Kayte Hamilton is a millennial entrepreneur seeking to leverage the power of influencers for the marketing research industry. She loves to untangle complex problems and despises early morning meetings.
When she’s not inventing creative research methodologies she’s probably doing some home DIY or snuggling her 13-year-old puppy.
As an active volunteer with QRCA, Kayte loves giving back to her research community and being a disability advocate for inclusion and accessibility.
After more than a decade in the consumer marketing research space as a hybrid researcher (qual+quant), Kayte credits Idea Fairy for introducing her to this research concept back in 2018.
Ever the millennial, Kayte has grown up with the internet and social media and has been inspired by the pandemic’s #greatresignation to merge her two passions of research and social media in an impactful way.
The Social Question’s services successfully bridge the gap between ‘offline’ traditional qualitative methodologies, passive social intelligence analytics, and a content creator’s desire to communicate with their followers.
For more details, visit their website here.
Here we sit down with Kayte to learn a bit more about her journey as an entrepreneur.
Q. Tell us a little more about your journey as an entrepreneur – how did you get started? What inspired you?
Kayte: It might sound a bit cliche, though I don’t know that I’ve ever not been an entrepreneur. I’ve always been interested in side gigs, generating extra income, and just having more control over my career. I’ve been involved in many MLM businesses and, since college, I’ve been interested in having my own company.
I had no idea what resources I needed, what I would bring to the table, or how I would approach business. I can’t say I’m driven nor interested in making traditional products although I have a list of great product ideas I keep in my Notes app. Navigating the need for a factory and molds and things seemed too far out of my element versus leveraging a service or specific skill set I could offer that’s unique and different. What am I good at?
The last few years I’ve really leaned into being a millennial and somebody obsessed with social media. And I say obsessed in the most positive way. It’s just a part of my life. If I’m not answering emails and doing client work, then I’m on social media. I was probably the only person silently geeking out when Instagram launched new engagement features for influencers with 10k followers back in 2018. I think a lot of people didn’t know what to do with the idea of polls and Q&A stickers. I got excited about it because I had been working in marketing research for more than 10 years and immediately saw the potential in these tools.
All the new features were essentially meant to collect feedback and create new types of engagement. However, these features have not been taken to the next level. Two years ago, when I realized that Instagram wasn’t going to do anything with the information, I started looking into how information is transcribed and how data gets analyzed. From a marketing research perspective, we are using the same data collection methods we’ve been using for decades (if not longer) by hosting focus groups, interviews, and online surveys. However, I’ve witnessed Creators are essentially doing the same thing yet more engaging and descriptive…and with a poor toolkit. These features don’t train or educate an influencer on how to analyze, nor does Instagram offer a download option. There have been millions of missed opportunities because of this lack of access.
Part of my drive to create The Social Question was to help creators understand their data and their audience better by doing something with the feedback they’re collecting. As a social media consumer, I want my voice to be heard. People who engage with Q&As and other forms of feedback provide a ton of information, sometimes sensitive or private, that just goes into a black hole. I’d think it be nice to know that what you shared, mattered.
So I created a platform and actual technology that allows Creators to transcribe that information to make people’s voices heard. The technology is very simple, yet it makes it easier for Creators to organize the responses before they vanish. This opens the door for Creators to learn more about their followers, and paves the way for new monetization opportunities for creators outside traditional marketing departments and instead with their insights counterparts.
Q. What are your long-term goals in business? Paint a vision for the future
Kayte: I have a lot of post-its on my vision board for what the future of The Social Question could look like. Influencer marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry and the entire marketing research ecosystem has virtually no share of that growth. A lot of people don’t realize that marketing research is the driving factor for a lot of innovation, new product development, startup companies, and more. Marketing is sexy, and marketing research is all the behind-the-scenes work that makes it possible. And we haven’t yet been able to tap into social media data as authentically as we could. My main vision for the future is to scale those conversations and use the information in a meaningful way to impact customers and come full circle.
