Moti "The Metro Man" Ankari Talks Personal Branding
Influencers - Love them or hate them, one cannot ignore the impact that they maintain within the fashion industry. It is without question that influencers have - for better or for worse - left their digital footprint in advertising, media, and design - in all realms of consumer goods. If we forget moda for a moment, one will notice that several company have recognized the fact that they must utilize those who have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on their various social-media platforms. Just take a look at Adam Gallagher's Instagram, and you will find that outside of the fashion industry, he also takes special care to mention Schwarzkopf International, a hair and beauty outfit. Even Electronic Arts, commonly known for their video-game development and publishing, had recruited Jesse Wellens (2.3 million followers on Instagram, and 10.4 million subscribers on YouTube) to promote their Need For Speed franchise, to much disarray.
Despite the fact that the above mentioned individuals have essentially made a career off of having their personal lives constantly broadcasted on the internet, very few are aware of the efforts behind the camera: How do they always look incredible? How do they make sure they are always well dressed? How do they launch? Do they fear being replaced?
For answers to these questions, we turned to MOTI "The Metro Man" ANKARI. Moti, toting his near two-hundred thousand followers, sat down with us to reflect on these posed questions.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to us about the development of Metroman. Where did you get the idea? When did it hit you that this was something that you wanted to start?
Moti Ankari: I started my blog over seven years ago when I was a freshman in college at Baruch College (I eventually transferred to F.I.T. where I graduated in 2014). At the time, I was an accounting major but felt a little bored and I knew wanted to be in fashion so my sister, Leah, pushed me to start a fashion blog as a hobby. Blogs were much less common then, so it was genuinely just a passion project and it kept me busy. I had zero intention of doing it as a career and didn't even think it was possible to receive monetary compensation until a year or so later when I got my first “sponsored” content job.
JD: What defines the Metroman?
MA: The Metro Man (short for The Metropolitan Man) is a city guy who takes inspiration from everything and anything that surrounds him. Sharing his sense of style and his lifestyle: where he vacations, what he eats and drink, his workout regimen... And, ultimately to inspire others to do what they love. It closely follows my own journey so I share a lot of my life with my readers.
JD: Some people have theorized that there is an “influencer bubble”, are you worried about this? To elaborate, there are a lot of influencers with astounding numbers on social media, are you concerned that there are too many?
MA: I’ve been doing this for close to eight years and have seen the landscape change a lot with the addition of more and more bloggers and influencers. Since I was ahead of the curve, I had already built solid relationships with brands and companies before it got so saturated so it hasn't affected me as much. I also am lucky to have super supportive followers. There are plenty of better looking people to follow, but I like to think that they really enjoy seeing my style and my lifestyle. I think only more and more brands and companies will be working with bloggers and there will be plenty of jobs for everyone to work. But as the market gets more and more saturated I think the top men and women will continue to to work, while the others phase out.
Moti Ankari preparing to board on one of his various trips; this time to Miami for Art Basel in association with Hublot watches.
JD: What differentiates you from other bloggers?
MA: I have met so many great people through this business and some of my best friends are fellow bloggers, but we all have really unique backgrounds that shine through. I have a strong fashion background; I was an editor for GQ and Bloomberg Pursuits. I worked alongside some of the most talented people in fashion so I think I bring a really high level of taste and style and knowledge of the industry. Social media gave me street cred, but GQ & Bloomberg really gave me industry cred.
JD: How do you keep track of your demographics?
MA: Instagram’s insights are really great and are just getting better! I look mostly at location, age and sex.
JD: What convinced you that being an influencer was the route to pursue? What was evidence enough to make you leave GQ and Bloomberg?
MA: Seven years ago I would have to pull teeth for even the smallest fees to demonstrate the value I could add. I was always confident that brands would find a way to include influencers and bloggers into their strategies so I hustled. Once it picked up, I had consistent work and each month seemed to be busier than the last. And when I thought it couldn't get any better, Forbes called and said that they wanted to do a feature on me! (haha).
At GQ, I was working long days and weekends so I had to turn down a lot of trips and sponsored content deals. I realized if I wanted to take my blog seriously and really make the absolute most of all these opportunities coming my way, I needed to devote more time. I was too nervous to go full-time since this industry was unchartered (and the future is still uncertain!) so I accepted part-time fashion editor position at Bloomberg Pursuits. It was the perfect transition from full-time to part-time, and gave me the push I needed to venture out as a a full-time blogger.
JD: How has blogging changed from when you started until now?
MA: Well, now with social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter everyone is a micro-blogger right? The craziest thing to see is how brands have changed their perspective on bloggers and dedicate budget and ad dollars specifically to bloggers to promote a campaign or a product.
JD: Anyone who sees your Instagram will immediately notice how you wear something different in almost every post. How do you manage this?
MA: Consistency might be the most difficult obstacle of blogging. I’m constantly getting new pieces to wear to shoot, and trying to select the right settings to keep it interesting and different. I know that my followers like to see what I'm wearing and how I put a look together for inspiration. I work really hard to keep an open dialogue with my followers (and try to respond to every message) so I can make sure I'm delivering what they want but at the same time I'm not sacrificing my personal aesthetic.
JD: Forbes recently cut down it's distribution to 10 issues a year. Other publications are going entirely online. Rolling Stone is essentially a pamphlet now; are bloggers the new publications?
MA: In a way: yes. The internet has changed how we receive information, especially fashion. Many readers and followers go to bloggers to draw inspiration or to “shop their looks” so I think it’s way more effective for a brand to have a blogger wear a piece of clothing than a model in a magazine. If you’re following a blogger, even though you guys aren’t friends in real life, per se, you already know everything about them. You see their homes, their closets, their pets. You essentially build this relationship and connection to the blogger where you trust and rely on their advice. In contrast, not many magazine subscribers have that connection to the Editor-in-Chief or a member of the fashion team (mainly because they don't know who or what they look like).