Fancy being an influencer? According to market researcher Morning Consult, over half of Americans aged 13 to 38 do. The booming career choice is unsurprising, considering that a content creator can earn $1,000 easily for a single post.
But to make it big in the saturated influencer market, hopefuls have to be authentic, which is a difficult attribute to maintain when your income depends upon creating content for paying brands.
“If you’re a creator, it’s good to have many different revenue streams, so you’re not solely reliant on working with brands,” says Mae Karwowski, founder and CEO of influencer marketing agency Obviously. “Then you have that flexibility and independence to only work with brands that you really like, and that’s really important.”
Karwowski founded Obviously in 2014 and says the creator economy has skyrocketed over the last 10 years, with the number of people who consider themselves “influencers” swelling from a few hundred thousand to over 50 million.
That 50 million number appears to come from an Influencer Marketing Hub report published in February 2023. Other estimates are much more conservative. Either way, the explosion of influencers and the emergence of niche “microinfluencers,” with fewer albeit loyal followers, has created an opportunity for brands to be more targeted in their marketing campaigns.
“A big thing that we do is actually try to work at scale as well,” Karwowski says. “So instead of a brand working with, say, three creators, we work with 50 or 100 creators with smaller audiences, but who actually truly love the brand, love the product, and are excited to work with the company.”
Matching brands with creators who genuinely enjoy the company’s products is a key strategy for brands to ensure their content marketing strategy comes off as authentic—an attribute respondents to Morning Consult’s survey ranked as the most important factor when choosing to follow an influencer.
Yet creators don’t need to worry that being selective with their branding partners will lead to lost revenue. Mostafa ElBermawy, founder and CEO of marketing agency NoGood, says that platforms like YouTube and TikTok are shifting their revenue streams from direct ad sales to taking cuts from influencer deals by operating as an agency pairing creators and brands together. Look at the TikTok Creator Marketplace to see how that’s shaping up.
“It’s just where the market is going,” ElBermawy says. “We need less ads and more authentic, raw content.”
But authenticity means sometimes sharing criticism, too, which brands typically have less of a stomach for, even though both ElBermawy and Karwowski say reviews that share criticisms or constructive feedback tend to perform better than reviews that are purely positive. Although marketing agencies will vet influencers to make sure they’re not going to give entirely negative reviews, either.
“Hopefully they don’t say, ‘This product is shit, I would recommend not using it,’” ElBermawy says, but if “brands build relationships with creators slowly, thinking long-term and establishing trust along the way,” that’s the key to unlocking a partnership that drives growth for both sides.
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Warren Buffett assured shareholders in Berkshire Hathaway on Saturday that he was “100% confident” his successor-in-waiting, Greg Abel, would lead the fund as well as he has himself—if not better. “We think alike on acquisitions. We think alike on capital allocation. [Abel’s] a big improvement on me,” the 92-year-old Buffett said previously.
On Carlson and Lemon
“Rather than a victory for women or truth, I view these firings as an effort to sustain and grow corporate profits,” Nolan Higdon, a lecturer on media studies at California State University, writes in an op-ed on the recent firings of Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and CNN’s Don Lemon. Higdon argues that the issue with Carlson and Lemon, from a corporate standpoint, was that each had made it “difficult for their networks to sell them as authentic ideological voices.”
A.I. chatbots like ChatGPT continue to haunt the prospects of all manner of creative industries, most recently appearing as the bogeyman in the ongoing writers' strike in the U.S. I haven’t turned to A.I. to write these summaries, yet, but it’s not outlandish to fear chatbots could replace writers. Particularly in Hollywood, where certain studios appear content to rehash old successes, delivering decades-late sequels and live-action remakes.
“Trust: both a moral quality and a financial arrangement, as though virtue and money were synonymous.”
Trust, a novel by Hernan Diaz, won the Pulitzer prize for fiction this week. Fittingly for this newsletter, the four-part book tells the story of a 1920’s Wall Street mogul from four contradicting points of view, offering a commentary on the role trust (or a lack thereof) plays in the industry of finance. Check out the New York Times review of the author’s sophomore novel here.
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