Lindsey Heppner Looks At UGC Becoming Vital In Social Commerce
The founder and creative director of Vampped, a Los Angeles-based influencer marketing agency, Lindsey Heppner, enjoys the dynamic world of digital marketing. Being skilled in social media, brand development, strategy, and marketing, Heppner always looks forward to something new to tackle — particularly in recent times, influencer marketing, and social commerce.
Heppner began her career as a model and designer and was a pioneer in the influencer marketing industry. Before starting a company that helps businesses with influencer management, she was a creator in her own right. In a conversation with Archana Mishra, she covers all of this and highlights what influencer marketing is all about. Heppner talks about why the partnership with influencers is more than just a business transaction and sheds light on User Generated Content (UGC) becoming an integral part of social commerce.
Let’s deep dive!
Q. You hold quite an experience in the fashion and lifestyle sector. And now you are running an influencer marketing agency. How does managing your show feel, and how did you come to establish your firm?
A. I have been blessed to wake up every day and do what I love. You can't put a price tag on freedom. I can work with the brands I want, the talent I want, and for clients to appreciate the direction I want to take creatively. I was an established designer for a long time, and then, entering the social space, I got to use all the tools to develop digital concepts. Everything in my career has been a nice progression to accomplish high-level campaigns and business opportunities. We have been OG's in the space for a very long time and have innovated at an early stage in social media that we are constantly trying to push the envelope.
Q. You described yourself as an early adopter in the social media sphere, so it's likely that you got introduced to influencer marketing in early years. How does your agency manage influencer marketing for distinct customers following their unique requirements, given that it is the most recent marketing industry buzzword?
A. We take a humanistic approach. People are more valuable than being an expert at anything. With every client we work with, we get to know them at a deeper level so we can communicate and translate that information into the right strategy and add value as an extra marketing arm. Anyone can do my day-to-day robotic tasks, but building relationships is an art. To matchmake and have essence in your business is essential to getting clients that see your worth.
Q. Given that you view relationship development as an art, what key factors should a brand consider when forming a partnership with influencers, in your opinion?
A. Firstly, the most important thing to remember as a brand is not to think creators are disposable. They all talk at some level and can easily make or break your business. Being creative, I had always felt that when I worked for other companies, they treated creatives as the least important job title. This concept, to me, is just so crazy to think about because marketing and having people seek out your business is all based on creativity. Content will always be king in this day and age, and we are the most valuable to your business.
Q. Getting specific, how do you maintain a 1:1 relationship with creators? Businesses have difficulties when they work with influencers. So, what is your finest advice for getting through the challenges?
A. I am their mom-ager. My relationship with creators is unique because I treat them like people, not cash cows. Humans at any level want to feel loved; that is how our business runs. We ensure that whoever we work with is more than a transactional partnership. We are very conscious of who we work with because we want to ensure they align with our code of conduct.
Like every creator, they want to feel busy consistently and like their manager is getting them work. The challenge is for them to understand that it's a two-way street. Managers can only pitch you for things if you show up for yourself and commit to where you want to be. The best way to streamline this issue with talent is to communicate how you better each other by setting realistic expectations.
Q. Perhaps, be it partnership or communications, everything comes down to conversions. What, in your opinion, are the major strategies employed in influencer marketing to help businesses boost conversions?
Right now, I see two strategies in the space: nano/micro-influencers and UGC content. Brands are getting on tiny influencers because there is value in a small community. Brands are seeing more trust, which means more purchase power. As with user-generated content, we're seeing many brands gravitate towards this because they can create an audience who sees the content piece and has better opportunities for the paid media to focus on the correct demographics than having an influencer post. It needs to get to the right consumer.
Q. Given the trend towards user-generated content, how do you see social commerce evolve over the next few years?
A. I'm not Gary Vee in predicting the future, lol, but the evolution of Social Commerce is where we are heading. It will reach a point where each individual on every social platform will have a uniquely curated feed to sell what they think is essential to the consumer of their niche audience. We've seen that UGC (user-generated content) is becoming vital in Social Commerce because brands realize that they don't need to have influencers posting; instead, they need the value of the strategic content to create buzz around their brand.
Get detailed insights: How Social Commerce Is Revolutionizing The Way We Shop
Q. While we talk about influencers, social commerce, and getting the right consumers, we are witnessing a considerable gap between content and commerce. Social media channels like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram have launched their creator marketplaces to bridge this gap. When compared to independent influencer marketing platforms, how effective will they be?
A. There will always be a need for both. Some innovative brands and brands are still entering the digital space that doesn't have or know their strategy. We will always need elements for all levels of brands integrating.
Q. Tell us about the 3 (or more) best content tools you currently use to help you strategize influencer campaigns.
A. More than ever, my business has been using tools to set us up for success. If you are not on Canva, you should be. I wish this tool had been around when I was in school. It helps create our decks and proposals to navigate through clientele presentations. Another one that I love is Type Form. Nothing is better than understanding what a client needs to handle a strategic campaign than asking the right questions. Then my third is excel. Having detailed sheets with a plan is crucial. Our team is about executing and having live spreadsheets to ensure the client understands everything.
Q. Any brand(s) that come to mind when you think, "what a great way to market to consumers on social media"?
A. I love when brands think outside the box and their consumers don't expect it. I have always really enjoyed Cheeto's marketing. They had done a series of commercials where the Cheeto was used in a naughty way and how the cheese can be so messy and destructive. Throughout the years, it has always stuck in my head how genius that concept was. It wasn't about the flavor or how great Cheetos were. It was a creative concept that made you want to purchase them because they had a cool factor. With that type of creativity is how I like to expand my mind with the brands I take on.
Q. So, the year is about to end. What are your key takeaways regarding influencer marketing in 2022? And what does the future of influencer marketing look like to you?
A. This space is ever-changing. It's not easy to predict everything that happens because it feels like there is a weekly update. That is also why I love this space so much. There is always something new to tackle that you must be ready for. The key takeaway for me in 2022 was "foundation." This year we finally got to put in the foundational work of the business, which many companies just hit the ground running and never get around to that step. So we took a lot of time this year to do that because we wanted to improve our operations and systems so we could take on massive projects.