Every once in a while, there’s an advancement in technology so profound that it impacts every aspect of human life and productivity. Automotives. Airplanes. Computer processors. And now, Artificial Intelligence… AI.
While AI isn’t new, recent developments have vastly improved and accelerated mainstream adoption of AI capabilities and enhancements – so much so that it can be, admittedly, overwhelming to keep up and understand how it’s impacting areas of importance to us, such as partnerships and influencer marketing.
That’s what we’re covering in today’s episode of Partnership Unpacked.
Welcome back to Partnership Unpacked, where I selfishly use this time to pick the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing, and relationship building… oh, and you get to learn too! Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy – with a solid takeaway every episode from partnership experts in the industry.
Have you ever ridden Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress?
It’s a serene and relaxing ride in Tomorrowland that capers through the decades of American innovation and development, from electricity and refrigerators, to virtual reality and voice assistants.
The pervading character, voiced by the same narrator of The Christmas Story, always remarks after each decade on how much progress they’ve made and how easy they have it now.
Imagine what we will be saying soon about how artificial intelligence has become a part of our everyday lives – particularly when it comes to business processes like content creation, optimization and, yes, even influencer marketing and partnerships.
Wondering how AI can and should be a part of your organization?
That’s exactly what our guest today, Jeff Fransen, is here to help us with.
Jeff has been in the influencer marketing space for over 9 years and has worked with brands like NASA, Uber and Topps!
He now leads partnerships and alliances for Affable.ai, an award-winning influencer marketing SaaS solution that helps marketers run fast and intelligent campaigns, built on Affable’s proprietary AI and machine learning technology.
Partnership Unpacked host Mike Allton talked to Jeff Fransen about:
♉️ How AI is changing influencer marketing
♉️ Ways AI can positively impact partnership development
♉️ Where influencer marketing and partnerships are headed with AI
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Learn more about Jeff Fransen
- Connect with Jeff Fransen on LinkedIn
Resources & Brands mentioned in this episode
- Subscribe to the show calendar: agorapulse.com/calendar
- Learn more about Agorapulse with a free demo
Full Notes & Transcript:
Understanding the Impact of AI on Influencer Marketing and Partnerships with Jeff Fransen[00:00:00] Mike Allton: Every once in a while, there’s an advancement in technology so profound. It impacts every aspect of human life and productivity, automobiles, airplanes, computer processors, and now artificial intelligence. While AI isn’t new, recent developments have vastly improved and accelerated mainstream adoption of AI capabilities and enhancements.
So much so that it can be a. Overwhelming to keep up and understand how it’s impacting areas of importance to us, such as partnerships and influencer marketing. That’s what we’re unpacking in today’s episode of Partnership Unpacked.
This is Partnership unpacked your Go-to Guide to Growing Your Business through partnerships quickly. I’m your host, Mike Galton, and each episode unpacks the winning strategies and latest trends from influencer marketing to brand partnerships, an idea. That you can apply to your own business to grow exponentially.
And now the rest of today’s episode, have you ever ridden Walt Disney’s carousel progress? It’s a serene and relaxing ride in tomorrow land that capers through the decades of American innovation development, from electricity to refrigerators, to virtual reality and voice assistance. The pervading character voiced by the same guy who narrated the Christmas story always remarks after each decade on how much progress they’ve made and how easy they’ve got it now.
Imagine what we’ll be saying soon about how artificial intelligence has become a part of our everyday lives, particularly when it comes to business processes like content creation, optimization, and yes, even influencer marketing and partnerships. Wondering how AI can and should be a part of your organization.
That’s exactly what our guest today, Jeff Franson is here to help us with. Jeff’s been in the influencer marketing space for over nine years and has worked with brands like nasa, Uber, and Tops. He now leads partnerships and alliances for affable ai, an award-winning influencer marketing SaaS solution that helps marketers run fast and intelligent campaigns built on affable proprietary AI and machine learning technology.
Hey, Jeff, welcome to the show. How you doing?[00:02:17] Jeff Fransen: Hey Mike. I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me on today. [00:02:21] Mike Allton: My pleasure. The first thing I want to ask you, the, what I want you to share with our audience is basically just a little bit of context. How did you first break into influencer marketing and partnerships?
Because I rattled off three brands in your career history that have like nothing to do with influencer marketing. So why are you doing what you do today?[00:02:40] Jeff Fransen: Yeah, great question. So my first role in partnerships was actually at Uber where I. Their driver partners, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but basically I had to go through and make sure that all of them had their documents in order.
