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5 Questions with Kimberley Bond, Co-Founder & Director of Operations at Grapevine

Lessons Learned at Grapevine + Advice for Brands and Influencers

Kim first dove into the content creator space in 2009 when she started her YouTube channel and blog as a side-project during her freshman year of college.

Upon finding success within YouTube, she joined the Grapevine team in 2012 as a Community Manager to oversee creator relationships. As the company grew, she began working with a larger team, managing upwards of 125,000 content creators, as well as a few hundred brand partnerships within the Grapevine ecosystem.

Now the Director of Operations, she wears many hats within Grapevine’s departments, all while continuing to create content on her YouTube channel (and planning a wedding!). Somehow, she makes it all look easy!

How does being a creator (with over 75k subscribers!) help you in your role at Grapevine?

I’m fortunate enough to have a very interesting and unique perspective on the Influencer Marketing space. I know how it feels to be a creator wanting to produce high quality content, and I also understand the challenges of finding an authentic voice while still meeting campaign expectations. I use my understanding of being a creator to my advantage, mainly when communicating with our brand partners. The inherent knowledge of little details like feasible timelines, video editing logistics, and talking points that don’t sound scripted can go a long way when executing hundreds of campaigns and individual conversations.

What made you decide to get into YouTube and what are your goals for your channel?

My YouTube channel started as a side project during my freshman year of college. I stumbled across the beauty community in 2009 and loved how I could combine two passions of mine — beauty and digital media. I was studying design at the time and loved the creative elements that go into filmmaking and producing content, as well as the educational component of sharing my favorite trends, how-to’s, makeup tutorials, etc. It was, and still is, a perfect blend of my interests.

Over the years, the goals for my channel have shifted as I (and my audience) got older. I started creating content when I was 19 with schoolwork and internships being my primary goals. Almost 10 years later, I’m engaged, a crazy dog-mom, and working professionally which has allowed me to expand my content across a broader audience of young professionals in the same place in life. It’s really fun to have your audience grow up with you and go through the same milestones — I just found out I share my wedding date with a subscriber!

What are some lessons you’ve learned through working with clients at Grapevine that you’ve been able to apply to being a YouTuber?

When in doubt, over-communicate. I remember my first brand deals and I was so nervous that I would say “the wrong thing” and lose an opportunity. After working with many wonderful clients, I’ve learned that brands love hearing from creators, and find the extra steps of communication to be extremely helpful for a Marketing Manager’s day-to-day. Any time I collaborate with a brand through my YouTube channel I keep those learnings in mind, have an open dialogue, and share any creative ideas along the way.

What changes do you predict for the world of social media and influencer marketing in the next few years?

The supply and demand of the industry has been a bit of a roller coaster over the past few years. We’re reaching a point where there are more influencers looking for opportunities than brands. I firmly believe there’s room for all sizes of creators within the space, but I do think understanding your worth and value, and effectively communicating that information to a brand will be key for a creator over the next few years. It’s not all about your reach anymore — you have to bring engagement and the ability to drive sales to the table.

What’s your best advice for new creators and for brands just starting to work with influencers?

For creators — remain authentic. It can be so difficult to say, “no” when there’s a substantial amount of money being offered, but if you don’t think your audience will enjoy a product, chances are the sponsorship isn’t a good fit.

My advice to a brand first entering the world of influencer marketing is to be open to collaboration — a good creator will know what resonates with their audience. The best videos I’ve seen within Grapevine are the ones where both the brand and creator truly collaborated, communicated, and shared their visions to create not only an awesome sponsorship, but a truly excellent piece of content that their audience enjoyed.

Bonus: What’s your favorite part about working at Grapevine?

I feel like I can give back to an industry that’s given so much to me. I had no idea what my YouTube channel had in store for me at 19 years old. As my channel matured, I realized that I was operating my own mini-business from a college dorm room. It’s incredibly fulfilling to extend those same business opportunities to up-and-coming creators looking to establish themselves in the space… I wouldn’t trade my job for the world.

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Grapevine is the world's leading influencer marketing platform. Over 120,000 creators on YouTube and Instagram get sponsored every day.

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