TurnTo Partner Profile: Pixlee

Q&A with Pixlee CEO and Co-Founder Kyle Wong

Kyle Wong is the CEO and Co-Founder of Pixlee, a visual marketing platform that helps brands increase sales by drawing on Customer-Generated Content posted to social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

An alumnus of Stanford’s incredibly well-regarded engineering school, Wong is a serial entrepreneur—he actually founded Pixlee from his Stanford dorm room. Wong has also been featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List, and spends time advising early-stage, VC-backed startups as a mentor with StartX, a non-profit founder community affiliated with Stanford University.

We chatted with Wong about Instagram’s continued evolution into a marketplace, why location is an often overlooked element of an influencer strategy, what lessons Domino’s Pizza holds for your eCommerce site, and where you should go in New York City for the best slice.

TurnTo Networks: Instagram has evolved from a photo-sharing social media service to something with a growing list of eCommerce features. What do brands interested in selling on Instagram need to make sure they get right?

Kyle Wong: In many ways, Instagram is one of the best intersections of content, commerce, and community. Being successful on Instagram requires a combination of authenticity and consistency. Authenticity isn’t limited to just Instagram. It’s not enough for brands to simply avoid selling through every post.

The content brands offer on Instagram needs to provide value—whether it’s entertaining, insightful, or funny. Additionally, consistency is key to community building on Instagram. You need to have a pulse behind the brand, and that involves following back, engaging, and monitoring.

Some brands don’t remember the community component of that. Instagram today is also one of the best community platforms out there. Investing in that community takes time. It’s about consistency, but it definitely pays dividends.

TurnTo: A lot of ink has been spilled recently about the shift in interest among marketers from celebrity influencers to microinfluencers or nanoinfluencers. What’s your take on the issue?

Wong: I think that there are advantages to every type of influencers. The reality is, influence is not just by reach, it’s about area of expertise. There’s a lot of people who could have an area of expertise related to your brand or product, regardless of how big that following is, who can have a huge impact on your brand.

So brands shouldn’t discount nano and microinfluencers who can offer access to different untapped demographics. Lately, I’ve seen an influencer trend in fitness—a lot of the microinfluencers are the people who teach good fitness classes. But they’re not just representing other fitness brands, they’re representing food companies, different beverages, different wellness products, and even makeup.

Even more important than influence size, influencer marketers should think about how localized they want their approach to be to a specific program. One of the biggest pros of using micro and nanoinfluencers is when you want to take a much more localized approach to a campaign or product launch.

For example, if you’re launching a new store in Miami, and you want to drum up awareness in Miami, you’d work with local influencers for insight and reach in that market. And lastly, when managing nano and microinfluencers, most brands face the problem: how do you make that program scalable? That’s where Pixlee comes in to help you make that influencer program more scalable and measurable beyond vanity metrics.

TurnTo: You once wrote about Domino’s digital transformation from a pizza company to an eCommerce platform that happens to sell pizza. Are there any lessons eCommerce businesses can learn from Domino’s?

Wong: At its core, Domino’s didn’t start with all the flashy features—they focused on the fundamentals. Sure, the flashy things will make sure that you get to present on stage at conferences, but fundamentals build affinity.

Domino’s started with the fundamentals and executing on fundamentals well requires talent. I think they were exceptional in those two areas. I would say the foundation for any good digital experience is hiring the right talent and focusing on the fundamentals before you get to work on the shiny objects.

TurnTo: Speaking of pizza, you went to high school at the highly regarded Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, home to legendary pie purveyors like Grimaldi’s and Di Fara. So, who’s got the best slice in NYC?

Wong: Prince Street Pizza is my go-to.

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