Influencer Marketing 101 with Danica Kombol | Mediavine On Air Episode 33

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When you work in an industry as new as influencer marketing, it can definitely feel like the wild west.

Although the FTC is passing down regulations for content, there are still so many questions: How do you find the right brands to work with? How do you properly disclose the influencer/brand relationship? How much do you charge for sponsored work?

Luckily, there’s Danica Kombol and the Influencer Marketing Association. The IMA is on the scene to drive growth in influencer marketing, advocate on behalf of influencers, marketers and consumers by ensuring ethical standards are met and serve as the go-to resource on best practices, measurement standards and trends.

Listen in today on Episode 33 of Mediavine On Air, as Danica joins Mediavine’s Senior Director of Marketing Jenny Guy to discuss the state of the influencer industry and how the IMA is here to support our work.

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[THEME MUSIC PLAYING] JENNY GUY: Hello, everybody, welcome. Hard to believe as it is Wednesday, November 20. We are a week and a day away from Thanksgiving, and we are into our final two episodes of Teal Talk in the decade. What the heck? I am Jenny Guy. I am Mediavine’s marketing manager, and I am the host of Teal Talk. And I think everybody knows that when we work in the relatively new and ever changing influencer industry that we work in we can struggle to know where to turn when we have questions about things like legalities, pricing ourselves and our work, what are the best practices, and my guest today is an incredible resource for anybody who is involved in the influencer marketing industry.

Danica Kombol is the CEO of Everywhere Agency, which she founded in 2009, as well as the founder and CEO of Everywhere Society. Everywhere Agency’s purpose is helping brands build better stories through social media. She brings her extensive background as a television producer and public relations executive to her work with influencers and brands. You’ll recognize Saturday Night Live, Kids in the Hall, and VH1 among the shows she’s worked on. We’ve heard those names. She’s also a blogger herself on her site and the founder and CEO of the Influencer Marketing Association, which she founded in 2018 as the official Trade Organization committed to protecting the authenticity and ethics of influencer marketing. We could continue talking about all of her accomplishments and awards for quite some time, but then we’d be out of time to actually talk and answer your questions. So I’ll conclude by saying she’s a frequent conference speaker in the influencer space, and she resides in Atlanta. Danica, thank you so much for joining us today.

DANICA KOMBOL: Yeah, thanks for having me, Jenny. I’m really honored that I get to come in before the end of the year and be part of Mediavine and know what an incredible support you are for influencers and how valued you are to influencers, so comrades in influencer love.

JENNY GUY: Absolutely, we love influencers here at Mediavine. And you love influencers, and you’ve been involved with them for so long, which, actually, is a perfect segue into my first question that I wanted to. But guys, just a reminder, if you have any questions for Danica, please just put them in the comments, and we will get them asked. But let’s start out here. Without being offensive, you are definitely an OG in the influencer industry.

DANICA KOMBOL: Drop the mic. Love it.

JENNY GUY: Yes, and you’ve been– so how long have you been involved in working with the influencer industry, and how did you transition? I listed some of those amazing programs that we all recognize that you’ve worked on as a television producer. So how did you make that transition to here?

DANICA KOMBOL: OK, so two questions, how long have I been working in influencer marketing? Since before it was a phrase.


DANICA KOMBOL: When we first started doing it, it was maybe called blogger relations, but it more looked like this. Client would call and say, we want those bloggers, you know, those mom bloggers or those tech bloggers. So we definitely have come a long way in this phase. How do I make the transition? Well, because there’s so many influencers in the audience, and I view you all as amazing, bad ass, entrepreneurs, I’ll be honest and say, you know, in a woman’s career, necessity is the motherhood of invention.

I got laid off in the height of the financial crisis. Nobody was going to hire me, not no way, not no how. And my daughter had just gotten into Yale. I had to figure out how to pay for it. And I was like, OK start my own business and hope I make some money. And when I started, that’s– we started with social media, but social media led me to bloggers, and bloggers was like, oh my gosh, all these amazing people telling stories without anybody telling them they can or they can’t, or where to publish, or when to publish, or how to publish. And I was so inspired by that community that I wanted to be part of it my own way.

JENNY GUY: I love that answer, and it’s so surprising to hear that you– I mean, everyone who was alive during the financial crisis of 2008 got hit by it, but it’s so shocking to hear that– I mean, was it just all the cutbacks from everything? And then, did you start your own blog first, or you started Everywhere Agency and then kind of–

DANICA KOMBOL: No, so I was working for the second largest PR firm in the world, and at the time, all the clients were coming in and saying, we want that thing. We want that thing that got Obama elected, you know, that social media thing.


DANICA KOMBOL: And I looked around the second biggest PR firm in the world, and they had two people on staff who did social media. So that was my clue that there was something there. And again, it was out of necessity. If I’d had my druthers, I probably would have done the safety of finding another corporate job. To be perfectly honest, since there’s a lot of women here, I’ll just say women of a certain age, we kind of get sent to pasture. And I just really wasn’t willing to be sent to pasture yet. I had a good fight left in me, and that fight was launching my business with outside financing and getting it going, and here I am today.

JENNY GUY: It’s amazing. So talk a little bit about what you’ve seen from the beginnings of I want to work with those bloggers too now where it’s an actual legitimized industry with a lot of different layers, and niches, and multiple different ways to earn a living in this industry. What are the big standout changes that you’ve seen, because I know there’s myriad of changes.

DANICA KOMBOL: Well, the obvious ones, the ones we all know. We went from blog, to Facebook, to Twitter, to Instagram, all the variety of platforms. And so now, an influencer, really I like to look at their kind of digital tapestry, so they’re not limited to any one platform. To be perfectly honest, back in the early days, you know, we would call influencers and say– our bloggers and say, hey, you want to go to this event? And they’d be like, hot damn, yeah.


DANICA KOMBOL: So the whole [INAUDIBLE] thing really wasn’t what it is today. And I never– I just want to say, a lot of agencies kind of found this moment when influencers started getting paid as offensive or how did that happen, but I always saw it coming, because I saw the value of influencers. And I remember thinking when we weren’t paying influencers, wow, you’d never do a digital ad buy and asked to put that ad on somebody’s platform for free, you know? So you know, the payment– definitely, awareness around disclosures has been huge. We’ve always been at the forefront of that. Prior to forming the Influencer Marketing Association, I was on the board of WOMMA, Word of Mouth Marketing Association, and we had the guidelines back then, which was really the Bible, because the FTC rules were kind of confusing. So the WOMMA guidelines are what we all relied on to kind of like help us demystify what we can and should do.

