Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.
Approximately 95 million photos and videos are uploaded to Instagram everyday. Could you sort the edited from the non-edited? The staged from the candid? These days, not many can, which is why anti-Instagram social platforms such as BeReal, Poparazzi, and Locket are dominating the social media space as users, especially Gen Z’ers, seek ways to authentically stay connected with their friends. The purpose of these apps is to break away from the edited photos and faux lifestyles and give a more authentic view of users’ day-to-day life. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these up-and-coming social media apps. BeReal encourages users to keep it real. Once a day, all BeRealers get a notification from the app at the same time to post their photo of the day. The app gives users two minutes to take a photo with both the front and back-facing camera at the same time. It’s currently ranked #1 in the social networking category on the App Store, and approximately 6.8 million people have downloaded BeReal and downloads have grown by 315% in 2022. Poparazzi is deemed the “anti-selfie” app. It has no likes, no followers, and only your friends can post photos on your feed. It performed incredibly well in its first year of launch as it quickly skyrocketed to the top of the App Store, even ahead of TikTok as the number one social media platform. Although this unseating was temporary, the app remains successful and popular. Since its 2021 launch, it has been downloaded more than 5 million times, with over 100 million photos and videos shared. Locket is for your closest friends only– 20 of them to be exact. When a friend sends their photo, it instantly appears in your Locket widget and displays directly on your home screen. Unlike a regular app, widgets are continuously running and you don’t need to click on it to start the program. You can respond to friends with your own photo that will appear on the Locket widget of their phone’s home screen. As you use Locket, you’ll build a history of photos that you’ll be able to look back on. Locket is also quickly rising in popularity, currently ranked 11th in the social networking category on the App Store. Why is it becoming popular to be candid and unfiltered on social media? Social media has been linked to everything from depression and sleep deprivation to anxiety and feelings of loneliness, especially among younger users. “Likes” specifically have become a measure users equate to status and how well you’re actually liked in the real world. However, Millennials and Gen Z have more access to mental health education than previous generations, and it has become an increasingly important topic amongst younger audiences. Their knowledge about mental health has helped them understand the negative impacts of social media, and in fact, Gen Z has shown a major decline in social media use on every social media platform besides TikTok. They are simply not willing to succumb to the pressure of traditional social media and want to be part of safer, less toxic environments online. While many younger users have attempted to make their own accounts on Instagram more realistic and less filtered (e.g. photo dumps), platform updates that flood users’ feeds with unwanted ads and posts from users they don’t follow has pushed them off the app even quicker. They are worn out and losing trust in these big name apps, which is leading developers to create new apps with more authentic purposes, and let me tell you, Gen Z loves them. What does this mean for brands? Takeaway 1: Users are seeking relatability and authenticity. They no longer want to see glossy, branded content from brands on social media– they want to see content that looks real, even on Instagram. It’s important that brands keep this at the center of their content strategy and when they consider who they partner with (other brands, influencers, etc). Takeaway 2: While the way brands can get involved in the conversation will certainly vary from app to app, the best way we’ve seen brand utilize anti-Instagram apps like BeReal so far is by offering its consumers some type of exclusive offer or look at some behind the scenes with the brand or its products. For example, Chipotle’s first Bereal post offered a promo code to the first 100 users who used it at checkout on the Chipotle app. Takeaway 3: If a brand is looking to be a part of the conversation on one of the anti-Instagram apps, they must recognize the fine line between being relatable and being cringey. Trying too hard will drive users away, which is especially important to remember when getting involved in an emerging platform or even just jumping on trends to create culturally-relevant content. One thing we're asking ourselves: do these apps represent the next wave of social media? That may be the case. We are tracking the latest and greatest closely (while using the apps ourselves). Time will tell and we can't wait to see what's next.
“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that social actually is all around.” Okay yes, I did steal that line from one of my favorite Holiday movies, Love Actually. But it’s true– elements of social networking are integrated into many of the products we consume every day, even if it’s not as overt as platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Take Venmo for example. You open up the app to pay your roommate for your share of utilities and catch yourself scrolling through a feed of your friends’ recent transactions, decoding emojis to figure out what they’ve been up to. At its core, this is social networking, and it’s a feature of Venmo’s payment platform that has set it apart from its competitors like Zelle. By adding a social component to something like a payment platform, Venmo created a space for not just payments to be exchanged, but social interactions. As humans, we intrinsically crave these connections and interactions that remind us we’re not alone. Leveraging this insight has put Venmo at a competitive advantage, as with many other brands who have taken the opportunity to create a social experience around their product. Why? Because nothing can compete with the power of a strong community around a product. Case Studies: Products with Social Components & Where Brands Can Lean In There is a range of products with social components baked in. Some were created with social at the forefront, while others added social components as a feature to an existing product. Some have opportunities for external brands to join the conversation and leverage their niche communities, while others are a closed community of consumers. We’ll dive into two case studies to show the ways this has played out for two popular brands: Strava and Spotify. Strava Strava calls itself a social fitness network. The app allows users to track their activities and offers a range of analysis tools, from miles ran to calories burned and so on. But they didn’t stop there– Strava integrated a social experience into the commonly found fitness tracking app by allowing users to post their workouts to a feed, follow friends, and comment to give “kudos” (likes) to other users’ workouts. Similar to other social platforms, users find themselves following IRL friends and acquaintances, but also their idols and professional athletes to get a glimpse into their training. The app allows users to join clubs, such as a running club or group of members training for the event, and invites them to take part in challenges such as “complete a 5K in May” or “log 250 minutes of activity”. Brand Involvement Clubs and challenges are the best way for brands to get involved in the conversation on Strava. A brand can create a club like Brooks Run Club or Nuun Hydration to connect athletes who identify with these brands to each other. Another option is for brands to host a challenge such as Lululemon’s Move and Stay Connected challenge, which was created during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Spotify Spotify serves a very straightforward purpose to consumers– to access music and podcasts. With that said, they have done a great job at weaving in social components that feel additive to the experience