How Metals Can Influence and Inspire | Episode 5
In Episode 5 of the Metalpress Podcast, Greg introduces Online Metals social media guru Evan VanBuhler to discuss the impact of influencers in the metal industry.
How do influencers fair in a B2B world and what is the landscape like especially in the metals arena? How do people become influencers, how are relationships started, and what is the goal behind becoming a metals influencer?
Listen in on Greg and Evan as they talk about the impact of social influencers, the collaborative nature of the maker space, and what Online Metals has done to build genuine relationships!
In This Episode:
Greg Raece | President, Online Metals
Evan VanBuhler | Social Media Manager, Online Metals
Full Episode Details
The rise of metal industry influencers and the collaborative nature of the maker community
In This Episode
- 0:30 – Introduction to Evan VanBuhler, our Social Media Guru
- 1:35 – How do influencers in the metals space compare to the entertainment space?
- 2:09 – Who are some of the influencers we work with, and what are their goals?
- 3:36 – Who is driving the space, businesses or makers?
- 5:34 – Are copycats are a large problem in a maker space? How can makers fight back?
- 7:33 – What is the sentiment in the maker community? Are they collaborative?
- 9:12 – What would makers suggest to people new to the trades or seeking a future as a maker?
- 10:56 – How do these business/influencer relationships start? Where do you look?
Quotes From This Episode
“I think the cool thing about our product is, these makers are taking our materials that is just an inanimate block of raw material, and turning it into something functional or really has endless possibilities.”
– Evan VanBuhler
“I think a good idea for them, as you mentioned to focus on their brand, because at the end of the day, you can take those assets, you can take that information, but if you’re not wrapping it around something large or your personality or your brand, it’s not really going to take off, and it’ll probably make it a lot easier for you to win those battles.”
– Greg Raece
“[The maker space] is a truly amazing place where a lot of different individuals, seemingly in smaller groups, different niches like welding, or machining, sculpture art, but these people from vastly different walks of life connect from across the world and really engage and help inspire each other to push their skillsets further.”
– Evan VanBuhler
“[We are] supporting these artists, sculptors, welders with materials, trying to really be involved in their whole process and help them create full-time. And I hope in the future, we can even continue to build this even more because metals are just metal until you actually build something with them. So, they are a huge part of our reason for existing.”
– Evan VanBuhler
“It’s relatively new for us, and it’s really starting with our business, and how we are already helping others with our fast shipping, just massive portfolio of products and that customer service that really takes it to the next level. ”
– Evan VanBuhler
Greg Raece (00:04):
Welcome to the Online Metals Metalpress Podcast. The rise of the metal industry influencers. Today, we have our very own Evan VanBuhler, who is our online direct marketing manager at Online Metals. We’re going to talk today about social influencers. Specifically, social influencers in the metal industry. We’ve heard about Kardashians and others, who are able to take social and drive retail and fashion and other trends. But does that exist within the world of metals? Evan VanBuhler, is an expert at this, and we want to ask him questions today about what is it like to work with influencers within the metal industry? So, welcome Evan to the show.
Evan VanBuhler (00:39):
Thanks Greg. Happy to be here and as always happy to talk about a lot of the people that I work on a regular basis with. The creators and influencers out there in the metal space.
Greg Raece (00:49):
So you work with them a lot. What is the influencer landscape looking like within our industry?
Evan VanBuhler (00:55):
I would say that the influencer landscape in the metal industry is not vastly different than what you would see as you mentioned, like the Kardashians or entertainment spaces. And obviously this type of marketing has been around for a while, but in the metal space, it’s a truly amazing place where a lot of different individuals, is seemingly in smaller groups, different niches like welding, or machining, sculpture art, but these people from vastly different walks of life connect from across the world and really engage and help inspire each other to push their skillsets further.
Greg Raece (01:29):
Has there been the same kind of uptake with those types of social influencers like say a Kardashian or somebody else? Is there anybody who’s really rocketing to the top of this world?
Evan VanBuhler (01:41):
I would say, I don’t know if it gets that mainstream. Just because a lot of these trades aren’t, as well-known, even though they are the backbone of what makes the world today. It’s not as in-your-face as pop culture is, like the Kardashians. But there are definitely makers that get up into a 100,000 followers or even a million views on their YouTube videos. So, there’s definitely people that get a lot of recognition. And I think it’s really opened my eyes to a lot of different things that I didn’t fully grasp until I was in this space either.
Greg Raece (02:15):
And you work with a number of social influencers as well too. Curious, who are some of the ones that you work with, and what are some of their motivations for wanting to increase their social profile?
