In this episode of Building Brand Advocacy, Paul is joined by Daisy Morris, Founder of The Selfhood. The queen of brands and community, Daisy drops a ton of invaluable insights as she shares a treasure trove of tactical nuggets. Discover the power of a strong creator or founder presence, delve into the distinction between an audience and a community and be enlightened by Daisy’s expertise and experience with notable brands like Ganni, Lazy Oaf, Glossier, Estrid and more.
Daisy Morris is a dynamic individual who wears many hats in the world of social media strategy, authorship, speaking engagements, and community content curation. Driven by a passionate desire to empower creatives and help them discover their unique voices on social platforms, she took the leap and established The Selfhood, which has become a go-to hub for a diverse clientele and collaborators, ranging from tech giants like Meta, Microsoft, and Adobe to mental health charities like Mind.
Paul: You said in your recent newsletter that you've got data that 90% of consumers don't trust influencers. What does that mean? Is that true? I mean, 90%? That's pretty crazy because I don't know what the budgets are in 2022, 2023, but a huge amount of that is going towards influencer marketing. So if only one in 10 people think that they trust it, let alone want to buy from it, this seems ridiculous.
Daisy: I was so shocked to read that. That was a study that was conducted recently. I think influencer marketing is going absolutely nowhere.
Paul: Have you ever wondered why some brands grow exponentially, building legions of passionate fans that live and die by their logos? And some, well, don't. I do all the time, and that's probably because I'm a massive brand nerd. I believe that there's a secret source at the core of every remarkable brand, a formula that sparks the growth of passionate communities of fans. And in this podcast, we're on a mission to uncover the first principles that any brand can apply to unlock that potential. This includes principles of brand building in a hyper-connected world, maintaining authenticity, and coordinating communities of advocates and fans to drive passion, awareness, community, and commerce. My name is Paul Archer, and I'm a specialist in brand advocacy. I've consulted for hundreds of brands on that topic. And in this podcast, I interview the greatest brand building minds and share my own learnings along with those of the incredible team of experts that I work with. We'll be translating the tactics, strategies, and actionable insights for brand builders to exacerbate their brand success. It's time to build brand advocacy. And today I'm incredibly excited to be joined by Daisy Morris, the social strategist, founder of The Selfhood, author, and speaker, and all-around community content guru. Daisy, welcome.
Daisy: Hello. Thank you so much for having me.
Paul: I want to just go straight into the action. Let's talk about community. What is a community and what's the difference between a community and an audience?
Daisy: For me, I think there's a big difference between an audience and a community. Something that is, I guess, one of my bug bears is when people describe their audience as a community. I think a lot of big brands will do this. They'll say, oh, it's for the community. It's like, do you have a community or do you have an audience? For me, an audience is a group of people who maybe follow you, subscribe to your channels, interact with you, but on a one-to-one basis. They may be engaged with your content, participate with your content, but on a very singular level, whereas a community is more engaged, I would say, than an audience. They're having conversations amongst each other. They're attending in-person events and they're advocating for you behind the scenes. They're the ones that are going to the pub on a Friday and raving about your products and meeting their in-laws and singing your praises. They're like your die-hard fans, followers, subscribers and customers, whereas an audience, they buy from you, but they're not super loyal to you. If your competitors are piquing their interests and they're cheaper or they have some kind of advantage, they're not going to stay loyal to you. We see this a lot with bigger brands. It sounds more compelling and, I guess, more friendly and human to say, look at our community or welcome to the community. I think it's harder to grow a community. I think for brands, especially, I think it's easier for creators to build a loyal and engaged community because they are humans. Therefore, their content is naturally more humanized. So for brands, when they call their audience a community, I'm kind of like, Let's be realistic here. Is it a community or is it an audience? That's how I would break that down.
Paul: So from the sounds of it, it sounds like community is a subsection of the audience. They're your super fans that you've got a larger audience and then a group of them are the ones that sort of turn up to various different things. Is that right?
Daisy: Yeah, that's what I would say. They're the ones who are more, I always say, I've just written a book called Community Is Your Currency. And within that I break down the community journey and phase one is you're lingering lenders. So they're the people on the sidelines that are maybe seeing their mates reshare your content or they've heard about you, they might peep on your content or your website, but they're not fully committed yet. And then you break them down into this journey and you take them to die hard denise's and die first to sign up to a new product drops. If you're announcing that you're doing an online event or an in-person event, they're there straight away. They're interacting with other people in the comments section. They're very loyal and committed to your brand and they're the ones that advocate for you. They're proud to be part of what it is that you're doing because I always think brands. And this isn't new, but especially now, brands become an extension of who we are as people. So the brands that we buy from, the people that we shop from, they are an extension of our own online personas. And I think social media especially has completely democratized the way that we engage with and create content. And everyone now has the opportunity to become a creator or an influencer. And I'm not saying that's everyone's end objective, but because there's so much more pressure on brands to be transparent and to live their values, that also reflects on us as consumers. And therefore, yeah, the brands that we engage with and that we buy from, they are an extension of us. So people want to interact with brands and be part of brands communities who have strong values and stand for things and advocate for that. I'm not saying that's everybody. You've still got people doing fast fashion hauls that don't necessarily care about the fact that the brand isn't eco-friendly or climate conscious, especially nowadays, I do think the pressure, not necessarily even the pressure, but the expectancy that the brands that we buy from are a reflection of us in a positive light has, yeah, birthed this need for brands to be fostering community because, Yeah, people typically remain more loyal to brands who make the effort to engage, connect and retain them there because it's a saturated market. People have to really put the graft in now.
