Author: Scott Guthrie | #095 | 01 March 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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How-to guide for U.S.-based creators to file tax

U.S.-based creators are now mid-way through the tax-filing period. The deadline is April 18. The Passionfruit newsletter has put together a guide to help influencers navigate their way through the process. The article answers questions including: Do I qualify as self-employed? What are my tax obligations? What information do I need to file taxes as a content creator? And what expenses are deductible?

The Kardashian's on Instagram 2015 - today

Liz Hagelthorn, Queen of the Meme and alumni of both Google and Twitter has taken a deep dive into the Kardashian's Instagram activity from Januray 2015 to January 2023. It’s a story of colossal follower growth and includes plenty of takeaways for marketers. Consistency of posting and the power of the comment section being just two. Read the whole deep-dive on Hagelthorn’s substack.

Quotable: “Their comment section is as important as the posts themselves. The posts act as mirrors for our lives and the comment section is where we discuss our own perspectives with each other.”

Park bench-gate

There’s a three-minute video doing the rounds on LinkedIn. It shows a female fitness influencer setting-up a shot in a park. A man entering the shot sits on a public bench. Then the influencer asks the man to move. Ultimately, the man refuses to do so. Is it staged? Perhaps. But it certainly caught the attention of LinkedIn users. In the 24 hours since posting, the video has accumulated 3.5k likes, 500 comments and has been reshared 119 times. Most side with the man and argue the influencer is acting entitled. What does this mean? Nothing really. It’s just a vignette of what many believe to be the entitled behaviour of those within the creator economy.

You know you’re old when ….

… a Gen Z TikTokker pitches the idea of inventing the landline telephone” “A phone for the whole family that stays in the house …. Let’s attach it to a cord. Maybe like stick it on the wall so that if there is an emergency we can always find it.”

Prime hydration and mainstream media

We’ve talked quite a lot about Prime Hydration over recent weeks. In newsletter #87 we talked about the brand’s UK launch and how it tapped into the scarcity principle to boost desirability. The following week in newsletter #88 we discussed the cautionary tale Paul’s CryptoZoo ownership had on Prime. In newsletter #93 we noted that Logan Paul and KSI made Super Bowl history as the first creator-owned and operated brand to advertise on TV during a Super Bowl.

Mainstream media continues to be fascinated with the sports drink fronted and owned by Logan Paul and KSI. This week the Washington Post ran a piece saying the drink had become elevated into a status symbol. A couple of days later Insider ran a story in the same vein.

Quotable: “In the next 10 years, all the biggest brands will be made by creators,” said Mae Karwowski, CEO and founder of influencer marketing firm Obviously. “They understand the medium. They understand what their customers want.” [Washington Post]

Quotable: “It actually has zero to do with the product,” said Amanda Russell, a professor and director of the Global Center for Influence at University of Texas. “It’s about the community and the cult that they’ve built.” [Washington Post]

I like Amanda Russell and contributed to her book, The Influencer Code, but I don’t agree with her take here. Creators are great storytellers. They know what their audience wants - and what it doesn’t care for. Their fans will often be keen to try out any new product developed by the creator. In short, influencers supply both the distribution and the marketing firepower. Get the proposition right and you’ve got an opportunity for recurring revenue. For longevity in the space, the product has to be good, however. No one will buy a dud product twice.

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TikTok publishes Simba Sleep case study

Mattress brand Simba Sleep came to TikTok to run a multi-touchpoint campaign that leveraged creators. TikTok has turned the campaign into a case study - the activation reached 8.3M users and decreased CPM by 28%.

Snapchat has its own ChatGPT-powered chatbot

The Verge reports that Snapchat is launching a chatbot called My AI - mobile-friendly version of ChatGPT running inside the app.

Quotable: “The big idea is that in addition to talking to our friends and family every day, we’re going to talk to AI every day,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel tells The Verge. “And this is something we’re well positioned to do as a messaging service.”

YouTube opens up multi-language audio

YouTube has rolled out multi-language audio for creators enabling them to dub their content in other languages, so gaining more views around the world. In a YouTube blog post announcing the feature the firm said it found that creators testing multi-language dubbed videos saw over 15% of their watch time coming from views in the video's non-primary language. And, on average, viewers watched over 2m hours of dubbed video daily this past January alone.

Mercedes E-Class to have TikTok integrated as standard

TikTok is to be integrated into the Mercedes-Benz Operating System for the car manufacturer’s E-Class models. The two screens in the E-Class run independently, so both the driver and passenger can log in to their own accounts and For You feeds. Those without an account can browse as a guest and watch pre-screened TikTok content that has already received an extra layer of moderation.

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Blanc branded box of gifts

Congratulations to our friends at Gearbox Publishing on the recent release of Blanc, and thanks for letting us contribute to its launch celebrations. The game's beautiful snowbound art style inspired the design and creation of one of our favourite creator gifting packs of late, and our team had a fantastic time bringing it to life.

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→ Meta Verified could generate $1.7 billion “in high-margin revenue in 2024” according to Bank of America analysts [CNBC]

→ 50% of Americans under 25 have completed a purchase on social media [The Economist]

→ Canada’s federal government has blocked TikTok from all government mobile devices citing “unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security” [National Post]

→ Privacy regulators in Canada have started an investigation into TikTok over its collection, use and disclosure of personal information — including whether it’s complying with laws when dealing with younger users [Bloomberg]

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Meta Verified: Getting ahead of regulation

It may seem counterintuitive that while YouTube and TikTok appear to be going out of their way to court creators, Instagram and Facebook are levying fines in the form of subscriptions.

YouTube pays out around $10 billion a year to creators while TikTok has just introduced the Creativity Program Beta - its Creator Fund 2.0. Meta Verified on the other hand charges creators for access to better authentication and security and the promise of increased visibility and reach on the platforms.

But, perhaps Mark Zuckerberg has seen which way the wind is blowing and has totted up the cost. The Meta CEO has dubbed 2023 the ‘year of efficiency’ in a comment to his blog post announcing the test launch of Meta Verified Zuckerberg explained, “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.”

So why charge now? Well, apart from recurring revenues smoothing the P&L in a way that cyclical advertising revenue is unable to, proposed legislation imposes new undertakings for big tech to police the content on their platforms.

The UK’s Online Safety Bill has begun its final stages in the House of Commons. The E.U.’s Digital Services Act will be directly applicable across the E.U. from 1 January 2024. Regulators around the world are watching these bills closely with the intention of tailoring them to their own jurisdictions’ needs.

The Competition and Markets Authority, too, has issued guidance to social media platforms on how they should deal with hidden adverting in creator content. Platforms are advised to, “Take appropriate, proportionate, proactive steps and use available technology to prevent hidden advertising from appearing on their site.” And to promptly remove content which has been confirmed as hidden advertising.

If applied, this guidance will open platforms to a deluge of complaints from creators dissatisfied that their content has been removed. Platform support and moderation will require both tact and better funding - especially at a time when Meta has made 11,000 employees redundant.

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