Influence Weekly #245 - Snap plans employee layoffs after disappointing Q2 earnings

Influence Weekly #245
August 12th, 2022
Executive Summary
  • Snap plans employee layoffs after disappointing Q2 earnings
  • UMortgage lifts the lid on its influencer marketing strategy
  • Tik Tok moves focus to search
  • Meta embraces Livestreaming for Gaming

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Great Reads

Snap plans employee layoffs after disappointing Q2 earnings
Snap is in the early stages of planning layoffs, according to two people familiar with the plans.

The planned cuts come after the company recently delivered disappointing earnings results and didn't forecast earnings for the third quarter — news that sent its stock price cratering to near-all-time lows. It’s currently unclear how many of Snap’s more than 6,000 employees will be laid off, as managers across the company are still planning the full scope of the cuts for their teams.

Russ Caditz-Peck, a Snap spokesman, declined to comment.

Snap’s business has been hurt recently on two major fronts: The first is Apple’s introduction of the “Ask App Not to Track” prompt, which an estimated majority of iPhone owners have opted “Yes” to, making it harder for companies like Snap to as effectively target their ads. The second factor is the broader economic downturn that has especially punished the stock prices of Snap and other cash-burning companies. Snap has been profitable in only one quarter since it went public in 2017.

How Instagram influencers become enterprises, and what happens next
By the time Amber Fillerup Clark landed a major profile in The Atlantic in 2017, the blogger and Instagrammer had already spent seven years at the top of her game. Clark launched her blog—which has since been renamed but at the time was called Barefoot Blonde—in 2010, and quickly rose to the top of the mommy blogger ecosystem.

Today, more than a decade later, Clark has garnered 1.3 million Instagram followers, oversees nearly a dozen full-time employees, and Dae Hair, the beauty brand she launched in 2020, is the top-selling clean hair care line at Sephora.

But while Clark, and an entire generation of first-wave Instagram influencers, have evolved their businesses from image makers to brand builders, the social media landscape has also continued to change—and these days she’s feeling a pressure to pivot.

“It’s a shift right now, actually, and I’m spending most of my time on TikTok,” Clark tells Fast Company on a Zoom call from her home in Arizona. “Everyone is just shifting away from Instagram—I feel like if they don’t seriously change their algorithms back to what they were, Instagram is going to become obsolete, like Facebook.”

Not that Clark relies on social media for income any longer. In 2016, she parlayed her love of hairstyling into the development of a hair-extensions company, BFB Hair, and Dae Hair has been wildly popular since debuting two years ago. Some of the most in-demand products in the 14-SKU range—such as the vegan detangler and jumbo-size shampoos and conditioners—have repeatedly sold out since arriving on store shelves.

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Campaign Insights

UMortgage lifts the lid on its influencer marketing strategy
In June, the Philadelphia-based home lender welcomed three prominent TikTok influencers – Nate Fain, Arielle Best, and Rebecca Richardson – as part of its expansion strategy and for a greater marketing push to bolster its portfolio of LOs. In line with the new hires, UMortgage also launched Homeowner HQ, a virtual branch dedicated to educating prospective and existing homeowners across the country.

“We approached Arielle, Nate, and Rebecca, not for their social following, but for their passion for educating prospective homebuyers about all of the nuances of the mortgage process,” UMortgage told Mortgage Professional America in an exclusive interview. “Our vision as a company is to educate consumers and people across the country on all the aspects of homeownership.

“That focus on empowering others through education resonates with a very specific group of people in the industry, and Rebecca, Nate, and Arielle fit into that group. They use social media to increase accessibility to their educational efforts, which aligns with our vision of creating life-changing opportunities through homeownership.”

The trio joined UMortgage after developing a large following on social media. Fain, also known as @themortgagecreator on TikTok, leveraged his 10 years of experience as an LO and unique personality to grow his following to nearly 250,000 followers and more than two million likes on the platform.

TikTok influencers get resources from Democrats to help in midterm elections
With less than 100 days until the midterm elections, the Democrats are equipping influencers and TikTok creators with digital tools to reach voters across the internet with party-sponsored content.

In the run-up to election season, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) built an online organizing hub to drive the party’s messaging beyond its own social channels. The hub creates a central online destination for influencers, surrogates, and supporters to receive party-sponsored talking points, messaging, and a wide variety of digital content to post on their own social media feeds.

