You’re starting to hear a theme emerge in a lot of influencer marketing industry predictions and trends talk, it’s been there but seems to be getting louder. The word or phrase I’m referring to is “data-driven.”

Most of your influencer marketing platforms have that verbiage in their marketing literature because marketing decision makers like you respond to it. Data means more insights, more predictive decision making, better chance of success without us humans mucking it up. But to understand the data of any marketing channel is a level of expertise few have. That’s why we rely on the software platforms and engineers to come up with metrics and formulas and dashboards. Then we look to thought leaders in and around our industry to know which of the metrics and formulas and dashboards really matter.

In our evolution as marketers, we decide which we care about from our experiences. When a campaign is successful, we look to the metrics to decide which may have been the predictor or indicator of success. We personally get more expertise and start to make those data analysis decisions on our own. Just in case we miss something along the way or need a fresh perspective on the data we use every day, there are people like Bill Hildebolt.

He’s the CEO and co-founder of Gen.Video, an influencer marketing platform that focuses on video and social commerce. Bill is an analytics guy and loves to talk through and think through measurement and data analysis problems. A few months ago, he started an ambitious blog series at GenVideo’s website at, it’s called The Math and Science of Influencer Marketing. At this recording, it’s 20 articles long and dives deep into various ways to use math and science techniques to understand influencer marketing better. I invited Bill to come on the show and talk turkey about the turkey. If you will. We get deep into the great ROI debate.

We went into metrics that matter beyond reach. Bill has a great point about segmenting analytics along content topics and verticals, that’s really smart. In essence, today’s episode is a couple of data nerds nerding out, and I think you’ll enjoy listening in as I think we make some points that might make you smarter about your influence marketing efforts.

This episode of Winfluence is presented by Tagger, a complete influence marketing software solution. Check them out for a demo today at

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Bill Hildebolt on Winfluence Transcript

[00:00:00] Jason: Hello again friends, thanks for listening to Winfluence the Influence Marketing Podcast. You’re starting to hear a theme emerge in a lot of influencer marketing industry predictions and trends talk, it’s been there but seems to be getting louder. The word or phrase I’m referring to is data driven.

Most of your influencer marketing platforms have that verbiage in their marketing literature because marketing decision makers like you respond to it. Data means more insights, more predictive decision making, better chance of success without us humans mucking it up. But to understand the data of any marketing channel is a level of expertise few have. That’s why we rely on the software platforms and engineers to come up with metrics and formulas and dashboards. Then we look to thought leaders in and around our industry to know which of the metrics and formulas and dashboards really matter.

In our evolution as marketers, we decide which we care about from our experiences. When a campaign is successful, we look to the metrics to decide which may have been the predictor or indicator of success. We personally get more expertise and start to make those data analysis decisions on our own. Just in case we miss something along the way or need a fresh perspective on the data we use every day, there are people like Bill Hildebolt.

He’s the CEO and co-founder of Gen Video, an influencer marketing platform that focuses on video and social commerce. Bill is an analytics guy and loves to talk through and think through measurement and data analysis problems. A few months ago, he started an ambitious blog series at Gen Video’s website at, it’s called The Math and Science of Influencer Marketing. At this recording, it’s 20 articles long and dives deep into various ways to use math and science techniques to understand influencer marketing better. I invited Bill to come on the show and talk turkey about the turkey. If you will. We get deep into the great ROI debate.

We went into metrics that matter beyond reach. Bill has a great point about segmenting analytics along content topics and verticals, that’s really smart. In essence, today’s episode is a couple of data nerds nerding out, and I think you’ll enjoy listening in as I think we make some points that might make you smarter about your influence marketing efforts.

Bill Hildebolt the CEO of Gen videos, coming up on the show. Now this is the point in the program where I tell you a little about Tagger our presenting sponsor. It is a complete influencer marketing software package I use every day to find, engage, hire, collaborate, review, and measure all my influence marketing efforts, thanks to Tagger’s new signals feature, I can actually start my influencer discovery process very differently, in signals you do enter your topic or keyword, but instead of getting influencer recommendations based on maybe how many times that word appears in one’s bio or content, you start with a list of creators talking about that topic actively.

It’s a social listening piece that zeros in on the influencers already engaged around the topic, so your outreach is more relevant. Seriously, if an influencer said trash bags in a post four years ago, they might come up in a regular influencer marketing discovery search that say hefty might do, but in Tagger’s signals, you get the people who mention trash bags in their posts in the content in the last 30 days or whatever timeframe you choose.

