Brands stand with #BlackLivesMatter Movement

June 4th, 2020 by
black lives matter

The capitalisation & commodification of crises; Brands stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, but as protesters lament their ‘empty’ words and tactile promises, are they really inciting change?

Over the past few days, America has erupted into riots and protests over the wrongful killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minnesota police officer, reigniting the fury around countless unlawful deaths of black lives in police custody. In the wake of the ongoing political unrest, many brands have stood in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, by posting to social media proclaiming their support. Large corporations such as Nike, Ben & Jerry’s, L’Oréal and other brands such as Glossier, Fenty and Itsu have all taken a stand on racial injustice and police brutality. However, many advocates want more than just words on social media, they want meaningful change and for brands to put their money where their mouth is.

As brands attempt to navigate their way through the heavily politicised minefield that is 2020, their responses and actions are heavily critiqued by consumers and the media. With many brands and corporations constituting a large portion of the world economy, and with access to large sums of capital, they have not only financial power to make a change – but also incredible reach through their marketing channels (social media, television, print, website). Brands can no long exist as idle, unbiased entities; as more progressive narratives emerge from younger generations, the relationship between brand and consumer is shifting. Consumers are demanding more from brand; they are now seen as important vessels of change due to their socioeconomic power in society. Staying silent and being a spectator is no longer an option, they are crucial cogs in the engine of change.

That being said, every move that brands make during times of crises, is under scrutiny and the current events are no exception. They are being held accountable for their actions. Since they have the power to amplify under-represented or muted voices in society, if they are seen to be staying silent – or capitalising on the movement without actual action – it can be a mighty fall for any brand no matter their socioeconomic status.

Take L’Oréal for example: the French beauty giant has recently come under fire by British model Munroe Bergdorf for ‘sneaking into the Black Lives Matter conversation’. Bergdorf slammed the brand for hypocritically cashing in on the movement, after dropping her from one of their 2017 campaigns after she spoke out about racism and white privilege on social media. She took to Twitter to share her disgust with her 70k strong audience (and 260k Instagram following) regarding L’Oréal’s mercilessly ironic post stating ‘Speaking out, is worth it’- a play on words incorporating their famous tagline. She and many others have heavily criticised brands for seeing the #BlackLivesMatter protest as a window of opportunity for image-optimising PR activities.

It is a very fine line between a brand appearing genuinely supportive and seeming unapologetically opportunistic. This also applies to action: though many brands have posted messages of solidarity, have they actually done anything to corroborate this supposed support? When taking a closer look into the fashion industry, there are some startling revelations. Whilst much of the fashion community have posted about the Black Lives Matter movement on social media, the amount of companies that have actually announced sizeable donations to causes are shockingly (or perhaps, not so shockingly) few.

We have seen a few brands such as Fenty, Ganni and Glossier pledge large donations (of up to $500,000) to fight injustices. However, on the whole, it is actually small brands and independent designers that are spearheading the fundraising efforts. The majority of these small labels were already struggling following the devastation that is being left in wake of COVID-19, yet they are the ones carrying the fashion industry’s reputation on their back. Many have noted that the slow uptake from large fashion brands and designers, is in stark contrast to the response to global coronavirus pandemic and the fire that engulfed Paris’s Notre Dame – both of which accumulated hundreds of millions of donations.

Their silence (along with many other brands) is characteristic of the systemic racism which many industries were built upon and which continues to trickle insidiously – but often invisibly – through many operations within organisations, from a lack of ethnic representation in marketing activations, to a lack of diversity in the workforce. Asides from intrinsic, systemic racism, brands may not want to damage their image by seeming overly anarchist or radical by politicising their feed. This is a harmful and archaic narrative that encourages self-censorship and that has historically demanded brands to stay ‘neutral’ and to never allow opinion to conquer. This is no longer a viable option; until these brands use their voices to spread awareness, education and change, they will continue to be chastised on social media by the exact people they rely on to buy their products and use their services. Only last week saw thousands of Instagram users boycott Topshop’s profile to comment #PayUp after it was announced that Arcadia made thousands of workers redundant without pay, hours before the government announced its job retention plan.

The risk involved in attempting to strike the right balance between showing support, and seemingly utilising the movement as a stage to improve brand image, can be greatly mitigated by pledging honest promises. Brands not only can donate sums of money to worthy causes, but they can also make a difference for the black community: whether this be by employing more black people, investing in black designers, buying from black suppliers, supporting black initiatives, supporting black entrepreneurs, having wider ethnic representation in influencer choices, or enlisting more diverse models. It is not one single act of philanthropy that will be the saving grace, it is a continued dedication to society-wide change and a concrete shift in perceptions – without this we will undoubtedly regress back into our shell of silence and passiveness.

