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What's New: Level up your influencer marketing

(from the latest issue of the Indie Hackers newsletter)

An estimated $13.8 billion will be spent on influencer marketing in 2021:

  • CreatorIQ develops analytics and marketing tech that helps companies launch influencer marketing campaigns. With its latest round bringing in $40 million, CreatorIQ plans to connect founders with the most well-aligned influencers for their niches.
  • NFTs help you prove ownership of unique assets without intermediaries. Read on for Dru Riley's crash course on NFTs, including new opportunities in the space.
  • Marketer Sam Holston spent $1,820 on TikTok and gained over 150,000 new users. Here's how he did it.

Want to share something with nearly 85,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing

🗣 Level Up Your Influencer Marketing

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from the Indie Economy newsletter by Bobby Burch

CreatorIQ has raised $40M to expand its creator-focused analytics platform that aims to capitalize on the growth of influencer marketing. With an estimated $13.8B to be spent on influencer marketing in 2021 (up from $9.7B in 2020), platforms like this one make it easy for founders to connect with well-aligned influencers.

CreatorIQ 101

CreatorIQ background: Based in Culver City, California, CreatorIQ develops analytics and marketing tech that helps brands find well-aligned influencers, manage creators with a CRM, launch ad campaigns, and review their ROI with automated reports.

Its software is used by more than 450 big brands, including Disney, Airbnb, Amazon, Salesforce, CVS, H&M, and ABInBev. Led by founder and CEO Igor Vaks, CreatorIQ is used in 65 countries, and targets popular social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Weibo, Line, and Instagram.

The problem: As companies have increasingly turned to creators and influencers for advertising, they’ve historically not had much data to back up their investments. Because likes, clicks, and followers can be easily manipulated, brands and founders sometimes struggle to create repeatable, scalable practices. CreatorIQ wants to be the firm that improves businesses’ decision-making as they aim to connect with customers via their favorite influencers.

Acquisition: In September, CreatorIQ announced that it spent $70M to acquire Tribe Dynamics, a competitor that was also focused on data analytics for influencer marketing. CreatorIQ said that the deal will extend its leadership position as the largest influencer marketing SaaS platform in revenue, data authority, and global reach:

While this is an investment in growing CreatorIQ’s vision, strategy, and leadership, it also represents a milestone in the maturation of the entire creator economy…this acquisition is about elevating the sophistication, expectations, and impact of the entire creator economy, not just today, but in the future.

The round: CreatorIQ’s $40M round, which included TVC Capital, Kayne Partners Fund, Affinity Group, Silver Lake Waterman, and Unilever Ventures, will be used to expand its data, commerce, and measurement tech. The company has now raised more than $80M total.

Influencer influx

Trends in bloom: The influx of spending on influencer marketing confirms an important trend that SignalFire is watching in the creator economy. Creators are steadily gaining power in the media ecosystem as more fans aim to connect with people, not faceless companies. Platforms like CreatorIQ will likely make influencer marketing an even more popular strategy, particularly for indie hackers. Influencer marketing can be more affordable when you're looking to stretch your funds, especially when you're able to target influencers solidly within your niche.

Why it matters: Influencer marketing is becoming big business, and that means more opportunities for creators to ink lucrative brand deals. 59% of brands have a standalone budget for content marketing, and 75% intend to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing in 2021.

Competitors: CreatorIQ already has many competitors, including Dovetale, GRIN, Upfluence, AspireIQ, and others. Social media
companies themselves are also building out more marketplaces for brands and creators to connect and launch campaigns. Platforms that have announced these features include TikTok, Clubhouse, YouTube, SnapChat, Facebook, and Instagram.

Red hot: Companies in the creator economy are on track to receive more than $3B in venture capital in 2021 alone, nearly 3x more than in all of 2020. This year's investments in creator economy startups top at least the previous six years combined. While VC dollars represent just one metric, the massive amount invested further validates the trends that are fueling the creator economy, including influencer marketing.

What's your influencer marketing strategy? Share in the comments!

Subscribe to Indie Economy for more.

In the News

Photo: In the News

from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani

🗣 A whistleblower says that Facebook promotes "polarizing, divisive content."

