Kelsey Formost spent a decade or so in an out of movies and television. She was in a film with Zac Ephron, had a guest spot on Modern Family, was also a successful screenwriter in show business as well. Today, she’s the director of content strategy for Tagger, an end-to-end influencer marketing solution. 

It was that perspective of a successful Hollywood actress that begged me to ask her what she thought of the fame-monger, wanna-be influencers—the kind that buy followers and engagement just to get free stuff. Her response was powerful. And unexpected. It was one of many points in the discussion I found exhilarating.

Kelsey Formost on Winfluence

Kelsey and I talked about Tagger, of course, but then dove deep into philosophical discussions around why most influencer marketing companies don’t use influence marketing themselves, her place as an advocate for mental health issues, how her screenwriting experience helped her reverse engineer acting to land on personal branding and influence. It was one of those delightful conversations that will make you think, surprise. you and leave you thinking differently about the space.

This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Winfluence, the book! Get a special discount by clicking the button below, buying on the Entrepreneur Press bookstore and using the discount code FALLS20. That earns you 20% off the retail price, just for being a Winfluence (the podcast) listener. Read and learn why we’ve been backed into a corner to think influencer marketing means Instagram and YouTube and how reframing it to be “influence” marketing makes us smarter marketers.


Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

Order Winfluence now!

This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Winfluence, the book! Get a special discount by clicking the button below, buying on the Entrepreneur Press bookstore and using the discount code FALLS20. That earns you 20% off the retail price, just for being a Winfluence (the podcast) listener. Read and learn why we’ve been backed into a corner to think influencer marketing means Instagram and YouTube and how reframing it to be “influence” marketing makes us smarter marketers.


Winfluence Transcript – Kelsey Formost – Tagger

Jason Falls
Hello again, friends thanks for listening to Winfluence – The Influence Marketing Podcast. I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years watching the social technology space. I see a lot of product demos, I hear a lot of sales pitches. I’ve even done a lot of content partnerships as an influencer myself, with social technology companies even now influence marketing companies. But no one has ever pitched me anything involving a Hollywood actress. Until now.

Jason Falls
Kelsey Formost spent a decade or so in and out of movies and television. She was in a film with Zac Efron, had a guest spot on Modern Family and was also a successful screenwriter in show business as well. Today, she’s the director of content strategy for Tagger an end-to-end influencer marketing solution. We connected recently because I wanted to get to know more about Tagger. Kelsey connected me with the sales team for a demo. And frankly, it’s pretty nice straightforward pricing, nice user design, complete solution from influencer discovery all the way through to payments. It made sense then to invite Kelsey on the show to talk about the platform. But right off the bat she put a spin on influence marketing and how acting and screenwriting helped her see the industry from a different perspective. So we talked about Tagger, but then got deep.

Jason Falls
I asked Kelsey what she thought about the hollow, want to be famous for being famous influencer types out there, since she spent 10 years working hard to make it in Hollywood. Her response was gripping. The philosophy discussion around reverse engineering storytelling to land on branding, the insights that a successful entertainer brings to the table in the discussion about influence marketing … Kelsey is advocacy of mental health issues. Our discussion is rich, but perhaps not in the way you might expect the conversation with the director of content strategy for an influencer marketing software company might go.

Jason Falls
This episode of Winfluence the podcast is sponsored by Winfluence the book. Get a special discount by going to jason.online/buywinfluence. That’s the Entrepreneur Press bookstore. Use the discount code FALLS20 on checkout. That gets you 20% off the retail price just for being a Winfluence, the podcast, listener. Read and learn why we’ve been backed into a corner to think influencer marketing means Instagram and YouTube and how reframing it to be influence marketing makes us smarter marketers.

Jason Falls
The story of a Hollywood storyteller bringing your refreshing new narrative to the influence marketing space. Kelsey Formost of Tagger is next on Winfluence.

Jason Falls
So, Kelsey, I have to be honest, when I started this podcast, I anticipated interviewing tech nerds and entrepreneur types. You lead content strategy for Tagger. But you’ve also been on Modern Family, you’ve had a scene with Zac Efron, you’ve been on Days of Our Lives … not your typical background for someone in influence marketing. Take us down the path from Hollywood actress to what you do now.

