Why Snapchat Keeps Growing

Why Snapchat Keeps Growing

Social media

Snapchat has experienced its ups and downs in the past few years, but one undeniable truth prevails: the app continues to flourish. Snapchat is, in fact, exceeding growth expectations: eMarketer, for one, expects Snapchat to gain more than 63 millions users by the end of 2023, as contrasted to an original estimate of 52 million. In addition, according to The Street, Snapchat is on course to be profitable in the very near future, after years of losses: “Analysts expect Snapchat to soon reach its ‘break-even’ point in profits, most likely by 2022. A group of 34 technology analysts estimates the company will earn a profit of $48 million in 2022.”

Why the Growth?

Why is Snapchat continuing to grow despite increased competition from apps such as Instagram and TikTok? Some possible reasons include:

1 Continued Innovation

Snapchat’s owner, Snap, was just named Fast Company’s most innovative company in 2020, which speaks volumes about why Snapchat has rebounded from the brink. TechCrunch also reports that new products are bound to boost engagement with Snapchat and, crucially, ad views. Snapchat’s recent innovations include Cameos, which allow users to edit their own face onto an actor in an animated GIF. And Bitmoji TV features comical cartoons that star the consumer’s customizable Bitmoji avatar. For users who have always dreamed about being a secret agent, say, or a zombie president, Bitmoji TV brings those fantasies to life via episodes featuring a main story as well as shorter, single-gag clips. User avatars appear in the regularly scheduled adventures, which range from sit-coms to soap operas and infomercials. “It’s scripted but its personalized,” Bitmoji co-founder and CEO Ba Blackstock has said. “First and foremost, I hope that everyone who watches this has kind of a mind-blowing experience that they’ve never had before.”

2 Excellent Timing

Snapchat came along at the right time, as the Millennial and Gen Z population began to swell—and come of age. Launched in 2011, the app appeals to the Millennial and Gen Z populations with its promise of content that is both ephemeral and authentic. As co-founder Evan Spiegel noted in the company’s first blog post, “We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection but rather creates a space to be funny, honest or whatever you might feel like at the moment you take and share a Snap.” And the platform has captured a sizable demographic. As Statista notes, Millennials and Gen Z, together, now comprise about half the U.S. population.

3 International Expansion

Snapchat continues to expand effectively into international markets, one profound example being the uptake of Snapchat in India. As TechCrunch observes, “Snapchat’s user growth has been on [a] tear thanks to international penetration, especially in India, after it re-engineered its Android app for developing markets.”

The Challenges

It’s not all smooth sailing, of course. As 24/7 Wall St. points out, Snapchat’s features can be—and in fact have been—easily copied by competitors like Facebook. When Snapchat introduced Stories, which allows users to share snaps in a narrative style, it was making a successful bid to keep users engaged and coming back for more. Facebook’s response? Its own version of Stories on both Facebook and Instagram; and the release of Instagram Threads, a camera and messaging app for “close friends.”  As Wired notes, Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear to employees that doing what’s best for users might include replication: “Zuckerberg’s message became an informal slogan at Facebook: ‘Don’t be too proud to copy.’”

Furthermore, Snapchat lacks the reserves of cash that Facebook enjoys. 24/7 Wall St. opines, “While it’s still too soon to assess the impact of Instagram Threads on Snapchat, the salient point is that Instagram’s owner (Facebook) has a virtually unlimited war chest and a seemingly visceral need to stomp on Snapchat, if not to stamp it out entirely.”

Staying Viable

The key for Snapchat? Staying nimble and creative in the competitive and ever-evolving social landscape. In short, the app will continue to thrive if it keeps on generating features that both users and advertisers will love – especially advertisers, whose revenue Snapchat needs. One example of courting advertisers with more features: Snapchat’s Swipe Up to Call ads, which give users the opportunity to swipe up on their screen and immediately and directly call or text the advertiser.

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To succeed with online advertising in 2020, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Why Brands Are Flocking to TikTok

Why Brands Are Flocking to TikTok

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Brands used to creating awareness via social networks like Instagram and Facebook now have a new option to consider: TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. Read on to learn more about a platform that is gaining currency through a blueprint involving music, quirk, and innovation.

