Influence Weekly #249 - Instagram Scaling Back Shopping Features Amid Commerce Retreat

Influence Weekly #249
September 9th, 2022
Executive Summary
  • YouTuber MrBeast claims world record
  • Instagram Scaling Back Shopping Features Amid Commerce Retreat 
  • TikTok denies reports that it’s been hacked
  • How Will Web3 Disrupt The Creator Economy?

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Great Reads

Doug Landers Of The Greenlight Group - Building Creator Businesses
One of the things that Doug feels is missing in the creator marketplace is the next steps for prominent creators who have expanded and created a team but may be feeling stuck. 

He explains, “Eventually, you sort of hit a scale or hit a maturity where you’re selling products. You’re making money. You have a team underneath you. So, now what? That is the problem that a lot of larger creators sort of five, ten, 15 million subscribers in on multiple platforms are having.”

Often, these prominent creators have 20-40 employees and many social media accounts they manage, but they get stuck when considering their next steps. 

Doug shares, “The answer to that [problem] commonly is to translate and localize content, and put it into other languages and cater the content, the very specific details of the content to fit the subcultures of the countries that they’re trying to target.”

For example, a food creator may need to change the types of food they work with to appeal to a different audience in another country. 

“I think over time, what’s happened is these large creators that are doing millions and millions a year instead of outsourcing the translation, and localization work are going to bring those teams internally instead.”


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Campaign Insights

The business of influence: New voices force a fashion marketing rethink
What do a rapper, a volleyball player and a fashion model have in common? They’ve all been deemed worthy ambassadors by Balenciaga, which featured Big Matthew, Kim Yeon-Koung and Khadim Sock in its Autumn/Winter 2022 campaign. Back in June, equally unexpectedly, the brand released a campaign promoting its BB monogram featuring techno-symphonic composer Bfrnd and edgy Lab Store buyer Kat Zhang.

Could this be the way forward for luxury fashion marketing? As Vogue Business reported in part four of this series, brands have become more interested in signing partnerships with individuals who have authentically built a community around their skills and interests — rather than celebrity or macro influencers who may be struggling to connect with their audiences.

An even fresher set of creators is emerging. They have built followings on new generation social media platforms such as TikTok, Discord, Twitch and even Patreon, all of which have gained traction among millennial and Gen Z users in recent years. Many of these personalities specialise in gaming, comedy and music; their rise to fame catching the eye of fashion and beauty brands.

Nic Kaufmann, who uses his social media platform to tackle gender stereotypes and promote multiculturalism, showed up in head-to-toe Dior at the luxury house’s show in London in December 2021. Khaby Lame, a Senegalese-Italian creator who makes TikTok videos mocking overly complicated life hacks, is now the face of Hugo Boss, while English train enthusiast Francis Bourgeois has fronted campaigns for The North Face and Gucci campaign and attended Gucci shows.

Arab influencer Karen Wazen is the new global ambassador for Roberto Cavalli
In the campaign, which was shot in Paris earlier this year, Wazen can be seen wearing the brand’s signature animal print.

“Ah! News is out! And I need someone to pinch me please,” wrote an incredulous Wazen, who was quickly inundated with overwhelmingly positive comments on the social media platform. “I’m the new face of Roberto Cavalli fragrances globally. This is such a dream for an Arab girl from Lebanon to be the global spokesperson for such an iconic brand… thank you to the most amazing team for this opportunity and for an unforgettable experience. Thank you @faustopuglisi for believing in me and making me a part of this journey,” she added, referring to the label’s creative director, Sicilian designer Fausto Puglisi.

 “We are extremely excited to welcome Karen to the Cavalli family. Her liberated spirit and glamorous style embodies the iconic Cavalli universe. We are proud to kickstart our collaboration together with a campaign that celebrates the core Cavalli fragrance pillars, which are the epitome of femininity and bring together a melody of notes inspired by our Italian heritage,” Puglisi said, according to WWD magazine.

The Dubai-based fashionista is one of the most influential figures in the region.

In addition to boasting of a combined following of more than 12 million across her social media platforms, the mother-of-three is also an eyewear designer and has an eponymous sunglasses brand, which she launched in 2018.

