Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to go behind the brand. First things first, though, what is something about you that the many people who follow you don’t know?
Brendan: A lot of people don’t know that initially I wanted to be a film producer. I went to college for film.
Adam: How did you get here? How did you become an influencer? What is the inside story?
Brendan: It’s actually something that began while I was in film school. I quickly realized that they don’t teach you about business in film school. I knew I needed to have this knowledge, so I started three internet companies while I was in college. The goal wasn’t to make money. I wanted to learn. When I moved to California to start my career in the film business, the knowledge I gained from my internet companies began to attract attention from people in the entertainment industry. Shortly after, I began working with major studios, celebrities like Taylor Swift and companies like MTV. It led me to where I am today.
Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in working with influencers? How do you do decide who to work with?
Brendan: Many brands and companies make the mistake by choosing influencers by the influencer’s following alone. You really need to make sure that this person is a fit for your brand, and feels authentic to both their following and your customers. You don’t want to just try to target the influencer’s audience. It needs to go both ways. You also want to make sure that working with the influencer provides value, and that this person is a professional. This is how I decide who to work with. It takes away many of the issues seen in influencer marketing today.
Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in becoming influencers?
Brendan: Be willing to put in the work. You can’t just make content and expect people to take interest. There is a lot more to it. Your content needs to be high quality and provide value. If you’re not sure what that needs to be, do research. Look at who has the audience you want to have and see what they’re doing. Then find your own way of doing things that work for you. I don’t recommend using flimsy hacks like buying followers and likes. These tactics are usually not effective in building a real, authentic audience that engages with your content.
Adam: What is the biggest misconception about the influencer world and life as an influencer?
Brendan: A big misconception, especially among brands and businesses, is that all influencer followings are authentic, or that all followers regularly engage. A lot of people buy likes and followers, and a large number of people follow someone but rarely look at or interact with the content. People also assume that life as an influencer is what they see in the photos or videos influencers share. A lot of times, it isn’t. When they’re not creating content, they’re living a lot like everyone else.
Adam: What has being an influencer taught you about branding and marketing? What are your three best marketing and branding tips?
Brendan: It’s taught me the importance of testing to see what works, and being willing to try and fail. You really can’t rely on “best practices,” or what is working for somebody else, because it might not work for you and the audience you want to create. You really need to be willing to experiment, to do research and take the time to see what works for you specifically. My three best marketing tips are to experiment, be yourself, and constantly find ways to bring value to people.
Adam: Who are the best leaders you have been around and what have you learned from them? What do you believe everyone should know about leadership?
Brendan: There’s something to learn from every leader, including learning from their mistakes. I really appreciate the insight of author Dale Carneigie. A lot of people can learn a lot from Taylor Swift and how she engages and interacts with her fans. What everyone should know about leadership is that not everyone is fulfilled by being a leader. Some people prefer to go with the flow, or contribute differently. It’s perfectly acceptable not to be a leader if that’s what you prefer. The world needs both kinds of people.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Brendan: From a very young age, I’ve always loved to create and build things. I enjoy traveling, I read a lot. It’s all played a part in shaping what I think and how I approach things.