Episode 48 of the Influencer Marketing Lab podcast where Verity Park, founder of TBH Talent talks creators.
The Influencer Marketing Lab podcast is sponsored by Tagger the data-driven influencer marketing platform and social listening tool.
Welcome to episode 48 of the Influencer Marketing Lab - a weekly podcast tracking the growth spurts and growing pains of influencer marketing.
This podcast is sponsored by Tagger the data-driven influencer marketing platform and social listening tool.
This week I'm in conversation with Verity Park, founder of TBH Talent. We discuss Verity's move from Gleam to start up two businesses: one nurturing emerging talent; the other working with established creators.
We talk TikTok Shop and also explore the dynamic tension between talent management companies and talent managing themselves. We examine the benefits and potential drawbacks of each.
- Brands and agencies can contact Verity via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Verity Park on LinkedIn
- TBH Talent on TikTok
- TBH Talent on Instagram
- The Influencer Marketing Lab podcast with Calum Watson
- The Influencer Marketing Lab podcast with Dominic Smales
- The Influencer Marketing Lab podcast with Lucy Loveridge
Verity Park interview transcript
Scott Guthrie 02:11
We've met a few times over the months at the influencer marketing awards at a blogosphere event and again, most recently at the influencer marketing show. We'll come on to what you're doing now a little bit later in the show, but catch me up to date. You grew up on a farm. You read English and theatre at university, four and a half years at gleam. But what brought you to influencer marketing and specifically managing digital talent?
Verity Park 02:42
I've always been fascinated by the digital space. And ultimately, I used to be a consumer of it myself. I used to watch a lot of YouTube I used to sit on Instagram and consume content, which I think the whole way that you consume content after working in the space completely changes but it was essentially a hobby of mine for for many years, which I love because it reminds me of kind of turn what you're you enjoy doing into a job and you'll never work a day in your life which feels very fitting to me at the moment. But yeah, I watched the rise of brands like Jim shark and grenade in the very early stages using affiliate influencer marketing and blowing up their brands in a kind of really affordable and accessible way. And that was really before the industry was even professionalised. And I was just transfixed by how ordinary people were essentially becoming celebrities in their own right. So, at the time when I was at university, I didn't think I really realised it could be a career. Before I saw the job opening at gleam for talent coordinator, which I applied and obviously, the rest was then history.
Scott Guthrie 03:53
You mentioned Jim shark there and we're lucky enough to have Callum Watson on the show, I think in series one, so that was very interesting. He was Jim shark right from the from the founding and just what a meteoric rise that company has had. Your time at gleam was during the time of industry expansion, and industry exploration. You started there in 2017. And you left earlier this year, but during that time, gleam was led for much of the time by its founder Don smells, and by Lucy leverage both past guests of this podcast as well as both industry pioneers but 30 Did you take anything away? In particular from their management style?
Verity Park 04:39
Yeah, absolutely. I think the whole time it gleam on my whole time at gleam it felt like we were very much on the cusp of something exploring something doing something new all the time, you know, entering kind of different subsections of this brand new industry. So the whole period of time I spent there was incredibly excited Seen engaging. But I guess what I learned from DOM is he isn't afraid to go out there and say something different or carve a path of his own. He's always educating or anticipating where the industry is going next. And he's the first to jump on it, which is exactly what he did with gleam. And now with glow. So yeah, his management style was very much about encouraging us to be entrepreneurial, and keep our fingers on the pulse, which is what this industry is all about, and obviously giving us the freedom to do that. And then Lucy, similarly knows the industry like the back of her hand. And that much is very, very clear when you work with her day in and day out. Then she's a team player, but also driven and ambitious for her clients. And that is a really unique combination. They I loved working with both of them and everyone at gleam, and I hope to foster a similar culture at tbh where employees feel empowered to make things happen carve out their own voice in the space.
Scott Guthrie 05:53
I met up with Lucy a few months ago at Soho House, and we spoke this is no exaggeration. We spoke for two and a half hours without pausing for more than five seconds. And I'd never met Lucy before, but it was such a nice and natural conversation that we had. She's very knowledgeable about the space. When I first met Dom I think back in 2016, we had a breakfast meeting whilst I was still working at Ketchum as you say, entrepreneur, but a great sort of navigator at once was a new and exciting industry trying to work out where to go next how to professionalise and grow the industry. Let's talk about what you're doing now. You found a tbh talent and tbh community, your target audience within tbh community seems to be different to those you manage that gleam at tbh community you're focused on emerging talent rather than big name, talent. Why that shift in focus?
Verity Park 06:52
Yeah, I think there's a bit of a story to this one, really.
