On episode 2 of The Influencer Economy, we were happy to welcome Shira Lazar to the show. Shira is the founder and host of the Emmy nominated show What’s Trending and an inspiration in the media and YouTube world. In order to launch her career, she defined her own ‘beat’ as a producer/broadcaster, essentially creating the news category that “bridged the gap between Silicon Valley and celebrity.”
She interviews people for a living, and her start-up business is inspired by her passion and curiosity around meeting new people. Achieving her success did not come easy, and as an early vlogger helped transform the medium into what it is today. Vlogging was barely a word when she started creating videos. She was an early voice in covering online ‘viral video stars’ for CBS back in 2008, when no one else was speaking to them. She created and identified an emerging market, where people on the internet were become personalities in the news world. Shira pioneered the ‘human interest stories’ beat around interviewing web personalties like ‘The Double Rainbow Guy” or “Antoine Dotson.” These stories are now common place on national news like the Today Show or CBS This Morning, influenced by Shira’s work.
We also dig into the format of What’s Trending, and how she runs the show, books guests, promote the episodes, and interviews her guests. What’s Trending is a modern day media brand, and this podcast is a great listen for anyone passionate about media, or someone who wants to understand what it’s like running a social media start-up enterprise in 2014. Shira is a true pioneer in the influencer economy.
For the inaugural pocast, I was proud and excited to interview Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth. Burnie is a pioneer in the video & production world, he founded Rooster Teeth an online video juggernaut. We were able to speak with Burnie at great length about the origins of Rooster Teeth and their early hit tentpole series Red vs. Blue. We chatted about how Red vs. Blue is possibly the largest fan film ever, and is an early and big example of the machinima filmmaking style. Burnie also gives great advice to emerging video creators and we discuss his perspective on the current YouTube ecosystem. We even talk about his favorite Austin, Texas BBQ, in addition to hearing his thoughts on how he launched Red vs. Blue launched back in 2003. Download the podcast on iTunes
In 2010, venture capitalist, Marc Andreesen wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal stating that: “software is eating the world.” Andreesen, an investor in Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and many other consumer facing software companies, proclaimed that we were in “the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.”
Four years later, these software companies are having a dramatic and transformational effect on entrepreneurship and business in the U.S. Now, “content is eating the world,” and actually content has devoured the world. If you speak with a high school or college student about their mobile phone lifestyle, they’ll tell you that every moment of their life gets turned into a social object shared in Snapchat, Instagram or Vine. While a hobby for many, these platforms are flooding the world with creative opportunities for people to launch careers, themselves and products to a global audience.
In order to capture the essence around the influencer economy, you have to understand that social media is in its early to middle stages. We have not even reached adolescence, if social media were translated to human years. It’s crazy to consider that it’s only just begun. Some stats:
100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, with a billion unique viewers visiting the site a month. Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month –with 80% of that audience outside the U.S.
The Apple iTunes Store eclipsed 1 billion podcast subscriptions across 250,000 unique podcasts. That’s with a total of 8 million published episodes and in 100 languages!
In 2013, Kickstarter received $480 Million in pledges with 19,911 projects funded. Within both Kickstarter and Indiegogo (the 2nd larger crowdfunding platform), users have created 154,000 total projects over the 4 year history of this nascent industry. With Kickstarter alone, project makers in 214 countries created projects reaching all 7 continents.
We’re in the middle of a seismic shift towards content around everything that we touch in the physical world. Whether its user-generated or professional grade content, everything in our house, TV screen or job has a supplemental piece of content around it.
If we want to check-out a new sushi restaurant in West L.A., I search Foursquare tips or Yelp for user-generated content reviews/tips. If we want to explore a new 4K TV to see if it lives up to the hype, I read tech blogs for CES reviews. If I want to train myself on Garage Band, Final Cut Pro or learn about how to play Minecraft, I scour YouTube for how-to videos. The knowledge-based world is right at our fingertips. Social networks have created a surplus of content, and we’re just in the beginning.
When looking at tech companies stock prices, Yelp ($Yelp) is trading at $90, Facebook ($FB) at $60, and Twitter at $50 $ (TWTR). They are all content-based networks, based on the user-generated content of billions of users. In fact Facebook acquired a 30 million registered user content network 2 years ago, when it bought Instagram for $715 million.
The factor that is Amazon ($AMZN) is full of user-generated reviews, and they started as a book seller, which is content. They new have even built their own premium smart TV app: Prime. They’re trading at $360, one of the higher tech stocks. And Netflix ($NFLX) is at a record high $430 dollars, and they are – you guessed it – a premium content network, that’s disrupted traditional TV and film.
