Trends, news, and analysis: catch up on the week's biggest headlines with the Julius Works Blog's weekly roundup, your cheatsheet for staying in the know with influencer marketing.
News and Analysis:
Colin Kaepernick and Moral Marketing
Over Labor Day weekend, Nike announced that Colin Kaepernick, the divisive former NFL quarterback, would be the newest face of its iconic 'Just Do It' campaign. Emblazoned over an intimate portrait of Kaepernick reads the words "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." As many critics decried, Nike sacrificed its integrity by taking such a controversially political position. Others, however, applauded the move and its bravery.
— Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) September 3, 2018
— Antonio Sabáto Jr 🇺🇸 (@AntonioSabatoJr) September 4, 2018
Moral Marketing, a loosely defined practice of using a value claim or ethical position to market a brand, is not a new concept. Some companies base their entire business model around a particular value, like Tom's Shoes or Dr. Bronner's soaps. Others, like Trader Joes or Everlane boast about their supply chains and worker satisfaction, as a means to differentiate their products. Nike, however, does not fit into any of these categories. The international fashion and fitness powerhouse is iconic both for its trendsetting designs and its less-than-moral production practices.
The Julius View:
When a company of Nike's magnitude takes on an issue as controversial as kneeling for the national anthem, its bottomline can certainly take the hit; no amount of shoe burning or twitter boycotts will change that. But, some unexpected consequences can be felt for the influencers representing their brand — celebrities and otherwise. When Nike draws a line in the sand this way, even without officially coming out and supporting Kaepernick's position, it can force influencers in the conversation into a zero-sum game of virtuous defense.
Facebook's Lunge for Influencer Dominance
Over the past few months, Facebook has released a series of tools to improve its platform for brands, including its Brand Collabs Manager, which acts a bit like a marketplace for influencers. It shows audience data, demographics, and even a portfolio of sorts of previously sponsored content. Though it's free and opt-in, it passively gives Facebook the benefit of presiding over influencer marketing opportunities, should the platform work well enough for brands.
It's no surprise that a platform as large as Facebook would want to cash-in, or at least participate in the organic and emergent ad activity that occurs on their site. As Greg Shepard said on Forbes, Facebook "...wants in the same way Google wanted in on all the side deal action that was occurring in search."
The Julius View:
While such a move fundamentally threatens the wellbeing of smaller influencer marketing companies, whether they're agencies or Saas solutions, it is by no means the beginning of the end for the industry. Doom and gloom aside, services like Julius offer tailored services and specific insights that would have no place on a tool like Facebook's, whose goal is wide appeal and ubiquity. So long as social media remains 'open' so to speak, and brands are willing to pay for the best solution for their specific needs, Facebook's competition is merely that: competition.
New Ad Rules for Politics on Twitter
Twitter, what some could consider the Wild West of social media, with its minimal stances on censorship and ascetic protections against abuse, announced it would enforce new rules for political ads come Sept. 30. The protections include a labeling and certification process for advertisers, so that any promoted post is explicitly shown to be about a particular issue. The certification process will verify the purchasing groups' location and existence, and will feature this information alongside the "promoted" badge.
As the divisive 2018 midterm elections approach, Twitter feels these protections are imperative to maintaining a fair and level playing field amid cries of fake news and collusion. It's not just saving face — although some believe Twitter already ruined politics — it's one of a series of actions to future-proof the platform and assuage allegations of rampant abuse and botnets.
The Julius View:
Twitter has lagged behind as an influencer platform, primarily because of the content shared. It is not as interactive or visually appealing as what is usually posted on Instagram and Facebook, and tweets reach their peak engagement shortly after posting (some say up to 12 hours). Pair this with controversy and exposure to abuse, and it's not hard to see why the platform is not optimized for marketing, despite its popularity. Most brands have a Twitter, but few utilize it to its fullest capacity. Any step Twitter takes to make the platform safer is a welcomed change.
More interesting reads:
Julius in the News
Next week, Julius will be putting on not one, but two (!) Influence Live panels: one in New York, and one in Los Angeles. Check our social media pages for more details on guests, locations, and times. These panels are full of immediately useful and one-of-a-kind insights from popular influencers in the business.