A TikTok Star Becomes The First-Ever Social Media Correspondent In The NFL

Edition #18

Good morning and welcome to the new readers! Earlier this week, The Drum ran a follow-up article on Ogilvy UK’s decision to ban influencers who edit their faces or bodies in photos (covered in last week’s newsletter). I had the opportunity to share my insight on the move with the publication along with other marketers and executives from the influencer industry. There was a wide range of perspectives, which I think is especially valuable when it comes to topics of this nature. You can read the article here.

Today’s Edition:

  • The Washington Commanders hire influencer Katie Feeney as their first-ever Social Media Correspondent

  • Meta tests new ways for creators to monetize for Horizon Worlds

  • TikTok launches its augmented reality (AR) creation platform Effect House

The Washington Commanders Hire Influencer Katie Feeney As Their First-Ever Social Media Correspondent

The Washington Commanders hired TikTok star Katie Feeney as the first-ever "Commanders Social Media Correspondent,” a first-of-a-kind partnership in the NFL. Feeney, who has over 10 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, will help amplify fan engagement throughout the upcoming football season. She will share content on her personal accounts as well as the team’s accounts to cover events such as the team's Draft Party, media day, training camp, and select home games.

Feeney's massive following demonstrates her ability to create engaging content and build an audience. These skills align well with the Commanders’ needs, as they are in the middle of a brand refresh. As a result of her unfiltered access to what will be the biggest moments of the Commanders’ inaugural season, she can give a behind-the-scenes look at the team and bring in new fans.

The hire reflects two trends that have gained traction recently. The first is sports organizations leaning into creators to reach a younger audience. The second is companies hiring creators for full-time roles or consulting gigs and becoming an extension of their companies.

Other notable examples of this include the NHL hiring Josh Richards as a special advisor and the MLS tapping Noah Beck as its first “Social Playmaker.”

Feeney's role primarily focuses on content creation. In contrast, Richards’ and Beck's roles have additional components on top of content creation. Still, they are all rooted in organizations seeing creators and their platforms as key to increasing engagement amongst the younger demographic, mainly Gen Z.

Creators are equipped with an array of skills and expertise, including trendspotting, distributing content, garnering attention, and building community. Coupled with their entrepreneurial spirit, creators can contribute to almost any business, allowing them to impact many functionalities within an organization. This will lead to more companies expanding beyond traditional influencer marketing and starting to see creators as extensions of their brands.

Industry News

Meta is testing new ways for creators to monetize for Horizon Worlds, its social virtual reality platform, where people can create and explore digital worlds. Horizon Worlds is currently accessible via Quest VR headsets.

First, Meta is rolling out the ability for creators to sell virtual items and effects within their virtual worlds. For example, creators can sell accessories in a fashion world or VIP access to a new space. Meta will take a 25% cut of each transaction on top of the Quest Store's 30% transaction fee.

Second, Meta is testing a Horizon Worlds Creator Bonus program with creators in the U.S. Bonuses will be distributed monthly through a goal-oriented program. Meta will reward creators based on the amount of time people spend in their worlds. In the future, bonuses may be based on other factors to increase testing or adoption of new features and tools.

Meta's ambition to "own" the metaverse is well documented. If it's going to do that, establishing relationships with creators is vital. Like its efforts to grow Reels across Instagram and Facebook, it's leveraging monetary rewards to encourage creators to invest in its VR platform.

This familiar playbook has worked for the most part in getting people to create and share more Reels content, so it's likely to have the same impact with Horizon Worlds. Taking the two-pronged approach to monetization gives creators a couple of options to choose to monetize their virtual presence. However, Meta has a history of enticing creators with money (like we see them doing here), but then pulling back that monetary support once creators are hooked.

Currently, Horizon Worlds doesn't support any brand worlds or advertising except Wendy's recently launched Wendyverse. However, that will likely change down the road as the Horizon Worlds userbase increases and brands increasingly look to reach consumers through digital experiences. As of February, there were 300,000 monthly users. These numbers will increase as more creators build experiences and Meta expands Horizon Worlds to mobile devices and possibly gaming consoles and other regions.

Roblox, which supports both creator monetization and brand advertising, is an example of what Horizon Worlds can be in the future.

YouTube CEO Susah Wojcicki shared more on the platform’s NFT plans. During a recent episode of Ludwig Ahgren's The Yard podcast, Wojcicki provided further insight into how YouTube is viewing these digital assets. She believes NFTs are a good way for creators, especially smaller ones, to grow their accounts, similar to how musicians can raise money through NFTs. She also believes that YouTube is in a good position to verify NFTs via its Content ID tool, which allows creators to manage and track their content across YouTube.