What Is TikTok?

A free video-sharing social networking app that launched in the international market in 2017, TikTok was once predominantly dedicated to lip-synching. But now the platform, which features short looping videos of three to 60 seconds, and music and lip-sync videos of three to 15 seconds, has evolved into a short-form video content hub. And it’s becoming something of a powerhouse: in 2019, TikTok was declared the seventh most downloaded mobile app of the decade spanning the years 2010 to 2019.

Mobile-first 18- to 34-year-olds are the dominant market for TikTok, and one need only take a look at user numbers to recognize the platform’s significance—even beyond that primary market. According to Search Engine Journal, the app boasts more than 1.5 billion users. Adweek reports that “[i]n the U.S., Messenger was the top app of 2019 by downloads . . . followed by TikTok and Instagram.” Those users are engaged, too: on average, they spend 52 minutes per day on TikTok.

Brands Getting in on the Action

Brands, particularly those catering to younger consumers, are taking an interest in TikTok. The platform is an ideal place to engage audiences and demonstrate a lighter side through funny videos or challenges. Examples of the wildly diverse brands who have already invested in a TikTok presence include:

  • Guess: the clothing brand and retailer worked with TikTok to promote its Fall ’18 Denim Fit Collection during the back-to-school shopping season. The #InMyDenim Hashtag Challenge on TikTok, which invited users to show their fashion style in Guess denim with an overlay of Bebe Rexha’s “I’m a Mess,” exhorted consumers to “Transform your outfit from a mess to best-dressed! All you need is denim!” The six-day campaign was the first branded challenge on TikTok to go viral.
  • NBA: the NBA uses TikTok to show off a lighter side, posting videos of players working out to music, for example, or the adventures of team mascots. The app’s musical features help the organization lighten up its branding—and make the athletes seem more relatable. The videos still promote basketball, even as they fit in well with other quirky or musical posts on TikTok.
  • The Washington Post: the newspaper was one of the earliest brands to adopt TikTok, and uses its account to post comedic behind-the-scenes videos and newsroom skits. Serious in other arenas, on TikTok The Washington Post demonstrates its quirky side, taking advantage of TikTok’s weirdest special effects to create funny, musical videos. The cheeky installments, meant to entertain TikTok’s young viewers, present The Washington Post’s journalists as real—and trustworthy.
  • San Diego Zoo: capitalizing on the fact that many people love cute animals, the San Diego Zoo’s TikTok account posts videos of adorable animals with fun music. It’s a simple strategy that has earned the account more than 50,000 fans. And the zoo has “dueted” with other animal-friendly accounts, like the Monterey Aquarium, to cross-promote using TikTok features, thus introducing zoo followers to the aquarium, and vice versa.

There’s still an opportunity to get in on the ground floor with TikTok: as noted in the 2019 Sprout Social Index, 89 percent of marketers are adding Facebook to their social media marketing plans for 2020, while only four percent are adding TikTok. But those numbers are likely to change. As Search Engine Journal opines, “Getting your brand or business on TikTok does not have to be difficult. But at some point, it is going to become a must.”

Advertising Options on TikTok

So how does one become part of the TikTok revolution? The platform offers a variety of advertising options, but in terms of a quick overview, note that:

  • Costs start at an average of $10 per CPM, and can go up to $300,000 total budget for larger campaigns.
  • TikTok campaigns require a minimum investment of $500.
  • TikTok ads are still in beta so you must fill out a form to set up an account.
  • The platform offers video creation tools.
  • A couple different ad formats/types, audience targeting tools, and placements and optimization objectives/goals are available.

In addition, this article from Social Media Examiner contains more insight on getting set up.

TikTok and Influencer/Brand Collaborations

As for what’s next, look for TikTok to increasingly help brands find influencers to work with. In the TikTok Creator Marketplace, brands can already search through the app’s top creators, a list of more than 1,000 TikTok stars including Zach King and CJ OperAmericano. The marketplace, launched last year and still in beta testing mode, allows interested brands to search using filters like topic, the number of followers a creator has, and location by state.