The world has been eaten-up, and it’s only the beginning. With Whisper, Snapchat, and Secret, networks around creating content are still launching. If you’re looking for a career or job in the evolving media-landscape, start creating right now.
Photo credit: Drawception
Last week, the artist formerly known as The Basketball Jones announced they’re joining NBA Digital. If you aren’t an NBA hoops fan, The Starters (as they’re now known as) have been hosting a podcast for 2006 years and hail from Toronto, Canada. And they are now colleagues with Emmy-award winners Charles, Kenny and Ernie. Their name The Basketball Jones is gone, and they are now called The Starters. They will be taking their podcasting/video media kingdom to the NBA network. It’s big news in the sports media world, especially for sports writers/journalists, who have aspirations to go full-time in the sports/media biz.
Their podcast started with Tas Melas and J.E. Skeets, talking shop about the NBA, recording at producer Jason Doyle’s house. And now they are taking their talents to Atlanta, Georgia, home of NBA TV.
When I saw this clever video that announces the The Starters joining NBA TV, it reminded me of some of the videos we made at Machinima. The video makes fun of The Starters, as no one at NBA TV has really heard of them (a joke), including Charles Barkley who is perplexed by their even existence. The video feels like it came from the web, just like The Starters. It lacks the polish of an over-edited TV commercial, looks like it was made based off improvisation, and probably took a total of 15 minutes to shoot. Ultimately, it shows the intersection of TV and the web, where media outfits like The Starters are now rubbing their Canadian elbows, with the likes of NBA greats on TV.
This trend of content creators/makers joining bigger media companies, is an often under-looked in the media/tech world. When a site like Bleacher Report is acquired by TBS for $175 Million, it draws attention, some positive, some not as positive. It gets press because of the dollar amounts involved, and sheer magnitude in visitors that sites like Bleacher Report receive.
When a start-up gets acquired by Facebook, Google or a major tech company, the tech media calls it a talent acqui-hire. In this case, the NBA pulled-off a talent “acqui-hire,” which is no less important than others in the tech world.
The BBJ did one thing well over a long period of time: They made cool shit and put it on the internet.
When you look at what TBJ did over the past 7 years, they’ve created their own opportunities from thin air, building a network on top of themselves. Take a look for yourself. These are some advanced stats on their success:
- Produced/edited/hosted/syndicate 1007 podcasts over 7 years
- At an average of 20 minutes a podcast, that’s 20,140 minutes of content
- Produced 335 hours of podcasts per year over 7 years.
- If The Basketball Jones were an hour long TV drama like Breaking Bad, they’d be on season 25 right now (13 episodes a season)
- Millions of video views on YouTube, #TBJ hashtags on Twitter, and Twitter content
The Starters are a mini-studio. They are hosting their own shows, running their own digital marketing, technology, and community. They’ve managed to merge marketing/biz dev/community/user acquisition/content into one entity. By building social media fundamentals, their team has been ‘hashtagging for years,’ and obviously they’re a talented group of dudes, but they were hired for many reasons.
They were down at SXSWi earlier in this year and they listed their ‘secret sauce’ for how they became successful. If you have a minute, it’s worth a listen.
One notable thing to take from their SXSW anecdote is how hard they worked to be consistent. From their talk when asked to highlight characteristics for their success:
Consistency With The Show
- Self-discipline of doing it every day
- Less alcohol (#ajoke)
- Treat it like a second job
- Make it a habit for the listeners, make sure it’s daily at noon if people expect it daily at noon
- Letting audience if there won’t be a show if it’s usually a scheduled thing
- Challenge yourself, keep trying new things (they did audio, then video, then went with a livestream)
- Pretend like their boss looking down at you, and keep working
- Create your own traffic
This is not any different than what we did at Machinima with Respawn and Inside Gaming. We had daily, and weekly schedules for all our content. And we went for it all to challenge ourselves, playing video games 24/7 for months at a time, launching iPhone apps. and creating long-form episodic video content.
TBJ is part of a larger trend. We’ll see more of these talent acqui-hires in the future, where people are building content kingdoms. It’s exciting to see if you’re into content and how social media is evolving into just the word ‘media.’
Full press release for The Starters + NBA Announcement
Without even realizing it, we are all bartering. The social web has turned us into a society of people exchanging goods and services via the web. It’s nothing new, but it’s all trackable with social media, email, and blogging. You can keep track of your connections, exchanges, and services with very easily.