The events of 2020, and pressing issues that have resurfaced following these events, have posed the ultimate threat, challenge and opportunity (for redemption and change) to almost every brand on the planet. Every move they make is under close scrutiny by the majority of society and it only takes one wrong move for any brand to crumble. The breadth and depth of brands’ power is potentially limitless in times of crises; they can be effective carriers of change, and it is a matter of societal benefit that they harness this power and learn how to carry out initiatives without appearing to be capitalising on the misfortune of others. They must actively educate themselves and others on crucial matters and be the voice for those who don’t have a voice, and the catalysts for action and change. Until steps are taken that are inspired by action rather than vanity, brands are likely to be vilified for not using their platform effectively and will remain faceless, corporate entities in the minds of consumers that will never truly incite change.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USAUKUAE and China.

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Posted in Industry Trends, Social Media Marketing News, Social Trends

The Top 10 Fashion Instagram Influencers in 2020

May 29th, 2020 by

Despite the coronavirus pandemic keeping most of us stuck at home in our sweatpants, Instagram has remained a great way for people to showcase their fashion and personal style. With constantly changing trends and a growing demand for inclusivity, staying in the spotlight in this industry requires you to always be reactive and up to date within any context.

We have seen a dramatic increase in celebrities and influencers dominating social feeds with branded content, gifted products, and newly formed partnerships. Whether you are looking for shoes, dresses or jewellery, the flourishing world of Instagram fashionistas is a great place to start! To help you with this, we have compiled a list of our Top 10 favourite fashion influencers on the platform. They are known for their individuality and for being part of successful influencer marketing campaigns.

10) Justin Livingston – @justinliv

In tenth place, we have 32-year-old male fashion influencer Justin. He is a New York-based blogger known for his fabulous style and creative captions. With well over 300,000 followers, Justin enjoys treating his large audience to snapshots of his latest outfit looks and beauty tips. He has also begun to chronicle his fitness journey. In the past, Justin has collaborated with well-known brands such as Asos and Dr Martens.

Justin+Livingston

9) Maria Joynson- @mariajblogs

Stylish UK fashion influencer Maria is able to source the perfect outfit for any occasion.  At the petite height of 5ft2, Maria shows other girls of her stature that they too can style the same clothes made for taller people and often make them more chic! By mixing both high-end and affordable fashion labels, Maria inspires her followers to try both worlds and find the perfect balance.

Maria Joynson

8) Steph Ahn- @stephanieahn

Canadian sweetheart Steph, who is originally from Korea, is certainly proving herself to be one to watch. Whether going for a coffee run or meeting up with friends, her fabulous outfits inspire her followers and fans to doll up for each and every occasion. She is also a brand ambassador for top clothing retailer ‘Revolve’, which she consistently does justice to with her flawless posts.

Steph Ahn

7) Katie Sturino- @katiesturino

New York City business entrepreneur, blogger and fashion influencer Katie showcase a colourful range of plus size outfits. She is most known for re-creating celebrity outfits and looks, such as those worn by Olivia Munn, Hilary Duff and the Royal family.

Katie Sturino

6) Emma Slad Edmondson – @emmasladedmondson

Unlike many influencers you see on Instagram, Emma cuts through the noise of the platform with her unique sense of style and most importantly, her love for sustainability. Emma represents the world of sustainable fashion and encourages her followers to re-wear outfits and to buy second-hand clothes from charity shops.

Emma Slad Edmundson

5) Kirandeep Kaur – @kanika868

Young and confident fashion influencer Kirandeep is from India. She loves to share her adventurous styles, outgoing personality and cultural heritage with her followers. Her Instagram feed ranges from sports outfits, to beautiful cultural clothing and elegant looks.

KirandeepKaur

4) Helena Coelho – @helenacoelhooo

Portuguese urban fashion influencer Helena is popular for the distinctly white and neutral colour palette that makes up the majority of her wardrobe, with a signature style that is generally comprised of jeans, trainers, and classic blazer looks. She recently launched her own successful trainers’ collection in partnership with Cubanas Shoes.

Helena Coelhoo

3) Alissa Wilson – @stylishcurves

Fashion editor and influencer Alissa from New York shares her experience as a plus-sized woman in the fashion world with her personal blog. She shows her fans how to style and complement your curves to encourage body confidence and diversity.

Alissa Wilson

2) Eugene Lee Yang – @eugeneleeyang

As one of Buzzfeed’s Try Guys, Eugene’s fashion sense is one not to be missed! With over 6.5 million subscribers on YouTube, Eugene makes sure he looks his very best when presenting himself. He is well known for his bold outfits as much as he is for working closely with LGBT charities and human rights activism.