of using the app. When you sign up for Spotify, you create a profile with your name and a profile photo. You’re prompted to connect your account to Facebook, and recommended users you may know and artists you may like to follow. Once you’re following other users, you can check your “friend activity” on the desktop app, view their profiles and save their playlists, and even create co-authored playlists with other users. In addition to these social components within the app experience itself, Spotify has mastered the art of integrating with other social networks and encouraging users to share the music and podcasts they’re listening to on those external platforms. For instance, the notorious Spotify Wrapped campaign is practically designed for sharing on Instagram Stories. But even on a normal day, the regular social sharing integration in the Spotify app that allows users to share what they’re listening to on social is seamless. Brand Involvement There are a handful of ways that brands can get involved in the conversation on Spotify. Perhaps one of the most fun and creative ways is to create a brand profile with curated playlists like McDonald's and Gymshark have successfully done. Brands may also buy a variety of ad placements in the Spotify app, including audio and video ads served to listeners who use the free version of the app, and also podcast ads. Below are a couple of questions to ask when thinking about how you can apply this to your brand or product: Can a social component be added to my product in a way that adds value to the overall experience? A social component needs to build upon your existing product, and it needs to feel natural as if the purpose of the product supports the need for a social component and the experience is additive to the product. There should also be a clear reason to create a space for consumer-to-consumer interactions. For example, perhaps you can see that these engagements are already happening on another social platform, like a Facebook Group or a Reddit thread. Can my brand join the conversation or have a presence in a social component of an existing product, like Spotify or Strava? If there’s a social component of a product that feels like a perfect fit for your brand, there may be an opportunity to establish a presence in that community. However, it’s important to approach these opportunities thoughtfully and strategically, because you will be under the microscope of a niche community. Additionally, you need to be careful that you’re joining a conversation where brands are welcome. For instance, communities like Reddit exist for user-to-user interactions, and brands can be shunned away from the platform. With this all in mind, my hope is that next time you’re deciding which social platforms to leverage for an upcoming project or campaign, you may think outside the box about social media and look at the non-traditional, yet intrinsically social, platforms at your disposal.
Cinco de Mayo is a day most Americans associate with two-for-one margaritas and bottomless salsa or maybe even with Mexican Independence. In reality, it’s the anniversary of a David vs. Goliath-esque battle that took place between Mexico and France in the 1860s. More than a century later, it was co-opted by alcohol marketers to sell booze to Spanish-speaking Americans. Quite the tenuous thread, considering that outside the state of Puebla–where the battle took place–it isn’t widely celebrated in Mexico. But this post isn’t intended to cancel Cinco de Mayo revelry; quite the opposite. With an Avocados from Mexico poll revealing that only 22% of Americans know what they’re actually raising their cervezas to every 5th of May, consider this a brief primer on how to celebrate a day of Mexican heritage, resilience, and pride respectfully, without the appropriation of a sombrero. As marketers ourselves, it’s the least we can do. Picture it: Mexico, 1862. What started as a naval invasion to secure debts owed by Mexico to European governments turned into a sly attempt by France to take over the country. Emperor Napoleon III–nephew of his namesake Napoleon Bonaparte–set his sights on claiming a French-backed stronghold in North America. But before his troops could invade Mexico City, they were remarkably defeated by Mexican general Ignacio Zaragoza and his men in Puebla de Los Ángeles. Though Napoleon ultimately occupied the country until 1867, this battle remains a symbolic and historic moment of Mexican resilience and sovereignty with as few as 2,000 Mexican soldiers fighting off three times as many French ones. Against the backdrop of the American Civil War, Mexicans living in California–wary of France’s Confederate support–regaled their underdog countrymen’s victory over foreign powers with the first Cinco de Mayo celebrations stateside. Today, the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations take place in Los Angeles, California. From cultural pride to corporate gains In the 20th century, Chicano activists embraced the holiday as an occasion to celebrate their broader Mexican heritage and fight for their civil rights. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is also said to have had a hand in raising its popularity through US-Latin American policy. But, as happens with most holidays, Cinco de Mayo’s origins were usurped by commercial interests. In the 1980s, beverage brands saw it as a prime opportunity to sell more beer and launched marketing campaigns to Spanish-speaking Americans. As Paste magazine put it, “An ethnically-themed holiday falling on a relatively blank calendar space between St. Patrick’s Day and Memorial Day, just as the weather is starting to warm up? Nothing could be more perfect.” The rest, they say, is history. Or rather, historical ambiguity? Celebrating responsibly Of course, supporting your favorite local Mexican restaurant or bar on Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful thing. But without the sobering context and history of a day that is typically anything but sober, it’s easy for Cinco de Mayo to simply be an excuse to throw back too many tequila shots at a chain restaurant wearing a stick-on mustache when it could be an opportunity to authentically immerse yourself in the culture. So, without further adieu, here are a few ways we recommend celebrating and a few that should be absolutely stricken from the itinerary. By now it should be obvious, but for those not of Mexican descent who may be unclear: trust your instincts and forgo dressing as a caricature of Mexican attire. That means no sombreros, no ponchos (called serape and jorongo in Spanish), and absolutely no fake mustaches. Embrace the culture without making a mockery of it. In this same vein–for marketers and everyday folks–don’t give English words a Spanish flair in an effort to rhyme or be cute. It’s not Cinco de Drinko. Go ahead and sip on a freshly muddled margarita, an ice-cold tequila, or even a smoky mezcal, but refrain from getting sloppy at best or offensive at worst. Better still, talk to your bartender and ask to try a cocktail you haven’t had before like a paloma, michelada, or horchata. Beyond enjoying Mexican spirits or beers, it’s the perfect opportunity to eat delicious, authentic food. Seek out family-owned Mexican restaurants, food trucks, or ingredients you haven’t tried before, and avoid chains if you can. Take a Mexican cooking class taught by a Mexican or Mexican-American chef and learn how to make traditional recipes at home like mole poblano, a traditional sauce of Puebla. Read a book by a Mexican or Mexican-American author, watch a Mexican show on your streaming service of choice, or sing along to a playlist of Mexican musicians. Attend a Cinco de Mayo festival in your area to experience traditional music, dancing and dress, and activities for the whole family. Tell your friends what you learned in this blog post! Or better yet, continue reading about the intersectionality of Mexican and American history. AMP and Advantage Employees Weigh in on Cinco de Mayo “In my family, Cinco de Mayo is usually combined with Mother’s Day and boxing fights. It’s a weekend of bonding, delicious food, and good times. However, I did grow up seeing it celebrated