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Episode 1Apr 16, 2024

Changing the game: Hosts Kwame Appiah & Scott Sutton chat social media & influencer marketing

Welcome to the first episode of Beyond Influence! To kick things off, hosts Kwame Appiah and Scott Sutton chat about all things social and influencer marketing. Kwame tells all about his journey from sales to reality TV to content creator — and now, podcast host! Scott and Kwame discuss how they met and why they’re excited to co-host a podcast together. Plus, get an inside scoop on what’s in store for future episodes!

Beyond Influence Podcast with Hosts Kwame Appiah and Scott Sutton

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Hey, everybody! Welcome to Beyond Influence. I am excited to be here. My name is Kwame Appiah. If you've never ever heard of me before, maybe have, maybe haven't, I'm here with Scott Sutton.


Awesome! Really excited to be here for the inaugural episode of Beyond Influence. Project long-in-the-making and excited to get this thing started.


Yeah, I remember way, way, way back in the day…I say, “Way, way, way back,” I mean, a few months ago when this all started and the ball started rolling. 

You reached out to me over LinkedIn and said, “Hey, I've got a crazy idea. Let's possibly start a podcast. How did that all... I still want a bit more detail into how this all came about.


Yeah, it's funny. I got a message. We worked together in a previous life, and my buddy messaged me. He's like, “Hey, Kwame is trying to get back into the game, trying to do something.” 

I had just started at a Later and was looking at innovative ways to engage with our audience and unpack the creator journey and get people to understand how the influence of our economy works in all of this. With you coming on, I know that you've had some experiences recently that's put you out there and you're trying to navigate this also. So I thought, who better to get on and talk to creators and influencers about their journey? 

And this idea just emerged. It was like, how can we really engage with our community of creators and influencers to tell their story, to educate the next generation about becoming creators, how to go out and make a living doing what they love to do. I'm excited. Those are stories worth telling.


Yeah, that is amazing. Once again, I guess, to graze over whoever might not know about me. My name is Kwame Appiah. I was very fortunate to be part of Season 4 of Love is Blind, the hit Netflix dating reality show. Not at all due to me, due to the incredible cast and crew that puts it all together. But apart from that, I ended up using that as a segway, gained a bit of a platform, and became a bit of a creator. And Scott, I guess I'd love [you] to tell people who you are.


Yeah, I'm Scott Sutton. I'm CEO of Later. We're a top social media management &, influencer marketing company. I joined because I believe in the space. I believe in social media as the future of the way that we're going to engage and the way we're going to engage in commerce, allowing consumers to hear from people that they trust about products they love. 

I'm a huge fan of social media. For a long time, I've been watching YouTube videos and TikTok, and it's how I learn, honestly. Even as a CEO, I'm picking up things every day off of YouTube, and I'm trying to get better at what I do. So when the opportunity came up, I was, “How can I not jump in and learn more?” It's been a fun ride. It's seven months in the making now, but I still firmly believe that this is the best space to be, and it's the future.


It is. It's super awesome. I mean, it's funny thinking about back in the day. I remember one of the creators that's my favorite consistent [creator was] a guy named King Bach. I found him on Vine when I think I was in college when Vine was a thing. They had these little cliques and groups of creators who would just make a bunch of funny content for Vine. You saw the following start growing: 100 to a 1000…10,000. And now I think he's close to 10 or 15 million, whatever the case may be but you saw the evolution of social media right in front of you. 

It is incredible to see people's lives changing from it. Now it feels like everybody wants to be a creator to some degre even if you're not looking for a following. You're looking to share something. You're looking to pass on some knowledge. I love the way that social media is being utilized in a lot of ways lately. It does seem like it's only going to be more and more interlaced in our lives.


Yeah, 100 %. I think one of the biggest things for me was: I never realized how many people out there had random talents or skills or abilities and the depth to which people think about certain topics. Seeing an incredible singer was maybe a once in a lifetime thing. You go to a big concert, you see someone. Now, we just had so much exposure to these talented people from random small towns in Kentucky who had no other platform, and now they're making videos in their bedroom. It's pretty incredible to see how creative and talented people are. 

