Connect with us

SOCIAL

Are Influencers the Escape Social Media Wants During Coronavirus?

Published

on

Influencers, too, are navigating the coronavirus’ new norm.

Self-quarantining during COVID-19 has caused some, especially those in the travel industry, to take a bigger hit than others. Those who usually work from home have had to make less of an adjustment, though booking paid partnerships is a struggle industry-wide.

As a result, many influencers are getting creative with their social strategies. Those who are multiplatform and have more than one revenue stream are coming out on top.

Influencer agency Fohr, which works with nearly 100,000 influencers, saw its lowest number of sponsored content two weeks ago, said James Nord, Fohr’s founder and chief executive officer. That week, Fohr published about 35 sponsored posts, a steep decrease from its usual 200, but things picked up last week, when its sponsored content count climbed back up to 85.

Conversely, influencer monetization platform RewardStyle noted a 40 percent year-over-year increase within the commission on sales side of its business, said cofounder Amber Venz Box. RewardStyle has also seen a 30 percent increase in paid campaigns since the beginning of March. Within the Liketoknow.it app, conversion and sales are up.

That increase, said Venz Box, is due, in part, to RewardStyle’s use of “rationalized campaigns,” in which brands compensate influencers only if and when they drive sales.

“You do hear elsewhere in the influencer industry that campaigns are drying up,” said Venz Box. “That’s because those are the types of campaigns that are around reach or branding and alignment.”

Still, she said, “it’s definitely the time for creators.”

Advertisement

Generally, social media engagement is up. Users are left to their mobile devices while self-quarantining at home, driving Instagram engagement up by 20 to 50 percent, according to some influencer agencies. When Fohr polled its 100,000-member influencer pool — which includes Grace Atwood, Tiffany Benson and Sarah LouWho — 76 percent of respondents said their audience is engaging more with their content right now.

In the U.S., Instagram Live views have increased more than 70 percent in the last week, according to Facebook. Influencers have begun programming their feeds with Instagram Lives and takeovers, hoping to capitalize on users’ increased screen time. Some are even asking their followers directly whether they are open to seeing brand partnerships on their feed, said Reesa Lake, executive vice president of brand partnerships at Digital Brand Architects.

Influencers asked, followers answered: Social media seemingly still wants to see #SponCon during the coronavirus.

“The audience looks to [influencers] for entertainment and an escape from the heaviness,” said Lake. Brooklyn Blonde and Color Me Courtney were among those who polled their followers to gauge whether they want to see sponsored content, said Lake. In both cases, the majority of followers — 85 percent and 96 percent, respectively — responded yes.

“The root of social media was to connect and engage with people. We’ve always thought of it as an escapist platform,” said Jeffrey Tousey, founder of creative collective Beekman Social. Over the past couple of weeks, the collective has been helping brands re-allocate production budgets for influencer initiatives.

“In social, a constant funnel of content needs to be produced,” said Tousey. “We can lean on influencers to create content at home that can be repurposed on brands’ owned channels as well as the influencer channels.”

Allison Statter, cofounder of Blended Strategy Group, said she initially saw a “big decrease” in paid partnerships, but anticipates they will “slowly” come back.

“The reality is that social media is the main tool to drive any messaging right now,” said Statter.

Advertisement

BSG has helped Olly Nutrition adapt its social media strategy. This week, the vitamins brand unveils a six-week Instagram Live yoga class series, hosted by influencer and Olly brand ambassador Justine Marjan. Marjan’s husband, practicing yoga instructor Yoni Berk, will lead the series.

Olly’s digital initiative is in line with those that gyms, spas and salons have also enacted, as they have been forced to close temporarily due to coronavirus-induced government mandates. Influencers are doing the same, going live as a means of escape and entertainment for their followers.

After all, as Nord put it, “How much terrifying bad news can a person consume?”

Like Beekman Social and Blended Strategy, Fohr has been helping brands pivot to more relevant and appropriate tactics. One influencer campaign meant to highlight work attire is now a campaign featuring at-home loungewear. Another involving an alcohol brand has been altered from in-person happy hours to ones held over Zoom.

Fohr also asked its influencers whether previously scheduled brand partnerships have been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to which 20 percent of respondents said all of their partnerships had been paused. Nearly half of respondents said they are reducing their rates temporarily, and about 75 percent said they are posting less sponsored content on their feeds.

