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Episode 265
July 29, 2022

“Content Isn’t Community”

Today, Philip and Brian welcome back Kendall Dickieson to chat about the creator economy, how TikTok is changing the way for brands, digital pruning, and how creation affects community. Tune in now!

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this episode sponsored by

Balancing the Why 

  • The Creator economy has begun to shift the DTC space and change the landscape, but there is still proof in the pudding. 
  • “Platforms like TikTok have exposed the true analytics for the most part, but there's still things on the back end that we don't really know unless we ask the creator.” -Kendall
  • Digital pruning- where we should be watering and filtering our social channels, and tending to our gardens (accounts.)
  • There can be an over-pruning of social accounts and your community. Brands and creators should be watchful of these thresholds
  • “There's so much that brands need to do to exist on social from the content creation side to now, contracting out creators, to building out teams.” -Kendall
  • Phillip poses the question: Does the creation of a community become undermined by most people going to a social platform and getting them to move out of the entertainment box to the getting value box?
  • Great marketing and a great product equals amazing success 

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Brian: [00:01:11] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:17] I'm Phillip. Kendall, you're back. We're glad to have you back on the show.

Kendall: [00:01:20] I am. Round two. Let's do it.

Phillip: [00:01:22] And it's been a little while since we had you. We'll cover a few things. I want some hot takes up front, though. So before we get into it, Kendall, you're best known for the work that you do in the social space, especially influencer... I know that there's been a lot of discussion lately and sort of changing the taxonomy. We call it creator economy now. And I just hosted a panel at GROW last week, and I think one thing that just kind of blew my mind was we had Steven Vigilante from Olipop, and he was on that panel. He said, "TikTok came in and sort of democratized the creator economy by making video views and all of that very public." Since the last time we talked in particular all of that has sort of changed and been reoriented now. What are you seeing right now, today in the space? What's going on?

Kendall: [00:02:17] I would say well, number one, I'm jealous that I wasn't at that panel because I had intentions of going, but FOMO. Then number two, I would say, yeah, I mean, I think I agree with what Steve said because I think it made things so much more obviously out there and you can't really hide anything. We see on Instagram now, all creators are hiding everything except their reals because it's reforming. And I think also, like, it's just changed the I don't want to say it's even like changed the landscape, but maybe it has. It's kind of like proof is in the pudding, too, that the number of followers that you don't have, like, doesn't ring true. Just because you have a milli doesn't really mean a whole lot. If you have 5K and you're pulling in numbers it speaks volumes on platforms like TikTok. And I think also like I just had a shout out to Danny from #paid since I just saw him, but we had a great conversation about TikTok and our thought process there. Just when a video pops off, where are these people coming from when their accounts are growing at that steady and that fast of a pace from like a video that hit 2 million views? And where are those views coming from? And so it's like even with that, though, the creators who might have like these tighter communities or smaller followings who are bringing in numbers at the same time, you almost have to be like, but where are those numbers coming from? So I think even though platforms like TikTok have exposed the true, for the most part, analytics, there are still things on the back end that we don't really know unless we ask the creator. So it's like the watch time of the video to know like if a brand is going to pay this creator like it should be 6 seconds because their average stopping point is 6 to 7 seconds, which is like standard. And then also it's the viewership. If all your viewers are from Canada, China, and India, but your product that sells in the US, then...

Phillip: [00:04:22] Yeah. There are still some things that you'd have to tease out in that relationship.

Kendall: [00:04:27] Yeah. But I would say yeah, I mean, obviously with a lot of the brands that I work with and just brands that I talk to you, it's always about TikTok right now and whether that's from the standpoint of like how do we get big? Or it's like how do we get into the hands of people that are big? But I think that goes into a spiel that I can always go on forever around proper influencer seeding and like gifting with no expectation because usually that's when the best things happen.

Phillip: [00:04:55] That actually opens up a whole second level of conversation. Brian, what would happen if all of our podcast numbers and listen numbers were made public tomorrow?

Brian: [00:05:04] I mean, for us?

Phillip: [00:05:07] I think a lot of people would be surprised at how big we are. {laughter}

Brian: [00:05:09] Probably. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:05:11] It's shocking, actually. I mean, I see all these flexes everywhere.

Brian: [00:05:15] We're big for our niche.

Kendall: [00:05:15] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:05:15] It's true. Yeah. Yeah.