So so much has changed. The fact that, today, we’re not just thinking of influencers in solely the realm of I need you to help me sell stuff, but we’re truly viewing them as content creators and as an extension of the brand, and I love that. I love it, love it, love it. Is what I’ve been dreaming of, and we’re getting there.

JENNY GUY: So tell me about the work that you do with Everywhere Agency and Everywhere Society and how that is– I mean, you’ve been able to, with your company, basically custom make the relationship that you wanted to see for influencers and that brand-influencer . relationship. So tell me the work that you’re currently doing with influencers and with brands.

DANICA KOMBOL: Oh, gosh, we’re doing so much. I mean, if you’ve worked with Everywhere Agency or if you’re part of Everywhere Society, you know we’ve met some beloved brands we work with, everybody from Macy’s, to Auto Trader, to Carter’s and Oshkosh, to FAGE yogurt, lots and lots of different brands. Most of our brands, I would say, kind of fall in the category of America’s beloved brands. And so the influencers we work with usually kind of mirror and mimic that. I’ve always said that success for us is finding an influencer who’s already a natural advocate of the brand, finding an influencer who would probably write about the brand, even if they weren’t getting paid. Now, we do all sponsored posts, but you want that natural, organic, authentic relationship with the brand.

JENNY GUY: Absolutely, and talk about what types of relationships you’re seeing the brands requesting from your influencers. How has that shifted and changed?

DANICA KOMBOL: Finally, we’re seeing more ambassadorships.

JENNY GUY: Definitely.

DANICA KOMBOL: And again, been praying for that one for a long time, because I feel one of the challenges with one offs is– well, particularly for an influencer that truly does have a passion with the brand, wouldn’t it be more ideal if they could, kind of, build out that story over time? So now, we’re finally finding brands saying, we’d like to try out ambassadorships. That’s probably the biggest shift. I mean, obviously, what we see is everybody wants Instagram. It’s all about Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, Instagram stories. I love the fact that brands are really kind of understanding how to use that. What was the question? I can’t remember.

JENNY GUY: What type of content are the brands requesting? I know from our end with Mediavine, we are seeing video is taking over the world for us in terms of the demand on the ad side. On the ad spend side, we can’t get enough demand of the videos to run the pre roll ads on. So are you seeing that reflected in the relationships from the brands?

DANICA KOMBOL: Completely. Video is absolutely the most valuable, the most viable. However, let’s go old school for one second and talk about the blog. We are still doing blog campaigns, because blogs can be rich in SEO, and they live forever. We love us some Pinterest. Oh my gosh, we love Pinterest. So we’re seeing a lot on Pinterest. We really recommend that unless we have a client that has a, this is our platform, this is the only platform, do we try to go platform specific. We really do try to take an integrated approach, and ideally, if we can do it the way we’d love to do, we go to the influencer, and we say, what’s your best platform for this? Where do you see yourself telling the story? And that’s where we really shine. Now, I will say Twitter, you know, we used to do Twitter chats all the time.


DANICA KOMBOL: Well, we very rarely recommend them anymore. I think, you know, let’s look. Let’s face it. Twitter now, in the app store, is classified as a news app.


DANICA KOMBOL: So for us, Twitter doesn’t really have the robust, visual nature that we really need for our consumer brands.

JENNY GUY: Understandable, and some people are saying it’s coming back. And I’m always interested to hear how people are using the different social media platforms in a way to communicate specifically.

DANICA KOMBOL: Well, let’s test it out, Jenny. Let’s test it out.


DANICA KOMBOL: Anybody out there watching is on Twitter, tweet me, tweet us.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, absolutely. Talk to us about how we’re using Twitter.

DANICA KOMBOL: Let’s see, is Twitter still alive? I mean, we know Twitter is alive, and it’s no more alive in the White House, typically at 4:00 in the morning. So Twitter is definitely alive, but if you have a justification for why Twitter should be ideal for consumer brands, let me know. Now, we haven’t completely thrown it away. We’re still doing some Twitter chats with Carter’s that are lots of fun but just not as much as we did back in the day.

JENNY GUY: Definitely true. The thing I’m hearing most about Twitter, and again, you guys tell us if you’re seeing this reflected, is that it’s the easiest way to have the actual direct DM conversation in a more, like, public sphere. If someone is direct– is tweeting someone, and they’re responding to them, that’s a way to have a conversation in front of in a public forum. I also, unfortunately, see Twitter being used very frequently when people are unhappy with the service they’re receiving from a specific brand that they’re calling them out. It’s a good platform to call out a brand when they’ve lost your luggage.

DANICA KOMBOL: Right. Oh, yeah. Now, I do love Twitter for public relations, and I really recommend if you’re trying to reach a journalist, or let’s say you read a story a journalist wrote that you really feel like you have something valuable to add, I would race to Twitter over email or any other platform.

JENNY GUY: Fantastic. OK, let’s talk– you brought up ambassadorships, and I think that’s such a broad term. I don’t know that anyone who is an influencer advocate would disagree with the idea that the ROI for both the brand and the influencer is found in those long term relationships. But talk to me about the anatomy of those ambassadorships. What goes into them? What sort of is contractually put out there? And I know you can’t specifically talk about the contracts, but talk about what components you’re seeing coming together to make those really mutually beneficial ambassadorships.

DANICA KOMBOL: Well, I definitely think ambassadorships come in all shapes and sizes, and they go all the way from, basically, you’re hiring an individual to almost be a media rep for your brand, or a media voice for your brand. I’m not sure. I can’t really see who’s on, because I can’t see Facebook. But if Danielle Smith is on–

JENNY GUY: Looks like she is.

DANICA KOMBOL: I know she does that kind of thing a lot, because she can do satellite media tours. And so a brand might hire her as, basically, an extension of their PR arm. But we definitely see many, many different forms of ambassadorships. One thing I think an influencer has to bear in mind is the non-compete, because when you’re enter into an ambassadorship, they definitely don’t want you shilling for another brand. So that’s something I think influencers really should look at before they sign on the dotted line on ambassadorships.