A Caveat

There is a dark cloud on TikTok’s horizon, as the platform faces security concerns. Last fall, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Tom Cotton asked U.S. intelligence officials to investigate the security risks posed by TikTok. In a letter addressed to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, the senators wrote, “With over 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore.” The concern that the app could be used for intelligence-gathering and foreign influence campaigns by the Chinese Communist Party was also voiced.

To date, however, the negative coverage has not appeared to deter brands.

Contact True Interactive

Want to learn more about what benefits TikTok might bring to your business? We can tell you more about the options and how to get started. Contact us.

Why Instagram Likes Are Disappearing: Advertiser Q&A

Why Instagram Likes Are Disappearing: Advertiser Q&A

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For months, Instagram has been testing an option to hide Likes in certain international markets. Now it’s poised to test the waters in the United States. In an effort to rethink the potentially toxic, compare-and-compete culture that Instagram Likes can engender, the platform is taking numbers out of the equation. Unsurprisingly, the move has been met with questions — and some uncertainty. Read on to find out more about the change and how it stands to affect brands and influencers alike.

What’s Going on with Instagram Likes?

They’re going away — sort of. Beginning the week of November 11, Like counts have been disappearing from the posts of certain U.S. users. While the account owner can still see how many Likes they’ve accumulated, their followers don’t see the number.

Are Instagram Likes Going Away for Everyone?

According to Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, Likes are vanishing for “some” U.S. users. Although it’s uncertain how many users in the United States will be affected, it’s likely those individuals will be clearly notified. In other countries where the no-Like experiment was carried out, people were alerted by a message at the top of their Instagram feed that they were part of the test.

Why Are Instagram Likes Going Away?

The move is meant to at least partially address the downside of Likes: the inevitable comparisons that arise from people measure the number of Likes their content achieves. How do those comparisons make people feel? Bad, apparently. When the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom commissioned new research to determine which features of social media are considered the most toxic, more than 2,000 teens and adults responded, and Likes did not fare well. While “triggering” content was deemed the most toxic, the Like button ranked second in toxicity. And according to Western University Information and Media Studies professor Kane Faucher, removing Likes from public view may refocus attention on what Instagram posts have purportedly been about all along: engaging content that connects people. As Faucher notes, eliminating Likes “may improve a person’s self-esteem in such a way that social validation may have to come through substantive engagement as opposed [to] simply comparing ‘like’ counts.”

People can still Like content. As noted above, the account owner will still see their own Likes.

How Are Brands Affected by Instagram Likes Going Away?

There will be some impact. Brands can still see how many Likes their content is getting. But:

  • Brands often rely on number of Likes to measure the authority of the influencers with whom they work. That public metric will go away if public Likes disappear for an influencer.
  • Likes also provide brands market intelligence, such as when they want to assess the performance of content from their competitors or businesses outside their industry. Faucher, for one, expects that easily-viewed Likes will be missed by brands who rely on this type of numbers data when collecting market intelligence.

But as Ali Grant, the founder of Be Social, the digital communications agency, has noted, businesses will simply be challenged to explore other metrics. “There [will] still [be] access to the number of swipe-ups on Instagram Stories, click-throughs from the link in your bio, new followers to a page, and the number of comments,” Grant says.

As reported in The Fashion Law, there’s a distinct possibility Instagram will work behind the scenes with influencers and businesses, making metrics connected to individual accounts accessible. Will there be a fee for those services? Probably.

How Are Influencers Affected by Instagram Likes Going Away?

The response from influencers has been mixed. In an Instagram video, rapper Cardi B argued that inflammatory comments are more of a problem on Instagram than any number of Likes. Rapper Nicki Minaj has said she’d stop posting on a Like-less Instagram. But some celebrities, like reality star Kim Kardashian West, are onboard with the change. Kardashian West has said that hiding Likes would be “beneficial” to the mental health of people who use Instagram.

Furthermore, some influencers see the banishment of Likes as representing a freeing new chapter, one in which content can be driven by passion, not an eye to numbers or popularity. Lifestyle blogger Grace Atwood (also known as “the Stripe”), who has 127,000 followers on Instagram, told BuzzFeed, “I’m actually looking forward to seeing likes go away and get[ting] back to posting what I like.”