Kelsey Formost
I’m so glad you asked this question, Jason, because it’s one of my favorite things to talk about. As you said, I spent over 10 years in the entertainment business as an actress and also as a screenwriter. And when you are presented with stories, day in, day out reading scripts, acting out scenes acting out people’s lives, you really start to understand a what connects with people, which is emotion and helping them see themselves in the content. But B you start to really understand what’s effective, not just that emotion, but the way that that emotion is presented. And you really start to understand when you’re an actor and you’re stepping into so many different roles. It’s a masterclass in branding, because every character is like a personal brand. And so once you understand the nuance of how much changing one small part of how you present yourself, affects how people see you and respond to you. It translates so incredibly seamlessly into the digital content world, because that’s where people are nowadays. We’re on our phones, we’re on our screens, we’re on our computers, we’re on our apps, we are consuming more content than ever before, through personal devices and what my background in acting and writing allowed me to do was understand how to quickly and effectively communicate with those people on those devices.

Jason Falls
That’s a really interesting way to look at it. I’ve never really thought about sort of reverse engineering that because I’ve always thought that personal branding, I mean, I speak at conferences and things like that. And, and in a way, you’re acting a little bit, you have a persona, you get up on stage, you project a certain, you know, character or caricature of yourself in that regard. It’s not the full you. And I’ve always thought that was an interesting pathway. That’s kind of like acting, but I never thought about reverse engineering it and saying, like acting can really help you gain insights into branding, especially personal branding. That’s, that’s interesting. I never thought of it like that.

Kelsey Formost
Yeah, well, it’s it is something that’s interesting to think about, because, you know, personal branding and just an entrepreneur or an influencer, or someone who is truly presenting themselves as a brand. That’s one part of it, but also companies, and how they adjust parts of their brand. Like, it translates for that to companies who are effective, have really distinct brand voices, right? And what acting allowed me and writing screenwriting allowed me to do was see again, like, how much paying attention to the energy you’re putting out, can truly change how effective your messaging is.

Jason Falls
It’s amazing. I can geek out and ask you all kinds of questions about acting, but I’ll try to stay in my lane here. Let’s let’s get back to Tagger for a second, or Tagger Media for those of you who are going to google it as we talk. It’s a pretty slick influence marketing platform. Tell us a little bit about the tool and your role with the company.

Kelsey Formost
Absolutely. So I’ll start by saying I was a fan before I was a worker there. So I’ll kind of bridge the gap between people who are like, Well, wait a minute, if you’re an actress in the screenwriter, one second, how did you make this transition to being the director of content strategy for tiger? And what I’ll say there is that I found that there was this crossroads with acting where I thought, you know, I’m, I’m telling stories through scripts and on screen, and there’s just this missing piece for me where I’m feeling like, I want to get more real. I want to talk to people who are actually out there having life experiences versus, you know, telling a made up story. And while there’s absolutely a lot of beautiful art that is out there. And a lot of emotions are able to be communicated through the art of film. What I found that I started to become more interested in was how were people telling their daily lives? How are people relating to each other? How are people connecting to each other. And the more research I did on that, the more interested I got in digital content, and especially in infotainment, as I call it, which is digital content that is both presenting valuable information that allows people to actually change their lives for the better. But then it’s also entertaining and not boring, because a lot of times we think of, you know, these conferences or these even podcast books, you know, things that are quote unquote, business related or life hacks or whatever, they can be kind of dry and boring. And so what I love doing is taking that fun energy from entertainment and putting it into educational content materials. So tagger specifically, is an influencer marketing platform. It’s end to end meaning it helps marketers brands, agencies all over the world with every single step of the influencer marketing process from planning campaigns based on real time accurate data, to reporting on the actual ROI of how those campaigns did at the end of the day. So what my job is at tagger is to break down not just how we help our clients succeed with influencer marketing, but break down the industry at large helping people really understand what are the trends in the marketplace right now? What’s really working for people how are people finding effective partnerships and building effective strategies so that you know someone who comes to taggers blog or or follows us on LinkedIn or listens to the podcast that we sponsor, they’re going to leave feeling more informed, more excited and more empowered to succeed with their influencer marketing efforts.

Jason Falls
So I don’t mean to put you on the spot and maybe I’m not but I’ve always found it funny that influencer marketing software companies don’t normally seem to use influencers themselves to drive business. Why do you think that is?

