Tracking The Trends


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A Conversation With Two Of The Best In This Business

If you said the words "influencer marketing" or even "influencer" 5 years ago, not too many people would know what you were talking about. Nowadays, it would be surprising if somebody didn't know what you meant by those terms. 

Recently, our CEO sat down with another expert in the field of influencer marketing for a very informative conversation. They share stories, difficulties and lessons learned from their experience.  In this blog, Hollywood Branded learns about tracking the trends of social influencers from Joe Gagliese, CEO and Co-Founder of Viral Nation!

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A Little More About Joe

Joe and his business partner, Mathew Micheli, founded Viral Nation in 2014, becoming one of the first dedicated agencies in the field of influencer marketing. Five years later, Viral Nation has managed to scale its business a remarkable 300%-400% year over year, with no outside investment. Along the way, the agency has expanded to include an award-winning creative team and a full suite of modern marketing services including experiential marketing, content marketing, paid media, social strategy, community management, and more.   T

Viral Nation has helped some of the world’s biggest and most recognizable brands unleash the power of online marketing to grow their audience of loyal advocates and discover new fans. – brands such as Microsoft, Crayola, Twitch, Tencent, and  Now recognized leaders in their field, Gagliese and Micheli have been quoted by CNN, CNBC, Adweek, Vanity Fair, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere, and both frequently speak at conferences and events around the world.

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Question: I'd love to have our listeners learn a little bit more about what got you to where you are today and how you founded this business and are skyrocketing to success.

Answer: It's been a life changing, beautiful journey for myself, my family and obviously all the people who started here. Luck part is definitely an element and more luck in timing. I just really recognized this influencer space at the beginning, was very well connected in the athletes celebrity world and started to see athletes and celebrities monetizing their social and thought, if brands are willing to pay them, what about these young people on social media who are doing a hundred times their numbers on a daily... on an afternoon, right?

We started as a talent agency, believe it or not, signing influencers and being their agents. Like Brad Pitt would have an agent, same thing. And that was... Oh my God. Started doing that about six and a half, close to seven years ago. Then slowly became known as the guys who had the largest agency in the influencer space. That attracted all of these brands and marketing agencies who are looking for talent to fulfill their campaigns. Because at that time it was very hard to find them. Obviously now there's lots of tools to source influencers and stuff like that. At the time there wasn't. So we became the go-to guys for a number of agencies. We were running, thousands of influencer campaigns for tons of different companies and we were really the puppeteers behind the first big wave of influencer. We took those learnings, developed a team, and went to market as a marketing agency. That was our big turning point.

We started bringing on major brands that we had worked with through other agencies and we started building a reputation. We are really, really well known. And that, without boring you, is how we got to this point. Now Viral Nation's a full-service modern media agency, which has been built in our obvious big landmark is influencer marketing. But now close to a hundred employees. We work in 26 different countries and we've been growing at about 100 to 300% a year since day one. So just an incredible journey, incredible growth, but more excitingly really paved the way in this influencer space. dreamstime_xxl_146779054 (1)


Question: What are some of the latest trends you're seeing an influencer marketing?

Answer:  I’m getting hounded by the media on TikTok. I've done so many TikTok interviews this year so far. When I see them come through I'm like, "Oh my God, here we go again we're TikTok." Viral nation was the marketing company that launched Musically. I have a ton of extreme knowledge of their entire company, how they were built. We actually do the marketing for ByteDance now for TikTok. So, I have a deep understanding of what their roadmap is and what they've created and what they're continuing to create. And I think for sure it's a massive trend. I think it's here to stay and I think the platform is going to be extremely important for business.

I also think, if there's a small business person listening to this or a small agency, I think the opportunity there is like YouTube 10 years ago, is like Instagram five years ago, is like Facebook for years... I think there's a big opportunity there to get those numbers. I think that's a big trend.

Another trend in influencer marketing that not a lot of people see is the actual influencer marketing, psychological ripple effect that's happened. People look at influencers and go, "Oh my God, there's influencers." But what they're not seeing is that influencers are creating this tidal wave globally of every kid wants to be an influencer. You can't get a job as an actor or actress unless you have an Instagram following. You can't be the president of the United States, unless your Twitter has 100 million people. You can't compete in business if your business has less followers than another business. Influencer is becoming an undertone of society in a very, very strange way.

As marketers and as humans and as business owners, we really need to start understanding that, that's going to become the core element of a lot of things in our life, even if it's beyond marketing and selling our products. Those are the two biggest things I'm seeing. The rest of it influencers are making more money, platforms are growing and changing, algorithms are getting killed, data's important. But those are the two big things that I think are our major lead.


Question: How do you think brands can best utilize something like TikTok?

Answer: It depends. My golden rule is don't force it, right? There's a lot of brands who don't appeal to that style of content or audience who are trying to force their way onto it. I would say measure your brand and figure out what its affinity is to that style of content. Is this something I can create something around that will make sense that people aren't going to roll their eyes at and be like, "Why is Clorox doing an ad on TikTok, right?"

Alot of people force it, so figuring that out. But then a weird thing Viral Nation does, it's a secret, but if you're a small business person, do it. Sometimes on campaigns we'll call influencers on a certain platform and we'll say, "Hey, this is our challenge. This is our product. I want to give you an Amazon gift card or whatever you want to take this half an hour call with me." But tell me how you would approach something like this on TikTok.

I have TikTok people who work here, I've TikTok experts who work here. But if you don't have that, there's experts who are just on the platform, right? I would say the best way to approach is call one of them, offer them something, businesses isn't free, and ask them how to approach it. And I think some of the coolest things we've ever come up with have been from asking these people what they think will work best because there's no one who's going to know how to attack a platform better than the person who's living off of it, right? I'd say that's the coolest advice I could give on how to approach that platform.

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