What Happens Next with Instagram Likes Going Away?

At best, removing Likes may challenge influencers and brands to bring on their A-games. “Influencer content will need to become higher quality, since users won’t be able to lean on the amount of likes their posts are receiving when a brand considers working with them,” Jennie Thompson, the head of social, content, and influencers for consumer public relations firm Frank, shared with PRWeek.

Katie Hunter, the head of social and influence at creative agency Karmarama, believes that ditching Likes can ultimately be a win/win for both users and brands. That is, people won’t feel stressed by the competitive nature of Likes, and brands will be challenged to “think harder about creative and what is going to resonate with audiences, driving quality over quantity from a content perspective.”

Influencer Caroline Calloway concurs. As she told BuzzFeed, “I’m the biggest fan of any tweak to social media that prioritizes mental health and authentic sharing. I think it will be a fascinating new chapter of how we all use Instagram.”

Contact True Interactive

Eager to create quality content in the ever-changing world of social? We can help.

Hello, Instagram All Stars!

Hello, Instagram All Stars!

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Instagram continues to grow by leaps and bounds. As of June 2018, there were nearly one billion monthly active users; that’s 10 times the usage the mainly mobile photo sharing network enjoyed back in June 2013. And businesses continue to flock to the site, although some are using Instagram more effectively than others. To encourage brands to do their very best, we’ve called out four who are absolutely rocking the Instagram platform.

Cadillac: The Big Reveal

Cadillac scores points for using Instagram to do a major product unveil. In September 2019, the General Motors luxury vehicle division revealed the 2020 model of its CT4 sedan, which it hopes will attract a younger demographic of possibly first-time Cadillac buyers aged 25-to-35 years old.

 

“We made a strategic decision to launch a social-first campaign to meet the customer where we know they interact,” Jason Sledziewski, Cadillac’s director of product marketing, told Marketing Daily.

The campaign incorporates an interactive Instagram story and multiple video clips meant to appeal to potential customers’ sensory nature. As Melissa Grady, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, explained in a release, “Because the CT4 is equal parts technology and performance, we wanted to reveal it in a way that would stimulate the senses and evoke emotions our customers might feel when behind the wheel.”

Cisco: Doing Good

Technology conglomerate Cisco has used Instagram to good effect in a visual way — quite a feat when one considers that unlike Cadillac, the company doesn’t have a cool product to showcase. Using hashtags like #WeAreCisco, which highlights employees celebrating Cisco culture, and #BeTheBridge, which draws attention to Cisco’s employee giving campaign, Instagram is helping Cisco project its commitment to supporting global communities and a caring corporate ethos.

It’s worth noting that women are showcased in Cisco’s Instagram feed, significant in an industry traditionally dominated by males.

McDonald’s: Food is Fun

The McDonald’s Menu Hack on Instagram consists of fun ways to liven up a McDonald’s meal. Peppered with Pro Tips like “once you add some fries to that Filet-O-Fish, life will never be the same,” the campaign uses video to tell a story (e.g., you can put those fries on your Filet-O-Fish).

Key to the campaign are the bright, thumb-stopping visuals. Although it’s not always easy to make food look appealing in photos or videos, McDonald’s manages to pull it off.

Vogue: Sneak Peek

Already visually powerful, Vogue is using Instagram Stories to increase engagement and provide a ephemeral peek behind the scenes. It’s been a lucrative move for the fashion and lifestyle brand. For example, to promote the September 2018 issue before its newsstand release—and unveil its cover model—Vogue decided to reach out to its Instagram following to generate interest. Vogue launched an Instagram Stories campaign featuring superstar Beyoncé in a series of sparkling gowns, as well as an advance peek at the September issue cover, which featured Beyoncé. The campaign was credited with helping the issue sell out on newsstands and bringing in 20 percent of new subscribers.

Contact True Interactive

The takeaway here is that Instagram can help brands generate interest and define—or redefine—themselves for audiences increasingly drawn to visual punch. And these brands are creative with Instagram. They go beyond posting visually appealing images and video. They keep audiences engaged with lively copy and interesting ideas. They surprise and delight. They never fall into a rut. Want to know how to use the Instagram platform to extend your reach? We can help.

