Marketing In the Lens of an Influencer: @secretlifeofaggie Q&A
Agnes Tang, a 27-year-old influencer, began her Instagram journey in 2014. The University of Irvine graduate started her fashion and lifestyle account when "influencing" had not yet been well-established. She is one from a generation that lived through the evolution of social media outreach and popularity. Read about Agnes's marketing and branding strategies as she continued to grow her account as the "influencer" life came to be.
Q: At what point did your career as an influencer begin to gain a larger following?
It was between the six-month and one-year period of me starting the account that it began to grow. From 2015, my account exponentially grew as I also started to post consistently. I definitely grew that following from the sheer amount of Brandy Melville I wore, the biggest trend in 2014 and 2015. Back in 2015, there wasn't a term for an influencer, and I didn't realize I was doing well until brands started to reach out to my account. I couldn't at the time see my Instagram becoming a full-time job because this realm of work didn't truly exist; people were full-time bloggers but not "influencers." In 2015, I was still in college, and this account was for fun. I never thought it could lead to a career. I know that if I had continued to put as much effort into my account as I did in 2015, I could've made influencing my job. I also used my account growth as leverage for internships.
Q: How do you keep your followers engaged?
I kept my followers engaged at my peak by posting consistently and showing my face on my account. Although I started my account with photos of outfit ideas, I realized that the picture with my face did much better and received more engagement. Instagram stories had not been established back when I started, but now I post daily. Authenticity and showcasing my interests have also helped with my follower retention. I also used to do giveaways and hosted my own, and the engagement through that skyrocketed. I also have a different brand called "Me Over You" and sell these clothes on my Depop. I also sell clothing I've received from brands I've worked with in the past, like Fashion Nova. It's a small passive income that is nice to look forward to.
Q: What was your target demographic when you started? What is it now?
I started my account when I was 19, and my target audience was teens. I wanted people my age and younger to engage with my account. Now my actual demographic are people in their early to late 20s. My following grew with me for the most part, but I did lose a lot of the Brandy Melville fanatics. I want my target audience to be in the mid to early 30s with a more mature stance. Since my current demographic is those in their 20s, I use affiliate links on Instagram stories to keep my audience growing. If someone buys a product through this affiliate link, I get a commission.
Q: How do you initiate collaboration with companies and other creators?
With large and established companies, I am usually reached out to through either the actual company or a public relations third party. Most of the time, I am not contacted by the primary company. An example of this was when I partnered with McDonald's. A third party affiliated with them reached out through direct messaging. When I am looking to collaborate with a smaller company or brand personally, I usually reach out to them and ask if they are looking into gifting clothes or are offering paid partnerships. This is how I could go to Coachella for three years without paying out-of-pocket. Through these collaborations, I was also able to travel to Hawaii. When collaborating with other creators, we post one another on our Instagram stories, also known as cross-posting. It helps both receiving ends with gaining engagement.
Q: How do you decide which brands to collaborate with?
Choosing a brand that you genuinely know and love is the most important aspect of collaboration. If you have never used or tried a brand's product, the next step is to figure out a way to negotiate a way to test the product or item before promoting it. Losing trust through social media is the quickest way to lose followers and support. Sometimes, I can collaborate with booths already present at festivals or events, which usually looks like a post on a story about what they are selling or providing. Some influencers get offered specific incentives to partner with a brand that can look like a contract where they post the brand for six months or are in their promotional videos.
Q: What do you wish you knew before starting?
I wish I knew that influencing would have a vast market and infinite opportunity. If I had known the potential and competition of influencing, I would have made it my full-time career. When I started my Instagram and even a few years in, I was uncertain where influencing would go. When I was the most successful, I didn't fully love what I was doing. We were in a time of social media where everything was picture perfect, and most "influencers" were putting on a facade of a perfect life. Instagram at that time was basically a highlight reel of one's life. I am thrilled with how Instagram has become more authentic and genuine. People nowadays are more true to themselves and post what they do daily.
Q: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming influencer?
I also use these tips to manage my brand, which helps my account grow.
1. Post consistently
2. Figure out your niche. Posting the same things from that category will keep your account aesthetic. Also, make sure to branch out, post reels, and use other social media.
3. Be genuine and authentic
If you’re interested in Agnes’s account follow @secretlifeofaggie on Instagram.