In this Tech Bound Conversation, I speak to Joe Sinkwitz about Influencer Marketing, Social Engineering, and Black Hat SEO. Joe is the founder and CEO of Intellifluence and Digital Heretix, SEO legend, and Influencer Marketing expert.
If you didn’t know, Joe caused the Payday Loan update, has a pretty unique system of learning new things and knows a ton about social engineering.
2:06 Bootstrapping Intellifluence
6:27 How Joe caused the Payday Loan update
8:25 Getting into hacking
10:16 Manipulating opinions with Social Engineering
14:46 How to defend against social engineering
16:54 Online Reputation Management
21:52 Influencer Marketing for dry topics
26:32 The most efficient social channels as of now
27:38 Examples of successful Influencer Marketing campaigns
29:08 Disclosing sponsored posts vs. not
30:57 How to become an influencer
32:40 Writing a book about Influencer Marketing
35:14 The underrated value of communities
39:32 How Joe learns new things
44:41 State of the Influencer Industry
49:23 What SEOs should know about Influencer Marketing
54:44 Bacon Ipsum Wine and Co-Flounder at Napa Summit
58:39 Psychological trigger in social engineering
60:00 Writing children’s stories for education
60:02 Mental clarity from Intermittent Fasting
- The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077Y2SQ5P
- Digital Heretix https://www.digitalheretix.com/
- Intellifluence: https://intellifluence.com/
- Joe on Marketing Land https://marketingland.com/author/joe-sinkwitz
- Joe on Search Engine Land https://searchengineland.com/author/joe-sinkwitz
- Joe on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CygnusSEO
- Tech Bound: https://www.kevin-indig.com/tech-bound/
- iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/tech-bound-conversations/id1488939659
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1Ze0gqMmuh22rR8rVv0oz8?si=87cysHp3S5yEzNuuUK9Ezg
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoQ5uxfxcnObjzLAk1lmM6g
Kevin Indig (00:00:00):
Three, two, one. Joe. Joe Sinkwitz, welcome to this Tech Bound Conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time. For all of those out there who do not know who Joe is, Joe Sinkwitz is an advisor to CopyPress. The CEO and co-founder of Intellifluence. Author of The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing. Tons of articles on MarketingLand, Search Engine Land, and almost every other big time content platform out there. Joe is also the principal for the reputation management agency, Digital Heretix. And his specialties are selling the sides you wish to sell.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:00:41):
That’s right. Selling, it’s no longer buying. It’s funny, it’s like for the audience, Kevin and I had a pre-conversation. So on the LinkedIn page, it says buying the sites you want to sell. And that has since flipped. Pre penguin, we were bankrupt. We were taking all our money from payday and insurance. We were making 50 grand a day. So we’re just taking that money and throwing it and throwing it. So we were paying a couple of million for autoloans.com, million for automobile.com. We were just buying and buying and buying. Penguin decimated that market because it was basically propped up by four guys. Patrick, Gavin, myself and a couple others. So when it dropped you couldn’t sell it because it’d be selling it for a tax loss really. So they got up to a reasonable level now, but we’re not developing it. So yeah, I’d rather sell those things and focus on the telephones because that’s my passion.
Kevin Indig (00:01:28):
That’s crazy. 50K a day.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:01:30):
Yeah, it was fun. It was a lot of fun. At the same time, we had 50 employees at the time. We grew that company maybe more out of ego than anything because it was all affiliate driven. We didn’t have to answer to anyone except for a hostile board. So we just did what we did, and we didn’t care. And then when penguin flipped that table, we were like okay this is done. And then I found myself at CopyPress nine, 12 months later,
Kevin Indig (00:01:56):
The good old days when all that stuff was still possible. So you also, you have a pretty extensive background in gray hat or maybe even black hat stuff.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:02:04):
Sure. Let’s call it that.
Kevin Indig (00:02:06):
But now more you focus on white head. So I’m curious, for the listeners and for the Watchers, what does Intellifluence do exactly?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:02:17):
Sure. So Intellifluence is currently the world’s largest warm contact influencer marketing network. And I usually have to kind of sound those words out real slowly because when I’m in the sales calls quite a bit, all throughout the day. A lot of the times we run into situations where someone’s trying to compare us to a Ninja outreach. I’ll say cool, Ninja is great. But what Ninja is, it’s a database of scraped contact information of 20 million something people. And you’re going to have some hits in there, no doubt. But a lot of it, people don’t even know they’re on the list and they’re upset when they’re outreached. So we’re warm contact. Everyone that we have in our network physically signed up. So there’s more to it than that. But that’s usually the big takeaway. Everyone is able to do transactions on our network. We’re one of the few that’s GDPR compliant. Because a big brand, and I was talking to, we’ll call it an IBM sort of company. And they had a need for influencers, but they were afraid of doing all the outreach. So they had looked at a couple of competitors. So we said well hey, why don’t you tell us the people that you want to reach out to? I’ll take care of the situation, get them into our network, and then kind of slide them right into your DMS so they can work with you directly throughout campaigns.
Kevin Indig (00:03:32):
I feel like that kind of service economy is really growing where it used to be marketplaces. And now in a lot of cases it slowly transitions into services because people still want to almost have a one-stop-shop solution where they’re like here’s what I need. Go out and get it. You might still have that big pool attached to it. Right? But people don’t have the time to really dig through the whole marketplace. All the conversations and stuff.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:03:56):
But what we’re running into, too, is a SAAS company, and you’re at a SAAS. So it’s essentially like you have your software revenues from your subscription. Then we have a marketplace revenue for the transactions that are taking place. But we’re also finding too that there’s a big demand for service revenue, where people were like, “Hey, you know what? I don’t mind paying a grand a month to do X, Y, Z. But I would pay 10 grand a month if you just take everything off my plate.” I’m like, okay. So I know that too, you get a certain level of MMR that and no longer makes sense and you’ve got to dial it back. We don’t have any VCs, so we’re going to do what we want to do until we can raise money in next couple of months. And then that’ll change.
Kevin Indig (00:04:35):
We’re in Silicon Valley here and everybody’s envious of that situation.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:04:41):
We bootstrapped for three and a half years.
Kevin Indig (00:04:43):
That’s the way to go. Honestly, I feel like that economy is really growing in the right direction and gains a lot more attention. I mean, we’re in TaskRabbit’s offices right-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:04:52):
They’re totally within our ecosystem. I mean the influencer for doing everyday jobs is basically TaskRabbit.
Kevin Indig (00:04:58):
Right. Right. So it fits perfectly. So I mean you had a major career in SEO of 20 years or more and digital marketing in general. Have that again, that gray, black head ish kind of background. What turned you into whitehead?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:05:13):
I kind of Forrest Gumped into it, and I’ll cover it tonight a little bit in my presentation where I started out kind of dark only because of it, just by happenstance. I was doing some work for a doctor that wanted to sell Viagra online. So it just worked that way. I think it was AltaVista, so we were trying to figure out, well if I make these modifications to the page, we can rank on Altavista, Viagra. We understood that there was limitations and difficulties with that type of product. Well, if I cut my teeth on that and went right in the payday loans, it was impossible to be doing white hat all the time anyways. It really wasn’t until I connected with CopyPress where I was like, “Hey, I’m doing all this affiliate stuff,” which was organic paid an email. We were cranking on email in not the best way. But then with copy press, like hey, you know what? They have a really good idea in terms of how they’re going to structure content over a period of time and how they’re going to amplify that with social amplification and native ads. So that sort of started my path. And then Intellifluence has kind of closed the loop because it’s possible to do everything that I wanted to do in terms of the KPI without having to worry so much about the risk. That was the dial back.
Kevin Indig (00:06:27):
I also, I did a bit of due diligence and digging. And you have, Marty Weintraub wrote an article on inc.com. I think it was referring back to one of the SEOktoberfest sessions. But he basically, and I quote Marty here, wrote about you, “Joe’s exploits forced Google to make some notable changes.”
Joe Sinkwitz (00:06:50):
So the payday loan exploit, payday loan update was because of me.
