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Author: Scott Guthrie | #094 | 22 February 2023

Welcome to the Fourth Floor newsletter, your weekly feed of the biggest news, developments, insights, and analysis from the ever-evolving world of influencer marketing.

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Younger users create more content

69% of Gen Z spend almost 7 hours a week (6.9 hours) creating and publishing digital content. This compares with 59% of Millennials who spend 6.8 hours and 46% of Gen X who spend 5.9 hours each week. This is according to a survey conducted by Newzoo, published this week in Business of Apps.

Digital Creator Association launched by ex Gleam exec

Philip Hughes, ex-Gleam Futures COO and entertainment IP lawyer, has launched the Digital Creator Association (“DCA”). The DCA is a not-for-profit trade association for all digital creators, influencers, and their professional commercial representatives. Its aims are to:

  • Protect the careers and reputations of creators

  • Help professionalise the space

  • Champion inclusivity and representation to ensure the industry’s longevity and effectiveness.

Board members include leading digital creators such as Patricia Bright and Lucy Edwards, alongside talent management industry veterans including Dominic Smales and Lucy Loveridge.

Neal Mohan to head YouTube as CEO Susan Wojcicki announces departure

This week Susan Wojcicki announced she is stepping down as YouTube CEO after nine years, and nearly 25 years with Google. Neal Mohan will lead YouTube after her departure, though he won’t be immediately anointed CEO. Mohan’s title will be SVP and Head of YouTube.

Mohan offers a safe pair of hands. He and Wojcicki have worked together for 15 years. Wojcicki brought Mohan across to YouTube when she took over as CEO. Mohan became YouTube’s Chief Product Officer in 2015.

Time will tell whether safe hands can win amid an advertising slowdown and heightened competition from TikTok. It’s also worth noting that YouTube has lost several other key figures recently, including business officer Robert Kyncl, business finance officer, Martin Kon, and Matt Koval, head of creator liaison.

Ms Wojcicki said in an open letter to YouTube creators that she intends to focus on “family, health, and personal projects I'm passionate about”. However, she is to "take on an advisory role across Google and Alphabet."

Wojcicki is pals with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. She rented her home’s garage to the pair back in 1998 and later became Google’s employee number 16 (today there are around 175,000 employees at Alphabet).

Social media tops brand discovery for Gen Z

More Gen Z discover new brands and products via social media than search engines, according to GWI research.

Beyond discovery, the number of Gen Z turning to social for product research has leapt 35% since 2015. Three-in-10 Gen Z now say they use social media as a place for inspiration. This makes social media a one-stop-shop for their purchase journey. Gen Z want to be inspired, rather than simply informed, and social media platforms like TikTok fill this role. GWI positions this as a mindset shift from “I know what I want to find/search for” to “I want to explore and find things I didn’t even know I needed”.

MediaWatch: De-influencing

In what seems to have become a semi-regular feature for this newsletter, we turn again to the media’s reporting of de-influencing. Regular readers will recall we discussed de-influencing at length in newsletter #92, and again last week. This week, the Financial Times - along with academic newsletter The Conversation - threw their caps in the ring to discuss the trend.

“De-influencing is just as manipulative as any other social media performance. It is instead a sign of economic anxiety,” says the FT.

More constructively, Prof. Kate Daunt and two senior lecturers in Marketing write, “Rather than representing the demise of influencers, de-influencing is an opportunity for them to reassert their original “guru” role and gain trust through transparency and authenticity. It is a strategy used to protect their influencer role – and future income.”

By guru status, the writers are referring to ‘role prioritisation’ - where YouTubers appreciate they have to adapt to increasing follower distrust, and so concentrate on their subject matter expertise over the “influencer” role.

Hilton uploads 10-min ad to TikTok … and it works

Hotel chain Hilton shared a new 10-minute ad to its TikTok account this week. A 10-minute ad? Are you cray-cray? Findings from a 2021 TikTok internal report showed nearly 50% of users thought videos longer than a minute long were stressful. So, how stressed out could a 10-minute advertisement make you feel? Surely that would be sufficient to alienate all customers and prospects, plus get the hotel brand laughed off the video-sharing entertainment platform?