Scott Guthrie 06:55
That's handy, seeing as this is a podcast.
Verity Park 06:58
Helpful, isn't it? But in February of this year, I created a TikTok account called tbh talent. And it really was about documenting my experience as a talent manager. And my tagline was I lift the lid on the space. But essentially, I talk about the things that people very rarely talk about. I'd create videos with rate card estimations, strategy predictions, and I show the behind the scenes of the industry which people rarely get to see those videos began gaining traction with some of them reaching over half a million people. The TikTok algorithm honestly never fails to amaze me. I have creators at all stages of their journey reaching out to ask questions, like so many of these I'd consider to be simple obvious. But of course, it was simple to me because I'd worked in the space for six years. But ultimately, as the space has become more saturated, there is a whole subsection of creators who never get access to that information. Some of the DBH community members might have even been charging nothing for something that a tbh managed talent would charge 1000 pounds for. So there are so many emerging creators that have no idea what their value is to a brand, or how to articulate that or monetize it. And that was what led to the launch of tbh community which caters for those emerging creators, creators who perhaps haven't even monetized their followings yet, but want to and could something people really don't realise is that creators with as little as 3000 followers are able to monetize their followings. And maybe they just don't have the awareness or education or networked vote to do that
Scott Guthrie 08:38
Does it have to be 3,000 on a specific platform or 3,000, across other platforms?
Verity Park 08:44
or when I say 3000, loosely, like it could be 1000, if they create really good content, they could still have value to a brand. I say, three 3000 Because we've secured paid flat fee deals for talent with a following of 3000 or less. It's because just the way that brands are working with creators is changing. So it's actually less to do with the following. I hate using following numbers because you do it as a way of, I guess giving some It's something everyone understands, right. But actually, following numbers are kind of irrelevant, it's more about the value. So you could have 10,000 followers and you know, have a really high engagement rate. And you could have 100,000 followers and have a really low engagement rate. And actually, if what you're looking for is engagement, then you could be offering the same level of engagement no matter how high your following is
Scott Guthrie 09:33
100%. And also if you're talking about the quality of the content, you might be repurposing that content to appear on the on the brand's own social and website as well. So the value might be in the quality of the content rather than the value of the community. So it absolutely depends on your objective.
Verity Park 09:50
Yeah, and I mean, the reason being and the reason why creators with smaller followings are becoming an increasingly important part of this face and need that community and that representation that we offer it tbh is because brands are using UGC content more and it's becoming an increasingly important part of a brand having a presence online. And UGC content will often perform better on socials than your highly produced edited ad formats, which is obviously what people are used to seeing or thinking about when they think of branded content. But ultimately, it costs far less for a brand to ask an emerging creator who's skilled in creating UGC content on their iPhone at home, to create something rather than hiring and paying for producers, videographers, editors, or location actors, hair or makeup and all the rest of it. Because ultimately, they'll create something less expensive, they're able to do it more quickly. And it'll likely perform better. So yeah, the shift in focus to emerging creators was to represent those people, and to ensure that they have the knowledge and education to represent themselves effectively when needed, but also to provide brands access to a pool of emerging creators who are more affordable and oftentimes more effective at producing social content.
Scott Guthrie 11:20
Well, you've articulated the problem in a very compelling way. But what what's the solution? What does tbh community offer that you think is missing within the Digital talent industry.
Verity Park 11:32
So it's this point around emerging creators, you're unable to access management at tbh community, we non exclusively manage any creator, whether they have 2000 or 100,000, followers, whatever category they sit in, and we offer them affordable access to advice that otherwise would be gate kept for creators with management. So we provide advice from experienced influence managers, three times a month we offer event invites access to educational webinars, as well as paid and gifted opportunities with brands like Mack, Avon, fitflop, Amazon Prime, and so many more. So we essentially act as a phone management company for talent, who otherwise wouldn't be able to access management, or perhaps they don't want it or need it. That really
Scott Guthrie 12:18
helps me understand. So tbh talent is your other side of the business that manages the talent. To when we first started talking a few months ago, you had a roster of five, but now I think you've doubled that your roster of 10. Is that right? Verity? That's right. Firstly, congratulations on that that's an amazing achievement to have doubled it in a matter of months, what's the criteria that you use to identify the new talent to work with?
Verity Park 12:43
So people always expect you to say following here, but actually following is generally irrelevant for us when choosing talent to represent at tbh talent? probably say the main things, we'd look at our engagement and community. So how engaged is their following? We'd want to see a high engagement rate and get a strong community feels so how much are they commenting how much they liking? How much are they engaging? How much are you reaching? So as I said earlier, if you've got 100,000 followers, but you're only getting 100 likes, there's been a disconnect there? And then we've got
Scott Guthrie 13:19
Engagement, is that for sponsored and organic, or do you do take a different level of engagement ratio?