Kendall: [00:05:18] I mean, but that's the point, too, where it's like some of these things where I think... Let's see, I forgot if I had said it to you guys last time. But for example, there was a brand that I'm still on and Kris Jenner posted. To many people, if you're like newer to the space, you'd be like, "Holy {...}, Kris Jenner posted. We're about to pop off." No, that's not the case. Why? Because a personal brand is diluted with a lot of people who have no interest in what she's actually talking about. They're there for the family drama and stuff like that. So their real communities aren't actually that big.

Brian: [00:06:01] Which is why I feel like you have to balance the why of audience. I think that's always been a problem is we spend so much time analyzing numbers, but we forget about like, okay, what is this content?

Phillip: [00:06:16] What are they there for?

Brian: [00:06:17] What is it there for? And that's actually an analysis of the creator themselves.

Kendall: [00:06:21] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:06:23] It's funny, actually. Eli Weiss said that the other day. It was like, you know, for every hundred B2B content engagements, like 80 of them are people hate watching so that they can like rail against you on Twitter and it's super true. It's just super true. Yeah. Coming back around on that. Go ahead. You were saying something.

Brian: [00:06:43] Oh, no, just I'm curious and I'm not shifting gears too far here. I think one of the reasons why Elon is pulling out of Twitter isn't actually as much about the value of the stock price. But it was a fight over fake followers and what fake accounts meant on the platform. And I do wonder...

Phillip: [00:07:04] Are you really buying the election fraud discussion now? We haven't had this conversation yet. You buy that that that's not the actual problem?

Brian: [00:07:12] No, not at all. We're not going...

Phillip: [00:07:14] That's the discourse.

Brian: [00:07:15] I'm not going down this discourse. No, I'm just talking about fake accounts.

Phillip: [00:07:20] I had to just... I was like, did I just black out and, like, wake up in the middle of a different conversation? Where does this come from, Brian?

Brian: [00:07:25] No, no. But I think that there is like an element of that where it's like even if they're not fake, is there any discernible difference between a fake account and one that's just there for like whatever?

Kendall: [00:07:39] I think also this is something I used to do on my food account. I would always every month wipe the slate clean of like all those people. So I'd literally go through, it would take me like an hour, and I would literally just like type in every letter of the alphabet and every like number combination and like all those "iPhone give away" types of accounts and just get rid of them because that is used against you. People don't really realize that. But it's also because I don't want my numbers, I'd rather cut my own numbers so that it's tighter. I don't care how good it looks, I want it to perform well.

Phillip: [00:08:18] This is such an interesting discussion. I was talking about this with Abby on the Future Commerce team last week when we were at GROW, and we were talking about this concept of like digital pruning. And this is if you're... I'm not a gardener. I know Brian, you have a pretty prolific garden but don't go in and prune one plant, right? You go in and it's a process and you do it with some regularity. You go in, I assume, and you prune everything while you're in pruning. You've got the tool in hand. Is that right Brian?

Brian: [00:08:53] No. It depends on the season. You don't prune your apples and roses at the same time necessarily.

Phillip: [00:08:59] But you do prune them regularly... Okay. Whatever. The point being, I love it. I love when an analogy goes wrong. This is why I should never analogize anything. The point being, it's a regular process that has a cadence. And you should be constantly tending to that garden.

Brian: [00:09:19] Yes. That's true.

Phillip: [00:09:19] And when you tend to the garden, you're going to realize there were things that were growing up and cropping up along the way that were harming you. It was choking out the good stuff as opposed to allowing the good stuff to thrive. It's a really interesting behavior.

Brian: [00:09:39] It is. It should be something that happens on a regular basis. To that point. It's a rhythm. It's a discipline, really. Because I'll tell you, pruning is a lot of work. And that should be one of the questions that brands ask creators, "What's your discipline around keeping it real?"

Kendall: [00:10:00] I've done a lot of like whitelisting with brands on my own account, but also at the same time, there's a love-hate relationship from at least from when I was the creator that brands are whitelisting through. There's like this love-hate relationship with it because yeah, it's like free traffic to me and a lot of it is targeted perfectly and like there are people I want following me. But at the same time, you obviously get like the people that you don't really want following you, or that doesn't make sense. So it's just I think that's like what spurred it in me because I was like, "Cool, I'm getting all these followers," but it's like, okay, this person makes no sense. Or then you see one of the random accounts, like one post and like zero followers and following 5,000 people. They're not going to see your stuff.

Brian: [00:10:43] No. That can't be real. Although I do have a question for you, like what about overpruning? Because I've seen some level of like purism among certain spaces where it's like they just only want to engage with the white-hot center. And anyone that's not super passively engaged gets cut off.