Nord has advised influencers to expect to make 30 percent less this year than last.

“Everyone should be assuming they’ll make 30 percent less and adjusting their lifestyles accordingly,” said Nord. “Those influencers who have product lines [should] see them as something to continue to cultivate.”

Across industries, influencers are leaning into existing product lines as a mode of revenue. Amber Fillerup Clark of Barefoot Blonde brought her hair-care brand, Dae, to Sephora last week, and will soon launch it with RewardStyle and on the Liketoknow.it app, said Venz Box.

Advertisement

Influencer Rachel Parcell launched her clothing brand with RewardStyle last week and has already seen “high double-digit increase” in sales driven through the platform’s partnerships in promotion, said Venz Box. RewardStyle is moving up its launch of IVL Collective, the activewear line by influencer Emily Jackson (who is Parcell’s sister), as searches for loungewear within the Liketoknow.it app have increased by 1,030 percent.

Cala, which works with influencers and celebrities to create merchandise, has seen “a dramatic increase” in interest, said Andrew Wyatt, the platform’s ceo and cofounder. Cala’s average influencer has around 3 million followers, but the company is seeing interest from those with even higher followings in recent weeks. Already, it has signed three new clients and has added 30 influencers to the pipeline.

“Some of the biggest agencies are advising their talent to hold off [on launching merchandise] until the fall so that there’s more time for the consumer market to rebound,” said Wyatt. “What we’re advising is: to do a strong launch, you need three to four months. So if you start now, you can have everything ready to go late summer. But if you wait until late summer, when it’s certain that everything is improving, then you’re not going to be able to launch until probably Black Friday.”

Merchandise can be highly profitable for influencers, pending follower count and engagement rate. Influencers with more than 1 million followers and an engagement rate of 3 percent or higher can expect to bring home anywhere from $70,000 to $150,000 in revenue for their first collection, said Wyatt. The second drop is even more profitable: Influencers often take home between $150,000 to $400,000, said Wyatt.

Overall, influencers and influencer agencies are getting creative in order to sustain their businesses during the ever-evolving coronavirus.

“I do think COVID-19’s going to have a lasting impact on our industry. Overall, it will be positive,” said Venz Box. “Influencers are being challenged now to expand their content cross-category and lean into performance-based compensation as a safer foundation for them. We’re seeing that those influencers who are multiplatform, multicategory and multirevenue stream are the ones that are thriving.”

Read More

Advertisement
Advertisement

SOCIAL

Twitter Faces Advertiser Boycott Due to Failures to Police Child Abuse Material

Published

on

Elon Musk Launches Hostile Takeover Bid for Twitter

Twitter’s no good, very bad year continues, with the company this week being forced to inform some advertisers that their ads had been displayed in the app alongside tweets soliciting child pornography and other abuse material.

As reported by Reuters:

Brands ranging from Walt Disney, NBCUniversal and Coca-Cola, to a children’s hospital, were among some 30 advertisers that have appeared on the profile pages of Twitter accounts that peddle links to the exploitative material.”

The discovery was made by cybersecurity group Ghost Data, which worked with Reuters to uncover the ad placement concerns, dealing another big blow to the app’s ongoing business prospects.

Already in a state of disarray amid the ongoing Elon Musk takeover saga, and following recent revelations from its former security chief that it’s lax on data security and other measures, Twitter’s now also facing an advertiser exodus, with big brands including Dyson, Mazda and Ecolab suspending their Twitter campaigns in response.

Which, really, is the least concerning element about the discovery, with the Ghost Data report also identifying more than 500 accounts that openly shared or requested child sexual abuse material over a 20-day period.

Ghost Data says that Twitter failed to remove more than 70% of the accounts during the time of the study.

Advertisement

The findings raise further questions about Twitter’s inability, or willingness, to address potentially harmful material, with The Verge reporting late last month that Twitter ‘cannot accurately detect child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity at scale’.

That finding stemmed from an investigation into Twitter’s proposed plan to give adult content creators the ability to begin selling OnlyFans-style paid subscriptions in the app.

Rather than working to address the abundance of pornographic material on the platform, Twitter instead considered leaning into it – which would undoubtedly raise the risk factor for advertisers who do not want their promotions to appear alongside potentially offensive tweets.

