TikTok Fiddles and Burns

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Description automatically generated This Week: So much TikTok action last week!  I’m happy to add Whalar to my sponsorship roster. Plus, my Open Sauce industry day lineup is amazing. Please come June 14th in SF (or you could go to Chonkfest instead).

TikTok’s Busy Week: Is DoubleT fiddling while Rome burns? Feels a bit that way, as a raft of new products and marketing initiatives rolled out at TikTok World 2024 last Wednesday, along with more creator and user news too. The cavalcade of announcements reflects a company madly practicing SNAFU triage while brands and creators decamp to competing platforms “just in case”. Meanwhile, the financial hit from the ban/sale has forced belt tightening too, as 1,000 plus layoffs come to the global ops team – which will decimate user support and employee morale too.

Harvard Business School “Discovers” Nano Influencers: Add HBS to the growing chorus of academics “proving” that when it comes to creators, micro and nano beat macro. Big creators get all the hype, but smaller creators are the true disrupters – with “profound implications for the innovation strategies of established companies”. HBS advises you to toss your traditional models and adopt these 4 sustainable growth strategies – including creator collaboration and rethinking the value chain. HBS also attempts to value the global creator economy. Their best guess? 40 million “economically consequential” creators (defined as actively reaching at least 1,000 followers) influence $130 billion in purchasing decisions annually.

AdTech “Discovers” the Creator Economy: It’s always valuable to peruse Luma’s research – even if you don’t care about AdTech. Their latest “State of Digital 2024” has a fascinating look at the Creator Economy through the MarTech lens, highlighting the opportunity for automating down-funnel monetization. The research also explores the impending “cookieless” world and shopping and retail data too. Both put creators in the driver’s seat with attributable reach and first-party data. Luma CEO @Terry Kawaja is a long-time creator and was a regular VidCon speaker pre-Covid. He knows his stuff.

When does a CEO Become an Influencer? In the UK, apparently, at 1M IG followers. Tala CEO Grace Beverley found this out the hard way, when British authorities nabbed her for promoting Tala without disclosure. How is that different from Richard Branson doing the same? Or Caspar Lee and Ben Jeffries from Influencer.Com. I’m 100% in favor of disclosure, but the rules need to be clearly drawn and uniformly applied. There’s literally no difference between Kim Kardashian and Grace Beverley – aside from scale.

SPONSOR: Whalar Links Up with LinkedIn: Whalar has been named LinkedIn’s marketing partner for creators. Whalar will bring its expertise, innovation, and creative content solutions to support both brands and creators alike. Read all about it here!

Orca Launches its Own Retailer: Originally envisioned as the technology and infrastructure to power creator-first livestream commerce, Orca just jumped into the retailer space too. Partnering with nine different brands, Orca will now compete with its customers as it builds “Bleu Beauty” into a curated family of products stream-sold online. CEO Max Benator explained to me that this was a natural evolution. “Our goal is to drive sales of products through engaging, entertaining content. Whether we do that on a services basis, by selling our own inventory or as a hybrid. It’s all accretive toward our mission.” Perhaps vertical integration offers the best opportunity for success in the live shopping space in the US. Could a stable of in-house creators – beyond those hosts dedicated to Bleu – be the next likely step? Benator says no, but I could see it happening.

OpenAI and WSJ Just Killed News (?): Lots of handwringing around social with the announcement of News Corp’s $250M 5-year deal with OpenAI. Just as the internet disrupted magazines (I was running magazines at the time), AI will change the news landscape. Perplexity, OpenAI and others will serve up the “What Happened” part of news, disrupting those sources that act as wire services – along with Twitter and other news focused platforms. But it’s an opportunity for creators, as the “What it Means” news analysis role will increasingly be filled by creator-journalists like Cleo Abram, Johnny Harris and Coffezilla. I mourn the upcoming disruption of traditional news gathering organizations. But there’s an opportunity for truth to emerge as filtered by journalist creators and responsible AI – and we should support these journalists and technologies as they emerge. And dismiss those who claim to be but are not. Foundations, J-Schools, and journalism conferences need to embrace this new world or risk being left behind.








  • EMarketer finds that LinkedIn has become a home for GenZ due to its “refreshing professional atmosphere”.
  • Epidemic Sound released its 2nd annual “State of the Creator Economy” in the US report, with data from March – and follow ups with TikTok creators in May. Nearly two thirds of “monetizing creators” worry about losing money if TikTok is banned, while more than half now consider themselves full time.
  • TikTok’s aging up. YouGov’s latest survey – presumably paid for by TikTok – details how to reach these 25+ “Oldtokers”. Could this drive GenZ and GenA to greener pastures, untrammeled by the olds?

100% written by me – no human or AI ghostwriters were involved in the production (except for the cover art!).

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Let me know what you think – email me at jim@louderback.com. Thanks for reading and see you around the internet.

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