This gives you more relevant creators already teed up to discuss the topics around your brand. I could go on, but you know, I use Tagger every day, you should check it out too, it might be right for your brand or agency. Go to That’s to get a free demo and see if Tagger is right for you. At url again, Get out your calculators, or at least your notepads and pins. Bill Hildebolt from Gen Video is here to take us back to class on the math and science of influencer marketing, that’s next on Winfluence.

[00:04:07] Jason: Okay, Bill, you’ve been producing a heck of a content series over at Gen Videos [email protected] called The Math and Science of Influencer Marketing. I’ve really enjoyed digging in deep to think through all the data and how to leverage it to make smarter decisions. I guess first up, I want to know what was the impetus for the series? I mean, you’re on SA probably number 20, I think in this thing, so it had to be more than just an idea to write a blog post?

[00:04:31] Bill: Definitely true, I think the impetus for the post was just sort of feeling like I had all these, thoughts and ideas that were sort of bubbling to the surface, and I was sort of repeating myself, I felt like in a lot of client conversations with topics that I was passionate about. And so it was sort of, okay, I’ve been doing this or forms of this for over a decade now, and so there’s some, built up knowledge there and I kind of wanna pay that forward. And so for sure there’s obviously the marketing piece of it that hopefully it’ll help Gen Video, but at the same time, I felt like this is the right time in this industry to really get serious about some of these topics, about return on investment, about the math that goes behind it.

We’ve all seen too much, let’s be honest, sloppy work in the influencer space and so if I can share that out and help people in their careers, help brands make better decisions we’ll all benefit from an industry where return on investment is perceived to be clear and doable, and so that was really it.

It’s been a lot of fun, I will say I do feel like it’s almost like, the sort of sense of getting it out there and feeling less weighted down almost in a weird sort of way. but I’ve enjoyed it and I hope I can keep coming up with topics for a few more months. Nothing compared to what you’ve put out, but I’m trying.

[00:05:56] Jason: Well, you definitely have the foundation, I mean, you’ve got 20 articles or 19 articles so far. I mean, hell, that’s a couple chapters of, a book right there, so you keep rolling, you’ll have it before too long. So early on in the series, you dig into that question of ROI return on investment, and you very quickly point out that Covid helped brands see that influencer content and activities weren’t something you can look at strictly through a financial lens, right?

[00:06:23] Bill: Absolutely, I think influencer marketing may well, In most cases done well influence more sales than the investment that you’re putting in. But you know, even today, the ability even in a digital world to measure that full impact is just not there typically.

So again, we do a lot of campaigns, particularly in the consumer electronic space where we do see 100% return on sales for the right kind of product, using the right kind of influencer, so I know it can be done. That doesn’t mean I think that the consumer package good campaigns are any less successful, I just think that the buying behaviors trickle through in different ways and the curve through different functions that aren’t always trackable.

That said, I think there’s a lot of value that goes well beyond trying to do such a hard cut, direct sales return that come from influencer marketing and once you start to really look at those broader impacts, then I think it becomes a very clear and compelling case. First thing I would admit is, when influencer marketing really started to take off we were already in user generated content at Gen Video, and we had seen a few different variations on that trend, and the thing that was in my mind was like, well, is this another variation on the trend or is this a mega trend? And it’s turned out to be, you know, an absolutely industry redefining phenomena, and I think that’s why I think there’s just a ton of different value elements that come together that mean that this thing isn’t going away anytime soon.

[00:07:54] Jason: That’s true, well, to level set with folks and continue with the ROI conversation just a little bit here, and I also want to get your feedback here Bill, my perspective on ROI has always been that asking for that and that alone is very myopic. ROI is an accounting metric, it’s a formula whose factors include the amount of money you made and the amount of money you spent.

So made minus spend, divided by spend, and the answer is a percentage, that tells you how much of your money you made back. So if it’s 100% you broke, even if it’s 200% you doubled your money, if it’s under 100%, you lost money from a net perspective. But influencers are not often used for, and I would say are even seldom used for driving direct sales.

So you can’t apply ROI to that investment at all in some cases. Now you can, however, say, what did I get in return? Now that includes money, but it may also include stronger messaging, resonance in the market, more authenticity and conversations around your brand, online arousing, customer curiosity, and so on. Is that a fair response to the question of what is the ROI of influencer marketing from your perspective?

[00:09:01] Bill: 100% that is a fair response. You know, the thing that, just strikes me in all these conversations or all the, work that we do. I mean, the fundamental reason brands are coming to influencers is to hear their own story through the influencers voice and interpretation.

