Adam: How did you become an “influencer”? What is the inside story?
Rigel: I have always loved social media, and looking back I remember I had such a love for MySpace and had a custom profile and spent a lot of time perfecting it. The influencer stuff started when I lived in Los Angeles about 5 years ago, and I was inspired by all the content creators out there. I realized there was a lot of momentum around that. I started posting about LGBTQ community, travels, and built a following organically over time. A big moment was being one of the official ambassadors of LAFW, which got my name out there more and legitimized my presence in the fashion industry a bit
Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in working with influencers? How do you do decide who to work with?
Rigel: Influencer marketing has become such a core part of marketing. For brands, there are a few approaches: work with an influencer network like Obvious.ly or ApexDrop, have a social coordinator to manage one on one influencer relationships, or partner with events that have influencers present to get content. The best advice is to be detailed about your business goals and your campaign, and then to make sure it’s clear to the influencers what you expect and that there is a contract in place. And don’t put all the pressure on one partnership, try to work with 50-100 influencers so you can optimize and see real results!
Adam: What advice do you have for those interested in becoming influencers?
Rigel: It’s harder to get started as an Influencer now, especially on Instagram because of how the algorithms have changed. But I would recommend starting with video and starting to grow views and engagement on YouTube and Instagram. Use hashtags to increase the reach of your content. Start doing mock brand partnerships as reviews or lookbooks, to show that you can do the real thing!
Adam: What is the biggest misconception about the influencer world and life as an influencer?
Rigel: I think the biggest misconception is that getting all the free items is always just fun, but it can actually turn into a lot of work! I end up with sometimes 10-20 things, and I have agreed to deliver content to all these companies, so it ends up being hours of time.
Adam: What has being an influencer taught you about branding and marketing?
Rigel: I work full time at Fluid, Inc. a full-service digital experience agency, so I have a broader perspective of how influencer marketing fits into the business and eCommerce, working with clients like Bare Minerals, Michael Kors, and Louis Vuitton. I think that influencer marketing is a key way to make products relevant to consumers and one of the only ways to break through the noise with the effectiveness of display ads and search declining. It’s one of the best ways to connect with real customers! I do think of influencer marketing more as an awareness tactic than sales channel, so marketers should keep that in mind.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Rigel: Being an influencer started as a hobby, creating content about things I love. And my hobbies are also producing events, and going to fashion shows. I love that I have found ways to do productive work that aligns with my passions, and it’s been so much fun!
Adam: Who have been the biggest influences in your life and how do you pay it forward?
Rigel: The biggest influences in my life are Beyonce (duh!) for her work ethic and focus on business. I’ve also been inspired by some of my friends like Tommy Lei and Alexx Mayo who continually reach incredible milestones and work with some of the biggest brands and celebrities in the world!
I pay it forward through events and nonprofit partnerships I produce and host in Atlanta and LA. For example, I have put on art shows in partnership with Lexus, and during Pride in Atlanta this year, I am producing an influencer panel that will benefit Lost N Found Youth, an LGBTQ homeless youth nonprofit. I’ve also done PSAs for Johnson & Johnson and worked on awareness campaigns for GLAAD and Google Pride.