Build A Valuable Brand With Cristina Cortes

TLEP 49 | Serving Your Audience


“What really gets a buyer interested is understanding how a product helps them get where they need to go… Always remember that there’s a person on the other side of the screen.”

Special guest Cristina Cortes coaches nano-influencers and small business owners on how to monetize their Instagram and TikTok to build their personal brand and business. She teaches content creation, how to generate leads, how to be authentically you online, and how to create your content strategy that supports your business goals. Find her on TikTok and IG @cristinaacortess.

Discover how to better understand, nurture, and serve your social media audience through comments, DMs, and polls. Learn the benefits of an email list and sending newsletters for creators and business owners. Get tips on deciding what content to create in your videos and text-based content (and how to make it valuable). Find out how to promote products without coming across too salesy. Uncover the surprising benefits for companies collaborating with nano-influencers, especially those who have engaged, niche communities, and where to find the right partner. Hear tips on optimizing content to attract consumers and clients. Gain an understanding of making a live shopping event a win-win for an influencer/host and the company behind the products.


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The US livestreaming market is expected to hit $25 billion by 2023. That’s why now is the time to build your skills, understand the medium, and ensure that your livestreams are successful.

Serving Your Audience To Build A Valuable Brand With Cristina Cortes

Our special guest is Cristina Cortes who coaches nano-influencers and small business owners on how to monetize their Instagram and TikTok to build their personal brand and business. She teaches content creation, how to generate leads, how to be authentically you online, and how to create your content strategy to support your business goals. Those are all amazing topics. We’re absolutely thrilled. Another thing I love about Cristina from the small amount of time I’ve interacted with her thus far is her enthusiasm.

Cristina, we’re so excited to have you as part of the show to discuss all of the different ways that live shopping and livestreaming can complement this work that you’re doing. Before we get into that discussion, I’m going to pass it over to Nicolas to share a brief update on what’s happening with the live shopping world over at eStreamly.

I’m so excited to have you, Cristina. I think it’s going to be a fun conversation. As many of you through the conversation of this show or through having a conversation with me, we know that selling on social media has been always a big topic when we look at shopping. We’ve been working on it extremely for many months. This feature was a long waited feature with almost eighteen months of work to get there. We are very close to releasing soon, so that’s exciting.

I love that you’re doing a survey because feedback is so important. Not every business knows how to collect it well. You’re demonstrating a powerful opportunity to create a connection with an audience to better serve the community. Cristina, I’m curious. How do you better understand your audience? How do you support other people with understanding their audience to optimize their content?

Thank you so much for having me. First off, I’m excited to be here. It’s exciting to be on the other side. There are a few things that come to mind right off the bat, which is the DMs. When we think about direct messaging, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or TikTok, the feature to build community through messages, not just one-to-one but one-to-many, and having group communities. I’m a part of many content creator Instagram groups, TikTok groups, or Discord now where you can build community through a chat.

What I find especially with content creators, oftentimes the two goals that they have are to grow their audience and to monetize their account. As it relates to growing their audience, sometimes they will say their intention is to go viral. We have to dig deeper into what that means and why that is your intention. What I find is someone will have a video that goes viral, especially on TikTok, the way that the algorithm is organized. You can reach a lot of people on that platform, especially with reels on Instagram.

It’s how you nurture that audience. It’s to your point of how you engage a community. I read all the comments. If you have someone that can help you, that’s great, as the comments start to come in and just responding to all of them. I make it a point to respond to every single comment. That’s a part of me showing up online. If you’re a creator or a business owner, it’s not just post and “I’m done for the day. I did my post and I’m done.” It’s getting in there and looking at every single thing that someone says.

Build A Valuable Brand With Cristina Cortes Click To Tweet

I’m engaged in my niche audience and my target audience. I know what the trends are. I know what they’re posting about. I know what their challenges are. It’s being a part of the community. Sometimes creators who are just starting don’t know the best way to start and the way to grow. Sometimes it can be very one-sided where they’re just wondering, “How do I monetize this platform? How do I go viral? How do I build an audience?” Those things are important, and that’s a great thing to focus on. It’s also important to focus on how you are serving. How are you serving your audience? How are you listening?

