Lia Haberman: Influencer and Social Marketing Expert on Today’s Creator Economy
Are “influencers” just in it for the money, while “creators” have more noble artistic pursuits? Influencer/social marketing expert Lia Haberman helps shed light on today’s complicated creator economy issues in this Art of Sway episode — including why public disdain for the term ‘influencer’ is often rooted in misogyny.
Lia Haberman is a fractional CMO and an adjunct professor at UCLA Extension Department of Business and Management programs. She’s also a social media and influencer marketing consultant, public speaker, and educator focused on personal branding, social media marketing, and influencer marketing.
Listen along as podcast host Danielle Wiley talks all things creator economy with Lia Haberman, including:
- Influencer VS creator: do the actual terms even matter?
- Why are men often considered creators, while women are “downgraded” to influencers?
- Why Gen Z doesn’t mind sponsored content from the creators they follow
- Gen X’s surprising influence on TikTok music/aesthetics
- Why “influencer marketing” is out, and “creator economy” is in
A few standout moments to be listening for:
- (17:10, Lia): It’s exciting when you start to follow somebody and you realize, you’re like, “Oh wow, I’m seeing somebody that’s on this upward trajectory and it’s amazing to watch that.” And especially as a marketer, you kind of hope that you get on board early enough to be able to build that relationship with them before all of a sudden, they’re like 20 million followers and they’re priced out of a lot of budgets.
- (26:45, Lia): (On Twitter’s turmoil) A lot of people use it as their communication channel. A lot of people use it as their customer service or customer care channel. It would absolutely have an impact on all of us if it disappeared.
- (27:38, Lia): Let’s [look] at the disdain, disregard people have for the word influencer and how even influencers don’t want to be called influencers, they want to be called creators or they want to be called something else. But then you look at who is considered an influencer and typically, it’s women. We talked about how if you do a Google image search for influencer, the word female comes up and it’s all women. You do a Google image search for creator, it tends to be more men or more gender neutral.
- (28:44, Lia): Gen Z, not only do they assume everything’s sponsored, actually, they’re not kind of as bothered by, or at least from the students that I’ve discussed where I’ll show things and we’ll talk about is this an authentic scenario and we’ll look at an influencer sponsored post. And they’re kind of like, “That’s okay. She needs to get paid, she needs to make money. […]” They have no ethical problem with influencers or people trying to make money through sponsored posts.
- (29:27, Lia): Why do we feel so strongly about the word influencer? Why do people roll their eyes? Why are there so many negative headlines around influencers and creators?
- (30:40, Lia): But somehow there’s this perception that influencers are only in it for the money and creators are in it for the noble pursuit of art. And because women are tied into that influencer title, it tends to be the women get more criticism.
- (33:40, Lia): 10 years from now, you and I will talk and it’ll be a whole new conversation and there’ll be a whole new thing. But women have somehow pioneered and been disregarded until a man figures out how to do it, and then people will get on board and be like, “This is wonderful. Where’s this been?”
- (38:05, Lia): I love TikTok, but I’m like, if the ’80s had never existed, TikTok would have run out of music and movies and TV to reference.
Episode 15: Lia Haberman Transcript
Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway. This is a podcast that brings you inside the world of marketing through the lens of influence. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week, through candid conversations with industry insiders, we will uncover how influencer marketing is making an impact across all consumer buying habits and is changing the way we talk to each other. Let’s dive in.
Danielle Wiley: I absolutely loved having Lia Haberman join me on the podcast. This was actually the first time we saw each other face-to-face, as we met on Twitter and LinkedIn. It was a great conversation and I think you’ll be able to tell we could have talked for hours.
Danielle Wiley: Lia Haberman is Chief Marketing Officer at Fit Body App and adjunct professor at UCLA Extension Department of Business and Management programs, where she teaches influencer marketing. She’s on the board of Social Media Club Los Angeles and a professional member advisor of the American Influencer Council. Her favorite influencer campaign activities are a toss up between a baby goat yoga class as part of Athleta’s Up for Anything campaign and a live gif interview with Jennifer Lawrence during a Lionsgate publicity tour for Hunger Games.
Danielle Wiley: Well, hi and welcome. It’s so great to have you on.
Lia Haberman: Thank you. It’s nice to finally meet you in person, sort of.
Danielle Wiley: I know, I feel like we’re just always chatting on Twitter, so it’s nice to see a face that’s not just a teeny little face.
