If we could inspire a movement, it would be knowing when to put your lives public and when to keep them private. Social Media turned us into these content monsters who feed off of likes, feedback, encouragement, feedback with a need to overshare. The truth is, not everything that happens in life needs to be shared — even if it does make you seem “relatable” or “authentic”. We’ve turned into a generation fueled on social currency and the fallacy that over-over-sharing makes us more human. In fact, it makes us more narcissistic. As 2 people deep in this industry, we relish in the moments of keeping parts of our life private and offline. If we really want to tell someone about it, we’ll grab dinner IRL or maybe FaceTime (does that count?)
I had the pleasure to interview Stacie Brockman and Erin Kleinberg. Stacie Brockman is the co-founder of Métier Creative, a creative branding and advertising agency guiding luxury fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands into the social-first and digital world. She is an innovator, writer and brand strategist, known for always thinking big picture and figuring out how to connect the dots. Within Métier, Stacie primarily focuses on overseeing the Editorial, Strategy and Community Management department, while maintaining the day-to-day client relationships with Erin.
Brockman has worked at the forefront of digital marketing and advertising for most of her career and her areas of expertise includes, editorial, advertorial, digital, social , partnerships and programs. Her understanding of content and community is leading the change of how today’s brands look at communication, from advertising, packaging, social media and influencer marketing. Building new brands and revamping the old ones is her expertise, having worked with worked with an extensive client roster that included LVMH Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, V Magazine, CR Fashion Book, L’Oreal and Hain Celestial while at previous advertising agencies. Prior to the ad world, Brockman spent three years as the sole voice behind Coveteur, editorial content and social media, where she was responsible for launching & overseeing the management of all platforms.
Brockman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. She resides in New York City with her puppy, Ollie.
Erin Kleinberg is the co-founder of Métier Creative, a creative branding and advertising agency guiding luxury fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands into a the social-first and digital world. She is a creative director, brand strategist and a serial entrepreneur. Her role focuses on overseeing the conception and implementation of creative activations and content for Métier’s clients, which include CHANEL, Dior, Estée Lauder, Tiffany & Co., OUAI Haircare, Moda Operandi, Stuart Weitzman, Miami Design District, Clique Media and more. Having worked in brand and business development for most of her career, Kleinberg’s areas of expertise range from art direction and styling to creative campaign development and roll-out across social platforms. Kleinberg knows how to build brands and with passion, in 2008 she launched her successful clothing line erinkleinberg, with distribution to over 80 retailers worldwide. In 2010, she co-founded Coveteur, where she oversaw all creative and art direction, brand development, strategic business relations and editorial executions. Today, Kleinberg is leveraging her first-hand understanding and experience of all aspects of operating a brand for her clients, encouraging brands to look at their communication strategy from how they are building (sometimes, rebuilding) their identities, executing their vision, and ultimately, creating communities. Kleinberg holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Western Ontario in Toronto, ON. She resides in Toronto with her husband and their daughter.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
SB: I think I’ve been an internet kid since I came out of the womb. I have such vivid memories of fighting with my siblings over the dial-up internet and our parents having to play referee so we could each take turns. I was a full-on Napster-downloading, MySpace-trolling, Poker Room-playing, ICQ-chatting computer kid. Every time an emerging platform came out, I felt inclined to get on it, learn it, adapt it and usually abandoned it it as quickly as I adopted it. I always knew I wanted to be an editor and journalist. I went to school for Journalism with a dream that was very much The Hills/Devil Meets Prada. I did a bunch of internships at fashion magazines in Toronto and then turned my final internship into a full-time job, while still in my final semester. As the first intern-turned-employee-turned-Managing Editor of The Coveteur, I did everything from ghost write the website, run all of our social media (which I grew cross-channel to over 650K), cast talent, style photo shoots, produce advertorial content and more.
EK: I’ve always been a trend-forecaster and creative director. I see myself as a designer, stylist, creative and just serial entrepreneur. I launched my namesake clothing line, erinkleinberg, when I was just 18-years-old. I didn’t know a thing about sewing, pattern making, distribution, wholesale, merchandising, etc. But I’ve always just figured it all out myself. Almost in an instant, I was selling to 80 stores worldwide including, Barneys, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Intermix, Lane Crawford, and more. Then in 2011, I co-founded The Coveteur. As the President and Creative Director, my role was multi-hyphenated: styling, art directing, casting, operations, financials, etc. I was the driving force behind the big picture business.