Which is likely happening, at an even greater scale than this new report suggests, because Twitter’s own internal investigation into its OnlyFans-esque proposal found that:

Twitter could not safely allow adult creators to sell subscriptions because the company was not – and still is not – effectively policing harmful sexual content on the platform.”

In other words, Twitter couldn’t risk facilitating the monetization of exploitative material in the app, and because it has no way of tackling such, it had to scrap the proposal before it really gained any traction.

With that in mind, these new findings are no surprise – but again, the advertiser backlash is likely to be significant, which could force Twitter to launch a new crackdown either way.

For its part, Twitter says that it is investing more resources dedicated to child safety, ‘including hiring for new positions to write policy and implement solutions’.

Advertisement

So, great, Twitter’s taking action now. But these reports, based on investigation into Twitter’s own examinations, show that Twitter has been aware of this potential issue for some time – not child exploitation specifically, but adult content concerns that it has no way of policing.

In fact, Twitter openly assists in the promotion of adult content, albeit inadvertently. For example, in the ‘For You’ section of my ‘Explore’ tab (i.e. the front page of Explore in the app), Twitter continuously recommends that I follow ‘Facebook’ as a topic, based on my tweets and the people I follow in the app.

Here are the tweets that it highlighted as some of the top topical tweets for ‘Facebook’ yesterday:

It’s not pornographic material as such, but I’m tipping that if I tap through on any of these profiles, I’ll find it pretty quick. And again, these tweets are highlighted based on Twitter’s own topical tweets algorithm, which is based on engagement with tweets that mention the topic term. These completely unrelated and off-topic tweets are then being pushed by Twitter itself, to users that haven’t expressed any interest in adult content.

It’s clear, based on all the available evidence, that Twitter does have a porn problem, and it’s doing little to address it.

Distributors of adult content view Twitter as the best social network for advertising, because it’s less restrictive than Facebook, and has much broader reach than niche adult sites, while Twitter gains the usage and engagement benefits of hosting material that other social platforms would simply not allow.

Which is likely why it’s been willing to turn a blind eye to such for so long, to the point that it’s now being highlighted as a much bigger problem.

Though it is important to note that adult content, in itself, is not inherently problematic, among consenting adult users at least. It’s Twitter’s approach to child abuse and exploitative content that’s the real issue at hand.

Advertisement

And Twitter’s systems are reportedly ‘woefully inadequate’ in this respect.

As reported by The Verge:

A 2021 report found that the processes Twitter uses to identify and remove child sexual exploitation material are woefully inadequate – largely manual at a time when larger companies have increasingly turned to automated systems that can catch material that isn’t flagged by PhotoDNA. Twitter’s primary enforcement software is “a legacy, unsupported tool” called RedPanda, according to the report. “RedPanda is by far one of the most fragile, inefficient, and under-supported tools we have on offer,” one engineer quoted in the report said.”

Indeed, additional analysis of Twitter’s CSE detection systems found that of the 1 million reports submitted each month, 84% contain newly-discovered material – ‘none of which would be flagged’, by Twitter’s systems.

So while it’s advertisers that are putting the pressure back on the company in this instance, it’s clear that Twitter’s issues stem far beyond ad placement concerns alone.

Hitting Twitter’s bottom line, however, may be the only way to force the platform to take action – though it’ll be interesting to see just how willing and able Twitter is to enact a broader plan to address such amidst of its ongoing ownership battle.

Within its takeover agreement with Elon Musk, there’s a provision which states that Twitter needs to:

“Use its commercially reasonable efforts to preserve substantially intact the material components of its current business organization.”

Advertisement

In other words, Twitter can’t make any significant changes to its operational structure while it’s in the transition phase, which is currently in debate as it headed for a courtroom battle with Musk.

Would initiating a significant update to its CSE detection models qualify as a substantial change – substantial enough to alter the operating structure of the company at the time of the initial agreement?

In essence, Twitter likely doesn’t want to make any major changes. But it might have to, especially if more advertisers join this new boycott, and push the company to take immediate action.

It’s likely to be a mess either way, but this is a huge concern for Twitter, which should be rightfully held to account for its systemic failures in this respect.

Source link

Continue Reading

DON'T MISS ANY IMPORTANT NEWS!
Subscribe To our Newsletter
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

Trending

en_USEnglish