Darrell Stern: I’m Darrell Stern. I’m the CEO of Stern Inbound Marketing, and the creator of Sternstorming, which is a very unique way to market your business through the benefits of what you do, and not the features. I’m here with one of the top Snapchat gurus — artist— on earth. Why don’t you introduce yourself to everybody?
Cyrene: Hey, my name is Cyrene. That’s CyreneQ on Snapchat. I’m an interactive Snapchat creator. I do games and all sorts of fun stuff, like drawing, the tutorials, the mini-scripted shows on Snapchat, and I just have fun with it. I’ve turned that into my career.
I used to be a graphic designer and a Web designer, and now I’m a full-time Snapchatter. I’ve got and converted my artistic skills, and found a new audience to watch it on Snapchat.
Darrell: So, as this started to happen, and all of a sudden — boom — it started to explode, and famous people and big brands and all this were starting to come to you and ask you about — what that a little scary? Kind of like, “Oh, what do I do? Are they going to tell me how much they’re paying me?” How did you handle that? Did you have a support system — your parents, or other businesspeople, or anybody helping you with that?
You know what I’m getting at, right? How did you handle that experience of all of a sudden, people are asking you to help them with things?
Cyrene: It just kind of grew. Snapchat was originally just my hobby. I would just draw on it, and then agency contact me and said, “Hey, we love your drawings. We’ve been following you for awhile.” The brands usually give me a budget, and then I let them know what type of I can do based on the budget.
My first gig wasn’t that much, but then I was one of the first people — I mean, there weren’t very many of us in the beginning — who was doing Snapchat branded work, and so once I put in my first branded Snapchat work, other brands caught on.
They saw my work, they loved it. They contacted me and say, “Hey, we want to do something like this also on Snapchat, which is a booming platform.”
Then it kind of went from there. I’ve been paid, you know, up to $30,000 for a Snapchat campaign, and it’s been amazing.
Darrell: Wow. As you’re doing this, though — when you get either these little opportunities or these big opportunities, because you’re just you, on your own — what I love about you is, you have stayed faithful to your fun and your talent, and the way that you are, which I think is very important for people to know. You don’t, you know, change with what these other people are asking you to do. They are buying the way you do it.
In other words, you have to stay — you know what I’m saying — true to what you do. Have you ever said “no” to someone? Has someone ever come to you and said, “We want you to do this,” and you’re like, “That’s totally not — my audience won’t understand that. It’s not what I do?”
Cyrene: Yes. There’s been a lot of brands that just don’t fit with my personality, or brands that I don’t believe in, and I don’t support their cause, and/or it just doesn’t align with what I’m doing. Some of them are really high dollars.
I think saying “no” to those brands actually strengthens your relationship with your Snapchat viewers. You’re not just shilling to them. You want them to trust you. Its supposed to be… I’m not doing that, because saying “no” to one brand is a lot…what do you say…if you say “no” to a brand, I think…
Darrell: You’re establishing your own.
Darrell: You’re establishing your own brand.
Darrell: You know I mean…you are, now, an enterprise.
Darrell: Right. Mm-hmm.
Cyrene: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and it’s just more true, and I think there’s more benefit to it in the later run, because you’re going to lose audience. They’re not going to trust you, and you’re not going to be motivated to put your all in it, because you don’t believe in it, and people are going to see that, and it’s just not going to make good content.
Darrell: Now I’m going to go to a deeper level. Now, people — your audience — they are expecting this new content. They are going to — I mean, if you don’t show up…let’s say you disappeared from Snapchat for a week or two. I’m sure alarms will go off. “Are you alright?”
So, how does that do it? Is there ever a day when you’re just like, “You know what? I’m sick. I’m tired today. Maybe I want to do something else, like spend time with my family,” — I don’t know. You know what I’m saying — like, go out and do something else.
How does that feel? Are there some times when you say, “You know what? I’m going to take time for me, and this can wait?”