Kevin Indig (00:06:53):
Can you talk more about that?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:06:55):
Yeah. So I was running into an issue in 2012. It was just after Penguin. And we figured out that we could do some redirects to get out of Penguin 1.0 and then they clamped down on that 1.1. You saw all this stuff in the UK, what was it? [inaudible 00:07:13] loves payday loans. That was not me, it was someone else. But the situation though came into play where our largest competitor was a crime ring out of Eastern Europe. And the way that they were getting ahead was just doing blatant hacks, take over the domain, redirect after a randomized period of time. It was a beautiful structure, but it’s totally illegal. And there was a line that I wasn’t going to cross. And that was basically, I’m not going to go into illegality. I tried working with Google as much as I could. They wouldn’t listen.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:07:44):
So I got invited to keynote in SEO com in Salzburg, Austria. So I did some live hacking on stage and I showed how it worked. So I don’t know, 1,000 something people. And I was like, “Hey, this is how Google is totally ignoring this very obvious thing where 70% of the SERPs are being supported by this garbage.” And then they rolled it out, and they said it was algorithmic and it was totally manual. But fine. I caused them to make a little change. My minor footnote in history.
Kevin Indig (00:08:14):
Minor. That’s a major accomplishment.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:08:16):
They’ve forgotten about this by now. They’ve moved on.
Kevin Indig (00:08:20):
I don’t know. Maybe there’s still a little picture hanging on a wall somewhere in the Google-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:08:24):
I know I was on a list for a while, but I don’t think it was on a good list.
Kevin Indig (00:08:27):
Oh, I had no idea. So that list exists?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:08:30):
Oh yeah. They totally lie about it when they say they don’t, they absolutely do. You’ve probably talked to Marcus Tandler a little bit regarding his period of time where they had a team trying to find his stuff. So yeah, they’re not dumb.
Kevin Indig (00:08:43):
Right, right. No, they’re not. They’re not. That’s very true. Interesting. I mean, it’s still a major accomplishment. So how did you learn all this? How did you learn how to live hack on stage? I mean, obviously there’s a ton attached to it and a ton of development that happened there. But what got you to that point? Did you teach all that yourself? Just learning by doing? Just read a ton of books?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:09:05):
That’s a good question. So I have a couple of undergrads and a master. So my undergrads are in information systems and then operations and management. And then my master’s is an MBA, emphasis in marketing. So there’s some literature sure that I’ve read over the years. My first career is in programming, so yeah. While I started SEO in college, right afterwards I’m like, “I’m going to get a proper job.” And I developed tax software, which is the most dry thing in the world.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:09:33):
So I had some technical chops coming into it. But again, it was not just me. Over that period of time, I had a big team. So I’d get a crazy idea and like, let’s investigate this. What happens if we do this X, Y, Z? And then I’d have people doing the research and development and they go through it and like, “Here’s what’s happening. What if we change this? What if we change this? What if we do this?” I can script kitty bit. I don’t consider myself near the programmer that some of these people in the industry are. But I made my way through.
Kevin Indig (00:10:02):
Yeah, I think you are understating yourself a little bit. I think there’s much more to you. But that’s impressive and super interesting. And then I mean now, you’re very focused on the social side of things. And you have spoken a bit about social engineering before or kind of… I’m on the right path here. So let’s talk a bit about that. What’s your experience? What got you on that track?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:10:32):
Okay, so social engineering goes kind of far back. It was all about the bluff. It was about how do I get into this club when I’m 17? That sort of thing, and dance on stage when you’re not supposed to. Which happens unfortunately, I’ll regret that. It happened when I was young. I was stupid.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:10:53):
But social engineering, I see that still dovetailing back to search where you’re essentially trying to lead a person down a path. So within, socially you might be trying to get them to use the right brand phrasing that you want to use. That’s kind of where I started with that. And then it just sort of exploded where it’s like well, hey. I can change the outcome of potential legislation if I get the perceived opinion to shift. So with that, then it’s like okay, well who do we have to get in front of? And you say okay, well here’s the people that are opposed to this sort of concept? All right, well who are they listening to? Who are their constituents? And then you’re either paying or you’re putting information in front of those people to get them to share it, to get them to comment, to get in the field of vision. And the reality is that whole 2% scenario driving the narrative is real. Because if you can get them to very loud and vocal, you can make it seem like well everyone’s apparently for this or against or whatever it might be.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:11:58):
So that’s the direction that went. It’s still very tight with SEO still. But that’s kind of where I think social manipulations really going. We did some testing on it for politics, but also I recently presented, you could do it for making sure your favorite television show gets renewed. If you look at all the successful shows and scifi that came back, you’d follow the social campaigns that got them back versus the ones that just sort of died because they didn’t have the support. But you can manipulate that support.
Kevin Indig (00:12:35):
Interesting. That gets me tons of ideas. But it kind of fits to also this whole concept of I think it’s 1, 9, 90. Where 1% of most communities are the creators, 9% engage, and then 90% just simply watch and-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:12:50):
Yeah just lurking.
Kevin Indig (00:12:52):
Ghosting. Yeah, lurking. What do you think as kind of an expert in this space about the 2016 election? And I don’t want to make this too political. Just because it fits so perfectly to that.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:13:04):
Yeah. So we actually, Terry Gauthier and I presented on this in 2016 on UnGagged. We started our research in the summer. And we going to do something on influence and then dark influence. And when we got the dark influences, we were looking at ideas. So let’s go to 4chan. So we were noticing stuff where tests would run on 4chan. They’d bubble up onto a Reddit. It was like, at this time it was like r/DonaldTrump. So that’s that subreddit. And then from there, the popular ones would sometimes go to Twitter and Facebook groups and whatnot. And then some of the really popular ones would actually get retweeted by the now sitting president United States.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:13:42):
So that was crazy. From there we were like well, where does this shit coming from? And trace back Eastern Europe. But it was further than that. and we were like okay, well let’s look at the democratic side. Let’s go to liberals. And we saw where Hillary’s campaign was astroturfing on Reddit for Bernie stuff back during the primary. It’s dirty, dirty, dirty stuff. Yes, absolutely played a huge role. Indonesia it was even bigger in 2014 I believed. And then they moved to an all digital election in 2019. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I think something like 500 different election workers got killed that year. There was major fraud allegations. But in Indonesia it’s even crazier because they were buying media outlets in order to run their message. So we talked about the divergence here of CNN, MSNBC versus Fox. It’s very literal there where they basically own the fifth estate.
Kevin Indig (00:14:46):
What should the government do or what should we do as citizens of the web to avoid that stuff.?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:14:52):
I mean, the best thing you could possibly do is exercise critical thinking. That’s the best possible thing. I mean, we had some loose suggestions of here’s what Facebook can do to do white listing stuff. And ultimately they ended up going down kind of a similar path. I understand. It’s very easy for a guy in my armchair to give ideas. Very difficult to implement and not make everyone happy. And of course there’s a lot of stuff that gets listed as a verified news source where people are like this is total horse crap. What are you going to do? In terms of the government, well for one they could actually get an FTC with teeth. And aren’t we now, Google has a 50 different attorneys journal on its back. But the FTC and DOJ really aren’t doing anything. So clearly, federal has failed there. It’ll have to happen with Facebook. They’re going to have to look at it and probably break it apart over the years. Whether it gets to that point, you flip a coin. I don’t know.
Kevin Indig (00:15:53):
What about companies? What about, what are you as a private person, what if you were the victim of a social engineering campaign? Is there something that helps you to depend yourself? There’s something you can do?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:16:09):
Somewhat. I mean, it depends what the network is and the policies they have for trying to figure out if it’s a fake account. For whatever reason, idiots pick on [inaudible 00:16:20], she’s not someone to pick on. So like they’ll try to clone her Twitter account or her Facebook account. And then because she has a real good network behind her, they can attack it. So maybe that’s actually a suggestion. If you just have a couple of followers, you have a couple people in your network. It may not be strong enough to survive an onslaught. So you can think of it in medieval terms. You need a bigger moat. So it makes it more difficult, make it economically painful to go after you. And that might be the best route. But you can never make yourself hack proof. It’s a reality.
