June 7, 2022: 🎶 Sometimes all I think about is June, late nights in the middle of…wait…

In this edition: 

  • Brands are questioning influencer payments (continued)
  • Brands can benefit from virtual influencers 
  • DEI initiatives strengthen accessibility, activism, and Pride celebrations


How To Pay Influencers

The Story

Brands explore whether or not to pay influencers in products alone.

Product Or Cash? 

When it comes to compensating influencers for their sponsored content, a mix of product and cash rewards has long been the gold standard. However, some brands are working around budget constraints by rewarding influencers with free products – and nothing more. 

Platforms Keep It Up

The question of compensation has been an ongoing contentious point within this space, one that has generated a lot of buzz over the years. While brand perspective is its own animal, the platforms continue to innovate the process of compensating creators via creator funds and tips. Twitter has launched a new “Twitter Create” mini-site to act as a resource for creators looking to maximize – and monetize – their Twitter presence. On the same note, TikTok has debuted a new LIVE Subscription option where users subscribe to their favorite creators, and creators are then compensated in return. 


While a brand may see high ROI from a product-only technique, creators are pushing back at the assumption that they will be willing to produce content in exchange for products alone. In fact, it’s worth noting that this method may actually alienate creators from working with a brand. We always recommend a mix of cash and product – and if you can only pick one, offering cash payment is the best route. That said, asking creators their preference – and respecting their choice – is always the way to go. 


Virtual Influencers In The Metaverse

The Story

Digitally-designed meta people are now getting more brand deals. 

Them’s The Benefits

With an estimated 150 virtual influencers on social media today, the creator economy is facing a conundrum: will these virtual people replace real influencers? With endless creative opportunities, total brand control, potential cost savings, and a path to the metaverse embedded in their very concept, many brands like Prada and more are testing partnerships with virtual influencers. And there are many virtual creators gaining massive popularity, such as Brazil’s Lil Miquela or the first virtual influencer with Down Syndrome, Kami.  

The Real Real

So, the elephant in the room: has computer science gone too far? This advanced technology could threaten creators, especially if brands prefer the virtual price tag. With creator monetization constantly in flux, new players who are entering the chat and offering the same experience for less may force human creators to adjust their strategies. 


With the metaverse gaining traction, and Web3 emphasizing deep audience connection, a lack of actual humanity could count against virtual influencers. Brand partnerships may go back and forth over time, and more brands you know may go the virtual influencer route, but they can’t replace a real person. Or can they? 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Story

Inclusive initiatives from brands and platforms alike put an emphasis on accessibility. 

Accessible To All

Platforms are pledging to prioritize accessibility for all. Instagram and Twitch have unveiled improvements to their content representation. Instagram’s new brand identity focuses on legibility and easy-to-read typefaces, while Twitch is taking audio-free options and closed captioning to the next level. 

Pride In Our Differences

Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube are also launching new initiatives in honor of Pride Month – with the reminder that LGBTQPIA+ folks should be celebrated all year long. And at Amazon, employees have used their voices to protest the company’s decision to sell products that activists say promote hate speech against transgender people


We’re reminded that Pride Month is a celebration that shouldn’t end once June is over. Initiatives that support LGBTQPIA+ individuals should be a cornerstone, year-long strategy — as should methods that support accessibility, legibility, and more. There’s so much more we need to do, but the progress we’ve seen when it comes to supporting DEI has only been possible through being bold, speaking up, and taking action. Here are more ways to incorporate DEI practices into your brand marketing strategies.