“Our goal is to equip grassroots supporters and volunteers with the tools to share our message with their own networks and to be trusted messengers,” Shelby Cole, deputy chief marketing officer for digital content and creative for the DNC, told The Verge on Monday. “Wherever you want to be met, we’ll meet you.”

Medtronic taps TikTok-famous physician as first chief medical officer of GI business
Amid the viral dance challenges and spot-on lip-syncing videos, a handful of physicians have carved out their own corner of TikTok. These social media-savvy clinicians use the video-sharing app to correct medical misinformation, offer peeks inside their busy lives and, in the case of gastroenterologist Austin Chiang, M.D., bust myths about colonoscopies and normal bowel function.

Since joining TikTok just over two years ago, Chiang has amassed nearly 500,000 followers and a whopping 17.4 million likes on his videos. And his platform just got bigger: As of this month, Chiang is now the first-ever chief medical officer of Medtronic’s gastrointestinal business.

In the newly created role, he’ll offer up his medical expertise to guide clinical data collection, company publications and training and support within the segment. He’ll also work to ensure patient safety throughout the development, clinical trials and post-rollout surveillance of Medtronic’s GI offerings, spanning endoscopic ultrasound, motility and reflux testing and more.
Interesting People

The Irish influencers turning social media careers into successful businesses
As a child, Keilidh Cashell always had a crayon in her hand. When her mam had organised professional photos to be taken of her, she clutched a yellow one and refused to let it go for the entire shoot.

Anything she came in contact with would be coloured in: walls, furniture, pictures. But as she grew up, she found a new medium and swapped walls for faces.

When Cashell didn’t get the required CAO points to go to art college, she opted for a one-year make-up course, which later helped her to secure a job as a make-up artist on a counter in a department store.

The Monaghan-born make-up artist rose to prominence through tutorials and creative challenges she shared online, where she has amassed 2.8 million followers on TikTok and 570,000 on Instagram. One of the first times she went viral was when she transformed herself into Game of Thrones character Daenerys Targaryen, complete with a realistic dragon eye prosthetic.

The move from crayons to make-up spurred what she describes as a lifelong dream to own her own beauty line. Building an online following meant that desire could become a reality far sooner than she had hoped.

“The managers that I have, they’re my really good friends; people that I trust with my life. And they turned around to me one day and were just like ‘why don’t you do it?’ And I realised I didn’t know why I wasn’t doing it. So that was the answer in itself,” the 26-year-old entrepreneur says of starting her own line.

Ryleigh Jones: Balancing Mom Life And Content Creation On TikTok And Instagram
Ryleigh Jones is a 26-year-old content creator who creates motherhood and lifestyle content. Her background is in marketing, which she earned her degree in. Currently, she works as a real estate appraiser and also creates content on Instagram and TikTok featuring herself, her husband, and her 17-month-old daughter, Austi. 

She shares that currently, she doesn’t make much money from her content, but she loves creating content as a creative outlet. 

“I would love for this to turn into more like a part-time job or full-time job because I went into being an appraiser because I wanted to stay home with my daughter, but I wound up still making an income, so that would be the main goal. That would be awesome.” 

Currently, her content primarily revolves around mom life, DIYs, lifestyle topics, and remodeling after Ryleigh and her husband recently bought their house. 

“I would just do DIYs around the house… It was before I had my daughter, so I was hands-on painting and pulling stuff apart and all kinds of stuff, demoing. That’s kind of how I got started.”

The Influencer Marketing Leader Who Was Made In Chelsea
When you rejoined the marketing world, what new knowledge about influence and celebrity did you bring with you?

When I left the show, I was at a crossroads. I couldn’t go back into finance. And I was like, “what skills have I learned?”

Well, social had blown up overnight. I got up to half a million followers on Instagram (I don’t quite have that many anymore) and I’d started working with brands as an influencer. I knew how influencers could connect with brands and I knew what I wanted from a brand relationship and what would work for me. That became valuable for companies tapping into the influencer space.

I initially worked for an app, Brandbassador, that was trying to get ambassadors to promote products for brands, looking after the talent side of it. After a year, I joined a US-based influencer marketing agency called Open Influence, to look after the talent relationships, as well as doing some client service stuff.

When I joined Disrupt, I think the ‘influencing from the inside’ message that I push based on my background as an influencer really attracted them. I knew the space, I had good relationships with brands, and I had the influencer mindset.