Phillip: [00:11:04] Is that like brands that only follow one person?

Brian: [00:11:07] Right? Or like yeah, exactly. Like over pruning of your community.

Kendall: [00:11:11] I think that's too much. And that's just me. I know so many people are different on that standpoint, but the ratios of things, right? Like, do I have like my threshold personally from a brand side? Usually, the first boundary to me is like 1,000 people. But that also depends on where you sit. But it's also like if I'm following anyone, it's like there is a reason. So if I go over this number I kind of set for myself, like I'm not going to be like, "Oh my God, I'm at 999. If I go over the whole world explodes." But it's also to me, I think people who over prune like that, I feel like you're shooting yourself in the foot because you're supposed to be social on social. So from the brand side too.

Phillip: [00:11:58] Right.

Kendall: [00:11:58] It's not just like one side carries the whole relationship of "We're putting out the content, and we're reaching out to the creators, and we're doing all this stuff. Everyone come to us."  [00:12:10]Social platforms reward you for putting in the work as well, right? So you should be following the people who support you. You should be following the creators who you're working with and paying money or not paying money or that just love you. You should be paying attention to your super fan customers. J [00:12:29]ust stuff like that. I just think you're shooting yourself in the foot from like possible engagement standpoint because the platform could be like "They're not doing anything. Everything is going to them." So I mean, I would use, even though it's not like a DTC brand, but for instance, like let's call it Twitter, LinkedIn, right? If you go comment on someone's tweet, the odds of them going back to look at your account and like a few of your tweets or comment something or retweet something are going to be way higher. Same with LinkedIn. LinkedIn rewards people who are like, okay, cool. I commented on Phil's posts and I commented on my friend Tommy's post and all this stuff and it's going to boost it. Or if I like your post, I know I just started getting more into like my own LinkedIn and frequently post on there and yeah, I mean it's just like a cascade effect. I still have a post from like three weeks ago that just keeps getting every single day just more and more and more because more people are wanting to engage with it. And then I just shoot it right back.

Brian: [00:13:29] LinkedIn is really good about that, actually. It's a good one for that. They resurface stuff really well.

Kendall: [00:13:36] Yeah, that's been my, if anything, the greatest platform to at least kind of take that information and say it again. It rewards people really well because I think also there's so much that brands need to do to exist on social from the content creation side to now, it's contracting out creators to help out on that content creation side build out teams because like one person social team should not be a common thing anymore. That's a hot take. {laughter} However, do I recognize that some brands cannot afford that option right now? Yes. But the goal should be to grow the team, not give it to one person for X amount of years, and also giving them the resources that they need. But yeah, I just think it's it's one of those things where a lot of the brands are like, "Well, we have to focus so much on this. The last thing we should be doing is community." But that's why. Brands are like, "Well, we don't have community." And then they ask themselves why? And I'm like...

Phillip: [00:14:39] This is the reason why.

Brian: [00:14:41] You haven't invested in it at all.

Phillip: [00:14:41] You haven't invested in it.

Kendall: [00:14:42]  [00:14:43]Content isn't community, but people think that content is community. [00:14:46]

Phillip: [00:14:46] Well, that's because inherently... Yeah.

Kendall: [00:14:49]  [00:14:49]If you engage with the people on your content, you build community. [00:14:53] If you are just posting and chillin and being like toss the phone... Like where?

Phillip: [00:15:00] But let me ask you a question, Kendall, because we're sort of like post-social in media where it's inherently social, but I don't know that it counts as being a form of social circles anymore. Social circles certainly started with the people you know, and so there were the people you know. And then there are the people that you sort of know professionally. And then it became people that you didn't know, but now you're going to get to know. And that's sort of where Twitter was. And now TikTok is just about literally anyone but the people you know, just please don't show me anyone I know. And so we've actually really it's almost like transgressive in that it's this concept of community should evolve naturally by engaging in public discourse and media, but they don't equate to a community. So the question really is does "creation of a community," and I use air quotes there because I have a thesis about it, but does the creation of a community undermined by the fact that most people are going to something like Twitter purely for entertainment and getting them to move out of the entertainment box into the I get value from these people that I'm engaging with box is actually quite hard.

Kendall: [00:17:25] It's so really good question.

Brian: [00:17:29] I think what you're saying, Phillip, is that social media is literally just a publishing platform with different...

Phillip: [00:17:36] It is...

Brian: [00:17:37] With different structures.