I mean, they always start there, at least every successful campaign starts there, anytime our brain would come and just say, hey, I just want people to, you know, parrot back my message, it’s not gonna work. And to be honest, happily, we don’t really work with those type of clients anyway. And so this idea that you’re starting, the brands start with this open-minded question of, I wanna see how influencers are going to interpret my message in my brand.

I mean, that’s market research and I think it’s a very valid, approach, right? That isn’t, Oh wait, you’re the professional, you know, you tell us. No, influencers are influencers because they understand and think about products at a deeper level than the rest of us, and they are able to interpret products and brands for us, including the brands themselves. And so, you know, it’s things that you said like editorial resonance, and, I recently wrote a post, one of the posts was about how brands are trying to repurpose influencer content at a rate far greater than I saw, in historical roles in the marketing world.

And at first you’re like, this doesn’t make any sense. I mean, if I hire a production company and I tell them exactly what to do, that should be the content that’s the easiest to repurpose. But instead, it’s influencer marketing that we’ve really burden with this task, and I think that the reason is that we are so passionate and excited to get that authenticity and to have that authenticity be our editorial voice in the marketplace. And so when you start thinking about, again, greater repurpose ability of content, embedding the market research in to have the story told in a way that we were cutting through.

You know, maybe layers of research and hiring really smart, you know, agency creative people. Again, not that they don’t continue to have a role, but you’re embedding all of this into these influencer campaigns so that you’ve practically paid for it even before you’ve started to get the impressions and the value of the impressions alone, like you said.

And so frankly, any direct sales that you would see on the back end of that is, truly gravy. And so you know, the idea that we can actually in many cases, see not just direct sales from a signaling perspective, but meaningful return on that investment is just like you’re just stacking value to the point where it almost starts to sound silly.

You almost start to, I used to try to do an exercise where I would stack some of these values on top of each other and I would lose clients because they’re like okay, now you sound like a snake oil, you know, secure cancer as well, and like, All right, maybe I need to back off of this and just let it sit because the value here is self-evident.

[00:12:00] Jason: Yeah, all right, at one point in this series you say that there are better ways to judge an influencer campaign upon than reach, which is kind of the base standard that a lot of people start with. Can you tell us what those are and how we should think about building measurement around them?

[00:12:16] Bill: Yes, so I do and again, the thing with reach is right, it’s the knowable thing when you’re constructing a campaign. So I think it’s a very, very fair metric to hold your vendor or your agency accountable, because it’s not about, to me, it’s not about how many influencers, It’s not about how many posts, those aren’t the things that really matter. So let’s start with reach, because it is a proxy for potentially some of the other things that we’re gonna get out of this campaign, so that’s great. I actually though like then start to, I’m trying to back the client up to say like, okay, the first metric really is did you get content you loved?

Cause if you get content you loved, then we’ve opened up repurpose ability, so even if the subscribers don’t necessarily bite, if we’ve got these great assets that we can run our own media against, that we can put on our brand website, that we can put on our eCommerce product pages. We’ve still won even before we’ve generated any awareness, so let back up actually and talk about the assets that we got.

Then let’s jump overreach and let’s start talking about the actual impressions that came out of this. And again, now we’ve got, we may have two different layers of that, one of them and we should keep them separate. There’s the organic reach, which is again, in theory why we hired these influencers with this particular audience and this particular perspective. So how was that content received in the market relative to that reach that they got? And then potentially if we ran paid media also at the same time, let’s, look at those impressions, but let’s measure them very differently because they are different and they should not be intermingled, and it’s a real hot button for me when people do intermingle them. Then obviously from there we can go down and we can look at things like clicks, we can look at comments and other forms of engagement.

I purposely love looking at clicks because that does start to signal to me, that intent to at least learn more. And so when there’s a lot of clicks, even if there’s not a lot of purchase behavior, I’m pretty happy, and if there aren’t a lot of clicks, I kind of wonder why.

And sometimes it may be, to your point, that wasn’t part of the mission, and in other cases, if it was a little bit more part of the mission, I wanna understand and I wanna learn from that. From there, you know, even if we’re not necessarily selling our own products, it may be, you know, if we send traffic down funnel to Amazon, we may be able to see what else people bought.

And so did we hit the right purchase affinities? Are we talking to the right audience through this campaign? you know, so all of that data to me, ends up being very interesting. And of course we could go on, we could talk more about the direct sales and elements like that, but those are some of the metrics that we start with, to start building that quantitative value.