Cyrene: My audience knows that Snapchat is just integrated into my life. Snapchat doesn’t seem like a job. That’s why I left my corporate, normal job, so I could do Snapchat full-time, so it doesn’t feel like a job. I don’t feel obligated to produce content of that.
The content that I produce is something that I would be doing anyway. I’m something I’m doing in my daily life. It’s my art. It’s something, like…you know, it’s a hobby, but it’s also a career. You know, I don’t see me saying, “Oh, I don’t want to do Snapchat content,” because if it ever goes back to that, then it will start to feel like a real job.
Cyrene: It feels like an obligation. Snapchat — I haven’t felt obligated to give to an audience. If I don’t want to deal with Snapchat, then…I don’t know. I haven’t felt that way yet, and I just do fun stuff in daily life, and I just happen to have a camera, and I Snapchat on there. It’s not at obligation at all to create content. It’s something I would be doing anyway, even though I’m … an audience might be doing it.
Darrell: That’s amazing. Is there a project that you want to do? Is there a company or a brand or somebody out there that you say, “You know what? I really wish that they would talk to me more.” Is there something you’ve wanted to do, or an idea that you’ve had…have you gone out — here’s another question. Have you ever gone out and pitched an idea, and approached a brand yourself, and said, “I know you don’t know me. I’m big on this Snapchat thing. I want to show you guys something”?
Cyrene: Yeah. I’ve done that before. I’m created a relationship with brands, and some of the social media marketing managers, we text back and forth with ideas. It’s just something casual that I do, and then if I hear from some, I say, “I have this cool Snapchat idea that would be great for your brand, and it’s like … align this with your campaign. Then I just kind of organically fit in with that campaign.
Cyrene: We just go with it. The way that I pitch is not that, you know, I just go out and, “Hey, I’m just going to email a random person and see how it goes,” but I try to be friends with them first, create that relationship, and then have a conversation. I think it’s more organic that way. They trust you more once you’ve created that relationship, rather than, “Hey, who is this?” It’s worked for me that way.
Darrell: Wow. When I look at that — I look at the little tool on there, and the little paintbrush, and I have big fat old fingers — you know, I’m old-school. I have a big ergonomic Microsoft 4000 keyboard, and a big giant trackball.
Just give us a hint. Do you zoom in on it? Do you use an iPad? How do you paint in such detail on this tiny screen? You know what I’m saying? How did you discover both how to do that, and that that could be done? Just a little hint. How do you have the patience to do that on your phone like that?
Cyrene: I’m an artist, and Snapchat is just another medium. I do use a stylus now. I used to use my fingers, but then after doing tons of artwork, tons of Snapchat art, your fingers kind of get worn out. I used a stylus, and I figured out that was the easy way, and if you can find a way to still tell your story, tell your art, and make it easier on yourself, that’s what the stylus does, and that’s what I’m going with now.
Darrell: Wow. So, there’s been a lot of talk about how Snap, Inc. doesn’t really support your guys. As you might have noticed, they have ads running. You’ll be doing all this work, and then all of a sudden there’ll be an ad, Obviously, companies are paying Snapchat.
In my mind, I mean, I kind of don’t care. We’re all advertising on Facebook, and Facebook doesn’t ask us — you know, contact me and say anything. You know what I’m saying. Don’t you feel that, if anything, these people that brought us this app gave us a gift for us to communicate, and no, they’re not obligated to support us, or call us, or play favorites like that.
How do you feel about that? There’s been a lot of chatter about this, and some people are leaving Snapchat because — you know what I’m saying — they haven’t gotten a call from the president of Snapchat or something.
Cyrene: It’s different, though. I mean, Facebook is more a service for social media, and there’s apps like, Vine and Snapchat, where it’s creation-driven. It’s not. When you open up Snapchat, you’re encouraged to create right away, because it’s a camera right away. Same thing with Vine. I mean, YouTube is also for creatives.