Lia Haberman: Twitter or LinkedIn, I think, at this point.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Why don’t we just start by talking a little bit about… I mean, I feel like, to me, suddenly last year I saw everyone talking to you and referencing you and then I found your newsletter and, of course, once you start following someone, they’re everywhere. So it would be great to hear a little bit about your journey and you do a few different things. The newsletter is just a side hustle that you have going on. So I’d just love to hear a little bit about your journey, how you got involved in influencer marketing, what you do for your day job. You do a lot, so take all the time you need to fill us in.
Lia Haberman: Okay. So I have all kinds of things, all kinds of irons in the fire, I guess. I don’t know, I think I’m a little bit of a workaholic. I also love what I do. People will come to me with a project and I’ll say, “Yes, sure, I’ll find a way to fit that in.” So right now I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Fit Body App. It’s a fitness app and they also just launched protein supplements that was creator founded.
Lia Haberman: In my previous life, I worked for a media company and we would hire influencers to do co-branded campaigns, to do videos, to do content for us, to host events for example. And so I met a lot of influencers, I would say 2015, 2016, 2017, met, hired, collaborated, worked with a bunch of influencers, including the woman who was an influencer that I hired and then fast forward to 2021, hired me to run marketing for her fitness company.
Lia Haberman: I also teach influencer marketing at UCLA. That started in 2018. There was actually, somebody was teaching it, they fell through, that was four days to go. The head of the department was calling around and somebody was said, “Oh, I know Lia Haberman. She has helped run influencer marketing campaigns, knows a lot of influencers, kind of works in that space.” And so I went in with four days to go. I have to say that first class was probably, people were really Guinea pigs for me, kind of figuring it out as I was teaching as I was going along. And then so started teaching, which helped also, as you’re planning lectures and assignments and readings, it really kind of helps solidify your perspective and also keeps you informed because obviously it’s influencer marketing. It changes what I was teaching in 2018. It changes every six months and there are no real textbooks, I would say, to influencer marketing.
Lia Haberman: Nothing that could be as up-to-date that you would need for each year. So it was just constantly reading, constantly informing myself. So I’m a marketer, I’m a teacher. And then the newsletter was, I was giving all of this information to my class every week and it was actually one of my former students who now works at Meta coincidentally. And she said, you should really… This is amazing. This is so much information and it’s so informative and it’s so up-to-date compared to kind of the more textbook style, like let’s look at case studies and things that have happened in the past. And we were looking at, okay, every week things are changing. Instagram just introduced reels and this happened and you should be looking at TikTok. And we were talking about all of these things really like 2018, 2019. And she said, “You should really be sharing this or doing more.”
Lia Haberman: And I thought, okay, I don’t really have time to add another thing. I’m also a parent, so I don’t really have time to add one more thing. And then I think it’s just a couple of people. I was consulting for some different people and they were asking, “How can we stay in up to date? Things are changing so quickly.” And I thought, okay, let me start just putting a very small list together of just bullet points. It’ll go out to students and it’ll go out to clients that I consult for. That was two years ago. And then it just kind of kept growing and growing to the point where we are now. I think the thing is, I’ve just been in this space for so long. In teaching the classes, I’ve had people come in to be guest speakers and I think I just got to know a lot of the key players very early as we were all kind of figuring this out over the past 5, 6, 7, 8 years.
Lia Haberman: Whether it was the journalists who were covering the space, whether it was people, Christen Nino De Guzman who worked at Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, and now has Clara for creators, which is the app, which is kind of compared to the Glassdoor for creators. I actually knew her. A long time ago, I worked for E!, and she submitted a video to win a trip to the Grammy’s in LA and I chose her as the winner. This was long before she started her tech career. So I just happened to be very lucky in meeting the right people very early on in their careers and then growing with them or growing alongside them. Sorry, I feel like that was such a long explanation.
Danielle Wiley: No, no, no. It’s super helpful because actually, I like looking at your LinkedIn and chatting with you, I knew all the things that you did and I personally never understood how they all fit together. So it was super helpful for me to understand and kind of illuminating. One of the things that’s interesting, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, I’ve been doing this for a really long time. I started doing influencer marketing in 2006, 2007 before it was called that. And it’s so interesting, we talked a little bit, I want to get into this Twitter space that you organized a couple of weeks ago that and graciously invited me to be a panelist on. But one of the things that’s interesting to me is I often get the sense that there’s this perception that it is newer than it is, which I feel like oftentimes, diminishes the moms who kind of created the industry.