[00:15:02] Jason: Love it, I also loved your take on performance metrics and their variations from vertical to vertical. Tell me how that comes into play when you’re measuring a campaign’s effectiveness?

[00:15:13] Bill: It’s just fundamental. And so the thing I think that we can get very excited about influencer marketing and we can sort of think of it as this, broad homogenous thing, but it is not, It is so nuanced and it’s so varied, vertical, again, you can be on YouTube, but people are doing a million different things on YouTube with a million different types of intent, and so ultimately at the end of the day, YouTube is a hosting platform.

Yes, there’s an algorithm they’re using to try to, steer people in a direction of consuming more and more content. But even a beauty influencer doing, beauty reviews is a very different beast than a tech influencer doing tech reviews. Their audience, I mean, again, not just different people in their audience, but the behaviors that are gonna come off of those audiences are gonna be completely different.

So, again, to kind of go back to this like simplistic analysis I use like, if you hire a tech influencer who does tech reviews steadily on their channel and they review the latest, you know, laptop from many of the top manufacturers, right? Not only are you gonna get this sort of very immediate response from their audience, some of whom may be in the market to buy a laptop, many are not.

But you’re gonna get like this initial sort of awareness burst and viewership burst, and you’re gonna get some really interesting dialogue in the comments that are gonna tell you a lot about that product, and it’s positioning in the market, but then you get this long SEO tale of product researchers that are gonna go find laptop reviews and gonna go find that content and have a very high propensity to buy that product.

That is very different than hiring a beauty influencer who may also still do a lot of reviews on there channel. we’re not necessarily gonna get the same purchase behavior for a review or demonstration, let’s say, of a new shampoo, it’s just a different set of behaviors we’re looking for.

again, much more of excitement around the product. That’s gonna lead to word of mouth type behaviors. And so those are very different things, even for two campaigns that seemingly started, you know, in the same place. And then when you talk about more of the associative type content or again, seasonal type content, it’s just gonna continue to diverge in ways.

And what you’ve gotta do is you’ve gotta decide upfront, what’s the KPIs with the client? Is that expectation internally consistent, right? Are they asking for things that will lead to the outcomes that they want? They can absolutely be divergent.

And then once you’ve lined it all up, you sort of set the expectations about, well, this is what I think’s gonna happen, this is the click through that we should look for, this is the CPM that we should sort of expect. Again, though it is influencer market, it’s not paid media on the organic side, things are gonna happen.

The only thing we know for sure is it’s not gonna happen the way we expect it, and sometimes it’s gonna be to the upside, and sometimes it’s gonna be to the downside, and we try to learn from those things and adapt and evolve and optimize. And that’s what makes it so much fun is, you know, and again, I didn’t come from a paid media world, and so I’m sure there’s a lot of people that could wax poetic and talk about the beauty and the elegance of that space much more deeper than I can. But it is the lack of determinative outcomes that I love in the organic influencer space. That just makes it always new, always exciting, always reinventing itself, and that’s where my passion’s at.

[00:18:33] Jason: How very true. We’re talking to Bill Hildebolt. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Gen Video. When we come back, I’m gonna ask him some of the burning questions we all seem to have, what size creators should I use, what networks are best for influencer marketing? We’re also gonna find out a little bit more about Gen Video, so stay tuned.

Back with Bill Hildebolt from Gen Video. Before we get into a little series of rapid fire questions I have for you, Bill, based on this math and science of influencer marketing content series you’ve got rolling over at, tell us a little bit more about the company and platform, what’s your wheelhouse in terms of services you provide to brands and agencies in this eco system?

[00:19:13] Bill: Great question and thanks for asking. So we came out of a world where we were initially creating user generated content design to be leveraged on eCommerce product pages, uh, specifically Amazon was sort of our first real place where as they were expanding their footprint in, video and trying to really make it a user generated powered platform with all the consumer reviews we were generating video for product pages.

And so that led us to have this client base that was very blue chip, so some of the biggest companies in the world, very concentrated in these large companies that were early adopters of the Amazon platform and looking to really scale and do whatever it took to get a competitive advantage, including investing in things like video its early days.

And so today it’s evolved to where we, and the way I think of it, we almost backed into influencer marketing, cause we were already creating this very purposeful product page video, which we knew was lifting conversion rates on these Amazon eCommerce product pages. And so you talk about ROI right? That had a very clear define, when you can lift the conversion rate of an Amazon PDP that is going to dwarf the value or the cost of any, production spend you’re gonna do. So then we looked at influencer market and we said, whoa, the emergence of this is amazing coz the quality of the content is suddenly skyrocketing.