inappropriately by my peers. As an adult, I notice that there is more of an effort to explain what the day actually commemorates and how to celebrate appropriately. The comradery of this makes me more proud to be Mexican-American and even encourages me to celebrate my culture more with my family.” - Destiny Velazquez, Engagement Strategist at AMP “Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that in Mexico we don't really celebrate. As Mexicans or Mexican-Americans in America, we cringe about [it] due to the insensitive depiction of our heritage and culture and seeing it narrowed down to maracas, sombreros, and culturally appropriated Americanized dishes that fail to represent the rich gastronomy that Mexico has to offer. As a result, as an ERG, we originally chose to bypass Cinco de Mayo as an occasion to celebrate or even acknowledge. But the more we thought about it, the more we thought about the need for us to be part of the solution. Cinco de Mayo will not go away, and we do not want it to go away. We want more people to embrace it and celebrate it appropriately. It is an opportunity to share our culture, tradition, and history, and it’s an opportunity to bring our communities closer together.” - Gerado Orta, Co-Chair HOLA (Advantage’s LatinX ERG) and VP Strategic Planning at InMarketing Services "Yo soy (I am) Peruana. In the town I grew up in [in] New Jersey, Cinco de Mayo was not something I saw celebrated or acknowledged; most of my friends were from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, or from South America. And because I am Peruvian, Cinco de Mayo was not part of my cultural upbringing. It wasn’t until I began working professionally in corporate America, that I was introduced to Cinco de Mayo. Frankly, it never felt right the way the holiday was presented, associated with tacos, margaritas, and sombreros. I have friends who are Mexican and saw the holiday as perpetuating stereotypes about Mexican culture. I did my research and learned more about the origins and significance of the holiday – something, unfortunately, missed when talking about Cinco de Mayo. If you want to celebrate or partake in another communities’ cultural traditions or celebrations, learn about [them] first. Sometimes people confuse dressing in a certain way or imitating another cultures’ traditions as appreciation, [when] what they are doing is appropriating another culture. This can be off-putting or seen as disrespectful by individuals in the other community. Even if the intent was meant to be positive, “I was just trying to celebrate x culture,” what’s important to remember is the impact it can have on another community. The best advice I can give [is] showing appreciation for another culture starts with educating yourself first on what’s acceptable and what’s not before taking any action. And if you make a mistake, which is bound to happen (I mean we are human), acknowledge it, learn from it, and don’t do it again." - Giannina Seaman, Senior Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Advantage Solutions
If you’ve ever watched an ad or TV show and felt fond memories of simpler times rushing back to you, then you’re familiar with nostalgia. Connecting with a brand’s positive concepts or ideas from the past is referred to as nostalgic marketing. The goal is to create campaigns that trigger fond memories of comfort and security causing consumers to have positive associates with the brand. The emotions that viewers experience with specific brands serve as an escape from reality. While the concept is not new, it’s become more popular in recent times and is used by companies of all sizes across all industries, from Coca-Cola to the Walt Disney Company and that’s because it works. There are plenty of brands that have created notable “throwback” campaigns over the past few years targeted at millennials, GenX, and GenZ. From reboots of beloved television shows, limited runs of signature throwback packaging, or collaborations of new and #TBT music remixes, these all successfully promote sentimentality. If Stranger Things doesn’t scream “the ‘80s”, then I don’t know what does. The Netflix original series lays the nostalgia factor on thick, complete with Eleven’s vibrant and geometrically fabricated outfits to Steve Harrington and Billy Hargrove’s hairstyles. The creators of the show have perfected the balance of fond memories and futuristic innovation to keep viewers hooked with the heartwarming storyline and CGI that brings the Demogorgons to life from the popular game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Fast-forwarding to the ’90s, the hit HBO Max show, Euphoria, has brought back glitter and Barbie’s baby blue eyeshadow. In season two, the cast adorned their lids with bold flicks of blue leading fans to take to Instagram and TikTok to show their best takes on the show’s top makeup moments, according to Instyle. With Y2K taking over, vibrant colors are back and brighter than ever. Nostalgic marketing is an effective way to inspire brand affinity and encourage consumers to romanticize memories of the past. Here are 5 ways to implement nostalgic marketing: 1. Tune into Social Media: With the resurgence of the Y2K aesthetic powered by social media creators and influencers, gaucho pants and platform sandals have found their way back to our timelines and into our hearts. Social media is a melting pot of nostalgia where you can reminisce and feel connected to a larger community of people with shared interests. Social platforms are full of conversations and content about what consumers miss from the past, the memories that bring them back to their childhood, and what brands left a mark along the way. Scrolling on TikTok or Instagram allows consumers to find out what’s trending from the past. It is important to keep your ear to the ground regarding trends to know what to do when injecting nostalgia into a future campaign. Think about a brand and how it could’ve improved from back then to now. 2. Focus on the audience: The best nostalgia marketing effort resonates with multiple audiences. Brands need to understand their audience and keep in mind that the generation that first experienced the product or service will immediately be drawn to the campaign because of the nostalgia factor. In the beauty realm, Colourpop has been nailing this with their recent throwback collabs with Lizzie McGuire, and Malibu Barbie. As history repeats itself, nostalgia is now and TikTok is where Gen Z sets trends for what’s in and what will fly off the shelves. 3. Supply and demand: Consumer preferences and shopping trends are always changing, which is why brands frequently discontinue and launch products. With social listening, brands can take into account the backlash they are receiving for taking away beloved products. If the conversation is large enough, the brand might consider bringing the product back to the customers' delight. 4. Pull on those heartstrings: What story can be told? Is there a fan of the brand who has been following the company’s moves for a while? Make the brand feel human and embrace the 5 senses that dig deep into the brain’s memories. Recently, the Harry Potter crew had a reunion (Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts) on HBO Max. The special took place at Warner Bros. Studio which is home to the beloved sets of the Harry Potter movies. As many people streamed the reunion, a flood of emotions filled the cast and viewers when reliving the films. 5. Don’t rush it: You are working with human emotions so your approach must be strategic and full of effort. A quick turnaround campaign will feel rushed and a money-grabbing stunt. Make your audience want more while also feeling satisfied with what you have given them. Keep listening to your customers to figure out what makes your audience nostalgic. Allow your brand to bring comfort to many during these unpredictable times by connecting and embracing the familiar. Best-in-class brands listen to the voice of the customer to make strategic decisions to ensure their campaigns create warm feelings for their customers while also shedding a positive light on the brand. Time to shake up your Magic Eight Ball and bring memories to fruition!