Kevin Indig (00:16:54):
And that’s what you do with Digital Heretix, right? That’s your reputation management and such-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:16:58):
Yeah, it usually tends to be something where a CEO did something stupid and they want to make the bad news go away. And we’re like okay, well it’s not just going to go away first. Stop doing it. And then now let’s try to figure out what’s the extent of this damage, and how can we reverse it over time, and put out positive narratives and flush it?
Kevin Indig (00:17:15):
Got you, got you. So it’s mostly about pressing it down the search results and replace it with-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:17:19):
Usually. That’s the cleanest way. Yeah. I mean, there’s obviously a lot of social that goes into play just because it’s so easy for a negative story to just go viral on Twitter. And then once that happens, you have to figure out how I’m going to co-opt a bad hashtag and introduce a good hashtag, and then drown the bad one and then start overpaying for the good one so it pushes it down. And then move on.
Kevin Indig (00:17:46):
I wonder if that has become harder with Google paying so much more attention to the user intent. Because what I’ve seen, and I’ve only been in this game for half the time that you have, right? So you certainly have much more expertise than I have. But back in the days, basically when it came to search was enough to add a couple of links to certain sites that would then rise up, for example, for a brand or for name. And nowadays, I feel like it’s so much harder. User Intent is probably just one component of that I think it’s also, think it was so much better at understanding what people actually want.
Kevin Indig (00:18:18):
But I’m saying user intent, because what I see is that for brand names, it basically goes back and forth between YouTube, Twitter, lots of the big social networks that are commonly displayed for a certain brand. And then you maybe have some ammunition with Medium or some other blogs, or that kind of stuff. But I feel like it’s much harder to get it closer to page one, whereas because those very strong stories that are sometimes written, those kinds of dirty stories get so many clicks. I almost feel like they’re a magnet.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:18:51):
So there’s a couple of ways to attack that. So one is to recognize that the authority is not so much in the content, the authority’s where it’s being placed. So you can go and place better content on those same domains, right? So you can then focus on manipulating that. So each of those has their own little things. You’re getting a lot of applause on Medium, and that’s probably going to be dead in the next couple of years. YouTube, it’s all about the subscribers, the comments. The views. And then search too. You could still use bots. Bots still work great on user intent. So you’re pushing through a lot of different variant brand phrasing, and then you’re having them follow through, click, and dwell. And that’s usually enough. The reality is they’re consuming Chrome data. They’re consuming Android data, so they know when something’s blatantly manipulated. But if you’re mixing it in with all your other positive stuff, it can be enough to just push it over the edge.
Kevin Indig (00:19:50):
Got you. Got you. And then how is that different? I mean, you spoke about Twitter and search, and how to use hashtags for example to avoid negative and bad campaigns. Let me ask this way. How many inquiries do you get or requests for setting up dirty or negative campaigns? Are people coming to you and asking, “Hey, how can I shoo this competitor or this person away?”
Joe Sinkwitz (00:20:23):
No, it actually doesn’t happen as much as you’d think. We are referral only, so that helps. But at the same time too, the requests that have come in are usually, they recognize that they could get, not in trouble, but they’re putting themselves out there. If someone randomly comes to you and says, “Hey Kevin, I want you to go across the street and shoot that guy.” And they don’t know what your intent is going to be. Are you the type of person that’ll say, “Well how much?” People say, “Hey, this is wrong. I’m not going to go through with this?” So we don’t have nearly as much in terms of people come to ask us to do that. Those that do usually back it up with a story. Like, “Hey, this guy’s a dirt bag. Here’s all the things he’s done. My client just wants him to go away. He’s not going away. Can you help her out?” And then that’s it. Then it’s a little bit more straightforward.
Kevin Indig (00:21:14):
Do you still, what do you prefer? Is it more of the black head stuff or the white hat stuff in general?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:21:20):
I mean, I like the ideas of black hat because it’s always kind of, it’s forbidden, right? It’s taboo. But my worlds have sort of mixed now where I use influencers in my ORM campaigns. Because if you have a 3.5 billion reach, you’re stupid not to. So I have stuff that we’re trying to push a narrative for ORM purposes. And then I can amplify the crap out of it and just dump truck of Facebook shares. And that works great. So my worlds sort of inter connect quite a bit.
Kevin Indig (00:21:52):
Would you say there are limits regarding certain topics, that you can use to amplify with influencers? Just kind of, the classic example where all the Tasty videos on Facebook obviously go viral within a heartbeat, and they’re super easy to share. But then there’s other, I don’t know, some medical staff or so that is super hard to share. What are your thoughts on that?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:22:11):
Yeah, that’s a good point. So the way that we have sort of tried to crack that is everyone tries to self categorize what they do and what their interests are. So if you have something that’s very niche, like medical or even extreme tech. And we can talk to Jonah in a little while. Or I’m sorry, to Micah. I’m doing some stuff with Micah. So it’s extremely technical, like penetration testings type stuff. Not everyone’s going to understand what that is. So the way you can get around it is you could talk about it aspirationally. When you say, “I don’t fully understand this, but here is how I would use it if I had a problem.” So it’s the same thing in medical. I don’t need a kidney transplant, but these are the guys that I’d use if I needed to because they’re rated five on Google, or whatever it is.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:23:03):
So there’s ways around dealing with a difficult subject. And then from there, I’m a big fan of taking really complex content like a video. Like a deep, deep video and then slicing and dicing a million ways. So you’re taking out little parts for Instagram stories or Snapchat. You’re taking imagery for Instagram, proper Pinterest. You’re taking transcripts and put them in this blog post. You’re amplifying them on Twitter. You could really squeeze the blood out of a rock when you start with something complex and meaty. And when it’s something niche like that, you almost have to do it because you’re just throwing money down the drain otherwise.
Kevin Indig (00:23:43):
Got you. So it’s kind of omnichannel everywhere presence kind of-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:23:48):
I think so, yeah. I mean that’s a struggle too as a platform. We’re SaaS. So you come in and you do a task. You’re getting Twitter shares, you’re getting YouTube videos done. And it’s really difficult to provide that strategy real time. Because we could talk AI and machine learning, be complete bull honky or whatever phrase we want to throw in there. It usually is. And we could try to implement that as a strategy, but it doesn’t replace getting on the phone like, “Hey guys, here’s how I’d do this. Do this part first, see the results, take it, take the end result, put it in this next thing. Take it, put it in the next bucket.” So forth. So forth. That works. But there’s no great automated solution. If someone ever figures that out, then they’ll make a lot more money than I do.
Kevin Indig (00:24:37):
Yeah. I think some of these things are better not automated. Right? I mean, that’s where a lot of the quality comes from. Especially when it comes to the social engineering or any social type of marketing. I think it’s, and that’s just my impression as a kind of more of as an outsider. But I think it’s so hard to automate still. And so hard to, maybe some of the execution. Okay, that’s fine. But having that empathy. Almost that feeling for the reception from the social standpoint of view or from an emotional stand point of view. I think that’s got to be super hard for a machine to replicate. Maybe based on certain heart signals, right? Maybe based on a feedback or a response signal. But just setting up the campaign and having that kind of first draft or first step, I think is going to be really hard for a machine, right? To just say, “Hey, I want, I don’t know.” I have a product and I want it to go viral on Facebook, or Twitter, or something like that. I think the execution is probably going to be automate-able, but that first idea is probably going to be-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:25:42):
Yeah, that’s really tough. And also, the other thing that automation fails at is the if then. It’s like what happens if this is not performing as expected? As humans, we’re able to look at and say, “Here’s my obvious tweak that a situation.” Computer can only do what it’s programmed to do. So it’s like the program’s running. I don’t know, I’m just going to keep going. Because this is the next step. And you could be wasting even more money on a chain of stuff. It’s like the Roomba that runs into the dog poop and that just pushes around the floor. That’s how I envision bad campaigns that are automated.