Cyrene: That’s the mindset around Snapchat. Being around creatives, there’s an expectation that they do need to support it, because we are…I’m not saying, “Hey, I want to the CEO to call me,” or anything. It’s just that we need tools to make it easier to make the app more accessible to create these things.
It’s difficult. I’m like, I can keep going what I’m doing right now on Snapchat, but it would be nice if they would offer analytics. They don’t block third-party analytics to give us support — this makes it easier for me, and I’ve got to that roadblock for creatives.
Darrell: Right. I don’t think that they even understood, or anybody even understood, what this would do.
Darrell: I mean, Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook — two genius things that happened were, he created “relationship status,” so you could see if someone’s datable or not, and then the next thing he did was the “wall.” It was those two things, so I think when Snapchat created stories, they didn’t really even know that you guys were going to take off like this with this stuff.
They just thought, “Well, it’ll be kind of like a little strung-together movie, and maybe you could share it with a few of your friends.” I don’t think that anybody realized what was going to happen.
Cyrene: Yeah. I agree. I think in the hands of a creator, it drives Snapchat to create these creators who are getting brand assistance through the app, and telling brands, “Hey, look at all the cool things you can do with the app,” and also not taking away from the Snapchat revenue, because we’re creating content, and people are staying longer, seeing the ads, being all these, and brands are spending money on Snapchat which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and for them to not make it easier on us, banning us if we’re using, you know, third-party apps, and making it so difficult.
Cyrene: You know, I think there should be a little bit of support there, and a little bit of help from Snapchat there. I’m not saying big help, but just a little bit.
Darrell: Yeah. A little bit of help would be good. So, what’s next for you? I hear you’re speaking at events now all over the world. What’s coming up for you in the next couple of months?
Cyrene: What’s coming up for me Well, I have a book coming out in the next couple of months, and [crosstalk][14:04] that’s really fairly big.
Cyrene: The book is called 11 Seconds to Success. A lot of people have been asking me about what my journey was like on Snapchat, and how did I do it. The book is almost like a how-to book, and it’s also an autobiography, taking my life experiences, and how they can relate to it, and create a career out of their own experiences. That’s what my book is going to be about that.
I have a lot of … I’m going to be speaking at South by Southwest in an official panel. I also have some other conventions I’m going to be in in the next few months. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Also, brand new work and more Snapchat stories.
Cyrene: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Darrell: That’s great. Sounds like it’s going to be a really exciting year for you. Well, thank you so much. I’m an old-school SEO Web designer kind of guy, but I really wanted to connect with you. Like I said, I believe that marketing is theater, and when you’re talented, when you can entertain people, that is a gift to the world, and you guys have found, in this platform, a way to use your gift to bring happiness.
I think, too, that the platform — the people on it — seem to be positive people. I mean, wouldn’t you say that? The response that you’ve received has been very supportive, and you’ve helped millions, I’m sure, of people have a better day — just smile. Put a smile on your face. Isn’t that just something that’s your gift to the world?
Cyrene: That’s my goal. That’s my goal. I’m glad to just make people smile, and they make me smile, too, and so it works both ways. I also forgot to mention that I am a Snapchatter, but I’m also the founder of The 11 Seconds. I think since Snapchat hasn’t had a discovery, yet for users, so I’m using that. 11Seconds.com has something — a website to show off what the community does. If you can give a shout out to my website, it would really help us get known. It also might serve as an inspiration for you.
Darrell: Thank you so much for joining us. We can’t to read your book. We can’t wait to see what’s coming up next for you. You’re going to be all over the world. Thank you so much for bringing joy and happiness to people, especially young people, giving them hope, showing them how a talented person can use their talents in a positive way, and have fun and make a living at the same time. Thank you so much.
Cyrene: Thank you so much for having me. I hope that you enjoy my Snapchat. I hope to inspire people, and just have fun every single day, and make your dreams come true. It’s possible now with social media — everything that’s going on. Again, thank you having me.