Jake Webb is a talent manager at Select Management Group. Prior to joining Select, Webb served as head of StyleHaul’s Hauk brand, where he developed and managed top digital talent across gaming and men’s lifestyle. Prior to StyleHaul, Webb served as Director, Rights & Partnerships at United Entertainment Group and produced film and television projects with Danny Rose Media and independent producer, Matthew Aaron. Webb also served as executive producer for the award-winning Los Angeles comedy event Don’t Tell My Mother.
In this week’s ‘5 Questions,’ Webb weighs in on the age of the influencer. He discusses the benefits and shortcomings of using macro and micro influencers, and gives his insight on the rumor that influencer marketing is just a trend.
VideoInk: There has been a lot of talk on the pros and cons of Micro vs Macro Influencers. In your experience, what is the benefit and downfall of both? And when should a business choose one over the other?
Jake Webb: The pro with macro influencers is you can reach a much larger number of eyeballs to build the most awareness. While their engagement rate per follower may not be as high, brands can communicate brand messaging to more people and access the “star power” of a top tier talent.
Micro influencers are typically newer to the platform so they haven’t faced issues of audiences aging out or otherwise losing interest. These fans feel part of a smaller, more hyper-loyal community around the influencer. This can lead to measurable ROI for an advertiser but can be tough to scale and gain mainstream notoriety.
In my mind, a strategic campaign will use macro influencer(s) to anchor a campaign and strategically selected micro influencers to help fill any niche demographic needs. Luckily, I have the pleasure of working with top digital talent but also a select few emerging creators, such as Maria Bethany and Nil Sani.
As far as brand opportunities go, what categories are the most lucrative for creators and why?
Bigger brands (CPG, entertainment, large beauty brands) will have higher budgets, but it’s also about building relationships with brands that understand the value of digital talent in creating an effective marketing strategy.
For example, you can build a full-360 campaign including digital talent and their audience reach. When working with someone like Nikita Dragun, brands can tap into her audience when integrating in her content and may also expand the campaign by licensing or paying for original content to be used on their platforms and in larger media buys as well as in-person appearances. This allows brand to access Nikita’s audience demographics, determine which cities are strategic for in-store or experiential events, and connect the campaign to the consumer in real life (plus drive in-store traffic and conversion).
The more talent can broaden content while retaining audience engagement, the more they’ll find themselves eligible for deals across different categories.
There have been rumors that the age of the influencer is a fading trend. As someone who is heavily involved in the industry, what do you think of the health of the “influencer economy and how long will it last?”
To me it’s always funny when people tell me influencer marketing is a fad. Yes, brands are becoming more versed in digital so they are no longer spending on “influencers” with low engagement (thus, purchased followers) but digital talent is not a fad.
Influencers graduate to become celebrities and it’s our job as managers to develop talent and cut through to reach this level of success. Look at Select’s client Gigi Gorgeous who is now in a year-long deal with Revlon, had her documentary premiere at Sundance, and is covered by mainstream press weekly.
There will always be a demand for storytelling and thanks to the rise of smartphones and ubiquitous internet, we’ll only see increased demand for digital content.
What characteristics do you look for in talent that signals that a social media star is ready to expand a business outside of their YouTube/Instagram environment?
I don’t work with someone who simply wants to be “famous”. I want to work with someone who has passion and a vision for their art and career. Then from there, it’s about developing their craft and growing strategically . But they must have a personality that jumps across the screen, and it’s not something you can teach nor something everyone has.
For me, I’m looking for the intangible quality that makes someone a “star”. Talent who want more than passive AdSense money. It starts with passion and aspiration and if you have that (with a work ethic), we can build a brand together.
Is it any harder today to become a breakout talent on social channels than it was before? What factors are working for/against aspiring social stars?
Yes, it’s harder to become a breakout talent, but not impossible look at the rise of newer talent like Liza Koshy or even Select’s client Wolfie. It’s more competitive now as more and more hopefuls are flocking to platforms and pushing out content. The algorithms are also constantly changing and typically reward already-established creators.
As the space continues to evolve good, consistent content remains key to talent’s growth and success.