Influencer marketing is down to its last, unconvincing attempt to stay relevant, and it’s failing once again.
It’s been a buzzword in the public relations, marketing, and advertising industries for years, promising huge increases in engagements and sales… or so we’ve been told.
But the reality is that for years we’ve had no legitimate way to put a real value on what influencer marketing is worth or what it should cost. On one end you have the elite who can command $300,000 for a video partnership. Meanwhile, there are a growing number of brands asking influencers for free work.
That’s a heck of a sliding pay scale. In 2014, they were making $500 to show up and take some photos. Then it became $1,500. Now it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars… We have no idea what to pay them and we have no idea what that means for our bottom line. That’s a problem.
Luckily, the tech likely to reshape the next few decades of marketing has arrived. It’s not social media, artificial intelligence or machine learning. And no, it’s not an app. It’s not even new.
A decade ago, Bitcoin’s creator changed everything with an eight-page long research paper. At the time, few people understood the potential that those eight pages concealed.
The most powerful asset in existence at the moment is data. It’s what makes giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon so valuable. And data is a new asset class, bigger than previous asset classes. And we all create this data. Think about those likes, Retweets, and comments. Tech companies sell data that information to advertisers for cold, hard cash.
That means every time you publish a blog or like a status, you could be making money. Yet, many content creators, curators, and consumers don’t receive fair, if any, compensation. The system is broken, but the blockchain can fix it.
The digital token which fuels the blockchain has an immense potential for marketers. These tokens can incentivize influencers and users to engage with posts. They can be earned, bought or traded. This will solve the matter of ROI for brands while cutting out the intermediaries. These tokens can allow communities to govern themselves, their economics, and their distribution.
And it’s starting to happen… sort of.
Have you heard of a company called Kik? They launched in 2010, and within a few years they were worth a billion dollars. But its growth did not last. Their biggest problem? Facebook.
“As chat exploded, the social media giant went all in on it, building out Messenger, and using its huge user base to become dominant in the space. When Facebook saw a feature doing well in another app, it would roll out something similar. People who follow the company call this strategy copy-and-crush.”
So earlier this year, Kik decided to embrace a new trend—raising money and betting on a brand new currency through something called an ICO (Initial Coin Offering).
Kik created a cryptocurrency or token called Kin, acting very similar to Bitcoin, but the way of creating demand for it would be focused on making Kin useful in the app. People would be able to buy and sell things with it, creating a whole separate financial world. Their CEO was inspired by an experiment they’d done a couple of years earlier with something they called Kik points.
“Kik points was a digital currency that we created and built an economy around inside of Kik. So it started out, there was one way to earn Kik points, which was to watch ads, and there was one way to spend Kik points, which was to buy smileys.”
Kik decided to make Kik Points into a cryptocurrency, which meant it would have value outside of Kik. It would trade on exchanges, and sell for real US dollars. Just like Bitcoin, there would be a limited supply of it. And so, it would rise in value over time, assuming there was demand.
So how would they get Kin into the hands of Kik’s millions of users in the first place?
Well, just like with Kik points, there would be ways to earn it. For example, the company could give users a few Kin in return for moderating a group chat, or posting a video that gets a lot of traffic.
Today, as a consumer, you’re providing value to all these huge social networks. We’re posting photos and we’re liking stuff and we’re commenting. We’re creating all this value but we’re doing it all for free. In the new system, tokens could turn our behaviors into revenue streams.
The day of Kik’s ICO, the company raised millions of dollars out of the gate. By the time the sale closed, two weeks later, Kik had raised $100 million.The company had thought it was out of options. Now, all of a sudden, they had the money they needed to stand a chance against Facebook.
Imagine the possibilities. What kind of world will this token create when you can incentivize users to engage with your content. You can rent out user data to a brand. They can analyze cryptographic proof on how you engaged with their posts, what you did and when you did it. Meanwhile, you can see how those companies are using your data. They can pay you for what they find out.
Imagine an Internet without ads, because instead of paying with our attention when we view content, we just pay. And we can pay for premium because we earn from consuming premium.
There have been a lot of ICOs this year, but Kik is the first huge company to try to fund itself this way. Which means a lot of people have been watching to see how they do. And a lot of questions remain. Kin won’t succeed as a cryptocurrency unless Kik, the app, has lots of users trading lots of Kin. It’s not clear, yet, whether that will happen for Kik.
But one thing is for sure, it will happen.
And it’s going to change business forever.