We do it because we want to help others. We all know what it’s like to need help from people, so we’re willing to help others because it makes us feel good. Some people do it also because we think that favors come back full circle, and helping people helps us in the long run. There are plenty of reasons. Yet, through most of the deals, we aren’t charging transactional fees for helping others. These aren’t transfers from banks, they are person to person deals.
Whether it’s helping a friend from college who is trying to hire a sales team, thus you offer to post the job listing on your Facebook page. Or it’s you Tweeting that you supported a friend’s Kickstarter campaign, for a film project they are passionately working to get funding for. Or it’s alpha-testing your friends new software product, helping her find bugs before launch. It’s back to basics.
In the off-line world, when we build companies, or start-ups, we have to hustle to get the company launched. Finding new business, launching products, creating content takes time and effort. When you’re a web designer, and your friend is a marketing pro – you often exchange services to benefit one another. You design your friend’s website, and she does an SEO/social media strategy on your site. You exchange expertise for expertise.
Another scenario is when you move to a city like L.A., un-employed. You reach-out to your 5 FB buddies in Santa Monica, to grab a drink. Then 2 weeks later one of those friend calls you and say “Hey, I found a job that you’d be perfect for, you should meet my friend who is looking for someone to hire immediately.” That’s how the world works, and your friends aren’t charging you, they are doing good for you.
Exchanging, bartering, networking, trading, sharing, whatever you call it, it’s what we do. You don’t pay a fee, and often it comes for free. It’s the foundation for us to get started in business as an entrepreneurship. Have you bartered with someone today?
What is the influencer economy? It’s a movement. A culture. A philosophy for how-to navigate the new business world. At the core, the influencer economy is entrepreneurial spirit and execution. It’s empowering a new generation of leaders, builders and makers to create successful businesses that previously would have been impossible.
In the modern business world, we are all entrepreneurial. Social media, widespread internet access, and the availability to build companies more cheaply and efficiently has wreaked havoc on traditional enterprises. It’s creating new entrepreneurial opportunities for people and it’s empowering a new generation of leaders.
Old industries such as, print, TV, movies, video games, fashion, music, as traditional industries are taking note. They are adapting to this fast-moving enterprising world.
The influencer economy is Nate Silver writing about advanced stats in sports and politics at the top of his industry, and his FiveThirtyEight site getting acquired by ESPN. It’s ARKYD Team building a space telescope for the world, selling pre-orders with ‘space selfies’ of your photo in space. It’s communities like Collage-O-Rama, an art print shop on Etsy that has sold 50,000 prints without a brick and mortar shop.
We are going through a transformation. We are experiencing a revolution of a new self-empowered business-people. All of our industries has been touched by the influencer economy. All of us that leverage social media for fun or business, have been bitten by it. We are all experiencing it right before our very eyes, and not even realizing it. That’s what makes it such a fascinating thing, and such a beautiful thing to be a part of.
What’s even more fascinating is that business people can follow their passions and build on top of them. Entrepreneurship is about building storefronts on Etsy, creating and monetizing video content your own YouTube channel, and catalyzing verticals that previously never-existed.
And these entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily raising millions from Silicon Valley. They don’t need to be a cliché and say they’ll be the next $1 Billion Dollar company. And they don’t need go in debt pounding the pavement, meeting with countless venture capital firms to raise financing. They are they are building within the influencer economy.
The percentage of adults involved in startups in 2012 hit 13%–a record high since 1999. Babson College and Baruch College interviewed nearly 6,000 people and there are some amazing stats, per Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)
Some phenomenal stats are:
- 13% of U.S. adult population is engaged in entrepreneurship.
- 34% of these Americans have introduced a new products and service
- 82% of entrepreneurs are being financed by savings, friends and family (not relying on banks or venture capital)
- 69% of new businesses in the U.S. start at home-offices.
- Entrepreneurship, up by more than 20% since 2011 and the highest level recorded in the history of the study
There’s a solid break-down of these stats by Fortune.
The influencer economy is about creating your own opportunities. It’s about creation, distribution, marketing, business development and building. It’s about have a vision, executing it, and showcasing your wares to the world. Passions are no longer just hobbies. Skills, hustling, and authentic determination are what drives a core of new business around the world.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or feel free to reach me on Twitter @ryanjwill.
We’re in the middle of a Money Ball movement for digital influence. A few weeks ago I responded to a Tweet: “bloggers are now personal brands who will be running their own businesses.” Then within minutes of my comment, an article by Loic Le Meur’s fell into my stream. A Journalist? A VC? Who Cares. It’s all about influence.