We’re doing a lot of what we call pulse campaigns, so for example, with FAGE Yogurt, we worked with the same influencers over several months, kind of telling the story, telling the story a different way, telling the story a different way, with the understanding that consumers need to see things several times before it hits. So that was kind of fun, and actually with that one, we were working with relatively small nano lower number micro influencers. So it was great to see them try that out.

JENNY GUY: OK, that is fantastic. I love that. I love the way whenever I’m talking to people about pitching, talking to influencers about pitching, I’m saying find a way to incorporate the different either the brand or that product in different seasons of your life throughout the course of a year to show that this is something that is more than just a one time usage. It’s a lifestyle for you. But you use the term nano. So I have heard all– much like whether you’re a millennial or whether you’re a Gen Xer, I can hear– I’ve heard a lot of different definitions about those size figures and how those will incorporate and break down for influencers. Tell me what you think, what the terms are, and how you would classify them.

DANICA KOMBOL: OK, so what I’ve typically seen is nanos are under 10,000.


DANICA KOMBOL: Under 10,000, and that’s kind of, I believe, roughly the industry standard.

JENNY GUY: And that’s talking about on any one platform? Are we talking about on any specific social platform combined? Are we’re talking about their website traffic via Google Analytics?

DANICA KOMBOL: Yeah, so typically, I’ve seen that it’s 10,000 on combined platforms.

JENNY GUY: OK, 10,000 put together on social platforms.


JENNY GUY: And we’re not even really– and our– do brands have any interest in the Google Analytics, or is it mostly social numbers that brands are using to make their determination whether they’re going to work?

DANICA KOMBOL: OK, so for any brand, it really comes down to what their overall goal is. The Google Analytics do matter, again, with a search engine optimization driven campaign. So we, at our agency, do so much work and goal setting at the beginning of a campaign, and that’s why no two influencer campaigns are alike.


DANICA KOMBOL: With nano influencers and smaller influencers, I’m going to give an example of how we’ve worked with them that has been very powerful and very targeted. We work with a new brand called Food Saver, Game Saver. This is like a zip lock container that vacuum seals–

JENNY GUY: Oh, cool.

DANICA KOMBOL: –wild game or fish, OK? So the type of influence who really loves that is a person who’s out there bow hunting, or hunting, or fishing. Well, sure, I might be able to find somebody with 100,000 followers who’s a peripatetic fisherman, right?


DANICA KOMBOL: But we really wanted to find somebody that all they talked about was fishing, or all they talked about was bow hunting.


DANICA KOMBOL: That’s when nano influencers come into play, when you’re really looking for a niche market.

JENNY GUY: And I love that. What were the results– you were talking about the yogurt brand where you were telling that story using the majority nano influencers. Is that something that they pitched to you asking about nano influencers, or did you come to them and say, I think you’re going to get the results from these nano influencers?

DANICA KOMBOL: So you know, it’s interesting, particularly going to so many influencer conferences. I’m kind of diverting for a second, but I’ll come back to your question.


DANICA KOMBOL: And so much of the advice given to influencers is pitch the idea, come to them with an idea. And you know, we work with big, big brands, and we are definitely an idea generating machine. However, we work best with our brands collaboratively. So we do a campaign, and then, we sit down, and they go, that was great. And then, together we decide. Together we’re talking through it. You know, one thing I always want to remind influencers is that the people who are working at these big brands have big marketing departments, and they aren’t necessarily at a shortage for ideas.

JENNY GUY: Fair enough.

DANICA KOMBOL: What they are at a shortage for is somebody who will work with them, and collaborate with them, and make them look better. So I’d love to change the narrative around pitching to collaborating. What sort of collaborations can we do? What can I bring to the table? Maybe I can educate you on some recent trends in influencer marketing, and let’s ideate on how we can do something with you.

JENNY GUY: I love the idea–

DANICA KOMBOL: [INAUDIBLE] pitching. It feels less salesy, you know?

JENNY GUY: It does. Yeah, less salesy, less, kind of, smarmy, and less one sided, it feels like an actual engaging in that dialogue. And so tell me the anatomy of a great collaboration, which would– with a cold brand, a brand that you don’t necessarily have any sort of prior engagement with or involvement with. Give your best advice for our influencers who are looking to pitch their dream brands.

DANICA KOMBOL: OK, I– oh, the ideal collaboration, like, I just started working with them. I’ve never worked with them before.

JENNY GUY: I’ve never done it. I’m looking at this brand. I’m using this brand organically in my life. I think that my audience is a killer–


JENNY GUY: –demographic for them. How do I make contact and then negotiate a great collaboration that will work?

DANICA KOMBOL: So if it’s a product you naturally use in your life– I’m going to just pick a product I love. OK, everybody knows I’m a pie baker.

JENNY GUY: That’s awesome.

DANICA KOMBOL: OK, and I blog about my pies at my site, and I always joke, oh, lucky me, if I was an influencer, I’d get paid in fat and lard. OK?

JENNY GUY: Great pay.

DANICA KOMBOL: But Kerrygold butter is a butter that is supposed to be really, really good for pie crust. I’m about to start baking pies, so if I wanted to work with Kerrygold, I’m going to be doing Instagram stories anyway about my pie baking. Now, my mind you, I do not have the clout as an influencer. I’m a mini nano, OK? But let’s pretend. Let’s just pretend I’ve got 30,000 Instagram followers, and people cannot wait to see what I’m baking for pie season. And I use Kerrygold butter anyway and lard, mix and match.


DANICA KOMBOL: So in my Instagram stories, I’m going to feature Kerrygold, and I’m going to talk about why I love it. Then once I complete that story, I’m going to send– I’m going to figure out who is the PR rep over there, and I’m just going to send a nice little note just to say, hey, wanted to let you know. I’m a passionate pie baker, and I always use Kerrygold in all my pie crusts. I’ve noticed that you’re doing campaigns around blank. I did my research. I wondered if you would ever would be interested in some sort of collaboration and partnership with me.

JENNY GUY: Love it.