“Loneliness isn’t the same as aloneness. You are lonely when you are living an unfulfilled life, as opposed to experiencing being alone, that teaches you peace and tranquility. My soul is full” - Cori Geiger, Senior Project Manager, currently driving around the USA in her van as a solo female traveler The pandemic left many unemployed, and pushed us to revert back into our consciousness to become more aware of what truly matters in our lives; what adds value. Being a remote-first company, AMP believes in enabling our employees to work with passion, but never to lose the inspirations that push them to be their individual best selves. Working remotely has allowed so many employees to achieve life-long goals of living in their dream cities, or spending time with family. For our very first employee spotlight, we’d like you all to meet Cori Geiger, who is taking full advantage of living life to her fullest, all while exceeding in her professional career here at AMP. When the pandemic hit, Cori Geiger, 29, was faced with a life-changing experience when she lost her job and had to move back in with her mother. Fast forward to October 2021, she built a van from scratch and has traveled to more than 25 states with her dogs, Ellie and Roo, and is crushing it as a full time senior project manager at AMP Agency. She has over 45,000 followers on social media glued to her travel diaries every day. We sat down with Cori and had the most wholesome conversation: Was the #vanlife ever a possibility for you? How did you come to the decision that this is how you want to live your life? C: It was never a thing. I worked in events for a while and got laid off after covid hit. Soon after, I had to move in with my mom at 29 years old, I honestly felt like a failure. I lost everything I built up to that point. The five months that followed were crucial to my psychological reset, I had been hustling my whole adult life and never paused to take a break- It was almost as if I had a clean slate and I saw it as an opportunity. This time gave me the brainspace I needed to slow down and really think about what I truly value in life. A big win for me was getting hired by AMP who just decided to go fully remote, it was like a wake up call. The idea really came from a Youtube series on tiny houses and living the minimalist life, so I was always intrigued by living small! And then when I discovered #vanlife it all clicked that this just made sense for my life. So, how did you start the project? Where did you start? Did you build the van yourself? C: It was definitely a process- I was trusting the process mostly. I bought the van in January 2021, and it took me over 8 months to fully build it. With my full-time job, I spent most of my time after work and on the weekends on the van. I had to use resources on the internet and extensive research to bring the van to life, so alongside all the building, I was learning so much about the whole process. Almost as if I was building my life back together from scratch, by myself. In September 2021 the van was complete and I hit the road on Labor Day weekend. Check out the final product in this Youtube video. Talk to us about the plan you had in mind- any maps or travel itineraries? C: I did have a plan for the east coast, and ended up driving faster to avoid the climate conditions that brutal winter weather New England is hit with every year. When living the van-life, you have a loose plan, butit’s very interchangeable and a lot of it is made up on the fly, going with the flow. Were you scared initially? C: Being a solo female traveler, I was scared for the first few months getting into the van. I had to get past the mental aspect of being afraid, and traveling and working full-time. There is real actual fear when you feel in danger, and then there is anxiety and worrying about the “what ifs” - those are very different and after time you learn to calm down the anxious fear. Just like anything, the more you practice the more comfortable you get. There’s a stigma around solo female travelers and how unsafe it is to be alone, but from my first hand experience, I feel very safe the majority of the time. About work… How did you get yourself focused, given you being on the road 24/7? C: At first it does feel like you’re on vacation, and I was definitely in vacation mode. But then it hits you.. This is your life and your home. So just like you would get settled in a new home, I also got settled in the van as my home and started creating daily routines that helped me stay focused and productive. Talk to us about your experience with strangers while on the road C: So funny story… once during traveling I got my van stuck (badly), and some strangers offered to help me. It took two whole hours out of their day and about 4-5 kind strangers stopped what they were doing to help me. Being on the road, I got out of the negative spin that “the world is a terrible space.” Energy is everything, your energy attracts the energy you give off. Being a solo-traveler, how do you treat loneliness? C: Well, loneliness and aloneness are two very separate things. Just because I am alone in a van doesn’t mean that I’m lonely. I feel super fulfilled every day, in my aloneness. I wake up everyday excited for the possibilities, and am proud of my life so I don’t ever have time to sit around and feel lonely because I am just so happy with each new day. That’s beautiful, how about your two little furry travel companions? C: Yes! I’ve had Ellie for two years, and just adopted Roo while I was still on the road. I sensed that Ellie might need a furry friend while on the road, and there came Roo. Now they are best buddies and I can tell Ellie is enjoying the road a lot more with her buddy and Roo is the absolute sweetest pup! What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to the one reading this? C: If you have a goal and it seems really hard and out of reach, take those baby steps, just take that one step forward, no matter how small or big. You have to trust your gut and follow it’s calling. This is my message to you: GO FOR IT! --- This brings our employee spotlight of the month to an end. We are amazed at the life that Cori has built for herself, all while excelling in her career as a senior project manager here at AMP Agency. Oftentimes we get to hear people doing all these cool things, but the stories behind those humans are what enable others to take risks and bring more value to their lives. While what Cori is doing has its fair share of struggles, the reward is nourishing her soul. She has taught us that with a set goal in mind, the willingness to learn and quite literally build your life back up with your bare hands, you have a chance of living your dream life too. Cori’s travel diaries and life inspire us daily. We are lucky to have her as an employee, but more importantly, we are lucky to have her as a human of AMP. Stay shining and stay growing, Cori. Be sure to follow her travel escapades on social media: Instagram: @cori.ontheroad TikTok: @cori.ontheroad Van Life Resources + Links: https://beacons.ai/coriontheroad