🐶 Shiba inu coin "deletes zero" after an Elon Musk tweet caused it to spike.

🧠 A surgically implanted brain stimulation device could treat depression.

🍎 Only 20% of Steve Jobs' wealth came from Apple stocks.

🎶 Warner Music artists will soon be direct texting fans.

Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.

🖼 Your Guide to NFTs

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from the Trends.vc newsletter by Dru Riley

Why it matters

NFTs transform art, governance, gaming, finance, charity, communities, logistics, and more.

Problem

Authenticity and ownership were hard to prove...until now.

Solution

NFTs help you prove ownership of unique assets without intermediaries.

Players

Marketplaces:

Collections:

Tools and platforms:

Predictions

  • NFTs will unlock online and in-person experiences. A BAYC event was just held in Chicago. VeeFriend owners get access to VeeCon. Tickets to see Beeple's $69M NFT cost $475. Disclosure sold an NFT that grants the owner lifetime access to their shows.
  • NFT owners will force appreciation via ownership. Jay-ZJason Derulo, and Odell Beckam Jr. own punks. Steph Curry and Dez Bryant own apes. Their ownership boosts the value of their items and everyone else's.
  • Physical versions of NFTs will create embedding effects. Buying prints of your NFT makes it less likely that you'll sell the underlying asset.
  • NFTs will transform charity. Donations are easier to make, funds are easier to trace, and donors can receive NFTs representing their contributions. Sartoshi donated 50% of NFT proceeds to GiveDirectly. Jack Butcher raised $200K+ for families in Afghanistan. Cryptonimals donates royalties to help endangered species.
  • Activity-based income will be used to deploy treasuries and direct efforts. Each Noun in the Nouns DAO is a vote in the treasury. Lazy Lion holders get Roar Rewards for updating their profile picture and adding a crown emoji to their name.
  • Fractionalization will make "blue chip" NFTs more accessible, boosting liquidity and valuations. There are 6969 CrypToadz. Fractionalization will lead to millions (or even billions) of owners. See Fractional and PartyBid.

Opportunities

  • Build tools to make, exchange, and manage NFTs. DuneNansenRarity, and Icy help you find buying opportunities. Collab.Land adds token-gated access to communities. OpenSea helps you mint and sell NFTs. There are still gaps in the market:

    1. Rarity does not automatically add new projects.
    2. We lack a robust no-code tool to build smart contracts.
  • Launch an NFT media company. See the Forefront newsletter, Proof podcast, and Finematics YouTube channel. Learn while building distribution and optionality.

  • Launch an NFT-gated community. Gen.art grants membership with NFTs. This assumes that your audience is full of early adopters. Shared tokens create deep alignment.

  • Advise NFT teams. There are DAO politicians. Where are the NFT advisors? Our fast-moving space has lots of information problems. Which smart contract should you use? What's your go-to-market strategy? Which pitfalls to avoid?

  • Look at successful NFT projects to build a go-to-market strategy:

    1. VeeFriends and NBA Top Shot used personal and business brands, respectively. These are brand extensions.
    2. Wicked Ape Bone Club followed Bored Ape Yacht ClubBloot followed Loot. These are unofficial derivatives of popular projects.
    3. Larva Labs (Meebits, CryptoPunks) and Dapper Labs (CryptoKitties, NBA Top Shot) lobbied legitimacy from previous wins into new projects.

Key lessons

  • Building an identity on an NFT creates embedding effects. The switching costs of selling are high.
  • NFTs create deep alignment in communities. PFP projects align community members on identity, emotion, and ownership.
  • Status symbols are changing. Signalling is an old job. NFTs are new tools. JPEGs are better signals than rolexes.
  • NFTs are a form of social investing. Owners can affect outcomes. As a Proctor & Gamble shareholder, you may buy the brands' toilet paper. This has little to no effect on the stock price. As an NFT owner, you can meme and build utility. Asymmetric efforts.

Haters

"I can just copy an NFT, then I own it."

The more you copy an NFT, the more value accrues to the owner. You're spreading the meme.

"NFTs harm the environment."