Dior celebrates launch of new men’s fragrance with influencer-filled bash at AlUla
The influencer-filled bash was staged outdoors against the backdrop of AlUla’s stunning cliffs and mountains, with “Dior” projected onto the landmark’s famous Elephant Rock.

Guests were treated to a dinner followed by a live performance from UAE-based blues singer Jay Abo, who wowed the audience with his mesmerizing vocals and guitar solos.

The scene immediately evoked the image of Dior brand ambassador Johnny Depp playing an electric guitar in the middle of the desert in the Sauvage ad campaign, which came out this summer.

“I really feel so grateful being here,” Sidani told his 215,000 Instagram followers. “The sights we saw today left me speechless… I didn’t realize how much I missed traveling before this trip. Seeing new places, meeting new faces, hearing their stories — and sharing some of my own.”
Interesting People

Phil Ranta: How Will Web3 Disrupt The Creator Economy?
As Web3 becomes more common, Phil explains that he’s excited to see what digital identities and creator businesses can do with these new elements. 

“What I’m trying to do to a lot of creators is educate them on what the metaverse will look like, what digital identity is going to look like, what digital fashion is going to look like, what token gating is, how this can be easy.”

He adds, “It’s all the very boring stuff for creators that gets me up in the morning and gets me revved. So, getting them [creators] introduced into these worlds and ecosystems is interesting, and if Web3’s not right [for them], then great. Do you want to make a fashion line? Maybe we start going through that. Let’s put together an investment deck.”

Phil shares that he is excited about the potential creators have with Web3 because they already have substantial built-in marketing potential with their audience, which many business founders don’t have. This advantage can give them a shortcut to becoming the next big company. 

Underscore Talent Expands Outdoor Lifestyle Talent Divison
“One of the talents that we manage is a channel called CBoys, and they live in Minnesota, and I think the cool thing with them is during the summer, they’re out on the lake, they’re jet skiing, they’re boating, they’re doing motocross. But, when the winter comes and it’s all snow, and they’re doing snowmobiling and all these different things.”

Due to the seasonal and constantly changing nature of outdoor content, brands can easily integrate their products in a very organic, natural way. 

“I think that they’ve [outdoor creators] really focused on this Gen Z audience that doesn’t watch TV and could care less about TV. I have two teenagers, and I don’t know the last time they watched TV, and so I think that they’ve really started taking advantage of this and with the brands.”

How UAE-based Influencer Kids Diana Show hit 100M subscribers on YouTube
August has become a very special month in the world of kids’ content on YouTube. Kids Diana Show has reached 100 million subscribers, becoming the first kids’ vlog to reach such a remarkable result. The only individual YouTubers who managed to reach the same number of subscribers before were MrBeast and PewDiePie. AIR Media-Tech, a global company that has helped Diana grow within its ecosystem, shares some insights and details about the creator’s path to this success.

Originally from Ukraine, the family behind the channel lives in Dubai for the last 3 years. With its modern and developed infrastructure, beautiful locations for shooting videos, and opportunities to freely invite friends and relatives from Ukraine and Europe, Diana’s parents find the city a great place to develop professionally and live with their kids.

The first video on the Kids Diana Show channel appeared in 2015. One-year-old Diana sat in a stroller while her mother introduced the girl behind the scenes to the audience and said the blog would be dedicated to the baby. 

“It all started as a hobby: we made videos of our kids to keep memories of precious moments of their childhood. YouTube was the best choice for uploading videos and making sure they won’t get lost. Then we started noticing trending videos of other kids on the platform and tried to adapt our content also to make it more appealing to a wider audience”, commented Diana’s father Volodymyr.
Industry News

TikTok Stars Charli, Dixie D’Amelio to Start Own House of Brands
The social media stars of the D’Amelio family have raised funds to start their own brands as they look to grow their own business rather than focus solely on influencer deals.

Investors including Fanatics Inc. chief executive officer Michael Rubin, Apple Inc.’s Eddy Cue and Autograph co-chairman Richard Rosenblatt took part in the $6 million financing round set to be announced Tuesday. Lions Gate Entertainment head Jon Feltheimer and United Talent Agency also backed the new venture as it hires staff and prepares to debut its first products in the coming months.