Kendall: [00:17:39] Yeah. I don't know. I think it's one of those things too where it's becoming... I think the amount of platforms that are either growing or people are trying to like jump on one, forget the others, there are just so many things that are not helping brands in the community building essence where you would think it would help but like it doesn't because they're so spread thin. So I think it only goes back to the idea of you don't need to be on everything at once.

Phillip: [00:18:09] True. Yeah.

Kendall: [00:18:09] Just because like your competitors are on there or like people who are like-minded like you are on there you shouldn't be forcing your team's hand or whoever it is running point on that to be on the platform as soon as possible. Because just because you're first doesn't mean you're going to one, pop off in like 2 seconds. It also doesn't mean that like your quality, your quality is probably going to suck, to be quite honest, because you're rushing to something just in the hopes that you be everyone else out of it. But if you don't have the resources to back that up, then bad start. And then I would say yeah, at least like from what I'm seeing right now, talking to either brands that are looking at launching later this year or brands that I've worked with for a year or two years, it is just always like, "Okay, cool, we've built this out so much," whether it's been completely organic and we haven't even turned on ads yet or that we kind of ran with ads first and organic came with it, or they work hand in hand really well. And I think now it's just such a mention of a lot of people at least are coming to me and being like, "We have this following. We don't know what to do with it."

Phillip: [00:19:28] So that's a really interesting thing because especially for eCommerce brands, brands that are making products and selling them to people, the what you do with it should result in some sort of commercial outcome, like they should be buying your product. But what I've witnessed and maybe you can dispel my myth because I'd love for you to do some myth busting with me, but what I believe exists in the world is what I call like a form of romanticism, where people sort of build these little collections in their minds, little mind museums of brands that fit certain categories. So when mentions happen online, people rattle off like, "What's the best brand for olive oil?" It's like seven, maybe three come to mind and they're going to get all the mentions. And I have a really hard time believing that every single person that slides into those mentions is a customer.

Kendall: [00:20:25] Yes.

Phillip: [00:20:26] How do you get them to move from awareness? I've heard from DTC Twitter for years that AIDA is dead, but how do you get people to move off of the awareness and the interest around a product and even the ability to like romanticize the fact that they know the product exists in the world and someone else might be looking for it. So they're like going all the way to evangelism already on your behalf, but they're not going to buy it. So how do we move that and how do you use social media to change that behavior? Because I think that's the thing that we're all trying to get at.

Brian: [00:20:55] That was a Brian Lange question.

Kendall: [00:20:56] Out of nowhere again, let's see... Man... I mean, that's something I thought about the other day, too, because you see everyone saying the same exact thing "What are the best pics on this website?" Or like "If you're looking for blank, what are your top favorites?" And yeah, it's so hard where you almost want to write in parentheses, "If you are an investor or like you have some stance in this company, please don't respond," or something like that because yeah, it's just like so hard to know from a consumer facing, if you were on DTC Twitter, you would be like, "Oh, no, he's nice, nice." And then you're like, "Oh... Nice, nice, nice."

Phillip: [00:21:39] Like, you know how these people network together, but an average bystander doesn't.

Kendall: [00:21:43] Yeah. And so I mean, that's a really interesting point with social, I think obviously Graza comes to mind because I think the one thing...

Phillip: [00:21:54] An olive oil brand you were involved with.

Kendall: [00:21:56] Yes, I still work on it. So I head up social and influencer. And I've been on Graza since we launched on January 11th, and I've been on that since October. And I would say like that it's one of the most mind-blowing projects to be on and shout out Grace because I'm super grateful to work with her, but also because one, I've learned so much, especially around retail, but then two, really about what it means to have these customers going into a store and being like, "Holy {...}, it's on the shelf," or like wanting to take a photo and send it. And these are people I don't know. These are people who just love everything about the brand. And I think it's like one of those things where it's true. At least when Graza was starting out, it became big on DTC Twitter because like the branding is great. But I think also it's one of those things where, yeah, it became like my goal and the team's goal was like, "We are not that Instagram olive oil. We are not the TikTok olive oil. We just happen to be there." And I think what changed that is that when people were buying it, customers were buying it, and even people from the community were buying it and tasting it and said, "Oh my gosh, the quality of the product actually matches the branding and both are great." And so I think it's like one, maybe this is a hot take, but it's like one, I don't know how many products out there, but [00:23:31] a lot of products in any space are somewhat facades because you get pulled in by the branding and the great marketing and the product isn't great and you can't really have people going to bat for you. But when you have... We all know that great marketing plus great product equals great success. So it's just that common sense. [00:23:51] But I think once you're able to get people in with what they want to see, these days from a customer standpoint, which is something that is aesthetically pleasing, something that can make them feel like they have something special or it delivers a certain experience. For Graza it's like makes their kitchen less messy. It looks nice on the counter. They feel like they're part of this new design revolution. But then also it's once you squeeze the oil out of the bottle, it's just I don't see myself going back to anything else or it's why was I using anything else before? And so, I mean, we get so many people who are just referring it out like crazy. I mean, most of the people in the ambassador program are customers, not even creators.