Carbon-negative projects like CryptoTrunks and Nori address this. As for Ethereum, proof of stake takes less energy than proof of work. Everything affects the environment, including the infrastructure that supports you reading these words.

Links

More reports

Go here to get the Trends Pro report. It contains 200% more insights. You also get access to the entire back catalog and the next 52 Pro Reports.

Discuss this story, or subscribe to Trends.vc for more.

Building in Public: Break Down Milestones

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by Ivan Romanovich

Numbers are catchy, but sharing how you achieved what you have helps you connect with others.

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Discuss this story.

📱 How Marketer Sam Holston Gained 150K+ Users

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from the Growth & User Acquisition newsletter by Darko

Hi! I'm Sam Holston, a growth marketer at Tactiq.io, a freemium Chrome (and Edge!) extension that transcribes Google Meets and Zoom Web calls, and creates notes for you. Tactiq just launched version 2.0 on Product Hunt, and is currently number four. Learn how we acquired over 150K new users by spending $1,820 on TikTok influencers.

What's been your experience with growth on TikTok?

TikTok has been crazy for us. We reached out to 320 creators via Instagram and email. 16 of them agreed to work with us, and they posted 22 TikToks. This worked out to an average of about $83 per post.

These 22 videos generated 7,363,561 TikTok impressions, 920,426 likes on TikTok, and over 150K new users (our tracking wasn't 100% accurate). We even had a few videos that blew up with millions of views, creating tens of thousands of new sign-ups for less than the cost of an expensive dinner.

Which TikTok videos worked the best?

We found that persona-centric videos outperformed generic work- and task-focused videos by over 10x on views, likes, and view-to-installs. This was true even for different videos posted by the same creator! Our best-performing video styles were straightforward use cases for specific personas (i.e. product designers). They were often framed as problem-solution:

  1. Too many product meetings? Try Tactiq.
  2. Hate taking notes? Try Tactiq.

You can see two of our videos here and here. I think that these performed well because they speak to a specific person, identity, and problem, which resonated with the audiences who could relate and understand how Tactiq would benefit them. If you try TikTok, it’s worth keeping this in mind when briefing creators.

Lessons for indie hackers?

If you choose to go down the TikTok path, personalize your creator (influencer) cold outreach. We reached out to 280 creators with a generic template, leading to 10 collaborations. Then, we reached out to another 40 creators with a 1-2 sentence personalized message, and six more agreed to work with us. It only took 2-3 minutes more effort per outreach.

The key is treating creators like people. Explain your product use case for their audience (i.e., how Tactiq helps product people take notes in customer interviews), reference their work (saw your #productdesign videos), and make an offer explaining how you will compensate them for their work.

Pro tip: Creator response rate was 3x higher via their listed email vs. direct messaging on other social channels (Instagram, etc.).

To find influencers, we searched TikTok via relevant hashtags, sought out influencers with between 10K-200K followers, and cross-checked engagement on their last 20 videos. Some creators had big followings, but their views had dropped off.

TikTok can be a wildly successful acquisition channel for SaaS businesses if your audience skews younger, or if you can find niche creators that align with your product. But we learned that you have to analyze your campaigns in aggregate. Many collaborations only get a few thousand views, which is okay, because all it takes is one video going viral, out of 20, to make it worth your effort.

What's your primary target audience?

Initially, it was students, but we also targeted product designers, marketers, and HR people, as our product can be used by anyone who takes notes in Google Meets and other platforms for online meetings.

What ratio of followers to engagement do you look for in influencers?

Above 20% engagement from followers on their last 20 videos.

Honestly, we pay more attention to overall views of the last 20 videos rather than ratio. If the average is over 20-30K, and we can see recent videos with vitality (200K+), then it's likely to perform well. But even then, there's never a guarantee. Such is the game we play!

Discuss this story, or subscribe to Growth & User Acquisition for more.

The Tweetmaster's Pick

Cover image for Tweetmaster's Pick

by Tweetmaster Flex

I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:

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Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Nathalie Zwimpfer for the illustrations, and to Bobby Burch, Priyanka Vazirani, Dru Riley, Ivan Romanovich, and Darko for contributing posts. —Channing

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