Paul: If you start looking at brands, certain brands, they often have a founder, the cults of the founder. A lot of the brands we've named after them, you've got your Charlotte Tilbury's, your Monica Vinader's, et cetera. But you mentioned earlier that the idea of a creator is a lot easier for them. Do you think now that founder, creator, head of a brand, they're almost synonymous? And those are why those brands are so successful, because they're much more like a creator than they are like a company, which was the former pre-social model.
Daisy: Yeah, definitely. I think when you look at lots of the cult brands that we see now, so le FLEUR by Tyler, the creator, done so well because they've got a leader spearheading it essentially and they've got someone that the audience already connects with. You also feel this sense of loyalty because there's a real human that's driving it forward. We've seen big brands try to replicate that model like Pretty Little Thing brought on Molly Mae as Creative Director, Gymshark have also just brought on a fitness creator as Creative Director. So I think brands, you know, they can really see the power in having someone who's built their own community and understands what it takes to really help drive that forward. I would say so. I think what's interesting is something I've observed is that the creators who have their own brand, so like Matilda Djerf, for example, who has Djerf Avenue, her posts will always get much higher engagement than the brand posts. However, when you look at it from, and I hate the word funnel, but I'm going to use it for the purpose of this example, so much of her brand community will come from her original community that followed her journey, seeing all of the behind the scenes content and seeing how her personal journey into becoming a creator has given her the opportunity to birth something to her specific audience and community members. So I think it definitely helps. And I know that at Jewel, you guys are obviously super keen to humanize brands and help them create advocates for humanized strategies. And I think having a creator or a leader, like you at the forefront of that, helps people empathize more. I think it helps tell better stories as well, because we understand the journey of that brand through the founder and storytelling elicits oxytocin in our brain, which literally helps us empathize, connect, create social bonding. So I think, yeah, it not only humanizes the brand, but it really delivers on that story, which in a world we're flooded by content all the time. And so many brands create cookie cutter content, they're using the same tone of voice, the same captions, regurgitating the same content, but you can't replicate a person, you can't replicate a personality. And I think that really helps. Having a strong creator or a founder presence through a brand, no one can replicate that journey, no one can replicate that person. And it just ultimately helps us create closer bonds with that brand.
Paul: I think a lot of people in the world of brand building have a bit of a problem with the world community. I always find it to be incredibly ill-defined and generally incorrectly used by most people. And actually we've talked about a lot of different things here. We talked about social bonding, social engagements. We talked about on-tense that's been pushed out. We're talking about a sense of belonging. When you say community and when you reference the denise's who are so dedicated to that brand that they'll buy anything. Do you think when it comes to community they have to communicate with other fans, other super fans? Can you have a one-to-one relationship with a brand and that can still be a community?
Daisy: Absolutely. And I actually think when you look at brands like Ganni, for example, who are a Copenhagen fashion brand. There's just this unspoken thing that you are in that community. A Ganni girl knows a Ganni girl. You see a girl wearing Ganni and it's like you instantly have this unspoken wink as if, okay, we're on the same wavelength, we share the same values. But I think what they do so well is they create for their community and their advocates in mind. So their products are designed so that the girl who's cycling to work can still go for drinks and feel good in her clothes. And that's the premise and the ethos that style is so versatile in that you can experiment in their clothes and you're not confined to this one aesthetic. It's very playful, it's very different. But I think they've created this, they have created a community because it's this unspoken thing. You see a girl in Ganni and it's like we could probably be friends. And that's so deeply rooted in the way that they talk, the way that they are, the way that they show up. So I do think absolutely brands can create community without having to have that interaction and dialogue. But I think that dialogue isn't always like I said, like with the Ganni girl effect, it's that I could look at a Ganni girl and think, yeah, we could be friends. So it's not necessarily about people always chatting in the comments or people having brand engagement on their channels, it's more so I could walk into the pub, lose, see a Ganni girl and say, oh my gosh, is that the new Ganni dress? And that's the ripple effect and interaction that they've created among their community. So yeah, I don't think it needs to necessarily be as black and white as we get people talking to each other in the TikTok comments or it's about how you create that conversation outside of social as well. So like, when you see someone else with a chilly bottle, it's like you kind of gauge who they are and what their values are. And even like people on line bikes, I'm like, oh, I can probably like gauge a bit about your lifestyle and who you are. And it's about, I think, aligning with. your community's values and your values. And I think that will automatically create that ripple effect and interaction amongst your community. But yeah, absolutely. It doesn't need to be people talking in the comment sections on social.
Paul: What is it that makes that a community versus just a really engaged audience? If you think about it, you've got like this super fan who is buying Ganni and is passionate about it and it's because of what it says about them as a person. As with every purchase that we make as a brand, it's a selfish sort of need to portray something to the world, unless you're buying something purely for its uh, its utility, particularly when it's talking about fashion, it is all about what you are portraying of who you are. Other people can identify you, your tribe, your, your type of person, whether you, you know, if you lift you, you wear Gymshark, you know, if you're stylish, you're wearing Ganni and that type of person, but where does just sort of audience and then really close audience and fans and super fandoms stop and start to become community?