DANICA KOMBOL: That’s how I would approach it.

JENNY GUY: A multi-tiered approach showing that you’ve done your homework, that you’re going to be a dream to work with. You can already show your results to the them.

DANICA KOMBOL: Show my passion to them.


DANICA KOMBOL: Now, I did not say work for the brand for free, because the case you brought to me was I already have a passion for this product, so I’d already be writing about it.


DANICA KOMBOL: Now, you do run the risk that there going to say, well, she already did it for free. Why doesn’t she do it for free again? Or maybe they’ll be like, hey, I tell you what. I’ll send you butter, and you’d be like, hmm.

JENNY GUY: I got butter. I got lard.

DANICA KOMBOL: I got plenty of butter. I can go to the grocery store. I was really look– and then, if they come back to me and say I’m going to pay you in butter, it’s like, you know, I was really looking for a more meaningful collaboration where I can really touch on some of your back brand messages in powerful ways. By the way, I have an engaged audience of 30,000 people who bake pies. Of them, I know many would be great converts to your brand and easy advocates.

JENNY GUY: I love that, and I think so– so that is great advice, and tell me where you stand on the whole– I don’t know. I know what I advise when I talk when someone is working to form a long term relationship with the brand, and the brand is initially wanting them to do something for product. And that’s not always butter. Sometimes it’s cars or something that is a higher dollar, but whatever it is. Where do you stand on working for them for product to then hoping to move to a paid relationship?

DANICA KOMBOL: Well, it really depends on the product value. So if a brand is offering you a brand new car–


DANICA KOMBOL: –I mean, you need a brand new car.

JENNY GUY: Who doesn’t?

DANICA KOMBOL: The value of that is immense, so take a look at that. With smaller brands, I don’t think it’s a good idea to come out of the gate. Let’s say I reached out to Kerrygold, and then they said free butter, and I did another campaign for them for free butter.


DANICA KOMBOL: That’s cheapening yourself. I would not do that.


DANICA KOMBOL: I definitely wouldn’t do that. You’re really looking for the collaboration. You’re really looking for the relationship. You showed them good will, but you’re not going to do it for free.

JENNY GUY: So then, you stop using Kerrygold?

DANICA KOMBOL: If you’re a baby influencer trying to get started– if your a baby influencer trying to get started, and you’ve had no brand sponsorships, maybe you do us you just so you can show I had some brands sponsorships.

JENNY GUY: Building out that portfolio. So if Kerrygold–

DANICA KOMBOL: Yeah, but those are your baby influencers.


DANICA KOMBOL: I want to make sure that my words are not taken the wrong way. I am not saying work for brands for free, never, ever, ever. But I am saying if you’re just getting started out, and you don’t have anything on your site to show you’ve got brand relationships, do two or three just to get yourself set up. Also, of those two or three, do a great job, and suddenly, you’ve got three people you can use as a referral.

JENNY GUY: Absolutely, totally agree on building. So we’ve got a question here, and I’m going to jump to that. But what do you do if Kerrygold doesn’t want to pay you? Do you stop using Kerrygold? What’s your advice? What are you baking your pies with?

DANICA KOMBOL: No, because I love Kerrygold.


DANICA KOMBOL: I love Kerrygold, and it’s the best butter for pie crust.


DANICA KOMBOL: Now, Land O’Lakes isn’t too bad. It’s my second favorite.

JENNY GUY: Uh-huh.

DANICA KOMBOL: So if they don’t have Kerrygold at the store, or if Land O’Lakes is on sale, I’m going to buy Land O’Lakes, and to be perfectly honest, nobody but me is going to notice a difference. So Kerrygold says no or says, I want to work with you for butter. Please, no, thank you, bye bye. But Land O’Lakes calls me, oh, yeah, I ditched the Kerrygold–


–in a skinny minute. Now, I’m not going to trade it out for margarine, because it’s not the same.

JENNY GUY: It’s not the same.

DANICA KOMBOL: And I want to be true to my audience. So–

JENNY GUY: That’s fair enough. All right, so Heather Johnson–


JENNY GUY: Hi, Heather. Thank you for joining us. Hi to everyone that said hi. Hi, Danielle Smith. Hi, Alana. OK, Heather Johnson, do you really think you can pitch to brand successfully? Most brands do quote campaigns and not as many do always on partnerships.

DANICA KOMBOL: I’m not sure I understood the question. Maybe help me with that one, Jenny.

JENNY GUY: So I’m also questioning while I’m reading it out loud, but what I’m getting is the initial part of the question is, do you really think you can pitch to brand successfully? And then I believe what she’s making the distinction here is campaigns being a finite period of time rather than an ambassadorship or a one off, and then always on partnerships being a long term relationship with the brand. That’s what I believe.

DANICA KOMBOL: OK, so what I’m going to say is I would ask that question of the audience, because I myself am not an influencer.


DANICA KOMBOL: I’m an agency, so we really are kind of the between brand and agency.


DANICA KOMBOL: I do know lots of my influencers friends have direct relationships with brands and have done so successfully. And I truly don’t believe that agency is the only way to get to brands. More and more brands are bringing their influencer programs in-house and forgoing the agency, so developing that relationship directly is going to really suit you well. So I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t go direct to brand. However, do your research on the brand. If they’re already working with an influencer agency, they’re going to shoot you over to them right away. Or they may be already working with a PR agency.

So many of these brand partners really work hard, and they don’t have time to manage influencer relationships, so they rely on that agency. So if you find the agency, go to the agency. Figure out what their needs are, how you can get known by that agency. And the other nice thing about agency, like an agency like ours, is we work with a dozen different brands in many different verticals. So if you’re part of our network, you might have an Arbitrator opportunity one day, and a Primrose Schools opportunity the next day. You really don’t know, and I’m sure, among the audience, there’s a lot of people who’ve worked on Everywhere Society campaigns, and if you have, you know, share your experience and the type of brand you worked on.

JENNY GUY: So how do you– OK, Heather said they run campaigns for brands. They don’t bring people together for on going partnerships. But you were talking about how you are really.