The fact that influencers could be authentic and aspirational at the same time as a marketer’s dream come true. And then you could layer on, the awareness, which is obviously the first thing that most people think about with influencer marketing. For us, it was like the third thing, and then we layered on for this idea like, okay, well we’re already using this content on the product detail pages, so we know where we want this awareness to ultimately go, so let’s drive the traffic there ourselves.

And so we became, I think, as best I can tell, really the first platform sort of dedicated to combining all three of those things, the awareness, the repurposing of the content, in our case specifically for PDPs, and then tying those two things together with down funnel traffic and trying to measure the impact.

So early on as we were doing it, people were coming to us and saying like, how are you measuring these direct sales? How are you looking at conversion rate lift plus like direct sales impact? There’s some sort of voodoo going on here, we were like No, it’s not voodoo and, I guess we’re not gonna explain it to you if you don’t get it, but you can hire us and we will deliver it for you.

And so that, has been our story from the beginning and it’s made us a bit of a niche player, I would say, until recently because we weren’t trying to boil the ocean with a do everything platform. Today, I’m happy to say that our platform is very turnkey available for self-service users, and then we deliver them the same platform that we ourselves use with our, again, blue chip Fortune 100 managed services type clients. And so finally it’s we’re just in this really nice spot where it’s all kind of coming together, and agencies see the value, obviously a brand see the value, and now we want to come, what I would say bring the solution to the mid and small market where we know it can have the same incredible ROI impacts that it’s had for our Fortune 100 client base.

[00:22:29] Jason: Well, I have a feeling a few people are gonna be jotting down that URL here as we wind down the conversation to see more about it, so thanks for that update on what you guys do. All right, I wanna get back to the conversation about the math and science of influencer marketing. I wanna talk to you a second about CPM or cost per thousand or cost per melay for the you know, the needle nose folks out there, they’re gonna chop me up, and criticize me for not saying melay on my show, even though I don’t even know where it comes from, somebody will comment that the here’s where it comes from, dumb ass, that’ll be fine. anyway in what we do CPM often refers to cost per thousand impressions.

And there are tools out there that can show you how many impressions an influencers post gets. Then you can inquire about their cost and you can do the math. But I’ve found that equation to be A, too simple and B, incredibly inappropriate to provide a client or brand without a healthy dose of context. An influencer impression, in my opinion, should be way more valuable than any other impression because it’s the only one that comes with a third party recommendation of that brand or product.

And when you do the straight math, which I don’t like, but bear with me for a second, CPM rates for some creators can be $150, $300, $500 more when other methods like TV are 30 to 50 bucks CPM radio’s cheaper than that, most print is cheaper, email is cheaper, et cetera, it’s just not apples to apples, and CMOs and brand managers might find higher than $50 CPMs laughable. So before I dig deeper here, does that assessment jive with your take on influencer marketing CPM rates or am I missing something?

[00:24:08] Bill: You are not missing a thing, you are 100% correct and sign me up to endorse whatever, you know, petition you put together on this one, I mean, so we do a ton of work, we’re video first, which means that we start with, you know, YouTube and TikTok.

And we talk CPV cost per view, which we measure, in cents. And so a really cheap CPV might be, again, on the organic side, you might get it down to 3 or 4 cents, it’s not atypical to see that up in the 30 cent range and still feel okay about it depending on you know, what we were trying to accomplish, if you translate that into a CPM, it’s astronomical.

And so, but even if you start talking about, flat content, image content on Instagram you know, we would still talk about those same sort of cost per impression. again, it might be a little bit lower, you might get into a penny or you know, even less, but again, that’s still a healthy CPM.

And so now let’s say, so that’s the organic cost. We don’t even talk in CPMs. We talk CPVs or CPIs metrics like that, and so you can take that same content and you can run paid media and you can absolutely switch the conversation now and talk about CPMs.

And so meaning that the paid media off the same piece of content, might be 10, 20, 30, 50 times cheaper. And so you’d say, well, why would I do that? So this is, you know, one of the ways you can end up saying, well, I’ll just work with a bunch of nanos and then I’ll just boost their content. It’s a mistake.

And so, and the problem is, even if you go one layer deeper, one of the things that you know, you might say is like, all right, well fine, Bill, let’s go one layer deeper, let’s look at clicks, and let’s measure the clicks between paid and organic. And so what I will tell you is your cost per click, on paid can also be much lower than your organic cost per click, again, with that same piece of content on the same platform, you see like, all right, Bill, wait a second, now I’m trying to follow the ROI trail, I mean, gotta get clicks, I gotta get traffic. It’s still cheaper to do the paid, So what are you talking about?