Daisy: I think it comes down to that loyalty piece and also that wanting to advocate. So I'm a passive audience member to lots of brands in that I follow their content. I've bought from them repeatedly, but I'm less likely to shout about the facts that I've bought about that brand because quite frankly, they haven't done their job in nurturing me. They haven't done their job in creating a brand that I feel deeply affiliated with and connected with on a personal level. Whereas the brands that I feel I am a community member for and from observation, the brands that I've worked with that have communities. they're really good at really, really knowing their customers, really knowing their audience. And this sounds really like basic stuff, but brands who actually just go and speak to their community and understand exactly what they want, where they're at in their life, what they care about, what they don't care about, what they're passionate about, what they stand for. And I was on a panel and they were talking about, they used to manage all of the top Facebook group communities in Meta and help them build community building strategies. And I asked the question, how do you really differentiate an audience in a community, especially at scale? So we're talking about Facebook groups of like millions, hundreds of thousands of followers. I was like, what tools would you use to really gauge the sentiment and the tone of what people are speaking about and an actual community? And he was like, whether you've got a hundred people or a hundred thousand, the best way is to go and speak to them and actually have conversations with them and actually have dialogue with them, whether that's through Facebook groups or intimate spaces. So WhatsApp groups, Slack channels, for example. And so I think the difference between, yeah, an audience and a community is the brands who really fully understand their community inside out. So are you familiar with the Instagram page, Housewives of Lower Clapton?
Paul: know, but I like the sound of it. I lived in lower Clapton, 10 years ago when it was pretty rough and up and coming, but I never really met any housewives. I was mainly just scared for my life.
Daisy: It's like a joke parody account of people who live in Clapton and it takes the mick out of East London lifestyle and it's so hyper-niche. They've got like 60k followers or whatever. That's what I'd consider not a brand community but a community online because they know that audience inside out. They have people sending them screen grabs of conversations that they're having with their friends that allude to the housewives of Clapton. People sent their hinge profile prompts to I'm looking for housewives of lower Clapton. They've got such a core community of advocates who rate their content, share it, their engagement rates through the roof. But it's because they know that audience so well and they've nurtured that into a community where people participate, they share funny things that they've overheard in cafes because they just understand it. They really, really understand the people that they're trying to magnetize and the people that they're trying to communicate with. And I think that's the difference. There's a lot of big brands who create the content they think people want to see, and they'll create cookie-cutter content of what's expected. But actually, when you look at Meister, it's another great example of a brand who I love for community content. They do lots of in-person events at their East London studio where they get people who really align with the brand's values down to talk about things that their audience cares about. They share the behind the scenes of their product collections, but in a really, really Meister way, it's quite funny. It's very creative. It's not what we typically see from fashion brands. And again, they've got this kind of not too dissimilar to the Ganni girl effect. If you see someone in Meister, it's like, ah, you're wearing Meister. Whereas like ASOS, for example, it's not likely that you go up to someone in the pub and be like, ah, there are those ASOS boots amongst the 10,000 million other ones. Yeah, I think it's the advocacy that you create that comes with a community, whereas an audience, not so much. People aren't as willing to advocate when they're a passive part of an audience.
Paul: That makes sense. So if you're studying about loyalty and people's being incredibly fickle, today, the protection fans are all over the place, so you buy from many different brands, but you're only a part of the community for some. For those that you are a part of the community for, or potentially some that you've worked with, what is it that they do that has earned that unbelievable loyalty? That means you've been brought so close to the brands that you are then identifying, oh, that's organic hair.
Daisy: I worked with a brand called Lazy Oaf. They have by far the most engaged communities. They have people who have Lazy Oaf tattoos on them. They literally have the brand logo designs on them. There was one woman who had every single collection, the archives in her house, and they actually spotlighted them on a blog. But I think Lazy Oaf have done that because they have been so genuine to their brand. They've been going 20 years, but they have never followed trends. They've never just jumped on things because it's in right now. And I think their community, the diehard community, and I was running their socials. I did their strategy around their socials and also worked on their community management. And they get hundreds of messages every single day. And so many of those messages are like, your brand changed my life. Your brand allowed me to be myself. Your brand allowed me to show people who I really was because it's not only their designs that are so creative, but their whole brand ethos is around creativity. And the founder always said, I wanted to create something for the weirdoes to connect and feel part of something. And when you look at their content and even their events, It's all about that. It's non-performative inclusivity because it's so deeply rooted in their brand. And I think. That loyalty and that respect comes from brands who will never shy away from who they are at their absolute core. We see lots of brands partaking trends and partaking in things that are maybe trending online because they think will gain them visibility or their awareness. Don't get me wrong, partaking in a TikTok trend and participating in a TikTok trend can be great for your brand and it can show people that you're culturally and socially relevant and that you've got your finger on the pulse. But, I think sometimes we see brands go completely off brand in a bid to appear cool and reach audiences without even really thinking about, does this actually align with us? Is this actually what our community wants to see? So it's really hard and I feel for brands, especially right now, it can be really difficult to showcase and communicate your values without being performative. But that's something that I've seen Lazy Oaf do for such a long time. They even have this thing called the Oathworld blog where they work with up and coming creatives to showcase their talents and spotlight them. They've got a huge reach and a huge following, but they will only collaborate with people who are super aligned with their brand. Sometimes the artists that they collaborate with on collections don't have a huge following at all. It's quite often the opposite. But they've got such a strong link and synergy with Lazy Oaf that the people that they work with and their community can really see that you're just trying to amplify voices who align with yours. They often do creative events at their studio spaces with musicians and artists. The whole brand is just so, so them. And I've worked with other fashion brands who will say, oh, I saw you act at Lazy Oaf, we want to do something similar. And it's like, it's great, but you can't replicate that brand. It is so, so deeply rooted in who they are. But a lot of that comes from their founder. Their founder is so involved at all levels. They often do Q&As and they often do talks with the founder about where the collection comes from and where the inspiration comes from. It's always like super niche, random, creative inspiration that they draw from, but it always makes sense somehow. It always comes back to the core and the essence of what Lazy Oaf is. And I think, yeah, all the brands I've worked with they definitely have the most loyal and engaged community and do sample sales and there will be hours and hours and hours long queues of people waiting to get in because they just want to feel part of the brand. They get so many organic tags and so many people advocating for them, big influencers as well who aren't paid because they want to be in with the brand. And I think that for me is, yeah, when you've got people getting tattoos of your brand on you and just DMing you to say you've changed my life and made me feel part of something and allowed me to express myself, that is for me, I think that's phenomenal. It's amazing.