The D’Amelios have amassed one of social media’s largest audiences, with nearly 400 million followers across platforms, since sisters Charli and Dixie became prominent personalities on TikTok in 2019. Charli is now the second most-popular creator on the short-form video app with more than 146 million followers.

D’Amelio Brands plans to begin with a women’s footwear line and a skin care label to be released by the end of the year, with the sisters active in product development, design and promotion. Goods will be primarily sold direct-to-consumer but management is also considering retail partnerships. Their father Marc D’Amelio will run the new operation, which has already integrated the family’s existing fan merchandise shops. He’s also weighing entry into more categories within the fashion, consumer packaged goods and food sectors. D’Amelio said the concept is to take what the family has been doing with their brand deals, which often don’t include equity, and bring the process in-house. In recent years, the creator economy has birthed all sorts of businesses as influencers seek to branch out beyond the usual endorsements and paid posts to better monetise their followings.

Music-making app Voisey dumped amid Snapchat owner’s wide-scale restructuring
Voisey, a TikTok-like music app that Snap Inc. acquired in November 2020, is among the many apps and projects that the Snapchat owner plans to offload or close as part of its wide-scale restructuring.

In a memo on August 31, Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel revealed that the company is planning to lay off about 20% of its workforce and recalibrate its business to focus on growing its community, revenue and developing augmented reality.

The memo noted that projects that don’t directly contribute to these areas “will be discontinued or receive substantially reduced investment.”

As such, Spiegel said, “we have made the decision to discontinue our investments in Snap Originals, Minis, Games, and Pixy, among other areas. We have also started the process of winding down the standalone applications Zenly and Voisey.”

Voisey confirmed the decision, issuing a notice on its website that it has been discontinued on Monday (September 5).

Voisey users will still be able to download their content and other data from October 17 before they are permanently deleted from the Voisey database.

However, creators’ songs that are featured in Snapchat’s Sounds library will remain on that platform.

Creator Ventures: A New Frontier In Consumer-Internet Venture Capital
Kaletsky says, “we take ‘founder-friendly’ to the next level by helping founders with our expertise in social media and introducing them to a host of influential people. Our network of large-scale creators, who can amplify almost any consumer-internet company today, also helps us understand the insights behind the numbers in consumer-social. We also feel we are able to better understand whether a consumer proposition will catch fire as a result of our network and sector specialism.”

Lee brings his own insights as a creative founder. He says, “I’ve had my own experiences raising capital at and building teams at scale as a serial founder, as well as getting a perspective on life as one of the large early creators on YouTube. Creator Ventures is my next step, combining everything we’ve learned and investing alongside creators in the next generation of consumer-social. Bringing people and communities together has been core to everything I have done in my career, and now we are taking this to the next level for our founders.”

In the words of Lee and Kaletsky, Creator Ventures is different from traditional investors in a number of ways.

“First, we can make introductions to our network of creators, who often want to invest. Second, we are uniquely able to help entrepreneurs with their social media marketing from Caspar’s experience as a creator and as a marketing technology cofounder. Finally, of course we also do all the traditional things that a VC typically does: introductions to investors, strategic support and operator connections. Together this forms a compelling package for founders when deciding whose early-stage capital to accept.”

TikTok denies reports that it’s been hacked
TikTok is denying reports that it was breached after a hacking group posted images of what they claim is a TikTok database that contains the platform’s source code and user information (via Bleeping Computer). In response to these allegations, TikTok said its team “found no evidence of a security breach.”

According to Bleeping Computer, hackers shared images of TikTok’s alleged database to a hacking forum, saying they obtained the data on a server used by TikTok. The hackers claim the server stores over 2 billion records and 790GB worth of user data, platform statistics, code, and more.

“We have confirmed that the data samples in question are all publicly accessible and are not due to any compromise of TikTok systems, networks, or databases,” TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan said in a statement to The Verge. “We do not believe users need to take any proactive actions, and we remain committed to the safety and security of our global community.”

