You are cordially invited to this week’s brew of High Tea, your dispatch of 🔥 internet culture served piping hot. This week: small business tok delivers the good$, Cameo comes correct and Miley pleads we don’t leave her on read.
Drink up 🐸☕
what we’ve been sipping on
It’s been another wild week. While we all watched with baited breath as Congress and the White House try to reach a deal on the unemployment benefit (it’s August already 👀), Trump went ahead and signed the executive order to block all transactions with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, and Tencent’s WeChat. Did someone say MISPLACED PRIORITIES? Oh, that’s right – we did. As for those higher powers who continue to dismay us (30 million people are still without their $600 unemployment supplement that expired in July, no cap), we thought with this dispatch we’d highlight some of the entrepreneurial excellence we’ve seen on some of our favorite platforms that prove to our political naysayers: the hu$tle is alive and kicking (your 🍑).
Let’s dive in.
TikTok, the megaphone
We will start by saying, we acknowledge TikTok has its flaws, but for small businesses during the pandemic, it’s been a lifesaver. Let’s start with the fyp algorithm, an enigma for many as the app burst onto the scene in 2018, but has since become the gen z holy grail for virality. Forget (fake) friends and #f4f; now users can expect to be served a stream of top-tier content instantaneously based on previous interactions: ta da *waves wand* TikTok’s recommendation engine at work. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ page, the For You feed is meticulously curated for you, by you, down to every pouty-face and certified bop. Smart.
It’s no secret that getting featured on the ‘for you page’ for small time creators is the TikTok equivalent of finding Wonka’s golden ticket. It equals unparalleled exposure such that Rui Ma says, unlike the social graphs of Insta and FB, TikTok’s ‘content finds the user, versus the user finding the content’.
“While a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account that has more followers, by virtue of that account having built up a larger follower base, neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system,” - TheTikTok Newsroom
So what does this all mean for new small businesses? Well, find yourself on the fyp and you’ve effectively got yourself a megaphone in one of the busiest online public plazas. Get it right and you’ll have more orders than you know what to do with; not a bad situation to be in as we sit on the precipice of an incoming global depression, amirite Donald? On TikTok, Zs sell anything from jewellery to lashes, to homemade soaps and tie dye; and not only are their small businesses thriving, but many are going full-time to fulfil their orders.
The before and after here is WILD:
So what’s the secret to creating fyp content? Do you remember last year when we covered Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star’s launch of the Conspiracy Collection...well, we see glimmers of the same promo vehicle here; except, minus the exec producers and a cancelled YouTube duo, ofc 🐸☕️. With every TikTok, these talented/brilliant/incredible/amazing/showstopping [insert Gaga meme here] Zs take their viewers on an intimate BTS of making the order, packaging the goods, and sharing the end product ready to ship. The result? Small business owners experience increased website views and custom orders with *every* TikTok (cc: animal crossing inspired merch maker @kokai_island). ICYMI, it’s extremely compelling to watch a Z building their business from their bedroom, and get a glimpse into the person and the story behind the product.
Could I make that myself? Yeah, maybe. Will I though? Probably not. It’s like Etsy on steroids. And before you know it, you’re knee deep in yet another Shopify buying *that* butterfly set in three colors (and that’s without TikTok’s shoppable content feature), touché.
We’re excited for the potential of small business tok, especially since the app itself launched it’s own back-to-business ad credit program in July, dedicating $100M to help those small businesses get that extra exposure. Shoppable TikToks coming to a fyp near you…
cameo or it didn’t happen
“The selfie was the new autograph” is a realization that would not only change the lives of Steven Galanis, Martin Blencowe, and Devon Spinnler Townsend, but also the nature of the relationship between celebrity and fan as we experience it today. We are, of course, talking about the founders of Cameo, the platform which has been facilitating personalized messages “from your favorite celebrities” since 2017 and in-app since 2018. Launched under the premise of linking fans with their sporting icons and, in turn, expanding their reach to include influencers and musicians, the app has found success in its niche of connecting superfans and the curious to the most obscure brand of ‘celebrity’ imaginable. Last year, TechCrunch called them “a new type of thank you note, at least among the Gen Z crowd”, after they raised their $50m Series B and grew to a community of 30,000 users. Then, 2020 happened.
