Is Long-Form Content Dead? Plus Lemon8, Q2 Spend, & More - Ep. 55
Last updated on
September 19, 2023
Welcome to Negronis with Nord. In this episode, we answer a few viewer questions. In a rapid-fire style, James touches on the TikTok hearing news, answers ‘is long-form content dead?’; shares thoughts on the new Lemon8 app; forecasts brand spend in Q2; & more…
Welcome, Negronis with Nord, episode 55. We're doing an old school today. I'm gonna just take some rapid-fire questions. Before we jump into that. There is some news swirling around, so we'll go through some top-level things for you to look out for in the last week here on social.
One thing that concerns me slightly is a poll showing that 78% of Americans support a ban on TikTok. Now, I don't know who they polled, certainly not TikTok users, but the issue is that as this becomes a political issue, it doesn't matter how much sense it makes. It will happen regardless if people support it and politicians feel it will win them points for being tough on China.
So, understanding a little bit about political polling, I wouldn't put a huge amount of trust in it. Again, I can't believe that 78% of Americans support a ban when a third of America is on TikTok. So, I assume they didn't ask people who are using the app or young people, but it's a concerning stat nonetheless.
TikTok also said this week that they would be rolling out affiliate payments for influencers, which they will test. Instagram tried this and failed, walking away from the program. It will be different on TikTok. I'm not sure; it's something to keep an eye on. It would be a cleaner way than having to use an LTK or some other third-party app to capture your affiliate revenue if TikTok was running it themselves. TikTok is dominating the news this week.
What about Lemon8?
Another was Lemon8. Their new app.
People ask all the time. I had an interview the other day with a reporter who asked, "Let's look at 2025. Do we think that the landscape will be much different? Are there new platforms?"
There could be new platforms. But if you look at TikTok, launched in 2018 in the US, that was only three years ago. Around 2020, it started to gain more cultural significance, and in 2021, it became a bigger force in influencer marketing. Now, it's a large and looming part of the industry. That timeline, three years, to go from launch to where they are now is unprecedented. It's remarkable how quickly TikTok has gained cultural significance. Other apps, like Instagram, took much longer. I think this speaks to the maturation of the industry in general.
But all that being said, if we look at 2025, I don't think a new platform will emerge and gain the necessary scale to matter in the influencer marketing industry. So, I believe we will still be talking about TikTok, Instagram, and a little bit of YouTube two years from now. I don't see that changing dramatically.
Lemon8 is a new kind of lifestyle app, somewhat like Pinterest and Instagram. However, it doesn't look very interesting to me, honestly. I just checked the stats, and only 350 people have talked about it on four so far out of the 180,000 influencers. So, there isn't a huge amount of cross-promotion happening. It's currently the 25th-ranked app in the US. Will it stick? Will it not? Probably not. Ultimately, props to them for trying as an influencer.
Does it hurt to sign up and play around with it? No. Should you focus on pushing your followers from TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube into Lemon8 right now? Absolutely not. Wait until next month or so. It's about exploring and seeing what kind of community is there.
Ultimately, pushing your followers into every new platform that launches doesn't make sense. They'll start to get tired and won't follow. So, you want to make sure that when you say, "Hey, I have been creating content over here; it's really fun. I want you to follow me over there," you are truly ready and you think that this thing is going to stick around. We've had a lot of flash-in-the-pan apps that have been around for two weeks, and people are like, "Oh my gosh, this is the next Instagram," and then we never talk about it again.
That is realistically what will happen here. Moving into some questions.
Is long-form content making a comeback in 2023?
The short answer is no. I think it's one of those things we'd like to believe could happen. It is incredibly difficult to push back against a trend tied to other places where trends move quickly.
Fashion, for instance, right? These cycles are still pretty long. We're in a multi-year retro nineties kind of cycle in fashion right now that is still ongoing. And so while other people may have stepped away from that, and while we might be seeing the end of that trend happening, it will probably be years until the czars of the world have moved on completely from these things. Social is similar. Everything in the industry tells us that short-form video content is where the world is going. To push back against that and change the consumption habits of hundreds of millions, billions of people quickly is really hard.
Getting people to engage with something old and familiar is almost impossible when a TikTok or Vine comes out, right? It's like, "Wow, this is totally new!" It presents a new set of constraints for creators to make interesting and engaging content. When I open it, everything feels fresh because the format is new and different, and it's something I haven't seen before. We've all watched a lot of long-form videos. I'm old enough to remember 15-minute makeup tutorials that are now only a minute long.
TikTok creators who make long-form videos will continue to be successful. However, I think it's unlikely that people will suddenly go back to consuming a type of media they used to like but have moved on from, just like how people who spend all day on Twitter are unlikely to subscribe to the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal and read papers every day.