We’re talking about the surveys. You can do polls in your videos now. You can do polls in a story type of context, even on live. When we’re talking about live, the times when I’m most successful going live is not when I am launching a course and I’m reading just the four bullets, the date of enrollment, and the cost. That to me isn’t the most successful way to do a live. It is to engage and ask people about their day. It could seem very simple. It can seem like that’s not the intention of why I’m going live, but the community has to come first. It’s constantly engaging with the community and asking them, “What do you want to see me share? What do you like seeing me share? How long have you been following?” All of those kinds of questions to probe and dig deeper.

I love what you’re saying. Hearing you talk about DM and the building of community made me think about one of the recent posts that you did. I spotted it on TikTok. You were talking about the notion that people need to build an email list. I thought that was interesting that you’re talking about this. In the newsletter from October, we talk about this. I don’t know if you know, but there were two big events that happened that week. First of all, it was Lord Lambert that was stolen his YouTube account. He didn’t have a mass following, but he had a good one. All of a sudden, he lost pretty much everything and tried to rebuild it by tweeting.

There was also Stadia, which is a gaming platform from Google that Google decided to close. The creator that has been building on that platform has to start again somewhere else. I love the idea of this email. I’d love for you to expand on why it is so important from your point of view. Does this only apply to a brand, or do you think that also applies to a creator?

I definitely think that it’s great for creators to have an email list exactly to the point that you shared. I’m sure we know so many people whose accounts have been hacked. They’ve been shut down for whatever reason. They unknowingly violated community guidelines. That can happen pretty easily. The importance for creators is to share. You can have your shopping links there. If you have an Amazon shop or a Like To Know It shop, you can monetize your email list in that way.

It’s great to showcase who you are. I see content as there’s audio, there’s text, there’s video content, picture content, and the different mediums that you can use. Text-based content has a place in a marketing strategy. As much as social media is a very visual picture, video, and text, people still read that. When they’re invested in you and your brand, I know that the content creators that I follow, I get so excited to see their email letters. They go very deep on certain subjects that I feel that they’re not even covering on their Instagram, their TikTok, or even their YouTube pages.

TLEP 49 | Serving Your Audience
Serving Your Audience: Text-based content has a place in a marketing strategy. As much as social media is very visual with pictures, videos, and text, people still read it.

There’s an opportunity to be valuable in an email. I know some people might hear that and think that that doesn’t sound exciting, but there are so many ways that you can easily write copy too. It’s being authentic in your emails. The way you talk is how you can show up in your email. You can transcribe it. If you don’t use Google Docs, it can dictate what you’re saying and you can speak into it. That’s a great way to create an email list.

In a marketing strategy, it’s so important. I think creators or business owners, we can’t solely rely on social media as our business. A lot of business owners and creators think that that’s their whole business. They spend their whole day. They’re like, “I scrolled and watched everyone’s story.” That’s not running a business. Yes, it’s extremely valuable for marketing, sales, branding, and awareness, but it’s not your whole business. I’ve gotten caught up in that trap myself. Email marketing is so important. With the analytics that you can get from the different platforms and the funnels that you can create, I think everybody needs an email list.

I’m so glad that you’re emphasizing that. I was also thinking about the funnels, too, because we’ve all been in that position where you visit a website and you add something to your cart, and then you forget about it. If the company has a funnel set up where they remind you, sometimes it’s a little annoying, but I also appreciate it. I don’t like automatically being added to newsletter lists. That’s the caveat here. Some companies somehow get your data or you don’t even realize that they’re going to use your email in that way.

When a company’s intentional, they’re adding value to you, and they’re understanding how the brain works. If you’re watching a live video, maybe you intend on buying something, but you get distracted. A great example since we’re talking so much about TikTok is when I’m on TikTok, I want to be there. I don’t want to have to switch back and forth to another website to shop and then come back to TikTok. I usually go on TikTok for an extended period of time. I’m just there to learn, feel entertained, take a break, and I’ll save things to come back around to it later.

