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Casey Watson is at the forefront of all things influencer marketing. As the Social Media + Community Director at Bloglovin' (a discovery platform to follow and find blogs across all categories), Casey spends her days fostering community among some of the most talented content creators in the world. Additionally, Casey's efforts also extend to Activate by Bloglovin', the company's global (and growing) influencer network. Having newly-relocated back to San Francisco, we caught up with Casey during a business trip to New York for Bloglovin's first conference COLLAB/17. We joined her for a much-needed coffee at Maman, a picture-perfect cafe in Soho, and chatted more about the difference between bloggers and influencers, the importance of community, and championing new voices.
Please introduce yourself!
Hey there! I'm Casey Watson, the Social Media + Community Director at Bloglovin' and I've been with the company almost two years now, and absolutely love being a part of the BL family. A little about me on a personal level? I just recently relocated back to San Francisco, from New York, and while New York was my first true love (at the ripe age of 10), San Francisco is home, and after ten years away, it feels damn good to be back! In my free time, I love finding new restaurants, coffee shops, bars and home stores. I'm a freak for greeting cards and would describe an ideal night as sitting with friends and family and catching up after a long-week over an epic bottle (or two) of wine!
Before Bloglovin' what were you up to professionally, what role did digital play in your job description, and what have been some notable moments throughout your career so far?
My career path has been far from a straight line or path, so digital has played such a different role in each of my jobs. After finishing a post-grad program at Parsons, I was lucky enough to have my internship at Harper's BAZAAR transition into a full-time position in the Ad Sales department. I vividly remember they were really just starting to realize how imperative it was to embrace the digital landscape and that digital was here to stay. Seeing that shift was eye-opening, and I was so impressed with how Carol Smith, BAZAAR's publisher, really guided the book to be at the top of their game online. Magazines were the first "blogs" in printed form, so they had this awkward transition and competition with bloggers, and now influencers. Working in publishing really gave me this strong foundation of how the industry works and set me up to now be a part of a more traditional online community at Bloglovin'. Of course now digital is a part of my everyday life and basically encompasses my job title.
Talk to us about your time at Bloglovin'. How has both your role and the community itself evolved since you first started? What is a day-in-the-life like for you lately?
My job when I first started was really focused on Bloglovin's social media strategy, as they didn't have one in place when I joined. So for the first six months, the day-to-day really consisted of experimenting with different forms of content across our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat (which we no longer use), to see what performed (think coffee + bulldogs) and what didn't. Still, to this day, it is a lot of trial and error, which part of me loves - social media always keeps you guessing! What works on Sunday night doesn't work on Wednesday morning - a lesson I've learned many times. Actually, the people that have been the best sounding board have been my friends and family; they have no problem being brutally honest when it comes to content I've posted, and what they've liked and what they can do without (haha). I vividly remember my bestie telling me that she didn't understand why I would post a cozy, tousled looking bed on a weekday morning. She was like, "I hate when you post these during the week in the morning - it makes me want to crawl back into bed, which I know is not an option. I'd rather see an outfit to get inspired or coffee or something pertaining to my commute." Lesson learned - those posts are now reserved for after 8 PM or the weekend! Today, no day is the same at work, which I LOVE! Monday's are usually spent planning out the week ahead for social (using Buffer + PLANOLY), as well as following-up on any emails and requests from other teams. The rest of the week is spent taking meetings, working on recruitment for Activate by Bloglovin', (which if you haven't signed-up for, you should), coding our weekly newsletter, and working with social partners. Bloglovin' has a HUGE community. Which of course is AMAZING, but it also means that there are a lot of influencers. With an industry that shows no sign of slowing down and only continuous growth, we hope to meet more of them in person! It allows us to forge real relationships, which can often turn into a collaboration of some sort in the future. Besides the continuous growth of Influencer Marketing, what I have adored watching is the rise of the Micro-Influencers! They are so important to the ecosystem of the industry and watching these women and men produce gorgeous content either for organic or paid opportunities, is really rewarding. I'm always blown away by influencers of all sizes, and what they are able to create. They are true entrepreneurs, and anyone who tells you differently doesn't really know what their scope of work consists of!
How would you define "planning" and what projects, initiatives or content have you been planning lately that you're particularly excited about?
Planning for me means writing EVERYTHING down - I have the memory of a shrimp, and if I need to get it done, it needs to be written down on paper. I also am a cursed procrastinator, so I often over-plan as a means to override this bad habit! To keep everything organized on social, I use Buffer for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and just started using PLANOLY for Instagram. To be honest, I've always been slightly protective over our IG, so I am a super late adapter to using an app to keep things organized - but let me tell you, PLANOLY is a GAME CHANGER! We recently hosted our first ever conference, COLLAB/17, which consisted of a ton of planning from multiple teams, all of which totally paid off for a successful event. For the conference, we decided that Instagram Stories would be the best way to showcase the event and get others involved. Since this was happening live, it was a different type of planning than I am used to on a daily basis. There was a lot of memorizing of Instagram handles, as well as having them written down in a Google Doc as a back-up (because like I said - the memory of a shrimp). Instagram Stories is something that we are attempting to integrate more but found that it can be difficult to find the right content to share as a company and still hold people's interest. So the strategy is still coming together - I think polls will play a larger role in this!
What are your thoughts on the terms "influencer" vs. "blogger" and do you think there's a difference between the two?
Traditionally, there were bloggers, and there were influencers. But as of late, those bloggers have become the influencers. Even though this classification is still relatively new, it is one that does make sense, especially when you think about the term influence and what it means, "to affect, have an impact on, guide, shape, etc." It is no wonder that the U.S. Influencer Marketing Industry is estimated to grow from $500M to a $5 - $10 Billion Industry by 2020* (*Branded Influencer Content Across Social & Blogs; Source: eMarketer, BI Intelligence, MediaKix).
Based on your experiences throughout your career, what are your tips for modern marketers who are looking to streamline their content strategy?
Consider the following -
- What is your product and why do people need it?
- What are your message and voice? How do they differentiate you within the mix?
- Where are you going to use your brand messaging and voice?
(i.e., Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Instagram) - How are you going to use these things to monetize?
With Bloglovin's premise for community, who are a few bloggers, creatives or content creators that you're inspired by and think we should be keeping an eye on?
OMG, hardest question ever! Right now we are seeing this amazing and exciting trend of content creators leveraging their following into new business ventures. This is a killer time for entrepreneurs in digital. Whether it is Cyndi Ramirez (@cyndiramirez), who started with Taste the Style (@tastethestyle) and just recently launched NYC's most chill nail salon, Chillhouse (@chillhouse); or Zanita Whittington (@zanitazanita), of Zanita Studio (@zanitastudio) who dreamt and cultivated a space for online courses, Azalle (@azalle), and created it. We are also experiencing this fantastic moment where influencers and creators are starting to share a bit more of the uncut version of themselves and addressing issues and concerns they want to see changed - A trend that I personally couldn't be more excited for. Katie Sturino, of The 12ish Style (@the12ishstyle), is one of my favorite examples of this - she's so real, and aims to inspire women every day to live a more confident life, something we can and should do! Trust me, check - out her content - you'll thank me later.