January 20, 2021
Last week was the best performing send of Talking Growth since its inception. The final numbers are in with an open rate of 52%. For context, 30% of most email lists are dormant. So after months of hard work, I'm glad you all, well most of you, opened and enjoyed the content (secretly sheds happy tears).
Now for today's newsletter:
LG's New Virtual Influencer
Without the potential pitfalls of in real life (IRL) influencers, LG is the first major brand to lean into virtual influencers with the introduction of Reah Keem. 2 years ago I wrote an essay on how virtual influencers would change the face of marketing, and now we're seeing that as newcomers such as Reah and established players such as Lil Miquela build tremendous buzz.
But why go with a virtual influencer vs. an IRL person? A few reasons, they're easier to manage, they can be racially ambiguous and appeal to a larger audience, and lastly, you can improve their personality as you gather more data. Virtual influencers will shift the influencer industry as more brands and studios consider creating their own digital avatars.
Source: The Verge
$2,700,000 Million from SnapChat Spotlight
Last year, Snapchat released their new feature called Spotlight. A $1M dollar lottery used to incentivize engagement and help creators monetize. TikTok creator Cam Casey tested the system and realized that he could post up to 100 videos a day. With most of these being reposts from TikTok. After days of reposts, he ended earning a $2M payout. The best part about it is the Spotlight program is still running. It'll be interesting to see how sustainable this is; however, it could be the start of a shift in creator retention strategies. The platform that caters to creators the most will win. So addressing the creator's biggest pain point, monetization is a significant step in Snapchat's longterm audience strategy
Riding the wave of creators making large sums of money, Ankur Nagpal, CEO of Teachable released the earnings of the top Teachable course creators. As the creator economy grows, I suspect these numbers will rise.
TikTok and Discord are The New Wall Street
At the beginning of the pandemic when a majority of stocks took a dip, the subreddit known as r/wallstreetbets was alive and thriving. Made of finance bros, amateur investors, and just about everyone under the sun, wall street bets has grown into 1.9M user behemoth with enough power to gently nudge the stock market. Self-described as "Like 4chan found a Bloomberg Terminal" WSB also has a thriving Discord channel with an even more active userbase. On the other end, TikTok has similar echoes with a thriving financial and investment niche that grows daily.
Axios Wants to Help Companies Write Like Its Reporters—for $10,000 a Year, or More
The appeal and success of newsletters are pretty much mainstream at this point. Substack legends and New Media titans such as Morning Brew and Axios have built profitable and scalable businesses through advertising, subscription-based models, or both. While Morning Brew pursues an educational product, Axios is betting on building a SaaS platform that would cost $10,000 a year to help companies write, edit, and create content like Axios reporters. It's an interesting move and one I'm curious to see play out.
On one hand, I don't know why a company wouldn't outsource a team or build a custom tool to better fit their needs internally. On the other hand, WSJ reports that Axios employees were using the tool to help edit President Trump's news briefings. This leads me to believe that they have enough internal data to justify a $10,000 annual price tag.
One of the toughest parts about being a creator is that you're working in your business not on. Many creators face similar challenges by working solo on every part of their business. This usually due to not having access to cost-effective tools or not having access to a team. The platforms and services that enable creators with the ability to save time or money will succeed in the future.
One of those platforms to enable creators is Mentioned. With Mentioned, very time some mentions your name, you'll get a notification. It's a great way to conduct market research, respond to mentions quickly across social and niche forums, and identify new marketing channels. A no-code solution can be built by using Zapier to connect Google Alerts to Airttable and slack/SMS. The only downside is you won't get the website visit attribution. For those looking for a mention tracker without the bells and whistles of Hootesuite, this is for you.
Source:Mentioned by Daniel Rongo
Curation is reinventing commerce
While nothing will replace original content creation, content curation is quickly becoming a more scalable method to drive growth for digitally native brands. Brands should utilize both strategies of creating and curating content; however, few can do both well. Similar to curating an art gallery, not everyone has the eye, market knowledge, and vision, to tie multiple brands under one roof. It's because of curation that some of the best brands are being discovered, but the best curators aren't simply crafting well built out Tubmlresque blogs. They're bringing together various mediums and experimental marketing tactics to build a holistic brand.
Source: In Bed With Social
How Teachable Grew to $50M ARR
Earlier, I linked to a thread where Teachable co-founder Ankur Nagpal detailed the revenue generated by the top creators on the platform. In this thread, he dives into the growth strategy they used to educated creators to get on this point. In the thread, he highlights how going straight after course creators wasn't the quickest path to growth. By educating individuals on how to build funnels, sell products, design pages, and completely manage their stores, creators began to flock to the platform. Pair this with leveraging the networks of influencers such as Pat Flynn, and the combination drove rapid growth wins.
I hope you enjoyed this week's newsletter. If you enjoyed what you read, forward this email to a friend. Just tell them to subscribe. Lastly, I tend to post more short-form content across social, so if you don't already, follow me and say hi.
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