Welcome to another installment of our Influencer Chat Series! Today, we'll be talking to Jane Ko of A Taste of Koko. Jane is a fellow Austinite who shares her love for travel, food, and style with her readers and followers. Her bubbly and sweet personality has made her a favorite of ours to follow! She has an incredible and impressive brand partnership background having worked with: IKEA, Whole Foods, and Target to name a few... as well as features in The New York Times, InStyle Magazine, and The Oprah Magazine. Jane has also spoken at SXSW, Texas Conference for Women, and the University of Texas Austin. We love how Jane authentically and organically integrates her everyday life and love for Austin within her feed. Not only is she an influential powerhouse, but she's also making waves within the influencer space by being a powerful voice for female entrepreneurs. She knows the true meaning of hard work and dedication, which play into where she is today. We admire Jane for her work ethic, genuine voice, and authenticity and are so excited to dive into today's interview with you!
Before starting A Taste of Koko, what were you up to professionally, what role did digital play in your job, and what were some of your goals and aspirations within your career?
I was studying for my degree in Nutrition at the University of Texas at Austin working three part-time jobs before I started the blog. My first "real" job before graduating was customer support at a food start-up in Austin. I was just getting into photography and social media for my blog, so I asked the start-up if I could add photos to all the recipe pages on the website and for social media. Professionally I wanted to run social media for brands but as the blog grew and other companies like Whole Foods asked me to speak to their teams on how to grow their social media brand - it became a conflict of interest, so I quit my social media job. It wasn't my goal to become a full-time blogger, but I started to receive opportunities from brands like Target, Carnival Cruise Line, Patron, and more.
You're making such big waves in the Influencer space! What made you want to start A Taste of Koko when you did, and where do you gather inspiration for fresh content?
Aw thanks! I'm launching three new Shop Koko foodie boobie tees this year that each supports a local Austin charity: Austin Pets Alive, Central Texas Food Bank, and Aids of Austin. Here's the first tee, an avocado boobie tee! I hope to launch more tees and be able to give back to the city of Austin by supporting our local charities.
What are a few other notable moments within your blogging career so far, and what are some of the long term goals do you have for A Taste of Koko?
Oh gosh - there's been so many amazing moments. I was over the moon when the New York Times asked me to be the face and voice of a video in partnership with Miami Tourism — featured in InStyle Magazine, O Magazine, and OWN TV Network in partnership with IKEA. Voted best local Austin blog by readers in the Austin Chronicle but the one that touched home was being on the front page of the Port Lavaca Wave - that's my little hometown!
1. How did you first hear about PLANOLY?
I'm actually not sure - I feel like I was one of the first users! :)
2. What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate PLANOLY within your social media strategy?
I use PLANOLY to schedule all of my in-feed static posts because it's so much easier to type up captions and plan my feed. Especially for sponsored posts, PLANOLY is so helpful to type up captions with the sponsor's tag, hashtag, and any specific messaging. I can pre-schedule sponsored posts and then plan organic content around those posts.
3. What do you love most about the app?
PLANOLY is a crucial tool in my workflow. After I edit photos, I will drag and drop my favorite photos into PLANOLY web, so I always have a batch of photos that are ready to post. When I'm on my phone, I will drag and move the photos around on the grid, so the colors match.
Let's talk brand deals:
You work with so many amazing brands and are constantly partnering with them for great collaborations, campaigns, and trips. What are the three best practices that you've learned along the way when collaborating with brands and working on sponsored content? (Your biggest takeaways.)
- I open and read every email that I receive and respond to the brand within a couple of hours. I filter through all the requests (I typically receive 3-4 brand deals every day) and politely decline any brands that are not an authentic fit for my brand like restaurant chains, tobacco, sex, etc. And then I respond to the brands that I am interested in working with and cc my management team to jump in and share my rates.
- Before contracts are signed, my team and I will extensively discuss with the brand the exclusivity terms, the creative vision, number of deliverables, and if pre-approval of content is required.
- There's usually always a brand campaign brief with every brand partnership - some are one page, and some can be up to 20 pages. If I have any confusion or uncertainty about the brand campaign, I will ask to jump on a call to discuss.
- After 48 hours when all the posts go up, I'll go back and screenshot analytics to share with the brand. If the posts performed exceptionally well, I'll share that with the brand!
Let's talk audience engagement.
What are some of the best ways you can engage with your audience and keep the conversation going? How do you like to connect with your followers on more of a personal level?
I respond to every single DM and try to check my DMs every couple of hours because people will ask me for restaurant recommendations and where to eat. I'm quite chatty on Instagram stories and share little tidbits of my day, so I think that has naturally allowed me to have a personal relationship with my readers. I've met many people IRL who have told me how long they've followed me, what items they've bought because I posted about it, what my cat/dog have done, and even showed me all the screenshots of my posts on their phone!
What were you most surprised to discover in this industry that you wish you had known before?
The voices that we can create for ourselves and the impact that our voices can create.
To see more from our Influencer Chat Series, follow us through the hashtag: #InfluencerChatSeries on Instagram.