Influencer marketing is a huge social media phenomenon that is here to stay. I have already covered how a social media platform like Instagram can be harnessed to generate incredible brand awareness and rapid growth within a very short period.
As one of Australia’s most celebrated TV and radio personalities with 15 years of success under his belt, Jules Lund is also one of the nation's most prominent social media influencers. Thus, he knew all too well the existing inefficiencies in the way brands traditionally connect with influencers for sponsored content.
In Episode 6 of our podcast, we speak with Jules on his startup TRIBE that is simplifying communication between brands and social media influencers. We also get some of his insights of being a first-time founder and where the future of social media is headed.
Ideation of TRIBE
While working on the Fifi and Jules Show at Southern Cross Austereo, Jules with his passion for graphics design and visual content helped build up the social media assets of the company and consulted with some of the top media companies. His strength in social media engagement led to many requests for sponsored posts at which point he experienced first-hand how convoluted the process of brand and influencer engagement can get without a proper channel for communication.
Jules explains,”I was dumbfounded at how difficult it was to do a simple task….The brand would go to the agency, the agency would go to Southern Cross Austereo’s sales team, sales team would go internally to tactics, tactics would go to my agent and my agent would come to me. And it would be a simple request like, ‘Can you put a URL in there to push to our website?’ ”
The issue was not with either the influencers or brands as both knew what to do. Content creators have built their tribe based on the content they have produced and refined over a period while brands have a well-thought-through strategy on how they want to engage with social media audiences. Thus, Jules set out to create a technical interface layer that brings these parties together and enables a transparent and efficient transaction.
How does the platform work?
TRIBE is all about simplifying the workflow for influencer-driven ad campaigns sponsored by brands.
After signing up to the platform, a brand puts out their specific requirements in the form of a project brief of the kind of content they are after on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. This attracts submissions from influencers from which the brand can pick the ones that they like and once approved those are instantly out on social media and the influencer gets paid the agreed price for their post. The advantage of TRIBE is that a brand can very quickly crowdsource amazing content from influencers using a product in different settings and different ways without having to spare the time and expense of doing multiple elaborate setups to test what works.
Jules does not necessarily believe that influencers with millions of followers are the best bet at having a great marketing campaign. On the contrary, the TRIBE platform is looking for everyday Australians who have built a following of 3000 or more by providing incredible value to their community of followers or their ‘tribe’.
Jules was able to leverage his enormous body of relationships and experience and convince the value that marketers could derive by simply putting out a project brief on the platform at no cost that is seen by thousands of influencers around the country and results in submissions and great PR at no risk.
Since its launch in September 2015, TRIBE has worked with over 500 brands including Nike, Adidas and Disney, and has a pool of over 7000 passionate and talented content creators on their books.
The Tribe Team
Jules is very much the founder and creator of TRIBE and is 'across all that is happening'. Not having a tech background did not hinder him from tapping into his graphic design training and visual intellect as well as how his vision of a brand-influencer marketplace to create a user experience that is uncomplicated and geared towards optimum efficiency.
Nevertheless, Jules had the humility and foresight to bring together a team that complemented his strengths with their own abilities. Thus Jules happily handed over the keys to the operational and management functions to CEO Anthony Svirskis as he focusses on creating a strong narrative based marketing strategy.
As a first-time founder, he also credits his excellent team of advisors whose credibility in the market was crucial in raising funds to build and expand the platform and bring together the team.
Jules’ hiring advice is, ”In many ways, if you are having a meeting or they are presenting to you as a part of the recruitment process, and you feel a bit threatened, that is a good thing. It shows that they are going to have ownership, they are independent and they are not totally going to rely on you.”
In the 12 months since its founding, Tribe has shown over 20% month-on-month growth and generated $1 million in revenue for content creators on their platform. For Jules and the team, it is just the 'right amount of pressure' to be tackling foreign expansion at this stage and he is very optimistic of the new markets that TRIBE will be reaching out to in the coming months.
At the close of Series A, TRIBE has raised $5.35 million in their Series A round for expanding overseas. The team has brought on an experienced analyst who is looking at 53 markets on certain key metrics including social media penetration, trust in influencer marketing, the cost of market entry and ease of doing business.
Future of Social Media
While Tribe is a fantastic startup, they are not the only ones trying to break into the vast and lucrative creative influencer marketing space. We have earlier covered Nichify and there are several others such as HypeTap, Influencity and Flamebit. Jules believes that this interest in the space is by itself validation of the big opportunities for TRIBE in the fast changing advertising landscape.
Jules also sees a significant untapped opportunity in the beautiful image and video content that average Australians are creating with their smartphones and tablets, telling the stories of the brands that they love, trust and recommend to their friends and family. This content is of incredible value for bigger brands to fuel their social media engagement and can offer additional income streams in the same way Uber and AirBnB has done in the transport and accommodation industries.
If you are a brand or an influencer and would like to check out this exciting new self-service marketplace, please visit www.tribegroup.co.