Danielle Wiley: And we talked about this a couple of weeks ago, the moms who created the industry back in the late 2000 before anyone even had, I remember when it was a giant controversy to put banner ads on a blog. And it was like, “Oh my god, what are you doing?” Certainly though, they weren’t getting as much press back then. It hadn’t hit the whole entertainment LA scene. There weren’t hype houses or all of that. It was literally just blogs and then eventually a little bit of Twitter thrown in there. So it certainly wasn’t influencer marketing in it’s full scope that we see it today. But it’s just, I’d love to get your perspective on that. There seems to be just a breakdown in where people see that the industry began, I guess. And I’m probably overly sensitive because I was at those early beginnings and as a Gen Xer who’s always forgotten, I’m like, “What about us?”
Lia Haberman: Yes, no Gen Xer here as well. And I agree, we’re the completely overlooked generation, the forgotten generation. So it’s interesting because I was in entertainment probably when you were in influencer marketing in the mid [inaudible 00:08:08]. I was working at E!. I worked at E! for about a decade. That was my first big job out of college, kind of the first thing that I did. And to this day, I still love that job and it was really foundational in who I am and working with creators. What I’m really interested in is who are the people that can motivate an audience to do something. That has just always been my thing and those are the people that I gravitate to. They tend to be very artistic, entrepreneurial. Whether that’s a celebrity or a creator, those are just the people that I kind of gravitate to and I kind of figure out, okay cool, how can we leverage this to do whatever it is that we’re trying to do?
Lia Haberman: So I came at it from the entertainment background. So at that time I was working at E! and I saw the power of, and not everybody is the same. You could have somebody share your message or do something or collaborate on something with you. And some people were able to really connect with the audience. Channing Tatum was like one of these. There was Ashton Kutcher, Channing Tatum, and a couple of other people that were really into social very early on, as soon as Twitter came out. Channing Tatum was one of them. We used to run polls at E!, on E! News Twitter handle. Channing Tatum would always retweet it to his followers. He won every poll that we ever put up if he was one of the responses because-
Danielle Wiley: He was working it.
Lia Haberman: … His audience. He was working it. And I was like, this is fascinating. It’s really interesting. He really helps amplify our message. Alongside that, like you said, you’ve got the bloggers who were not just mom bloggers, but I think there were also, I remember style bloggers as well. I remember the outrage when they started inviting style influencers to New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week. And people were horrified and were like, “This person does not belong here. They’re not included.” And it’s the same thing with the mom bloggers. It was kind of like these bloggers were seen as less than, and really somehow they just did not measure up to this kind of very, I felt elitist perspective of you need to be this kind of journalist or this kind of author. And a style blogger or a mom blogger was like, I don’t know, it was bottom of the barrel.
Lia Haberman: And they were just so looked down upon and I always root for the underdog and if I see somebody’s being excluded, I just right away I’m like, “Well why? What are we excluding them? Why do we not like them?” Actually, I think I’m going to be on their side. And we talked about this in our space and I think you had a similar experience. I remember working at a company and I happened to have a kid, I love being a parent, it’s not my entire identity. But I do have a kid and somebody had written something was like, “Here, can you just share this with your mom blogger network?” And I wasn’t a mom blogger and I didn’t particularly have a mom blogger network, but I remember the way that it was said was just so snotty and condescending. And right away I was like, “Okay, then I’m definitely on the side of mom bloggers because if you’re looking down on these people for no reason and you’re just like, here, let’s toss it to somebody who’s a woman who happens to be a mom. She must have a network of mom bloggers.”
Lia Haberman: I just thought it was so, I don’t know, it really kind of turned me off the way traditional media viewed influencers and bloggers. And I think at that stage, that’s also kind of where I felt like celebrity was starting to lose its influence in where the trends were coming from, who was writing or filming the most interesting stuff. And it was kind of no longer Hollywood. And so that’s about the time, I would say, probably the early teens that I started transitioning, like 2013, 2014, moving into influencers and creators versus entertainers because I just felt like the whole industry was shifting.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. And that’s why we started Sway Group too. I told this story on a podcast I recorded last week. I won’t bore everyone with repeating the whole thing. I worked on a program where we were using mom bloggers and Tori Spelling. And when I saw the difference in the quality of the content and how engaging it was and how what the bloggers were creating was so much better. And then I looked at what they were being paid because I was at the agency that was organizing it. It hurt every organ. It hurt my heart, it hurt my brain, it hurt my soul. It was just terrible. And much like you, I was like, “These are underdogs right now, but they’re creating the best content that’s out there and we have to change something.”