Kevin Indig (00:26:18):
I love that metaphor. So which channel do you think is going to be most fruitful in terms of morality and pushing campaigns? I totally understand that depends on the product, the category, the industry. But what do you see across the board as being the most fruitful one?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:26:35):
So in politics I see Twitter. In things like health, beauty, and fitness, Instagram. When the niche is really, really difficult. I see YouTube because you’re given the opportunity to explain everything. But then I back all of it up with bloggers.
Kevin Indig (00:26:53):
Got you. So written content, so all-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:26:55):
Oh yeah. Lauren Baker made fun of me a couple of years ago, and he was absolutely right. He nailed this. He’s like, “Did you realize he made text link ads 2.0?” I didn’t mean to, but it made sense. Because we were onboarding so many bloggers. And then so many of the people come in were just using it to buy blog posts. So I might as well use them. Because you take those YouTube videos and you embed them in the blog post, you’re able to drive secondary views as well as all the SEO benefit you’re going to get. So I always like to backfill. And then whatever the KPI is, whether it’s sales, you’re doing branding. There’s always a good way to get some SEO out of it.
Kevin Indig (00:27:34):
Good old SEO. What was one of the campaigns that you’re most proud of or that you have seen somebody else doing that you thought, “Oh my gosh, this is really good.”
Joe Sinkwitz (00:27:46):
So there’s definitely some brands that we love. We do a lot of work with GhostBed, Rich Bernstein’s group. They’ve done a phenomenal job. We did a bunch of videos and Instagram stories, and Instagram posts. And we pumped them back through blog posts, and we’re just closing everything. So that’s what’s awesome about the influencer industry is a quick side note. The efficacy does not decrease when you disclose that it’s an ad. That’s really important because now you’re like, you don’t have to worry about FTC breathing down your neck about no-follow, etc. Just go ahead and disclose. It’s no big deal. And now that no follow is a signal that Google has to pay more attention to because they’re not really sure what’s going on with it. We always sort of thought that case, but now it’s even more that it just sort of works.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:28:36):
But anyways, so GhostBed. What I’m proud of is there were really one of our first managed clients, where they had an idea and we executed it. And then we came up with ideas and did more. And it just kept going, and going, and going. And they’ve been doing great. Their traffic’s up. They’re selling a lot of beds, so I can’t complain about that.
Kevin Indig (00:28:54):
Ladies and gentleman, Andrew Schotland while we’re being filmed. Got you. And do I remember correctly that FTC kind of forces now influencers to disclose when-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:29:08):
Well, it’s really funny. So they don’t force anything. It’s kind of vague guidelines. And you should disclose, but we’re not going to tell you what that means. And that’s the state of the industry right now. The bigger you are as an influencer, the more that you should definitely disclose. Like if you talk to the Kardashian family.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:29:29):
So Kim, she can get $500,000 per simple branded post on Instagram without adding anything to it. Just plop it in there, $500,000. Obviously it behooves her to do the #ad, #spon. Her sister Kendall has not been doing it. She does it more now, but there was a period of time where she was promoting fit tea heavily. So everything she was doing involved fit tea, fit tea, fit tea. She wasn’t disclosing any of it. The FTC does eventually crack down and tries to make an example out of people. They made an example out of Machinima, who was doing a campaign with Xbox on YouTube. And all they wanted was they wanted high gaming YouTubers to just show a footage of using the Xbox 360. And I don’t know how many units they sold, but they sold a lot of units. And what was interesting though is you look and it’s like, it was Machinima that came to an agreement with FTC, not Microsoft. So with us, we’re not really sitting in the middle. We make the handshake. But if Kevin Indig wanted to come in through and do a shady campaign with a bunch of influencers and he got caught, he couldn’t say, “Well Intellifluence me do it.” It’s a SasS. You did it yourself. But if I was running a managed campaign and I did it for you, then it’s another story.
Kevin Indig (00:30:52):
Got you. Got you. That makes a lot of sense. It puts me in a pretty good position also. So what do you see as, in terms of the influencer industry and influencers themselves, what do you think makes him most successful? I’m really speaking about the kind of a zero to one step or the maybe one to three step, instead of kind of the how, the small Kardashians sister. What do you see as kind of a common path of influencers of how they develop their audience?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:31:21):
Develop an expertise, work with people in the industry. And then be judicious about what you do. So that’s half of the book that I wrote actually. So half was for brands and agencies, and how to use them. And the other half was influencers, what do you do? How do you start? It’s like what are you good at? What are you passionate about? What do you like to do? And that goes a very long way.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:31:42):
So I use makeup as an example. If you’re a makeup influencer that’s cool, but what if you became the person that specializes in, I don’t know eyebrows or something, or maybe even a certain technique within eyebrows. And over a couple of years you’re the account that everyone else follows when it comes to that specific eyebrow technique. You establish yourself as an authority and every new product that comes out that talks about that is going to want to be put in your hands. Where maybe you only have a couple thousand people, but you’re the person. I’d say focus very, very niche initially and then back it up in generalization as you get bigger. It’s kind of like SEO. I started out as just the guy that kind of knew how to do some stuff with the links at scale, and it just sort of backed into other stuff.
Kevin Indig (00:32:30):
It’s also like business, right? Where if you start start up, you look at the smallest kind of audience you can target, and then from there you grow out. So it’s all the same thing.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:32:39):
Kevin Indig (00:32:39):
And then that influencer book that you wrote, and I’ll add the link to the show notes, of course. First of all, what was it like writing that book?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:32:47):
It was hard.
Kevin Indig (00:32:47):
I asked Cindy Krum the same thing with her mobile SEO book, and she said, her initial reaction was exactly the same.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:32:55):
Well I mean, so I realized going from SEO to the influencer world that I was not immediately perceived as an expert in influencers. It’s like, how do I carry over the expertise? The best way that I thought to do it is like, I’m just going to write a book on this. It’ll come from an SEO skew, but I’m going to shift it and mold it into what I needed to be. And then I segment it out, like here’s all the chapters. And each chapter is going to be a mega blog post. So I just did it. Every couple of weeks, that was something I had to do. Devote eight, 10 hours to do the writing or whatever it took. And then thankfully I had Andrew to edit all my nonsense in the usable stuff. And then at the very end, we had two big guides. Put them together, worked with Copy Press actually for another round of editing and getting it formatted for books and all that. It was hard though. Don’t just jump into it, have a plan.
Kevin Indig (00:33:50):
What was the hardest part, was just the writing?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:33:53):
It was the end of it, I think. It was like just getting it launched was such a pain. And I recognize that publishers now have it easy comparatively speaking. But getting all the stuff formatted correctly for the ebook and Amazon store was hard. Getting all the fonts and stuff in the right color, depth of the words on page and all that. That is not my world. And therefore, it was hard. But actually, doing the writing and following through, that was not too bad. And of course, like any work of art. Any blog post that you put out there, there’s always going to be a couple of people that are like, “This is terrible.” Like okay, but it’s harder the more time you put into it. Like come on, it took a year.
Kevin Indig (00:34:35):
Yeah. People are not appreciative like that. But then again-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:34:38):
Especially if you get to them for free.
Kevin Indig (00:34:39):
Oh yeah. That’s the worst. It means nothing. Right?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:34:43):
Yeah. They’re the worst customers to have.
Kevin Indig (00:34:46):
That’s why honestly, I’m thinking about, because at some point in the future, I’ll certainly write a book. But that’s why I see some people in the industry actually SEOs, digital marketers, some CMOs. Starting their own kind of paid communities where they simply put out their content, and it works pretty well. There is some good money to be made there, and just comes back to this weird cognitive bias that people think because something is free, it has no value, which is-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:35:13):
Communities, actually, I’m a big believer in communities. So obviously we’ve built one with Intellifluence. We’ll have our own backend community for all the influencers, whatnot. We’re in TDT. The traffic think tank, that’s a good community. SEO book was a phenomenal community. There’s community with all these meetups. ONe of the reasons I’m doing the conference series is so we can build a community and I can back all into Intellifluence. So there’s a lot of reasons for getting in bed with as many of those communities as possible, and then provide value. If all you do is provide value, you’ll get everything you want out of it.
