Will Twitter’s New ‘Super Follow’ Feature Work?

Also: Facebook’s take on short-form music creation, Charli D’Amelio’s distribution power, influencer marketing on Clubhouse, and more

Previously: Our conversation with Eugene Wei is one of our most popular episodes! So we just published a full transcript to read along with the podcast or on YouTube

And now, onto the news…


Top Stories in the Passion Economy, 03/05/21

Twitter Announces Super Follow 

What Happened?

  • Twitter recently announced Super Follow, a Patreon-esque subscription feature that enables creators to accept direct payments from followers for exclusive perks such as bonus tweets, community access, newsletters, or supporter badges. Twitter’s take-rate on these payments has not been disclosed yet. 
  • Twitter also announced a feature called Communities, it’s take on Facebook Groups. 
  • Twitter is projecting an increase in revenue from $3.7 billion in 2020 to $7.5 billion in 2023, with 315 million monetizable DAUs. 

What this means: 

Li: 

  • It looks like Stir is now the new product experiment group for Twitter—remember OnlyTweets?!
  • Twitter already serves as the top-of-funnel lead generation for many creator businesses, but those fans are funneled elsewhere (e.g. Substack, Patreon, OnlyFans). Twitter doesn’t get to keep any of that value. With Super Follow, those creator-fan relationships stay on Twitter and are monetized via Twitter
  • I think it’s a win-win because creators don’t have to lose audiences through moving them off-platform and suffering from the conversion dropoff. There’s more ways for superfans to get closer access to creators.

Nathan: 

  • Strategically, I agree. This is a great direction for Twitter to march towards, for all the reasons you mentioned. But there are going to be trade-offs between building a subscription platform and building an advertising business. In-app real estate will have to be shared by advertisers and creators attracting super followers. 
  • Also, they’ve struggled to ship substantial changes to the product in the past, and those were in support of their existing business model. This is a whole new model!
  • I’m hopeful though. If they get the initial execution right, the market might pull the product out of the company and get them to fully prioritize it. I think OnlyFans and Patreon are especially vulnerable here. I’d be a little more comfortable if I was a course platform like Teachable or a writing platform like Substack. 


Facebook Launches a TikTok-Like App for Aspiring Rappers  

What Happened? 

  • Facebook recently launched BARS, a TikTok like app that lets music creators rap over professionally created beats. 
  • Creators can choose from a number of professional beats, write lyrics and create 60-second content using various audio and video filters, including an autotune feature. 
  • The app has a similar vertical interface, with ‘Featured’ and ‘New’ tabs instead of the ‘Following’ and ‘For You’ on TikTok. 

What this means:

Nathan: 

  • This is Facebook’s second launch in the music space. Collaborative music video app Collab launched in December. Safe to say it hasn’t been an instant success.
  • They probably saw higher content-creation numbers with rap and want to spin out a more focused version of the product. 

Li: 

  • Making music is one of Gen Z’s (and humans’ in general) favorite hobbies. A lot of people aspire to become musicians. I could see this as part of a strategy to appeal to younger users through a new content format. 
  • That being said, I have my doubts on whether this product is going to be around for long or acquire many users! 


Instagram Launches Live Rooms for Broadcasts with Four Creators 

What Happened?

  • Instagram just announced ‘Live Rooms’, a feature that lets up to four creators go live simultaneously, compared to the previous limit of 2. 
  • Instagram is aiming to promote newer content formats such as talk-shows, interviews, jam sessions or live shopping experiences. 
  • It is also positioning the update as a way to help creators monetize through Badges—a feature launched last fall that lets fans stand out in the comments section of a live stream. Badges can be purchased for $0.99, $1.99 and $4.99. 

What this means: 

Li: 

  • Interesting! I wonder if this is inspired by Clubhouse :) With the previous limit of just 2 hosts, you were limited to an interview format. But with 4 people, there’s more options: multi-faceted conversations, panels, jam sessions, etc.
  • However, 4 hosts still feels low to meit’s very broadcast-like instead of being participatory like Clubhouse. 
  • I wonder if Instagram will expand it beyond 4. One of the limitations with video is you can’t have as many voices in the room when everyone needs to be visible.