Eugene Lee Yang

1) Aimee Song – @aimeesong

Aimee Song is a fashion world OG with over 5 million followers, having earned her spotlight after establishing herself as part of the first generation of fashion influencers. She is popular for her modest clothing and jewellery brand, as well as for collaborating with many clothing brands such as Levi’s and True Religion.

Aimee Song

Could you see your brand working with any of these influencers as part of an influencer marketing strategy? If that does sound like something you would be interested in, contact us today and let us launch a successful campaign together.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USAUKUAE and China.

If you want to receive our industry insights, visit our Influencer Marketing & Social Media blogs here.

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Posted in Influencer News, Social Media Platforms

How can Influencer Marketing help to increase brand awareness?

May 21st, 2020 by
supreme

Want to generate brand awareness in a cost-effective way? Then a partnership with social media influencers is something you need to incorporate within your digital marketing strategy. When the objective at hand is to get more people familiar with your brand, it would be a mistake to think that this is simply a case of quantity over quality. Rather, to make an effective impression on the people receiving your advertisements, the issue of relevance cannot be overlooked. Relevancy is one of the key strengths of an approach which leverages influencers for brand promotions. Often their recommendations are akin to when we receive a personal endorsement of something from a friend. When you work with the appropriate influencers, you will find your brand positioned within a credible context. This means the marketing of it will feel like less of an intrusive interruption when it features in their audience’s daily media consumption.

Out of 81% of marketers who use influencer content, 51% of them said it performs better than anything created by brands themselves. What sets it apart from other marketing strategies is its scalability and adaptability, seen by the fact that it can be used by to promote companies of all sizes. Businesses large and small can work with social media influencers to execute a range of marketing activities, such as competitions and referral programmes, with the ultimate aim being to generate brand awareness.

So, what are the best ways marketers can leverage influencers to achieve this goal?

1. Engaging content

Influencers understand their followers and what the content they want to consume looks like. They carefully create an aesthetic approach that resonates with them and helps to establish a sense of trust. When they offer buying suggestions, their audiences often respect their advice and it can help to drive purchase consideration. If you select an influencer that you feel is relevant and offers an accurate representation of your brand, the best strategy is often just to permit them creative freedom to create content for brand promotion.

You can assess the quality and relevance of it before it goes live, but a careful selection beforehand will ensure you can confidently leave the portrayal of your product or service in their hands. Create guidelines for what you want them to include, but leave the rest to them. Since they know what works best with their audience, they will know what is likely to yield the best results.

2. Competitions

Competitions and giveaways are a tried and tested formula for successfully driving online engagement. They are also a great way to maximise the potential of influencers to promote products and create positive buzz, with them often helping to increase social media following and drive web traffic to specific landing pages. A well thought out strategy for a competition would see influencers foster an environment that helps to promote engaging conversations. Ideally, this would also create curiosity among followers to try the product being discussed.

To ensure your campaign gets enough traction, it is important that the prize is something that would be considered valuable to the influencer’s follower base. If it is, you can then ask them to follow a specific social media account to register or send them to a website and get them to complete a form. This can help to generate leads and build a larger online following.

3. Referral and brand ambassador programmes

According to a recent study by Twitter, there was an enormous 88% increase in the purchase intent of consumers when a product was promoted by an influencer that they trusted. There are two great ways to help manifest this relationship.

An easy and effective referral programme often takes the form of an influencer sharing a promo code that is unique to them. This is an easy way to measure ROI: influencers will share the promotional link and discount codes that are made exclusively available to their followers, with brands then being able to track conversions within the analytic data received after a campaign.

Another way of elevating an influencer marketing strategy to an even higher standard is to launch a brand ambassador programme. This provides a more long-term approach to building brand awareness, reaching people through word-of-mouth marketing. Designated brand ambassadors will promote a brand for a longer duration than a one-off campaign, thereby helping to build authenticity and integrate the product or service more naturally into content over time. For every sale that they are able to bring in, a brand could introduce a commission-based rate of pay which can motivate the influencer to drive sales and help realise marketing goals.

4. Social media takeovers

This can be an effective addition to your influencer marketing and social media strategy, dynamically shaking up the content your followers are accustomed to seeing. With this type of campaign, an influencer would simply take over one of your social media accounts for a specific amount of time and create content for your audience. Crucially, it will attract not only your followers but also theirs. This helps to increase brand awareness by reaching new audiences. If required, they can also drive traffic to your website by adding links to their posts.

In conclusion, there are many ways to enhance a social media influencer marketing strategy that is aiming to amplify online brand awareness. When the right platform, influencer and strategy converge, there is no limit to how successful your results can be. Even beyond increasing awareness, you have great opportunities to drive sales and establish your brand in new markets when leveraging influencer marketing. If that sounds like something you would be interested in, contact us today and let us work together to make your campaign a success.