Verity Park 13:27
ultimately, you're always going to, or mostly going to see a dip in engagement if the content is branded. And the reason being is because there's an element to which that content is not organic, whilst you can have brand partnerships that are organic. And so many brands are increasingly educated these days. And they will come to Tallinn and say, Look, we want these key messages. But actually, we want you to run with them, we want you to be the kind of creative lead on this content. Ultimately, when there's brand messaging involved, an audience can spot that and whether it's organic or not, there will tend to be a dip in engagement, particularly particularly if the content is properly disclaimed, which absolutely should be. Thank you. So really, you're I'm expecting to see a dip in kind of branded engagement. But across the board, it's more kind of generally across the board, how is their engagement looking? Are they highly engaged? And then we look at growth potential, it's important that talent is growing or has growth potential. In some cases, it kind of depends, strategically, what we'd be looking to do with them. But if they are kind of if they're coming in at a smaller following is their growth potential. For me conversions really important. And the reason that is is because ultimately, it's what brands generally are looking for when they're working with talent. Not always but often. So I'd be looking at what value I could see those creators we're bringing. We have creators who work on tech Talk Shop and I can see they convert really, really strongly on there. So I'll be using that as a way of selling them into brands and making them, you know, really exciting to brands. So it's really either conversion or quality of content because I also have creators who perhaps aren't on TikTok shop perhaps don't have you like to know it or aren't tracking their affiliates because actually, their value to brands is creating high value highly engaged content that brands can then repurpose themselves or boost. So they don't necessarily need to have conversion. But I'd want to see myself what the value was that they were adding to brands before signing them onto my 360 roster.
Scott Guthrie 15:42
Anything else? It's a long list so far.
Verity Park 15:45
I think they're the kind of primary points but outside of that the ability to develop and grow outside of traditional brand deals. Generally speaking talent we onboard onto our managed roster we can see have potential outside of brand deals. So that might be products, publishing, podcasts, TV, and that will ultimately be a judgement call on all of the above few factors and what we can see is happening in the industry at the time and what the industry needs.
Scott Guthrie 16:24
Listen, we're beginning to see a bit of a dynamic tension in the space between talent management companies versus in house teams managing yourself as a creator. What do you see clarity are the benefits and potential drawbacks for creators working through a talent agency?
Verity Park 18:40
Great question. And I think it's a really interesting movement at the moment, we can just see talent, building teams in house obviously great examples of that, Victoria McGrath and Rochelle Humes. And there are, of course, so many more. And you can see why. Ultimately, they increase brand control, they own their brand relationships, and in many cases not always all become more profitable. But in my opinion, there's absolutely a place for traditional management, which is of course, why TBH Talent exists alongside TBH Community. The two major benefits in my opinion of having traditional management, our wider network and a bigger team. So I always say to my emerging creators in the TBH Community that the thing that managed talent have over non managed talent is touch points within the industry. So myself and the team that TBH are constantly speaking to our contacts that the platform's brands, agencies publications, basically, just to keep our fingers on the pulse and make sure that our 360 Talented getting the best and most up to date advice. And if you're not managed by a traditional management agency, nor are you part of a community like TBH, you're not going They get access to that. And then a bigger team is something else you get. So if you join a management team, you will likely immediately have access to a manager, maybe an assistant, a finance team for invoicing. If you're building a team in house, then that's inevitably going to happen slower, because you'll need to build the additional resource into your p&l, but it doesn't mean it's not possible. So I sit on both sides of the coin and I think that there's absolutely a need for both.