Evan VanBuhler (02:27):
So, with Online Metals, we work with a vast different amount of people, from knife makers, to people making the little trinkets, to welding and sculpture art. One of the more prominent relationships we have is with Tyler Bell, who’s really an up and coming maker, who does everything from over-engineered bottle openers, to Home Run Machines, just really quirky crazy stuff that helps push his machining and trade skills a little bit further. One of the cool things he’s working on now is actually a blast shield with some of our acrylic.
So excited to see what that leads to in terms of engaging content. But, a lot of these makers do it because they want to make full-time. Right? So they work with a lot of these brands who help support their goals, whether that be to educate people on the different trades, whether that be to just create engaging content and continue to push themselves further, or really build a personal brand and personal business in an overwhelming massive content out there in the world. But, a lot of the people we work with are making really cool amazing stuff, that if you don’t take a second to look at in these spaces, you might overlook them.
Greg Raece (03:34):
That’s really interesting. In fact, it’s almost as if social influencers for metals, for maybe a non-larger brand. They’re almost at the beginning of what the future might look like. Really curious what you think, and what you’re seeing. Are you seeing other metal retailers, other metal producers being involved with social media as well? Or is it something that maybe the makers are doing on their own, and they’re finding that DIY audience, and they’re building up their audience, by having yet connected with some of these larger brands?
Evan VanBuhler (04:10):
Yeah. And I think as you mentioned, a lot of these larger brands are doing this. I think it’s comes in more of the form of sponsorships, including their brand and logo and a lot of stuff, supporting them with materials of their product. For us, it’s a little bit different. The metal space, I don’t think is fully grasped. I think it’s still a little behind the times. Even in terms of e-commerce, you’re noticing a lot more new companies pop up in that space, just figuring out how to utilize the internet to sell metals. But, I think the cool thing about our product is, these makers are taking our materials that is just an inanimate block of raw material, and turning it into something functional or really has endless possibilities. But yeah, I think we are actually… Wouldn’t say a pioneer because people have been doing it for a while, but we’re really taking it to the next level, in terms of not necessarily just sponsorships. Supporting these artists, sculptors, welders with materials, trying to really be involved in their whole process and help them create full-time. And I hope in the future, we can even continue to build this even more because metals are just metal until you actually build something with them. So, they are a huge part of our reason for existing.
Greg Raece (05:27):
Well, that leads to something else that you had mentioned, that’s really interesting that’s with e-commerce and the growth and a lot of these social influencers, that should be makers who put something together, right? So they actually build something. They’re not just talking about something or repping something that they don’t have a lot of familiarity with, but you had mentioned a number of them, they’ll create something they’ll create, I don’t know, maybe it’s a new bottle opener or maybe it’s a phone holder, but they’ve noticed too, that some of their designs maybe have been copied by others, and I’m curious, is that something that really is happening? And I want to get your thoughts about it?
Evan VanBuhler (06:03):
Yeah. I’ve noticed some cases recently that have actually brought this to top of mind too, but when you think about it, these makers are creating a lot of stuff that has already been made and maybe taking it to a different level. So, it’s not like these things can’t be mass-produced, either overseas or even in the States, but what these makers and personalities really do is create a brand that resonates with an audience. So, for example, even Tyler Bell has got a logo and some catchphrases. And someone we work with named Phil from House of Chop. Just a very excitable, engaging personality alongside what he does with tool reviews, and making his own products. Now that doesn’t stop people from necessarily stealing your stuff, but I think it brings more people to your content and your products. One of the other things I guess, would be recommended to at least know a few lawyers that can help you with some of that, because it’s going to happen.
Greg Raece (07:05):
Right. It’s always a good life lesson just to have some lawyers available. On a similar note too, just as things being taken on the internet, at Online Metals, we find that… I wouldn’t say frequently, but we find it periodically where another organization, they’ll ramp up their own website, borrowing our images, borrowing without our permission.
So it’s definitely, I think a good idea for them, as you mentioned to focus on their brand, because at the end of the day, you can take those assets, you can take that information, but if you’re not wrapping it around something large or your personality or your brand, it’s not really going to take off, and it’ll probably make it a lot easier for you to win those battles. And as you mentioned too, access to the attorneys can also help. Well, how about with social influencers, do you see any kind of drama going on amongst them as well? Any interesting stories or are they a very collaborative group that actually routes for one another and encourages each other to do better?
Evan VanBuhler (08:04):
Yeah, it’s very interesting because, I think as I mentioned at the beginning of this conversation, there are a bunch of smaller niches that are vastly different personalities. Like the welders for example, are very different than the Makerspace, and then the Makerspace could be very different than jewelers or knife forgers. But at the end of the day, the maker community, the one that I’m really focused on connecting with is overwhelmingly positive. And it’s amazing how these people from, like I said, very different walks of life or even across the U.S can still connect, and engage with each other due to their passion to build and make amazing products or art.