Industry News

TikTok’s latest test feature aims to improve the app’s search capabilities
TikTok is testing a new feature that enhances the popular short-form video app’s search functions. The new feature highlights keywords in comments and links to search results for the term. TikTok’s search function already allows users to discover content and trends, but the new feature would take the app’s search capabilities even further. The test feature also shows that TikTok is interested in competing with more than just its social media competitors, as it’s now looking to cut into Google’s core products as well.

It appears that the feature is currently available to a small group of users who are part of a limited test. When we reached out for comment about the test, a spokesperson for TikTok said the company didn’t have anything to share at the moment.

TikTok has been able to successfully function as a search engine due to its ability to quickly surface relevant and short videos based on what you’re looking for in that moment. For instance, if you’re looking a for a banana bread recipe, you may be able to find a better one on TikTok, as opposed to Google Search. When you search for the recipe on Google, you’ll likely be presented with search results that prioritize lengthy blog posts where you have to scroll for a bit before actually getting to the recipe. On the other hand, TikTok will present you with quick recipe videos that are to the point and short.

Meta’s Latest Influencer Experiment - Super Livestreaming
Meta is in a true experimentation phase at the moment, saying goodbye to old features and introducing new ones in order to develop its platforms in order to firmly position itself as THE giant in the social media space. 

Last week, Reels were the hot topic, and this week we look at news of another video service being introduced by Meta – Super. This is not a spur-of-the-moment project from Meta, as the product has reportedly been in the planning and development stages since 2022, with a pitch deck released to influencers in 2021.

It’s unsurprising that we are expecting a release of a livestreaming platform from Meta, as we are well aware that the Meta team are always keeping up with the latest social platform offerings that are taking the lead and setting the pace in the market.  

So far, in its testing phase, Super is a web-only app that doesn’t require any software installation. Viewers are able to watch for free if they just wish to connect digitally with their favourite creators, but there are also the options for fans to make a variety of interactive digital purchases during a livestream.

TikTok Launches New ‘Order Center’ eCommerce Tracking Hub with Selected Users
Get ready for TikTok to make a bigger push on in-app shopping, with some users now seeing a new ‘Order Center’ panel in the app, which tracks any products that you’ve purchased, looked at, or even, potentially, may be interested in, in the app.

It’s the latest in TikTok’s shift towards eCommerce, which has already been a winner in the Chinese version of the app. Indeed, the majority of the revenue generated by Douyin, the Chinese variation of TikTok, now comes from in-stream eCommerce integrations, which has also facilitated new pathways for creator monetization, via brand partnership integrations that enable more organic type promotions in the app.

Clutch raises $1.2M pre-seed round for content creator marketplace
Technology firm Clutch is launching its open beta phase with a fresh round of financing.

Clutch, a Houston-based digital marketplace for content creators and emerging brands, announced raising $1.2 million in pre-seed funding led by San Francisco-based Precursor Ventures. The pre-seed round also included investments from Austin-based Capital Factory and HearstLab, which is owned by global media company Hearst.

The tech company previously raised a $350,000 angel round from Austin-based DivInc and friends and family capital, the company said Aug. 4.

The $1.2 million in pre-seed financing is fueling the launch of Clutch's open beta for content creators and brands across the U.S. The tech company launched a closed beta in January 2022 to connect brands and student creators, who earned more than $10,000 on the Clutch platform each month. The funding will also support continued investment in customer and product strategy, Clutch said.

"We want to be a force for the next generation in the changing landscape of what it means to be successful in your career to something that is dynamic, ever-changing and on your own terms," said Madison Long, co-founder and CEO of Clutch. "We are thrilled to bring our product to creators and brands nationwide looking to enhance their lifestyle and increase their earnings, and proud to have the support of such forward-thinking, thoughtful investors."

Why an Atlanta-based Black influencer collective swapped their collab house for a studio
A well-known influencer collective, Collab Crew (formerly known as Collab Crib) has had a turbulent few months since TechCrunch met them at VidCon. Founder Keith Dorsey stepped down to focus on his mental health, appointing Robert Dean III (@robiiiworld) to take the lead. Why the name change? Unfortunately, they're no longer a "crib" -- their Atlanta area house was sold, so they couldn't renew their lease.

