Andy Warhol famously said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Now the question is, is it worth it?
Instagram has established this precedent in contemporary culture. In 2018 it’s a common practice for fashion brands and aspiring entrepreneurs to prove concepts and launch new products relying solely on engagement of their followers and subscribers.
Media companies are launching experiences to merge real with virtual: a good example is Refinery29’s Rooms, immersive shows celebrating creators of diverse genres, and the Museum of Ice Cream in LA. Restaurant owners know for sure that photoshoot-ready interiors will bring in the Instagram-savvy clientele.
Creators are the most valuable users for almost every platform.
Eager to test new things, they are forming communities around their unique points of views and increase the values of social networks. Streaming platforms: Youtube, Twitch and Patreon are competing over creators by introducing different monetization strategies, from subscriptions to memberships, badges, and helping creators to sell merchandise.
Product Hunt, a geeky website to discover new products, has recently launched Makers; it’s own solution to help creatives of all industries to exchange knowledge and build things together. As more niche communities are starting to recognize the value of creators, one question arises:
What does Instagram, the platform of 1 billion active users, do to reward creators and community influencers?
Actually, not so much. Unlike Twitch and Youtube, Instagram never had a clear and transparent way to reward their users.
Early on, advertisement agencies spotted the gap in the market and served as intermediaries between brands and creators. By aggregating a database of Instagram influencers they could match them with big brands who didn’t have the time or deep understanding of social media to do the research on their own.
Jeff Jarvis, recently wrote in The Atlantic, “The essential value of the internet is conversation, not content”.
The role of an influencer is to start a dialog, not to merely produce the content. Brands craved big numbers in favor of authenticity, partially fueling the widespread usage of bots amongst middle-sized influencers (those with thousands of followers). As the audience grew savvy to spot the direct sponsorships and culture-blind ads, many of these deals backfired.
In search of alternatives, many creatives are turning to up-and-coming platforms. Perhaps you remember Ello, an app that aimed to reward creatives based on the quality of their work instead of number of likes or artificially boosted followers on Instagram. Or the recent reincarnation of subscription-based app Vero, that promised a more authentic experience based on recommendations from close friends.
At a time, fueled by press attention, eager to spot new products that would be an honest alternative to big players — Instagram and Facebook, these apps gained a momentum. However, as the media hype ended, these apps lost their appeal and a sufficient number of followers.
Creators vs Brands Power Battle
Creators post about topics they deeply care about.
As reported by Business of Fashion, influencers who want to build direct and authentic relationship with brands, without an intermediary such as an agency, have to prepare for a long game. Brands expect them to attend events, fashion shows and wear clothes without a monetary reward. For micro-influencers (with thousands, not millions of followers), the situation is more complicated. Big brands still expect them to do unpaid promotions with rewards such as status evaluation and seldom gifting.
“I cannot pay taxes with a bag,” says Veronika Heilbrunnerm, an influencer with 150,000 Instagram followers and collaborations with top-notch fashion brands. Although more people are turning to content production in an expectation for a monetary reward, there’s no transparent platform to manage the direct brand-to-creative relationships.
Smart Brands Collaborate with Customers
Luckily, tech-savvy brands are starting to recognize the power of their customers and include them into their marketing campaigns instead of influencers.
“What’s very motivating to us is this idea of every single woman being an influencer,” says Emily Weiss, the founder of the fast growing millennial beauty brand Glossier. The brand has instituted a representative program with over a thousand customers who post, write reviews and receive a combination of monetary commission and product credit when people purchase products through their personalized pages.
Users react best to ads that are personal and honest, just as a recommendation from a friend. As reported, 80% of Glossier’s growth comes from peer-to-peer recommendations. This trend is starting to be recognized by big brands. Macy's new marketing strategy, while pushing fewer promotions, involves their own staff to talk to clients through social media channels. Content strategy includes Instagram takeovers, advisers and product overviews.
Zines: Reward Creators for Their Work
By 2020, influencer marketing is projected to be a $5–10 billion dollar industry. Thus, the power of creators will only continue to grow.
At Round, we believe that there should be a better place for creators to tell their stories, join communities and build lasting partnerships with brands. This is why we’ve created Zines — interest-based media spaces.
Think of it as a digital publishing house that prioritizes creators and onboard brands and niche media that share their values and are eager to support their work directly.
🎨 NO ads & sponsored posts;
🎨 chronological feed;
🎨 no sketchy business profiles or bots;
🎨 direct reward and transparency
We want to encourage brands to support creators in meaningful ways, rather than just to throw money on advertisement without measurable results.
Our first Zine is dedicated to female performers and features emerging artists of different genres, from pop to rock and jazz, all working and performing in NYC. Within each Zine, our goal is to match them with like-minded brands and media who are eager to support their creativity: help with organizing an opening, sponsoring a research project, etc.
👉 We invite creators and their fans to become a part of Dash. Leave your email to get invited: https://www.producthunt.com/upcoming/dash-by-round