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Will social media influencers completely replace ad agencies?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) With the increase of social media influencers in the digital world, ad agencies have the potential to become obsolete.

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Influencers are the new ad agencies

When it comes to advertising, creativity is important, but relevance is everything. While traditional ad agencies are great at concocting engaging messages to grab an audience’s attention, social media influencers don’t have to grab — they already have a loyal audience waiting eagerly for their next post.

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This is why brands have been increasingly turning to influencers over ad agencies to handle their creative marketing campaigns.

The old process and the power shift

Agencies would create detailed storyboards for specific photo or video campaigns, and approach influencers to simply post that content on their channels. The influencer was essentially a secondary medium for the content rather than a contributor.

Influencers are now being given creative license and taking the reigns on brands’ social media initiatives.

Brands come directly to them with briefs and RFPs, then the influencer prepares and executes the whole campaign. This is more powerful since the content will be entirely in the influencer’s style, resonating deeply with their followers and seeming more legit, less advertisey. At the same time, it’s much more cost effective than hiring an ad agency, which, with all its fees, essentially serves as a middle man.

So is this a wise move for brands?

Absolutely. First, working directly with influencers gives a brand far more control over brand experience. It’s easy to lose control of communication when too many people are involved, such as an agent and their agency. Working closely with them makes the process less commercial and more collaborative and personal.

Second, the audience reach is far greater with social media influencers. Content created by social stars lives not only on the company site, but also on social channels and other retail channels, like Amazon, for example.

Fans love to like, comment on and share posts from their favorite stars, so influencer-created advertisements have a virtually limitless reach.

When they’re created by the influencer themselves, they fit seamlessly into the rest of the influencer’s posts, so to a follower it doesn’t feel like advertising at all — and that’s the genius of it.

Campaigns with credibility

Influencers are social proof that a brand is legit. There’s no need for catchy taglines or provocative themes when the information source is beloved by millions. Their word is law, and their opinions set trends. Recognizing the unique value influencers possess, brands aim to develop ongoing relationships with influencers rather than a just one-and-done campaign.

This way, they can become mutually associated with popular social icons and expand brand presence exponentially.

There are already companies out there that help brands find influencers to serve as their creative ad agency. One of these is Delmondo. Most influencers working through Delmondo create storyboards to present to brands rather than the other way around, then produce content for paid posts on Instagram and Snapchat.

Several corporations are already on board with this movement. L’Oreal Paris has numerous contracts with social media influencers, and Viacom has even hired Snapchat creator Shaun McBride as a creative strategy consultant for all its social media advertising initiatives.

Where we’re at

It comes down to this:

traditional advertising is fading into obscurity as online review sites and social media take over and word-of-mouth prevails.

Influencer-driven advertising is a smart way to capitalize on this trend. Rather than scrambling to master social media marketing best practices yourself, let someone who’s done it already take the wheel. The right influencers know your target audience maybe even better than you do, and face it: they’re just way cooler than you.

#influencers

Helen Irias is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a degree in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara. She works in marketing in Silicon Valley and hopes to one day publish a comically self-deprecating memoir that people bring up at dinner parties to make themselves sound interesting.

Social Media

Twitter to start charging users? Here’s what you need to know

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media is trending toward the subscription based model, especially as the pandemic pushes ad revenue down. What does this mean for Twitter users?

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Twitter and other social media apps open on a phone being held in a hand. Will they go to a paid option subscription model?

In an attempt to become less dependent on advertising, Twitter Inc. announced that it will be considering developing a subscription product, as well as other paid options. Here’s the scoop:

  • The ideas for paid Twitter that are being tossed around include tipping creators, the ability to pay users you follow for exclusive content, charging for use of the TweetDeck, features like “undo send”, and profile customization options and more.
  • While Twitter has thought about moving towards paid for years, the pandemic has pushed them to do it – plus activist investors want to see accelerated growth.
  • The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from targeted ads, though Twitter’s ad market is significantly smaller than Facebook and other competitors.
  • The platform’s user base in the U.S. is its most valuable market, and that market is plateauing – essentially, Twitter can’t depend on new American users joining to make money anymore.
  • The company tried user “tips” in the past with its live video service Periscope (RIP), which has now become a popular business model for other companies – and which we will most likely see again with paid Twitter.
  • And yes, they will ALWAYS take a cut of any money being poured into the app, no matter who it’s intended for.

This announcement comes at a time where other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Clubhouse, are also moving towards paid options.

My hot take: Is it important – especially during a pandemic – to make sure that creators are receiving fair compensation for the content that we as users consume? Yes, 100%. Pay people for their work. And in the realm of social media, pictures, memes, and opinions are in fact work. Don’t get it twisted.

