Trends, news, and analysis: catch up on the week's biggest headlines with the Julius Works Blog's weekly round up, your cheat sheet for staying in the know with influencer marketing.

News and Analysis:

Esports and Influencer Marketing

The explosive popularity of esports presents a unique opportunity for brands to advertise to its global audience. With million dollar investments, millions of views, and international appeal, esports offers marketers a different approach to athletic sponsorship.

What makes the field so unique is that the gamers themselves are influencers, and can be used for advertising purposes like any other influencer. And unlike their celebrity athlete counterparts, most esports gamers are tapped into the world of their audience. They cultivate followings, stream their games, and manage social media accounts of their own. They often banter with followers, interact with them on Twitch or Twitter, and even run giveaways.

The Julius View:

Ninja, one of the most prolific video game streamers of all time, commands over 47 million total followers and has worked with brands like Hershey’s, Samsung, and Doritos. His streams with Drake and other rappers helped vault his name (and Fortnite, his game of choice) into the public eye. Meanwhile, dedicated esports players like Jaroslaw Jarzabkowski field sponsorships from brands like GFuel, G2A, and CounterStrike.

Esports influencers, who are often more popular in Asia than America, capture the attention of an age group that watches less TV than ever – 18 to 35-year-old men. They are at the forefront of the gaming industry, acting as some of the heroes and idols of the digital generation. Their value is derived from their connection to the gaming communities, the digital nature of their fanfare, and the explosive growth of the industry. Esports gamers are quickly becoming the most popular athletes of the influencer industry, and offer a similar level of star power to traditional athletes, with added perks.


Facebook Launches TikTok Clone, but Creators Want Vine2

Late last week, Facebook announced (albeit quietly) its latest app, Lasso. Lasso is meant to compete with the viral Chinese lip-syncing app TikTok, by offering royalty free music from today’s biggest pop hits. Facebook leveraged its position to secure deals with music labels to give Lasso users access to a massive library of music.

The new stand-alone app also allows users to record 15-second clips, à la Vine, to expand the type of content available on the platform. However, on the heels of Vine creator Dom Hoffman’s announcement of byte, a spiritual successor to the influential platform, it might be too little too late. According to Digiday, many creators are eagerly awaiting the arrival of byte, and are not too thrilled about Lasso.

The Julius View:

Facebook’s debut of Lasso is an earnest attempt at bringing teenage users back to the platform. The flight of teens from Facebook was documented earlier this year by a Pew research study, which found that only 51 percent of US individuals aged 13 to 17 use Facebook, a sharp decline from 71 percent in 2015.

Unfortunately for Facebook, Lasso might not be the answer they’re looking for. TikTok is growing at a monumental pace, and many popular creators are looking forward to byte, rather than Lasso. To make matters worse, Brady Voss, app lead for Lasso, left the project immediately after launch. While it may be unrelated, it’s probably not a good sign for the lifespan of the app. For influencers, Lasso’s current lack of integration with Instagram and Facebook may further complicate uptake of the app.


Nano-Influencers and The Scalable Power of Influence

The New York Times published an article discussing the latest wave in influencer marketing – nano-influencers. As opposed to micro-influencers, who generally have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers, nano-influencers are defined in the article as having between 1,000 and 5,000 followers on any social network.

Some were approached – often by beauty or food brands – while others sought out opportunities themselves. Whether they reviewed a business or spoke to the quality of a product, these nano-influencers were chosen for their high engagement rates and their ability to genuinely converse with their followings, no matter how small.

The Julius View:

As a general rule, although their reach is limited, influencers with smaller followings have higher engagement rates than influencers with larger followings. Nano-influencers’ followers are mostly people they know outside social media, are usually more personally invested in their content, and the influencer can authentically interact with them on a more consistent basis. As such, a nano-influencer’s recommendations are more likely to come across as genuine.

The potential power of nano-influencers is not just their standing in small communities, but also that they can be easily scaled. Hiring multiple nano-influencers to cover a geographical area will usually be cheaper than hiring a macro-influencer; tailoring a campaign to discrete groups can be more cost effective than casting a wide net, as a post is more likely to be seen by the intended audience. For smaller budgets, that return can make a big difference. Marketers are realizing that maximizing engagement rates helps to maximize returns on investment, so it’s no surprise that nano-influencers are rising in popularity.


Interesting Reads For The Week:

A third of brands admit to not disclosing influencer partnerships” Via Marketing Week

The Case for Seeking Out More Diverse Influencers” Via Business of Fashion

First Party or The Party’s Over For Influencer Marketing” Via MarTech Advisor

What’s new with Julius?

Influence Live, our informative panel series, continues on November 28th at our New York office. Stay tuned for more updates regarding guests.

That's all for this week, thanks for reading. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more influencer marketing news, analysis, and interesting content.