Lia Haberman: Yeah. I agree. We were probably both at that shift where we were these people and they should be recognized and compensated accordingly. I’m 100% all for to do that.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. It’s interesting you were seeing it with style. I was a food blogger, so I saw a lot of it in the food world too. I remember pitching Pioneer Woman for a client program and they were like, “What? Who? Why?” They just couldn’t wrap their heads around it all.
Lia Haberman: I agree. I don’t know if you saw it in the newsletter and stop me if this is kind of detouring, Gaby Dalkin, who does What’s Gaby Cooking, she just signed a new show with QVC+, which I actually wasn’t even aware QVC+ was a thing and just signed a new show with them. It’s a departure from their usual model. It’s not selling product, it’s essentially an entertainment series. So almost like a Food Network or an HGTV style show. I don’t know, maybe we’re at another shift. I’m curious to see. I don’t know if we’re going to talk about live streaming today, but I feel like everybody’s waiting to see what’s going to happen with live streaming, how’s it going to work, how are we going to tap into that? We hear about TikTok and ByteDance in China making billions of dollars and how’s America going to crack that code?
Lia Haberman: Yeah, I think I’m always interested and that was the original shift for me of going from entertainment into influencer marketing and now it’s looking at, okay, well we have these traditional entertainment formats, there’s this format happening over in China, how are we marrying those two? And so I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens and what they do with that in that same way where it’s like you’ve got to have those couple, whether it’s a few agencies and a few people and a few creators that are believe in, “Okay, we’re going to change the model, we’re going to change what we’re doing.” And are early adopters or early pioneers of these new formats.
Danielle Wiley: We’re actually just working on our 2023 predictions and I feel like it’s the third year in a row we’ve talked about live shopping and it just doesn’t take off here the way everyone thinks it’s going to. So I was super excited to see that bit that you had about Gaby, because I feel like she’s actually really been on the forefront a couple of times just with new technology.
Lia Haberman: Just to watch her Snap episodes, her Snapchat episodes. That was the first place I discovered her and yeah, you’re right, she’s pioneered new formats, 100%.
Danielle Wiley: So I was like, maybe this means something’s going to change and we can stop including this in predictions and include it in a wrap up of the year because we’re getting tired of coming up with new ways to predict it’s going to finally happen.
Lia Haberman: Yes. I think we all thought by 2022 that people would’ve figured it out, nailed the format and they haven’t. But I think there’s just too much money at stake to let it go without really a hard push from whether it’s the platforms, whether it’s retailers, people are going to try. I think we’re going to keep trying to make this happen until we find some way that people are interested or willing to shop while watching.
Danielle Wiley: I think it just has to be so highly curated. We saw, even back in the old days of doing blog posts, we had certain bloggers and anything they wrote about, I mean we see the same thing on Instagram and TikTok now though, it’s changing a little bit. But selling something in a blog post is very, very difficult. It’s not as easy as doing it in short-form video. But we had certain people that just in the way that they wrote and the connection that they had with the audience and just everything about how it was presented could sell something out. At one point when we were working with bloggers on an exclusive basis, we had about 50 of them and I’d say there are maybe three we had that would just consistently, whatever they talked about, would sell. But it’s not everyone and a very special skill and that’s why, I mean I was really excited to see that because I feel like they found someone who can do it and this will kind of prove whether or not this actually could be a thing here.
Lia Haberman: Yeah. The way that I look at creators and influencers, it’s a little bit like the Hollywood system I feel like that I got my first start in is there are casting directors and they pluck the people who are really outstanding. And so you get thinking of traditional talent, the George Clooney, the Julia Roberts, Timothy Chalamet, the people that hop off the screen. And it’s the same thing with creators and influencers. There can be a lot of great creators and influencers. They can be doing really interesting things, they can have great content. It’s only, like you said, it’s going to be three out of 50 that are going to really pop off the screen, really resonate, really be able to sell. And the other 47 might be creating really fun, entertaining reels or TikToks that you’re watching as you scroll, but you’re not drawn to them like you are those people.
Lia Haberman: That’s why Remi Bader has millions of followers now and the deal with Revolve and it’s like these people, there’s only a handful of people that really kind of resonate with a large audience and just jump off the screen. And it’s like, it’s exciting when you start to follow somebody and you realize, you’re like, “Oh wow, I’m seeing somebody that’s on this upward trajectory and it’s amazing to watch that.” And especially as a marketer, you kind of hope that you get on board early enough to be able to build that relationship with them before all of a sudden, they’re like 20 million followers and they’re priced out of a lot of budgets.
Danielle Wiley: Especially on TikTok. People explode so quickly. We were working on a proposal for a program that’s taking place next May and we were talking about pricing for the different size followings and we were literally this level, they started their TikTok yesterday. They don’t even have one yet.