One thing that struck a core with me was: I watched a podcast where Lex Friedmann interviewed Mr. Beast and went through the level of thought and the amount that [Mr. Beast] analyzes and understands his audience, his engagement, thumbnail creation, video content and just the level of professionalism that exists in the market to create content on social media. It's gone from being this hobby or this interesting side hustle

You have pioneers like Casey Neistat, who started vlogging and then just created these monster followings and created this entire new lane for themselves.

As a student of the game, it's just been wild to try and see how are they doing this, how are they approaching, building an audience, creating amazing content, and doing it oftentimes with very little actual support and equipment.


Yeah, the journey is such an interesting process. I was blessed and graced with an audience. I'm very grateful for that. I'm trying to figure out the best way to consistently be a positive beacon in that direction. 

You don't want to gain an audience and then feed them negativity constantly. It's like, “How can I be positive for these people that follow me?” It's incredible to see the journey of people who started and weren't granted an audience. I think that those are some of the interesting people. 

There's also the people who were given an audience who somehow... It almost feels like those audience members, like the people who follow them, the people who interact with them, the people who comment on their stuff, it almost feels like they've been there from the beginning.

 I think one of the most rewarding conversations I've had with someone was a food influencer creator. His name is Jordan [Stallion]. I forget his name, but he always does these food reviews and food tips in his bathroom. It's his thing. He goes up to his mirror and he starts the video and he starts talking about whatever it is. He'll tell you the secrets about McDonald's or, I don't know, Chick-fil-A or something like that. And people really love his content. 

I remember I started following him because I saw one funny video at 100K. Then over the course of six months, his following went over the top. He's at a few million now. He just did a skit with Kevin Hart. I commented on it, and I was like, “This is unbelievable. I remember following you from the beginning, and here you are!” 

And someone commented on my comment and said, “It's really funny because I remember seeing you from the beginning, and here you are!” So the growth through social media and audiences and people who follow you and want to know your story and what you're doing, it's so amazing. Growing the attachment to these people, what they do and what they provide for you on a daily basis. It's a really cool story.


Yeah. I don't know if you feel the same way. I'm like a constant cheerleader. I'll find these creators. Someone I'm like, “They are so talented. The world needs to know about this person.” There's like a Canadian rapper who [is named] Connor Price, who just put out these tracks. He collabs with these people around the world. I remember jumping on when he had less than 100,000 followers. I was like, “This guy is going to hit big!” 

Now he's doing all these collabs, millions of followers, billions of views on Spotify. My kids listen to his tracks. It's been fun to watch him come up. You want to fight for these people. You're like, “These people deserve the credit. They're talented, they're hungry, they're clearly putting in the work, but it's awesome to see.” I'm a total champion for some of these creators, for sure.


I remember… 🎵So I was so down and now🎵 I actually just heard that song for the first time. It was like two days ago, right? That shows he's everywhere because we've never talked about Connor Price before. 

I actually also... I found them a while back when... Back in the day, I used to try to make music. I wasn't great at it but one thing that I did always love was seeing how people's creative visions just manifest into music because people think in different rhythms and patterns. If you draw, you could see something on a wall and be like, “Oh, my gosh, that's a painting.” Or you could see something on that wall [and] if you're a musician, you're like, “Oh, that's a specific chord.” 

I love the way he brought his concepts to life. He would spin a globe, he'd pick somewhere on the Earth and be like, “All right, what are we going to create with this person, in this country, with this vibe?” It's so dope to see it all coming together. I love that you have access to that all around the world at any point in time. I love scrolling through my feed because I follow so many creative-minded people.

There's always suggestions of new people. It's just like…I'll see something and I'm like, “How have I never heard of this person? They are unbelievable!” I think it's incredible having access to all of it. Now, seeing people leverage that and turn that into a living. I see people who are in countries that maybe are underdeveloped and now they have access to an audience that can, in some ways, support them. They never had to leave. There was the old story of like, “I've never left this town. I was born here. I'm going to live through here and die here.” But now people have access to a life and a greater purpose while still being right where they always wanted to be.


