A new cottage industry has popped up in the wake of the ‘internet famous’ renaissance; talent management agencies geared specifically towards social media stars. While prominent YouTubers have been profiting off their videos for what seems like forever, many content creators on other platforms were doing it for sheer love. But talent managers now recognise the young, socially savvy audience that brands are courting, and that online influencers command.
Earlier this month, Twitter bought Niche, a New York-based start-up which connects Viners and Instagram stars with brands. “As more users and creators use different products as a way to share what’s happening in their world, brands are also looking to partner with those individuals in hopes of generating moments that resonate with the people they are trying to reach,” Twitter’s director of product management Baljeet Singh said at the time.
Elsewhere, Pinfluencers are making up to six figures by working with specialist agency HelloSociety, founded by Kyla Brennan, while FameBit helps YouTube personalities supplement their Partner income with branded content.
There is an irrefutable logic to this. The appeal of social media figures, as opposed to movie stars, is that there is much less of a disconnect between the individual and their fan base. A Vine user who sees a promoted post by Robby Ayala, Simone Shepherd, Matt Cutshall or Brittany Furlan doesn’t necessarily feel like they are being sold a product. While there may be some cries of “sellout”, the majority of young consumers see these people as their friends. Which is why, as Vine star David Lopez explained at this month’s Code/Media conference, it is important to keep your own voice. “Most of your fans want to support you,” he says, “as long as it’s funny.”
Meanwhile, media giant Lloyd Braun is working on a way to give mainstream celebrities full ownership of their own content and revenue, through the creation of personal networks. Current clients include the Kardashians and rapper Tyler, the Creator, who sees this new model as a way of removing the middleman (or as he puts it, “some old white dude”) from the equation, thereby increasing the closeness between creator and consumer.