If you didn’t know, MG Seigler was hired by Michael Arrington’s new Crunchfund. Loic breaks down the deal, but I am writing about the why/how of this deal and what it means for blogging & influence. If you’ve read Michael Lewis’s book, or watched the Brad Pitt movie you know the story of the Oakland A’s, and how Billy Beane re-invented the way GM’s think about baseball. A few thoughts about the parallels of Moneyball in relation to the influencer economy:
- Bloggers are no longer the Oakland A’s. When you think about it, bloggers have been treated like small market clubs for years. They have fought for credibility and for every penny of revenue generated by their websites. Conversely, they’ve flipped journalism upside down, and forced companies like Fox (WSJ) and AOL and to re-evaluated their businesses. Big media companies have been like the Yankees and Red Sox. While bloggers’ influence has been undervalued by the marketplace. Yes, TechCrunch had a nice payout from AOL, and like the Red Sox adapting to the Moneyball era, so too are the big media companies.
- Sabermetrics: baseball influence as Social media metrics: influence. In Sabermetrics, on base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage show a player’s influence in a game. This revelation shows that a walk is just as valuable as a hit. This new thinking disrupted 100′s of years of baseball’s pre-conceived evaluations of players. RBI’s, Batting Average and home runs had previously been the gold standard. Similarly, in the influencer economy, Tweets, YouTube data, and blog posts have revolutionized the media game. Think of these stats like a sabermetrics geek would or Billy Beane did with the A’s. On base percentage has value, and so does your view count on YouTube or the amount of quality blog posts that you produce. Bill James’ stats stats re-thought how to evaluate talent of players. Online influence re-thinks how we value the talent of people.
- Investing in a start-up is like drafting a baseball player. Some players will pan out, others will fail. It’s equally has hard to know which start-up will be the winner. Billy Beane was a five-tool player when he was drafted by the Mets, and that didn’t work out for either party. The same relationship could be made starts-up CEO’s. What metrics do you use to evaluate? Online influence isn’t the whole story, but it’s certainly a metric to consider when investing in a company, finding partners, and hiring. If an influencer can get deal flow, then why not?
- Now with influence, social media has entered us into the Bill James era. I read Moneyball years ago, and have recently seen the movie. I’m not saying that Arrington is Billy Beane. He’s not Brad Pitt, though might hope he is. Nor is MG the Paul DePodesta of this movement. To view this relationship, as Warner Wolf would say: “let’s go to the video-tape.”
Or in 2011, I say : “let’s go to the (Influencermetrics)” for MG Seigler. (Yes, I just invented that word and you read it correctly) When you think about the amount of content that he’s generated online, it’s mind-blowing. It takes a few minutes to scan the internet to see where he has built up his influence. Think Bill James when analyzing the data.
He produced lots of quality content and diversified it across the web:
- 20,000 Tweets
- 43,000 Lists on Twitter
- 63 posts on September alone on his own blog
- 68 posts on TechCrunch in August
- 3.4 Million views on his YouTube channel
- 100,000 Google Circles
- VentureBeat/TechCrunch writer for 3 + years
- Domain expertise in mobile products
- Attends TechCrunch Disrupt and networks with tech community throughout the year
- Engages in online debate and evolves with his audience
It doesn’t take a machinine to track his influence. The 5 tool player is no more. Content is king. Bloggers and content creators are building online empires. Most bloggers aren’t VC’s, but there is a trend that VC’s have emerged bloggers. Writing helps build their personal brands, as well build the brands of the companies they invest in. What do you think? Content creators can build full-blow companies. What’s next for bloggers/writers?
Steve Jobs was the visionary of our time. In our generation, he is the most influential person. His drive to innovate has been the springboard to launch businesses and bring people together.
When you think about the rapid growth in mobile connectivity in the last 10 years, Apple has been at the epicenter of it all. We can share texts, photos, videos, and the most important moments with our friends, family and the world. Apple products have been the conduit for those connections. Whether a song on iTunes, a texted photo from your iPhone, or watching a Pixar movie with your famiy – life is better as we know it.
Steve Jobs as an innovator:
Visionary products + Extreme Attention to Detail + Hard Work =
Via social media, I have witnesses an incredible outpouring of emotion for Steve. What’s amazing is that most of the people who are emotional, never met the man. Amazing
This iJustine video encapsulates the feelings from a man, most of us never met. What other brands could have engendered such loyalty? RIP Steve Jobs.