The word “creator” has existed for centuries. It’s been applied to godly figures, amateur artists, and social media mavens alike. In the 2021 marketing landscape, “creator” is everywhere. At AMP, we’re seeing more and more influencers identifying as “creators” instead of “influencers.” Social media heavy hitters like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have recently developed services and tools dedicated to creators (e.g. TikTok Creator Portal, Instagram Creator Studio, Facebook Creator Studio, and the YouTube Creators Channel). The creator economy is said to be worth just over $100 billion dollars, according to a Forbes article published last month. But what exactly is a “creator”? How did these individuals become such a core part of the contemporary marketing scene? And most importantly, how can your brand build partnerships with creators who your target audience connects with? In this blog post, we’ll explore the rise of the creator, as it pertains to our industry, and share insights to help you find the right partners. What is a creator? The term itself is a matter of much debate. Different social media platforms have their own definitions. A 2019 eMarketer article highlights a few: YouTube has essentially used the same definition for years, but it segments creators into “established” and “aspiring” to account for varying follower counts. Facebook considers any entity that builds community by publishing content on Facebook to be a creator, whether an individual video creator, publisher or media company. Instagram considers influencers and creators to be one and the same. The company says it uses the term creator because that’s how many of its partners see themselves. Twitter defines a creator as any entity that produces content. It further divides the term into “artists” (known for their skill at creating a particular type of content) and “influencers” (known for their voice or their thought leadership in a particular community). Some people seek to define creators by comparing them to influencers. One measure of comparison is looking at the different content they produce. In a 2021 blog post, the video creation and monetization platform Curastory states: Working with a creator and working with an influencer will produce very different marketing results. Influencers will influence how their followers dress, what makeup they should wear, or what products to buy. Creators, on the other hand, create content that gets people engaged — how-to guides, a-day-in-the-life, tips, tutorials, etc. At AMP, we also find it helpful to consider creators and influencers together. The terms have a number of similarities: They both produce content, partner with brands, and tend to have large followings – yet their function and the purpose that drives them is not quite the same. Anna Tremblay, AMP Senior Manager of PR & Influencer Relations, explains: We interface with so many influencers, and very few of them refer to themselves as influencers. I almost think of it less as a title — like influencer or creator — and almost like a function. These are all people who create and post content, but they can do it for the purpose of creating or the purpose of influencing. And sometimes those needs collide, especially when working with a brand. I do think that TikTok, in particular, has ramped up the use of the word “creator” because that is how TikTok has branded their own influencers.” How did creators become such a core part of the contemporary marketing scene? A 2019 article from The Atlantic suggests that the term “creator” began to gain popularity in 2011. Around that time, Next New Networks — a multichannel network that was later bought by YouTube — developed a program for YouTube stars called New Next Creators. This language, as well as the concept of creators, became a major focus for YouTube. The Atlantic article says, “YouTube was so successful at pushing the term creator that other platforms soon co-opted it.” However, other sources portray creators as a newer part of the social media landscape. A 2021 New Yorker article dubs creators the successors of influencers: The influencer is a fading stock character of the Internet’s commedia dell’arte. The cliché of the influencer emerged, during the twenty-tens, from multimedia-rich platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, where the goal was to forge as curated and polished an image as possible. Influencers were social-media users as celebrities, with much of the vanity and purposelessness that the comparison implies. By now, the connotations of being an influencer are mostly negative—edited selfies, vapid captions, faux relatability, staged private-jet photos, and unmarked sponsorships. Accordingly, social-media platforms are embracing a new buzzword as a successor: “creator.” “Creator” is a term with a more wholesome air, conjuring an Internet in which we are all artisanal blacksmiths plying our digital craft. *Side Note: We disagree that influencers are fading characters on the scene, and believe that there’s a time and place for brands to successfully work with both influencers and creators. While it is difficult to nail down the exact origins of “creator” in the marketing industry, we can speak to the key factors that have contributed to their current popularity in this landscape. Factor 1: Creators speak to consumers’ desire for authenticity. Today’s consumers crave authenticity. More brands are ditching the airbrush and speaking out on social causes. Fewer consumers are expecting perfection from ads. And this lust for realness applies to creators as well. When done correctly, partnering with a creator can give your brand campaigns an air of authenticity. Creators can take your products and show their audience how they uniquely connect with them. It’s high-quality branded content with a personal flair. At AMP, we love partnering with creators who are genuinely passionate about our clients’ products. For example, in 2020, we joined our client Maruchan to partner with influencer foodies like @foodieonfleek. These creative partnerships yielded elevated recipes with a Maruchan product base, and naturally resonated with both the creators’ followers and our client’s customers. Factor 2: Content consumption is a significant part of 2021 life, and creators develop content. As the pandemic continues, and the Delta variant raises COVID-19 precautions and fears, many people are still working from home and opting for at-home activities. Even if the world is more open than it was a year ago, many people still depend on virtual entertainment and social media to relax and engage with others. Creators provide an emotional escape or moment of connection for viewers, and brands can leverage these interactions to connect with consumers. Factor 3: Short-form video content has gained huge popularity among creators and brands alike in recent years. Short-form video content is video content with a brief duration, although how brief depends on the platform. A 2021 blog post by the software company HubSpot explains, “A video up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length is considered short-form. But there's no universal number that everyone has agreed on.” And it’s worth noting that these time limits shift based on trends. For example, TikTok recently increased its video time limit to three minutes (the previous limit was 60 seconds). Unsurprisingly, competitor Instagram Reels soon after increased its limit from 30 seconds to 60 seconds). In recent years, we’ve seen a variety of social platforms pop up that are dedicated solely to short-form video content (e.g. TikTok, Musical.ly, Vine). Similarly, many of the other major social platforms have leaned more into short-form content (e.g. Facebook and Instagram rolled out their Story features). This is great news for creators, who are essential to the success and content creation of these