Susana Yee is a marketing expert and a pioneer in the field of social media and influencer marketing. Her Guess “Color Me Inspired” campaign went viral and Mashable named it one of “5 Interesting Pinterest Marketing Campaigns.”

Susana was featured as a social media pioneer for 2011 as part of eHow 100 on Shift Showcases Real Women Moving from Information to Influence, Driving Change in Their Lives and the World, Influencing and Educating Other Women which was also featured on Bloomberg and Business Wire. 

Recently Susana was featured on Thinkific sharing her knowledge about working with influencers in the guide How To Create An Influencer Marketing Strategy to Sell Online Courses by Elise Asanias.

Welcome to the podcast is Susana. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Oh, you're welcome. It's a pleasure. I'm super excited to talk to you about influencer marketing because. It is a huge area these days and it's a big buzzword everybody that I talk to is constantly talking about it with regards to how they can grow and promote their business. But before we get into diving into the subject of today, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and specifically how you got into what you're doing today.

So it started a while ago. I guess my first jobs were in sales and marketing in the fashion industry and. From there. I started a personal blog that became a passion of mine and I learned everything about blogging from my passion of my fashion blog which meant everything from creating a site on my own working on ads are working with Partnerships working with other.

Collaborations and Brands and then from their brand started calling me and asking if I would like to work with them and bring other bloggers and influencers together to create campaigns for them. And that's kind of how it started and that's the story. That's how it got to this point today. That's awesome.

So you. You were really kind of in there and really understanding what it took to promote a particular brand because you're promoting your particular blog yet. It's awesome. You know these days there's so much talk about influencer marketing and referral marketing and how you can get people to promote your brand.

But I think actually before we get it too heavily into it. What's your definition actually of an influencer? So I think that the influencer is definitely a broader range than what people think it is or know it is and I think that's the whole thing in the industry right now is people really don't know what influencers are and to me and influencers somebody in a field that they're an expert in.

So for example, if you're a well-known celebrity plastic surgeon and you're invited to talks all the time around the world and you're talking about your specialty whatever it is. You're an influencer in your field. To me that's an influencer of you're an influencer who is talking about a specific thing.

Like if you're a health and wellness person and you only talk about paleo Foods or you only talk about biohacking you're an influencer in your field and that's. What makes you an expert? I think a lot of people are under the impression that the only influencers that are out. There are the people who are taking pretty pictures of themselves wearing clothing and there are fashion influencers.

And those are influential. There are some really amazing influential fashion influencers out there. But those are not the only types of influencers you really nailed it and I'm glad you clarify that because I know a lot of people kind of have that Miss consumption that idea that false idea that it's just the people that are on Instagram.

Wearing a particular fashion brand or it's a celebrity but it's much more than that. And if you're an authority on a specific subject matter in your you don't have an audience that considers that you as an authority in that particular subjugate, you're definitely an influencer now, you know with respect to any Commerce company where does an e-commerce company really begin?

When they're looking to promote using social media marketing in actually influencer marketing because the landscape is pretty wide open these days and I know it can be a little bit overwhelming. I really think that an e-commerce company needs to look at their target audience and start from there.

So let's just for an example of your e-commerce company that sells Furniture right modern furniture, right? Your influencer is actually a well-known interior designer even a local interior designer. That's well known in your area. So let's give you an example of if you're an interior designer. And you have influenced in the area of modern design and your based out of LA or your based out of Texas and you work with a lot of people who are well known you can become an influencer in your field or if you're picked up in Publications that where people ask you questions all the time and say, you know, are you a you're an expert in modern design?

Can you tell us about it? You're in Publications that's an influencer. So if you're an e-commerce company that sells Furniture modern furniture, I would reach out to those. People those interior designers they're talking about modern design and I would work with them on a campaign because that's your influencer.

And that's your customer also because your demographic is probably. Reading these or listening to these podcasts are reading the Publications from these particular people. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, I think it's really important to really establish who your Target customer is and then where those customers can be found because otherwise like I said initially the landscape is so wide open because we have all of these different social media channels.