BOTH: In 2015, we co-founded our own advertising agency albeit not even knowing what an advertising agency was, nor having the traditional MBA qualifications one would need. Stacie had worked for 1 year at an agency, but that was the basis of our very minimal knowledge. Both of us had never watched Mad Men, understood the agency model or even knew who the key players were. All we knew is that we understood how to build brands that resonate with our generation.
SB: I left my role at The Coveteur to take on a new challenge. I loved overseeing the editorial of the website and learning how to build a social-first brand in real time. I had worked on creating such a distinct voice and identity for The Coveteur and the opportunity to do that from the ground up building new brands or re-imagining existing ones was exciting, fresh and terrifying all at the same time. I then quit my job at the ad agency to launch Métier Creative with Erin because, at 25, I felt the time was right to finally start my own thing. I had offers to go in-house to build the personal brands of notable celebrities but it didn’t seem as exciting as starting from scratch on my own company. In the years working for others, I realized by dream role didn’t exist and would only exist if I created it. I wanted to work for myself, be able to mentor others, scale something, and redefine the archaic Mad Men industry as we knew it.
EK: In 2014, I decided to re-launch my clothing line. We had been privileged with so much exclusive access inside the homes and closets of today’s tastemakers and celebrities that I had been given unique insight into how people dress. I felt like it was the perfect time to bring back something that truly understood how the modern day woman wanted to look and feel. I then paused on the clothing line to launch Métier Creative because Stacie and I felt like it was the perfect time to be a first-mover in this rapidly changing social landscape. I had just built a new home, was 9 months pregnant with my first child and was eager to create my third company (all before turning 30 because I’m crazy and ambitious like that!) Stacie and I had no idea that we would eventually become a full 360 creative branding and advertising agency, but we knew that it was the right time to shake things up. There was an inherent white space in the ad world to bring this social-social-first dual perspective from the publisher side (The Coveteur) and the brand side (my clothing line and the brands Stacie was working on).
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
BOTH: In short, it’s all we know. We were practically raised on social media and our phones. While we both love the nostalgia of a good magazine, there’s no denying we are a generation of glued-to-our-phones trolls. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, we are constantly consuming culture. We are plugged in — probably too plugged in — but enough to have a pulse and temperature check on what’s resonating, why it’s resonating and how (if possible) to make that ownable and relatable to what we’re doing. We see the world day in and out through a social-first lens. From our convos in the DM, to group chats, Slack, emails, and beyond, our world has been consolidated into a small screen of information overload. The ability to know how to actually make thumb-stopping, DM-worthy content is truly something innate in our generation. We have always been social pioneers and truly saw the vision for a social-first brand back in 2011 with The Coveteur. We were this weird hybrid of not-really-a-blog, not-really-a-publisher and not-really-a-creative-agency; we were a true social-first brand. We understand how to be nimble and reactive to crowd-sourcing feedback from our community all day, everyday. We learned how to drive traffic, curve our editorial, shift our casting and grow as a social-first platform by tapping into a two-way dialogue with our online community. This is truly in our DNA and what we do for our client’s daily.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
BOTH: Being in boardrooms with some of the most powerful CEOS of Fortune 500 companies and having them look us dead in the eye and say, “I don’t know. This is your world. What do you think?” It’s truly empowering to see this shift happen and for us (you know, without our MBAs or sufficient Advertising backgrounds) to be looked at as experts is incredibly flattering. It’s even better when the advice we give goes from a thought to an action. It’s even worse when you subsequently hear said person regurgitate your speech to another person as if they came up with it themselves.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Both: When we were starting, we had a serious sense of cockiness and pride. We definitely were a bit standoffish when certain brands came to us asking for help to rebrand and reposition themselves as a “social-first” brand. Funny enough some of them ended up becoming our client a year or two later! We learned that not every client is going to be a sexy name to brag about to your friends to, but it will be more worthwhile to take them from Point A to Point B. Another funny mistake was the opposite; we would entertain brands that were so far from our realm of expertise or interests (I.e. a Surgeon, a Nightclub, a Yogurt Company). We were convinced we could make anyone a “thing” until we checked ourselves and realized not everyone has the power (yet alone budget!) to be a social media sensation.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
Both: We’re both Instagram-obsessed and can see the conversion happen in real time. When we first launched @theOUAI, celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin’s haircare line, we would freak out as people would send us screenshots of their orders. It was a true phenomenon to watch people literally get OUAIsted and drink the kool-aid, switching out their go-to hair products for this new, buzzy line. Another great example is our client, The Last Line — a direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand. We knew instinctively this has the power to be the Warby Parker or Outdoor Voices of the fine jewelry world. We instructed the designed to release the collection in a series of highly-anticipated drops. During the teasing weeks leading up to each drop, we would encourage fans to shop via the DM on Instagram.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
- Know your audience. Don’t try and copy someone else because you see their content is performing. What works for them may not work for you and vice versa. The key is to manually audit what works vs. doesn’t work — a click-bait caption, a flat lay, a selfie, a funny caption, etc.
