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Influence Peddler: Sarah Boyd Gives a Voice to Tastemakers

Social media expert Sarah Boyd discusses why celebrities are revving up their digital channels to keep up with influencers.

Sarah Boyd began her career in fashion public relations, but she soon realized her passion was connecting people trying to jump-start their careers in the industry.

In 2012, she left her job with the goal to start a company bringing together behind-the-scene experts — stylists, bloggers and others — who she felt had a voice, but needed an avenue to get a leg up in the industry. Her company, Simply, hosted its first conference with about 750 influencers and industry leaders. Fast forward to today and there are several events held across the globe attracting more than 1,200 attendees.

A second component of Simply is helping grow the digital footprint of celebrities, bloggers and content providers. The Digital Network roster includes Alessandra Ambrosio, Audrina Patridge, Lauren Bushnell and Brandi Cyrus. The goal is to help manage digital content from assistance in everything from creating blogs to monetizing influencer campaigns.

In 2017, Nylon Media acquired Simply. Boyd holds the title of president of West Coast operations for Nylon, as well as founder of Simply.

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Here she talks about what can go wrong with influencer campaigns, why celebrities want to up their social media imprint and why there’s a deluge of social-content developed beauty brands.

WWD: What can go wrong with an influencer partnership and what makes successful team work?

Sarah Boyd: Influencer marketing has become very successful in the past few years, but a lot can go wrong. The most important thing is communication. Without the proper communication, there are reshoots and if the talent isn’t given control, the message can come across as inauthentic. The audience is able to sniff out a message if it isn’t in the voice of the influencer. In order to have a successful partnership when working with a content provider, the brand should give them control to do what they do well. Having spent time in this industry, I have also found that the best campaigns are the long-term ambassador programs, not just the one-offs because they are more authentic to the influencer as well as the consumer viewing the content.  If the influencer is posting about their “favorite” skin care every month and each time it’s different, they will lose the trust of their fans.

WWD: Why are we seeing more content providers develop their own beauty brands?

S.B.: Content providers are developing their own brands because they are passionate about creating their own lifestyle and most of them are entrepreneurial minded. We have one creating her own CBD brand right now. These bloggers drive a ton of sales for big-box brands and realize that they are often better off developing their own, sometimes superior, product.

WWD: Are celebrities trying to regain prominence as tastemakers?

S.B.: Celebrities are realizing that YouTubers and bloggers are increasingly encroaching on their territory. We see more models and celebrities looking to us to help them move into the digital space in order to get more of the multimillion-dollar deals that are going to the bloggers who could undercut them [as far as fees]. We have also been seeing more celebrity requests over the past year. Many of them are coming to us looking to streamline their social media channels, monetize them and really connect with their fans in an authentic way. They are working to understand the digital space more so that they do not have to pass up deals due to lack of knowledge in the industry.

WWD: How important is beauty in your business?

S.B.: The majority of our business is focused around the beauty industry. Seventy percent is beauty related, including skin, hair care and supplements while 30 percent of the business is fashion focused.

WWD: What are some current campaigns Simply is working on?

S.B.: Simply just launched an exciting campaign with Ava Women and our talent Jana Kramer. Jana was trying to conceive and had gone through multiple miscarriages and a failed round of IVF, and we worked with Ava Women for an Instagram post. Jana always uses the products before committing to a paid opportunity, and after using Ava for a month — truly got pregnant naturally. We brought this exciting news back to Ava and just kicked off a longer partnership. Some other campaigns include Lauren Bushnell’s recent partnership with Secret Freshies and Ben Higgins’ partnership with Bumble.