Nathan: 

  • Instagram is trying to significantly reduce the friction to create content. It seems like they are coming after YouTube from the low-end here, the same way Clubhouse came after podcasts. 
  • However, the big difference is that YouTube is a lot better at distributing live video. They have scheduling, algorithmic recommendations, search, and they host the videos natively after the livestream is done. Instagram has all these to some extent but not as strong.
  • Going from 2 to 4 people on a live video feed is a nice incremental move for people already big on Instagram, but it doesn’t shift the basic competitive dynamics very much.


Banking App for Gen Z Hits 1M Users After Charli D’Amelio Endorsement

What Happened?

  • Step, a platform that provides financial services to Gen Z, recently reached 1 million users just four months after they got Charli D’Amelio to endorse (and invest) in it. 
  • The company’s flagship product is Step Card, a hybrid that combines the financial prudence of a debit card while offering the benefits of a credit card. 
  • The company also secured funding led by popular TikToker Josh Richards and baseball star Alex Rodriguez. Step’s last funding was a $50 million Series B led by Charli D’Amelio, Stripe, Will Smith, Justin Timberlake, The Chainsmokers and other celebrities. Step has raised $76.3 million till date. 

What this means: 

Li: 

  • Just like Mr. Beast Burgers and Dispo, Step is tapping into the distribution power of creators. 
  • Obviously, Charli D’Amelio has a vastly different level of reach than your middle class creator, but leveraging creators who are really aligned with a company on the Cap Table does appear to be extremely effective at driving distribution. 

Nathan: 

  • I totally agree with Toby’s thread! In the long run, no amount of influencer promotion is going to make up for a mediocre product, or a business with no sustainable competitive advantage. 

Li: 

  • Also, customer acquisition cost (CAC) for financial products has been really high traditionally. ($200-$1000 in the US). Tapping into the power of creators to lower that is a smart move.

Nathan:

  • Probably, but it would be interesting to see a quantitative analysis of the efficiency of influencer marketing across these products. It’s one thing to pay Facebook or Google a lot of money to show your product to people. But to give up equity? Maybe it’s efficient, but maybe not.
  • It makes much more sense for established brands that already have traction to partner with influencers to help scale, rather than to use influencers as the initial path to traction.


Influencer Marketing Pops Up On Clubhouse 

What Happened? 

  • Brands are collaborating with popular Clubhouse creators for promotional campaigns on the platform. 
  • Several brands across news, media, tech and hospitality (Politico, Pernod Ricard, Milk Bar, Kool-Aid, etc)  are building a presence on the platform. 
  • Clubhouse has 2 million weekly active users according to recent reports. While brands are attracted by the longer time spent in-app, hard selling products or services on the platform is challenging. 

Li:

  • I experienced this first-hand in the Shoot Your Shot room on Clubhouse, where I sent many guys home with free pizzas from Slice after rejecting them. I thought that was a brilliantly executed sponsorship, because it was such an organic extension of the vibe and dynamics of that room. 

  • There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to brand-building on Clubhouse: brands are going to need to get creative with driving downstream actions, given the lack of tappable links or visual media in the room.
  • The recipe (imo) is going to entail leaning into authenticity, and adapting to the format, instead of retrofitting their existing social strategy onto Clubhouse. 

Nathan:

  • This was inevitable! Advertising shows up next to attention like flies show up next to trash cans :)


Spotify Launches An Exclusive Podcast with Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen 

What Happened? 

  • Spotify’s latest push into exclusive audio content involves a podcast co-hosted by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen 
  • This is Spotify’s second deal with Higher Ground—the production company owned by Barack and Michelle Obama. The first deal involved the Spotify-exclusive launch of the The Michelle Obama Podcast


Triller Continues It’s Linear Content Programming Strategy

What Happened?