Now, Collab Crew is trying to make the most of the situation. Instead of living together outside of Atlanta in Fayetteville, Khamyra Sykes (@queenkhamyra), Chad Epps (@chadio), Kaelyn Kastle (@kaelynkastle), Tracy Billingsley (@traybills) and other collaborators are launching Collab Studio ATL. A few minutes away from downtown Atlanta, Collab Studio ATL describes itself as "a tech-based one-stop shop for content creators, HBCU students and young entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals."

At just 16 years old, Sykes has already been honored on the Forbes 30 under 30 list alongside fellow Collab Crew members Theo Wisseh and Kastle. But because she's so young, she didn't live in the collective's house. Now, she's excited to work out of the studio, which is more specifically dedicated to business than a house that doubles as a living space.

“My company Putta Crown On It has the opportunity to have a place to do classes, promotional shoots and more," Sykes told TechCrunch via email. "I feel like the studio has the potential to be a great place for creators like me to thrive. The productivity at the studio is much better than the house for business and content.”
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Great Paywalled Content

Nordstrom Shifts Influencer-Marketing Strategy to Awareness Campaigns - Business Insider
Nordstrom was an early adopter of influencer marketing, particularly among large corporations.

Its annual Anniversary Sale (or what's casually referred to as "NSale") has, until recently, been dubbed the "Super Bowl of swipe-ups" on Instagram. Every year, social-media followers eagerly anticipate the event to get the scoop on the latest sales, and Adweek reported that some influencers even make the bulk of their earnings from it.

This year, however, the company seems to be adjusting its strategy and spending around fashion Instagram marketing. A Nordstrom spokesperson told Insider that it would focus more on "awareness-driving" campaigns than it has in previous years, and beyond the commission-based deals it's known for.  

The spokesperson said the company is looking to invest more in awareness-driving tactics than it has in years past, which means more flat fees (versus commissions). 

B2B Businesses Embrace LinkedIn Influencer Marketing - Bloomberg
Bernard Marr, 49, who has degrees in business, engineering, and information technology, is interested in topics such as artificial intelligence and digital transformation. In his online videos about the future of technology and business strategy, the gray-haired consultant and author usually wears a black suit jacket and black T-shirt to offer his take on top industry trends with a calm, instructive delivery. It’s not your typical influencer performance.

And yet 2 million people follow Marr on social media, and he’s attracted big brands looking to drive sales by partnering on his posts, including International Business Machines, Microsoft, and Alphabet’s Google. “It’s always been companies coming to me saying, ‘Do you want to work together? We’ve got these interesting stories to share, and you’ve got an audience,’” says Marr, whose social media content creation takes up a third of his working hours and contributes as much as half of his income.

Marr is part of a small but growing segment of the marketing world known as business-to-business influencing. Most people are familiar with the army of young influencers making viral videos on TikTok and Instagram for brands looking to reach consumers, predominantly in beauty, fashion, travel, and food, but also in finance and pets. Now, enterprise businesses that sell to other companies are tapping into the trend by working with influencers like Marr. “These conversations are happening anyways, right?” says Rahul Titus, global head of influence at WPP Plc’s Ogilvy agency. “You might not be starting or instigating these conversations, but your buyers are on Reddit and LinkedIn and all these social media platforms.”

How TikTok Won Over Fashion - Business of Fashion
Altuzarra is one of the millions of users lured by TikTok in recent years. TikTok ranked as the most downloaded app in the world in 2021 and in the first quarter of 2022, according to data from Sensor Tower, a firm that tracks app data. And TikTok users are spending more time on it each year. But the app still trails rivals like Instagram and Facebook in total audience, ranking fifth globally in terms of monthly active users, according to TikTok is expected to capture only about one-third of the influencer marketing dollars brands will spend on Instagram this year, though it has surpassed Facebook and is on track to take the No. 2 spot from YouTube by 2024, according to Insider Intelligence.

For most of TikTok’s rise, the fashion and beauty communities treated the platform as a place for experimentation while building their online marketing campaigns around Instagram. No longer. Meta’s recent promises to spotlight more videos and recommended content in Facebook and Instagram feeds demonstrate how much TikTok has disrupted the social media landscape. And as many users bristle at the changes from the apps they grew up on, brands and influencers are rethinking where they focus their efforts.

“TikTok is where trends start for us,” said Stacey McCormick, the senior vice president of marketing for Aerie, American Eagle’s sister intimates and activewear brand.
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