A good email strategy will understand that and remind me to make a purchase and remind me of what I was thinking of. If I decide not to make the purchase, the funnels can also keep me engaged as a customer and keep me aware of sales, opportunities, or new products. That well-crafted process can pay off. Cristina, since I gave some examples of brands utilizing this effectively, what are some effective ways that you’ve seen creators use newsletters to engage with their audience?

Some of the great examples I’ve seen are showcasing different highlights and different wins that you have, whether it’s a new brand partnership. That is such a great way for somebody that’s a new content creator to build up their brand. Let’s say they’re doing free gifted collaborations and they want to eventually do paid collaborations. You can still highlight the things that you’re doing for free, showcase, and put yourself or position yourself as that type of creator that can do paid opportunities. That shows up in that way. It’s showing up as if you’re already getting paid $10,000 for a collaboration or showing up in that way and looking at how those creators show up online.

Another thing is, if you promote products, you can promote them in your newsletter. Be extremely valuable and intentional about what your brand is. I know that the topic of niche comes up so much in content creation, being a business owner, and having a social media presence. That intimidates certain people because they feel they have so many things they want to share and they can’t whittle it down to 1 or 2 things. The way that I think about it is, choose 2 to 3 topics or industries that you love and that you could talk about extensively for many hours. If people are DM-ing you, if they’re commenting on your video, or if more people who are interested in the same topic start to engage with you, could you sustain the conversation, enjoy it, and have something of value to add to the conversation?

Be extremely valuable and intentional about what your brand is. Click To Tweet

We’re all passionate about a lot of things, but do we all have value to add in those areas? Probably not in every single area. Where can you be valuable? Take those 2 to 3 things. For instance, for my pages, everything’s social media, branding, and marketing, but then I also do videos on style bars and restaurants, spirits, and wine that I love. I keep it very niche. I keep it into those three different categories. You can start using your email newsletter, and it could be the five best wine bars in Napa Valley. It’s not so in your face, “This is the winery that I’m promoting.” Sometimes it feels very ad-centric.

Consumers are getting so much smarter now. They understand what’s going on. They don’t always like that and they don’t always want that. You have to always add value and remember that it’s about adding value. You can do things like that. AnswerThePublic is a great website that everyone can use. It’s a free site and you can type in a topic. For instance, you could type in Vegan Leather Shoe. It pops up this wheel and it’s who, what, where, when, why, how, and it’s all the things that people are searching for, “Where do you buy vegan leather shoes? Are they comfortable? How much do they cost? What brands?”

TLEP 49 | Serving Your Audience
Serving Your Audience: Consumers are getting so much smarter now. They understand what’s going on. You have to always add value.

You can then craft your content strategy around what people are already searching for and show your personality. To whatever degree you share your personal life, you can share that in your newsletter. People love to hear what’s going on, what’s happening in your life, and what the challenges you’re facing. You can be very authentic and vulnerable.

There’s a creator that I follow. Every month, she shares the failures that she’s had. She shares one business failure and one personal life failure. You don’t need to divulge every little detail of your life, but she’s very vulnerable in the brand collaborations she’s been rejected from. She shares a personal breakup.

Again, you don’t need to share all of that, but as much as you want to share those things, there’s an appetite from consumers and from your audience to hear those things. It is anything valuable. You can add any hacks. You can link your social media accounts into it and make it a fun place. You can make them short. I see long ones that are extremely successful too. There are extremely long emails that you would think from a marketing perspective, “This will never work. This is not what people want to read,” but when they care, they will read it.

I love what you’re saying about this notion of being yourself and all you’ve been saying. It made me think about some of the posts that I’ve seen from you. A lot of the video production you’re doing is quite edited. There are a lot of you using a lot of FX and things like that on TikTok. On the other side, when you are on the livestream, to go back a little bit to the notion of people will find out that once you are trying to push a product, you’d be too salesy.

For the creator out there that can’t edit too much video on the livestream because you count, and then you still want to create that authenticity without being too salesy, what are the different things that you will suggest from a nano creator perspective to promote a brand on a livestream without being super salesy?