Many social media platforms plan to support NFTs in some form or fashion. Twitter was a first mover with its NFT profile feature, while Meta is said to be close to launching NFT integrations for Facebook and Instagram.

For YouTube, its desire to support NFTs seem to be centered around helping creators monetize. YouTube seeing NFTs as another form of creator monetization, especially for smaller creators, align with how many other platforms are approaching them too.

Her comments on the Content ID tool helping creators keep track of their NFTs is also really interesting. Ownership and verification are two really important components of NFTs, making there a significant need for creators to be able to keep track of how their digital assets are being used. The Content ID tool has proved to be helpful in identifying and managing their content on YouTube and allowing creators to take action as needed. Similar functionality of NFTs would be quite helpful for creators as well.

TikTok officially launched its AR platform Effect House. Following a closed beta this past fall, TikTok has opened up the platform to all creators, allowing them to create and publish their own AR camera effects.

TikTok will credit creators when their effects are used via the effect’s results page with their username and a link to their profile. In addition, users can view a portfolio of creators’ published effects from a tab on their profile. To prevent effects that promote colorism or negative stereotypes against certain groups, all effects will be reviewed by TikTok’s in-house Trust and Safety team to ensure they comply with the company’s policies. Users will also be able to report any effects that may have passed review but are questionable by reporting them through a Report Effect option, which will prompt an additional review.

By opening Effect House to more creators, TikTok users will have access to a larger library of effects that they can use to create and share videos. From looking at the results of the testing period, effects are quite popular. During testing, over 450 creators published effects that were used in 1.5 billion videos which gained over 600 billion views. This along with TikTok’s recent partnership with GIPHY gives creators a number of new tools for them to use to express themselves and share their creativity.

Along with Snap (Lens Studio) and Meta (Spark AR), TikTok joins the group of social media platforms investing significantly in AR creator tools. Not only are social media platforms investing in these tools, but brands themselves are interested in AR. Both of these will lead to an increased pool of creators specializing in AR. This likely will lead to brands partnering with creators to create branded effects and collaborating with them on campaigns to promote their own effects.

Facebook Gaming is testing ways for streamers to stream simultaneously on Facebook and Instagram. Catherine Coddington, head of North America gaming creator partnerships for Facebook Gaming, recently revealed to The Information that Meta is testing an integration for streamers to be able to livestream on Facebook and have it automatically broadcasted on Instagram.

Since launching in 2018, Facebook Gaming has worked hard at playing catch up to Twitch and YouTube, which are both very established in video game streaming. Creators on Meta’s gaming platform already have access to a number of ways to make money. The addition of cross-streaming can be attractive to gamers that want to maximize their viewership by tapping into Instagram’s younger audience. It also would give creators the ability to utilize Stories and Reels, two of the platform’s most popular features.

Spotify rebranded Spotify Greenroom. The streaming service changed the name of its social audio feature to Spotify Live and is integrating it directly into its app as well as keeping a standalone app. Listeners can find and tune into social audio rooms via creators' podcast or artist pages in the Spotify app. If they want to participate, though, they need to go to the Spotify Live dedicated app. There is also a hub dedicated to upcoming lives. Kicking off the rebrand, the service is teaming up with a host of creators, including DJ Akademiks, Alex Cooper, and Hasan Minhaj, on a live, original programming series.

The rebranding of Greenroom was inevitable. The standalone app failed to pick up much traction after its initial launch. As the social audio feature is now available within Spotify's main app, top creators can tap into its 400 million-plus listeners worldwide and leverage their existing audiences across the platform. In addition, Spotify Live creates new opportunities for creators to connect with their audiences in a unique way. For example, podcasters can use lives for Q&A sessions for podcast episodes, or artists could host listening sessions for upcoming album releases.

A little over a year since Clubhouse made headlines, several platforms, including most recently, Amazon, have jumped into the social audio world. Even with it being a format that isn't necessarily as hot as most people thought it was during the height of the pandemic, platforms still see it as a unique way for people to connect in real-time.

What I’m Reading

  • Industry weighs in on Ogilvy’s influencer editing policy (The Drum)

  • Sally Beauty launches micro-influencer program and YouTube series to reach DIY beauty consumers (Glossy)

  • The rise of TikTok: why Facebook is worried about the booming social app (The Guardian)

  • ‘Trend awareness’: How Unilever-incubated Ferver is using TikTok influencers to explain its emerging concept (Glossy)

  • HOP opens International Bank of Pancakes with sunny influencer push (Marketing Dive)