apps. It’s also great news for brands. AMP Senior Engagement Strategist Kaitlyn Feniello says: Even before TikTok and Reels were a thing, advertisers have been talking for so long about how videos need to be short in order to get your attention. In the paid social space, you have .25 seconds to grab someone’s attention on an ad before they move on. People have always known that these videos need to be shorter. There’s also something to be said about YouTube videos and these longer form videos that people are watching like TV. But I think that’s the difference. If there’s a video that you’re willing to watch for 30 minutes, that’s more like the mindset of watching TV versus consuming content on TikTok. If TikTok’s spot as the #1 globally downloaded app in 2020 is any indication, short-form video content is here to stay. And brands shouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to create their own short-form video content. So, how can your brand find and hire a creator? And how do you make sure the partnership is a good fit? The Internet has a variety of free and paid options for locating creators and influencers: Free options: TikTok Creator Marketplace Upfluence Chrome extension Check out the TikTok Discover page Peruse the Instagram Explore page Search the YouTube Trending page Explore hashtags on relevant social media platforms Do a Google search for top creators in your industry, then follow them on the social channels that your brand uses Paid search programs: Grin Tokfluence Tagger Media You could also partner with a marketing, social media, or influencer agency to help you build strong partnerships with creators. If you’re interested in going down this route, AMP offers influencer marketing services and we’d love to talk to you about working together. Feel free to contact us with any inquiries! Finally, here’s a quick summary of list of DOs and DON’Ts to help you find a creator who resonates with your target audience and fits with your brand: DO... Look for creators who have an authentic personal brand. Consider if the creator you want to partner with reflects your brand’s values. Seek partnerships with creators who have significant followings on the platforms your brand wants to leverage. When asked which types of creators and partnerships work best for different platforms, AMP Engagement Strategist Rashida Hull said: It depends on the campaign you’re trying to do and where the campaign is going to live. Ideally, if you have an influencer that is on TikTok and Instagram, and has a huge following on both platforms, and you’re going to do a campaign on both platforms, it really works. But I’ve run into a situation where a client wanted to use an influencer for TikTok but they only had their content on Instagram… it doesn’t really work. Explore options for TikTok partnerships. Aside from it’s incredible popularity, TikTok also has made it far easier for creators to be discovered. Tremblay says: TikTok is a huge game changer for influencers. Period. End of discussion. And it’s because discoverability on that platform is unmatched by any other platform. We have seen the growth of so many Instagram influencers due to their presence on TikTok. Consider both short-term and long-term partnerships. While a short-term partnership can drive excitement and buzz around a new campaign, a long-term partnership has the benefit of building a strong public association between the creator and your brand. Make short-form video content a part of your marketing strategy and consider which creators can make high-quality videos for your promotional efforts. DON’T... Focus exclusively on follower size. Many brands are finding success working with micro and nano creators. Niche, loyal audiences can yield greater trust and affinity among potential customers. Partner with just any creator. A good brand partnership with a creator should make sense. If something seems odd or off about the pairing, your brand can come across as inauthentic or out of touch. Make sure to research your creators and consider doing a smaller test campaign before diving into long-term partnerships. View creator partnerships as a one and done deal. The marketing landscape, and the role of creators in it, is ever-changing. Make sure to stay on top of trends in content and platforms, so that your brand feels relevant to today’s consumer.
In the Era of “Finstagram”, Snapchat Remains a Haven for Authentic Social Sharing As marketers and brand strategists, we get a lot of questions about specific channels and how best to use them. Recently, we’ve been hearing the same set of questions quite frequently: “What’s the deal with Snapchat?” “Is Snapchat dead?” “Why are they still around – who is even using them?!” Surprisingly, Snapchat is not dead. Yes, you heard that right – the app is still alive and thriving. 53% of all internet users aged between 15 and 25 years still actively use Snapchat. More fascinatingly, among this population, Snapchat is their most popular app, closely followed by Instagram. The average daily active user opens the app’s camera more than 30 times a day, spending at least 30 minutes on the app. Users turn to the app for playful and silly content with their friends. 95% of Snapchatters say the app makes them feel happy, more than any other app tested. This begs the question: How are so many people (in a coveted target demographic) using this platform and yet, so many people keep asking if it’s dead? The Answer: The reason people think it’s dead is actually the reason people like using it. It’s relatively free from advertisements and brands, it’s harder to track people and it offers a more authentic place to be yourself with your friends. So, Why Snap? Think about the last time you were scrolling through Instagram. You see a post from your cousin, then one from your college friend, and then an ad about the shirt you were browsing 30 minutes ago. Nowadays, it seems like scrolling through social media has become a new form of never-ending advertising. Now, enter Snapchat. Unlike other social platforms, Snapchat allows users an escape or ability to hide from targeted media, which is attractive to a subsection of consumers and, in our opinion, is the reason Snapchat is still very relevant for Gen Z and younger Millennials. With Snapchat, users are able to directly share videos and images with their closest friends and choose how and when to share moments to a wider friends list. (Yes, we know Instragram added the close friends function in stories but it’s somehow not the same). Unlike Instagram or Tiktok, Snapchat users don’t appear to feel the pressure to look a certain way or feel a certain way about the amount of content they receive or share. Users are more likely to express their authentic self, not constantly comparing themselves to others based on post engagements or feed aesthetics. Snapchat also eliminates the surrounding influencer persona which surfaces on other platforms and removes the constant barrage of paid media. In other words, on Snapchat you don’t feel like you’re constantly being sold something. A Refinery 29 article points out “A big part of Snapchat’s appeal is the lack of commitment it takes to enjoy it: Stories fade after 24 hours, messages disappear, and, even if you leave Snapchat, you can always connect with people via at least three other platforms”- users do not have to feel pressured by the living content aspect of other platforms. Essentially, Snap is a “cleaner” more authentic experience free from