- Listen to your audience. Now that you know them, you have to hear them out. Ask them what they like, what they don’t like, what they want to see and what they don’t want to see. Crowd-sourcing is your lifeline to knowing what’s working and what’s not. It’s a free, 24/7 focus group. Use it wisely!
- Be you and be funny. Everyone talks about authenticity, but very few people actually are. Be your genuine self — don’t just show your greatest hits. We want the good, the bad, the ugly. We want to know you’re a human, like us. The only want to truly get through to people is making them laugh. Get off your high horse, be a little self-deprecating, and make someone giggle. There’s nothing better than someone’s vulnerability to remember that someone else in the world also has some weird quirks like you.
- F*ck a feed! Stop trying to treat Instagram like the motherf*cking MOMA. It’s not a museum. It’s a playground. Get messy. Post weird stuff. Make your feed inconsistent. Nobody gives a sh*t about “your brand” or “your aesthetic.” It’s 2018 (make that almost 2019) and it’s not cool!
- Know the platform and play to the platform’s strengths. Not everything is “Grid Goals” — it’s not meant to stay there forever (even if you can archive it). Sometimes a fleeting moment or post is better off posted in IG Stories… and if there’s a good takeaway, turn it into a Highlight. Treat your feed like a publication — you are a brand and your channel is the billboard. Think of it as a daily destination and give people a reason to explore your content for the right reasons.
- Instagram is NOT a dumping ground for content. Don’t post for the sake of posting. Ask yourself, “Will this make someone laugh? Will this make someone share? Will this inspire UGC?” Leave your photoshopped ad campaign shots for .com, billboards, banner ads, newsletters and e-commerce. It’s time to put the INSTA back in INSTAGRAM! If it doesn’t look native to the platform, don’t post it. If it doesn’t look like it was shot on iPhone (and FaceTuned or VSCO’d the hell out of it), don’t post it. If it doesn’t look like a piece of content that someone could recreate as UGC, don’t post it.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
BOTH: If we could inspire a movement, it would be knowing when to put your lives public and when to keep them private. Social Media turned us into these content monsters who feed off of likes, feedback, encouragement, feedback with a need to overshare. The truth is, not everything that happens in life needs to be shared — even if it does make you seem “relatable” or “authentic”. We’ve turned into a generation fueled on social currency and the fallacy that over-over-sharing makes us more human. In fact, it makes us more narcissistic. As 2 people deep in this industry, we relish in the moments of keeping parts of our life private and offline. If we really want to tell someone about it, we’ll grab dinner IRL or maybe FaceTime (does that count?)
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
SB: There are too many! Adam Grant is a big one for me. I’ve read his books “The Originals” and “Give and Take” so many times and give it like a Doctor’s prescription to everyone I know. I once sat next to Arianna Huffington on a plane and highly regret not mustering the confidence to ask her to lunch or something. Oh, and of course every Shark on Shark Tank and Sheryl Sandberg.
EK: Like Stacie, my list is endless. Steve Jobs is probably my number one. To me, Apple epitomizes everything about a brand that I admire. I’m all about mingling with other momtrepreneurs so anyone who knows the struggle of raising a baby and business is ideal dinner company.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!