It’s really only when we start looking at that direct sales impact and the actual conversion of those clicks and the true down funnel, behaviors where it becomes very clear that the organic content way outperforms. And again, it makes sense to me, when you step back and you think about it, this is either someone who sought out the content or is consuming content from an influencer that they subscribe to or follow those behaviors down funnel, really will end up with much more purchase intent and intentional behaviors than anything that’s occurring in the paid side.

And so again, there are reasons to do paid, I’m not here to bury paid as it were, I am here to just say you should not be intermingling them. You should know when you’re talking to your vendor, are they giving you paid impressions or organic impressions, and you shouldn’t even think about comparing the cost of the two.

You should judge them separately on their own merits, you should understand why you’re employing the tactics that you’re employing, and you should, bucket those costs again, through very different lenses, including by the way that the cost of production is probably getting buried up into the organic cost versus the paid media cost. So they are truly apples and oranges and its unfortunate that we have to use similar terminology to compare them because they’re not comparable.

[00:27:37] Jason: I absolutely love what you just said there about the comparison of if you were to buy a traditional advertising campaign, the production cost is separated out from the actual media cost. So why then in influencer marketing, are we trying to lump production and a quote unquote media cost into one thing and trying to compare it to the existing discipline of paid, which we understand a little bit better. I love that perspective, I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but you’re absolutely right, the production cost gets wrapped up in it, and now that makes it infinitely more expensive, so…

[00:28:11] Bill: Infinitely more expensive, and by the way, the other thing, I’m just so passionate about, this topic as you can tell, the other thing that gets lost when that product. cost conversation is as I said earlier, we both said sort of like brands are coming to an influencer asking for their take on the editorial and the influencers doing the scripting and the influencers doing a lot of the concepting a lot of the times.

And so that means that a brand manager needs to spend less time, yes, they have to spend time picking the influencers and going through the lookbook and thinking through those things, but they’re getting a lot of time back, that they would otherwise be spent on set. Remember, in the old days, brands used to spend, it felt like half their time, like on set shooting TV commercials.

Now they hop on a phone call with us, maybe they spend an hour on the phone with the influencer, then they let the influencer kind of run with it, and at the end they just, you know, they approve the concept, and then they approve the final piece of creative, it is so much more time efficient.

For a brand manager to do that, where brand managers can get lost in influencer marketing, is when they try to do all the recruiting themselves and vet through everything and manage things soup to nuts, I can understand why you’d wanna do that, I’m not sure it’s the most cost efficient use of a brand manager’s valuable time.

But again, there are all these hidden costs that get kind of lost in this stuff, and again, it’s why I’m passionate about like sort of trying to expose some of this stuff so we really understand what we’re getting in this industry.

[00:29:37] Jason: Well, it’s also why platforms like Gen Video and consultant types like me exist, right? So we can take some of that heavy lifting off your hands and are happy to do so. All right, Bill, a couple quick answers here, as quick as you could make them. They don’t have to be super fast, but what’s the best social network or platform for influencer marketing effectiveness?

[00:29:56] Bill: I like YouTube, and I like YouTube because it is where we see the most intentional research occurring. It’s just form and function of being tied into Google, the biggest search engine in the world and then the fact that it’s longer form video content, and again, it’s, you know, sort of where video started.

And so it continues to be where you get the longest dwell times, and as we all know from traditional marketing, dwell time equals intentionality equals, having an impact on the way people think. And so I still continue to like YouTube first TikTok is absolutely number two for me now, I am a total believer, by the way, and TikTok made me buy it, but I think here’s the difference.

TikTok made me buy it. To me, I interpret it and what we see in the data and the behaviors is TikTok is a discovery engine. I didn’t know about this, now I do. YouTube is a research, I’m going deeper in something that I probably already have some affinity or understanding of those two things are equally important parts of the funnel.

And if anything, discovery is probably underappreciated coz it’s harder to measure that impact, but that’s why I love TikTok. We’ve been doing this a long time and of course everyone’s early on, started with Instagram and only to me now are kind of coming around to YouTube.

We started with YouTube, we worked backward to Instagram, we skipped over Snapchat, to be honest we even skipped over Pinterest coz we were so video first. But TikTok, as soon as we saw that coming out of the gate, we were like, this one’s gonna be big, and I think it’s just getting started and we’re really excited about where that’s going. But what I will also say is I love that frankly, everybody is becoming a video first platform, so, as long as that happens, I’m happy coz video’s, my happy space.