There's so many routes you can go. Try to find people and to and to really get your brand out there but in a effort not to waste money advertising. Yeah, you definitely want to be focused and try to Define that upfront where your target influencer is now with respect to isolating these influencers.

Like you said that was a great example as far as the interior designers if you were a furniture company now once you've established that what about. Social media and how do you decide which routes to go with regards to social media, you know which networks to go and how to really kind of graft your overall campaign.

I really believe that you have to sort of decide what type of business you're in. So if you're if like, for example, if you're in the furniture business and is highly visual we're looking at photos of showroom that is completely made up so that people can imagine what it looks like to have that piece of furniture in a living room.

I would use the highly visual social media platforms where your customers would be and that would be a place like Instagram is highly visual. It's all about the photos then definitely focus on that because your business is highly visual. I would also focus on Pinterest because it drives a lot of traffic and a lot of designers and Architects like to create design boards on Pinterest and actually go there and create boards for their clients.

So, If you're a highly visual product, I suggest you look at those two platforms for sure. If you're a company that is more be to be based. You know, I've had B2B clients, I would focus on LinkedIn and Twitter because all the B2B consumers are usually on Twitter looking for information looking for searching for information quickly so they can get it and they're on LinkedIn looking for information as well.

And so. Those are B2B platforms. So it just depends on what you're focused on and now if you're looking at getting a consumer that is. Somebody that is like a more cpg Market, you know, very specific like something like a home cleaner or something like that or something for the home or something for the moms or something for the kids.

I would focus on Facebook, you know, because Facebook is still highly utilized by people who are looking to connect with their friends and family and those are and the consumers are there that makes a lot of sense really just understanding. The demographics of the particular networks and then deciding how your brand fits into that or if it fits into a particular Network now in the going back to the example of the furniture company, let's say I you know, I am looking for interior designers.

Of course, you can do the searching, you know, the regular grunt work doing searching for interior designers may be in your area or with a specific Niche you can of course do that online via Google via social media, but. Is there any other place to find targeted influencers that you just know are already primed to promote?

Maybe they are already promoting some other brands are there any other resources or things that you could recommend? Yeah, I mean definitely on social media especially but the furniture company I would look on Pinterest or Instagram initially and I would search with the. So I would search through hashtags hashtag Modern Furniture Design just use the hashtag searches Facebook doesn't really use hashtags.

There are some but it doesn't come up as much and it's not really there for that reason, but I hashtag searching is very effective in on Pinterest and on Instagram and then of course there are platforms where you can find different types of influencers, but for the most part I'm finding that the.

Platforms are more specific to the more lifestyle influencers because there's so many of them as opposed to the more Niche ones. You really do have to search through hashtags. Okay, great. Yeah, I'm glad you mention. It's a great piece of advice and I know a lot of people may not really take advantage of that.

But the bottom line is when you searching for those hashtags and looking for posts of you know, like you said modern design people that are using those hashtags or people are typically. Intentional about the use of those hashtags. So you're correct. It is breathe really effective to try to find the right influencers because typically people that are using those specific hashtags there either influencers there promoting some other type of brand or some other industry or Niche and that's really a great way to do it for sure.

Now as far as becomes companies are concerned what are some typical incentives that Brands can offer. Influences really to motivate them to really just kind of go out of their way to promote because that's the bottom line you if you get an influencer you want to make it worth their while what is typical these days well depends on the size of Their audience if it's a small influencer like a nano influencer, you could probably just give them some free product and ask them to try it and ask them to please promote you and.

Not so hard as long as you have a budget for giving away free product somebody bigger like a micro influencer or Beyond they usually expect pay so you'll probably have to at least pay them to do the work because content creation is time-consuming for anybody who owns a Blog and have social media, you know, and if you're asking them to go above and beyond and create something specific for you and on top of that promote you.

You definitely do have to realize that you will have to pay if they have a bigger audience and then you can also work on some type of shared Revenue situation with them like an affiliate marketing steel or shared Revenue situation, but they will still expect pay Upfront for creating that content when you were mentioning that one of the things I was thinking as far as the incentives that you're going to be offering these influencers.