Kevin Indig (00:35:48):
I totally agree. I 100% agree. I wrote this article, I think it was one or two years ago about communities kind of being the next growth lever or growth opportunity for businesses. And I think I was a bit too early, but I think there’s something to say about people having tried out the largest possible community, like a Facebook where you have almost 3 billion people worldwide connected or maybe we’re at that point already. And then realizing, it’s actually too large of a connection. I want to niche down. Yeah, it’s too much noise. And that’s where I think Facebook groups are so much more prevalent at the moment and everything goes into that direction. Plus Facebook recognized that as well. I mean, they’re not stupid, right? They see exactly what people respond to and whatnot. And I think that’s why I got the impression they devalued the feed a little bit and emphasize groups a bit more. Plus stuff like WhatsApp and Messenger, which in itself are also some sort of communities.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:36:43):
Yeah. In the book The Facebook Effect, they go into real deep detail on Facebook groups, especially. In changing Mark’s view in terms of how Facebook can be used as utility. Where it helped organize people that were upset at, it was in South America, it was a South American country. And it brought together half the country. It’s crazy how quick it happened and how it allowed for rapid organization. So I agree. I’ll take to the next step further too.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:37:12):
So you can have the organization of people in a group. But if you also gate it, the whole free versus paid. Make it a little tiny hurdle for them to have to go over, all of a sudden the quality spikes.
Kevin Indig (00:37:22):
Yes, 100%. I see that in the communities you mentioned as well. And it takes some grooming, right? I think there are different life cycle stages of a community where at the beginning, we have to put in a lot of effort to get it started and get it to that height you want it to fly at. But once you’re there it’s almost like a self driving thing and you can just, it’s almost like a flywheel, right? Then you just pour in and you pour in and you slowly develop it further. And then becomes a beautiful thing that brings so much value. Whether it’s benefit or it’s just that kind of idea of giving back and helping people out.
Kevin Indig (00:37:54):
But SEO is a perfect example for that, because SEO is a tight community that gives back so much and is really, I mean the whole job profession is depending on it being a community that shares results and findings.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:38:06):
You have to know. In the early days SEO, it was possible to be a Renaissance man where you kind of knew a little bit about everything. I had this conversation with Cindy recently when we were at UnGagged in Los Angeles, where I was like, “Look, I sat in on your talk. I understood a lot of it, but not nearly to the depth you do.” It’s gotten so fragmented to the point where now like if it’s mobile, I’m just going to go straight to her. I’m not going to try to invest that period of time to become the plumber as it were. The plumber analogy. They come in, they hit something on the hammer, give you a $500 bill. 92 cents for the damage to the hammer, and then $499.08 cents for the expertise. That’s where it’s gotten to.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:38:50):
Kevin Indig (00:39:09):
Yes, for sure. If you don’t provide value, you’re going to get nothing. Which is a fair deal. One thing I wanted to come back to, speaking of expertise and Cindy who also wrote a book, and you wrote a book. And you said you wanted to really get into that kind of industry and field. So you just forced yourself to learn by writing it down. Is that something that you do a lot if you want to learn something? Do you write about it? Or what’s your approach to that?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:39:37):
I don’t really think about it too much in terms of wanting to learn stuff. I make three lists every week and I follow them. So I make, it’s a long, long story. It’s a long habit I’ve had where I’ll blue sky once a quarter and then once a year. And in this, I try to get everything that I could think of. And I start segmenting them out. What are things that are going to make money? What are things that are going to cut costs? What are things that I can’t easily quantify? And then I try to do it further. How much investment is required for each of these items, what’s the expected payoff, how much time? And then I try to rank as best I can. And all I try to do is do as much value as I possibly can that particular day. In some of those cases, it might be just I need to go do something. And because of that, I need to learn how to do it. So maybe that’s the answer, I just throw myself into it. And I either figure it out or I find the person that can figure it out.
Kevin Indig (00:40:28):
Interesting. So now we’re getting into why you are able to do so much. So just to rephrase it in my own words, you create separate lists. Like once a year, once a quarter. You write down all the things that you kind of want to do. You quantify them by expected outcome, effort, those kinds of things. And then you kind of stack rank them and do what provides the most value and the highest returns with the lowest effort, is that how it goes?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:40:51):
Yes. There are going to be periods of time. So you have these big overriding lists, right? But then it becomes disadvantageous to put them all in. Like your weekly task lists. You’re never going to do them all. So you’ll start to feel bad that you didn’t accomplish much. So I try to do my best to chunk it out in terms of here’s the things I’d really want to accomplish this week. You just try to knock them out. And the weeks where you’re feeling depressed or anxious, things aren’t going good. Give yourself a lot of easy wins. So I’ll take a lot of the things that are going to provide value that are maybe not as hard. So you’re just knocking them out and you’re like, “You know what, I’m pushing everything forward. Everything’s going in the right direction.” When you’re burnt out, that’s when you look at the third list. Maybe I need something fun to do.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:41:33):
I generally don’t like the third list. I prefer to focus on the first two, because that’s just where all the action’s going to happen. But we did the same thing. Like the roadmap for Intellifluence, the five year roadmap. We’re still executing on it. And it pisses off Eric Kaufmann. He’s like, “Of course it’s on your fucking roadmap. Why do I bother bringing it up?” No no. Keep giving ideas, keep giving ideas.
Kevin Indig (00:41:55):
I love that. So how were you able to, I think that’s really hard. To create a five-year roadmap and execute on it still after a couple of years. Because I feel like what often happens is it gives you the right things to do it for the first year. But then you get to a point where you have to reevaluate and pivot slightly, and prioritize other things.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:42:14):
There’s definitely things that we’ve cut out. We’re like this no longer makes any sense. And there’s things that are like hey, actually, this shouldn’t be year five, there should be year two. So there’s some of that that happens. But on the rough path, we’re still very much doing more or less what we thought we’d do. I think the reason for that is we set out with an idea for here’s what we want to be. And we know it’s going to take several years to get there. And then we know we want to be something else afterward. So we want to be the largest influencer network period.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:42:42):
Now we’re currently the largest warm contact, but we want to be the largest just in general. So we want millions of influencers. We want hundreds of thousands of brands using us. We want to be the Facebook of influencers. Beyond that, we want to do something where we’re basically like anyone has the capacity to buy influence of anyone else in the world. That’s one of those who knows pie in the sky, trillion dollar sort of things that may never materialize. But that’s what we want to aim for. So in order to get there, we know we have to follow a rough path of functionality. So that’s why that five year roadmaps, we’re plotting along.
Kevin Indig (00:43:17):
That’s pretty smart. And it was curious because I think it’s so hard, but it seems like you’re doing this really well. And to me, it seems that the key is to have milestones. But not in terms of what you want to do, but in terms of who you want to be at that point.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:43:30):
Yeah, exactly. Because it helps to back into what you’re going to have to do to in order to be there anyways. So it’s like we want to have 10,000 brands. Well how do you get there? Okay, well we know that in order to get there, here’s the communities that we want to be a part of. Here’s how we’re going to grow. Here’s how we’re going to cohere. Here’s how we’re going to cohere. A lot of the stuff doesn’t work and you have to reevaluate. But by and large, it’s been a good path. I’d recommend doing that. Yeah.
Kevin Indig (00:43:59):
Yeah. And probably also personally for yourself. But coming back to the influencer industry, I know it’s pretty hot at the moment. It’s the hot new thing and everybody wants to do it. I think not a lot of people know how to do it right, or suck at it. But what do you see the industry going in the future? I mean obviously you wouldn’t be invested in it if you didn’t expect it-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:44:19):
It’s going to go down to two, yeah.