Paul: Hey, it's me again. This podcast is sponsored by Duel, which is my company actually. Duel is the leading Brand Advocacy Platform used by the top retail consumer brands, including Unilever, Charlotte Tilbury, ELEMIS, Loop and about 50 more, to manage, measure and scale their advocacy, member, affiliate, creator and brand ambassador operations. The platform offers unparalleled scale for complex brands by automating 9 out of 10 of the standard advocacy management activities and allowing them to focus on arming their advocates with the right tools to tell the brand story and drive social commerce. They can grow faster for less. We only work with 15% or so of the brands we speak to, but we try and add value in many other ways, this podcast being one of them. So if you are a brand that's interested in this, maybe a large consumer retail brand, ideally you're doing 20, $30 million as a minimum and you're pretty advanced on social and you need to know what the next stage is, then please get in touch. Email me email@example.com. That is P-A-U-L at D-U-E-L dot T-E-C-H or Google duel.tech. So if you're thinking about that for every Lazy Oaf, so for every supreme, there's, there's going to be a hundred, a thousand other brands. I don't know if you think about the vast majority of marketers don't get to work for one of those exceptional brands that people just fall over themselves to try and buy stuff from, they've got to actually go out and hustle for it. So at the core of what you were saying, it sounds like, I mean, authenticity is the most important thing, but unless you were born from a place of pure authenticity and in that hype and everything around it, you often got to build on it from somewhere else. Influences, people are leaning into a world of paid influences where you can use a search engine and find someone and pay them to tend to like your brand for that moment and rent the space on their socials for a bit. Like how can a marketer or a brand building that doesn't start from that core gets some of that glory. So understand that they can actually grow their brand in a similar methodology, but they don't have the purity at the core of the brand.
Daisy: I think a brand I love to reference when conversations like this come up is Monzo. So it's finance banking. It's not particularly sexy. It's not like fashion or beauty, which is slightly more attractive and easier sell. But I didn't need the spare bank card, but I wanted it because everybody else had it. And everyone was telling me, have you heard of Monzo? You need to get this. And again, I think it comes back to what I mentioned earlier. They fully understood their audience. They fully understood what those people needed at the time. And they built a product around that. But if it's still quite a difficult sell, when you think about it, finance, it's not as interesting as other sectors. But when you look at their social media and their content strategy, it's really, fully relatable. And again, it comes back to that values piece. Like they're not trying to overly sell their products. They provide so much value through their content, but also they'll create funny memes about overspending on delivery and going to the pub and being out of budget, which like, let's not sugarcoat it. Most of us are doing and most of their Gen Z Millennial audience, they have every intention to put funds into their house deposit at the end of the month and they go to a festival and they blow it and they're not naive to that. So again, I think it's that piece around while you may not have authenticity at your core when you start, it's about really knowing what people want and who you're trying to magnetize and how they live and what they value. And then how can you create content around that? And also knowing like, what do I want to be known for? And quite often when I ask people this, what do you want to be known for? Oh, I don't know. Work backwards. What don't you want to be known for? Like what words don't you want associated with your brand? And another exercise I love people to do is like if your brand was space, like a musical space, how would you want people to feel in that space? Would you serve food? Would you serve music? People will be talking. If so, what are they talking about? What kind of conversations are they having? And that helps you really understand what kind of experience you want to leverage online and what kind of experience you want to create online. And then once you're really clear on how you want people to feel. you can start to create the content that feeds into that. So if it's like, I want to create a space where people feel really inspired and they're talking about X, Y, Zed, you know that aspirational and inspirational content is probably what you need to create. If you want people to be having a great time and laughing and learning at the same time, then educational content that's maybe slightly more funny and engaging is at the heart of what you do. If you want people to feel hyper-focused and ready to commit to something, and it is okay to have multiple feelings that are happening in this space and multiple conversations, but I think when you're first starting and you maybe don't know what your brand is and you maybe don't have, yes, some super creative founder at the forefront of it, it's about really just understanding what do you want people to experience as a result and what do you want people to feel as a result of experiencing and consuming your content and what kind of things are the people that you're trying to attract care about. And as I said a few times now, if you don't know that answer that question, that's absolutely fine, but go and talk to them. Go and have those conversations. I still now, for my own community, I host focus groups regularly every quarter where I'll get 10 people on a call, I'll ask them loads of questions about social media, and in exchange for their time, I'll give them my time where they can ask me anything about their brand or business, essentially free consultancy, but it's really important to me that I know the people who follow me, what they're struggling with, what they wanna see more of, what they're enjoying online, what they're not enjoying, all of those things. And I always get so much fuel and insight from those conversations because, data is amazing and gives us lots of insight in many, many ways. And that's not to say that you should substitute focus groups for all of the other amazing data that is available out there, but there's something really special about understanding people's emotions and sentiment behind how they're feeling. So I think as well as looking at the data and the insight and the analytics available through the tech that you're using, also just having conversations with people and asking the question about how they really feel and think about your industry and your product is so, so powerful as well.