And make sure that the New York market was set and compliant. Not the most exciting thing that I’ve ever done, but that was my first step in in partnerships a little bit after that. My girlfriend at the time who I eventually married, she came to me. She was writing a blog while she was working at C B Ss and.
She wanted to figure out how to make money blogging, so I said, I don’t know how to do that, but I’ll go and try to figure it out for you. So I started working at a long tail blog sponsorship platform, and when I was there I started to learn a little bit about what was going on and how things worked. And I was in sales, so I’d reach out to marketing companies.
I try to get them to work. Lots of bloggers at the same time. And at that point, marketers really weren’t sold on influencer marketing. It really wasn’t even called influencer marketing yet. But I basically would fail forward. And when the. Marketers didn’t want to spend 10 K I’d say, Hey, what about this one over here?
Uh, just kind of give it a try and see if it works. So that’s where her first brand sponsorships came from. Uh, from there she became an influencer. We worked with tons of brands. I ended up moving on to other influencer platforms in the past that were in early development, and I. Viral website where I partnered with influencers and ended up getting over 400 million link clicks through Facebook partnerships.
So that’s how I got into it.[00:04:28] Mike Allton: That’s fascinating. We may come back to that, but I know you’re working for a different company now, and I wanna make sure that you have a chance to talk to us about affable. Tell us about the work that you’re doing there and how that company helps brands work with influencers today. [00:04:42] Jeff Fransen: Yeah, thanks. So affable AI is an end-to-end influencer marketing platform that uses AI and machine learning to make the process easier and and better. So at the company, in the partnerships role, I generally partner with tech companies trying to do referral partnerships and co-marketing. I.
For brands, and then it extends even further into setting up our events, in-person events, helping with other podcasts and marketing, and really trying to like pull our company together and connect with the larger ecosystem out there.[00:05:25] Mike Allton: Yeah, I can relate with everything you just said. I’m working with our influencers.
I work with our brand partners and I also happen to run our events at Agora Pulse. We have a V I P dinner coming up. We’ve got, uh, an event, an in-person event that we’re going to be at soon. And I’m in charge of all the booth and logistics and making sure everybody’s there. And then I run a virtual summit.
So yeah, I, I wear a lot just like you.[00:05:49] Jeff Fransen: Yeah. Partnerships. People have tons of hats in their closet for sure. [00:05:53] Mike Allton: Right, right. Let’s get to ai because AI has exploded into the mainstream news. You know, recently chat GT and open AI and Google and everyone, they’re, they’re in the news every single day. How have you seen influencer marketing change as a result of this new explosion of ai? [00:06:12] Jeff Fransen: Yeah, absolutely. So we’re excited to have recently we. Feature called Magic Search using generative ai powered by Google Cloud. So that’s our current foray into generative ai. We’ve been using AI and machine learning from the beginning. What we do at the AI is we pull data from about 8 million influencers around the world, across Instagram, YouTube.
Dive deep into each of them without the influencers needing to opt in. So basically, we pull all the available data through the APIs that we can. So imagine brand tags, location check-ins, even the images. Our machine learning will analyze those, the captions, everything you could imagine, and we pull it together and create media for each influencer.
So, The brands can find the influencers that they’re looking for and then vet them to their standards. So with the generative ai, what’s really exciting is that, uh, we’ve taken that easy process and made it even faster and more simple. So with our magic search feature, what we’re able to do is offer a situation where the marketer can just type in whatever type of influencer they’re looking for.
In plain language and the system will surface the right ones. And beyond that, we can actually upload an image, like a mood board. And just off that the most relevant influencers will be surface. So like overall, what this generative AI is allowing us to offer is a chance for brands to scale their micro influencer.
As efficiently as possible, and traditionally it’s difficult to find the right influencers and be able to manage a lot of them. So with our generative ai, it basically makes it, you know, 10 times easier and faster to do the things that. Marketers already trying to do, but it allows you to reach more of the targeted audiences that these smaller influencers have gained.
And the reason that smaller influencers can be better than bigger influencers is because usually their audiences are gonna be more focused on the thing that that influencer is talking about. Whereas if you have a major influencer, say like a celebrity with 5 million. Followers, a lot of them will just be kind of all over the place, and a lot of that budget will kind of go to waste.
But by being able to scale micro influencers without using massive amounts of work hours, it really makes the whole process much, much more efficient and effective.[00:09:02] Mike Allton: I love that micro influencers because percent.
