We hear all the time about the rise of influencers and integrating them into campaigns and partnerships. For example, Klear (a great company!) recently released their report on influencer marketing (which you can download here).

However, I have found there are some influencers who are the real deal. They are the same as they are in person, and they provide value to their audiences and engage with them. That’s a rare combination in 2018, which is unfortunate. Yet, this allows the influencer to be able to disrupt and make a long term impression on someone.

This was the case for me with a big influencer and creator this year, and I want to share with you my experience. The creator and influencer I am talking about is Casey Neistat.

Casey has been around for a long time now, and has certainly made his mark as a storyteller, film creator, and overall social media leader. I have been a fan of his work for a while now (always have to share his videos with my social media classes). All of my students follow his work religiously.  I got a chance to see Casey speak this past year at Cannes Lions, and it was by far my favorite talk – hands down. He shared his experience creating films and videos, and how his role as an influencer has impacted his work and what he is now doing with CNN.

Fast forward a few months later, I was checking on my social media classes, and a tweet came out from Casey about his new merchandise line. I went to check out the site and saw there were a few initial products you could get (sweaters, t-shirts, etc), and I was thinking this was a smart move. Influencer merchandise is not a new thing. Look at what Gary Vaynerchuk has done with his Gary brand and most influencers either have a book or are working on one to launch later this year. I have of course invested in books to read (love to build on my social media library!).

However, I have never bought any merchandise from an influencer before. Until now.

Yep. Made my very first merchandise purchase a few days ago from Casey Neistat’s store. I saw the “Work Harder” sweater from Casey’s store and it immediately connected with me. My motto as a student-athlete was work hard, win easy – so this was something I felt I would wear on a regular basis. I ordered the sweater, and it immediately came a few days later.

What do I think? It’s amazing quality – probably my favorite sweater I have. It fits really well and in the cold weather we are having in Louisville, it’s perfect. I was really excited and shared my enthusiasm on all of my social media platforms.

And then I got this message from Casey on Twitter:

Again, Casey has solidified what I have been thinking all along about the influencers who really get it. They understand their community and how being active and presence is crucial. Listening and seeing who all is talking about you is an absolute necessity.

Will we see more influencers create their own merchandise? Will it be successful? From what I have learned about my experience with Casey, it will be successful if they:

  • Understand what types of merchandise their audience wants. Shirts, sweaters, coffee mugs, etc are all good. These are products everyone uses and will be doing something (work, exercise, walking around, etc), so it has to be both affordable and relevant to their daily lives.
  • Know what connects with their brand and will be used by others. That’s a key element here – you have to create merchandise that makes sense to your brand. Gary does this with his mottos and logos on his swag, and Casey has a strong yet clear message of branding on his work. If I ever ventured to the merchandise route – it would so be coffee mugs for me!
  • Seize the opportunity with their community, Share updates and pictures of others wearing your work. Listen and engage with them on the product. Have this be a start to an ongoing conversation and help foster a connection with each individual who puts forth the investment to make a purchase.

Overall, I am not only happy I made the purchase of Casey’s branded sweater, I have found that 1) several students saw my posts and asked where they could order one and 2) I am thinking about ordering a second sweater because I may wear out this one because I am wearing it all the time!

Everyone – make sure to check out Casey’s store and I highly recommend the Work Harder sweater. It’s awesome and super, super comfortable. You will thank me later!

Congrats again on the launch of your merchandise line, Casey. Keep up the great work creating amazing content and leading the industry on what creators and influencers inspire to be.

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,