Yeah. I couldn't agree more. It's awesome. It's so funny, the community, too. When you start to see the collabs and the crossover videos. There's a channel that I follow, and it was one of those things just recommended. It's like 20 kids at a school in Africa, and they're dancing to a whole variety of songs. I'm like, “They just kill it every single time.” The kid is so likable and the energy they bring. In what other world are you going to get a weekly video from these kids in Africa at this school being able to produce content that's viewed by millions of people across the world?

And to your point, I think it's an amazing platform to get. There's a lot of creativity out there [to] spread your talent. Spread whatever message you have. There's good and bad with that but I think generally the message is pretty positive and what creators are trying to put out into the world so I'm super supportive of that.


Yeah. And once again, I will never understate or not say enough how lucky and blessed I am to have access to a connection of people out in the world who pay attention to the things that I put out. I try to be a bit more consistent with my posting. I post once in a while, every now and then. 

My wife [Chelsea Griffin Appiah] is amazing at posting. She's really, really great. She's always pushing out positive messages: “Good morning! How are you feeling? This is how I am. This is the tough things that happened to me today. This is how it helped me do this or do that.” She's really great at that. 

It has been interesting seeing the kinds of creators that brands want to work with. If we were to, I guess, pivot to a slightly more business side of this. Because when you think about all the effort that people are putting in… It's about sharing talent. And that is amazing but if you can share your talent and make a living out of it…

It used to be something where you were in the 1% of the world. Now people can share their talent and make a living, and you don't have to be even in the top 10% or top 20%. You can actually gain something from it. You can help support your family. You can feed. You can start from nothing and create this dynasty. All of that's coming from social media, right in the palm of your hand. 

And so I'm blessed to have access to some opportunities. The great thing about us getting to have a bit more conversation here and there is I want to know about the creators that we speak to and what opportunities they're getting and what opportunities they're willing to share with the world. Like, “Hey, this is how you can do this, too! Because everyone nowadays has the ability to have a platform.” Well, I guess everyone has a platform. They have the ability to grow that platform.

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I think it's awesome, too, just to see a window into someone's life and into their experience as they're sharing their story. A lot of people follow you for a lot of different reasons, but I think what makes people stay is [that] they see the relationship you have. They see the fun that you're having. You showed me pictures of you guys skiing this weekend, doing a brand deal and it's fun. 

You guys are having a great time doing what you do, being authentic and being who you are, but also having this way to showcase brands that you love. I think that's a really cool window into the real lives. With social media, it's the balance of entertainment, but connection and this authenticity and seeing what is Kwame's real life like after the show. How does that relationship continue and manifest it? I think, honestly, when I look at your channel and what you're posting, to me, it's a continuation of a story that people bought into and they want to fight for you guys and see you be successful. It's cool that they continue to support you, and I think that's the positive side.

There's always going to be the haters that try and bring you down and come and post. I think for the most part, people genuinely want other’s success. When we can mix brand deals and social media posts and entertainment in real life and get to continually see these stories, it's cool to see. It's fun.


Yeah. The growth of it is really amazing. I mean, working hard to understand what it really means to create beyond just the content that you are putting out. It definitely plays a part into how you cater to your audience and how you grow an audience. 

When I started out and was put into this direct light for everyone to see, it really came with just putting in things that I used to just consistently do. I think as someone who wasn't bred as a content creator, that comes with a bit of, I guess, a realization that maybe the things that you are constantly putting out or the things that you have been putting out may not necessarily [reasonate]... 

For the people who got the overnight or were given that audience, it may not always exactly cater to the audience that you have. So how can you be true to yourself, but also make sure that you interact and engage with the people who follow you and want to know more about your life? I think it's funny that you bring up the growth of any creator. When I look at my follower count, I almost lose just about as many as I gain per day.

It was a really funny metric to actually take a look at that because when it comes to me and partnering with brands, they're curious about your audience, and not just your audience. I will say for the companies that are out there that care about your follower count… They're doing it the wrong way. Your engagement is really what matters. As we're looking at my engagement, we're looking at what kind of followers I'm getting in every day and what followers I'm losing every day. If you are someone who has a platform, sometimes it can feel like [you’re] consistently trying to grasp onto something and just pushing out content for content's sake. But when you look at these creators who create and put something new out every day, it is because people want to stay updated. When people take out their phone, they want some content to digest. They want something to read or something to learn or something to laugh at. If you are that person that provides that for them, it feels interesting having to consistently put something out. In actuality, that is the way that we consume media nowadays and that's what we have to do to stay in alignment with our our audience.