Lia Haberman: Yeah, I can’t even imagine trying to price something for May today. I mean just with the way things could change between now and then. So yeah, that would be a challenge.
Danielle Wiley: Be proposal for Q4 of 2023 and I was like, “I don’t know, just pick a number. I have no idea.”
Lia Haberman: Yeah, yeah. It’ll probably adjust itself slightly between now and then.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah. I would love to just, some of this is selfish because I’m fascinated by people who somehow seem to find the time in the day. Seems to me you must read absolutely every single [inaudible 00:19:36] in the world to create this newsletter every week. How do you find all that? And I promise I won’t start doing it again because I do not have the time in. I won’t take it from you.
Lia Haberman: Yes. Kind of just to set some context of, I love reading, I read a lot, I do speed read, I love news as well. I like to be informed, I like to know what’s going on. All of those factors combined. I used to tweet a lot more until I started a newsletter where I was like, okay, the output can’t be consistent across every platform. So it’s like I’m probably spending more time putting stuff into the newsletter than I was. And then like I said, I had a student who was like, “Oh, but you have all of this amazing information and it’s so useful to people.” So I thought, okay, as newsletters were starting to take off, I actually was reading, it was a Harvard Business Review article about don’t follow your passion, follow what you do. Don’t just be like, “Oh I love to bake because I love to bake.”
Lia Haberman: Maybe if you love something, that’s not literally what you should be doing every day, because you’ll start to hate it because it’s a grind. The idea is more what are you doing every day that you do anyways, whether you are getting paid for it or not, and maybe that’s what you should build a career on or that’s what you should be focused on. I was like, I tweet every day, I read the news every day, I put all this information out, maybe there’s more I should do with this. And so I decided to start putting that into a newsletter. All of this information that I’d be consuming anyways is just a way of processing it, putting it somewhere so people can get some use out of it and find it valuable. And then I also use that, whether it’s like if I’m being invited to give a talk somewhere or I’m speaking to my students when I’m teaching, I always have the latest information because I’m like, “Oh, actually, I just wrote something about this in my newsletter two weeks ago.40% of influencers want to be business owners,” for example.
Lia Haberman: So yeah, I think anybody could do it. I don’t think there’s anything that, I don’t have any special knowledge or any kind of secret to what I do. I think it’s, I love to read, I love the news, I speed read, I’m on all these platforms. I was doing it anyways and this was just like, let me channel all of this into something a little more productive than just my Twitter feed or just me having all of this information in my head and not actually getting it out to people.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. Well, we’re super fans here at Sway. So thank you for doing all of that work and being a speed reader and all the things. So I have to just ask what you think of this whole Twitter. It’s kind of killing me. I love it. I love spending time there. I meet so many amazing people. I have made such great connections, I learned so much. It’s the first place I turn to when something crazy is going on in the world, which I feel like is every minute now and I feel like it’s going… I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m surprised at how upset I am.
Lia Haberman: Me too. I think part of me is in denial and I just think, “Oh, it’s too big. This is the drama of the week.” We had Milkshake Duck and we had the Bean Dad and every week there’s something that we’re all obsessed about on Twitter and maybe this is just that. And the other side of me is like you, I’m freaking out. It’s the best place for news and I love following journalists and I love interacting with people on Twitter and it’s probably my favorite platform, not aesthetically necessarily, but just for information because it’s in real-time or you can set your feed to see the latest tweets so you see stuff as it comes through. Yeah, it’s kind of horrifying and I hope that I have no particular kind of regard or admiration for Elon Musk, but I hope he turns it around just for our sake so that we get to keep the platform.
Lia Haberman: I think the latest thing that I saw where he said to the people at Twitter to the employees is like, “You have to be in the office, you have to work a certain amount of hours.” And he kind of laid out the rules and essentially said, “The company’s in really bad shape and if you guys don’t do this and help me pull it together, then essentially Twitter’s going out of business.” And so I hope that the platform succeeds just so that we all get to keep the platform. I mean I think he’s kind of bungled or fumbled everything since he got there. It seems like every idea… They fired everyone, so there wasn’t anybody to actually roll out the products that he wants to roll out.
Lia Haberman: The products that he does want to roll out seem to be very skewed to, I think, his worldview, which I think when you’re a billionaire, your worldview is maybe not all that realistic or aligned with what the other app users. So the things that he thinks Twitter users want and the idea of subscriptions and this whole verification and being able to pay for verification but not have to provide any ID, it just seems so misguided.