DANICA KOMBOL: I’m definitely seeing that, Heather. If I had a dollar for every time a brand says, we want to do ambassadors– now, they say they want to do ambassadors, and they get close, and they’re like, maybe we’ll use her for an ambassador. And then, that’s Q1, and then Q2 rolls around, and they go, we decided to change our mission. We’re going to go this way. You’re like, well, remember Heather? We thought she was great. Um, um, OK, we’ll come back to Heather. So you know, they change their mind.

JENNY GUY: Right, sure.

DANICA KOMBOL: They’re not– there’s no ill will there. They are being driven by trends in the industry. And right now in this country, everybody is looking over their shoulder about what’s going to be happening economically. So dollars are a little tight, and the importance of measuring ROI is huge.

JENNY GUY: Very, very true, and that measurement piece is key and has been a big changer– game changer for the influencer industry, whereas before it was kind of meh. We don’t know what it’s doing. It’s doing something, we think, maybe, but we’re not certain. Now, we’re getting actual specific metrics and tools for measuring that.

Danielle said that she has been doing this for more than 10 years, both pitching on her own and doing agencies, and she said some of her long terms came through agencies like Danica’s. So that’s a good testimonial there.


JENNY GUY: Can you– Yeah, it’s good. Can you talk– how do you find out who the agency of record is? How do you get the contact? And then a follow up question to that, if I wanted to work with Everywhere Agency, how would I make that happen as an influencer?

DANICA KOMBOL: So agency of record, Google, Adweek, Ad Age. We do a lot of digging to try to figure it out. So that would be my recommendation. Oh, another pro tip is this. Go to their newsroom or their press site, and then on the base of their press release it will say, for more information, contact. And that would be an agency or an in-house PR person. PR people are much more likely to respond to emails than marketing people are, because they’re used to working with journalists.

Pro tip, I don’t typically go to the highest level one. I to go to the next one down, because you have the highest level one is not going to– his or her inbox is going to be out of control. So the next one down, I’ll try them. And if they don’t respond right away, I just have a note to reach out then two weeks later and just keep emailing.

Now, working with Everywhere is easy. Just join our network, Once you join, you’re invited to our private Facebook group. We’re much like Mediavine. We share insights and whatnot, and then typically around once a month, we send out the sponsored opts, and you apply. And I’ll tell you something. You asked me wish about what’s changed in the industry.


DANICA KOMBOL: The biggest thing that changing– and I saw Danielle at Blissdom this weekend, and we talked about it. Back in the day, a brand would say, I’m looking for an influencer with this kind of qualifications, and we would say, we know just the right person for you. And I’m going to use Danielle as an example. It’s Danielle Smith. She’s phenomenal. And she is. But today, we’ll go to the influencers, and we’ll say, here’s our slate pick of five. And we don’t have as great of an influence in that pick as we used to. They look at so much of that algorithmic data, and then, oftentimes, they’ll pick somebody that we’re like, no, no. And then we’ll kind of share, well, the only the thing is– and sorry for working with you, Danielle, but you know I’m going to fight for you. But if you work with Danielle, she’s going to go above and beyond, and when we were– and they’re like, yeah, but we like this.

So our ability to kind of make the pick has lessened. The brand really gets involved in it. Truly, back in the day, Macy’s used to say, send five bloggers to an event. OK. What do you want?

JENNY GUY: And that was it, yeah.



DANICA KOMBOL: And they’d be like, give us the names. But now, they look. They look at their Instagram. They make all these decisions. So–

JENNY GUY: Awesome. Well, and we have the same thing with our in-house influencer work that we do is that we will present a list of multiple. And then, sometimes it’s just the aesthetic is vibing with the brand or whatever it is. You never really know. But there’s a lot of different whatever is going into that brand’s decision. But that’s very interesting that it used to be a different– that brands used to just say, you pick, whoever it is.

DANICA KOMBOL: Yes, and we’re big fans of platforms. We used Creator IQ. I’m a little concerned about the future of the industry where brands feel like, if I’ve got an algorithmic platform, and I put all my data sets in there, it’s going to spew out the ideal influencer.


DANICA KOMBOL: So right now, some brands are picking influencers purely based on algorithmic data sets, but as you know, that does not factor in all the other aspects. So we are big believers in the importance and the need for a human eye to look at every influencer, and for us, it’s a relationship play. It’s not just a numbers play. And we go back. We look at their content. We really look. When we’re presenting influencers to a brand, we’re really– we’re like pitching you.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that choosing things solely based on the numbers– because it was such a struggle when that was the whole influence or industry and the sponsored post relationship was first starting that it was so much all about the numbers, so you were constantly pitching and saying no, no. We know this influencer has a slightly smaller, but we think that the content is a good match or whatever it is. But going just by the numbers takes a lot of the beauty of influencers out of the equation, which is that human connection, the content that they’re creating. So I love that human touch thing.

OK, so let’s talk a little bit about FTC, and disclosures, and all that, because we just recently had a new revamped document come out. So the FTC just recently came out with our revised guidelines for influencers on how to disclose relationship with brands, particularly on social. Could you highlight a few key takeaways from that?

DANICA KOMBOL: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So one thing about that document– so I’m really– I love the FTC. I’ve spoken on many panels with the FTC, and I actually have never found the guidelines that confusing. Maybe somewhere secretly inside I should have been a lawyer or something. But to be perfectly honest, the new guidelines aren’t new. They’re visually rich. They’re more simply written. The FTC has not really come out with any earth shattering, new information it just made it easier to read.

So one thing I want to say about the FTC guidelines. They’ve been around since the earliest days of blogging. They’re not new. The thing was nobody was really– when I say nobody, we always have followed FTC guidelines, but there just really wasn’t that much attention paid to them, and big brands were just ignoring them, big brands and big influencers. It took the incident where Lord & Taylor worked with, I think it was, 40 different influencers on a specific day promoting a flowery dress, and they asked all these influencers to post the same flowery dress on their Instagram. And if you were on Instagram and follow fashion influencers, you saw them. And Lord & Taylor, and or their agency, didn’t ask them to disclose. And the FTC cracked down on them.

Suddenly, brands who’d been doing influencer marketing for years were like, uh-oh.