Scott Guthrie 20:33
A lot of what we talked about in this conversation is the professionalising of the industry. And as its professionalised, as it becomes more nuanced, and it kind of splinters into different areas. So it's not a one size fits all industry, if even if it ever was a one size fits all industry to make it either one or the other. You're either in sourcing or outsourcing kind of misses the point a little bit, I think you have to look at the objectives. Look at the strategy. Look at the time commitment. It doesn't necessarily fall into one one or the other. Your focus is increasingly TikTok based right now what firstly, is that right? I've got that right. And secondly, if I have got it, right, why are you doubling down on TikTok? Yeah,
Verity Park 21:17
increasingly, yes. I mean, we do manage a few Instagram first creators currently, but 80% of our roster is TikTok first, and we're advising I Instagram first creators to invest heavily into TikTok. And as a result, they're quickly growing and TikTok presence alongside their Instagram or YouTube presence. I'm really excited about what the future holds with TikTok and brands. Whilst as generally with anything new, I mean, we saw it with the move from YouTube, Instagram blogs to YouTube, and all the rest of it. Brands have been slow to pick it up. But I think TikTok is going to be a huge part of the brand's marketing mix moving forwards. I mean, research has shown that brands who partnered with creators on TikTok saw a 26% bump in brand favourability and 71% of TikTok. Users say creator authenticity in app motivates them to buy a product or brand. And I can just see it's this movement again towards authenticity. So before social media, we would see the shiny highlight of celebrities via magazines. Then social media democratised the celebrity basically allowing ordinary people in their bedrooms to become celebrities within their own communities, and within their own right. And now we're seeing a resurgence of authenticity with the Emma Chamberlain raw vlogging style, which is increasing in popularity amongst Gen Z. And then TikTok, which is offering a space for unfiltered access to ordinary people. And we know people trust people. So yeah, check TikTok changing the face of how consumers shop and I think the brands who become familiar with this quickly are going to ultimately win back
Scott Guthrie 22:59
that's really interesting. So there's a report by Insider intelligence published in July and it looks exclusively at the US market but often we the in the UK we follow that market a few months later, the US influencer marketing spend on platforms. So the big daddy is still Instagram, no huge surprise about that and around about sort of 4344 cents and every advertising dollar spent on influencer marketing is spent on Instagram. But if you look at the sort of the outlier TikTok in 2019, it contributed 2.3% 2.4% And that doubles in 2020 doubled again in 2021. This year, the amount of spent by marketers on influencer marketing on TikTok is due to overtake Facebook, and by 2024 is due to overtake the amount spent on YouTube. There is some science or some data, validating what you're seeing as well. And also we see this priming effect which I think you mentioned where if we see a piece of content that originates on Tik Tok, we're more likely to feel a positive sentiment towards it if we said on Instagram or if we said on television commercial, and we're less likely to have our thumb hovering over the skip button on on a YouTube ad. Which leads me I suppose to the TikTok shop phenomenon. TikTok now offers brands and creators This is TikTok shop and its tagline where entertainment meets commerce. What success if only have your talent enjoyed using this feature.
Verity Park 24:41
I adore TikTok shop and I truly see it as the future and I encourage my talent to lean into TikTok and TikTok shop. It's this combination of the TikTok algorithm which allows you know, people in their bedrooms to gain massive traction as well as the To the end platform shopping feature which is so easy to use and makes TikTok such a powerful platform to for brands to make sales. So one of my clients 32nd video showing off her hair routine, just made in her bedroom made 7k worth of sales over 24 hours for haircare brands. Another talent sold 65,000 pounds worth of products across just four live streams. This is honestly just a few stats that I could talk about from my roster of the incredible, incredible work that they can do for brands, they can change the game for emerging brands anyway,
Scott Guthrie 25:43
though, what's the essence of the success? Is it relatability? Is it being authentic? What what is the essence of brand collaboration here on the TikTok shop.
Verity Park 25:52
So it's the authenticity, which it always is with brand partnerships, a highly engaged TikTok talent, and a brand that makes sense for them. If it gets lost on the TikTok algorithm, and you know booms which is what happened with lose video, the talent I spoke about getting 7k sales and 24 hours. I think the video reached maybe like 2 million people within 24 hours because it it was taken by the TikTok algebra algorithm. And then the ease ability of the shopping process on TikTok is what makes it such a great place for brands to be
Scott Guthrie 26:32
Well, I think we've almost run out of time, I'll ask Where can listeners turn to for more information about you and about tbh and just explain to listeners what tbh stands for. So
Verity Park 26:45
TBH stands for to be honest. The reason why is because I always use that term. When I'm speaking to clients. I like to put honesty and transparency at the front of everything that we do here at tbh. So that is where tbh talent and tbh community has come from and a little bit about how you can find us. So if you're brand new or agency looking to work with either highly engaged macro creators, or access a network of hundreds of emerging creators for UGC, paid or gifted ops, you can contact me at Verity at tbh talent.com. Otherwise, please just make sure to give us a follow on tbh talent on Instagram TikTok or LinkedIn and you'll be able to contact us there and see what we're up to.
Scott Guthrie 27:34
I'll be sure to include those links in the show notes accompanying this podcast episode. Just google the influencer marketing lab for further details there. Virtually Park founder and CEO I suppose at tbh talent and tbh community thank you so much for your time and for your insights today.
Verity Park 27:54
Thank you Scott.