Danielle Wiley: You think?
Lia Haberman: He may be brilliant at some things, but it just seems to me that this is showing that he’s not a great business person and he might be a really great visionary and he might be a really great coder. But he’s not a business person and I hope that he gets somebody to step in for him and start making smarter business decisions so we get to keep the platform. I think it’s terrible for, he’s scaring off brands. I’ve talked to different brand friends and people are freaking out and don’t want to be advertising on the platform but are now also reconsidering just being on the platform even organically and having their brands show up in people’s Twitter feed when all of this stuff is happening and brands are being-
Danielle Wiley: Eli Lilly today, I think there was a parody and they said insulin is free.
Lia Haberman: So you’ve got all these brands and you all know brands are very anti-controversy, anti any kind of negative attention. They do not want this. This is just literally the opposite of brand safe. So I don’t know, it’s shocking. I’m incredulous that somebody could bungle this, this badly and is so disconnected. I guess that’s the thing is I don’t think he’s ever worked for a business that’s dependent on advertisers, that kind of media business. And so he just has no idea how it works.
Lia Haberman: And so for our sake, I hope that he gets somebody to step in. Could Twitter disappear? I’m curious, I don’t know what you think, but politicians seem to be on Twitter more than anywhere else? So would it be in their best interest to have it’s a comms channel for them. Should it become almost like a public utility? Which I think a lot of people just thought of Twitter as a utility almost. And then when Musk stepped in it was like, no, this is a for-profit company. It’s not public anymore, it’s not a utility. This is a for-profit business that, unfortunately, he’s messing up and could disappear.
Danielle Wiley: And what’s crazy to me, I think there’s the whole brand side of it, sure. And I was talking to a client yesterday and I was like, “We definitely don’t recommend doing anything on there. You should just not be there right now until this sorts itself out if it even does.” But I think just for the independent journalists and the freelancers and comedians, it’s such a source of connection and networking and income for small business people and independent business people. Even looking just from the selfish Sway Group perspective, we get a lot out of mine in particular, less so the Sway Group. I think people like actual humans better than a company name. We would take a hit if it went away. And I think there are people that rely on Twitter to get readers to their articles, to make connection, to build their business and to build their own brand. It’s not just the big companies that are suffering. There are a lot of small business people that, like I don’t know where they’ll go.
Lia Haberman: I feel the big companies are actually suffering less because they keep saying it’s very easy for people to pull their ad spend because for the really big companies it’s really more just kind of general awareness. I think you’re right, it’s the smaller businesses, the independent, the freelancers, the people who are, whether you’re networking and building kind of connections to help you get leads or you’re actually dealing with customers. And actually, that’s another thing, the whole customer service, I feel like there’s all of the customer service element on Twitter where you go if you want a real time response from a company. Yeah, there are so many people. I know it’s the smaller… People are like it’s not Facebook, it’s not as big as Facebook, it’s not as big as Instagram, it’s not as trendy as TikTok. I agree, a lot of business gets done on there.
Lia Haberman: A lot of people use it as kind of their communication channel. A lot of people use it as their customer service or customer care channel. It would absolutely have an impact on all of us if it disappeared. And I really hope it doesn’t. I just don’t see… Right now, today, I think it’s disastrous and I think he’s going to drive it out of business. But who knows what he is going to do overnight. He seems to send out emails at two o’clock in the morning, so maybe there’ll be a new pronouncement and things will turn around overnight. I feel like at this stage, you wake up and you’re like, “What’s going on today?”
Danielle Wiley: Now what?
Lia Haberman: Now what? Exactly.
Danielle Wiley: We don’t have that much time left, but I wanted to touch at least quickly on the Twitter space. You feel that the term creator is use more often with men and the term influencer with women and created this Twitter space to talk about the feminization of, you can probably word it all better than me, but it was a great, we talked for over an hour, it was an awesome conversation.
Lia Haberman: It was really good. Let’s start having this conversation and just looking at the disdain, disregard people have for the word influencer and how even influencers don’t want to be called influencers, they want to be called creators or they want to be called something else. But then you look at who is considered an influencer and typically, it’s women. We talked about how if you do a Google image search for influencer, the word female comes up and it’s all women. You do a Google image search for creator, it tends to be more men or more gender neutral. And even in the data that you start seeing about how people perceive creators versus influencers, nobody wants to be called an influencer. Well, I will say I don’t know that Gen Z feels as strongly or as passionately. I think it’s really millennials and Gen X that are have this conflict or this struggle with the way we phrase things.