What's typical is far as getting the details in the particulars agreement down? Is it typical that these e-commerce companies are coming up with like a contract that specifically has terms it says. Based on x amount of referrals or each referral you're going to provide this is that standard or do Brands take it to that level as far as formalizing their relationship with these influencers?

What have you seen in your experience? Yes, all of my clients have contracts with their influencers. And if they're a nano influencer, somebody smaller usually it's just an email saying, you know, I'm going to send you this and this is what we expect you to do for us and then they'll say okay. So I mean somebody smaller you giving free products not a big deal, but if.

Paying them anything upwards of 500 to a thousand dollars per blog post or post or anything like that and you're working with 20 influencers at one time and you're creating a campaign and you have to answer to somebody within your company as to the results of it. Yes. I suggest you have a concrete contract where all the details are laid out with the expectations that you don't pay them until the work is done.

Yeah, that makes sense. Especially with those larger influencers that are used to promoting Brands and are really going to go out and expose your brand to tens and thousands or hundreds of thousands of people then yeah, you definitely want to have something solid because. That could be a lot of money exchanging hands there.

So yeah, you definitely want to get that detailed in a contract for sure. Now one of the think questions that I get a lot from businesses start up businesses and businesses that are looking to really kind of take their marketing up to the next level is because these days you can't really can't get around social media and so.

I'm always approached by the question of is social media right for me as far as marketing and promotion and is it right for all e-commerce brands or would you ever come across a case where you're just would say, you know just doesn't make sense for your particular brand but your take on it. I would say that if it's a highly consumable brand consumer-based friendly brand.

Yes, social media is the way to go because it's the least expensive way to expose your brand to a big audience through content. There's no cheaper way to do that. Google ads cost a lot of money and to create that content for the Glad cost money as opposed to if you're just creating something on social media and you pay for an ad through the social media platform.

That's the very low cost and people expect it to be. Just a social media organic post. So their expectations aren't as high as you know, you have a banner ad in it looks terrible. We didn't hire a graphic designer. You didn't hire a copywriter. So you have to consider all those costs when you're doing something.

So yes social media I think is great for a cpg brand for a business-to-business brand. Social media. I don't think is really most of the time that helpful unless you have an end-user eventually for your B2B client that will eventually have an end user but more than likely you could probably get away with just doing something on LinkedIn once in a while about the company that makes a lot of sense because I know a lot of times just some conversations that I've had with different business owners.

It's the thing where you see all of these companies doing it. You see all of these ads and it's like, okay. Should I be doing it is this right for me? It's kind of like the fomo the fear of missing out. They see all these other brands doing and they're saying okay I got to do it, but it may not be right Facebook may not be right for your brand and you don't want to waste money going down that route just.

You see all these other brands doing it. So yeah that makes a lot of sense that you really have to understand who you're who your customer is what your demographic is and where we're going to be found. You know, that's I think what it comes down to now there's the three main or three or four I guess you could say main social media platforms.

We've got the Facebook Instagram Twitter LinkedIn and there's a ton of other social media platforms that are up and coming in for different purposes. We have a Pinterest which is very effective for the visual side. Where to Instagram now if a particular brand is thinking about going down that particular route, what's your guess your advice as far as determining?

Which particular? Social network is right for them. You just have to decide where your demographic is. So if you have a visual brand your brand is really great in photos and you can get people excited and show them using the stuff definitely use Instagram. If it's photo-friendly, I would always go with Instagram and I would always go with Pinterest if it's photo-friendly if it's more, you know.

About emotions and helping you understand why it's useful for you or for your family. Then I would go with Facebook because you get to tell a story there. You have more time to tell a story histograms working on that but it's really about long-form. And so you're using Instagram you use the video format in the IG TV format, but Facebook gives you the ability to get it in front of a lot of people.

In a long form format and also you can write a lot more stuff in a post you can get it in front of the people. There's a lot of people on Facebook and you could tell that story and people are more patient on Facebook. They kind of go there just to hang out to see what everybody's doing but Instagram it's fast it just flipping through it.