Kevin Indig (00:44:22):
But what do you see coming? What do you see changing also?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:44:25):
So we started in 2016, and we identified roughly 50 to 100 pseudo competitors if one way of sorts. People that, influencer agencies would kind of fit that bill. Within a couple of years, we were like five, 600. So we saw it just explode.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:44:41):
So the industry, it’s going through a lot of turmoil where there’s people that are getting consolidated. People that raise too much money, couldn’t figure it out. So TapInfluence, they were the one everyone’s gunning for. They had a really slick looking solution, but they couldn’t figure out the monetization right. And then they didn’t raise money and so they had to sell for pennies on the dollar. And so that just happened and they got wiped out of the market to [inaudible 00:45:03]. So we’ve seen this happen a couple of different times where the people that raise too much money. So that’s kind of the signal of don’t raise the money until you know that you have the fit, and then only do so if you can grow profitably from that point on. Because we never know when money’s going to be hard to raise. I’m not good at raising money. I don’t do it a lot.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:45:21):
I’m going to raise 5 million next year or else I’m going to die trying. So this is just how things are going to play out. There’s going to be a lot of small competitors that come out. The guys that could figure out their niche, they might stay around for a long time. There’s a dime a dozen for the influencer, Instagram centric. And they have an app and you’re like, “Well, what do you get?” You get the same thing you get all these other ones. How you differentiate? What are you doing? How are you providing value to the brand? And then it just becomes a branding game. Like well crap, how am I going to win this? I’m going to spam the crap out of everyone.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:45:55):
So we are very aggressive trying to onboard influencers. Because I firmly believe that the larger I could make that network, the more they’re going to organically pull in the brands because we set up some flywheels for them to be trying to constantly bring other people back into that network. So in doing so, they’ll help me get to where I need to be.
Kevin Indig (00:46:18):
Got you. So it’s the same principle of providing value to get value, and provide kind of a hook or a strong pull for these influencers to come to you.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:46:26):
But the branding is the hard part. There’s no clear winner. Like if you say influencer marketing. Oh yeah. Obviously it’s this brand. And I want it to be Intellifluence, but it’s clearly not right now. It’s going to take a long time. So we know that we’re going to have to invest a lot of money in order to get there.
Kevin Indig (00:46:40):
Got you. So you were not joking when you said you want to raise-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:46:42):
I’m going to raise $5 million. Yeah, I’m going to give up 20% of the company. Raise five.
Kevin Indig (00:46:45):
Love it. Because I have, I know that there are quite a couple of VCs watching this. So my VC friends, reach out to Joe.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:46:53):
I’ll take your call. I’ll give you a spiel.
Kevin Indig (00:46:56):
I would love you to see you raise that money. Because I know you’re doing a great job and you’re a super bright guy. How do you think the Instagram removing likes plays into-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:47:05):
I love this. So I actually really loved it because likes was such a useless engagement metric. So if you were to walk through a platform tonight, you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to use Intellifluence, going to Instagram.” There’s not even an option for purchasing likes, because there’s no point to it. It was the same thing too. Now people say, well how are you going to measure the engagement? You’re going to be looking at the comments anyways. But even then it’s not that great. You’re going to be talking about how can you measure through the actual clicks?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:47:40):
Instagram obviously makes it really hard for that unless you’re over 10,000 followers and verified, or business account. There’s some restrictions, but there’s coupons and there’s ways to do it where you can measure that traffic. But I was totally okay with them removing the likes, just because it really pissed off people that were selling fake stuff. I have, that’s a pet peeve. Buy this package and I’ll get you a million likes on Instagram. What’s their KPI? Is their KPI really likes? Maybe they have a boss and they’re trying to get their bonus. In which case, valid. But is it a good KPI for the business? No. So I was fine with it going away.
Kevin Indig (00:48:22):
Do you expect more of that to happen? Maybe across-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:48:24):
Sure. I mean maybe Twitter, that’d be interesting. I think less so on Twitter because Twitter uses the likes now to inject back into your feed. And I think they have to have at least some data to show that it’s worth them doing it. Because when they started treating it almost like a no follow retweet, it started surfacing new information. So I don’t know that they’d pull back there. I could see them maybe pulling back in Facebook if they have data to suggest that is not worth doing. Or maybe they’d start providing a range of reactions.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:49:01):
I think each network’s a little bit different. I think the networks themselves are actually the biggest competitors to the whole influencer world. But at the same time, they’re always looking at it from a scale perspective. And they want to prepackage things in terms of get certain number of clicks. And they don’t necessarily are going to be diving into these individual relationships, which is what the influencer world is all about. That’s hard to do.
Kevin Indig (00:49:23):
Yeah, absolutely. What do you think SEOs are missing on influencer marketing? Why should SEOs pay more attention to influencer marketing?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:49:41):
I don’t want to say it’s converging. A couple of years ago I was like look, the press world, the PR world, SEO world has to converge. I still believe that. I think you can get a ton of SEO value getting good press wins. Not PR reports, but really good press wins. I see sort of the same path now with influencers. With specifically, you can get a lot of SEO wins using influencers, and some of those influencers have blogs. Some of those influencers are putting out video material that’s linking back to your site in the description on YouTube. It’s so intermingled, that you can’t really just extract it. That’s where I see this going.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:50:16):
So they have to pay attention to look at all these signals that can drive positive user signals back to your site. Just focus on that. Can these people send traffic that converts? If so, forget about SEO. Make money, and the SEO is going to benefit you anyways because you’re providing value to that user. That cycle continues.
Kevin Indig (00:50:38):
Makes perfect sense. What are some of the social networks that you see up and coming? Or especially from an influencer perspective, what next social networks-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:50:47):
Kevin Indig (00:50:47):
Joe Sinkwitz (00:50:48):
Yeah, I mean it’s everywhere right now. It’s also though, one of those networks that could just immediately die too. Right? It’s like my issue with TikTok is I love it when it was called Vine. And Vine was fantastic and then Twitter ruined it. But TikTok, it’s the same thing. It’s a younger crowd, it’s really hip, it’s moving. But it’s also owned by the Chinese government. So you run into the risk of if there’s enough backlash, it could lose steam just as something else here is picking up.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:51:18):
Twitch has been doing great. Twitch kind of follows that standard Amazon model of just operate in the background and keep getting efficiency wins. The more they do and they just keep slowly pulling people off YouTube for Twitch constantly. So that is just going to give them a ton of value over time. And they started out niche like we talked about earlier, they started very niche. Now they’re broadening out. It used to be just gamers. Now it’s follow me on my Twitch stream. Like what’s your Twitch stream? It’s me cooking dinner. Okay. You look at it like, well that was kind of interesting. So yeah, I can see it.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:51:54):
Twitch. I mean Reddit’s bigger than people still realize. That’s gigantic. But it’s hard because there’s so much anonymity to Reddit, that it’s hard to build up a user base and then follow, and do all the things that you would like to do. You talked to [inaudible 00:52:08] about Reddit social, he’s the master at that stuff.
Kevin Indig (00:52:11):
Let’s talk about Reddit real quick. Because my team actually too, I have one person only dedicated to Reddit, Quora,, a couple of other social networks. But what is the biggest mistake you see people make on Reddit besides just promoting themselves too much?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:52:26):
Yeah, that’s actually the biggest one I think. So I actually did this to my benefit a couple of years ago. So I was a shadow CMO for a, let’s call it a vapor, e-cigarette company. And they created the only phone that you could vape. And they gave me all of $0 budget to figure this out. So we got the e-cig in the vaping community on Reddit to make fun of the product. Enough that it got picked up in Facebook groups, Twitter. And then all of a sudden it picked up press coverage. We got featured in Playboy, we were on The Verge, we’re in Maxim. So there’s ways to do Reddit wrong for the purpose of doing it right elsewhere. So there’s that. But to be able to come in there and treat it like an ad space, that’s just going to fail. I think with Reddit, the best way is interact with the community, show that you’re one of them. I.e., you care about the community, you’re helping it grow. And then the advertising becomes kind of secondary in nature. It’s a hard nut to crack. It really is.