 

Our influencer and social marketing services are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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Fame in the Face of a Pandemic: How have doctors and nurses become social media influencers?

May 14th, 2020 by
a collective of doctors and nurses

It’s safe to say there have been many unexpected outcomes as a result of COVID-19. With over four million cases now confirmed globally, the virus has caused a significant amount of disruption to human society as we know it. In contrast to historical pandemics, such as the Spanish flu in 1918, people around the world have had to witness the escalation of the situation while living in the age of social media.

On the one hand, being part of a world that is more connected than ever has provided us with a support infrastructure to spread information and counterbalance physical distancing measures. On the other, it has led to what the WHO has described as an ‘infodemic’: excessive amounts of misinformation which makes it difficult for the general public to separate fact from fiction. This, in part, has helped lead to the elevation of some healthcare professionals to influencer status, on account of their perceived trustworthiness in a digital ecosystem often laden with ‘fake news’.

On top of their everyday responsibilities, these individuals have found themselves having to navigate breakout stardom against the backdrop of the global health crisis. In some instances, their online success has been fuelled by reaction to the recklessness of coronavirus statements made by some politicians and individuals in the media. When President Trump suggested at a press conference that doctors should investigate patients receiving an “injection” of disinfectant, medical professionals with an established social media presence were quick to emphasise the absurdity of his claims. “I promise I won’t pretend to know how to run a country if you don’t pretend to know how to practice medicine,” wrote one practitioner on TikTok. His video quickly amassed tens of thousands of views.

Many of the emerging doctor-influencers are consequently positioning themselves as the bastions of responsible medicine. While medical conspiracy theories, exaggerated claims and unproven treatment methods consistently do the rounds online, those with discernible medical credentials have an added weight to their platform which enables them to cut through the noise with reason. According to Doctor Mike – a family physician with more than 5 million subscribers on YouTube – it is precisely when there is an absence of qualified online voices that “misinformation thrives.” He contends that a social media approach driven solely by personality over expertise is responsible for the peddling of potentially harmful products and/or cures. This is one of the chief criticisms often levied at influencer marketing more generally, with its impact on an impressionable audience having particularly egregious potential when interpreted within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Social media is absolutely an important space for medical professionals to be having conversations around things like public education, trying to combat some of the misinformation and pseudoscience that’s just running rampant on all these different platforms,” said science communications expert Sarah Mojarad to CNN. However, she also highlighted that by uploading content onto these channels, medical professionals have the added responsibility of ensuring they do not negatively tarnish the public’s perception of the healthcare industry as a whole. This raises several pertinent questions about the ethics involved with clinicians having a stronger online presence. Is the content they are putting out undermining wider professional credibility? Are they in any way misrepresenting their area of expertise? And would it ever be appropriate for them to endorse a product and attempt to influence consumer purchasing decisions for their own commercial gain?

For the most part, this special sort of internet celebrity has sought to provide emotional relief for the content maker and viewer. Buzzfeed News recently investigated this topic in detail. It looked at how those working in healthcare were ‘turning to social media to wrestle with their new reality.’ Speaking to operating room nurse Joel Hentrich – whose video of a doctor putting on PPE gear achieved over 7 million views – the article relayed how he found TikTok “has been one of the ways I can debrief from the stresses of being on the frontlines.” This sentiment has been echoed by the numerous videos of hospital staff performing choreographed dance routines to ‘build up teamwork.’ Despite the incredible popularity of these videos, there have also been many vocal detractors who see them as treating the situation with too much levity. Worse still, this criticism has been hijacked by those in conservative and far-right circles who seek to delegitimise the scale of the overall threat posed by COVID-19.

As doctors and nurses continue to go viral learning these ‘morale-boosting’ TikTok dances, there is also scrutiny around the appropriateness of some individuals turning the pandemic into an opportunity for fame. After all, it is undoubtedly easy for anyone with a lab coat to cosplay as a medical professional. Experts have also expressed concern about a category of people who work in medi-spas, aesthetician practices, chiropractors, or in the alternative medicine industry for spreading medical advice that they simply aren’t qualified enough to give. Dr Wiesbauer – a trained internist, epidemiologist and YouTuber – remarked that “there was never a time when a lay person was so interested to learn the stuff we have to tell”, acknowledging the trapdoor being opened up for people seeking out sources of information from anywhere it is readily available. Given the unrelenting severity of the crisis, these considerations take on added weight.