  • Triller recently signed a deal with model and influencer Twan Kuyper to create content for TrillerTV.
  • Twan initially rose to prominence on Vine after collaborating with Lele Pons. He currently has 14 million fans across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. 
  • TrillerTV content will be offered through a standalone platform. The deal is a part of their existing linear content programming strategy—which include signings such as Jennifer Lopez and the D’Amelio family. 


Snapchat Is Removing Sponsored Content Posted Through Spotlight

What Happened? 

  • Moderators for Snapchat’s popular Spotlight feature are removing any content that attempts to sell products or services directly, or through affiliate links. 
  • The Spotlight program currently has 100 million users, with several creators who have earned more than a million dollars through payouts. 


Old Media Star Collaborates with New Media Stars

What Happened?

  • Celebrity TikToker Josh Richards recently partnered with actor Mark Wahlberg to launch CrossCheck—a studio focussed on content creation for Gen Z. 
  • Josh, who has 24 million followers on Tiktok, will be the CEO of the new studio. Mark Wahlberg’s production company will provide the resources necessary to make CrossCheck the  “premier venue for internet-native creators.”


Education-focussed Creator Community Launches Content Production Services 

What Happened?

  • Standard, a community of education focussed creators, recently launched Standard Studios, it’s in-house studio providing content production resources to creators. 
  • The community includes popular YouTubers like Ali Abdaal (1.45 million), and channels like Philosophy Tube (883,000), Real Life Lore (4.02 million), and Minute Physics (5.25 million).
  • Standard Studios offers video and audio editing, graphics, filming, storyboarding, copy editing, production planning, location scouting, casting, 3D graphics, design, and a full workforce of “directors, producers, grips, electrical, even drone operators.”
  • Last year, Standard had launched its own streaming service Nebula, which currently has 200,000 paying subscribers. 


Roblox Is Preparing For a Direct Listing On March 10

What Happened?

  • Roblox, a user-generated gaming platform, is planning it’s direct listing on March 10. 
  • Currently, Roblox has 33 million DAUs, and has raised more than $500,00 in venture capital at a $29.5 billion valuation. 


Snap Hits Record Share Prices At $73.59 

What Happened? 

  • Snap’s share price (NYSE: SNAP) recently peaked at a record high of $73.59 after execs revealed company projections in an investor presentation. 
  • Snap has recorded a 43% growth in annual revenue to $2.5 billion in 2020, with an expected 50% increase in the coming years.  


Passion Economy Financings: 

  • Newness, a platform dubbed ‘Twitch for beauty streamers’ recently raised a $3.5 million seed funding round led by Sequoia Capital. The platform’s features are optimized for fashion and beauty livestreamers. There is an option for both public and private streams, engagement mechanisms that reward positive contributions, and the ability for fans to win free beauty products through community participation.
  • Raena, a social commerce platform focussed on skincare and beauty, raised a $9 million Series A funding round led by Alpha Wave Incubation and Alpha JWC Ventures. The platform enables Japanese and Korean skincare brands to enter new markets. The platform has experienced a 50x growth in revenue since the pandemic, and has 1500 resellers using it currently. 
  • Memmo, a Cameo-like platform that allows users to pay celebrities to create personalized video content, raised a $10 million Series A funding round led by Left Lane Capital. The platform has a localized approach targeted towards European countries. It has been used to exchange 100,000 messages, experiencing a 50% month-on-month growth in revenue since July 2020. 
  • The Landing, a ‘social design’ platform recently raised a $2.5 million seed funding round led by Aileen Lee at Cowboy Ventures. It lets users create moodboards that help them shop for better interior design products. The platform is still in beta and will be launching out of stealth soon. 
  • Vampr, dubbed the ‘LinkedIn for creatives’ recently raised $790,000 through an equity crowdfunding round. The platform currently has 700,000 users and plans to roll out additional features such as live streaming.

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