Generally a much more targeted audience. They may not have the same kind of level of contracts. They may not be quite as busy, certainly not as expensive as a mega influencer. But to your point, the challenge there is that we don’t necessarily know off the top of our heads who the micro influencers are.
I bring up this point all the time. Everybody knows who the biggest names are in their industry. They’re the biggest names, but that means they’re macro, maybe even mega influencers. You want to go a step. Down to a smaller sized influencer with a smaller audience, a smaller budget, and I love that generative AI is helping businesses today to find and identify those influencers.
Is it helping them? Are there ways that it’s helping to work with the influencers beyond just identification?[00:09:52] Jeff Fransen: Yeah, so some of the features that we’re gonna be adding in the near future are generative email outreach. So right now we have templates, which makes it somewhat easier, but very soon we’re gonna be offering a feature where the email will be written specifically to one influencer, and that’ll be scaled across.
You know, you can reach out to a hundred at the same time, and AI will generate that. And then it also generate responses to the emails that the influencer. Obviously, you know, the marketer will be right there to, to edit anything that needs to be done because I do firmly believe that AI works best with a human.
I think the human element is still very important, so they’re not coming to take everybody’s jobs. It’s just important to. AI technology into the world of it and getting used to it so that you can work with ai. So yeah, generating responses and and emails is gonna be big. And then also when the influencers upload their content for the branch review, the AI will be able to analyze those images to make sure that.
They’re meeting the brand narrative and there’s no red flags for the content. So those are some of the upcoming things that we’re gonna be offering soon.[00:11:06] Mike Allton: That’s terrific. Particularly the generative aspect of email communication, that’s so important. ’cause like you said, you’ve got templates now and unfortunately as an influencer or or a brand, we’re all used to being on the receiving end of obvious template.
Emails. Not to say that yours are necessarily obvious, but that’s a issue that pervades the entire industry, where you’ve got people reaching out and pitching email campaigns. They’re pitching a guest blog post, or they’re pitching a influencer marketing campaign or, or a relationship, and they’re using a template that’s not personalized for that individual at all.
They haven’t taken a lot of time to really think about how does this come across to that individual, and so, It reads like a template and if you’ve been on the receiving end enough times, you know it’s a template right away. I even have friends, I’m not gonna any names, but they will put like emoji in their like LinkedIn username and that sort of thing, so they, when they get an email, Template or not reach template, it says hi emoji instead of hi first name, and so they instantly know they’re being reached out to by a bot and automation, so that’s a fantastic improvement.
And like you said, as long as there’s a human there who’s looking at it and making sure that this is proper content to be going out, whether it’s not reach, email, or response, the simple fact that the AI is helping to create that content is gonna help you scale. Gonna speed things along and make sure that the messaging that’s going out is really good.
I’ve been on the receiving end of some. Not templated bad emails as well, so that’s influencer marketing. How about partnerships? Whether you’ve seen in the industry or, or maybe you yourself, in your role, what are some ways that AI is already helping brands leverage partnerships?[00:12:54] Jeff Fransen: Yeah, so one of the roles as a partnerships manager is doing co-marketing.
So for me, generative AI has been helpful. I like to use Bard. Uh, it’s the Google version of Chat gt, and it’s really helpful for getting started with co-marketing blog posts. It can go in, I can ask it to learn about the the partner company, learn about affable, and then write a blog post to whatever audience I’m trying to reach.
Gives me a first draft. So I’ll be able to take that draft and then go over it and as if I’m an editor instead of a writer, then rework that blog post and turn it into something that, that we’re able to publish. So for me, that’s been one of the the biggest ways that AI’s been helping me move partnerships forward.[00:13:42] Mike Allton: That is so cool. I’ve used Bard. I love it. I use it to come up with all kinds of ideas for newsletters and blog posts. Hadn’t occurred to me to use it with partners to come up with ideas for co-marketing, content outlines and so on. That’s fantastic. I. We’re talking with Jeff Franson about ai, and I’ve got a quick message for you from our C M O at Agorapulse on how we’re integrating AI into our own product.
Hey there, Darryl Praill,
chief Marketing Officer here at Agorapulse, the industry’s best social media management platform. I. I gotta tell you, I love ai. Why? I don’t view it as a threat, rather, it makes me better. It’s a colleague, it’s a collaborator. Let’s see. I do a social media post, but you know what? I’m a little long-winded.