Kelsey Formost
So I think that’s a really interesting question. And what I’ll answer with is by saying that Tagger—I’ll just speak for the company that I work for, the platform that I work for. We actually do invest in influencer marketing. We simply think of influencer marketing in a much different way than the general populace. And what I mean by that, is that a lot of times when you hear the word influencer, you think of somebody selling lipstick on Instagram. Do you think of Kim Kardashian and her tummy tea? Right? Not really, our audience, but tagger, we sponsor a really wonderful podcast who I am with Scott Guthrie, who I know you’ve had as a guest or you’ve been a guest on his podcast. You guys are connected. Scott is an influencer in the influencer marketing space because all an influencer is is a trusted expert. We love doing content partnerships with other people in this space, whether that is writing a piece for talking influence or partnering with a win over in the UK, one of our partners loves doing content with them over there. We just did a amazing panel speaking on influencer marketing with a venture capitalist company. We also just spoke on a panel about food companies who are seeing success with influencer marketing. So it really is more about understanding that all an influencer is someone who has an audience who trusts what they are saying on the internet. I’m an influencer. I’m here on this podcast. There are people who trust my opinion, which I do not take for granted. And here I am with Jason Falls who is in his own right influencer, right? You Hey, you’re an expert on influencer marketing, you got a whole you got a whole shelf of books behind you that people can’t see. But he’s a very fancy influencer. So here we are to influencers marketing.

Jason Falls
Exactly. Well, and I was gonna follow that up with if you didn’t bring it up. I first heard of you guys through Scott Guthrie’s podcast. So you guys are practicing what you preach a bit. So good on you. Okay, so your challenge at tagger is distinguishing it from other players in the space. We’ve talked to a number of your competitors on this show. So what ultimately makes Tagger different?

Kelsey Formost
There’s so many ways that I could answer that question. And very first thing that comes to mind, for me is our direct relationships with the major social media platforms. We never scrape data and we are extremely vigilant about privacy and security and compliance. There are other platforms out there that claim to have accurate data. But the truth of the matter is, if you really hold their feet to the coals, they wouldn’t be able to say that they have that direct access. We are very proud of that access. And we take our clients privacy very seriously. It’s why some of the biggest brands around the world trust us with their business. Now, the other thing that I will say is tagger is an incredibly customer success focused company. We are not just there to get somebody to sign up and pay us a monthly fee and forget about them. When you sign up with Tagger specifically, you get a dedicated customer success. Rep. Who is there not just to help answer questions about how the platform works, but also to really help you understand how to plan those campaigns, how to build those strategies, how to calculate your ROI so that you know what’s working and what isn’t, how to do competitor analysis to steal a good ideas and filter out the ones that don’t. There’s so much that I could say about what sets us apart. The ease of use of our platform where we’re really a beautiful UI, it’s easy to learn quickly, so that you can scale your efforts quickly get your money’s worth quickly. Basically, book a demo. We’ll show you.

Jason Falls
Well, and speaking of demos, I did one last week and I loved it. I really thought you know what, what I thought was the most compelling thing about it, from a user experience perspective was what you just said it was very clean and very intuitive, very easy to use. But I also love you I think you guys have a very straightforward pricing structure. It’s not like you’re having nickel and diamond people to Add User seats and all that kind of stuff. So very straightforward, very simple. Probably, I would say, you know, you know, medium to large to enterprise business pricing, it’s not cheap. But it’s very powerful. So it’s certainly something that I think people should do a demo and look into. So I think this is something that you can relate to in a in a strange way you’re experienced as a Hollywood actress as a screenwriter, I’m assuming, maybe I shouldn’t assume but I’m not sure if you saw the HBO documentary, Fake Famous. But I’m sure you’re familiar with the influencer types out there who just have the goal of wanting to be famous for being famous and having a lot of followers. I’m curious what someone who has had success in Hollywood, which takes a ton of hard work. I’m curious what you think about someone who just shows up one day, with a quarter of a million followers on Instagram and can suddenly command fees from brands to post about their content? are certain types of influencers like that rather hollow to someone with your background?