Not so, according to the stats. At the time of writing, five days after posting, the ad has attracted 12.1m views, 332.2k likes, 17.8k comments, and 9k shares. I wrote more about this ad earlier in the week.

Airbnb: Benefits of brand building over performance marketing

Two years ago, Airbnb swapped performance marketing for brand building. The result? The company’s most profitable fourth quarter ever. [MarketingWeek].

HMRC comes for creators

HM Revenue & Customs is writing to thousands of influencers to remind them of their tax liabilities. According to the Financial Times, “HMRC is writing to 2,300 online content creators, who make money or receive gifts for posting material on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube”.

Readers will recall that in newsletter #92, we looked at how tax authorities in Australia, India, and Singapore are targeting influencers.

Influencer Marketing | Social Platforms | Fourth Floor | Quick Links | Column

TikTok Creator Fund 2.0: The Creativity Program Beta

This week, TikTok introduced the Creativity Program Beta to select US creators. The platform called its initiative “the latest addition to [its] range of monetization tools that support creators of all levels in being rewarded”.

TikTok said it “developed the Creativity Program based on learnings and feedback from our creators on our creator solutions, including the TikTok Creator Fund.”

YouTube tests Creator Music feature

Creators in the US can now sign up for YouTube’s Creator Music feature. Creator Music is a growing catalogue of mainstream music that can be used in monetised videos without worrying about copyright claims.

Details:

  • Some songs can be licensed, which means creators pay an upfront fee (or for some tracks, no fee) to use the music in their video and keep the video’s revenue. Learn more.

  • Some songs can share revenue, which means creators don’t pay anything upfront, and they split their video’s revenue with the music rights holders. Learn more.

Instagram introduces Broadcast Channels

The platform hails the new feature as a way for creators to deepen connections with followers. Creators can use broadcast channels as a casual, quick way to keep followers up-to-date. They can use text, photo, video, and voice notes to share their latest updates and behind-the-scenes moments, and even create polls to crowdsource fan feedback. Only creators can send messages, while followers can react to content and vote in polls.

Influencer Marketing | Social Platforms | Fourth Floor | Quick Links | Column

→ The next beauty influencers will be virtual influencers [L’Officiel]

→ Creator Marketplaces (especially those run by Instagram and TikTok) pay significantly less than working directly with a brand or agency, according to a new report from Hashtag Pay Me

Influencer Marketing | Social Platforms | Fourth Floor | Quick Links | Column

Meta Verified: playing with net neutrality

This week Meta announced it’s launching a paid subscription service on Facebook and Instagram. “This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services,” wrote Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a Facebook blog post.

Meta’s official blog post went for a different tack completely. In an article headed ‘Testing Meta Verified to Help Creators Establish Their Presence,’ the company said the new feature was designed “to help up-and-coming creators grow their presence and build community faster”.

So, which is it? And should we care?

Authentication and security should be the minimum requirements for any social network. But Zuckerberg explained in a comment thread to his announcement that this costs money: “verifying government IDs and providing direct access to customer support for millions or billions of people costs a significant amount of money. Subscription fees will cover this.” Sure, enterprise users are used to paying a premium for faster support, but an advertising-funded network needs to demonstrate that its users are who they say they are.

Offering enhanced support is about getting creators ready for when platforms are required to take down more content under new regulations like the UK’s Online Safety Bill. When these rules kick in, there'll be a huge backlash from creators querying why their content was taken down, asking what the appeal process is, how long it'll take, who ultimately adjudicates, etc.

Meta’s official announcement says that paid-up subscribers will benefit from “Increased visibility and reach with prominence in some areas of the platform – like search, comments and recommendations.”

Increased visibility and reach for some equates to suppressed visibility and reach for others. Of course, Meta as a company can set its own rules on how it prioritises content. But if the company was an internet service provider rather than an owner of social media networks, we’d be talking about its attack on net neutrality - the principle that, on an open Internet, all traffic has to be treated equally without favour or delay.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that whilst both Instagram and Facebook are haemorrhaging young users and content creators, Meta Verified is only available to those aged 18 and above.

Meta Verified is being tested at the price of $11.99 a month (or $14.99 if purchased on Apple’s operating system, iOS) - but if you want verified profiles for both Instagram and Facebook you’ll have to pay twice.

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