Who: Amanda Carter Gomes
What: Content for non-millennials; What does it mean to be an influencer?; The Instagram verified symbol doesn’t hold weight.
Where: Seattle, Washington
Earlier this year, the Collectively Community team chatted with Amanda Carter Gomes, the owner, editor, and writer at TheFold.com. Amanda has spent the last 10 years in the digital publishing business. In 2009, after years of working in PR (a life that revolved around event management and photoshoot production) she began offering consulting services to woman-owned and operated businesses, helping them define their marketing and social media strategies. Then, in 2015, she took over Clementine Daily (after serving as Managing Editor for a year and a half).
After 4 years of publishing content at Clementine Daily, Amanda decided to tackle one of the toughest challenges in business and marketing: a rebrand. In a media culture that’s dominated by gen Y and millennials, she saw a void when it came to great content catering to women over 35. Today, her efforts are focused on growing TheFold.com, "a site for women of an uncertain age and a particular attitude."
We chatted about her vision, the challenges of launching a new site, and her thoughts on some of the current influencer marketing trends.
Q: Why did you decide to pivot away from Clementine Daily and launch The Fold—a completely new site with a fresh perspective?
About a year ago, I received a campaign inquiry for a sponsored post. In the email the brand inquired about my age, which at the time was 39. As soon as I answered the question I knew I would not be getting that campaign. Essentially, I was too old.
I realized two things: I had a site focused on reaching a community I was no longer a part of, and I was not familiar with any online spaces designed for women beyond the the millennial age range. And just like that, I decided to create the space I was looking for. I didn’t know how or when it was going to happen, I simply knew that I wanted to create a space for myself, and for the women I knew who were craving content that's made for them.
Q: What’s the mission and message behind The Fold?
In an industry that holds youth on a pedestal, The Fold serves as a creative space that values the years lived, the lessons learned, the heartaches earned, and the glorious experiences that have brought us to this moment. The mission is to dispel myths (and hopefully dissolve expectations) about what it looks like to be a woman, at any age. My aim is to contradict the thinking that we become obsolete as we age, because it is now— right now at 40—when I am truly finding my voice.
The Fold is a digital destination for the woman of an "uncertain age" that focuses on the contributions, importance, and value of being a feminist female. The site highlights the ageless individuals who are ever-evolving, open to change, and confident to inspire revolution at any age. The site covers Arts & Culture, Relationships, Wellness, Motherhood, Money, Personal Style, and Politics—essentially any and all issues relevant to being an informed woman in today's society.
Q: The Fold is co-produced by multiple writers—what are some of the challenges, and some of the benefits, of having multiple contributors?
I love having multiple contributors for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I want experts who represent the various categories covered on The Fold. The women who write on these subjects are much better versed on them than I am. I also love having a symphony of voices instead of a single perspective, or someone attempting to write from my perspective. My intention has never been to promote myself, in fact, self-promotion is something I am quite uncomfortable with. I much prefer being the "wizard behind the curtain" to being front and center.
The only challenge with multiple contributors is having the bandwidth to communicate effectively and efficiently with each editor. All the women who contribute to The Fold are women I respect and admire, and I often find it hard to keep things strictly business. My team is an extension of The Fold Community, and I love knowing what’s happening in their lives.
Q: Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat is a hot topic. What’s your preference when it comes to amplifying content from The Fold on either platform? Does your audience engage more heavily with Instagram Stories or Snapchat?
Well, we are not on Snapchat, so our audience can only engage with us on Instagram Stories, which we use sparingly. Since the site is not about me personally, I reserve stories for special events, collaborations, and content we want to highlight. However, the plan is to start using it more consistently. I think we may differ from other creators in that the ultimate goal for us is to drive traffic to our site. All of the social platforms serve to promote and support the work that is being created on The Fold, not the other way around.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Instagram Verified symbol, and recent press about the black market that hands out the highly coveted status symbol?