Phillip: [00:24:36] And I mean, and that's so like important. I don't know that it's like new in the world. I've certainly worked in a kitchen or two in my life where olive oil or an oil was in a squeeze bottle. But that's pretty novel already from a product perspective for the home, for the kitchen. And so I think that that's like one thing you sit up and take notice of is oh, that's pretty interesting. I think the other thing is it felt like you had a really long ramp of a few months of awareness before the product came, and I think that too many people rely on Big Bang social strategies and timed releases for seeding that if it doesn't go off, it feels like a massive failure.

Kendall: [00:25:31] Correct. And I would even say to that, I mean, I've been on both sides. I would say Graza is the one I've had the most time ever in, even though I've been on the brand side of social for two years. But when I was working in restaurants, it's like obviously, I can't really seed you dishes through the screen or anything like that, but I had to get people to the physical location, which you could imagine is extremely stressful. TBT. And I would say now for Graza, that's the most lead time I've ever had and that is the only way I ever want to operate going forward because I do well under pressure, but also at the same time it's like it just goes to show how much time it really took for something to generate impressions online and then also to slowly start getting to the hands of the right people and then seeing like, is this going to work honestly? And to be able to fix it by the time launch actually happens. And but I've also been on the side where I got the phone call being like, "Hey, I need you to start tomorrow." And it's like, "When's the launch?" "Two days from now." I have gone on those projects because it was fun. Would I recommend it? Only in dire situations, but most likely, no. It's super hard. And yeah, I think like that is the thing where then it goes down to the way that you're seeding and the expectations set and what makes it seem like a failure to the brand, because that's usually either an impression that was either ruined previously, I've realized at least. because say X person who ran it before or an agency was just getting it out to get it out. But no thought to the people that they were getting it out and the research wasn't fully done or the vetting wasn't fully done. But then it's also this expectation of how to treat the creator and if those are aligned with the person who is running the program. Because things are more expensive these days, but at the same time also one, you shouldn't be afraid to give product out to the person who's running the program. So my first question to someone, if they want me to handle influencer or seeding is like, "How much product can you give me?" Because if it's like ten units a month, you can't do anything with that. So that's like the first question I ever asked Andrew and Allen, and they were like, "As much as you want within reason of what our inventory allows."

Phillip: [00:28:15] What is a good amount for a product like Graza?

Kendall: [00:28:19] Really good question. So I would say depends, I would say low end 25 a month, high end could go up to 100.

Phillip: [00:28:26] How do you identify who to get it to? What's your strategy?

Kendall: [00:28:30] My strategy is one, honestly keeping a pulse on, especially with TikTok, who is really big. Let's say, and like all the cooking space overall, right? Obviously like with Graza, I think the one thing too that I would say if I was a brand looking at it, it's like go outside of your niche of where you usually see your product because there are other ways that people can use it that just are not in where you are. So to most olive oil, people would think like cool, go after like all the people who make pasta, and like that's kind of it, right? It's like if you make Italian food, you're getting Graza. Where it's like cool. You make barbecue, you're getting olive oil. You make cakes for a living, you're getting olive oil.

Phillip: [00:29:16] Oh yeah.

Kendall: [00:29:16] You love skin care, you're getting the olive oil. I went so wide, but like deep at the same time where now it's like I won't lie like yesterday... What is it? Sundays sometimes I like to catch up on... I'll catch up on work or get ahead for the week either/or. And so yesterday, I had some downtime and I just shot out DMs to these insane chefs and food creators who two years ago I'd be like, "Oh, I'd be so lucky if they open my message," and they're just opening it within like 10 minutes, being like, "Oh, I've seen you all over." Because people just know what the bottle looks like enough to say, "I've always wanted to try it."

Phillip: [00:29:59] It's huge.

Kendall: [00:30:02] It's come through identifying. It's just, I don't know, I think it's one, it's just, it's always such a hard question to answer because there are so many people that exist in all these niches. But it's like just doing your... Honestly, for me, it's like it's a gut check.