Why Brands Need to Capitalize on the Power of Visual Content

Why Brands Need to Capitalize on the Power of Visual Content

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We respond to images every day: an Instagram shot of a stunning sunrise, or the pictures friends text us from a vacation spent hiking in Ireland. But not everyone understands the tremendous power images wield in the business world. Just as any business cares about how its website is written or its ad copy composed, it should also treat images with the same attention and respect. Mary Meeker’s widely read 2019 Internet Trends report underlines that truth.

Images are on the Rise

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report is an annual thought bomb with considerable influence. According to Meeker, consumer usage of digital continues to increase overall:

With that uptick, there’s been a climb in image creation. Images hold a lot of power. People respond to them: not only the pictures they take, but other people’s, too. And as image sharing becomes more popular, perhaps it’s no coincidence that Instagram use is soaring:

As Meeker points out, Twitter content with images gets more tweet impressions:

And artificial intelligence tools are making images more sophisticated, in the process rendering them more powerful as communication instruments:

What Does The Rise of Visual Storytelling Mean for You?

Her findings are a reminder that businesses need to treat images as critical assets in both paid and organic content. What should your response be? Here are some tips:

  • Capitalize on tools that make your digital advertising stand out, such as Google Shoppable Ads. As we noted in this post, select retailers are experimenting with a format that allows them to highlight multiple products for sale within a sponsored ad appearing in Google Images results.
  • Make Instagram part of your game plan. Instagram is trending, becoming increasingly popular for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands, as advertisers become aware of—and ever-more curious about—the opportunities the platform affords. We’ve written about some of those opportunities, including Instagram’s Branded Content Ads, which makes it possible for businesses to use Ads Manager to promote branded content as an ad in their Instagram feeds.
  • Use strong images in your organic content. In a recent post, Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media discusses how images can improve your search rankings. As he points out, “Now we know that visuals are an SEO’s (search engine optimization’s) best friend.” Perhaps that’s because visuals, like well-crafted text, can speak volumes with a minimum of fuss. “Just as you wouldn’t miss the chance to turn a paragraph of items into a bullet list, never miss the chance to use a visual to explain a concept,” Crestodina says.

We agree. And one area where you can make the most of strong images is your Google My Business (GMB) page. That’s because a company’s GMB page, as noted in moz.com, is the single most important way for a business to be found through local searches.

Images hold power. Want to learn more about how to capitalize on that power? Contact us.

Three Big Trends Shaping How Businesses Use Social Media

Three Big Trends Shaping How Businesses Use Social Media

Social media

Paid social on the rise. Facebook is king. And Instagram is the crown prince. Those are some of the take-aways from a recent Social Media Examiner survey of marketers’ social media spending priorities in coming months. The survey offers a useful snapshot of social media trends that cut across industries. Here are some of the principal findings:

Paid Social Is on the Rise

According to the Social Media Examiner report, social media ads are fast becoming indispensible to social media marketing strategy. This development is due to the fact that social media platforms like Instagram are offering more sophisticated tools that help businesses create content that targets specific audiences. One example: Instagram’s new feature, Branded Content Ads. As we recently discussed, the Branded Content Ads feature makes it possible for businesses to use Ads Manager to promote branded content as an ad in their Instagram feeds, and to target a specific audience when they do so.

Facebook Has Fans—A Lot of Them

According to the Social Media Examiner survey, Facebook is the most popular platform for advertisers, with 94 percent of marketers polled choosing it as their first option. On the surface of things, this might be surprising, given the knocks Facebook took in the wake of the high-profile privacy scandals that plagued the social media giant in 2018. And yet, Facebook membership keeps rising: according to the company’s Q4 2018 earnings report, approximately 1.52 billion people used Facebook every day in December 2018. That’s a nine percent year-over-year increase. Also noteworthy is the fact that Facebook tends to be popular among Baby Boomers and older millennials: that’s significant to advertisers who want to use a social platform to reach this audience, which tends to have more discretionary income.

