Listen to the conversation with Natasha Koifman
At a time when social media seems to have hit peak saturation, Natasha Koifman argues for pursuing a smarter path. The Toronto-based president of NKPR definitely believes in the sway of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, though sees little gain in the current practice of cultivating ‘influencers’ with as many followers as possible.
“They have zero loyalty,” says Koifman of the Instagram glitterati who post about any product providing the pay is right, but will just as readily post about a competitor tomorrow. “I’d rather partner with someone that has 300 followers but their followers actually care about what they’re doing.”
Koifman has made a career of making unconventional choices. At 18, when her friends were embracing university and the perks of the party scene, Koifman became a mother. In the mid-1990s, when media industry in Manhattan was booming, the last hurrah before the deluge few saw coming, she packed up and returned to Toronto with no job in hand. And then, after pivoting to PR, working for an entertainment company, she felt she saw a better option… going it alone in her basement apartment.
“I was never driven by money. Whether I had it or didn’t have it I just never thought of that being the bottom line,” Koifman says. “When I started the agency, I thought I want to pick and choose the products, the brands, the people that we work with. That was what was driving me… I didn’t think, oh I want to make sure I have a minimum retainer of ten thousand dollars a month.”
Koifman insists that refusal to think about the money, even with a business to build and a child to support, freed her from chasing work that depressed or dismayed her. There are no accounting software or cigarette companies in her roster of early clients. That said, she’s quick to acknowledge that the early days were not all charmed. Having a child so young meant there would be no Plan B, says Koifman. Switching cities, industries and jobs was fine, though success was non-negotiable. “I couldn’t afford to make bad decisions. That’s not to say I didn’t make mistakes, or that I didn’t have plenty of ‘key learnings’… but I did feel I had to show good judgment all of the time. I needed to lead by example.”
Now with a staff of 30, and offices in Toronto and New York, Koifman devotes an increasing amount of time to the issue of leadership, particularly as it pertains to her younger employees, all of whom are digital natives, fully immersed in social media, with all of the missteps that await and the insecurities which abound.
While she acknowledges that her social media footprint could elicit no end of envy – the parties, the Porsche, the impeccable style – she ties it back to a larger theme: the importance of being yourself. “Will I take 30 photos and choose the best one? Absolutely yeah. But I’m also pretty honest about that… [My posts] are authentic of who we are as a company and who I am as a person.”