Phillip: [00:30:20] TikTok feels especially difficult because the algorithm that you're engaging with is so finely tuned to you. And you're an operator, trying to look outside of the things that you care about and try to put yourself in the shoes of your client. And that to me, feels like to some degree, it's like have you ever visited YouTube in Incognito?

Kendall: [00:32:15] Yes. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:32:15] It's like a wake-up call. This is what the rest of the world sees. It's crazy.

Kendall: [00:32:20] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:32:21] This is what's broken in society. And because the things that are geared around Kendall are very specific to Kendall. And I'm curious how you change your hat. Maybe this is kind of like where we wind up for today. We should just have you back like once a month.

Kendall: [00:32:45] It's not a bad idea.

Phillip: [00:32:46] It's a great idea, actually. If you were to figure out how or maybe give a little bit of advice about how others are thinking about the way that they're discovering that new content, what are some of those ways that you keep your own sort of algorithmic rabbit hole from informing the decisions you're making professionally? Or do you at all? Does that even come across your mind?

Kendall: [00:33:07] That is such a great question. I do. So obviously, I have my own accounts for everything so that I set my algorithm for myself. But it's also one of those things where like my algorithm lines up with a lot of what I do, not more so from like the education standpoint, let's say like my For You page on TikTok isn't like all social things, but it's like a lot of it's like food heavy and like recipe heavy. So that helps. Obviously, anyone that I really work in food. And then same thing though with Graza. It's like every single big food creator is on there or that it sorts itself out to be like that. And same with like restaurant accounts, which helps like wholesale leverage or like people we want to reach out to for collabs. So I separate it, but it still bleeds into each other. And I think also but I would say when it comes to those quirky you wouldn't think about this person using this product, it shows up on mine, and then it triggers me to go reach out from the brand side because I'll get hit with... Example, actually... There's this one TikTok account in case they ever listen to this. Her name is Jenny. The TikTok account is PeanutButterMochi and I think her biggest video has like 3.2 million views, and it is her boyfriend cooking for her when they got back from the bar and they're like completely hammered. But he made this, like, gourmet meal. I mean, like the best knife chopping I have seen. They're super young. I'm pretty sure they're in college or just graduated. Like, they crush it. And so every video is just like, "This is what my boyfriend cooked for me." And it's like, these people are in love with him. And I was like, "Can I please?" Just like, from every, every client that makes something food related, I was like, "Can I send you this, this, this, and this? Do whatever you want." Those weird videos to me where there's... Like videos where [00:35:07] there's this one couple where the girlfriend always takes a video of her boyfriend. It's like "What my boyfriend eats during the day," because he eats these, like, insane meals. And I'm like, "Do you guys like olive oil? Do you cook a lot with it?" Just random things where I'll think about like inserting it into a conversation because I think a lot of brands these days are they play it too safe. Either because one, yeah, I get it. We live in a weird world. Creators can do something stupid in a heartbeat, but if you trust them enough, I wouldn't think they would do you wrong. [00:35:47] But I think also, I would say with Graza and then like Gooey as well that I mentioned last time. Still eat those Gooey sandwiches with banana.

Phillip: [00:35:58] Oh yeah.

Kendall: [00:36:00] I would say we're not like afraid to be weird. I mean, for Graza, what did we do? We literally squeezed the bottle. So I'm on the fourth floor of the building and Andrew, the co-founder, he was downstairs on the sidewalk with a hot pan. If you go to the Graza TikTok...

Phillip: [00:36:21] I saw that. I saw that. Yeah.

Kendall: [00:36:23] And we literally squeezed the bottle from the fourth floor. I was scared. Oh, my God. I was like, I'm going to get arrested. Something's going to happen. I'm like, Grace, don't kill me. And like, yeah, I was literally squeezing olive oil from the fourth floor while people were walking by. And I'm like, I really hope I don't ruin this person's outfit. And then you, he cracked an egg in a hot pan. This man is just screaming at me from the sidewalk. And so it's like, we're not afraid to just do random things and have random people do things for us either.

Phillip: [00:36:54] Take more risk.

Kendall: [00:36:58] Yeah. There's always a way.

Phillip: [00:36:58] I think there's definitely a happy medium of it because the taking more risks on the brand account, you know, you sort of end up with horny brand Twitter and that's not a thing that I think that anyone's...