At the end of the day then, what exactly are we to make of the rise of the doctor-influencer? Do they function as paragons of scientific knowledge that pop up on our Instagram feeds, helping to combat swathes of pseudoscientific claims by harnessing their online presence to promote expert advice? Or is there something more sinister at work, with their ostensible medical authority concealing a hidden agenda that might have wider implications for perception of the healthcare industry as a whole? Admittedly, it would be a bit of a stretch to reach either of these conclusions. After all, healthcare workers are experiencing what must be one of the most stressful periods of their careers. For them, becoming an influencer for their expertise is
a modern opportunity in an industry notoriously plagued by burnout, unpredictable hours and, in many instances, low-pay. Though there are valid concerns that should continue to be addressed, with any luck this phenomenon will help to humanise the profession and continue to educate people on public health.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USAUKUAE and China.

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How Influencer Marketing Is Distinctly Different From Celebrity Endorsement

March 13th, 2020 by
kim-kardashian

There has been confusion about what makes an influencer. To many people, the word ‘influencer’ conjures up images of powerhouse celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber or Kylie Jenner. However, it is becoming increasingly clear to society that solely being a celebrity doesn’t make you an influencer.

In recent times, we have been bombarded with stories from the press claiming that ‘influencers’ such as these, have wildly ridiculous lists of demands and just being total divas. In 2018, news broke that hiring Mariah Carey comes with some pretty outrageous demands; she refuses to speak for 24hrs before her performances, she must have a trailer filled with white roses and lamb teddies and she must have 20 humidifiers surrounding her whilst she sleeps, to name a few. Many agencies rush to personalities like these in hopes of capitalising on their addictive personalities and wide reach, however many of whom have no particular skills.

It is only beginning to dawn on people that the first requirement for being an influencer is being capable of influencing the decisions of others. You have to be a specialist in some niche to be an influencer – just being famous or having lots of followers isn’t enough. The difference between influencer marketing and celebrity endorsement is actually pretty stark, and learning the distinction between the two is key when creating an influencer marketing strategy.

Looking at surface-level definitions “celebrity endorsement” and “influencer marketing,” you can see why the strategies seem to overlap. Celebrity endorsement attaches the fame of a celebrity to a brand or product. With this strategy, you are getting people who are idolized to associate themselves with your product so people want to buy it. Influencer marketing creates word-of-mouth advertising using people that are trusted in certain circles. With this strategy, influential people are building up your image in the minds of their followers. Both strategies use well-known people to influence your target market. But the way they are executed and how they influence their target market is very different.

“With celebrity endorsement, the celebrity lends their fame to a brand or product,” British influencer marketing consultant Scott Guthrie said. “The celebrity often has no affinity or expertise with the product. Communication is one way. It’s the old broadcast model of communications.” On the other hand, influencer marketing is not always a popularity contest.

“With globalisation, digitalisation and the advent of a truly connected culture, influencers have a newer model available – one with smaller reach levels but far greater influence levels,” Clare Gore, head of affiliates at the UK website Vouchercloud, said. “An audience of 2,000 where 50% are directly interested is far better than an audience of 2 million where 0.005% are interested. It’s targeted, it’s cost-effective and it’s efficient.”

Celebrities can win their fame for several different reasons, through talent, scandal, inheritance, the list goes on. Influencers, however, are self-selected, since we as a society choose to follow them and choose to adorn them with popularity and status. We perceive them as inspirational, and we often aspire to be more like them in our daily lives. Based on this, their endorsements of products/services are often infinitely more effective as they mean more to us, we appreciate and trust their opinion more.

The rise and fall of using celebrities in social media campaigns are palpable, and their effects are becoming tentative. Influencers, however, have the burgeoning power to inspire, encourage and affect purchasing decisions.

Socially Powerful is a global influencer marketing agency, get in touch with us today.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USAUKUAE and China.

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Gen Z Keytrends: What Marketers Need to Know in 2020

February 19th, 2020 by

More and more companies are now focusing their marketing efforts towards Gen Z (born from 1997 onwards) rather than Millennials (born between 1981-1996).

As widely reported, Gen Z are digital natives. Born into a high-tech, high networked world and accustomed to having information readily accessible to them. They have never known a time without the internet and probably can’t imagine life before the smartphone.

And, for the most digitally-native generation yet, brands need to stay one step ahead and understand their behaviour. There are many key differences between Gen Z and Millennials. And maybe one particularly evident is the content that they consume.

So what are the media consumption trends which marketers should note to stay ahead of the game?

group-of-teenagers-covered-in-paint

Gen Z has different viewing behaviours and content interests. Gen Z users are attracted to social platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, Twitch or Snapchat.

Popular culture comes top when we ask Gen Z about their strongest interests. Around 7 in 10 report having an interest in music, and 6 in 10 have an interest in movies. Other forms of entertainment, such as gaming, extreme sports and urban art are also popular amongst Gen Z’s interests, while gambling and local issues are the least interesting for the generation.