And if your visuals aren't right nobody's going to come back right? I'm glad you mentioned that because you're so right. It's with Instagram just the way that it's structured. It's the endless Scroll, of course and you just going to keep flipping flipping flipping and if you don't have anything that's eye-catching.

This is going to go right by it. You're so right about that and it just really depends on your target audience. And then what do you what message are you trying to put out there for sure. That's something definitely been some often awesome advice. One other thing. I wanted to ask you with respect to social media and I had someone on several months ago that we talked a little bit about influencer marketing and.

All of these platforms with a stab chat the Instagram and these days there's a such focus on especially on Instagram. Do you see platforms like Instagram having some type of I guess point we're going to reach a pinnacle and eventually die off and then have another social media platform come up there to replace it or do you see something like that happen anytime soon what you're taking that kind of an analysis of the market.

I think Instagrams really smart and it's owned by Facebook. So I think the Facebook Instagram people are really really smart. I don't think Instagrams going away. There might be another one that might happen soon. But so far what I've seen is them adding tons of functionality and more and more things that you can do on their.

We're basically creating more product within Instagram that it's allowing you to do more and as they keep sucking you in your invested in it. My advice always is to make sure that you don't invest in one platform. I mean if I always say that even not just a company but even an influencer but companies especially, you know, you should be everywhere where you think your target audience is and.

If you have a demographic that's an age range of 25 to 45 or 25 to 55. Your audience could be in several different places. So don't invest in one because if it does go away then what are you going to do? You know, you should have a Blog. You should have something on Pinterest if you're cpg friendly.

You should have something on it Instagram. You should have something on Facebook for a different demographic. You know, we have three different groups that you're targeting to you should be spreading it out and your content should be different across right? Yeah, for sure. Yeah, one of the things that you really kind of nailed there that is really huge these days that people keep emphasizing marketing experts keep emphasizing is you have to have the omni-channel marketing approach where you've got a hit in all of these channels because just the way things are.

There's going to be people that are more, you know minimal to free quitting Facebook. There's others that are going to be more frequently going to LinkedIn and some of the other platforms at the same time. Yeah, that's social media. But you also have to consider your organic search results your organic search listings, even pay-per-click listing.

So you have to really get out there across all of these channels because these days there's it's not like when they need it first started where it was. Pre-2000. I guess you'd say mid 90s late 90s where things are. Just getting going. It was really just the internet. That was it. There wasn't too much else.

There's no social media networks or anything like that. You just had to have a web presence emails. We're just getting going so there's a lot less options but these days yeah, if you don't take the omni-channel approach, I think you're going to be leaving a lot of money on the table there and missed opportunities.

So yeah, that's also some great advice for sure now, I'm yes, is that a yeah. I really appreciate you coming on I love. Talking about influencer marketing and social media and these up-and-coming networks. It's really awesome to see how things have changed so quickly in such a short amount of time and you've brought a wealth of knowledge and information to our audience really appreciate it, but would like to do now is just kind of close things out with my final question.

I always ask my guest and that is what is one thing. Our audience will be surprised to know about you. That's a good question. I don't know. I think the one thing they would. Probably be surprised that they I don't know that maybe they wouldn't be surprised. I just would try any food at least one time.

So I nothing scares me. I will try any food. I don't know if that's even exciting or interesting. Yeah, definitely some people these days are very particular. I don't think I would fall in that camp myself. I think there's certain things that I would not eat. I know certain countries in six are Delicacies fry car approaches those types of things.

I don't think I could go. That right. I kissed your better person that I am so now I'll try it. I'll try anything. Once it got it got it. Well, that's awesome. I appreciate you sharing that and yeah, thanks again for coming onto the e-commerce marketing podcast. Now if any of our listeners want to get ahold of you, what is the best way for them to contact you?

They should probably go to Susanna at learn influencer marketing.com. Okay. Gotcha. This is that an ant learn influencer marketing that comments a great domain or listeners would definitely. Ping you if they want to learn more about influencer marketing and thank you again Susannah for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing podcast.

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Podcast Guest Info

Susana Yee
Founder of
Digital Everything Consulting