Kelsey Formost
That is such a excellent and nuanced question. Because I’ve been in the place where I thought, I felt desperate to get an audition, or I felt like, you know, I’m really out here working hard, and no one’s noticing me. And so I actually have quite a bit of empathy for, especially the women who feel like, they need to do something extreme to be seen or to be heard. And what I’ve also seen with experience is that buying something like followers or attention, however you do that, whether you’re buying it with money, whether you’re buying it with changing your personality to fit what you think people want to see, that is not sustainable. And it is also quite painful when it comes crashing down. Wow. And so I actually have a lot of empathy for anyone who feels that they have to filter their lives in order to make money gain followers be seen. Because at the end of the day, that’s, that’s not a fulfilling place to be. And I wouldn’t wish that for anyone.

Jason Falls
Wow, powerful response to that. wasn’t quite expecting that. But Wow, that’s fantastic. And a great perspective.

Kelsey Formost
Well, when you’ve lived in LA for seven years, and you’ve seen it, you know, and I lived in New York before that, and I worked in London before that. And, you know, no matter how many celebrities say, fame isn’t everything, fame can be dangerous. Your mental health can really suffer. If you if you don’t know who you are. Now, I will also say there are people who genuinely know who they are, who are able to share in an effective and beautiful way through content, who they are, and make genuine connections and build these engaged audiences and have interesting conversations within their communities. And those people, when you have an audience from that place, it’s awesome. And that’s what’s so frustrating is to see people trying to shortcut to that place, knowing that it’s irreplaceable.

Jason Falls
Interesting. Well, I mean, I definitely agree with you that it’s not a sustainable approach. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it in the way that you contextualize it, that the the actual person is changing themselves and doing something, you know, disingenuous internally, not just externally, I never really thought about it in an internal way. So that’s an interesting way to look at it. And I think if everybody out there listening sort of takes that opportunity to think about it that way, then empathy is definitely something that I could produce for those types of influencers, which is not something I’ve had for them before. So thanks for kind of opening.

Kelsey Formost
Well, that’s I’m really, really thrilled to hear you say that my, my personal the way that I show up on the internet, you know, Tagger aside, just Kelsey, I’m a mental health advocate. And I you know, I think there’s a big part of branding and personal branding that comes from a place of mental health and really understanding not just deeply who you are and what you want to share, but you know, the mark, you want to make social media as public it is you. You are out there you are sharing, you know, vulnerable things often. And there, it’s a double edged sword. And it’s something you have to be prepared for for sure. But it’s it’s wonderful to be able to share an authentic part of yourself and make I’ve made lots of friends, I have lots of Instagram friends who I haven’t met in real life, but who I turn to, if I have a question or a need, or, you know, there’s so much potential for good from social media. And what I would wish for anyone is for them to use that as a compass. Is that as a compass?

Jason Falls
Nice. You know, I love the fact that you didn’t just, you know, leave Hollywood for a company job, you actually made a really interesting pivot from a personal brand perspective, and built a business and a brand for yourself as someone who teaches and coaches, copywriting, which is, you know, a byproduct of your screenwriting experience, obviously. So as you mentioned earlier, you’re you’ve positioned yourself as a b2b influencer, which is interesting. Now, you have a paid course for copywriting on your site, I have no doubt it’s fantastic. But I also see a lot of influencers or content creators building courses to monetize their expertise these days. Are we in danger of getting to a tipping point where there’s too many courses out there? Or is the world just too big enough place where there can be a lot of them and the market will bear it?

Kelsey Formost
That is such a fascinating question. And what I’ll say to that is, I do not see a tipping point, because it’s, it’s the same way. I mean, talk, we’re talking about acting a lot today. But it’s the same way that no, no two actors are going to play the same part. In the same way, no two influencers or educators are going to present the same information the same way. My copywriting class that I’m super proud of is a is distinctly my voice, it’s distinctly my way of teaching. And there are people who are going to get a lot from that. And there are people who are going to get more from somebody else. And the way that they present information about copywriting or branding, or whatever it is, I encourage always, you know, as long as you know, 10% 20% more than somebody else, you have something to give. And, you know, your voice is valuable, just as much as the information that you’re sharing is valuable. So I am, I’m also a course junkie, like I’ll take, I’ll take all the courses I have so many so many online courses bookmarked. So I don’t know. I’m a nerd. So

Jason Falls
I took one once that was supposed to teach me how to play the bass guitar. I learned one riff after a month and put it down. So I’m not great at online courses. It is what it is. But you know that one riff I got it down, man, it’s a Led Zeppelin riff too. So it’s pretty cool.