As discussed, Gen Zs are a constantly-connected group who multitask across multiple screens. Another key example of this is second-screening – a completely mainstream behaviour among this generation. 95% say they were using another device the last time they were watching TV, with mobiles central to this (89% are dual screening via a mobile).

With gaming a key interest for this group, it’s not surprising that playing games is one of the top second-screening actions. But what is striking is that the top activities tend to be a distraction from the content on the main screen, rather than a compliment. 35% are searching for information related to what they’re watching, and 20% say they interact with the online content of a TV show.

girl-covered-in-paint

Given the considerable importance attached to smartphones, it’s to be expected that these devices are the go-to for all online behaviors. In particular, mobiles have a considerable lead over PCs/laptops for video-sharing and social related behaviors.

Generation Z are clocking up nearly 7 hours a day online. A considerable 1 hour 13 minutes of this time is being spent watching online TV.

The availability of flexible and on-demand access to TV shows and films is something that resonates strongly with these young internet users. And mobile is quickly catching up with televisions as Gen Z’s most popular device to watch any type of TV, including live, on-demand and subscription services.

As it was founded in 2005, YouTube has been a thing for basically all of Gen Z’s life. They have widely adopted the platform into their media consumption process, and it’s their top preferred platform for consuming video content.

85% of teens now consume content on YouTube. That shift away from traditional TV – and towards the shorter clip-style presentation of the platform – has lead to a whole new approach to video content, while it’s also seen the rise of vloggers – an entirely new category of celebrity.

Online personalities typically upload low-budget and highly personal videos of themselves, through which they connect with their audience. From a brand perspective, it’s important to note the role that vloggers are playing. Endorsements by influencers are now also considered to be more trustworthy and authentic than those from celebrities and sports stars. This is a key trend to note.

But it’s not just entertainment that makes YouTube a hit with younger users – according to research, 80% of Gen Z teens say that the platform has helped them become more knowledgeable about something. YouTube has become a valuable and trusted learning resource. In fact, most students now prefer YouTube videos over textbooks, and many search for DIY videos and how-tos.

The trend underlines the expanding use of the platform, which has various implications for how you can utilize videos to better connect with younger audiences.

paint-party

Another key video trend of note among younger audiences is Snapchat. Snap’s Discover section underline a significant shift in video consumption habits. Snap shows are shot vertically, and episodes average only five minutes in length. The rise of this content format signals a major shift in video expectation among younger audiences, with content that’s aligned to how they watch.

TikTok saw a significant rise in 2019, mostly within the Gen Z age range. TikTok’s content is much shorter than content on YouTube, with a limit of 15-second per clip. The most popular content on TikTok right now is lip syncs, viral dance crazes, and humorous sketches.

Creativity within the medium is highly encouraged by the TikTok community, who engages and follows little-known video creators, turning them into TikTok stars.

There are two types of creators on TikTok at present – those with large followings on other platforms who are trying out the latest new thing, and unknown, new creators who are finding an audience within TikTok. Over time, these approaches are leading to a new, dedicated style that’s unique to the platform, which, given its current popularity, could lead to another significant shift in Gen Z video content consumption.

No matter how you look at it, video content is changing, and brands need to keep up with these relevant shifts in order to maintain connection with younger audiences.

As Forbes puts it, the key to Gen Z is video content which is “relevant, meaningful, and authentic”. Gen Zers are keenly aware when they are being sold to, so content bombarded with cold marketing and logos is going to fail with this generation.

As long as you recognize such trends, and take the time to consider what Gen Z viewers are expecting, you’ll be able see success with these digital natives.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USAUKUAE and China.

If you want to receive our industry insights, visit our Influencer Marketing & Social Media blogs here.

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New Instagram Feature Helps Users Keep Their Feed More Relevant

February 18th, 2020 by

Instagram will now show you who you interact with the least, in case you want to unfollow them. In an effort to help users keep feeds clean and relevant, Instagram will show you your “most seen in feed” and “least interacted with.”

“Instagram is really about bringing you closer to the people and things you care about — but we know that over time, your interests and relationships can evolve and change,” a spokesperson from Instagram says. “Whether you graduate, move to a new city, or become obsessed with a new interest and find a community, we want to make it easier to manage the accounts you follow on Instagram so that they best represent your current connections and interests.

This feature has been a long time coming; with the introduction of filtered feeds paving the way for a truly personalised feed, the algorithms didn’t always purge the accounts we don’t really care about. Accepting a follow request, or following someone has become a modern day social contract, but sometimes we don’t want to cause drama by refusing to do either. With the new feature, we will no longer have to manually sort through our following lists, filtering out the ones we want to avoid- a pretty draining chore!

