As part of the WARC x impact.com “Aligning marketers and influencers” report, Adi Adara (finance influencer), describes how to achieve influencer engagement through education and entertainment.
Describe your role as an influencer and how you work with brands.
I teach personal finance content on TikTok, with the main goal being entertainment and tricking viewers into learning. I found that personal finance as a general topic area isn't exactly what people come to TikTok for. But they do come for entertaining skits and to laugh. And so my goal is to make them laugh and enjoy the video but walk away with oh shit, I learned something and then have that fuel their love for personal finance and to continue to work towards financial freedom. So then, my next step is moving them into my communities on Discord, Instagram, Twitter, etc. So I really viewed TikTok as that large initial funnel that gets millions and millions of views and then moves into more niche subject areas. And more niche conversations as we move forward. As for me, I am an analyst right now at a venture fund based out of the twin cities here in the US, and I am also a community manager at a co-working space here. I just graduated high school last year. I'm taking a gap year right now before I head off to my undergrad.
I've worked with tons of great brands. My favourites that I'm working with right now are Public, which is a stock brokerage and FTX, which is a crypto exchange. but in the past I've worked with Robinhood, PayPal and Visa.
How do you think marketers can best benefit from all the positive effects of working with influencers?
I think that businesses are becoming creators and creators are becoming businesses so as a business, you really need to show your story, show what you value and as consumers become smarter they're going to want to make sure that they're following along with that journey. So whenever you gain a follower on social media, that is someone who has entered your pipeline they have started to say we might not be ready to purchase a product from you right now. But we're gonna stick around in the background and watch your content and maybe 12 months later, we'll purchase a product. So I would say that social media and especially influencers who have access to those huge followings are a great first point for so many businesses that just don't get reached because you know, it is so expensive or other traditional advertising routes influencers can be a good medium for them.
How do you balance the power of authenticity plus meaningful relationships with the client pressure to drive sales and improve effects?
So I've learned this along my journey. At the start of my TikTok career I definitely accepted brand deals from a bunch of different brands. I made sure that they were somewhat aligned with my area of expertise. I taught personal finance and ran a promotion for a company that helped people sell their old Apple devices. I needed to learn to focus on a few key partnerships. So now that I know that I'm in the credit space, the stock space, the crypto space, I have one key partner for my stocks, one key partner for my crypto and so on. And I focus on that relationship, because then my followers don't really care if every video ends with “You can purchase shares from…” because they know that's consistent among all of my videos. And so they’re still loyal to me. And they don't think that I'm a sellout or I'm just trying to get money. I would say choosing those key partners has been really, really helpful with maintaining that balance.
What positive opportunities do you think influencer marketing has brought to the finance conversation?
This is something that I am starting to experiment with, but I am learning how to both share my knowledge with my audience and have them join my community, but also to create tools where they can start to build their wealth and their finances. I think that a great option was just this weekend here in Minneapolis with the Gary Vaynerchuk event – V con, where everyone who bought a ticket would later get access to future products for free. They found a way to extend the value of a ticket from beyond just the event long into the future and to actually generate value for the fans. He's writing a book on how to create value for your audiences and how to talk about finances. I'd also say the NFT route, as we move into crypto, is going to become increasingly more apparent.
Younger audiences have got a growing acceptance of living their lives online. What opportunities do you think that offers influencer marketing?
This question is somewhat leaning towards the metaverse applications as we move forward in virtual spaces. But I see huge applications for influencers in their education of things that have traditionally been restricted to physical locations. So, for example, making music is really hard to get started because you might have to buy a bunch of equipment. But now you can purchase one device – VR and controllers and get access to virtual audio machines that work just like the real ones for free. And now influencers can say “Hey, everyone who I like, I'm a music creator; everyone who wants to learn, let's join, do a workshop where everyone puts on their goggles and we can go through creating a song together”. Plus different things like that, as people live more in the virtual world. I think it'll give them the skills to succeed in the physical world more locally. So we're removing the borders or boundaries, and giving opportunities to a lot more people in this virtual world. And then from there, they can be more successful in their local communities.
What are the most forward thinking ways in which marketers have used you as an influencer?