I want it shorter. Maybe I want it longer. Maybe I want it punchier, more assertive, more inspirational, more funny. That’s what our writing assistant does. Check it out, agorapulse.com.
Jeff, I love that you mentioned how important it’s to treat the ai. Like it’s, uh, an assistant, right? It’s, it’s something, you know, Darrell mentioned in, in that video as well, and it’s something that I really espouse. Uh, we work a lot with Katie Richmond, and this is something she preaches that treat the ai like it’s an intern that’s working with you when you’re approaching partnerships.
How has AI changed? That approach or how you look at working with different brand partners.[00:15:08] Jeff Fransen: So what I’m trying to do differently in terms of AI and partnerships is I’m trying to look to the future for building a new ecosystem of partnerships around e-commerce. So, We’ve got a ton of great traditional partners and traditional technology, but as one of the leaders in our space, in in artificial intelligence, I.
I just think that the future is going to be driven by ai, so I want my ecosystem to be reflective of that. So that, for me, that’s the biggest thing, is trying to identify the partners who have AI systems that are going to compliment each other and. If we have a customer that loves the fact that we use generative ai, I wanna be able to introduce ’em to another company that does a different thing within the space that also offers similar technologies.
So I think, I think that’s gonna be huge for us moving forward.[00:16:10] Mike Allton: That’s so cool. I love your answer because it’s not what one might expect when asking that kind of question, because a lot of people might talk about the different tools that are available to help them in that role as a partnership or whoever it is that’s asking the question and thinking about an answer.
But what you’re saying is a really different perspective that I enjoy, which was that we’re also looking for. Brand partners that are utilizing and seeing the potential of AI like we do. So it’s really interesting. It’s like having someone who shares your values when it comes to AI and having them come alongside as a partner.
That’s really cool. I love that. Where do you see AI impacting and driving influencer marketing partnerships in the coming years? Just across the industry.[00:16:56] Jeff Fransen: Yeah, so I definitely think that technologies like affable will be powering the future of influencer marketing across the industry. Like I said, doing influencer marketing manually can be incredibly time consuming.
A lot of the times it’s really hard to vet influencers. Do you know if they have fake followers or not? That’s something that, that we’re able to analyze. And then the whole process of doing the outreach, identifying the influencers, first of all, uh, going through the whole negotiation process, pulling in the content, and then generating reports on the performance on the backend.
It can be so time consuming and to be able to do that in a scalable manner, you know, I think that that’s where the AI is just so much for. And beyond that, you know, I think that we’re gonna find that there’s room for AI to help the entire process. So I’m just very bullish on the fact that influencer marketing is gonna be, I.
Very much driving the future of growing these partnerships.[00:18:04] Mike Allton: No, I love that because one of the things that I find myself doing now on a daily basis is trying to think objectively about the processes that I currently have in place, the tasks that I’m doing over and over again and as I read about and learn about new AI tools.
’cause there are new ones every day. I AI tools.
How I might use some of these new tools, how I might use some of these new ways to prompt and get help and information. A friend of mine sent me a, a AI tool called Pi pi, and it’s designed to simply have a conversation with the artificial intelligence and created a business plan. In my first conversation with this assistant, and it was impressive, the conversation style and the questions it would ask me.
PI would answer my question and then flip it around, right? I’d, I’d say something like, you know, we were, we’re doing email marketing to promote an event, and it would say, oh, that’s great. How was your conversion rate on those emails? I’m like, what? That’s amazing. It was so amazing. So I’m trying to be open-minded about the tools that I see, and like I said, trying to be aware of the things that I’m doing today.
That way I can. Become aware of how AI can help me in. With that said, for the CMOs in the audience that are listening, for the partnership leaders in the audience that are listening who may be somewhat new to partnerships and new to influencer marketing, what tips do you have for them? And this could be related to AI or not.[00:19:51] Jeff Fransen: Sure. So I would say that along the lines that real estate has always been about location, location, location. I think the partnership space is all about alignment, alignment, alignment. You know, if you partner with a company and they don’t really service the same i c p, maybe, you know, maybe they’re servicing smaller companies and, and you’re servicing bigger companies, you might not find very much overlap.
So it’s really important that you find. Either companies, other companies to partner with, or same goes for influencers. Find the ones that are aligned with what you’re already doing and what you’re trying to achieve, and they do something a little bit different. So for tech, you know, it could be for us, it’s, you know, maybe, uh, That services, the payments on the backend of the influencer campaign are whitelisting something that we don’t do.