Paul: I completely agree. Anyone who listens to this regularly will hear me bang on about it. I can hear that people need to just pick up a phone and call their customers. After someone's bought a product, why did you buy it? Is this your first time? People have you told, who told you about it? And you can start to map an attribution model. If you have 10 conversations, you hear the same thing seven times. I guarantee you that's a better attribution than any of your Google Analytics. And I think one of the dangers that people have is that most people don't quite understand how to read data in a really truly meaningful way when it comes to true attribution and it's often more dangerous that having a little bit of knowledge and using that to hit people with a head with, then it is actually spending a bit of time in the world of the qualitative, having conversations, making gut shots. I mean, if you have a hundred conversations and your gut tells you to do something, that's not just coming from nowhere. That's coming from a hundred different conversations and thousands of different data sets, that data points that you are internalizing and making decisions and calls based on. And so few people have those and it's easy and yeah, it's also quite nice. You know, most of the time people are telling you that they love what you do, which is why they've just bought it. So it's always good for the ego and worst case scenario, they give you feedback. You can make it better. You can make sure that no one has that repeat experience. So there's just nothing to lose. And so few people, particularly founders do it. They're always too important to spend time with their customers.
Daisy: I completely, completely agree. And I think, exactly as you said, also, if you don't get great feedback, it's a great opportunity to implement it. And I think that's another great, when we look at brands who have really loyal and engaged advocates, they're constantly looking for that feedback loop and they actually genuinely want to know how they can improve. And a really good example I love is the IKEA co-creation lab, where they'll get customers in. So if they're trying to build desks for students, they'll get the students involved in that product creation and they'll say, what are your study hours? How do you like to work? And they'll physically build products based off the back of that. And they have a whole co-creation lab dedicated to that. But that's to me just, that tells me that you are creating products fully with your customers in mind. It's not just, oh, this sold really well before, let's create a new It's like collaboration is at the heart of what you do. And that for me is like, yeah, it's a super authentic product process.
Paul: In addition to that, every one of us are creators in some way, shape or form. The idea of each one of those customers, they will go off and they'll create content themselves. They will tell people. They'll be even WhatsApp-ing people and groups of friends, family, whatever it is. So they're always your biggest source of creators. This idea of hating big influencers when you haven't completely mined your own existing fan base, your audience, your community, if you will. But you said in your recent newsletter that you've got data that 90% of consumers don't trust influencers. What does that mean? Is that true? I mean, 90%? That's pretty crazy because I don't know what the budgets are in 2022, 2023, but a huge amount of that is going towards influencer marketing. And so if only one in 10 people think that they trust it, let alone want to buy from it, this seems ridiculous.
Daisy: Yeah, I was so shocked to read that. That was a study that was conducted recently. And I think influencer marketing is going absolutely nowhere. And I spoke on the panel earlier this week and Portugal's biggest TikToker was also speaking at the event. And he introduced himself as an influencer and he's like, but I actually hate that word. I think it's a horrible word, but that's the best way to describe it. So I think even influencers are now aware of the fact that the term influencer isn't as appealing as it used to be because there's negative connotations that come with it. I think historically, influencers have been, the term influencer has changed quite a lot over the years. For me, the way that I see it is an influencer is someone who purely survives off brands sending them products for them to promote through their channels and recommend. Whereas a creator is somebody who maybe has a side hustle, a business, or some kind of passion, and they work with brands alongside that passion to promote and sell products. In my opinion, people are far more likely to be and feel committed to a creator's recommendation because it's not the only way that they're making their money. Whereas someone who is just constantly pumping out hashtag ad, hashtag ad, they're being paid to do that all of the time. User generated content, again, I think that is in a way a form of influencer marketing. It kind of sits under that umbrella, but we're more likely to trust normal people than we are influencers now. That's an observation that I've definitely seen over the last few years is that, yeah, this idea of hashtag ad all of the time, it's becoming a bit fatigued. We see up to 10,000 ads a day, be that on the tube or on our phones or when we're out and about. We've become so used to seeing that as consumers, we've woken up to the fact that we're being advertised to constantly. While, yes, I agree, influencer marketing is categorically not going anywhere. I think it's about how brands can use. influencers, creators, and everyday people as well as advocates and how we can do that in a more of an authentic way and use products placement in less of a look at this great products and create more compelling stories when it comes to brands and give people. And again, I think as this conversation we've spoken about, if your brand is appealing and attractive enough anyway, and you've got really strong brand story and values, people will naturally do that anyway. But yeah, I think the traditional form of influencer marketing that we're seeing, I think that's starting to die out. And we already saw that with the de-influencing trend that happened a few months ago that was trending on TikTok off the back of a big beauty press trip. Everyone was kind of like in turmoil about that. And another influencer with a huge platform was promoting, I think it was mascara, but she had fake eyelashes on and it opened up this whole kind of worms and conversation and debate around, can we even trust our favorite creators anymore, influencers anymore, because they're not being truthful. So I think it's a really, really interesting topic, but I don't think influencer marketing is going anywhere. I think it's about creating more aligned and strategic relationships and also looking at micro influencers. and not just massive or micro-creatives and not just looking at massive influencers with huge followings because that's not always as powerful as working with smaller or micro-influencers who have really, really, really engaged fans and followers.