By increasing the density of high-quality posts in your feed and Stories by getting you to unfollow irrelevant accounts, Instagram could boost ad views. You’ll come across fewer irrelevant posts that might make you close the app so you instead keep scrolling and fast-forwarding while racking up ad impressions.

instagram feeds

What does this all mean for marketers? It is a little too early to tell, but it could go one of two ways. Users may end up purging their following list if, after reviewing their Following categories, they discover the accounts shown most often aren’t particularly engaging anymore, which could easily include brands.

Looking at this a more positive way – if users trim down their Following list it could lead to more engagement as well. Users will see more content from the accounts they really care about, and have more opportunities to engage with them. Either way, this is a really important feature for the marketing industry to take note of, especially in the case of brands that measure changes in total followers and engagement over time.

Some may view the new feature as another form of naming and shaming, which could have potentially harmful effects especially on younger generations who may share screenshots of their results. However, each quantifiable category is vague enough that it shouldn’t place targets on peoples back. Instead, the feature allows us to make our feeds more personalised and authentic, and to cut through the deafening noise of unrealistic and uninspiring content.

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Does the Gender Pay Gap Apply to Instagram Influencers?

February 7th, 2020 by

Social media: the place of opportunity, success, and… money-making has long surpassed the days of motiveless chit-chat, and the innocent look-what-I-ate-for-lunch. YouTube and Instagram are now notable business juggernauts used by savvy marketeers, led of course by influencers: the pioneers of the modern, digital world who, one would suppose, can be anyone from anywhere, limited least by gender…

Male & Female Influencer

Alas, though an influencer’s power is inferred literally within their title, recent news, from marketing websites and Twitter, suggests this power is not yet entirely immune to what should be archaic prejudice. It seems in an ever-evolving society that prides itself on liberation (think the BBC’s revelation of over 100 different genders), modernity is still not aligned with its theoretical egalitarian ideals. To put it simply, gender discrimination is still prevalent, and in an industry where gender is intrinsic.

Yes. Sadly, we are talking here of the notorious Gender Pay Gap between male and female influencers. With no set rates or regulations regarding influencer pay, this Gap is worryingly indicative of a backwards, at best sub-conscious, attitudinal step in what should be, holistically, a skyrocketing modern market.

HypeAuditor, an influencer analytics firm, has recently brought news to light of the Gender Pay Gap on Instagram, an unfortunate continuation of recent years. HypeAuditor polled 1,600 influencers across 40 countries to reveal influencer earnings according to audience level, and… gender. Despite 69% of respondents being women, and 31% men, an equal number of male and female influencers were found globally.

The results are rather alarming: on average, male Instagrammers receive 7% more than female Instagrammers, the Gap rising up to 30% alongside the influencer tier (micro up to celebrity). Posts by men bring in an average of $1,411. Posts by women, $1,315. For the record, the UK’s current National Gender Pay Gap is 8.9%*.

Even worse is the Gap for Instagram Stories: a staggering 27%. Male influencers will earn $809 on average, whereas a woman will earn $633. Small micro female influencers (5K-20K followers) are the only exception in this category. The data for Instagram posts, Stories and videos combined – shows the Gap to be further pronounced at 49%.

Influencer

For now, the Gap remains largely unexplained; a potential objection such as absenteeism e.g. maternity or sick-leave is an arguable scapegoat, especially in lieu of the Mommy vlogger community. A semi-palpable theory is that with more competition among female influencers (77% of the community – 50.5% being Instagrammers), their average price decreases. Men, as a relatively scarce resource (49.5% Instagrammers) can charge more. However, as HyperAuditor’s figures show for Instagram alone, the 1% disparity of the community does not correlate with the disparity of the Pay Gap. Furthermore, fellow analytics firm, Klear, exemplified through a 2018 survey that this disparity extends to the wider influencer community, namely across YouTube & Facebook. YouTube has the largest disparity at 38%.

Recent estimates of the global Instagram influencer market are set to reach $2.3 billion this year. One hopes audiences and marketeers will be influenced enough to hold to this accelerative industry, and not let it hold steadfast.

*based on average hourly earnings, as calculated by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USAUKUAE and China.

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The Rise of Virtual Influencers: A Threat?

February 6th, 2020 by
3d-model-of-a-person

She’s mysterious with a fun personality. She has flyaways, cute freckles and advertises products on Instagram. But — she’s not real. Lil Miquela, who debuted on Instagram in April 2016, is the most famous example of a virtual influencer. She was made by a computer to look as much like an attractive and charming human being as possible without looking unnerving.