One example that I have recently, that I think is really cool is Tyler Bell, met up with a bigger personality on YouTube Alec Steele, to create a joint project, I think never having met before, maybe just communicating through social media, and made this really awesome Forged chair, and Alec Steele’s got a huge following and that really helped build up Tyler Bell’s following as well. So, these creators are really out there to help each other and push each other’s skillsets further.
Greg Raece (09:12):
Wow, that’s pretty amazing. I know even with Barbie The Welder, who also is a social influencer. She’s been doing projects with I think it’s the American Welding Society, but working together with other artists and collaborators to work on a bigger project. So, it really sounds like this is a way for folks to not only build a brand, but actually build a life where you’re doing what you really enjoy and love doing the best. How about with new influencers? And how about with people who might want to get involved with metals? What would these folks who produce videos in a seemingly very educational focus in some ways, where they’re showing you how to do something. What would they suggest for somebody who is interested in becoming like them, and learning some of their tools. Where would they tell you to go?
Evan VanBuhler (09:59):
Well, I think similarly to a lot of people, we generally search the internet for answers. And I think that’s a good place to start really developing maybe what you might be interested in, if you are just overall thinking about metalworking holistically, I would say that most makers would probably suggest that signing up for class or connecting with someone in that space, and really just observing, watching, learning is really the best way to do it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend just starting from scratch learning strictly from YouTube. Just as there’s safety with a lot of these different practices, this should be a primary focus. And if you don’t necessarily have expertise or have an expert around it could get dicey quick. But we do, at Online Metals have a YouTube playlist called, The Maker Academy, where we have beginner videos from a bunch of different makers out in the different spaces, from forging, to soldering, to welding, talking about maybe some stuff you might need to buy, that can really help guide you narrow that focus and figured out what you might want to do. So I would recommend that, but definitely classes or reaching out to some of these makers and seeing if you can connect with them and spend some time observing them.
Greg Raece (11:11):
I would agree with that too. So don’t just go out and buy welding equipment and, “Hey, let’s get working.” Take the time, go to a class, learn about safety, learn about how the material and the machines work, and you should be golden. Well, I have a question for you Evan, how do you learn about these social influencers? And specifically from an Online Metals’ point of view, what do you do to maybe understand the landscape and see, “Hey, this influencer might be worth talking to for Online Metals and some kind of partnership?” Really curious how you see that.
Evan VanBuhler (11:45):
Yeah. In the influencer space for Online Metals, Greg, as you’re familiar is relatively new. Although it’s been around for ages, in entertainment and other spaces, fashion. It’s relatively new for us, and it’s really starting with our business, and how we are already helping others with our fast shipping, just massive portfolio of products and that customer service that really takes it to the next level. So, I’ve really taken that approach to how I approach social media as well, in terms of working with a lot of customers that are building really cool stuff and creating that personal touch, and genuine connections in that social space, and really eventually getting to a point where we’re like, “Hey, you know, I think there might be something where we can help teach the greater community about, what you’re doing or how to do what you’re doing, or certain metalworking practices or what to do with brass or aluminum,” and really create this mutually beneficial relationship that isn’t necessarily a sales pitch or a marketing pitch, but it helps people as a whole learn more about our products and how to work with our products.
Greg Raece (12:50):
That’s very cool. And would you say folks know about us in the social spaces, especially with metal influencers?
Evan VanBuhler (12:58):
I would say it’s definitely getting to the point where most of the makers and influencers are familiar with Online Metals, and especially right now, since a lot of people can’t go to their local shops. Our fast shipping times and just like I said, large portfolio. Competitive pricing, is hard to really pass up these days. So, for them, just to get these materials right at their door or their home workshop, and just to be able to continue with their normal days, and get what they need to keep going, is invaluable. So, I think. Even a lot of relationships have started with me helping them solve a problem. Maybe a packaging didn’t arrive when they wanted to, or it might’ve been slightly damaged, but working through that issue with them and getting them what they need was really what helped build that relationship into what it is today.
Greg Raece (13:44):
That’s great. Well, Evan, it’s been a pleasure to talk today. I’ve learned a lot about social influencers and hope that everyone listening has also gotten an insight into this growing area of the metal business. So, I want to thank you very much for your time, and we’ll be back with our next episode, which will be featuring materials as a service. And we’ll be talking with Ilsa Henna, who is the chief transformation officer of thyssenkrupp So, look forward to talking again. Thank you very much.