Kevin Indig (00:53:24):
Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree. I once failed miserably on a subreddit that I tried to build up. I’m not going to say which one it was, but I had that painful experience. Anyway, I learned a ton from it. And I absolutely agree with you. It’s a very underrated platform that you can pull a ton out of. Similar to Quora, I really have to say.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:53:44):
Quora bugs me though.
Kevin Indig (00:53:46):
Joe Sinkwitz (00:53:47):
So Quora has, so their moderation, they don’t do any real QA checks on their moderation. So I had a bunch of material that I’d written specifically for Quora. You get one spammer go through and mark all your stuff as spam, and they just removed it. And they wouldn’t give any ability to bring it back. So done with Quora. So until Quora figures out their post moderation QA, was this flagged for competitive reasons versus reality? Because there’s just too much junk and noise and Quora for my tastes. Personal tastes.
Kevin Indig (00:54:19):
Yeah no, I hear. I hear totally.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:54:20):
But it drove a lot of traffic when it worked.
Kevin Indig (00:54:23):
True. True. I never had that experience, but that makes perfect sense. I never realized had that kind of gap. But I just talked to JD Prater who’s the evangelist of Quora, and I’ll forward that over to him. I’m sure that’s helpful.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:54:37):
We were trading emails awhile back, we were talking about doing DC. And things didn’t work out, but yeah.
Kevin Indig (00:54:42):
No, but it’s good feedback.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:54:43):
We’ll get them up to Napa.
Kevin Indig (00:54:44):
Yeah, seriously. I think it would be really interesting to broaden their horizon. And speaking of Napa, you’re much more involved with Jim Christian and Advanced Search Summit. Can you lose a couple of words about that?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:54:56):
Sure. He got me drunk and I wrote a check. No. So it turned out, so Jim, he was the head of SEO for GoDaddy. Right? So he was doing that for years. I was doing search for years. We live five minutes away and we didn’t know, for over a decade. So we randomly got together. I think it was actually through [William Sears 00:55:17] who put us together. We got together, had a bunch of wine. He invited me to come out to the conference at some point. Like sure, not a problem. One of his speakers backed out a couple years back and he’s like, “Can you come? It’s a last minute thing. Bring your wife, it’ll be a great time.” So I did. Loved it. It was a fantastic time. [inaudible 00:55:35], “Hey, let me know if you ever want to expand this thing.” I’m like, “Here’s what I want to do. I want to take Napa, and I want to build a community around it.” He’s like, “Okay, yeah. Let’s create a new company.” So we did. Sloppy Octupus, which is the legal entity of Advanced Search Summit now. I am the chief mollusk officer. He is the co-flounder. And TJ is the chief invertebrate officer.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:55:55):
So we get together every week or so. We have way too many FaceTime calls and way too many Facebook Messenger calls. It’s a good time. It’s a good group. Running a conference is hard. DC was really hard. Because it was a city that none of us know very well. We’re putting together an agenda and all this stuff. Napa, it’s so far ahead of track right now. We closed another four sponsorships this week already.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:56:21):
So it’s like Napa is coming together great. I love Napa. I’m looking forward to it. We bought enough wine barrels to, we’re going to have our own wine. It’s a pinot noir. It’s going to be the bacon Ipsum pinot noir. So on the back it says, “Our story begins with pork, bacon.” It’s like the pork products from Bacon Ipsum. We love it. We love that we’re nerds. And hopefully the people that attend enjoy it as much as we do.
Kevin Indig (00:56:46):
Sounds like so much fun. Yeah, I’ve been to Advanced Search Summit in Napa three times now, and it’s probably one of my absolute favorite conferences. Because the whole package is great, right? You have the right kind of crowd, especially to me as an in house SEO or digital marketer. You have a good variance between the topics, so it’s not too much SEO. And I mean the location is great. The surrounding is great, the whole crew is great because I feel like you guys do a really good job in kind of selecting the right people and-
Joe Sinkwitz (00:57:12):
It’s hard. I mean we get over 300 pitches. And we try to do it blind as much as we can. For here’s what the audience wants. We’re becoming an enterprise search conference. And we know that we have to do that and that’s how we’re going to stand apart. Sometimes we’ll get pitches like, “I talk about links and I talk about content and I talk about video. Pick me.” Well obviously I don’t even know who you are. You might be my best friend. But I’m sorry, this is a terrible pitch.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:57:38):
But then we get some really great ones. We had Jacqueline from Sears that she’s like, “How about we talk about how do you manage budgets and win SEO and PPC going through bankruptcy?” I’m like, I’ve never heard of this before. And it was phenomenal. She did great. And she’s coming back for Napa. She’s going to be on a panel with some retailers. So we’re going to be talking about retail SEO panel. I’m looking forward to that. Looking forward to the old timers panel with Greg Boser, bringing him out of speaking retirement. Wheel out that wheelchair, just kidding Greg. He’s not that much older than me, so I’m right there with him.
Kevin Indig (00:58:12):
Yeah. Okay. I’ll certainly be there next year again. So when it comes down to all of the social engineering to Jim Christian getting you drunk and you writing a check. To all this stuff you’ve done in the past, what do you think is core to getting people to do things? And maybe even in line with your fundraising of next year for 5 million. Social engineering, does it mean to understand what triggers an emotion?
Joe Sinkwitz (00:58:39):
Yes. Psychological triggers matter a significant deal in getting that outcome. So I’ll talk about it a little bit tonight in my presentation, but I try to start with the authority or the aspirational figure, and then work down. So you’re like this is what I want. It’s ADA, right? So I’m looking at this is what I want. This person’s validating my interest. All my peers have it. So now I really need it. And then it’s pile on effect of a wolf pack where it’s like everyone around me has this. I have to be in. And I do see that within even though I don’t personally raise money, I see that happen within that VC market. Where a couple of VCs get in, everyone wants in. It becomes, it’s just one of those games. I see that play out.
Joe Sinkwitz (00:59:22):
With the influencer setup, I think as soon as individuals start to realize that there’s real money that they can make in the sharing economy. Uber and Lyft can get a bad name because of their practices. But the whole concept of being able to call a car on hire was transformative. And you see the same thing with TaskRabbit. If I need someone to come mow my lawn, I can find it real fast. And it works. It gives value to them. It gives value to me. I see that happening within social, and that’s why I’m trying to push it on social and blogs. I want to be the network where it’s like I need to have the outcome I want on these networks. Got to go through Intellifluence to get that. That’s where I want that to be.
Kevin Indig (01:00:01):
How do you teach that to your kids, that this exists and that people can-
Joe Sinkwitz (01:00:06):
Sure, they ask a lot of questions. My oldest daughter is already smarter than I am, so that helps out a lot. She skipped a couple of grades in math, and she’s out there. Going to go see Harvard in May, so that’s cools. She’s an eighth grader. Congratulations till I write those checks.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:00:24):
Actually, I love raising my kids. When they were young, I would alternate. I’d read them a story. I’d try to have them read me a story, a different night. The next night I might make up a story. And the following night may have them make up their own story. So I wanted to teach obviously the reading fundamentals, but also creative thinking story. And telling a story isn’t just about having creativity. It’s also you have to understand logic. You have to start at a point and have the person follow along in that journey to arrive at a destination. And if you can’t do that, you can’t sell. So if I could teach them creative storytelling, they could sell. And beyond that, we all have a love for math. So we do math.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:01:09):
One of the five projects I’ll eventually do when I retire, there’s over 140 books I want to write. Children’s stories. I distilled the top eight MBA programs down to into little nuggets of here’s the lesson I want to learn from financial accounting. Here’s the lesson I would like to learn from balancing a checkbook. And then put them, the children’s stories so that kids can like grow up with the business fundamentals. It’s something that probably only sell well in like San Francisco and Manhattan. But it’s something I kind of want to do after my business days are long behind me.