Danielle Wiley: My kids are both Gen Z and it’s very interesting. I think, first of all, they assume everything’s sponsored. So I think they don’t really care what anyone’s called because to them it’s everyone.
Lia Haberman: Gen Z, not only do they assume everything’s sponsored, actually, they’re not kind of as bothered by, or at least from the students that I’ve discussed where I’ll show things and we’ll talk about is this an authentic scenario and we’ll look at an influencer sponsored post. And they’re kind of like, “That’s okay. She needs to get paid, she needs to make money. So we’re okay if this is kind of fake or that’s a little fake.” They have no ethical problem with influencers or people trying to make money through sponsored posts. I think it’s really more millennials and Gen X. But it’s just, if you look at the data, really men are perceived as creators, women are perceived as influencers and everybody hates the word influencer. And so it just kind of begs the question.
Lia Haberman: And yes, for sure there are bad influencers, there are bad creators. There are people who are inauthentic, who don’t have good motives or who are just trying to get stuff for free. Absolutely. But you have that in any industry. You have the good people and the people that are like the scammers, the trolls, whatever it is. Why do we feel so strongly about the word influencer? Why do people roll their eyes? Why are there so many negative headlines around influencers and creator? And this is what drives me crazy is when I read an article where they’re influencers just want to make money, creators are in it for the noble pursuit of the art and they’re creating wonderful things. And I’m like, “Well, maybe they are creating wonderful things, but they also want to get paid.”
Lia Haberman: You look at Mr. Beast who is a creator, but Mr. Beast isn’t doing it for free. He needs to pay his bills. And built a huge studio and employs all these people. Yes, he’s a creator, but he’s creating and to get paid and all of these people. Nobody should be looked down upon because they want to earn a living. There’s nothing wrong with creating art for the purpose of making a living unless you’re independently wealthy. It just doesn’t exist. You can’t do stuff for free.
Lia Haberman: But somehow there’s this perception that influencers are only in it for the money and creators are in it for the noble pursuit of art. And because women are tied into that influencer title, it tends to be the women get more criticism. Again, I don’t even know that there’s a solution, it’s just being aware of our own behaviors and perceptions and biases and just thinking about when you roll your eyes or you criticize an influencer or just the general concept of influencers, think about who you’re criticizing. And a lot of times it’s mom bloggers, it’s food or fashion influencers who happen to be women. And it’s really kind of diminishing the contribution of what women are doing as opposed to men who are doing something very similar but they’ve just been labeled in a different way and are just more highly [inaudible 00:31:27].
Danielle Wiley: And I think there are more women making money at this than there are men. And it’s a growing industry. So much money is going towards it now. So to diminish it is to kind of ignore the facts, just in terms of where money is flowing and working to get people to buy.
Lia Haberman: So I think that that’s going to change. And a good comparison to me because I work in the fitness industry is the fitness industry is very female focused. But if you go to Silicon Valley, it’s called biohacking. So if you’re biohacking, you’re looking after your fitness, you’re looking after your nutrition, your health, your sleep, which is the fitness industry. But I would say Silicon Valley, tech bros, VCs call it biohacking and it just sounds like scientific and manly, but it’s all of the same principles of the health and fitness industry just kind of reframed and marketed towards men. And so I feel like this whole creator influencer is just the same thing. It’s all of the same things. It’s just we’re framing it differently and calling it by different names.
Lia Haberman: And so I’m sure that also by calling it creators, to your point, there’s a lot of money there. And I think those of us who were in this industry really early on, it got ignored and it was kind of not well perceived or received. And as people started to realize, holy cow, there’s a lot of money to be made there. And you get investors coming in and companies wanting to partner with influencers and Mr. Beast asking for a $1.5 billion valuation and Emma Chamberlain and her $7 million funding round for her coffee company. All of a sudden, people are like creators, the creator economy. That’s what we’re going to call it to make it, we can endorse this and get behind this because this is business and this is, I don’t know, creative stuff. It’s kind of a way of distancing or separating itself from influencer marketing in a way that makes it palatable to the people that are like dismiss influencer marketing but can get on board with the creator economy and investments in the creator economy.
Lia Haberman: I have a lot of feelings. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all pans out. As I told you in the Twitter space, it reminds me so much of the whole mommy blogger thing. So I feel ultrasensitive to it because it’s like the second time I’m seeing this happen to women.