It's a constant tug of war that is really interesting. So yeah, being put into this light has definitely put an interesting view on how social media is viewed, how consistent, and how constant you have to be. Who's watching? Who wants to be attentive? Who doesn't? Things like that. It's a really cool scope on things. 

And to just touch a little bit on what being a creator is, because I know this is going to be a bulk of the conversations we talk about and the conversations that we have with the creators who are on is: how does this work into their day-to-day? How does it then get leveraged to something that helps them provide for themselves or the people in their lives? 

One big thing that I've learned from being a creator, or probably the most important thing that I've learned from being a creator, is that being relevant or staying relevant is probably the best currency in the creator world. You have to make sure that you are putting things out. You have to make sure that people are seeing and digesting that and that they like what's being put out.

As long as you can stay true to yourself along that path, you are doing better than most creators. So, yeah, it's an interesting perspective, honestly.


I love… one of my favorite videos (and I've seen it from a lot of different creators) is like the, “We quit our jobs. We're going full-time” videos. It's such an interesting moment because you get this view into the world of the creator. There's a vulnerability that they're putting out there, and they're taking this leap. As a member of the audience, this person is investing in me and my viewership and the engagement .It's just really interesting to watch as people go through the revolution of how do you manage your normal life? How do you post content while you're working a job or raising a family? If those things don't intersect or not. You're not posting about your job or posting about your kids. 

But yeah, and then how do they make that decision of going all in? There's a lot of fear. I think it's [the same for] a lot of founders. They're basically founding their company, which is only them for the most part. It's super fun to watch people make that journey like Talia Scott and Roger Scott. Followed them, and they're just hysterical. It's fun to watch them. I've seen them move, and I've seen them go on vacations, and then they went all in on creating this company around what they're doing.

They do brand partnerships. They're buying new cars. It's like you feel like you're on this journey of life, watching their relationship develop, watching the key milestones. But to your point, they're being themselves. You feel like you're engaging with your fun, entertaining friend. You'd want to spend more time with them, so every piece of content is like getting to hang out with that friend or getting to experience that super funny friend you have. It's interesting. I think it's an interesting dynamic. 

As a viewer, you develop a relationship with these people, and you feel like you're a part of their life as it goes through. I think as a content creator, being vulnerable and sharing your life and your journey is one of the most crazy experiences because you're literally putting on display to the entire world your life. 

I know for you, you started your journey by having this highly vulnerable moment and putting yourself out there. But yeah, I guess, how does that... For you and Chelsea, you guys were born in this high pressure moment, this high pressure, high viewership scenario. Do you feel like it's changed now that it's transitioned to social media? Has it gotten different?


Yeah, I got to be honest, getting settled into this life, the way that it was given, is probably one of the hardest thing that's ever happened to me, especially due to the scenario that we were put in to be put into this life. When you go on a reality show, a lot of people develop opinions, right? The interesting thing about watching reality TV is a lot of people don't see it as just people who are just like them. They see them as characters. 

And then obviously it goes through that wave of like, “Oh, they're a character… They're a human being. They're a character. They're a human being…” And so when you're thrown into this life and social media is available, a lot of people start to come out and give their opinions or thoughts. Whenever a new TV show comes out, people always go to it and always look for... The first thing people look for on a reality TV show is: Who is the villain? They're like, “There has to be a villain!” When in actuality, these are just human beings. They're living a version or a part of their story. No one has to be a villain. It's just you digesting what we're living. 

I remember when I first got exposed this life and people were looking for a villain in a dating show. As someone who was working through a lot of things and maybe having difficulty processing everything because it is an extremely difficult process that I don't feel like people who go through Love is Blind get enough credit for.

That instability or that insecurity or that doubt became... People saw that as as villainous traits. A lot of people came at me in that light all over social media. It was really difficult to deal with that. You're exposed to all these people at the same time. They all have these views and definitions and thoughts of who they think you are. They don't know you that well. They're taking a clip of what they are seeing within another clip. People are seeing a tiny incremental portion of everything that is going on, and they're creating their own truth from it, their own thoughts, their own verdicts. With social media and virality, if a show is out and it's popular, people are going to be talking about it. When they're talking about it, the other people are then digesting their content.