Kevin Indig (01:01:39):
And it’s something that common education fails to teach people, right? It’s these basics and these kind of a regular things, especially when it comes to accounting or taxes. I mean it’s so ridiculous-
Joe Sinkwitz (01:01:50):
Taxes especially, marketing is like one of those things. Human resources. When do you hire someone? How do you fire someone? It’s a hard thing. It’s never gotten easy for me. But at the same time you understand if you know it’s time, it’s time. So that’d be a great fun thing to tell a story about waiting too long and the implications. This other guy, you could have had Susie come and join your lemonade stand.
Kevin Indig (01:02:13):
Totally, I could not agree more. And first of all, I have a very strong feeling you’ll raise 5 million next year. I would almost bet-
Joe Sinkwitz (01:02:21):
The only reason I wouldn’t do it is if the bootstrapping takes off too much. And then I just don’t need to. But I’m planning on it.
Kevin Indig (01:02:28):
The second thing, I hope you retire really quickly. Because-
Joe Sinkwitz (01:02:32):
No. I really like working though.
Kevin Indig (01:02:34):
Yeah. No I feel you. And also, I wanted to very quickly nerd out on intermittent fascinating. I know it’s kind of a 180, but I know it’s something else that you’re curious and passionate about. So maybe that’s the bridge we go from children’s books to-
Joe Sinkwitz (01:02:46):
That’s where Reddit is fantastic. The Keto thread, I mean the Keto subreddit, the intermittent fasting, the fasting. I’m deep. Let’s do it.
Kevin Indig (01:02:55):
So what is your current regimen on intermittent fasting?
Joe Sinkwitz (01:02:58):
Sure. So I mixed it up over the years. I was doing OMAD for awhile where I was just doing one meal a day within a four hour period. But I’d try to do it within a 90 minute if I could. My biggest issue with eating was not so much the food selection, was volume. My portion control does not exist. So by forcing a time constraint, that helped a lot. But I switched up even more. I started doing a little bit longer, extended fast. I went from 24 to 48, 72. I did a 10 day fast. And I survived. I was like, “Okay. Well hey, you know what? If I could do this, I’m going to incorporate.”
Joe Sinkwitz (01:03:31):
So a couple, let’s see here. A little over a month and a half ago, [inaudible 01:03:36] and [inaudible 01:03:38] challenged to a little weight loss contest. We’re all three fat guys and say, “Hey, let’s do this.” So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m just going to work out. I’m not going to worry about the type of food, even though I’m Keto. But I’m going to work in a 72 to 80 hour fast every other week, and it’s been working great. I think it is simple as that. That’s why it’s so hard. The next big diet book is like to stop eating for a while. And it reverses so many ill effects of inflammation and just making your life easier. It helps you to breathe more. It pulls the water off your body. As long as you’re getting the right electrolytes in your system, a guy like me can go a very long time without food.
Kevin Indig (01:04:18):
I agree, but it wouldn’t sell so well, right? It’s like often that simple advice. I agree with you. I totally agree. But yeah, I’ve had my own experimentation history with intermittent fasting. I think there was about one and a half years that I tried all the different regimens like [inaudible 01:04:33] and the 24, and then a one day a week fast. And it’s really interesting because after a while, you understand that hunger is really something that goes away quickly. It’s more or less an impulse.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:04:46):
It’s this ghrelin hormone. And as soon as that ghrelin drops sufficient level, that’s why the first day is always the hardest. So I’d rather do a three day every other week then than a one day every week. Because it starts to [inaudible 01:05:00] at you. But after that first day, it goes away.
Kevin Indig (01:05:01):
Yeah. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone. It’s really interesting because there’s a lot of research happening right now into figuring out how to control ghrelin and I think leptin as well with pills or with exogenous-
Joe Sinkwitz (01:05:15):
The exogenous ketones and stuff. Yeah, I skipped those because if you’re already in ketosis, don’t enter anything in. It does have to get metabolized back into the kidney. I’m sorry, the liver. So skip that process.
Kevin Indig (01:05:27):
Yeah. So one of the interesting things that I found when I did intermittent fasting is in the fasting period, I was on.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:05:36):
Mental clarity is sharp. That’s why I did the 10 day. I kept reading the anecdotal stories about by that seventh day, I had my breakthrough. And I was like, I felt like I was in need of a breakthrough. And I had one. Yeah. And I was like holy crap, it kind of worked. And I hate those types of stories only because they’re not backed up with hard data. It’s just a personal feeling. So there could be, absolutely could be tugging on emotions and a lot of that stuff kind of gets pulled up when you’re fastener for a long time. But I did have the mental clarity required to sort of have a breakthrough. So I’m doing this once a quarter. I got to make sure I do it. I know the valley’s big on microdosing. I’m not, but I’ll do my my fast every quarter.
Kevin Indig (01:06:23):
Yeah. It’s certainly super interesting to play around with. So you do a long fast of what? 80 hours once a quarter you said?
Joe Sinkwitz (01:06:32):
No, no, no. The 80 hours I do every other week. So I’m going to do a 10 day, a seven to 10 day. So my next big one comes on, Christmas is going to be my cheat day. I get one cheat day a month. And then the 26th through the 1st of January, I’ll just fast. So I’ll be about seven days roughly. And then I’ll end up that weight contest so I can win and walk away.
Kevin Indig (01:06:56):
What’s your favorite go to food on your cheat day?
Joe Sinkwitz (01:06:58):
My favorite what?
Kevin Indig (01:06:59):
Go to food.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:07:00):
On a cheat day? It’s usually just something I haven’t had in a while. So I love sushi. So we’ll just go and we’ll pound a bunch of sushi one of the days. The next month it might be like, “You know what, I haven’t had this burger in forever. I really want the bun,” because it’s a pretzel bread bun, and waffle fries. So that’ll be it. And I love pizza. I love nachos. I love all the bad things we shouldn’t love. So I just try to space them out.
Kevin Indig (01:07:22):
Here’s the audience coming in for everybody who doesn’t see it. People on the outside of the office-
Joe Sinkwitz (01:07:28):
It’s his fault. It’s his fault.
Kevin Indig (01:07:29):
Are tapping on the window, like we’re in a zoo actually.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:07:34):
Kevin Indig (01:07:34):
Here we go. Let’s live record. Okay. We’ll wrap it up real quick. Just one last thing about nachos. I actually found this on internet. That your Amazon bite actually says beating bemused strangers in natural eating contest.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:07:48):
That’s because I have no volume control. So it’s just a joke. But we’ve done a couple of different chili pepper eating contest at work. The chip challenge, and that challenge. All that stuff. I’ve won every time. It’s not because I have a high tolerance. I just hate losing. So-
Kevin Indig (01:08:05):
Here we go.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:08:05):
That’s all it is.
Kevin Indig (01:08:06):
Another piece of the personality. I love it. Joe, you’re an absolute stud. You’re amazing.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:08:11):
Tell my wife that, that’ll really help.
Kevin Indig (01:08:13):
She knows, I have a feeling she knows. But if she doesn’t, Joe, you’re an amazing stud. I still remember how I rushed through my last presentation at Advanced Search Summit. You kind of jumped out and asked me questions about my lists, all that kind of stuff. Just saved the day.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:08:28):
Let’s talk about your Wilks score. What are you doing now?
Kevin Indig (01:08:30):
I love it man. But anyway, you’re just such a kind at the same time, super smart person. Really admire you, and the community benefits greatly from having you. So wrapping up, where can people find you?
Joe Sinkwitz (01:08:43):
You can find me on Twitter, usually. CygnusSEO. C-Y-G-N-U-S-S-E-O. My email is [email protected], and I answer all my own email. And don’t worry, you’re not going to be really spamming me. I get, I don’t know. 1,000 ti 10,000 a day depending on the day. So hit me up there. You’ll find me.
Kevin Indig (01:09:01):
Sounds like a chill time. Joe, thank you so much for your time. It was great having you on. Everybody follow Joe on social. And yeah. Thank you.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:09:11):
Thank you, Kevin.
Kevin Indig (01:09:12):
That was awesome, man.
Joe Sinkwitz (01:09:13):
Kevin Indig (01:09:14):
That was great.