Another reason Facebook remains popular with advertisers is that the company has always provided strong targeting tools, and continues to do so. As this WordStream article discusses, the company makes it easy to launch ad campaigns that target specific audiences with different ad formats and literally thousands of ad targeting parameters. Finally, Facebook is popular for all kinds of content, including video, which expands its usefulness to advertisers. According to the Social Media Examiner report, Facebook is right up there with YouTube as the most well liked video channel for marketers.

Instagram Is the Crown Prince

Though perhaps not as popular as Facebook, Instagram is still a valuable resource for advertisers. And advertisers are intrigued by it: the Social Media Examiner report indicates that when marketers were asked about the social media platform that they’d like to learn more about, a whopping 72 percent chose Instagram. Maybe that’s because the app’s strengths in visual storytelling present a golden opportunity to capitalize on the fact that increasingly, people are using images as a means of communicating. We take trillions of photos each year. And not surprisingly, we’re sharing those photos on platforms such as Instagram, which is also showing a marked increase in membership.

These takeaways paint a compelling picture. Interested in learning more about how social can serve your business needs? Contact us.

https://pixabay.com/photos/twitter-facebook-together-292994/

Advertiser Q&A: What Is a Micro-influencer?

Advertiser Q&A: What Is a Micro-influencer?

Social media

As we discussed in a recent blog post, celebrities are not the only game in town when brands want to include influencers in their advertising campaigns. Micro-influencers are also useful and usually less expensive. Increasingly, our clients are reaching out with questions about them. We thought we’d take a moment to answer some of those questions—and help clarify who these micro-influencers are and why they are important.

What is a micro-influencer?

A micro-influencer is someone who commands a smaller audience — anywhere from 2,000 to about 50,000 followers— on a social media channel like Facebook or Instagram.

Micro-influencers tend to be everyday people (as opposed to celebrities). But they know a lot about a specific topic. That expertise inspires loyalty in their community of followers, who look to them for recommendations, likes, and dislikes.

Take The Brothers Buoy: Brooklyn-based Jackson (who writes the copy) and Graham (who shoots the photos) have taken it upon themselves to turn people on to good places to eat in New York and beyond. Their sass and humor have earned them about 8,000 followers, along with some healthy respect (e.g., they’ve worked with Condé Nast Traveler).

Why do micro-influencers matter?

In short, they have street cred (see the Condé Nast Traveler reference, above). And micro-influencers tend to enjoy high levels of engagement. They may not be breaking records in terms of the size of their audience, but the followers they do have really love them and interact, a lot.

In fact, a smaller following makes it possible for micro-influencers to maintain a personal connection with their fans: as Adweek reported, engagement usually dips the more followers an influencer attracts. Perhaps because of the high levels of engagement, micro-influencers project an authenticity—and inspire a level of trust—that is sometimes hard for celebrity influencers to sustain.

Another bonus: micro-influencers tend to be less expensive for businesses working on a budget, and may give a business more bang for its buck. Smart Insights notes that micro-influencers are 6.7 percent more cost effective than their higher-profile colleagues. And as IZEA points out, a business might reach more people working with several micro-influencers who charge less but enjoy a powerful connection with loyal followers, as an alternative to maxing out the entire budget on a single post from one celebrity influencer.

What are some tips for working with micro-influencers?

  • First identify the goals for your campaign, then begin researching potential micro-influencers. Influencers have different personalities and communication styles; look for someone who feels like a good fit. Consider factors such as their audience and how the influencer connects with that audience. Are their tone and approach suitable for your own brand?
  • Once you’ve found an influencer who seems like a good match, establish a connection. Follow them on their social channels, leave comments, and engage meaningfully before reaching out about a collaboration.
  • When you do reach out, contact the micro-influencer via their direct email, and demonstrate that you are indeed familiar with their work—and a fan. Since you’ve already established a connection, that familiarity, not to mention the admiration, will likely come naturally.
  • Finally, don’t micromanage the micro-influencer. Remember, one reason micro-influencers are popular is because their audiences trust them to be real. Feeding micro-influencers lines or opinions defeats the purpose of the collaboration—and can backfire if followers suspect inauthentic content.

Interested in learning more about micro-influencers and how a collaboration might benefit your business? Contact True Interactive.