I always think of it as talking to a friend. It’s easier said than done and it takes practice. It’s going into it with the intention and the understanding that unless you’re a public speaker or you’re familiar with talking on camera, there will be a learning curve, and that’s okay. First of all, if you are a livestreamer, congratulations to you, whoever is doing it, and whoever is getting into livestreaming. Public speaking is the number one fear of humans in the entire world. It’s not sharks and spiders, it’s public speaking. Congratulations to anybody that’s doing it and is putting themselves out there. That is amazing.

Unless you're a public speaker or you're familiar with talking on camera, there will be a learning curve, and that's okay. Click To Tweet

First of all, start there. What I would say is to have a conversation and think about not just the features that you like about this specific product, the price, what it has, or what it does, but the transformation. That’s something that business owners talk about a lot, but I think there’s a gap among content creators. What is the transformation that it brings? If it’s this marvelous planner that you have, it’s not just that it has this specific section and it has these colors. It’s what gets someone interested and the psychology of the buyer. How is this getting me where I need to go?

Oftentimes, people will speak to the end result. Let’s say it’s a planner and it makes your life so organized. For the working mom, you free up an hour of your day, but where I find that there’s a gap in communication is starting and painting the picture of where someone’s at right now. If you’re running around, let’s say you’re a mom and you’re so busy, you feel like your life is falling apart, and you miss appointments every day because you’re disorganized, you’re stressed, and you’re not eating because you don’t have time and you don’t know what’s going on, speaking to that part of the person is what I find very successful. People will see themselves in that.

You can see this a lot in the health and wellness industry where people will say, “Your gut health and the mind connection to your gut.” Does the average consumer know that or does the consumer that you’re targeting know that? Maybe they have no clue. I can say honestly that a few years ago, I didn’t even know what the gut did. I would hear these things and I’m like, “I don’t think I have that problem, and I don’t think I need that. This doesn’t resonate with me.”

When you speak to brain fog and all of these different things that people face, it starts to click. If you can do that live and communicate that, that’s great. It’s quick, too. I love that being live is quick, it’s fun, and you’re engaged with the comments. That’s the lighthearted nature of it, depending on the brand or the product that you’re marketing.

The last thing that I would say is understanding that it’s live, it can’t be edited, you’ll stutter, and things will get messed up. Maybe you’re bringing up a product and you said the wrong product, the wrong name, or the wrong price. That’s okay. The audience understands it’s live. If a creator is considering livestreaming and partnering with brands to do lives, you don’t have to be perfect. It can flow. That’s what people like to see. That’s the beauty of lives and that’s the beauty of it converting so well.

TLEP 49 | Serving Your Audience
Serving Your Audience: Live can’t be edited. You’ll stutter, and things will get messed up, but that’s okay.

That reminds me of something I wanted to make sure we talked about, which is choosing the talent that you’re working with. Just as people are thinking about how to sell a product, a huge part of that is the person that’s on camera. As Nicolas and I have talked about in many episodes of this show, a lot of brands don’t want to do it themselves. They want to find a host that’s good, confident, or willing to experiment and figure it out along the way. They don’t have to be perfect at it right off the bat. Very few people are. Livestreaming definitely takes a lot of practice, but it is finding someone willing to do that work and show up. It has some level of comfort and experience being on camera and speaking about products is key.

Cristina, one thing I love that you do in your work is emphasizing nano-influencers. People that are maybe not as well-known. They don’t have these huge audiences. They’re not someone that you’re going to tap into reaching a million people in an audience. Maybe they have a dedicated audience. Maybe they’re just great on camera and they understand how to sell things. Maybe they’re super passionate about products and that’s the value that they bring. I’d love to hear you talk more about why a brand should consider working with nano-influencers and how a nano-influencer can develop relationships with brands too. It’s both ends of that relationship.

It’s the season of the nano-influencer. Brands are realizing now that people with smaller followings under 10,000 have higher conversion rates and higher engagement rates. The reason is, at that follower account, usually people are more engaged. They’re commenting more. As the following grows, the engagement decreases pretty significantly. It’s advantageous for brands to work with somebody that’s high-converting. If you think about it, a lot of creators will do free gifted collaborations. There are platforms where you can do free gifted collaborations. Ultimately, anybody who’s posting about products, the end goal is to make money from doing it.

