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Student-athlete Influencers Work Like Magic for Meta-shoppers

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Student-athlete Influencers Work Like Magic for Meta-shoppers


The past couple of years have accelerated some significant changes in the realm of commerce. First, because of COVID uncertainty, shoppers have gone phygital — mixing online and in-store shopping and expecting a seamless experience between the two. Second, in 2021, new NCAA rules finally emerged, giving student-athletes permission to monetize their name, image and likeness. So, just as more and more shoppers were spending at least part of their shopping time online, a sudden availability of fresh, high-impact influencer talent from student-athletes emerged. Like fresh lemonade squeezed from over a year of lemons, this new class of influencers dove into social commerce just as consumers started craving new ways of mid-pandemic shopping.

In surveys conducted by Inmar Intelligence, the growing importance of social commerce and phygital or cross-channel shopping became even more apparent. More specifically, shopping that lives alongside regular day-to-day social media experiences tops the charts for engagement and ROI.

  • 56% of shoppers spend over 7 hours per week on social media platforms, and 18% spend over 13 hours weekly.
  • 66% of all demographics have already begun purchasing through social media platforms. 
  • 46% of shoppers would perform at least half and up to 100% of their shopping online and/or through social platforms, technology permitting.

Influencers are — not surprisingly — dominating the omnichannel purchase funnel. After all, it’s an ecosystem that created the influencer role, and one that relies on their authority. 77% of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers admit being influenced by social media in their purchases. And, 70% of internet users in the United States already follow influencers on social media.

 

The introduction of student-athlete influencers initiated the second evolution of influencer marketing. Over 500,000 collegiate sports stars entered the influencer marketplace overnight, bringing with them large, loyal, pre-built audiences. These audiences are more localized, and surround personalities from all sports and events — some of the highest potential earners don’t even come from the most-watched sports, schools, conferences, or divisions.

And follower count on social media is one thing — the real measure of an influencers’ capability as a driving force behind purchase decisions is engagement. While the traditional influencer typically achieves between two and three percent engagement, the average student-athlete hits over 10% — some reaching 34% and beyond. When you consider the fact that almost 80% of young-to-mid-aged shoppers are buying based on influencer recommendations, the implications of the new athlete-influencer role are profound.

Marketers recognize the enormous potential of student-athlete influencers. Of 300 industry professionals surveyed:

  • 61% believe that student-athletes will be more effective at driving awareness than traditional influencers
  • 87% feel that student-athletes are capable of producing effective content as influencers
  • And 74% have activated, or are currently activating, student-athletes as influencers

Because such a massive opportunity can’t come without a small catch, activation of student-athletes does take a touch more effort than activation of traditional influencers. A complex system of rules and regulations at the state, school, and organizational level governs student-athlete implementation and is challenging to navigate without guidance. Engaging with a prepared partner solves this problem. Inmar Intelligence, for example, employs proactive, AI-enabled multi-layer compliance monitoring to make the complicated pre-activation steps a non-issue.

The stars of college sports are ready to get to work. Hundreds of thousands of loyal fan bases are ready to make purchases. All you have to do is prepare the playing field. Are you game?

When you’re ready to give student-athlete influencers their shot at driving prime-time revenue, get in touch with Inmar!



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The Most Visited Websites in the World – 2023 Edition [Infographic]

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The Most Visited Websites in the World - 2023 Edition [Infographic]

Google remains the most-visited website in the world, while Facebook is still the most frequented social platform, based on web traffic. Well, actually, YouTube is, but YouTube’s only a partial social app, right?

The findings are displayed in this new visualization from Visual Capitalist, which uses SimilarWeb data to show the most visited websites in bubble chart format, highlighting the variance in traffic.

As you can see, following Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the next most visited social platforms, which is likely in line with what most would expect – though the low numbers for TikTok probably stand out, given its dominance of modern media zeitgeist.

But there is a reason for that – this data is based on website visits, not app usage, so platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, which are primarily focused on the in-app experience, won’t fare as well in this particular overview.

In that sense, it’s interesting to see which social platforms are engaging audiences via their desktop offerings.

You can check out the full overview below, and you can read Visual Capitalist’s full explainer here.

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Branding and rebranding is getting more fun, here we look at some of cheekiest brands that have caught our eye – for the right and wrong reasons.



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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

Over the past year, Google has repeatedly noted that a China-based group has been looking to use YouTube, in particular, to influence western audiences, by building various channels in the app, then seeding them with pro-China content.

There’s limited info available on the full origins or intentions of the group, but today, Google has published a new overview of its ongoing efforts to combat the initiative, called DRAGONBRIDGE.

As explained by Google:

In 2022, Google disrupted over 50,000 instances of DRAGONBRIDGE activity across YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense, reflecting our continued focus on this actor and success in scaling our detection efforts across Google products. We have terminated over 100,000 DRAGONBRIDGE accounts in the IO network’s lifetime.

As you can see in this chart, DRAGONBRIDGE is by far the most prolific source of coordinated information operations that Google has detected over the past year, while Google also notes that it’s been able to disrupt most of the project’s attempted influence, by snuffing out its content before it gets seen.

Dragonbridge

Worth noting the scale too – as Google notes, DRAGONBRIDGE has created more than 100,000 accounts, which includes tens of thousands of YouTube channels. Not individual videos, entire channels in the app, which is a huge amount of work, and content, that this group is producing.

That can’t be cheap, or easy to keep running. So they must be doing it for a reason.

The broader implication, which has been noted by various other publications and analysts, is that DRAGONBRIDGE is potentially being supported by the Chinese Government, as part of a broader effort to influence foreign policy approaches via social media apps. 

Which, at this kind of scale, is a concern, while DRAGONBRIDGE has also targeted Facebook and Twitter as well, at different times, and it could be that their efforts on those platforms are also reaching similar activity levels, and may not have been detected as yet.

Which then also relates to TikTok, a Chinese-owned app that now has massive influence over younger audiences in western nations. If programs like this are already in effect, it stands to reason that TikTok is also likely a key candidate for boosting the same, which remains a key concern among regulators and officials in many nations.

The US Government is reportedly weighing a full TikTok ban, and if that happens, you can bet that many other nations will follow suit. Many government organizations are also banning TikTok on official devices, based on advice from security experts, and with programs like DRAGONBRIDGE also running, it does seem like Chinese-based groups are actively operating influence and manipulation programs in foreign nations.

Which seems like a significant issue, and while Google is seemingly catching most of these channels before they have an impact, it also seems likely that this is only one element of a larger push.

Hopefully, through collective action, the impact of such can be limited – but for TikTok, which still reports to Chinese ownership, it’s another element that could raise further questions and scrutiny.

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