Kendall: [00:37:10] Oh my gosh. Horny Brand Twitter, don't even... So to be fair, I would say, Graza, we don't play into horny brand Twitter. We do, but we don't because like not to I don't know. There are ways for us to have fun with it. Like, people do make sexual innuendos about the bottle, but like, we just, we play into it. There is one video to like we have that as something we use for TikTok because of course. Like there's one video that was slow motion of Andrew putting a bottle in like buns really slowly. Like it's just like too graphic, but like people caught on, we didn't even have to, like, say anything. It was just slow motion.

Phillip: [00:37:52] Yeah. You didn't have to be, like, get the joke, guys.

Kendall: [00:37:55] We didn't need to say anything. People were just writing every single comment that you would kind of want to see. But you're also like, you know, this is weird, but let us have fun with it. But there was no hate. It was all just like not suitable for work. All day long. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:38:18] So there's a line, right? There's a line. And I think that testing the boundary is certainly natural. I think when...

Kendall: [00:38:24]  [00:38:24]...Butter.

Phillip: [00:38:26] I mean, that's over the line. Yeah.

Brian: [00:38:29] Yeah. There's definitely.

Phillip: [00:38:30] There wasn't a line here.

Brian: [00:38:31] Clear cut examples of over the line out there. I feel like taking risks though is the key and you need the right people internally. I want to get back to something you said a minute ago. I know we're running short on time. But you said you shouldn't just have one person run social. You should have multiple people on social. But it sounds like you and Andrew are kind of crushing it together. And I guess my question for you is, for the brands that can't necessarily afford it, is it better to sort of like internally source it and like have multiple people involved? Is it better to fractionalize it? Like how do you get scrappy with your social account these days, especially when that is kind of looked down on in some ways it's like the old way of doing it. What's the new scrappy in social?

Kendall: [00:39:28] It's such a good question because I'll do... It's not even like a then and now or before and after thing, but it's I remember still when I started on my first brand, which I'm still on, it's Canopy. They sell humidifiers.

Phillip: [00:39:43] Oh yeah.

Kendall: [00:39:43] And that was my first introduction into pre-launch brand, brand social. I was just learning so much and so I was lucky where it was super scrappy, like Google sheets for influencer management and all the stuff. So I know how to work on both ends. Now we just got onboarded onto like a big influencer platform. So now it's just insane to see the difference of how long you can be scrappy. I think it does go like the one thing being that I am on some occasions, like the one person on social. But I do have the resources because now I've made it clear that if we want this to be great, it can't just be me or whoever it is. So yeah, I would say like the new scrappy is I think one question that a friend texted me the other day who owns a company was, "Hey, I'm looking for like a junior coordinator. Maybe they're like fresh out of college or anything like that," but it's like, "Should they live here or should they live somewhere or can they live somewhere else?" Is remote work for social good or bad? Because he wants content creation and he has a location.

Phillip: [00:41:00] That makes sense.

Kendall: [00:41:02]  [00:41:02]I would say the biggest leverage right now is that if you can get scrappy with it, I would always aim to make sure that person is within living vicinity of the majority of the team. So then you can make sure that you guys can create things together. [00:41:17] I would say the reason in my eyes that a lot of the concepts that I thought about or Andrew or Grace or really anyone for Graza at least has been able to work is because we literally are all like a ten minute ride from one another. And the office is literally down the street in Williamsburg. We're able to be together and it goes to show too, I mean even when I go to the Canopy office we did a huge photo shoot on Wednesday and everyone was there. So I would say one scrappiness is vicinity. Remote sounds great, but you'd actually be better if they could live near you. And then two, I would say, yeah, I think like one, it's looking at your own budget and then saying like, "Okay, cool, do we actually need this thing? Can we move it over to social and like start hiring out and contracting?" I have a few creators that I oversee on multiple accounts who are on retainer for let's call it like 5 to 8 videos per month ranging from whether it's education on certain things or it's like recipe development or anything like that that only helps me leverage the other content I want to focus on. So that's hey, taking time from the founder or like anything like that. I think that also opens up a whole nother discussion around founders being on TikTok accounts or running TikTok accounts or I think thats' scrappy. Founders starting their own TikTok account for the brand and like they're the face. At the same time, I think there are so many brands who crush it on that front and I can think of so many off the top of my head, but longevity-wise I don't see it being a great thing because essentially it's like if you keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger on something like TikTok, and then all of a sudden it's like, I know Kendall's brand because she's always on TikTok or whatever." And then it's like, "Hey, I quit." "Oh, well, I only like the brand because of her." So it's like the same idea of building a brand.

Phillip: [00:43:36] It's true. That's a limiter to your future success. One that comes to mind, Brian, is a mutual friend of ours. Melissa Ben-Ishay who started doing Baked by Melissa.

