January 28, 2020: What the Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer means for influencer marketing; Spotify launches Stories for influencers; Vine co-founder releases Byte; ESPN plans to roll out 500 live digital shows; YouTube inks exclusive deal with gaming leagues

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week: 


Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer: The TLDR

The Story

Another year, another 78-page Trust Barometer from Edelman. Below, we break down the top five trends you need to know.

Trend 1: Experts and peers remain most credible sources.

For the second year in a row, experts and peers remain the most credible sources of information. 68 percent of people voted a company technical expert to be the most trusted source of information, followed by an academic expert (66 percent), and a person like yourself (61 percent). Notably, these three personas scored above a CEO (47 percent), a successful entrepreneur (47 percent), and a board of directors (44 percent). 

Trend 2: No institution is trusted.

Despite a record-breaking year of economic performance, trust in the institutions measured by the Edelman Trust Barometer — government, business, NGOs and media — is stagnant, with no institution climbing into trusted territory. Businesses and NGOs remain tied as the most trusted for the third year in a row (each at 58 percent), followed by government and media (each at 49 percent). This is largely a result of a growing sense of inequity between the informed public (more trusting) and the mass population (less trusting). 

Trend 3: No institution is seen as ethical AND competent. 

When looking at the two dimensions of trust, competent and ethical, no institution is seen as both, which helps to explain why overall trust has remained stagnant, since trust is built through both. Of the four institutions, only businesses are seen as competent, holding a 54-point gap over government as an institution that is good at what it does. NGOs, on the other hand, are seen as the most ethical, holding a 31-point gap over government as an institution that is trusted on integrity. 

Trend 4: Competence is not enough.

Competence alone is not enough to create trust in business as an institution, as evidenced by the fact that business–the only institution viewed as competent–is not trusted. In fact, company competency explains only 24 percent of its measurable trust capital, whereas company ethics drives 76 percent, highlighting the disproportionate weight that ethics hold in driving company trust. 

Trend 5: Societal leaders are not trusted to address challenges. 

Why are no institutions seen as ethical and competent? Leadership. There is a general lack of confidence in leaders’ abilities to take on the most pressing national challenges, widespread fears about the future, and mounting questions about the equity of the systems in place. 


With both competence and ethics required for the very foundation of consumer trust, businesses that are both ethical and mission-driven, and incorporate this into their influencer strategies, will have an advantage. Also taking into account the causes that are most important to influencers (the environment, marginalized communities, and animals), brands have the opportunity to adopt a values-led approach versus an objective-, product-, or channel-led influencer marketing strategy

If businesses really are the catalysts for change, then influencers are on the front lines propelling those changes on businesses’ behalf. As we continue to see consumer trust shift from top-down to lateral influence, experts, peers, and employees remain the most trusted sources of information. Influencer marketing strategies should work to incorporate all as content shared by influencers, press, consumer reviews, and even employee Slack channels each contribute to how consumers form  their own opinions about brands 


Listen Up: Spotify’s Latest Influencer Play

The Story

Spotify is testing a new Stories feature that will allow select influencers to incorporate video elements into their public playlists. 

I’m listening… 

Similar to the Stories found on Insta, Snap, FB, and the like, Spotify offers a similar experience for its Stories — short video clips that users can tap through to move to the next screen, with horizontal lines at the top to indicate how many Stories exist in total. For users to view the Stories, there is a circular icon above the playlist’s title. 

Who can use this?

While all Spotify users can see the Stories, only select influencers currently have the ability to create the Stories. Notably, artists don’t have access to the feature, as it’s meant to be a tool for music discovery (vs. promotional purposes). Artists, however, can reach fans using Canvas, Spotify’s newly launched feature that allows artists to replace the album art that appears when a song is playing with a moving, looping video (think: longer and more drawn out boomerangs). 


Spotify’s goal isn’t to turn its app into a social media platform. Spotify’s Stories are designed for music discovery, not promotional purposes, and it’s relying on influencers to get the word out to fans using existing accounts on other platforms. Notably, this enables influencers to leverage their own creativity, as well as meeting listeners where they already are, instead of creating a new channel.


Meet Byte, Vine’s Successor

The Story

Dom Hofmann, the co-founder of the infamous platform Vine, has officially released the app’s successor: Byte. 

What is Byte?

Similar to Vine (which was shut down by Twitter), Byte enables users to post six-second looping videos. Sound familiar? From a fundamental standpoint, the app is a lot like TikTok, which has seen rapid growth over the past year, most recently hitting 219 million installs in Q4 2019 alone. Notably, the largest difference between the two apps is in the time users are allowed per video — with Byte only allowing for six-second videos and TikTok allowing for videos up to one minute long. 

So… What’s Byte’s differentiator?