DANICA KOMBOL: They all called their agencies like, this FTC thing, are we following it? I’m like, yeah, don’t worry, you’re following it. We got it. We always use hashtag ad. So that’s what really brought to the forefront. The next thing that happened was FTC cracked down on the influencers. They cracked down on Amber Rose and the Kardashians who were notorious for not disclosing. So suddenly, it became what is on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Then the lawyers at the big firms with the big companies realized, and then they’re like, hey, we got to really pay attention to this. Which is not to say they were flouting it before, it just wasn’t in public consciousness.

So they’ve always been around. I will say one thing since there’s a lot of influencers here. And this is my appeal to you. When you are gifted something, I’m going to give you, Jenny, this Everywhere mug. It’s yours.

JENNY GUY: Thank you, hashtag blessed.

DANICA KOMBOL: Doesn’t work. Not blessed.


DANICA KOMBOL: I want you to say hashtag ad, even for that.


DANICA KOMBOL: Even something– or sponsored. The two things the FTC says pass muster, hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, even for product giveaways. Hosted, I know a lot of you love hosted. Nowhere in the FTC guidelines do they say hosted is OK. Now, brand partner is OK. The number one thing the FTC says is that it has to be clear and conspicuous.

So I learned this from Jamie Lieberman, who’s beloved in the influencer industry, owner of Hashtag Legal, former blogger herself. Jamie puts everything through what she calls the mom test. And I think her mom’s name is Sylvia or Phyllis. Her mom’s Phyillis. She goes, so if Phyllis– if I could get Phyillis on Instagram and have her figure out how to scroll, if she was scrolling down, could she immediately tell that somebody was paid to do that? If Phyllis couldn’t tell, it’s not clear and conspicuous.

JENNY GUY: Absolutely. I agree. So Alana said, I may have missed this, but what type of niche or influencers does your agency work with? I heard you mention certain products. However, I’m wondering about travel influencers and agencies to work with.

DANICA KOMBOL: OK, so first off, travel is like my thing. Follow me on Instagram. You’re going to see. Go to my site I’m a big, big traveler, and I recently got featured on CNN for my travel tips.


DANICA KOMBOL: And I am like– I’m a travel warrior. So we have wanted a travel brand for a long time, and we might have one soon.

JENNY GUY: Oh, yay! Congratulations.

DANICA KOMBOL: So everybody pray to the travel gods for us, because I really want this travel brand. Of course, I’m in Atlanta. Delta is my dream brand. I had coffee this morning with my friend who works at Delta. And they’re like, oh, if only we could get married. But a lot of these big corporations like Delta, they have like agency of record at some big publicly traded agency, so I can’t work with delta.

JENNY GUY: Never say never.

DANICA KOMBOL: But yeah things will change. Delta is in my future. That would be my dream brand. I have spoken, like, keynoted women in Travel Summit. I was so honored when Robin Santos asked me to do that. Many people know, Everywhere, this isn’t necessarily a travel brand, but many of you remember that for several years running, we took blogger trips to Haiti in conjunction with Macy’s Heart of Haiti. So we took seven different blogger trips to Haiti to promote a product line that Macy’s was carrying that was really designed to support artisans and help rebuild the artisan infrastructure after the earthquake.

So that’s probably as close as we got to travel was, you know, the seven trips to Haiti. And I’ve got to tell you, when I look at some of the influencers who came on those trips, Jeanette Kaploon, Anna Florez, Stacey Ferguson, I mean just, not only the OGs, but Laticia Barr, the best of the best came on those trips with us. And those were amazing, and I miss those trips.

JENNY GUY: It’s a great rule. I think that those trips are such a great– even if it’s not necessarily a travel company, we did a great campaign with Cabot Cheese in the state of Vermont, and just the stories that are able to be told through the travel combined with the product. And it’s a pretty magical–

DANICA KOMBOL: See, if I could get more followers, you could have hired me. I’ve already got my story. Are you ready?

JENNY GUY: Yes, lay it on me.

DANICA KOMBOL: First of all, I love travel.


DANICA KOMBOL: And I love pies.


DANICA KOMBOL: And actually, we serve apple pie– we serve it with a slice of cheddar cheese. That’s the way my mom always served it. So we got a whole storyline, except I’m the mini, mini, nano.

JENNY GUY: You’ve got it all built.

DANICA KOMBOL: I’m joking about the influence thing. You can’t run an agency and be an influencer. But never say never, right Jenny?

JENNY GUY: Never say never. You got to–

DANICA KOMBOL: It’s in my future.

JENNY GUY: –speak it into existence into the universe, and it is possible. All right, I’m going to jump topics a little bit from FTC to pricing, and I think that’s one of the hardest things that has no regulation, no rhyme or reason. People want guidance on their pricing all the time when working in sponsored campaigns, and it’s a hard question. So how do you set criteria for that? What is your best advice? Give us your best shot.

DANICA KOMBOL: OK pricing is a hard one, and this is something our clients ask all the time. What does an influencer cost? And I always say, it depends.

JENNY GUY: That is genuinely my favorite answer.

DANICA KOMBOL: Imagine you went to a contractor, and you want to do a new kitchen. And you said, contractor, how much is this kitchen going to cost?

JENNY GUY: Uh-huh.

DANICA KOMBOL: He’s like, well, do you want Corian counter tops? Do you want marble counter tops? Do you want state of the art kitchenware? Do you want– it really depends on what’s going into the campaign. So I don’t believe there is a standard rate for influencers, and I’m not sure there’s going to be, because the asks are always so different. I would say that it can and should be a negotiation every time. I worry, again, when I go to influencer conferences, and they say, know your worth. Your worth this. And frequently, the people who are saying that are people who have really large followings.


DANICA KOMBOL: And some newer influencers kind of join the game thinking that they’re valued at much higher than a brand sees them to be, and they’re not going to get that type of money. So they lose those early opportunities. Every one of these OG influencers, like and I can– I’m sorry, I can’t see who’s on unless they’re a friend of mine, but these OG influencers like Daniel Smith started at a certain point and grew as her following, her clout, and everything grew. So it really depends on where you are.