Paul: Agree on that. And we did some research recently with a number of brands we spoke to and the general vibe was the same in that term influencer, particularly influencer marketing and that kind of methodology of paying someone to pretend to like you even though they've got fake eyelashes, promoting mascara. There was no desire to do that. But actually the language was really interesting and a few of the terms that you mentioned there actually are almost ripe for being completely repurposed because they've just been completely misunderstood in terms of the nature of an influencer, I think, is everyone. Every single person, someone who is an influencer is someone who can influence a person to do We're in marketing, right? So that means buying something. So if you can influence someone, your mom, your best mate or a million people, you're an influencer of sorts. But this kind of idea of an influencer is this high echelon of someone who's got these huge audiences. And then the idea of a creator was then just used as a synonym because a lot of the influencer marketing platforms were getting backlash and so they innovated and started calling themselves creator platforms. But actually what's more important, as you mentioned there, is that the idea of a nano-creator, a macro-creator, a micro-creator, the size of a creator's reach is the measurement. The idea of being a creator is anyone who is creating on content. The thing that I found that really fascinating is, particularly with the work with brands in the US where I think this is a bit more mature, is that the idea of affiliates versus the idea of creators and particularly the idea of brand ambassadors. So anyone who is an ambassador who, if you think about it, you're an ambassador, you for a country. That is when the brand says, yes, you can represent me. And then there are like an under bed of tons of affiliates, people who aren't official representatives but are able to earn for recommending to different people. And that then opens up a whole can of worms, whether they're a creator, an influencer, is then running in parallel to that. So it's starting to get much more complex as the industry really kicks back at the original, the V1 of it with influencer marketing and tries to reform it into something which is actually meaningful brand building. It's authentic. As you mentioned, it's about tackling customers. And I'm quite excited to see where that will go. But I'm pretty sure the influencer platforms are probably going to taint the water every day. They all start talking about advocacy now. And the idea of that is just completely ridiculous when they're not true fans of a brand either. So the next year is going to be interesting purely from a language perspective, if not for everything else.
Daisy: Yeah, I completely agree. And actually, I think those more longer term and ambassador partnerships, they feel far more real and they feel far more authentic to me. Like, I'm an Adobe Insider and I'm one of 14 in the UK and we have an ongoing partnership and I'm by far the smallest. Like, I don't have a huge following myself whatsoever. Like, they could have worked with. people with hundreds of thousands of followers. So it's obviously extremely flattered, but also I've been using Adobe for 15 years, and I used to share tutorials organically with my audience before I even had a partnership with them. And I think I always get quite good engagement and support on my paid for posts because I was doing that anyway, and I was sharing that content before anyway, so it felt like more of a genuine partnership, but I'm also keen to work with them on a long-term level because I want to ensure that that brand partnership does add value and that the content I do share can be implemented by my audience. So it's not just a one-off random ad, but I think the idea of ambassadors in terms of longevity and in terms of creating more natural, authentic stories for creators and their audience, I think that reigns over just a random hashtag ad, here's a brand that I probably wouldn't buy from and you will know it anyway. Yeah, I agree, I think that's the future, just real genuine advocacy. And also by just real normal, average people, brands used to dictate trends, but now that everyday consumers does, and I think with that in mind, it's so important that brands leverage just everyday people.
Paul: It's going to be impossible for a brand to stay current on whatever the trend is. And so if they're desperately like paddling to try and keep up, but actually if you're relying on an army of customers to tell you a brand story for it, they're going to tell it in the modern trend way, particularly if you look at it at TikTok and things like that. So you kind of can outsource the stress. Everyone's like, all these social media is losing hair over and be like, why don't you just get them to do it for you? But I mean, you walk the walk as well. Right. So it's not just that you're coming in and advising brands. You have a community of your own with almost 20,000 people in it of marketers. How is it that you went about building that from the beginning? And what is it do you think that makes you different to the thousands of other people who are trying to build audiences within your space, your niche?
