September 19, 2016 Lauren Johnson

Influencer Marketing Advice, Ferraris & Boutique Hotels: Duncan Alney Interview

influencer marketing advice

Firebelly’s CEO Duncan Alney shares influencer marketing advice and what excites him about social media marketing (plus more) in this candid interview.


Don’t have time to read the whole thing? Here is your Cliff’s Note version:

• Influencer marketing is about building relationships with contextual influence.
• Social media marketing has grown up. It’s not the shiny toy anymore. It has a seat at the table.
• I stay on top of trends by following two influencers, monitoring for disruption, taking briefings and following my instincts.
• When starting an influencer program, there is greater value of being a part of a community of influencers and the soft and hard benefits of that commitment.
• Social data turns me on.
• If I weren’t in social, I’d run a micro-boutique hotel.
• I love old Ferraris.


1. What excites you most about influencer work?

I love all parts of it. The identification process is complex and exciting The outreach is layered and demanding – you’ve got to be familiar with the influencer and their work – and of course engage, and the ability to measure across KPI’s.

It is all about building relationships with the right people.

2. Since you started Firebelly, what has been the biggest change in social media marketing?

It’s grown up. It’s not the shiny toy anymore. It has a seat at the table.

Social produces measurable results. Social has grown up and has a seat at the table. It isn’t the wild west anymore. It requires infrastructure, process, protocols and people – and they’ve got to be in balance and working towards the right goals with the right metrics. Sure there are solo players and firms that offer it as part of their overall mix – and they have their place. But a lot of serious brands want specialists – for their experience, expertise, and ability to produce measurable outcomes.

Social is a serious contender.

3. How do you stay on top of the latest trends in social media?

This is the the crux.

I’ve found that while i have ambient awareness of the bleeding edge, I focus on operationalizing the leading edge for efficiency and effectiveness. I maintain relationships with who I believe the most important influencers are in our space. I read what they write. I monitor the market for disruption. On a weekly basis, I take briefings with technology players, meet new people, read case studies, and follow my instincts a lot. My job is seeing what is coming next and how we are poised for that. Unfortunately, the major part of monetization occurs with tail end of the leading edge – and not the bleeding edge.

4. What’s one piece of influencer marketing advice for someone just starting an influencer program?

Follow my advice. That’s the key.

On a strategic note, I emphasize the greater value of being a part of a community of influencers and the soft and hard benefits of that commitment. It’s starts with unlocking the hidden value of social and real world data – and integrating that into relationships that produce credibility and engagement. That engagement can be pure social or conversion specific like web traffic or buying things.

5. If you were not in the world of social media, what would you be doing?

I’ve been a pro photographer most of my life (dormant lately), amateur DJ and avidly entertain and look after people. I’m obsessive about certain details and have finely tuned sensibilities when it comes to things I love. Perhaps a boutique hotel with a great kitchen with very limited menu and kick ass music – run by recovering hipsters with pragmatic ideas about practicing origination authenticity.

6. What is your dream car?

One that always starts. I have accomplished that dream. On an aspirational basis, I love old Ferraris.


Is your brand looking for more influencer marketing advice? Firebelly is here for you. Call us at 317-557-4460, email us at hello@firebellymarketing.com or fill out our contact form.

Lauren Johnson

Senior Social Media Manager at Firebelly
Lauren joined the Firebelly team in early 2016. Her social media marketing advice? Be flexible. Change is constant in this industry.
Lauren Johnson

About the Author

Lauren Johnson Lauren joined the Firebelly team in early 2016. Her social media marketing advice? Be flexible. Change is constant in this industry.

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