

Morgan Kling: 35:18 Yeah. So the website is CloutHQ.com. And it’s spelled C-L-O-U-T-H-Q.com.

David Hitt: 35:23 Great. Yes. Okay, great. So again, my guest this afternoon has been Morgan Kling, and he is the founder of CloutHQ. And Morgan, thanks again. It’s been a fun conversation. And I appreciate learning more about influencer marketing and your product.

Morgan Kling: 35:41 Thanks so much for having me.

David Hitt: 35:43 All right, thank you.

Morgan Kling: 35:44 Thanks. Talk soon.

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