Daisy: My community started by accident, to be honest, which I think a lot of creators with communities would agree with, that I never set out to be a community builder. It just kind of just happened mainly because I started what I was doing around the time of the pandemic and my whole pipeline shriveled up quite quickly and I had no presence online. And I also had friends who were starting businesses off the back of being furloughed or laid off because of the pandemic. So I just started sharing tips online because I had time and it was what I was passionate about and what I loved. And it was funny to start with, I created a brand that was super corporate, felt very sleek and professional, and I soon quite quickly realized that's actually not me. Like my whole ethos is around making URL as human as IRL. I like to talk in a conversational tone. I dress quite vibrant and colorful. Although I'm in grade today, it's not my usual uniform. So I started to create content that just really embodied how I talk and how I am as a person. And I've always been really honest about my journey. I've failed on many, many things. I've had a few challenges along the way and always like never from the lens of like, oh, feel sorry for me. Just like, please learn from this. Like this is what I've experienced. This is what I learned off the back of it. So I think for anyone looking to grow a community, that transparency piece is really important. Again, without doing it in a performative way as well, and just being mindful, like don't create for likes, always, always, always do it to serve your audience and give and give and give. Like I've always just. especially in the beginning, just gave as much as I could. I didn't gatekeep any content. I was always really happy to share my process and the things I was up to and how I won clients, how I gave away so much free training. I still do free workshops now. I do lots of events where I actually meet my community in person. And I think, yeah, it's that, I hate saying add value because it's such an overused term in marketing. And I think it's quite ambiguous as well. But I think it goes for brands and creators when you're looking to build a community, like you have to just give and give and give and give. We live in a world just filled with content. And I think because of AI, like that's going to accelerate more and more and more. And I think the way that brands will really stand out online is to have that advocacy that comes from real people, but also have a really clear and strong story and really know who they are. And I think I've always, yeah, been forthcoming about my personal story, my personal journey. I've always tried to stay as true as I can to my brand and just given as much as I can, given the capacity and resource that I have, I've always just tried to make sure that I'm teaching people and learning. So I think that value piece is really important, especially in the early days and just keeping people involved. And I'm always really impressed. I'll never forget, like Glossier, one of the biggest brands in the US and the UK, well, globally. And I've always been an advocate for them. And I always mentioned two examples, actually. I went to their pop-up shop in London one year and they've got millions of followers and I tagged them in a story. And I'm not used to the fact that the response to my tagging of story was probably from a bot, but they replied to my Instagram story and said, like, oh, we're so glad you enjoyed the pop-up. We love Ariel. And I was like, oh, that's so nice that a brand of that scale was actually working on their community management and actually taking the time to interact and respond. And then another example was Estrid, which is a razor brand for women. They posted a series of quite therapeutic videos of just like jelly being cut in half, you know, those kind of like really immersive content that we see from brands. Yeah, super addictive. And they just posted a carousel dump of that and a creator commented saying, what are you doing with all the spare bits, meaning the jelly? And I replied, like, putting it in carbonara, just like, just random interaction. But then they actually screenshotted the comments, put it on their stories and said, you've both made, I'd say, check your DMs. And they sent me a care pack, like out of the blue with loads of products, just engaging and participating and having fun with their content. And I always reference that because that surprise and delight, I buy their products consistently now, by the way, like, and I think there's that conversation around like, oh, does gifting actually work? For me, it did because I was like, I want to be part of something that actually champions not just my purchases, but also my engagement with you. So I think in addition to all of the stuff that I spoke about, community management is so key and making time for that is so slept on. And so many brands are thriving on TikTok, just been known for interacting in the comments and participating with other brands and challenging other brands. Like you look at prime example, Aldi and M&S, like Aldi's constantly roasting M&S, but people like to see that because it's like, oh, they're being social. Like they're actually interacting and engaging and having fun in conversations and their Twitter threads are just filled with people who are actually engaging with them and they reply back. And I think you're more likely to engage with a brand that you know you're likely to get a response from than one that's just ignoring all of their comments. So I think, yeah, prioritizing community management and putting time into community management is also so unbelievably key.
Paul: How do you build those connections? Like when you think about the, when you're doing community management, that's about building and nurturing those relationships and the connections with people. What does your day look like when you go about doing that?
Daisy: It's ensuring that there's something to participate in. Like I was, I posted a video yesterday, it was actually about community management and taking the time to go and communicate and engage with people. And someone commented and it was like, she said, also about giving something, it's also about giving people something to engage with. Like quite often brands would just post the mood board with absolutely zero incentive to participate in it. And by incentive, I mean like, that can be as simple as a call to action. Like, what do you prefer, slide one or two, or like which one resonates the most? Because so often we're on autopilot when we're scrolling. We don't even think about engaging because we've not been given. we've not been given a prompt to. So the thing is about ensuring that there's opportunity for people to engage with you by asking lots of questions, even using the guy I was speaking about earlier, the ex-meta guy who gave a talk at the event that I was at earlier this week, he was like, people really sit on the power of polls and quizzes and using that data to really inform their own content and brands will do like a weekly roundup like this or that on their Instagram stories, but it's like, they're ambiguous and they're quite vague when it comes to what they're actually asking. Whereas I'd love to see brands ask more intimate and more in-depth questions and use that to fuel their interactions. So I think asking questions, not just in call to actions, but also using like the different tools available through stories. And then I think actually like go and look through your tags content, go and observe what your community looks like, where they're going, where they're hanging out. I think there's so much power in collaborations now and brands partnering with other brands and tapping into other communities and really using that as an avenue to reach new people that you might not have reached before. But I think the best way to have conversations is to encourage them, but also to go and participate in them. Like I've seen so many dating related brands on TikTok, like there's such a huge trend of people sharing like worst fun state stories on TikToks and like on TikToks. All these brands are getting involved, like just sharing really funny content. Like they're not even asking people to go and sign up to their app or like to download their whatever. Like they're literally just participating in conversation. And I think, again, that's so important for brands now when they're building cultural currencies to not just be selling and be part of the conversation naturally. And I would also say like, if you do want to start using platforms like TikTok, like Instagram to have these conversations, but you're not sure how hire the people you're trying to reach, like work with Gen Z creators, get them to consult for you, get them in, get them to advise, like hire the talent you are trying to attract within your own community. Because I'm a millennial and I have a freelancer who works for me. She is Gen Z through and through and through. She speaks their language. She says things I don't understand. I try and understand it, but I'm not that audience. So she does the community management for the brands with younger audiences, because it's inauthentic for me to do that. And I think that's also really important when you're trying to engage in conversation and to actually keep the conversation open, but also get the people who are participating in those conversations to lead those interactions as well.