Yes, they look at followers. Our algorithms detect fake followers. I’m going to say it again. Our algorithms detect fake followers with a pretty damn good degree of accuracy. Now, there are times we have to go back to influencers, and I call it the experience of calling their baby ugly. And I go, you want this much, but my algorithm says you have 30% fake followers, or 30% of your followers are in the Philippines. Now, I don’t just believe the algorithm. I will then say, or my account manager will say, you know, it’s interesting, because our algorithm came back and said 30% of your followers are in the Philippines. Is your data showing that and do you have any explanation for that?


DANICA KOMBOL: Or another reason the algorithm might show is particularly if somebody had a spike in followers on a particular day. So we’ll say, on July 17, it looks like you had a huge spike in following. We don’t see anything on your site that accounts for that. Well, maybe the influencers says, you know, guess what, that day, I was on the Today Show. I didn’t post anything, but I got a lot of followers. So there’s a valid explanation that might have triggered the algorithm to think that. So if an agency comes back to you with that, try not to be offended. And if there’s a valid explanation, just explain it.

When Twitter recently cleaned out their fake followers, I’m going to admit it. I had a lot of following– a big following on Twitter, because I was early on Twitter. And another thing happened to me why I had a big following on Twitter, so I had a pretty big following on Twitter. I lost 30% of my followers. OK, Danica, did you go out and buy fake followers? Uh-uh.


DANICA KOMBOL: In 2010, I did a campaign with Justin Bieber.


DANICA KOMBOL: And we had rare footage of Justin Bieber that we pushed out on our channels. I had all of these Beliebers following me.

JENNY GUY: Are they pie lovers plus Beliebers, or are they just here for your Belieber content.

DANICA KOMBOL: No, they were bots. They were in the Ukraine. They were egg heads. They were nobody. So when Twitter cleaned out my following, thank heavens, they got rid of those fake Beliebers.

JENNY GUY: You weren’t offering– you weren’t giving them the fresh Justin Bieber content that they were craving. That’s fair enough.

DANICA KOMBOL: No, and also I think, back then, there were all these people that made these kind of want-to-be Bieber. And then, they tried to reach Justin Bieber, and somehow, they thought I had a connection to Justin Bieber. I don’t know. That’s my only– I mean, I think that along the way, too, participating in Twitter chats.


DANICA KOMBOL: They were just– I was pretty active on Twitter, so I definitely had a lot of strange people following me that I was happy for them to go.

JENNY GUY: Well, I’m glad it didn’t hurt your feelings too bad when 30% of your followers dropped overnight. That’s good.


JENNY GUY: And they need to get– they need to bielebe somewhere else.

OK, so for someone– you were mentioning this, and we talked a little bit kind of around this. But when somebody is getting started with sponsored, but they’ve never done any before, how would you recommend dipping your toe into the water?

DANICA KOMBOL: So you’re just getting– you’ve never done any sponsored work before.

JENNY GUY: Right, right.

DANICA KOMBOL: So really think about the brands you’re most passionate about–


DANICA KOMBOL: –and what true relationship you have to the brand and how it might show on your channels, right? So I’m just going to use Macy’s by example. In the early days of working with Macy’s, people would reach out to me and say, oh, I love Macy’s. I’d love going shopping at Macy’s. I’m hosting an event at my house, and I thought maybe Macy’s would like to sponsor that event.

JENNY GUY: Uh-huh.

DANICA KOMBOL: And you’re like, OK, so you love Macy’s, great, but I don’t see that on your channels. And number two, why would Macy’s want to sponsor an event at your house? Because Macy’s cares about one thing. It cares about people going in store or online.

JENNY GUY: Uh-huh.

DANICA KOMBOL: So I think sometimes influencers come to us with ideas that are so, like, I love the brand, and I love this, so I want to bring those two together. No, just because you love it and this, that in and of itself doesn’t make a match. Big mistake influencers do is they don’t take their time to see what brand activations are happening right now. Spend time on their Facebook. Spend time on their Instagram. See what they’re pushing right now. If they are working with influencers, see how they’re working with influencers.

And this is not to smack the creativity out of you, but particularly if you’re talking about very, very big brands, they have huge marketing departments who are getting paid for their big ideas. Which is not to say they’re not into your ideas, but they’re planning– they plan so much out, and they really like to integrate you into their already formulated idea. Another thing influencers have to think about– Now, I know big brands. I don’t know small brands. I don’t know start-ups. I think that’s completely different. It’s a completely different ball of wax if you’re going small brands and start-ups I think they’re much more eager to sit down and talk with you. For us, Christmas is done. Christmas is over. We’re in 2020. We’re doing 2020 planning. We’ve been doing 2020 planning for two months. So just so you understand, the people I’m working with at Newell, or whatever, are thinking about 2020. So don’t bring an idea that’s going to be in two weeks. Back it out–

JENNY GUY: Way too late.

DANICA KOMBOL: –four months at least. And when you reach out, hey, you know, your probably starting to think about– let’s say you’re a fashion influencer, and you and your family get dressed up like nobody’s business for Easter. And you also wear Easter hats, OK? I’m hoping hats will come back–

JENNY GUY: I love hats.

DANICA KOMBOL: –like in England, the fascinators. You always wear Easter hats, and maybe there’s this hat company you always wanted to work with. I would reach out to them now and say, I wanted to let you know, our family starts planning our Easter hat–

JENNY GUY: Extravaganza.

DANICA KOMBOL: [INAUDIBLE] before we finish Christmas dinner. Here’s some past photos of my family at Easter and the hats we’ve donned. I’d love to start a collaboration with you for Easter of this year, all about Easter hats. And I’m going to take you behind the scenes while our family starts to plan our hats. And your brand is perfect for me, because your brand has hats in kids sizes, adults, and da-da-da. So see how I’ve taken– there, I’ve integrated it into the brand.

JENNY GUY: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, this is going to segue nicely into– I just want to spend our remaining time, which is not a lot, unfortunately, but I would love to hear more about the Influencer Marketing Association. You recently founded it, and I want to know what is the purpose and how it’s going to help influencers out there working their jobs.

DANICA KOMBOL: Oh, yeah, I’m so glad you asked about that.

JENNY GUY: Of course.

