How do you reach hundreds of thousands of consumers organically and in an instant? Social media influencers. They’re changing the world, a thousand followers at a time.

More and more, brands are looking to these social media influences to reach consumers through incredibly personal and unique ways. Whether it’s one of the Kardashian sisters posing with Fit Tea or your favorite corgi promoting the “world’s best dog bed,” influencers are subtly (and not subtly) promoting brands every single day on social media. But influencer marketing is a complicated field; like any art, the rules are unclear, and compensation is inconsistent and confusing.

“Innovation is derived from frustration,” says IVY member Justin Rezvani, who founded theAmplify, a technology-driven influencer platform, at age 25. Now, recently acquired by You & Mr. Jones, theAmplify is a major source of influencers for some of the world’s top brands, from Amazon to Oakley to Paramount Pictures and SC Johnson.

Justin sat down with IVY Magazine to talk about influencer marketing with theAmplify, the future of social media, and how he’s grown his company so quickly.

Justin is an IVY Member (LA). Connect and collaborate with him here.

theAmplify

Given all of your work with theAmplify, why do you think people these days are so drawn to social media influencers?

People love people. If there’s somebody in your life who happens to be inspiring or helps you through a challenge, you love that person. In our world today, that might be your parents, that might be your friends, that might be your family, but there are these individuals online that also express that same understanding and that same kind of relationship with their audience.

And I think that’s the beauty of the growth of these influencers—they’re just real people who love their audience so much, and they connect with their audience. They’re on platforms, sitting in front of the camera, as if they’re sitting in the room in front of some other person. That’s really just about the inherent nature of human behavior—we yearn to love, we yearn to have great relationships, and I think these influencers have just mastered the way to build the relationship with an individual, but social media allows them to build that relationship at scale.

So the way I think about it is—they’re great people, these influencers, and then they just use the platforms to reach more people to tell their story.

Do you think there’s one social channel in particular that’s bolstered the growth of these influencers?

I think it all started with the ability to follow a person. I don’t know the official first social network that did that, but that was the start of it. Obviously, a lot of people see YouTube as the starting platform, but from a business perspective, we’re not really religious about platforms—we’re not saying one is better than another.

Snapchat is extremely buzzy right now because you can reach a ton of people on Snapchat and engage with content in a really immersive way. But, full transparency, I think Instagram is still the most powerful social network right now. With Instagram, you’re really, really able to engage with an audience, and you’re also able to communicate with them through comments and through conversations. You can’t really do that on Snapchat—you can’t really comment back on a Snapchat.

A lot of people are saying that paid social is becoming more and more of a reality. How do you see paid social affecting influencer marketing and social media more generally?

I think that there’s been a big fallacy in the world that all these platforms were inherently going to be a free way to reach audiences. I think a lot of people thought that they could create a Facebook page, get a lot of followers and fans, and be able to get access to them every single day without paying for it. I fully agree that organic reach is continuously going down, but what I do believe is that the cost to reach audiences on these platforms is not only extremely valuable, but cost-efficient. 

Everything is really leading to be paid social, but that paid effort that you’re doing, if it’s done the right way, can be extremely valuable to reaching your audience at scale when it comes from a branding perspective. When you look comparably at other marketing platforms that are paid, social media marketing is significantly lower in terms of cost in order to communicate with customers on a one-on-one basis. And with social, you’re always able to communicate on that one-to-one basis, which is ultimately the beauty of it.

Do you think Snapchat will join this paid social trend?

I think they’re going to have to. I think Snapchat is probably going to move to a linear feed soon with “Discovery.” They’re already currently working towards that with the Autoplay of snaps, but I think we’re going to see a lot of promoted snaps coming out in the future.

At the end of the day, the hardest thing about Snapchat right now is trying to grow an audience. And with all of the other platforms banning the ability to drive audience and links, it’s going to be a challenge for them. That’s what brands want—they want people to see their stuff—and the only way they’re going to get there is if people can actually find it.

To shift the conversation to you and your journey, what’s been your experience as the Founder/CEO of theAmplify? Do you think it’s practical for everyone?

I see right now what’s happening in the world, and entrepreneurship is this cool thing. But I fundamentally believe that everyone is not prepared to be an entrepreneur. That’s why 90% of startups fail because not everyone has what it takes to get up in the morning and to do their job, regardless of all the other things happening in their life. There’s a lot of money being thrown around to people who are not entrepreneurs and don’t know how to execute what they have to do.

I think entrepreneurship is the most challenging thing that you’re ever put into in your life, and personally, it’s been such a challenging growth experience for me. I’ve gotten to know myself so well from building this company that I’m excited for the future of where everything is going.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge with theAmplify?

I think the biggest challenge is the concept of being relentless. It’s something that I talk about a lot. (We have a huge neon sign in our office that says #berelentless, and it’s all over my laptop—it’s kind of my thing.)

I think a Founder/CEO is ultimately a person who, regardless of what happens every single day, gets up every single morning and tries and crushes and does whatever he or she has to do to hustle. 

That’s the relentless nature of what it takes from an entrepreneur to actually get things done. And I don’t think a lot of people are ready for that. I’m also still running the business at home—I still have my 35 staffers that I have to be catching up with. I need to catch up with my managers every day.

That’s definitely a lot of people and places you’re juggling.

I like the game that I get to play. I’m in it for the long term. What’s great about the game I get to play is I get to play until I’m 90, until I’m 100, until I’m 120. If you’re in sports, you’ve got 3-5 years to do your thing, and you’re out. This is my game that I’m in for the long term, and I love playing it.

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