Kelsey Formost
Which song?

Jason Falls
I can impress people at a party.

Kelsey Formost
Is it Stairway to Heaven?

Jason Falls
Oh, no, not for … not for bass guitar. It’s um, A Whole Lot of Love. So,

Kelsey Formost
Oh, good one.

Jason Falls
doo doo doo doo doo.

Jason Falls
Exactly. So so. So who is your course for and what do they get out of it?

Kelsey Formost
Such a great question. So copy class is my signature copywriting course it is for non writers. It teaches you how to write words that connect, convert and sell without being salesy. Because I think we all have this fear that we’re going to come across as you know, used car salesman, and that is an icky feeling. And I don’t love that journey for anybody. So copy class goes through the fundamentals of copywriting, the basics, the toolkit, you’re going to come back to again and again and again, it goes through how to define who your ideal customer is not just doing some personality quiz, but actually who is going to pay you for your knowledge and building your ideal customer avatar around that. It teaches you how to develop your personal brand voice or your brand voice if it’s not just us, it’s company. It also coaches you through how to write a high converting website and write an email funnel that is going to actually convert into paying customers and clients so it really runs the gamut of anywhere you need words for your business coffee class can help.

Jason Falls
So I’m gonna tell everybody out there. Not i don’t i don’t want too many of you to take this course because if you do, then people like me and agencies don’t serve any purpose but pretty interesting.

Kelsey Formost
I actually think I actually think they coexist quite beautifully because there’s, you know, you can’t help Someone that an agency understand how to write for you or communicate for you or connect with the right people, if you don’t already have that knowledge coming into it, right, like, there is so much weight lifted, and working with an agency is an excellent move. It just is all about you being able to help that agency scale more quickly with their efforts.

Jason Falls
Yeah, yeah, the best the best clients that an agency ever has are the ones who really understand who they are and can communicate that effectively. So the agency can just move the ball forward, which is awesome. So speaking of writing, by the way, I hear you are writing a young adult novel. And my daughter is an aspiring YA book review influencer on YouTube and Instagram. So I want to request a copy now and I’ll and I’ll have her review it for you. Her endorsement isn’t exactly Oprah’s book club yet, but she’s building something kind of cool for a 12-year-old.

Kelsey Formost
I love it. Hey, we all got to start somewhere. Right? I love that. Absolutely. First of all, I love that she’s doing that. And I would be more than happy to share Ember Days with her when it’s complete. It’s about it’s a historical fiction about real life witch trials. The very first witch trials happened in Europe. In the Renaissance.

Jason Falls
That sounds like something that’s right up her alley, so I’m gonna let her know that something’s coming in at some point. That’s good. Kelsey, where can people find Tagger and you online?

Kelsey Formost
Absolutely, you can go to taggermedia.com that’s T-A-G-G-E-Rmedia.com. There you’ll find information about our platform as well as blog articles that come out every single week that will help you with your influencer marketing strategy. You can also find us on LinkedIn at Tagger Media. We share there every single day. That’s where we really live. Please, please, please shoot us a message. I’m happy to answer any questions. And you can find me at KelseyFormost.com – K-E-L-S-E-Y F-O-R-M-O-S-T and if you want to nab a couple of freebies while you’re at it, you can go to KelseyFormost.com/freebies. See what kinds of stuff I teach, and you know, we’ll hang out. Let me know you found me through Jason.

Jason Falls
Awesome. Thank you so much for your time today. Kelsey, keep keep up the good work.

Kelsey Formost
Thank you so much Jason. Happy to be here.

Transcribed by otter.ai

The Winfluence theme music is “One More Look” featuring Jacquire King and Stephan Sharp by The K Club found on Facebook Sound Collection.


Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

Order Winfluence now!

This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Winfluence, the book! Get a special discount by clicking the button below, buying on the Entrepreneur Press bookstore and using the discount code FALLS20. That earns you 20% off the retail price, just for being a Winfluence (the podcast) listener. Read and learn why we’ve been backed into a corner to think influencer marketing means Instagram and YouTube and how reframing it to be “influence” marketing makes us smarter marketers.

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