Paul: Love that. And it's so often it's just like given to the intern and not prioritized in any way. But actually it's probably your biggest mouthpiece to your audience. And so many people underutilize that. I realize that we have been chatting away here and have an amazing conversation. And we've gone way over time. I wanted to say a massive thank you for making the time for this. And anyone who is listening constantly, I have, there is a nine week old, blue the nine week old. who has been on camera trying to salute hardest to distract us on this conversation.
Daisy: Very cute though. Very, very cute.
Paul: He'll make an appearance, I'm sure, on there. Just a final thing then, so from you, in terms of what, how would you summarize, in terms of what social media is and social commerce is doing? Like, what are the three biggest trends you're seeing or tips that you think people need to lean into? Going into the kind of halfway through 23 now, we've got another half of 2023 into 2024, what should people be thinking?
Daisy: The first thing is to not just rely on the platforms. Social media is great and it's, serves so many purposes and it's great for all the things we've spoken about today, fueling interactions, brand awareness, driving people to your website. But actually, it's no secret that advertising is getting harder because of, like I said, AI. We're about to see so much content. So reaching people, it's going to become more and more competitive. So I would advise everyone to create intimate spaces and whether that is WhatsApp communities or email, getting people onto your growing email list and prioritizing data capture. Create spaces where you can reach people outside of just the mainstream and use your apps that we see.
Paul: There's an opportunity there because the majority of all this AI content is going to be average. The AI is just a summary of the internet. Most people are pretty average. That is the definition of average.
Daisy: I got you.
Paul: John. So it's actually going to be easy for someone to cut through. You just have to be better than an AI and you just have to care a bit more. And like you're saying, if you have that kind of direct relationship, that area, you can have a conversation with a person that's outside of that social media platform, you're going to be able to be better than an AI anyway. So the bars probably be going lower in a good way for those who want to dig a bit deeper.
Daisy: Yeah, completely agree. And that's the thing, you know, one thing that AI cannot replicate is real stories. And that's what you do have to your advantage as a business as well. So I think in addition to creating those intimate spaces, getting really clear on your story and the stories that you want to tell and so much opportunity to do that through content, something that I love to see. And I think all brands should be looking to think about is what's that content series? What's that content that you're known for? Like there's so many studies out there. The neuroscience evidence that backs the fact we love Netflix, we love podcasts for their repetition. How can you get clear on your story and develop a series that you become known for in your space? I think consumers of content and brands in general love to see that. And then finally, I think as we've spoken about today in quite a lot of detail, but I hate to agree with what you're saying around building advocacy in a way that feels aligned and not just relying on huge influences to tell your story. There's so much power in real people. We see at the moment, I think it's fascinating to observe all these Vox tops that people are doing when they just interview real people on the street. They get such high engagement because we care about what average people who look and live like us think. And I think we'll often think that big, shiny, glossy celebrities and influencers absolutely have their space. Like they absolutely serve a purpose. And there's many benefits. I'm not saying that, you know, you need to ditch influences and celebrities altogether because they definitely help with brand perception and credibility when it comes to campaigns and things like that. But I also think as trust starts to decline ever so slightly amongst, well, not even ever so slightly, rapidly amongst traditional influencer marketing. How can you start to use, yeah, real people to tell your brand story? And how can you start to, yeah, just broaden the advocates that you have outside of the traditional means that we're used to seeing? So, yeah, I think they're my my kind of key three things is look to intimate spaces, develop a series and get really clear on your story so that you become known for something in your space and differentiate yourself amongst your competition, but then also broaden your advocates and yeah, experiment with different types of creatives and people and give people a reason to engage and advocate for you as well.
Paul: That's been amazing. Daisy Morris from The Selfhood. That's been incredible. We will connect to all your various different socials and links and where they can find you in the show notes. But thank you so much for your time. It's been absolutely fascinating. I've loved having you on, but I can't thank you anymore.
Daisy: Thank you so much. It was great to speak to you.
Paul: That was another episode of Building Brand Advocacy, the world's top brand building podcast. To find out more about Building Brand Advocacy and how this podcast is part of a bigger plan for our Brand Building Cookbook, then make sure to search for Building Brand Advocacy in Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, or anywhere else that podcasts are fine. And make sure that you click subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. Thanks to Jule for sponsoring. To find out more, go to www.duel.tech, that's D-U-E-L dot T-E-C-H. And on behalf of the team here at Building Brand Advocacy, thanks for listening.
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