DANICA KOMBOL: So first off, we founded the Influencer– talk about OGs– founded the Influencer Marketing Association with some of the biggest OGs in influencer marketing. Those who’ve been there around really probably know many of our names, Barbara Jones, and Paul Bruno from Blissdom, Stacy Ferguson from Blogalicious, Jill Johnson [? Pate, ?] Stephania [INAUDIBLE], and Christy Samis and Kat Lincoln from Clever. So that was kind of the core group, and we came together realizing there was so much dialogue going on about influencer marketing by newcomers who didn’t [INAUDIBLE] and also were really pushing the fact that it’s a data play.


DANICA KOMBOL: And we felt very strongly, no. Yeah, we use the data to pull the figures, but this is a human play. These are human beings. So we really felt the need to start a nonprofit that did a few things: A, that really focused on the human centric approach to influencer marketing, reminding brands and agencies that it’s a human driven business, B, to set some real guidelines around measurement–

JENNY GUY: Love that.

DANICA KOMBOL: –what you can measure and how to measure, and then C, to really do some defining around the ethics of influencer marketing, kind of help amplify what the FTC does. So one thing I want to say, because there’s a lot of influencers on this, is this was started as a trade organization, so much like Public Relations Society of America is for PR practitioners, or AMA is for marketing practitioners. So it’s not to say that we don’t welcome influencers, because we do. But it’s much more for those who are running the program.

I forgot to say one thing. So I told you that that core group of OGs that came together.


DANICA KOMBOL: Here’s the truth. We knew we weren’t going to be taken seriously, like, hey, we were there first. We’re not a publicly– none of us are publicly traded, right? So we knew that in order to be taken seriously, we had to have the big boys at the table. So we brought in Unilever, doesn’t get much bigger than this, Best Buy, and some of the biggest agencies and platforms. So we’ve got Ketchum. We’ve got 360. We’ve got Edelman. We’ve got all these big agencies that are also part of it, along with some of the really big platforms.

Now, we also have influencers on board in that Stacy Ferguson is herself an influencer–


DANICA KOMBOL: –so she [INAUDIBLE] the influencer. So I’m just saying that, because when we launched, a lot of influencers were like, why?


DANICA KOMBOL: We’re not– we are welcoming of influencers, but it’s a trade organization. So if you would join PRSA because you feel like you work in PR, then you might want to join IMA. But our focus is really on the practitioners, the people who are running the campaigns, educating them on how to run those campaigns, and reminding them at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great that algorithm is. You need– you are dealing with humans.

JENNY GUY: Absolutely. So what– if people want to get the resources or work with the IMA as an influencer, how could they get more information about it?

DANICA KOMBOL: Oh, just go to We are a non-profit. We’re a work in progress. The website isn’t that robust. You know, the cobbler’s child wears no shoes. But we’re trying to really share industry trends there.

Oh, the big thing is we have just– when you asked about pay, I should’ve said this. We just pulled the data on the comprehensive white paper.

JENNY GUY: Awesome.

DANICA KOMBOL: So we reached out to thousands and thousands of influencers through all our combined networks, through Maverick, Clever, myself. We got as many influencers to respond as much as possible to really get that solid data on what average pay is, how often brands are asking them to disclose, what brands are asking for most often. So that, when it comes out, is going to be so fascinating for influencers to kind of see what your brothers and sisters are doing.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, absolutely, and to see where they need– if they’re following in a standard range, absolutely. OK, I’ve got time for one more question, which I’m going to ask you what do you think is going to be the biggest trend in 2020 for influencer brand relationship or just in the influencer industry in general? I’m going to come back to you to get that question in one moment. But I wanted to say we have one more episode of Teal Talk in 2019 before we start a new year, a new decade. It’s right in the middle of Q4. It is December 12th. I’ll be joined by Mediavine co-founder, Amber Bracegirdle and our vice-president of ad operations, Brad Hageman. I got him on a Teal Talk, everyone.


JENNY GUY: I know. We never thought it would happen, but it is happening, rest assured. We’ll be discussing Q1 prep. As we know, that can kind of be a dry time for a lot of our most popular niches in the blogging industry. So we’re going to talk about ways to ready your site for that dry period and how to weather that time and still stay in the black during the rough time. But I want to thank Danica. Danica, tell me what you see coming forward in 2020? What is the new decade going to bring?

DANICA KOMBOL: I think your going to hate me.

JENNY GUY: I don’t– I’m not going to hate you. I think you’re great, and your wallpaper is fabulous. So I think–

DANICA KOMBOL: OK, thank you. OK, I just know it’s coming, and I’m not ready for it. And I don’t want it, but the brands are going to be asking for TikTok.

JENNY GUY: Really? You think so?


JENNY GUY: You heard it first.

DANICA KOMBOL: I see it coming. Now, I’ll be honest with you TikTok is probably not, you know– we don’t have a lot of brands that are focused on young teens, so I’m definitely on TikTok. I’m kind of obsessed with TikTok. I find it fascinating. And what I always say about any new platform is it’s going to morph, so let’s wait and see what happens the TikTok. But I do think there’s going to be– if you could talk about the outliers, what’s going to come up– But now remember, so when I say TikTok, they’ll go, ugh, I hate TikTok, because the same thing happened a few years ago with Snapchat. And everyone was like, oh, come on, Snapchat, really? But what happened was Snapchat? Snapchat lit a fire under Facebook’s seat, had them morph and transform Instagram into what it is. So TikTok is–


–coming on the scene. What’s it going to do to Instagram?


DANICA KOMBOL: What’s it going to do to Facebook? And it’s video, and you know, you told me, Jenny. It’s all about video.

JENNY GUY: It’s about video.

DANICA KOMBOL: So let’s wait and see.

JENNY GUY: I’m excited. Danica, thank you so much for joining us, and we’ve got all the links shared for IMA. We’ve got the links shared for Everywhere Agency. It’s been a treat having you here today.

DANICA KOMBOL: Awesome, and I’ll go into the Facebook page in just a second and say hi to everybody. And again, if you are an influencer and you feel like you’d like to check out some of our sponsored campaigns with some of our awesome clients, it’s Find me on LinkedIn. That’s now my most active platform. Happy to answer any questions another time.

JENNY GUY: We loved it. We loved having you. Everybody have a happy, happy Thanksgiving, and we will see you in December. And


JENNY GUY: Thanks guys.


JENNY GUY: Eat all the pie, but only made with Kerrygold butter.




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