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We’re excited to launch a monthly news initiative to decode the complex world of influencer marketing. We’ll be sharing stories, observations and diverse points of view interpreted for busy marketers and industry experts.

If you’d like to receive these messages, please email The next edition will drop the week of September 9th.


01: VidCon Turned 10

Our strategy team was on the ground in Anaheim and put together a recap deck from four whirlwind days. It was an insightful time—and the press is finally giving the industry its due (it only took 10 years 🙂).

TikTokers stole the show, breathing new life into the conference, shooting content and mixing it up with their fans—while YouTubers remained accessible only from a distance. As for which platform reigns supreme, Digiday’s recap suggests YouTube is still #1 (but for how long?).

Takeaway: TikTok’s not going away anytime soon, and for Gen Z, Instagrammable photo installations are passé. When it comes to A+ event experiences, prioritize hands-on fun—not picture-perfect photos.

Read On: The Atlantic / NYTimes / Buzzfeed / Business Insider / TechCrunch

02: Cringe Culture

Trying to get a better feel for TikTok, and confused why teens interviewed by Digiday at VidCon called the platform “cringey”? You’re not alone... and we’ve gone down the rabbit hole to unpack it for you.

“Cringey” is a phrase for all things awkward, painful or embarrassing according to Daily Dot, and cringe culture is a full-on Internet genre classified by “so-bad-you-can’t-look-away magnetism,” where the viewer derives pleasure with ironic detachment. Thriving on Reddit since 2014, cringe has given rise to nontraditional influencer personalities who embrace life as the butt of the joke.

Takeaway: Operate like an anthropologist to understand social platform culture. There are no dumb questions when trying to understand next-gen beliefs and trends.

Read on: NBC News

03: End of the Era of Likes?

We’re pleased to see the industry focus on mental health and social media use. Instagram unveiled a “Comment Warning” feature and “Restricted” mode—both great solutions to the bullying and harassment we profiled in a recent blog post.

We’re also seeing the platforms engage in metrics experiments to support this, including hiding like counts (intended to ease competitiveness on Instagram). Check out Eugene Wei’s Twitter thread for expert observations on early tests. All of this is happening at a time when young users are switching to business accounts for more detailed content analytics—trading their privacy in return.

Takeaway: The shifting visibility of metrics is a big story to follow in the next six months. Brands may need to rely more on authentication or self-reported statistics for influencer reporting.

Read On: Collectively Blog / Instagram Pressroom / @EugeneWei / Bloomberg

Additional Reads

  • Cannes came and went relatively quietly—catch up with these five takeaways. (The Hollywood Reporter)
  • We love how Seed Health used Instagram's UX to vet and educate influencers on their brand and values. (Glossy)
  • Is emotional intensity a new KPI? Cool neuroscience study by Whalar supports influencer effectiveness. (The Drum)
  • @FashionAmbitionists’ ‘surprise’ proposal scavenger hunt = mega cringe. (The Atlantic)