Does this shift also symbolize a deviation from the unpaid, egalitarian social media that we’ve all learned to use, consume, and love over the last decade? It sure does.

My irritation stems not from the fact that creators will probably see more return on their work in the future. Or on the principal of free social media for all. It stems from sheer greediness of the social media giants. Facebook, Twitter, and their counterparts are already filthy rich. Like, dumb rich. And guess what: Even though Twitter has been free so far, it’s creators and users alike that have been generating wealth for the company.

So why do they want even more now?

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Social Media

TikTok enters the e-commerce space, ready to compete with Zuckerberg?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Setting up social media for e-commerce isn’t an uncommon practice, but for TikTok this means the next step competing with Facebook and Instagram.

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Couple taking video with mobile phone, prepared for e-commerce.

Adding e-commerce offerings to social media platforms isn’t anything new. However, TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, is rolling out some new e-commerce features that will place the social video app in direct competition with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Instagram.

According to a Financial Times report, TikTok’s new features will allow the platform to create and expand its e-commerce service in the U.S. The new features will allow TikTok’s popular users to monetize their content. These users will be able to promote and sell products by sharing product links in their content. In return, TikTok will profit from the sales by earning a commission.

Among the features included is “live-streamed” shopping. In this mobile phone shopping channel, users can purchase products by tapping on products during a user’s live demo. Also, TikTok plans on releasing a feature that will allow brands to display their product catalogs.

Currently, Facebook has expanded into the e-commerce space through its Facebook Marketplace. In May 2020, it launched Facebook Shops that allows businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram stories into online stores.

But, Facebook hasn’t had too much luck in keeping up with the video platform in other areas. In 2018, the social media giant launched Lasso, its short-form video app. But the company’s TikTok clone didn’t last too long. Last year, Facebook said bye-bye to Lasso and shut it down.

Instagram is trying to compete with TikTok by launching Instagram Reels. This feature allows users to share short videos just like TikTok, but the future of Reels isn’t set in stone yet. By the looks of it, videos on Reels are mainly reposts of video content posted on TikTok.

There is no word on when the features will roll out to influencers on TikTok, but according to the Financial Times report, the social media app’s new features have already been viewed by some people.

TikTok has a large audience that continues to grow. By providing monetization tools in its platform, TikTok believes its new tools will put it ahead of Facebook in the e-commerce game, and help maintain that audience.

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Social Media

Your favorite Clubhouse creators can now ask for your financial support

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Clubhouse just secured new funding – what it means for creators and users of the latest quarantine-based social media darling.

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Woman talking on Clubhouse on her iPhone with a big smile.

Clubhouse – the live-voice chat app that has been taking the quarantined world by storm – has recently announced that it has raised new funding in a Series B round, led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

The app confirms that new funding means compensation for creators; much like the influencers on TikTok and YouTube, now Clubhouse creators will be able to utilize features such as subscriptions, tipping, and ticket sales to monetize their content.

To encourage emerging Clubhouse creators and invite new voices, funding round will also support a promising “Creator Grant Program”.

On the surface, Clubhouse is undoubtedly cool. The invite-only, celebrity-filled niche chatrooms feel utopic for any opinionated individual – or anyone that just likes to listen. At its best, Clubhouse brings to mind collaborative campfire chats, heated lecture-hall debates or informative PD sessions. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m actually obsessed.

And now with its new round, the video chatroom app will not only appear cool but also act as a helpful steppingstone to popular and emerging creators alike. “Creators are the lifeblood of Clubhouse,” said Paul & Rohan, the app’s creators, “and we want to make sure that all of the amazing people who host conversations for others are getting recognized for their contributions.”

Helping creators get paid for their labor in 2021 is a cause that we should 100% get behind, especially if we’re consuming their content.

Over the next few months, Clubhouse will be prototyping their tipping, tickets and subscriptions – think a system akin to Patreon, but built directly into the app.

A feature unique to the app – tickets – will offer individuals and organizations the chance to hold formal discussions and events while charging an admission. Elite Clubhouse rooms? I wonder if I can get a Clubhouse press pass.

Additionally, Clubhouse has announced plans for Android development (the app has only been available to Apple users so far). They are also working on moderation policies after a recent controversial chat sparked uproar. To date, the app has been relying heavily on community moderation, the power of which I’ve witnessed countless times whilst in rooms.

So: Is the golden age of Clubhouse – only possible for a short period while everyone was stuck at home and before the app gained real mainstream traction – now over? Or will this new round of funding and subsequent development give the app a new beginning?

For now, I think it’s safe to say that the culture of Clubhouse will certainly be changing – what we don’t know is if the changes will make this cream-of-the-crop app even better, or if it’ll join the ranks of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in being another big-time social media staple.

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