influencers and brands and that’s exactly why people like it. Does this mean brands should avoid Snap all together!? By no means is Snapchat an untouched platform by brands. Brands do have targeted ads on Snapchat however, these don’t interrupt the way users engage with the app. Users only see sponsored content when looking through the wider audience stories and they know that’s the only place they’ll see ads. Brands that use Snapchat well have become skilled at hiding their ads amongst other organic stories so much so that users sometimes don’t know they’ve clicked through a paid placement. TEVA, Sam Edelman and The New York Times are all currently running promotional campaigns on Snapchat in which users would briefly tap through the ad as if the brand had its own Snap story. Additionally, through its filter feature, brands have been able to promote new products or promotions, however these filters can be seen as “tired” for Snap's core consumers. What Should a Brand Do? How Should They Think About Snapchat? Be Purposeful & Authentic - Snap requires a lot of attention, strategy and dedication to do it well. Think About One to One - Snap is all about direct interaction. Think about adjusting your brand voice to be personified - help people feel like they’re talking to the people behind the brand, not a nameless faceless logo. Don’t Copy & Paste Other Social Strategies - If you’re thinking about getting involved with a Snapchat presence - be prepared for a slow, long road. You can’t reuse your Instagram or TikTok strategy on this platform. Get to know how it works and then act accordingly. Community before Mass Reach: “Going Viral” isn’t so much of a thing on Snapchat so it’s less about mass appeal and more about relationship building with a passionate group of friends and fans. When in Doubt, Don’t - If you’re on the fence about jumping into Snapchat or reigniting your Snap presence, it’s better to be smart than be fast. No one is going to fault you for not having a Snap presence but there could be negative consequences if you do Snap poorly. A Parting Thought From an advertising standpoint, brands can capitalize on the fast FOMO opportunities that Snap creates to promote new products or campaigns. At the same time, brands should strategically think about how to speak to consumers on the platform, especially when knowing most users turn to the app for playful and silly conversations with their closest friends. As both a user and a strategist, Snap allows me to feel free of the social pressure felt across other platforms. However, if I were to advise a client interested in Snap, I would advise to proceed with caution as authentic social sharing seems to be harder and harder to replicate as for brands these days. Brands are always welcomed to create a presence on Snapchat, although enticing to try to reach target audiences, the level of attention, dedicated resources, content curation and focus required to authentically join that space remains high. Brands looking to engage may need to weigh the risks vs the possible rewards before launching campaigns on the platform or face potential blowback as consumers feel their “brand neutral space” becomes invaded.
In the world of social media, trends, features, and even platforms can seemingly become a phenomenon overnight. One night, you go to bed after scrolling your Instagram feed, and the next morning you wake up to a brand new, intriguing yet unfamiliar app called TikTok. It doesn't take long for this app to surpass all others as the most downloaded app of all time with over 1 billion active users across the world. Flash forward to the present day where Instagram - and almost every other popular social platform, for that matter - are scrambling to keep up with this new app. So, what makes TikTok so attractive, and can Instagram compete with their look-a-like competitive feature, IG Reels? Well, let’s dive in! Why is short-form video so popular all of the sudden? Before we talk about Reels and TikTok, let’s first address why the short-form video nature of both platforms caught on so quickly. For a long while, social media marketers have strategized their content around the fact that the attention span of our followers is short- and we mean short. According to Facebook, marketers only have 0.25 seconds to capture a user’s attention before they keep scrolling. With that in mind, snackable video content became the name of the game for brands and content creators and opened the door to a scrappier style of content - especially for brands who had typically seen video content as an expensive, high-production-value ordeal. The lower production value required for a high-performing Reels or TikTok video was key for brands. That, paired with the fact that these platforms became widely popular during a pandemic when creative teams were developing content out of their own homes. Additionally, it opened up a new door for brands and content creators to turn out quick-hit, entertaining content. What’s the difference between Reels and TikTok? Now that we’ve covered why short-form video content is so popular across both Reels and TikTok, let’s discuss the key differences between these platforms that have affected how they’ve been adopted by social users. Reels TikTok The Takeaway The User Experience To navigate to Reels, users must first open the Instagram app, where they will be shown their regular feed from accounts they follow. Then, they will select the Reels icon from the bottom menu to start viewing Reels in a TikTok-esque feed of content that’s been curated for the user by Instagram’s algorithm. When a user opens the TikTok app, they are immediately shown a curated feed of TikToks the platform’s algorithm has chosen - AKA the “FYP” (for you page). The full screen and vertical swipe feed create a frictionless user experience that makes it as easy as possible to enjoy the app. TikTok’s unique user experience puts short-form video content curated just for you at the center stage, creating a seamless and simple way to enjoy content. On the other hand, Reels is only a feature of Instagram among many others. Music & Video Editing Tools Due to copyright concerns, Instagram business accounts only have access to Reels’ library of royalty-free tracks, while content creators have access to a larger library full of popular copyrighted music. While Reels does offer video editing tools, they can be tricky to navigate and their filters and effects are not very extensive. Music and sound are the cornerstones of a TikTok video, and the app has nailed this feature with its extensive library of music and user-generated sounds available to content creators and brands alike. On top of that, TikTok’s video editing features are user-friendly, and they offer a wide variety of filters and video effects. TikTok is the clear winner when it comes to music and video editing tools given their extensive music and sound library and editing capabilities. Platform Purpose Instagram, home of Reels, is a network-oriented app, where users are used to seeing content from people they are familiar with and have chosen to follow. However, in the Reels section of the app, it takes on a content-oriented approach, serving users content from people they don’t know. At its core, TikTok is a content-oriented app. It normalized the experience of seeing content from people you don’t know in your feed based on your usage history and learned preference. While both platforms' short-form video features are