It's the season of the nano-influencer. Brands are realizing now that people with followings under 10,000 have higher conversion and engagement rates. Click To Tweet

For a brand, as the follower size grows, the amount that the creators charge increases pretty significantly. For a video, for a picture, for a carousel, for a story, for a live, it goes up pretty significantly. If you can lower your budget and work with a smaller creator, it’s a huge win. It’s not a downside. It’s an upside to working with creators that have such an engaged following.

For creators that are doing that, don’t let it stop you. The follower count honestly doesn’t matter. There are people with less than 1,000 followers that have monetized their accounts. As long as you’re adding value and creating the type of content that they want to see, the authenticity that they want to see, and the brand voice that they’re looking for, then you can totally do it.

Connect with brands. I did a collaboration with a skincare brand here in California. It was an in-person event that they were hosting. I asked them how they found my page. Despite people thinking that these things are maybe outdated or that they don’t work, it’s not true. They do look at geotags a lot. If you add a location to your post, you can click on that location and then see everybody that’s posted to it. That’s a great way.

Hashtags aren’t necessarily used nowadays in the way where you can post #California, and then people will find you because people use it so often. It’s a saturated hashtag. If you can use smaller niche hashtags, I like to think of things that are industry-based. If it’s a shoe brand, you can use shoe, vegan shoes, high heel shoe, or leather shoe. You can do locational based, which is California shoemaker, California style blogger, things like that. That is a great way to be found by brands now. Hashtags also allow you to reach your target audience or your niche audience.

Commenting, engaging, and adding thoughtful insightful pieces to other larger creators’ posts can help you be found, especially on TikTok. You can almost go viral and gain new followers by putting in an insightful comment, and you don’t even have to put your face or even have any posts. That is a great way. Have a clearly laid out page. Having your brand be consistent is a great way to be found. You want your page to look attractive.

TLEP 49 | Serving Your Audience
Serving Your Audience: Commenting, engaging, and adding thoughtful, insightful pieces to other larger creators’ posts can help you be found, especially on TikTok.

The example that I use is that, for business owners or creators, imagine you’re having a dinner party whenever your posts go viral. That’s having everybody come over to your house, they arrive, and that’s them arriving at your profile, you haven’t started cooking, you haven’t cleaned your house, you don’t even know what you’re going to cook, and you still have to go to the store and buy the ingredients. That’s what it’s like when your profile isn’t put together or when it’s not optimized.

As much as you could reach a brand or they could find you, are they going to like what they find? Are they going to be interested in what they’re finding? You always want to optimize. You want to be current. Brands want to see people that are posting a few times a month. They want to see that your followers are real and they’re not bought. That’s very easy to tell based on the engagement, the likes, the comments, and the genuineness of the comments. If they’re just emojis, it can seem suspicious. Those are a few things.

I love what you’re saying when you’re recommending brands to look at nano-influencers. It made me think about the previous episode that we published. The way they found that creator was to ask their clients, “Who do you support?” They then are talking about this specific creator, and then they nourish that creator until it became the face of the company. It’s an interesting thought process there. I want to encourage brands that are thinking about who can be that person that engages with my audience to check out this last episode. It’s fascinating, looking at it from the creator perspective about how you emerge, how you surface, how you exist in this economy, and how people can spot you.

I cannot agree more with the hashtag. We have the chance to walk a lot of eCommerce trade shows. Technology has been advanced when it relates to finding creators. Not only pretty much every handle is analyzed by tons of robots and AI. Pretty much, it’s very easy to know what kind of engagement you have and how genuine they are, and what kind of hashtag you find. It’s true that there is a lot of social media monitoring where people will code a couple of hashtags. As soon as something pops up, they will get an alert in their email. It’s certainly an interesting thought to continue with the hashtag.

Cristina, before we wrap up this conversation, I’d love to know your final words of wisdom for leveraging the relationship between a brand and a creator. That’s the ultimate goal we have with eStreamly. How can we make it a win-win? You mentioned how most creators are looking to monetize, and brands are obviously looking to monetize. How can they support each other so that each of them is generating revenue and doing it in an authentic way that serves their audience?