YouTube is testing a new way for select creators to promote their content
YouTube is experimenting with a new way for creators to promote their channels and content without having to go through Google Ads Manager. The Google-owned company is testing a new “Promotions” tab within YouTube Studio that will make buying ads easier for creators. The new tab is being tested with a limited number of creators on desktop, YouTube notes on a support page. 

“We’ve heard that creators want more tools to help grow their channel and reach a wider audience, so we are testing a simpler end-to-end workflow in Studio instead of through Google Ads,” the company says. “If you’re in this experiment, you’ll see a new ‘Promotions’ tab in the Content page of Studio.”

The new addition makes it easier for creators to run quick promotions for their content and also gives them a way to boost their presence on the platform. The new feature is also a way for YouTube to bring in more ad revenue.

As with any other test feature, it’s unknown when or if YouTube plans to roll out the promotions tab more widely.

On the topic of creators, YouTube is also giving creators the ability to view key metrics on the main app, bringing it in line with the YouTube Studio app. Prior to this change, creators could only view metrics about videos, Shorts and livestreams from the Studio app. Now, they can view these metrics from the main iOS and Android YouTube apps. YouTube says the goal with the new addition is to help creators understand how one content type performs over others on their channel.
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Great Paywalled Content

YouTuber MrBeast claims world record as Beast Burger restaurant opens in New Jersey - Fortune
A reported 10,000 eager customers lined up in the first 10 minutes after MrBeast, one of the world’s biggest YouTubers, opened the first physical restaurant in his burger chain.

MrBeast, whose name is Jimmy Donaldson, has over 104 million subscribers on YouTube, and following his enormous success online, decided to expand his popularity into the fast-food business. 

His venture Beast Burger was first launched in December 2020 as a ghost restaurant — a delivery-only service with burgers cooked in the kitchens of partnered restaurants — starting with 300 locations, and then expanding to 1,000 locations across the U.S. and Europe. In July 2021, the YouTuber announced on Twitter he had already made $100 million in revenue from the business. 

Instagram Scaling Back Shopping Features Amid Commerce Retreat - The Information
Instagram is planning to drastically scale back its shopping features, the company told Instagram staffers on Tuesday, as it shifts the focus of its e-commerce efforts to those that directly drive advertising. The retreat shows how Meta Platforms is moving away from some long-term projects as it focuses on building its short-form video business.

In an internal memo on Tuesday, staff were notified that Instagram’s existing Shopping page will eventually disappear, “given shifts in company priorities.” Instagram isn’t abandoning shopping altogether: over the next few months the company will test a simpler and less personalized version of the shopping page known internally as “Tab Lite,” according to the memo, which The Information has seen. The changes reflect “a new northstar and goals for the commerce organization that are more directly tied to advertising revenue for Meta,” the company told staffers in an earlier memo.

The People’s Republic of Shein - The New York Times
Still, many of the videos on social platforms made about Shein — including the incredibly popular “haul” clips, which show people trying on their large orders, piece by piece — inspire comments raising these issues: How can a $4 top be made to last, so it doesn’t end up in a landfill? How can the workers who sewed and shipped that garment be compensated fairly?

Yet this hasn’t deterred Shein’s devotees, many of whom feel they haven’t seen enough evidence to stop shopping with the brand.

Ann Taylor, a 25-year-old budding fashion influencer in Toronto who has received gift cards from the brand, sees those kinds of comments on videos “all the time,” she said. Most often, she has noticed, they raise concerns that the company is violating labor laws.

This summer, viral TikTok videos purporting to show pleas for help sewn into Shein clothing by garment workers were widely debunked. But the watchdog group Public Eye, in a November 2021 report on factories that work with Shein, said its researchers interviewed three workers whose hours exceeded national legal maximums, and discovered some workshops with blocked corridors and stairways.

Ms. Taylor hasn’t been swayed. If there were reports the company was violating child labor laws, for example, “I would definitely be against that,” she said. “If the workers are complaining they’re not being paid as much, that’s completely different than saying they’re forcing children to work.”

“How can I stand against them if I don’t have anything to back it up?” she said, suggesting Shein has become a target for being an “underdog.”
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