Q. What motivates you?
Kayte: I think success is what motivates most people to start something new. I am very passionate about fighting for the marketing research industry and helping it grow. You can’t find a single future CEO that will be able to head up a company without the support of marketing research. Yet, there’s a huge knowledge and skills gap and I want to help fill that.
Transparently, I’ve had very limited career growth opportunities in the past decade in marketing research. It’s not an industry like others with a corporate ladder to climb or rigid hierarchies. Also, in my marketing research career I’ve exclusively worked for male-led companies so I wanted to regain some control and make my own path. I didn’t feel like I was in the driver seat. And I’d be remiss not to mention my motivation due to my hearing loss and disability, which has helped me find a way to capitalize on conversations differently.
Q. What business-related book has inspired you the most, or, what is your favourite book?
Kayte: Honestly, I don’t read a lot of business books. When I do read, I read a lot of fiction and I love the fantasy and chick lit genres. I seem to gravitate towards powerful female characters who forge their own paths and make their own name in male-dominated worlds. That’s what I’m doing in real life, so even though they’re not business books, they provide a lot of motivation and encouragement to keep me going. I see the parallels in their stories and how they can manifest into my own reality.
Q. What strategies do you use to optimize your performance or mindset?
Kayte: One of the ways that allows me to optimize my performance and mindset is time management. I’m actively working as a freelance marketing researcher to fund my technology build, so I’m always working on multiple projects. I’ve always utilized time-blocking strategies and that seems to work for me.
I log all my tasks in my written and digital calendar to time block my day. That helps me focus because I know I have 30 minutes or whatever amount of time to finish a task. I can also move time blocks to other days if I have to attend meetings, so it allows me to be flexible and keep myself on track and be more efficient.
Q. If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
Kayte: She Thinks She Can. I think creating your own business and running a startup and going after things takes some manifestation. I sat on this business idea for two and a half years thinking that somebody else was going to do it. When I finally realized that nobody else was going to, I had to validate myself and remind myself I have the experience, background, and passion I needed to make this a reality. So, I would share my journey and provide some perspective to others.
Q. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Kayte: So, I come from a fairly small town in southeast Virginia where there’s not a lot of international or even national travel. I didn’t move away for college and the first time I ventured out on my own was when I went to grad school two hours away in a different city and it helped me expand.
From there, I took my first job in St. Louis where I knew virtually no one. I signed for an apartment site unseen and lived there for three years before moving back to Virginia. Now, I’m in Chicago. So I think that one of the best investments you can make is to get out of your comfort zone and change your environment. Moving doesn’t have to be permanent, and it’s the type of experiences and exposure I think I needed to take the business risks I have.
Q. Where do you see the future in your niche/industry 3-5 years from now?
Kayte: I hope that I’m not the only influencer marketing research company in three to five years. I think one of the most sincere forms of flattery is imitation, right? I think people are going to see the beauty in the conversational engagements that can come through the combination of social media and marketing research. It has been untapped for so long and I hope a lot of people are motivated to get into it; I welcome that. I think I need competition to make sure we’re providing the best possible service.
On the flip side, I worry about authenticity. I’m building my technology with privacy and transparency in mind, so I think we need to make sure we’re still protecting the relationship between creators and followers. Without that relationship, there is no influencer marketing, and without influencer marketing, there is no influencer marketing research.
Q. What is your ‘one-sentence’ piece of advice you’d like to give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur, coach, or business owner?
Kayte: You have to have a plan in place. You need a business outline that establishes the parameters of what you want to do. Otherwise, you will be going on tangents the entire time and not actually accumulating any meaningful experiences or knowledge. I’m not talking about a polished, formal business proposal and all that – just that you need to write it down!
My company is less than a year old, and I knew what I wanted to accomplish right from the start and I’m on track to reach most of those milestones as scheduled. If you don’t have an articulated vision, you’re not going to be focused. That’s not to say that your vision can’t change, it should! It should be flexible and fluid as you cross barriers and obstacles. Knowing what you’re working toward and how you’re going to chip away at that progress though is crucial.