Good question. Hofmann, the creator of Byte, hopes that the platform’s differentiator will be its early focus on helping creators make money, something that TikTok has appeared to not yet prioritize. Soon, the app plans to launch a pilot of its partner program that will offer monetization options for popular creators on Byte. When asked if Byte would offer ad revenue sharing, tipping, or other monetization options for creators, Hofmann said, “We’ll be looking at all of those, but we’ll be starting with a revenue share and supplementing with our own funds.” 


The timing of the release of Byte coincides with the rise in popularity of TikTok, which has found itself to be under increasing scrutiny from the U.S. government around privacy concerns surrounding its parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance. While it’s too soon to tell if Byte will be a serious competitor to TikTok, what’s worth noting its prioritization of creator compensations, as seen through its first move to introduce a rev-share model to help creators get paid for their work (where Vine largely failed). 

For now, marketers have the opportunity to approach Byte as they would any new channel — as a potential test and learn opportunity. With the understanding that creators are being prioritized and could have access to certain features brands may not (at least in the beginning), a brand’s opportunity is in partnering with first-moving creators to understand the emerging culture and patterns of behavior on the app. 

ESPN’s Highlight-Worthy Moves

The Story

ESPN is upgrading its digital programing game — most recently announcing plans to roll out 500 live shows across YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms, with the help of a new social media star and a new, digital-only studio. 

Walk me through ESPN’s game plan.

With the understanding that the sports media landscape has largely shifted online, ESPN hired House of Highlights founder Omar Raja to largely spearhead its refocused digital initiative. Much of Raja’s success with the House of Highlights’ Instagram account came from his ability to spotlight the world of sports beyond highlights, documenting its role in culture overall and appealing to viewers who were interested in more than just the top plays. Since ESPN is looking to capture more of this demographic, the hire makes perfect sense. 

New studio, too?

The company has also transformed one of its most iconic studios, previously used for “First Take,” to give ESPN’s digital programing its own home — something that is a first for the sports media conglomerate. 

What’s ESPN saying?

“These shows are different than the shows we do on TV. If you think about what we did leading into college football, the social shows are often very relaxed. I put [an all-] capital ‘fun’ in front of the tone we want to see. They’re about driving interest and enjoyment around it.” — Ryan Spoon, ESPN SVP of digital and social media content 

First and foremost, snaps for ESPN for setting the stage for an influencer-led, social-first programming and content strategy. What’s especially noteworthy here isn’t just ESPN’s shift to digital-first programming, but also the company’s decision to bring in an experienced Instagram influencer to lead this initiative and broaden the reach and diversity of its content. With Raja serving as the primary voice on ESPN’s SportsCenter Instagram account, ESPN is hoping to benefit not only from his immense knowledge and expertise in the space, but also from his ability to cultivate an engaged community around a brand as part of a larger audience-building strategy. 


Streaming Wars (Con’t): YouTube vs. Twitch

The Story

YouTube announced that three different e-sports organizations, the Call of Duty League, the Overwatch League, and competitive league Hearthstone will stream matches exclusively on its platform. Previously, all three leagues had streamed on Twitch.

Dun dun dun… 

These leagues are MASSIVE. The Overwatch League reported 313,000 global viewers on average per minute in 2019, which is an 18 percent increase from the 2018 regular season. While the Call of Duty League is new, its predecessor, the Call of Duty World League, saw 2.7 million hours total watched on Twitch. 

Sooo, is YouTube in the lead?

With viewership numbers this high, there’s no denying that YouTube’s latest deal has helped the platform gain dominance and momentum. However, it’s also worth pointing out YouTube’s weakness in comparison with Twitch — its lack of community elements. 

Twitch and many other gaming platforms have built entire communities and rules of engagement that allow streamers to connect with their viewers in authentic and non-intrusive ways. Twitch streamers, for instance, regularly leverage Twitch Chat to turn the entire experience interactive. The platform has also recently integrated Channel Points, a customizable loyalty points program that lets streamers reward followers (i.e., setting background music, choosing the next channel they host), and Hype Train, a feature that is unlocked when enough subscriptions or engagements appear in a certain amount of time.


The live streaming war plot thickens — as it does literally every week. As live-streaming platforms continue to fight to lock in top talent, YouTube’s latest move emphasizes that securing a few of the top streamers with exclusivity contracts isn’t enough. To truly emerge as a leader in this space, an entire community of users is needed,which is why the platform is relying on professional leagues to drive viewership. While this isn’t an entirely new concept (traditional broadcasters have done the same for rights to mainstream sports), the difference is that YouTube is hoping that e-sports continues to experience rapid growth, bringing in casual viewers (as well as streamers) through the platform’s VOD audience in the process. 



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