Photos from Brian Bassett of The Jets Blog
This past weekend, I attended Blogs with Balls 4 in New York City, hosted by Bloomberg Sports in their futuristic Manhattan skyscraper. The event featured 250+ independent and professional sports writers, who joined together to discuss trends and the future of sports media. What makes this conference unique is that you find yourself watching “worlds collide” before your own eyes. It’s a collection of writers all of whom work for varying publishers from ESPN to Bleacher Report, to their own mom and pop blogs. What keeps it interesting, is that you get to see ESPN’s Jemele Hill colliding with Deadspin’s AJ Daluerio, asking “why there were no black people on Deadspin’s staff.” We even watched Kobayashi chugging a gallon of milk in 19 seconds. The also gave-out awards to leaders in the space, and the trophies were muppets. Yep, that was the BWB4.
There’s been some great analysis by pro sports writers already, I’ll leave the journalistic analysis to them. Dan Levy on The Awards and Sports Media, Bomani Jones on blacks in the sports blogosphere, and Eno Sarris on the future of blogging
I met a lot of great people, here are my thoughts:
- The future of media is based on the individual not the company. The event showed was the power and potency of the content creator. This event was full of influencers – local and global. It showed, that if you hustle, you create your own demand. Writers are now self-empowered, without needing corporate backing.
- In the future, the most savvy and influential content creators – will be running their own networks. It’s already happening. Writers are becoming brands and guys like Bomani Jones can be unemployed but he’s still building his online influence, tweeting, and hosting ustream broadcasts. The essence of the influencer economy is working for own personal brand, building-up your own content, and getting paid for something you’re good at and/or enjoy.
- Networking is forever changed with social media. You now get to connect with people in real-time, all the time. When you follow someone on Twitter for 6 months and finally meet, you already kind of know them. You don’t need to catch-up with BS, you know that someone’s a “Yankees fan, lives in Brooklyn, loves ales.” Thus, you can speed up friendships. When you go to conferences, you’re fast friends with these people. You have already shared stories with them, while watching baseball games from each of your living rooms.
- BWB is the model for how the web is evolving. Twitter was a pervsize theme throughout the event. Major sports leagues need to hire everyone that’s big in Twitter, to work for their league. After following Jonah Keri, Eno Sarris since the conference, I’m more aware of baseball than I was a week ago. I knew about the Rays/Red Sox rivalry because of their influence on the sport. Dear sports league marketers, it’s free marketing. Hire these types of guys.
- Mainstream media will be called media again. We’ll forget that blogger and writers were battling like the bloods and crips in the early blogosphere. Everyone is becoming equal. I can be a writer at Frangraph or press box writer at CNNSi, and I can get my content out like anyone else. Access does not exclude you from making great content. Stories across platforms: print, podcasts, video, web, social media – are equalizing the industry.
Photos from Brian Bassett of The Jets Blog
BWB4 is a great event. It was my first BWB, and I met these guys at SXSW Interactive during the Quickish, Darren Rovell, Meet-up in Austin. I highly recommend it for leagues, bloggers, and anyone who is passionate about sports content. And there are muppets…
If you’re in the media, start-up or advertising world – you’ve by now heard the term influencer. Brands are launching marketing campaigns with influencers, YouTube vloggers are building personal brands off their influence, and start-ups are launching companies with co-founder influencers. What’s fascinating, is that we’re all influencers of some sort.
In the modern Internet, each of us has a good or service that we are exchanging with people via social media. People can build-up followings with these services via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – and monetize this following. Traditional brands have lost their edge, and new influencers are supplying the consumers’ demand for fresh viewpoints.
Influencers have become more like trusted friends, whose authenticity we value. Most of these leaders have become brands, but on a personal level. They are leveraging their credibility into jobs, speaking engagements, and work where they are expertise valued. We’re reverting back to a trade/craft economy, where your content has become the currency.
Where does influence come from?
In the digital age, we are all content-makers. Everyone on the Internet is a content producer. As the social web grows, we are now sharing content with people on a global scale.
Cultural influencers used to come from big cities, where the trends mostly began. Before social networking, you discovered trends from magazines, celebrities, and TV. Now this economy has been completely been flipped around. Reality TV and social media helped lower the bar for people to gain influence, and thus the influencer economy was born.
What’s great about influencers are that many are not recognizable walking down the street. You can have a dinner party with top influencers and not recognize a single one. They are often cult and guerilla. They produce YouTube videos, Tumblr posts, Twitter updates, Instagram photos, which is how the build their identities.
The influencer economy is all about creating quality content.
I created this blog after discussing this theory with friends, family and co-workers. Most everyone I spoke to said I was onto something. On this blog, I’ll be documenting anything and everything about the influencer economy. People, start-ups, brands – this marketplace place is exploding.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has a story to share and a contribution. What do you think about the influencer economy? Do you have any ideas for what it means and where it’s going?
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