It is always remembering that there is a person behind the screen. Whether you’re a brand that’s tasked with finding nano-influencers or you’re tasked with finding UGC content creators, remember that they are people and they generally tend to have a full-time job. Being a content creator is a job. Creating video content and devoting time to livestreaming are things that people get compensated for.

Being a content creator is a job. Creating video content and devoting time to livestreaming are things that people get compensated for. Click To Tweet

A lot of brands want to go the cheap route or the low-budget route. Low-ball content creators are still in equity and pay with content creators. Considering that it’s an emerging market and it’s an emerging industry, there’s still a lot of muddy waters and confusion on how it should be handled. You want to compensate creators if you can, but not asking so much of them and then giving so little. Remember that it’s a mutual exchange and that 3 to 5 shirts don’t pay my rent.

As much as somebody might want to springboard their career, it’s insulting for brands to offer and ask for three TikTok videos, a live, a story, and you to put their link in your bio. It’s a lot to ask for someone to do for free. Remember that. Be honest and genuine, and not automating your conversations, your DM outreach, or your email outreach in such a way that it feels very transactional to the creator who’s receiving it. Oftentimes, they’ll say, “Hey, Cristina Cortes.” It’s not my name, it’s my handle. It’s little things where you can be a human and you can do it in a genuine way.

For creators, it’s remembering, too, that brands want to see you be creative. You can’t just make one post and think you’re going to get paid just because it was a great post. They want to see people that are consistently posting that add value to their audience. They can go on and see what you’re posting and what you’re doing. Remember that what you’re doing is valuable and that we should be compensated for what we’re doing. A lot of creators have full-time jobs and they’re doing it as a side hustle. Also, not tying your worth to the content that you’re creating or the analytics that you’re creating. That’s the fastest way to burn out and give up.

I speak to so many women that are discouraged because they haven’t gone viral or they’re not getting a certain level of reach that they believe they should be reaching. It is constantly adapting for brands and creators. The platforms, we get to leverage them, which is great. They’re free oftentimes, but remember that it changes and we have to adapt and have an open mindset to innovating constantly and figuring out what’s new and what’s best. Luckily for everyone and all of you at eStreamly is that video content is here to stay. Video content is only going to get better with the AI that’s going to come into it. The content creators that are using video now will be the next people that you’ll hear about. They’ll be in the ads.

TLEP 49 | Serving Your Audience
Serving Your Audience: The platforms are often free, but remember that they change. We have to adapt and have an open mindset toward constantly innovating and figuring out what’s new and what’s best.

For everyone and businesses, use video content, use livestreaming, and just play with it. Have fun. Social media gets to be fun. I know that ultimately it is marketing and ultimately we can drive sales and awareness through the channel. If you’re a creator, hopefully, your business is fun for you. Remember that, at the end of the day, you can get so tied up in the numbers and the sales that it’s not fun anymore for a lot of people. Remember that. I know it’s hard, especially if you’re making a living from it, and a lot of your sales are driven through social media, but that’s ultimately what I would leave people with.

You had so many wonderful nuggets of wisdom. I love the way that you speak on these topics with so much confidence, passion, enthusiasm, and great takeaways. This has certainly given me a good way of understanding it from all of these different sides. Like Nicolas was saying, thinking through it from the creator’s perspective, but also you’re in between the brand and the creator world. That’s, in a lot of ways, what eStreamly is too. You are a wonderful voice to bring to the show. We appreciate you taking the time.

For the audience, if you are interested in seeing Cristina’s work on TikTok, on Instagram. The services that she offers for creators are impressive. If you want to go back and reread any of her words of wisdom, it will be there. We have another guest coming up next episode. That’s going to be our 50th episode, Nicolas, if you can believe it. This is number 49 for us, and the next one will be number 50. We have had the honor of amazing people like Cristina on the show every single episode. I want to remind the audience to subscribe if you haven’t yet. We’d also love your review. Tell us what you think.

Like we talked about, the survey is there in the description. The newsletter is there so you can get in touch with us. If you want to leave a public comment on the show to share how it’s added value to your life, we would be thrilled if you did that on Apple Podcasts. There is a number of call to action for you. Thanks again, Cristina, for being here, and Nicolas as always for being a fabulous co-host. To the audience, we will see you again next episode.

Thank you.


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