After months of speculation in Instagram comments and on news sites — with theories ranging from “Sims marketing stunt” to “horrifying social experiment” — the secret was revealed: it’s just advertising. In the past few years, the virtual model has become a veritable celebrity: starring in Uggs ads, interviewing artists at Coachella and collaborating with Prada. In her latest project, a video for Calvin Klein, she kisses a half-naked Bella Hadid.

With over 1.5m followers on Instagram, Lil Miquela shares pictures of her imaginary life, proclaiming her support for LGBT rights and Black Lives Matter. She’s not alone also; Bermuda and Blawko are two of her friends who gained hundreds of thousands of followers. All three were created by a team at the mysterious Los Angeles start-up Brud for … vague reasons.

But can we really call a virtual character a celebrity? Have we become so accustomed to highly edited representations of real-life that we no longer even need our celebrities to actually exist?

To gain a greater degree of control over their influencer partnership, some marketers are trying to remove humans from the equation entirely. This has led to the creation of virtual influencers, social media personalities whose followers are real but whose images and words are entirely manipulated.

The Drum has also recently unveiled its own virtual influencer, a digital character named Floresta, in partnership with Live & Breathe and the Virtual Influencer Agency (VIA). Dudley Nevill-Spencer, the founder of VIA, suggested that audiences would engage with virtual influencers as entertainment, rather than documentary. The character was designed to appeal to a specific audience: social users interested in environmentalism.

Can virtual influencers build real connections with audiences?

Despite investment in virtual influencer campaigns by brands such as SK-II, Calvin Klein, and Smart Car, some marketers still doubt whether a virtual character can forge a real connection with an audience. Experts say that people associate these platforms with reality and real people and don’t know if they are ready to have fictional narratives on social media.

Take for example Lil Miquela’s vlog where she talked about her experience of sexual assault, which is a very traumatic and real human experience. Yet there’s something very removed about someone who isn’t real explaining a human experience. So when it comes to this kind of emotive storytelling, how can we bridge the gap?

Experts say that it’s fine to engage in those kinds of deep emotional stories as long as people understand that the character is not real.

Should human influencers feel threatened by virtual ones?

Apart from a handful of successful Instagram accounts and a lot of conversation, there is little evidence that these high-resolution bodies are coming for the jobs held by models so far.

Some may even agree that Lil Miquela’s support of Black Lives Matter, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ+ causes, as well as Floresta’s sustainable fashion initiative and care for the environment, can inspire real change.

The virtual influencer’s success could be just a novelty technology. Or it could shake up the world of influencer marketing.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USAUKUAE and China.

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Posted in Influencer News, Social Media Marketing News, Social Trends

Why Facebook’s deepfake ban isn’t winning

January 31st, 2020 by

As Facebook prepares for the 2020 US election, the social network has announced a new policy banning AI-manipulated deepfake videos that are likely to mislead viewers into thinking someone said words that they did not actually say.

Facebook Deepfakes

As deepfakes are created by merging or replacing content onto a video in a way that makes it look real, politicians and celebrities would be the targets.

Marked as a significant challenge for the tech industry, Facebook would remove videos that are edited in ways that aren’t obvious to an average person. The information was announced on a blog post by Facebook’s vice president of global management, Monika Bickert. Parodies or satire videos would not be subject to change.

However, as the policy explicitly covers only misinformation produced using AI, shallow fakes videos would still be running on the platform. Frequently as misleading as deepfakes, shallow fakes are videos made using conventional editing tools such as trimming a video or distorting the audio. Until now, there have been no major examples of content that would break such rules.

Some of the most damaging examples of manipulated media in recent years were also made using simple video-editing tools. During the UK election, for example,  the Conservative party was accused of editing a video to make it appear as though the Labour MP Keir Starmer had no answer to a question about Brexit.

Labour MP Keir Starmer

Labour MP Keir Starmer

In the US, a similar altered video of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was also allowed on Facebook. Both videos were confirmed to satisfy Facebook’s policies on misinformation at that time and were made only by trimming raw footage or pitch-shifting the audio. Even though the videos contain clear statements they are fake, they wouldn’t probably be covered by Facebook’s new policy because the assets weren’t edited to make Starmer or Pelosi say new words. If Facebook’s fact-checkers reported them as false or misleading, the company could still add links to news articles to discredit them, but it would likely leave them up. Pelosi accused Facebook of doing the bare minimum when it comes to fighting disinformation online.

The House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi

The House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi

Other platforms were also caught in the crossfire following Pelosi’s video. In November, Twitter began crafting its own deepfakes policy and requested feedback from users concerning the platform’s future rules. The company has yet to issue any guidance on manipulated media.

One thing’s for sure: lawmakers are paying attention. Monika Bickert has recently taken questions from lawmakers on a hearing on deepfakes hold by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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Posted in Social Media Platforms