“The Age of Influence” author Neal Schaffer (episode 315)

Neal Schaffer has been deep in the world of Social media for over 10 years, and is an expert on both building your own social influence and leveraging that of others through Influencer marketing campaigns. In 2020 he published the bestselling book “The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate your Brand”.

eCMP 315 Landscape

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Getting Started 

In 2008, Neil was transitioning out of a Corporate job and he got very interested in Linkedin as he was using it for his job search.

One thing led to another and quite quickly Neil was a sought after expert on all things social.

Since then he has been involved in helping businesses succeed on social media — lecturing worldwide and has written several books on the topic.

About the Book

The best social media strategy starts with discipline. Neil says that social media can be a time suck and most people would agree.

Being disciplined is the best way to optimize your social media ROI. Recently, Neil says he has had a lot of interest coming from marketers wanting to do influencer marketing campaigns themselves.

He did some market research and found that there was indeed a lot of interest about how to create influence. When he got a lot of traction, he went ahead and wrote the book. 

The extreme emphasis on paid media advertising had Neil wondering if there was a better way. Paid media content, especially on platforms like Instagram simply does’t perform as well.

Over time, businesses were getting less and less exposure from the algorithm and influencers became the most effective ways for businesses to connect with large audiences.

As bigger names and huge brand budgets began to define influencer marketing, fraud started to run rampant as influencers artificially pumped up their follower list to look bigger than they really were.

Since then, people have begun to be more interested in working with micro and nano-influencers.

Neal took it to the next level and encouraged the businesses he was working with to crawl through their own email lists to see if they had any nano-influencers who were already subscribed to their email campaigns.

To make it easy, Neal likes the integrated Shopify tool Carro which automatically does this and organizes that information.

A person with 1,000 followers who already uses your product is going to be far more effective than an ad that gets glossed over. 

Leveraging User Generated Content

Authentic, user generated content performs better than brand created content.

Companies who focus on images and content that has been made by customers who already know, use and trust their product using that product in their own life, the benefits are enormous.

UGC can be effectively used in advertising and all along your customer experience site including places like your shopping cart.

If you don’t have anyone really using your product yet, Neal says it’s worth investing some money into growing word of mouth by paying some influencers to begin sharing your product. 

The ROI of UGC

UGC offers a huge ROI not only for the advertising piece of it, but also because it allows businesses to show a range of types of people using their product.

If a business pays for a photo shoot, but the model doesn’t connect with the audience, the loss can be massive. With UGC, the connection with your audience is inevitable because they are literally creating the content for you.

Another great benefit of working with influencers is the straight line you have to diverse communities that’s far more effective and authentic than paid targeting. 

Reaching Out

Neal recommends starting  slowly by targeting a small group of your existing customers who would be a good fit as micro influencers.

From there, Neal says reaching out to these customers in a personal way is important, especially at first. As you collect data, focus on working more with people who are being effective.

From this point, Neal says it becomes easier to begin formalizing the process with an influencer program or similar. 


To track if influencer marketing is working, Neal says it’s important to have your ROI metrics carefully understood.

From there he says that comparing your brand campaigns to influencer campaigns is a great way to begin building metrics.

Be generous with your offer to see how much impact that influencer has on their audience. While you might not make money at first, having those metrics becomes part of your digital marketing infrastructure.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Pinterest is an amazing tool for amazing organic traffic, especially for eCommerce

Tool Top Tip

  • Gatsby.ai Adds the ability for people to add their instagram user name when they opt in to your newsletter

Growth Top Tip

  • Work with influencers for word of mouth for rapid growth.

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • Running and micro influencer marketing campaign with Shannon Fitzsimmons from O So Curly
  • A curated marketplace with social media at it’s heart, Greg Spillane from Fancy
  • Influencer Marketing to grow a Subscription eCommerce business to $17m – Live Glam’s Dhar Mann

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