November 29, 2017 Chad Richards

Influencer Marketing: An Interview With Duncan Alney & Taylor Carlier

influencer marketing

Firebelly has been running influencer marketing programs for a few select brands over the years. Our team has evolved from spreadsheets and basic tools to sophisticated tools for identification and real-time monitoring.

Of course, the key to it all is the human analysis our team brings to the table. I wanted to learn more about influencer marketing myself—and share it with our audience—so I caught up with Taylor and Duncan who run our influencer program to find out more.

What are the successful components of a client’s social media marketing program?

Duncan: The goals are to grow, engage and convert. With that in mind, content and conversation that resonates across the buyer journey is key. Whether it’s updates or ads, it must connect the client to its audience and move them to do something.

Taylor: Immediately I would say dynamic images, well-written content, and targeted strategy. Additionally, I think it’s crucial to be engaging with your specific audience. None of this works unless you know your audience and what makes them engage with content positively.


How can a client do more than that? To put their program on steroids?

Duncan: The foundational approach is forming a connection directly between the client and its audience. Putting that on steroids is when you bring people that have significant influence with a client’s current or desired audience and collaborate with them to expose the client to this audience. And it has to be done in ways that are authentic and real to that influencer’s audience.

Taylor: Next level social media marketing goes beyond what a brand says about themselves and brings in other reputable voices that can offer the audience a different perspective. This is accomplished through influencer marketing, or as I like to call it, digital-word-of-mouth.


Since you’ve mentioned influencer marketing, what is it? Why should a client consider it?

Taylor: In a nutshell, influencer marketing is leveraging other socially influential individuals’ audiences that are similar to the client’s, or an audience the client wants to access, in order to create a broader awareness of the product/brand name. This is a great angle for clients to take because it can easily widen, and even deepen, who has heard of a certain brand or product. Which, in return, can drive sales, web traffic, or general chatter for the client.

Duncan: Clients are considering influencer marketing to get access to new audiences in a way that is more compelling and organic than they can accomplish on their own. It’s one thing for one of our craft beer clients to announce they are entering a new market, but it’s on a whole different level when craft beer influencers in that market are telling their audience that our client is entering their area. The audience is more open to the message and its more convincing.


Can a small to medium sized client actually afford an influencer program?

Taylor: Influencer programs are easily tailored to different budgets because influencers range from product-only deals to various payment levels, depending on the size and quality of their audience. If you have an internal or external person who is great at negotiating with influencers, you can get a lot of exposure for little to no money.

Duncan: Absolutely, we’re shattering the myth about how costly influencer programs here at Firebelly. Everything is scalable. And the results justify it. However it’s not a short-term play. It requires commitment. Identification takes time, outreach has to be consistent and use creativity. Measurement has to be solid and indepth.


Whats happening in that space? Are you seeing trends or shifts?

Taylor: In general, the trend I see with small to medium sized brands is toward micro-influencers. They drive their focus to quantity with highly-engaged audiences. Larger brands tend to go for fewer high-profile influencers with audiences that are constantly getting new brands and products pushed. Both work, but it is important to know your brand and your influencers to best match the right formula for their needs and goals.

Duncan: I agree. Programs that utilize micro-influencers are definitely getting more popular. I think our programs are successful because we build mutually beneficial relationships. They’re based on serving the audience. In fact, we don’t like working in spaces where the relationships are superficial and transactional. While any brand can do some searches to find some influencers, the crux is in identifying the right influencers through the audience they serve, the approach they take and what they’ve covered, their position in the space, and of course real time opportunities. Years into the real-time paradigm, most brands still can’t handle this.


In a few words, describe a successful influencer marketing program.

Taylor: Most brands associate high influencer attendance numbers at events or lots of social posts about their brand as success. I like to define a successful influencer program by the more detailed numbers, though, like engagements per post and influencer clout.

Duncan: One that forms win-win relationships between brands and influencers to produce real outcomes that can be measured. This remains the holy grail of influencer marketing. And of course doing it in a sustainable and cost effective manner.


An effective social media marketing program likely includes content development, managing interactions and a variety of ads. But it’s clear that a brand wanting to take their social media marketing program to the next level should consider an influencer marketing program. Is that you? Contact us and we’ll schedule a time to discuss your influencer marketing options!

Chad Richards

VP, Social Media Services at Firebelly
Fun Fact: Chad was named "Most Influential Up & Comer" at the inaugural Social Media Summit. He's been with Firebelly since 2007.
Chad Richards

About the Author

Chad Richards Fun Fact: Chad was named "Most Influential Up & Comer" at the inaugural Social Media Summit. He's been with Firebelly since 2007.

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