Kendall: [00:43:50] Yeah. I met her like two and a half years ago.

Phillip: [00:43:53] Oh really? Oh, she's like one of the best people.

Kendall: [00:43:57] I had a client who did a podcast with her. Well, he had a podcast and we went to her office.

Phillip: [00:44:03] We go back years and I think it was like at the beginning of the pandemic, she started doing these making salad videos on TikTok and it's like algorithmically she's kind of been pigeonholed into being the salad lady on TikTok. And it's a shame because the brand account is now all salad. The cupcake company. But Melissa has to do those videos. It's not the same if it's not her. And that's certainly one of those, it's a double edged sword being founder-led on your social both ways. And I think also algorithmically we're just beginning to understand that you kind of get guided into a certain type of content, and that's what people expect from you. Very few are able to like break out of that, although some have done so.

Kendall: [00:45:03] Graza has done that, but I would say it actually works. Like you said, double edged sword. It either works against you or works for you. Let's say like for us, if you go on the account every like video that ever hit over 100K, 250K, 500K. Every time olive oil on ice cream.

Phillip: [00:45:25] Wow. It's funny. The one person I said, "What brands are you getting excited about recently and where did you find them?" And they said, "Oh my gosh, I'm in love with this brand. I found it at my local corner curio shop in Virginia, and it's this olive oil. And I put it on my ice cream." And I'm like, "Is it Graza?" And she's like, "Yeah." I'm like, "How?" {laughter}

Kendall: [00:45:53] Because... Do you know Soft Services? Body care company.

Phillip: [00:45:58] Yes.

Kendall: [00:45:59] I was with Rebecca, and like a few of us were there and there just ended up being a lot of people who either you knew online but haven't met in real life yet. And I was overhearing a conversation. It was on a rooftop, so it was like right behind me. And so I was like, "Oh, I really just love like how Graza has done everything." And I'm like, "Hello, wait."

Phillip: [00:46:23] Nice to meet you.

Kendall: [00:46:23] It's just insane because they don't even work in this. And so that's why I feel like, I won't lie like some people... I love everyone I work with so, so much. So to all my clients who might be listening to this, I love you. But like at the same time, though, it's one of those things where Graza to me is like this unicorn, and Grace and I actually spoke about this the other day when we were together. It's just something that, like, we've had for years. It's a product that sits in everyone's kitchen. Yeah, it's just like everything works.

Phillip: [00:47:03] I think you're touching on a really interesting point and we'll actually wrap it up with this, Kendall. It's been amazing having you back on. We don't do it enough. Let's do it more. There's an opportunity here where I think there are two sets of success in social, it seems right now with new brand launches. There's the sort of success where you start to see the feedback from industry insiders, people that you know validating that the thing that you need that you've made should exist in the world or that you've done it well. But that's not enough to be commercially successful. The next level of success is when it goes beyond that realm and you become surprised yourself that other people, like the real world, is validating what you've created. Not Twitter, not TikTok, but like real, everyday, ordinary people. And when you get there, that's when you realize, you've actually done your job. It's not the other thing.

Brian: [00:47:59] It's something you said earlier which was people said there was such a proof point when they saw it on the shelf. And I think that's something that I mean, the next conversation I'd love to have with you is how do IRL and social work together?

Kendall: [00:48:20] Ooh, I would love... I think there's like a whole thing.

Brian: [00:48:24] Yes.

Kendall: [00:48:25] I think there's this huge conversation around like, oh, well, you're on shelf, but social can't really do anything.

Brian: [00:48:34] Yeah, I think, again.

Phillip: [00:48:36] That'd be great to have for the next time. Kendall, awesome to have you. Is it still Flexible Foodie? Where can people find you online?

Kendall: [00:48:42] Is it Flexible Foodie. I'm going to see if I can get it changed on Twitter, but we'll see. Flexible Foodie for now.

Phillip: [00:48:48] If you need a Twitter handle broker, let me know. I've got a person for you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you all for listening to this episode of Future Commerce. You can find more podcasts from Future Commerce and other Future Commerce properties, including Decoded and our newest episode of Visions, which is out now on all platforms. You can get all of them in one convenient place. Thank you for listening. And hey, commerce is a catalyst for change. In whose world? Your world. The world around you. And maybe if we all did that, we'd have a better world to begin with. Thank you for checking us out. What happened there at the end? Thank you for listening.

Brian: [00:49:28] {laughter} Awesome.

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