[00:31:43] Jason: there’s a lot of people out there that disagree with you, that’s fine, but that’s the way the world’s moving, so get with the program. I also love the fact that your answer, you know, YouTube first and then TikTok are close second, I love the distinguishing factors between those two, that’s one of the reasons why I’m bullish on YouTube shorts, because I think not only does it already have a huge built in audience that’s gonna naturally want to use that product on YouTube, but it serves that TikTok like purpose of discovery as well, in the short form, so I love YouTube shorts.

[00:32:16] Bill: I totally agree. It took me a minute to figure it out and get super excited about it, but now we absolutely have seen the light today and I think it’s gonna be huge, so, agreed.

[00:32:26] Jason: All right, next question. Should a brand be working with micro nano influencers, mid-tier mega celebrity, or some combination thereof?

[00:32:33] Bill: Well, we may have waited too long to get to the controversial topic, but you know, here it is. We have always seen in the data that the smart strategy is to work with the largest influencers that you can afford, so we would rather go fewer, larger than more smaller. And I understand that is against most people’s conventional wisdom.

To be honest, and I wrote about this in one of my posts, I actually think there were some math errors that were occurring in some of that preference where people were looking at engagement rates over follower counts, which is to me a bizarre metric coz it’s sort of isn’t looking at one to me, the more core value, which is, actual impressions and, it certainly wasn’t looking at sales behavior coming off of that because there is no doubt that macro influencers can drive not just relative to their size, but on a size adjusted basis, far more sales impact than the micros and the nanos. And this is the thing that I think everybody just misses fundamentally in this question.

When an influencer gets big, that doesn’t mean they’re losing influence, they’re gaining influence. Growing your subscriber account is a good thing and indicative of your skill as an impact and influence, to reuse the word as an influencer, so the idea that they would become less effective, the bigger they get is nonsensical.

I think there is some, there was some confusion maybe about, again, some of their audiences rotating off as they get larger. But still a growing follower account is a good thing, and as long as they’re not becoming generalists, right? They’re becoming more influential. I mean, there is, how could you ever argue that Linus Tech Tips or Unboxed Therapy are less effective at selling things than a tech influencer who as great as they might be, is just getting started at a hundred thousand subs?

it doesn’t even make sense, when you think about it, and I’m not sure where that conventional wisdom came from. Like I said, I think there were actually some math errors in the way people were sort of trying to evaluate the space early on that led to this like theory that the micros and the nanos were the ones you want.

I also think to be really conspiratorial, it’s better for platforms like Gen video if you think you need to work with 1000 influencers, coz you certainly can’t do that in a spreadsheet, so the vendors themselves may have been suggesting that you need to work with hundreds of influencers and to do such, you need our platform. I hope that’s not the case, but I, I’m sure nobody was gonna argue with that theory if it got postulated.

[00:35:10] Jason: Yeah, I would agree with that. I’m kind of with you. I don’t think it’s really a conspiracy of the software platforms, but it certainly is a subconscious trigger to say, oh, well, If that means more people are gonna subscribe to our software, then sure, let’s make sure they know we can handle thousands of micro influencers or whatever.

I think the big question for me, when I was kind of thinking through all of this micro versus, you know, mid tier or mega the two factors that kind of laid on top of that in the decision, at least at the time and even my own thinking was a little bit skewed in this, is we got obsessed with engagement rates.

And I, for one, you know, jumped up and down and said, hey, if you’ve got, 1000 followers, but you’ve got a 25% engagement rate, that’s better than someone with 100,000 followers and a 1% engagement rate, the math just works out better that way. But engagement, someone who is paying attention to the post is liking it, commenting on it, sharing it whatever, an engagement doesn’t necessarily translate to purchase behavior and an impression which someone if they see it but they don’t engage with it, that also doesn’t necessarily translate to purchase behavior, but the reach and frequency thing happens with impressions and the more impressions you get with the larger audiences, the more you reach, and if you reach them frequently, you know, more than one or two times, now all of a sudden you’re hitting those traditional advertising predictive numbers of if a person engages with your brand or your message, seven or more times, then they’re X percent more likely to buy.

So it makes a lot of sense in the way you frame it. We got consumed with engagement rates and then I think at the same time that we got fascinated with engagement rates in doing that math, brands also started to become really trigger shy on paying enough a valuable amount of money for those mid-tier and up creators because they started charging a shit ton of money, frankly.

And the value equation wasn’t working for people. So I guess the question that I have for you is are we hopefully reaching a point or have we reached a point where the fascination with engagement rates is dropping at the same time, the understanding on the brand side of the value that they get out of a mid tier or mega creator is becoming more normalized.