Lia Haberman: Listen, it’ll keep going around and 10 years from now, you and I will talk and it’ll be a whole new conversation and there’ll be a whole new thing. But women have somehow pioneered and has been disregarded until a man figures out how to do it and then people will get on board and be like, “This is wonderful. Where’s this been?” This new thing we’ve just discovered that has been around forever, right?
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So we ask everyone the same question. You are the first Canadian I have asked this question of, so I’m curious to know if the answer is something different from the Americans who have answered it. But we ask what TV commercial from your childhood has stuck with you to this day?
Lia Haberman: This is such a good question. So Canadians, I think when I was a kid growing up, we got a lot of the American, because I was in Canada, we got a lot of the American network. So got to be honest, I feel like all my early commercial memories were American except for maybe a hotdog company. We had the Maple Leaf hotdog company, which was Canadian. Otherwise, everything I remember were jingles from American products, which we couldn’t buy at the time in Canada. We couldn’t get them. So it would just meet them all the more kind of mysterious. I loved the Minute Maid, you are the sunshine of my life. The Minute Maid jingle, I have that. Anytime I hear that You Are the Sunshine of My Life, I think Minute Maid. Even though it’s like it’s a song, but it was a minute made jingle in I think it was the early ’80s. So that song has been burned in my brain. I loved growing up.
Lia Haberman: I think about commercials and I don’t buy the products. But I love the commercials. I think Cindy Crawford did a Pepsi commercial. I don’t drink Pepsi, but I remember the Cindy Crawford Pepsi commercial because it was just amazing and I loved Cindy Crawford. So I don’t know how effective. It was effective at making me remember the commercial, not necessarily converting me to be a customer. But I love ’80s and ’90s commercials. I just feel like the jingles were so good, a golden era of advertising. And early morning and He-Man and She-Ra and Saturday morning cartoons I love. And we don’t really get that anymore, but I guess everything’s kind of moved online and the formats are very different. Just because I cannot get that song, the next time you hear, You Are the Sunshine of My Life, just remember the Minute Maid jingle. And I appreciate whoever tied that together.
Danielle Wiley: Well, if it makes you feel better, mine’s the Murphy’s Oil soap. It’s a cleaning product and I can sing the entire jingle to this day and it’s the same tune as an ice cream truck. And so every time I hear an ice cream truck, it’s actually a super racist, horrible song, the origins of it. So I hate that this is my commercial. But I instantly think of cleaning wood floors and Murphy’s Oil.
Lia Haberman: I think some TikTok creator needs to get on that and start tying music to either jingles to songs or jingles to sounds that we hear in everyday life. Because I feel like there was something to that where it would get burned in your brain and you would associate it with the product. Like you said, whether it’s the ice cream truck or I hear this Minute Maid commercial and it’s like there’s got to be a way. That whole industry needs to be recreated.
Danielle Wiley: Don’t you feel like some of that’s already happening? The Home Depot sound that’s has been trending on TikTok for months. Have you seen any of those?
Lia Haberman: Oh, no. Okay, now I have to look this up.
Danielle Wiley: I don’t even know exactly what it is, but there’s a Home Depot little tune and the second you hear it, you think Home Depot because it’s like so obviously from their commercials. And people are using it as a trending sound like anytime they’re doing anything DIY or working on something around their house and they’ll grab that sound from the library.
Lia Haberman: I don’t get a lot of DIY videos, so that must be why. But you are right, I’m thinking of the Ocean Spray guy and the Fleetwood Mac. Yeah, now I hear that Fleetwood Mac song and I think of Ocean Spray, TikTok. You’re right, it is happening. I think people should just lean into that even more. It works. I think we’re proof.
Danielle Wiley: I’ll have music playing just like today’s hits or whatever and my son will walk by and he’s like, “Why are you listening to TikTok songs?” And I’m like, “I am not.”
Lia Haberman: I know we’re running out of time, but can I just say that if you’re an ’80s kid, our generation, I keep telling my son who is also Gen Z and I’m like, “If my generation hadn’t created all of these movies and music and TV shows, your generation would have no culture. You are stealing from Gen X every single day.”
Danielle Wiley: Yes.
Lia Haberman: Yeah, let’s just hear it for like… I think we started with our being the ignored generation, and I think we can bring it back to that. Yes, I do really strongly feel like… I love TikTok, but I’m like, if the ’80s had never existed, TikTok would have run out of music and movies and TV to reference.
Danielle Wiley: To Gen Z.
Lia Haberman: Yes.
Danielle Wiley: Well, this was wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on. I could talk to you for many, many more hours and I really appreciate you taking the time. This was great.
Lia Haberman: Thank you. It was really good to be here.
Danielle Wiley: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.