The funny thing about being a reality TV social media personality is that other social media personalities basically grow their social media following off of you. So, yeah, that was a really tough time where I had a lot of people coming at me for, I think, about a week. If you went on to TikTok and you Googled, or I say “Googled”... When you go to TikTok and you TikTok search Kwame, there's just a lot of content out there. So, yeah, being thrown into this life was really, really difficult. At times, it felt like too much to digest at once. There was about a weekend, at least 2-3 days, where I didn't want to leave the house. I was like, “I don't want anybody to see me.” In terms of being online, I just couldn't look at my phone sometimes. That was a really difficult part of being thrust into the life that we live now. I think, just like with anything else in life, it takes time. We are fortunate to be a year into it now, into being out in the public eye, and people actually starting to realize who we are. And having more exposure to our personalities and realizing that we are actual human beings. It's really funny. 

We were just on a ski trip this weekend, and a lady comes up to us and it's like, “Oh, my gosh, it's great to see you all. So this is actually real. I never knew that!” People really still see us It has characters in many lights. The reality of it is we are real people and we're going through these real things. When we are thrust into this environment that's so fast paced and there's so much virality and information accesses everywhere and people are digesting this information just as fast as they are throwing it back at you. You have millions of people digesting this info, but you are the only person who is taking it back. And so it can be a lot. 

But after a year, it's definitely cooled down. People are nicer in all respects, because no matter what character or whatever you are portrayed as in the show, people will have opinions and those opinions they want to say to you. Once it dies down, then you're not as much in the light. Whether it's good or bad opinions, they don't say their opinions as much. They just introduce themselves and talk about the reality of seeing you in person. It's definitely at a good level now. We were out in Canada, we got recognized maybe 20 to 25 times over the course of three or four days, which is less than usual…so it was nice.


It's crazy just putting yourself out there in general in life, you're going to expose yourself to more risks, more criticism. I think one of the interesting things I think about is: as a creator, you're constantly looking for feedback on what works? What do people want? It's this weird thing is you need that feedback to create great content, to know what partners to work with, [and] how to grow your audience. It's also where all the hate lives and where all the negative comments live. So there's this weird relationship you have where… A lot of life is that way. In order to improve, you have to look at the ugly with the good and unpack what's not working and what's working. I think at the end of the day, what I've found a lot of folks is you have to be pretty centered in who you want to be and how you want to operate. Focus on how you can uplift those who are really wanting to engage and be a champion for your success and try and brush off. But that's a lot easier said than done. In all aspects of life, whether you're a creator, a business person, an athlete, there's always going to be people who are for you and against you and pretty vocal in both directions.

The more that you're out there in the spotlight, the more people can pile on. I don't think there's anyone who's just got 100% love out there. If you're that person, then good on you. No matter who you are and how much good you're doing, there's always going to be a hater out there. 

But yeah, it's awesome to see your evolution: your journey going from meeting you prior to all of this. I think the thing for me is: I know you, your character, and what you bring, and the energy that you bring and the energy that you bring to people people around you. What I'm happiest about is that that hasn't changed. This has given you a bigger platform to go tell that story. Despite whatever narratives folks try to weave or whatever edit you get in the show, I think in time, the consistency of showing up as who you are and the message that you bring and the positivity and how you affect people's lives… that's what matters. That's what I'm excited to hear about from the creators we talk to is who the reality of the individuals are, what they're trying to go do.

I think for the most part, folks' intentions are to uplift and entertain and make people laugh and give people inspiration. Even if they create more controversial content, they want to start a discussion. They want to challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new and challenge a point of view that you have. I'm really excited to have this conversation. It's going to be a roller coaster for sure. But yeah, I'm glad everyone's along for the ride. It's going to be a great time.


Yeah, 100 %. And that's basically what Beyond Influence is, so thank you all for joining us so much. We're excited for all that's to come, and I guess we'll see you all next week.


See you on the next one.

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