content-oriented, Instagram is known for being a network-oriented app. Instagram has offered a similar user experience through their “Explore” page since 2012, so this balance between content and network orientation is something they’ve been teetering for a while. The Algorithm Instagram has been less transparent about the Reels algorithm, however, it has provided a few best practices for success. For example, Instagram recommends that Reels content is entertaining, fun, and inspiring, uses the app’s creative editing tools, and leverages the music or sounds provided. Instagram has also shared that content that is visibly recycled from other apps (e.g. contains a TikTok watermark) will also be deprioritized by the algorithm. Beyond all of the features listed above, TikTok’s arguably largest advantage is its algorithm. The platform’s parent company, ByteDance, has been very transparent about the large investment they made to design the app’s algorithm that picks up on users' personalized interests in record time, contributing to the effortless and enjoyable nature of consuming content on the app. Overall, TikTok’s algorithm is the first of its kind and unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the social space, which ultimately contributes to its success. We don’t know as much about Instagram’s Reels algorithm, but we can assume it attempts to mimic the TikTok experience while staying true to the app and attempting to keep Reels content unique. How Brands Can Be Successful on Reels and TikTok To be successful on Reels and TikTok, brand content shouldn’t feel like brand content. Brands need to get scrappy and creative to grab user’s attention and not stand out like a sore thumb among the style of content shared by individual creators. With that in mind, both Reels and TikTok require a unique content strategy within the brand’s larger social strategy. However, that inevitably requires extra time and effort. To decide which of these platforms to begin focusing your efforts on, ask yourself these two questions: Which platform is your audience on currently? Which one can you commit to doing consistently? While there are many benefits of TikTok as discussed above in our comparison of the two platforms, many brands have already established themselves and have grown a following on Instagram, and therefore beginning to utilize Reels has a low barrier to entry. While cross-posting between the two platforms is an option we’ve seen numerous brands take, a carefully thought out strategy for each channel your brand has a presence on is more important than simply having content out there. When it comes to a brand’s social presence, quality is always preferred over quantity. The social world is ever-evolving - and at the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which platform is best - the answer is unique to your brand’s priorities and your team’s bandwidth to thoughtfully manage the channels on which your brand appears.
How the first impression a brand makes on social is similar to online dating: Online dating… It's an often-times scary place for newcomers and people who want to find a connection. Similarly, social media is oftentimes a scary place for brands that are looking to make a splash, tell their stories and create longtime, engaged customers. But how do you do this? It’s all about the first impression, and then, of course, keeping people interested. And more importantly, sharing interesting and entertaining content that either sparks joy or inspires the audience to want to know more. It’s all about the first impression People put a lot of effort into their online dating profile, showcasing their interests, and selecting the best photos that show off a full life. When you think about a brand’s social media presence, are the best images being shared? How do you want the audience to feel when they view the content? Is the brand showcasing a lifestyle that is aspirational and grabs interest? Can the audience visualize the product or service in their life at first glance? Can you think of the last ad or content on social from a brand that made you think “Wow, that was funny” or “I need that product in my life”? Whatever it was, try to evoke that same feeling in any ideas or strategy. Is the content conversational? On a dating profile, the hope is that the profile info is interesting enough to grab someone’s attention so they *swipe right*, so to speak. On social, there’s a difference between talking at the audience and inspiring engagement, whether through a like or comment. Nobody likes being talked at or told to buy something they might not need. It doesn’t feel authentic and it doesn’t spark a 1:1 conversation. When you look at other brands, are their captions engaging? Is it only informative and robotic, or is it playful and humanized? Nobody wants to date a robot. Swiping right vs. hitting follow on social: With online dating, the goal is to get people to swipe right on your profile and be interested enough to send a message. For brands, the goal is to get people to hit follow and engage on a regular basis. If a brand’s not getting any engagement or steady follower growth, the question could be asked: Is this content boring? Is there anything interesting enough that inspires people to follow? Keeping your followers interested If someone is dating you, they have decided they find you interesting enough to want to be more immersed in your life and interests. Similar to a brand’s social media, once the first impression is nailed with a following, the real work comes in by knowing how to keep them interested. If someone is following a brand, they likely know what the products are or what the brand is all about. So, how do brands keep them interested as time goes on, knowing they already know the brand? New product launches, new special features, and staying up to date on all the latest and greatest ways to make content (*cough, cough* TikTok). Also, consistency. Is the brand trustworthy? Similar to dating, would you introduce the brand to your friends? These two things go hand in hand.
Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social media platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER LAUNCHES 'TWITTER BLUE', ITS NEW, PAID SUBSCRIPTION OFFERING FOR ADD-ON TWEET FEATURES You've seen it in testing, and now it's here, with Twitter officially launching its new 'Twitter Blue' subscription service, which will enable users to pay a monthly fee to gain access to a range of additional tweet features and tools. INSTAGRAM ADDS NEW 'DROPS' PRODUCT SHOWCASE TO HELP BOOST ECOMMERCE ACTIVITY Instagram has launched a new product showcase option today called 'Drops', which will highlight the latest product launches from brands you've engaged with, or may be interested in, at the top of the Shop tab in the app. FACEBOOK OPENS UP MESSENGER API FOR INSTAGRAM, PROVIDING NEW CUSTOMER SERVICE POTENTIAL Facebook announced an expansion of its Messenger API for Instagram, which will enable businesses to feed their Instagram Direct messages into their existing CRM platform, streamlining management and response. TWITTER CONTINUES WORK ON ITS NEW SPACES TAB, ADDS EDITING OPTIONS FOR SCHEDULED SPACES As Clubhouse downloads continue to slow, Twitter continues to add new elements to boost the use of its own audio Spaces option, which will soon include a new, dedicated Spaces tab in the middle of the bottom function bar to improve Spaces discovery. That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.