Like most things we spill the tea on, the pandemic has only served to accelerate the reach of such a service, in an age where we’re simultaneously starved of both connectivity and entertainment. While athletes still dominate the platform (8149 profiles), featuring stars such as Mike Tyson for $500 (though he’s not accepting requests at this time) and Floyd Mayweather for $999, categories such as “Twitch” (22 profiles), Drag Queens (262 profiles) and the nuances of Reality TV (3010 profiles) – from 90 Day Fiancé to Dance Moms – show the emergence of a new kind of ‘access all areas’ when it comes to commanding the social capital of *your* celebrity staple.
One of many sub-categories on Cameo: Netflix Stars (338 profiles)
“The team prefers to sell a higher volume of videos rather than make big sells, like that of Snoop Dogg, because the more videos delivered, the more are shared on social media and the more shared on social media, the more free advertising for Cameo. Because they’ve prioritized volume, they’ve increased revenue 5x year-over-year,” - Kate Clark, TechCrunch 2019
Among the stans soul searching for their flavor of the month, Cameo has given rise to the new kid on the block, quite literally, with an influx of smaller creators flocking to the site for a much sought after revenue stream during the pandemic. No surprise, then, that Vlog Squad members (past and present), TikTokers (all 1495 of them on the platform) and even 17 Tarot Card Readers are all participating in this cash rich venture. From $350 per message for the top tier of TikTok talent (fyi: it’s JoJo Siwa) to SM6 band (their theme tune lives rent free in our heads...and yodelinghayley’s) at $125 a pop, all the way to the queen of our alt hearts, Mooptopia, at $20 – there’s truly something for everyone, every birthday message and every engagement announcement. And that’s the *chef’s kiss genius of the Cameo content wheel.
Cameo downloads, December 2019 - August 2020 [source: apptweak]
Of course, creators outside of the Cameo universe don’t miss a beat: taking up the opportunity to throw their hard earned influencer dollars towards celebrity message requests and subsequently churning out content with serious secondary viral potential, like YouTubers ‘Cold Ones’ who insist Cameo is for “washed up celebrities”, with craftily clipped and cut montages. Notably, for all us cool cats and kittens, Netflix’s Carole Baskin was the latest victim to this internet prank, stating “I would not have done the cameo if I had known”, after wishing Happy Birthday to an infamous sex offender. Yikes.
Nevertheless, creators remain incentivized to keep on chasing that cash cow before their 15 minutes is up. This is buoyed by the fact Cameo’s cut is only 25%, compared to the 50% take-home deal that TikTok strikes with creators going live on their platform. Our latest Cameo love interest is a goodie and a 🐸☕ one to watch...you guessed it, we’re Claudia Conway stans. In a TikTok posted on her burner account yesterday, already at 250k views, Claudia announced “thank you Cameo for reaching out”, stating that “all of my money is going towards money for lawyers and possible emancipation ❤️️”. Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder at least we know one thing for sure: when the brand deals dry up, there’s always Cameo to bail you out...
kettles on: ones to watch
😷masq-her-aid. People making home-made masks is not new. Yet, we missed a crucial accessibility point which has left many deaf people unable to lipread. Enter Leah Keane, the hard-of-hearing Z, who has been making masks with a clear panel helping those struggling to communicate in the new normal. We stan. You can support her store here.
🤳miley, is that u? Clearly she can’t stop; won’t stop. When 2020 gives you lemons, Miley Cyrus said: “hold my red cup”. This week stans (and us, ofc) lost it when Miley teased the release of her upcoming single, Midnight Sky which comes out August 14th (mark ya damn calendars). Of course, always doing the absolute most, Miley sent her fans into a tailspin with the ultimate growth hack, and favorite tactic of Community, by texting (and confusing) pretty much all of us with a series of cryptic messages to promote the drop. Looks like this gal can’t be tamed or left on read. Stay tuned for the disco bop of the year...we ain’t ready.
🎬no feels for reels We’ve got this far without mentioning Reels, so we thought we’d throw y’all a bone and give it a bullet. In essence, we don’t believe the hype. There’s a reason IGTV failed, (remember when Zuck tried to make it a standalone app?), with Reels, their latest “invention” *cough* TikTok wannabe *cough* we’re gearing ourselves up for round 2. It’s quite incredible that after our 10 years of using their apps, (and FB using our data to sell ads) they don’t have enough interest data to recommend us Reels to match 🤷. After a quick scroll all we’ve seen are TikTok repeats. wHeRe’S tHe fLaVoR? But that’s none of our business...🐸☕️
Okay, you made it. Now you can go back to protesting, for yet another week, to get the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor arrested…because that still hasn’t happened.