So that, that’s where we’ve had some success. And for influencers, you know, that’s where. They have the same audience that you know that you’re trying to reach, but they’re already creating content that maybe you’re not able to create or you know, it’s always great to have the influencers speak about your brand to give you some social proof.
But yeah, at the end of the day, just make sure that there’s alignment across as many different categories as possible so that you’re share insights, share customers, co-market, and you. The same audience together, but sharing each other’s message.[00:21:23] Mike Allton: Couldn’t agree more. I had a very similar conversation just yesterday with Robin Dimond at Fifth and Core on on her podcast, and what I’d love to add to what you just said to piggyback is that businesses should know who their I C P is.
From the start, if you haven’t thought through who your target audience is, make sure you’ve gone through that exercise and you’ve got one or more ICPs in place that makes it so much easier to identify great influencers to work with, great partners to come alongside, and you’ll know whether or not they have your target audience as part of their target audience.
And if you wanna verify that quick tip, for those of you listening. We’ve had Jared Fuller on the show before, so you may have heard me talk about Reveal. But Reveal is something where you can plug in your C R m and your partners can plug in their C R M and you’ll literally see where you’ve got overlap between prospects and clients, and you can work with them on some co-selling motions.
Super cool. Jeff, I’ve got one more question for you and it’s my favorite question to ask ’cause everyone’s answer’s a little bit different, but it’s so important. How important have relationships been to your career and your professional development?[00:22:32] Jeff Fransen: Yeah, I mean in the partnership space, it’s really everything.
Without relationships with my partners, nothing could really get done. I’d say even like getting this job I had, you know, one of my friends from a previous company was there while I was going through the job seeking motions, and he supported me throughout the process. He pushed me, he told me, How much he thought of me and what I was able to accomplish when we worked together.
And he, he believed in me. And so having him, you know, be there kind of standing behind me, that meant the world to me. So, thanks, Stefan. And then in terms of partnerships, just being able to, Grow those relationships often springboards you into the next thing. So say Sarah from YoPo. You know, I’ve talked to her in the past.
I met her in New York. She brought me into her, her Slack channel and from there I was able to get some great information about events to go to and other people to connect with. So, you know, the relationships in partnerships, it’s something that, it’s an investment. It. The more you do it, like the more you can grow these relationships, the more you’ll get out of it in terms of information and meeting new people and getting more referrals and building new business.
So yeah, it’s absolutely a relationship game. And same with influencer marketing, like with influencers, if, if you just kind of reach out and you’re cold and you just try to make it a transactional situation, you might not get the best responses. They might even like offer, you know, like higher rates for you to pay.
But if they like you, if you reach out.
support through. You know, the process of, of your campaign and all those kinds of things. If they perform well and they wanna work with you again and again, those kinds of things can really drive massive results and, and long-term growth.[00:24:27] Mike Allton: I couldn’t agree more, and you brought up a point that I don’t think anybody’s ever raced before, which is that if you’re developing strong, healthy.
Positive relationships with influencers. Not only is that gonna create more effective campaigns, it will probably save you money ’cause they’re not gonna charge you as much if they like you. And I couldn’t agree with that more. All I can think of, I’m not gonna name names ’cause they’ve asked me not to share their their rates, but I can think of a couple big time influencers who gave me a friends and family kind of a discount, a deep discount off of their sticker rate for speaking at an event purely because of the relationship that saved ago.
Money. Hint, hint. C m o, are you listening? I saved you money, so I love that you answered that way. Thank you so much, Jeff. This has been so terrific. Let everybody know where they can follow you, learn more about you, and learn more about affable.[00:25:18] Jeff Fransen: Sure. Thanks. Um, so you can find me on LinkedIn, uh, Jeff Franson and just, you know, go check out affable ai if you want to get a demo, if you want a free trial, you know, you can sign up there or feel free to email me at Jeff at affable ai and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
And, you know, AI driven, e-Commerce Tech, you know, feel free to reach out as well. I’m, I’m looking forward to meeting all you.[00:25:47] Mike Allton: Awesome. Thank you Jeff, and thank you for listening to today’s show. If you haven’t been able to tell us so far, we’re talking more and more about AI and influencer marketing on this podcast, so please subscribe and let us know if that’s something you want to know even more about.
I’ve got many more guests lined up to talk about AI and how it’s changing the world. Until next time, thank you for listening to another episode of Partnership Unpacked. Hosted by Mike Alton, empowered by Agorapulse, the number one rated social media management solution, which you can learn more firstname.lastname@example.org.
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