It's just not gonna happen. The world has moved on. So generally, no, I do not think it's, it's going to make a comeback.
What are you forecasting for brand spend in Q2?
Question two. There's no way to sugarcoat it: it is declining. This quarter is difficult, and Q2 is going to be even harder. For influencers out there, I expect you to make less money this year than last year. Brand deals are few and far between, and because there is more competition for fewer deals, there's also a motivation to lower your pricing. If one influencer starts lowering their prices to be more competitive and capture more deals because they don't have as much deal flow, another influencer starts doing it, and another. This is how markets move, and this is how prices change.
The thing that you charged six months ago, you can't charge today because everybody else is 20% lower. It's a difficult hive-mind mindset, right? This is like the beauty and pain of a market and of capitalism as it exists today; you don't have a lot of say over it. When things are good, you feel like a ******* God. You feel like you are doing such a good job; you're crushing it. When things are bad, it feels really hard.
I would expect influencers to have a difficult year. We are hoping and expecting things to pick up in Q3 and Q4, but that said, I think being financially prudent, nurturing your existing brand relationships, and not expecting the same level of deal flow to come through this year as last year will behoove you and set you up for a year that, while it might be difficult, will ultimately not be catastrophic for you.
And you'll be able to continue to run your business. You know, most businesses should be able to take a 10%, 15%, or 20% hit. If you take a 20% hit on your revenue and can't pay your mortgage, you are living irresponsibly. Generally, you should be able to turtle up, go into your shell, and get through this year. And while the short-term outlook may not be as rosy as we'd like, long-term, nothing has changed. This is where the world is going. This is where advertising is going, and you are incredibly well-positioned to take advantage of that.
If brands are going through bankruptcy, how should they approach influencers?
So the last question is, how do we approach influencers after a brand has gone through bankruptcy and restarted? I'm going to address this from both sides. This is something that influencers probably don't think about very much.
We have dealt with this issue a few times here at Fohr. We have had two or three clients who went bankrupt after we ran campaigns for them. For those who don't know, bankruptcy law in America allows businesses to declare insolvency, meaning they can't pay their bills due to too much debt. They declare bankruptcy, and all of their debt, including payments owed to influencers like you, goes to the bankruptcy court. Then, all of the plaintiffs, including us, potentially have to go to court and make their case for why they should receive some or all of the payment. However, you don't actually have to go to court often. They will determine the percentage people will receive, and you might get 30, 40, 50, or 70% of the payment.
The brand gets a fresh start and can operate again once its debts are cleared. It's a wild law. Unfortunately, business bankruptcies are sometimes abused, and they were at their highest in Q1 since 2011, with 111 businesses declaring bankruptcy. This might be an issue for influencers, who must find ways to mitigate the risk and invoice quickly. So make sure you stay on top of your invoices because the second a company declares bankruptcy, they can no longer pay you. It has to go to court. They can't just say, "You're good to us; let's make sure you get paid." Once they declare bankruptcy, it goes to court, and you have to deal with that and follow up on those invoices to make sure you're getting paid promptly if you're entering into a big deal.
I think the companies you should watch out for right now are venture-funded startups. The startup venture world is incredibly bleak, with many companies running out of money. These are unprofitable companies propped up by venture capital dollars and often the ones that can go bankrupt quite quickly. If you enter into a contract with a company like that, I would try to protect yourself. If it is a longer-term or larger contract, you might want to research the company and see if there is any financial news about them struggling. These bankruptcies are generally not complete surprises, as they are usually reported on before they happen. However, most people are not reading financial news or the Wall Street Journal so they may be surprised. You can get a sense of whether this is going to happen or not.
An example: Neiman Marcus, a client of ours years ago, declared bankruptcy. We could kind of see it coming for months. We changed our invoicing strategy to ensure that it did not impact us and that our influencer partners were not impacted by it. We were able to navigate that effectively and make sure everybody got paid. So you just have to be a little more savvy and smart. A potential option for influencers is to ask for half of the payment upfront to ensure that you're protected or to invoice after each deliverable if it's a multi-stage, long campaign. Usually, if it's a six-month campaign, you will invoice at the end of it, right? If they go bankrupt in month five and you've done five months of work, you can't invoice for it.
That's not great for brands. Once you've gone bankrupt and come out of it, there's new management and a new stream of money but not much trust. You know, it's like any relationship. I think you just have to be honest with influencers. Yes, this is what happened. We are solvent now; we're good. I would suggest paying half upfront to the influencers if they are trepidatious and worried about working with you. So again, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself to make sure you are not impacted if it happens. Okay, great. Well, like and subscribe. Most importantly, keep asking questions. These are the easiest, most productive versions of these shows when you all ask what is on your mind. No question is too dumb, too small, or too big. Ask away, and we'll take the time weekly to answer them. Thank you so much. We'll see you next week.