[00:37:24] Bill: Yeah, I think this is all sorting out really quickly so one, I think the challenge with that engagement rate thing is certainly if you wind the clock back a year or two, we’re talking about that’s an Instagram centric perspective and Instagram was the 800 pound gorilla for sure.

but you couldn’t see visibly, publicly, you couldn’t see the impressions that a post got. So what we were doing was we were looking at engagements, as you said, over followers as opposed to engagements over actual viewers of that post. And so as an influencer grew, and again, maybe they were getting, less play through as I, like to say it. So impressions over followers even if their engagement rate, actual engagement rate of the viewers of that post was, Just as high as a smaller influencer. It looked, like it was following because their playthrough rate was following as they were getting more churn in their subscriber base, which is a natural part of getting larger.

And so the only way to appropriately do this, but I don’t think many people were doing this math, would be to look at cost per engagement. But I think what was actually happening, we were skipping that cost per engagement, which would’ve immediately normalized some of this. And we were starting to look at, as you said this idea that the mid-tier guys, were getting more expensive.

So they were growing up and they were trying to like raise their rates really quickly and so too frequently we weren’t even getting to the macro guys. And so even though they’re, you know, some macro influencers charging $100,000 per post, which very few people could afford, when you actually looked at that on a cost per impression, a cost per engagement cost per a lot of different metrics that under a thousand dollars, turned out to be pretty efficient, it just was out of reach.

So from a supply demand perspective, not many people could get there. And so there was this perception that, you know, again, you just get the sticker shock, it was $100,000, but, there wasn’t enough data available to do the maths to see what that actually looked like on a relative basis.

I think this is all outing now, I think that we’re collecting enough data and people are supplementing the publicly available databases with their own data to understand things like alike cost per engagement. And I think the other thing that’s really gonna help here, the rise of the creator economy because you know what creators were doing?

Creators have been in a data vacuum, and again, these are incredibly talented, very smart, very creative people, even the ones I talked to are like, Bill, if you could help me with my business plan, I mean, I don’t even understand my own performance, I don’t understand how to price things, I’m just following what my peers are doing and where my market price seems to be clearing, right? That’s gonna get fixed in the next two or three years. And it’s a huge opportunity, is very exciting. And I do think pretty soon we’re gonna see some pretty rational behaviors in the marketplace for sure. It’s an exciting time.

[00:40:11] Jason: Indeed Bill, tell where people they can find all the smarts of this enormous content series you’ve produced and where they can find you and Gen video on the interwebs.

[00:40:20] Bill: Well you can find us, this is the beauty of our name. is the place where you can find Gen video and I appreciate you said it without the dot in the middle coz we certainly don’t say it but some people say it for us, but we are at You can certainly find me on LinkedIn, in there is on the Gen Video corporate blog, we have shortened versions of my posts. And then on LinkedIn, it’s a series of articles where I go into even more detail and really try to bore people, so, you can get the condensed version or the zequal replacement version on LinkedIn. And I welcome making new friends in the industry, so, find us wherever best meets your needs and we’ll be happy to be friends.

[00:41:01] Jason: Well, if you are interested at all in making sure that you understand the math and science of influencer marketing, there’s not gonna be any boredom here, all this stuff is really great stuff. I’ve read every single piece so far and I’m gonna continue to do so, Bill, we appreciate your expertise, thank you for the wisdom, good to geek out about the numbers once in a while, man, this was fun.

[00:41:22] Bill: Thank you so much, Jason, this is great. Enjoying your series as well and we’ll continue to follow you and good luck in all your future endeavors.

[00:41:28] Jason: You too.

 Useful stuff there, I do recommend you pop over to and read through Bill’s series on the math and science of influencer marketing, it will make you smarter. Speaking of smarter, I want you to make your friends and colleagues smarter about influence marketing. Tell someone who might wanna know more about influence or influence marketing about this podcast.

Send them to or share a link to this episode on your social network of choice. If you have a moment, Drop, Winfluence a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, we are on them all and that helps other people discover the show. You can also help make a future episode of Winfluence awesome yourself, ask your question about influence or influence marketing that you want my answer to or take on, send an email to [email protected] If you’re feeling adventurous, record a voice memo on your phone and email me that file, I’ll let you ask the question right here on the show, using the recording. Winfluence is a production of Falls and Partners, the technical production is by Winfluence airs along the marketing podcast network. Thanks for listening folks, let’s talk again soon on Winfluence.

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