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Here’s a fact that should surprise no one: 2019 saw the largest online Black Friday spending day ever, while brick and mortar sales fell 6%. 


The mother of all influencers—Oprah—kicked off gift guide season with a whopping 79 product selects 🎁, the beauty industry went crazy for posh advent calendars, and cannabis companies are presenting new ways to keep you calm—good news considering the shorter-than-usual December shopping window has led to increased advertiser competition for influencer’s limited editorial inventory.

As the decade comes to a close, we hope you can enjoy your Spotify 2019 Wrapped list 🔥 and check out The Cut’s must-read interview with Instagram Co-founder Kevin Systrom, whose business idea ended up revolutionizing influencer marketing as we know it. In the meantime, here are the top stories we’re following...

Talk to you in 2020. ✌️

01: Likes Gone Private

Influencers and advertisers are abuzz about the expansion of Instagram's test to hide like counts in the US in an effort to support user well-being. Our team shared a detailed summary and predictions on how this shift will impact the practice of influencer marketing.

Creators operating with personal accounts and brands that do not leverage account authentication will be disadvantaged and should evolve their influencer practices ASAP or risk serious obstacles. Collectively’s workflow, reporting and data access will not change—though we envision content strategies will migrate from the Feed to Stories and Direct Messages, paid amplification will become more important and require additional investment, and engagement benchmarks will likely shift.

Takeaway
: Ultimately, this is a cultural shift for the platform that will push our industry toward higher-quality KPIs like comments and sentiment, and performance-based metrics like reach, shares, click-throughs, and profile visits.

Read on:
Collectively Blog / Wired / Social Media Today / Marketing Tech News

02: #Partners Get Paid

The Federal Trade Commission released a succinct playbook for influencers that elaborates on how to properly disclose brand relationships. There are no changes to the rules, however, the document and accompanying video are more user-friendly and in-line with newer platform features. While no influencers have been fined to date, this effort clearly articulates creators’ responsibilities and firms the FTC’s footing for future enforcement.

All this comes as Gen Z and Millennials express increased interest in participating in the influencer economy and see digital content creator as a potential career choice. Influencers are now even sharing daily to-do lists to legitimize their profession and satisfy followers’ voyeuristic craving for a peek behind the curtain into the lives of their favorite personalities (the good, the bad, and even the boring).

Takeaway:
Messaging strategies that tie into the experience and motivations of digital creators resonate, and practicing good disclosure proves professionalism.

Read On:
FTC / AdAge / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Our POV on Disclosure

03: Influencer Cities

In Mainland China, influencer culture is quickly shaping travel preferences as local “key opinion leaders” and their fans travel in search of the best photo-taking spots in cities other than traditional tourist hot-spots Shanghai and Beijing. In fact, “Wanghong chengshi” which translates to “influencer city” has officially entered the Mandarin lexicon and is giving way to a new sense of national pride.

As described by Business of Fashion, the impact of influencer cities expands beyond travel as “a growing number of Chinese youths are choosing to relocate to them, priming the cities to become sophisticated and diverse destinations for luxury, fashion and beauty brands.” The desire for unique, photogenic environments and experiences is impacting architecture, retail, and city-planning, and brands like Gucci and Uniqlo are placing bets on the growth of these content-friendly hubs.

Takeaway
: Social media platforms offer more than entertainment and communication—they shape culture in ways that impact economic and geographic trends too.

Read on:
Business of Fashion

Additional Reads

  • Instagram’s new age requirements will enable better L.D.A. vetting (Reuters)
  • Why influencer marketing is getting a bigger share of ad budgets (AdAge)
  • E.l.f. Cosmetics explores ‘incubating’ influencers (Glossy)
  • Dutch furniture company opens experiential ‘influencer apartment’ (The Drum)
  • With Google’s co-founder’s gone, will YouTube get more attention? (Bloomberg)
  • TikTok poaches Facebook exec (Campaign), gets a national security probe (NYT) and faces a class-action lawsuit (Daily Beast)