I would say that a lot of creative freedom has been a forward way of thinking. Traditionally, for an influencer like a basketball star, they're given a script and told to do a TV commercial, but now I think a new way of thinking is letting them control the direction. And then I think affiliate partnerships have been age-old but they've been really nice in the TikTok space and Instagram because they give top content creators and other influencers access to the profits that all these companies are making. I really like affiliate partnerships as they scale with the influencer. If the video goes viral, they get paid that proportionate amount and if it doesn't, no worries, they get paid that proportionate amount.
What are the main friction points for influencers working with brands and what needs to happen to make the process easier?
If an influencer says that there are complications to working with brands out there, then they're probably not working with the right brands. The right brands are really focused on partnering with their influencers and treating them like a business partner, not just like some contracted employee who they pay once and then disappear from. I'd say, if it's clear that the brand is looking to build a partnership and support you along your creator journey, then there shouldn't be complications.
How has working with an influencer platform helped with that process?
As with the affiliate scaling partnerships, I work with Impact.com who make it really easy to scale and monetize your audience. They just do a tremendous job of showing you the data on how successful your content has been over a period of time. And they do a great job of providing a brand marketplace so that you can export partnerships with new people.
Where do the strengths of influencer marketing lie?
That depends on the content creator. For me, I have great content creation expertise, but I don't find too much joy in just creating content for brands and that's why I focus on not creating individual one-off sponsored ads but rather creating a really great video and plugging a brand at the end or somewhere in between. For me, it's really on the accessing audience side but for some content creators – for example, LOGIK, he creates art for the Chicago Bulls and Coinbase etc. He is on the content creation side because he's such a great creator.
You have brought fun to the finance space. Could you tell us how you’ve done that?
A common fact on TikTok is that you only have one-two seconds to catch the viewer’s attention. How do you get that? And you really want to make sure that it's a relevant piece to your audience. So a lot of my followers are in school or they had been in school recently. Harkening back to my lunch room or the school classroom, instantly my content says, “You've been through this, you should watch this video because this might be relevant to you or you might have experienced this before”. So I'd say that’s a great start to adding fun. I think multiple characters are just great and very easy to incorporate and costumes. I should say props are really helpful. I think that you can teach age-old financial concepts but use new concepts like concert tickets. So The Weeknd was trending and I said The Weeknd is selling tickets, but they're sold out. I didn't get one. So that's a relevant piece to people and they recognise The Weeknd and then boom, I'm talking about the bid and ask price of a certain ticket that goes around to teach about stocks and crypto. So be relevant, be trendy, use trends. When you do a finance hashtag, you're going to get a really finance focused audience. But if you want to expand and go a lot bigger than that, trends are the easiest route.
You’ve talked about working with three key partners – one for each area of your expertise. What’s the value of having long term relationships with brands?
The long term value is that as you create more value for them, they create more value for you. I've gotten equity in some of the companies that I have created content for just because I'm bringing so much attention to them. I would also say that as you grow in your following, you're going to even get more views. You're going to get more likes, more shares. And if that's a consistent journey with one brand, then you're building trust with your followers, and you're building trust with the brand. It's a bit like friends – the longer that you treat someone well, the more they're going to be your friend and it's just like that with brands. You really have to think about them as people or at least as an entity that has a personality.
What final advice do you have for brands?
I think brands should take the time to understand how much influencers are worth. And to be careful with younger influencers or newer influencers, since it's really easy to be predatory. Being conscious of that is important. And walking into each brand partnership, not just as metrics, but as the personality of that content creator is so important. You should be screening them almost like you're investing in them. Because you are putting money into this person to support your brand. And you have the chance or the opportunity to make it a really fruitful long term relationship. They should be aware of that from the start and treat their influencers accordingly – just like other employees or contractors.
And what advice do you have for influencers?
Communication is going to be the most important thing. They might not know the norms of communication. But making sure that you're at least responding back within a day is going to be important with working with marketers, even if it's hard or, maybe you haven't created that piece of content that you were supposed to send them. A message saying that you're moving the deadline. That's going to be a lot better than just not responding for a couple of days. Having a rate card is also really helpful. How much do you charge? You can customise that towards each person, each advertiser, each brand, but starting with a template.