I know some very high profile brands and people who are sans Verified symbol, just like I know high profile brands and people who do have it. Personally, I was shocked to read the price people are paying for a made up status symbol. Apparently I am old fashioned, but I fall into the camp that still believes that organic social media that speaks to your mission and content will prevail. Perhaps I am a dying breed!
Q: How has your approach to brand collaborations shifted over time?
I used to take almost any collaboration that came my way, but I am much more selective now. I also have a different approach to presenting sponsored content. Since we are a multi-authored site, I steer away from first person narrative and choose only brands that are well aligned with our mission and our reader.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the recipe for a super successful brand collaboration? Are there specific things brands can do to achieve success when partnering with an influencer?
The best collaborations, in my humble opinion, are those that are effortless. By effortless I mean you sincerely love the product, service, and client you are working with, and there is an element of trust from all parties involved. I think the best thing a brand can do is to hold on to their vision while loosening the creative reins to allow the person, publication, etc. to interpret how-to best present that vision to their audience.
Q: The majority of our community points to sponsored content as the most lucrative form of advertising they in engage in. Do you agree? If not, what types of advertising are most lucrative for your content business?
For The Fold, sponsored content is our most lucrative form of advertising. Perhaps that will change in the future, but currently, that is how we receive the majority of our funding. We also currently run ads on the site, and we’re in the process of developing some exciting collaborations. I know that affiliate links work really well for some, but since we are no longer as product focused, it doesn’t currently feel like an organic fit for our space.
Q: Today, more brands are leveraging influencer content in their wider marketing initiatives, using it to promote their messages across paid advertising touch points (social media, email marketing, ads). What are your thoughts on how marketers are leveraging influencer content?
This is a tough one, because while I do expect brands to use our content, I think licensing can sometimes get sticky. For influencers, the question is a matter of knowing your worth and the intentions for content usage before signing on to execute. For brands, it’s a matter of offering proper compensation and honoring the creative energy put into the finished product.
I have worked on both sides of this and know that there can be many blurred lines in these relationships. My hope is that contracts become even more transparent from the start, to alleviate any confusion, frustration, or misuse.
Q: We recently asked our community what they thought of the word influencer, and received mixed opinions. What’s your perspective?
I find this word cringe worthy and am not at all a fan. This obviously goes back to my discomfort with being front and center. I don't consider myself an influencer and have positioned myself accordingly through my site. My career focus is to provide a platform that shares the stories, wisdom, and perspectives of incredible women beyond the millennial age range, and I feel very grateful to be doing just that. If my goal was to turn myself into a brand, I am sure I would feel differently about this term. I don't think negatively towards people who make themselves the focus of their site, feed, etc., it's just not for me. My skills just happen to be connecting with women and editing!
Q: What are your thoughts on Insta-only influencers? Do you think social media creators who only produce content on social platforms are at a disadvantage, or advantage in today’s market?
Regarding Insta-only influencers, I think if you find a niche you love and are able to make it successful, be it Instagram, YouTube, etc., more power to you! There's a ton of beautiful and relevant content being created using these channels, and I enjoy viewing and engaging with the wide range and variety of it all.
In this industry, my instincts always tell me to diversify. Trends, platforms, and consumer demands change so quickly. If you have the bandwidth and the interest, I don't think it's a bad idea to create something new, either on your own or with a partner/collaborator, whether that's an Instagram account or a blog, or both.
Q: What’s your biggest prediction for Influencer Marketing in 2018?
Oh gosh, I have no idea! My focus is, and will continue to be, producing content that I am proud of as a writer and editor, to highlight the women who are doing amazing things in this world, and to talk about the issues and topics relevant to The Fold community. Actually, maybe that is the trend I hope to see more of in 2018—empowering roles and opportunities for women across all ages, races, and other diversities to be heard. There is room for us all, and I hope that brands start to really take note, to further understand and support the inclusivity movement.
Want to partner with Collectively Collaborators? Find out how you can work with them.