WeAre8 launches crowdfunder for its social media app

With Elon Musk’s latest curiosity in Twitter, Fb’s development flattening and TikTok’s meteoric rise, it feels just like the world of social media is again into some form of inflection level interval. Customers appear hungry to check out new platforms once more, and entrepreneurs are delivering. Final yr the Supernova app launched as an “moral different to instagram”. Now a brand new social media startup — WeAre8 — hopes to actually pay shoppers for his or her consideration, and is even going out for a crowdfunding round of equity investment to do it.

I might be as skeptical as anybody else that these startups wouldn’t have an opportunity in opposition to the Huge Tech social platforms, have been it not for the truth that WeAre8 is the brainchild of a extremely skilled promoting trade entrepreneur who understands the promoting mannequin of social media inside-out and thinks she has the solutions to deal with it.

Sue Fennessy emerged from Australia however took her promoting knowledge startup to New York in 2009. Standard Media Index (SMI) has now grow to be one of many staples of the promoting trade, offering knowledge on world media company expenditure knowledge for all main media and product classes.

A few years in the past she turned incensed on the amount of cash going into social media platforms like Fb, the place platforms prefer it have been getting used to unfold mis- and dis-information about every little thing from politics to the pandemic.

Fennessy informed me that SMI had tracked $250 billion of advert cash spent all over the world: “All of this cash was going to Google and Fb. And on a macro stage, I turned massively distressed as a result of we have been seeing journalism implode [WeAre8 recently sponsored the Byline journalism festival]. We noticed the misinformation concerning the local weather, and the pandemic, and but the common engagement charge on a digital advert on Fb is below 1%. So we thought, how can we’ve got $100 billion final yr — and a billion of that was from charities — paying Fb, and but such appalling promoting effectiveness for manufacturers.”

It was then that she determined {that a} mannequin the place shoppers have been paid for his or her consideration may need each good traction with shoppers in addition to the potential to draw advert spend from manufacturers extra successfully. Thus WeAre8 was born as a brand new social media app to capitalise on this mannequin. On WeAre8, greater than 60% of all advert spend goes on to its customers and “influence” oriented causes.

Fennessy says the genus of Fb was that they made it straightforward for anybody to purchase adverts, by means of Fb Advert Supervisor. So she plans to construct out an equally straightforward ad-buying backend to WeAre8: “We’ve constructed our sustainable Advert Supervisor, which has now been deployed throughout the trade so it makes it straightforward to purchase.”

Fennessy has now attracted institutional traders to the platform, received a partnership with telco EE and introduced in traders, together with the U.Okay.’s Channel 4 TV channel. It additionally has a number of massive expertise agreements / angel traders, within the form of sports activities commentator Clare Balding, former footballer Rio Ferdinand, rugby union participant Ugo Monye, ‘Strictly’ dancer AJ Pritchard and Catch-22 actor Harrison Osterfield, amongst others.

On the WeAre8 app shoppers watch an advert for 2 minutes a day and receives a commission for his or her time. The startup says this “democratizes” digital promoting, and places placing individuals and the planet — not tech corporations — again into the enterprise mannequin for social media. Some 55% of the ad-spend on the platform is shared straight with individuals and charities, with one other 5% going to a creator fund for “micro exhibits”, collaborations and month-to-month challenges on the platform’s most important social feed, “8Stage”, which is, claims Fennessy, a “hate-free evolution of the social feed”.

Sue Fennessy, WeAre8

Sue Fennessy, WeAre8. Picture Credit: WeAre8

Certainly, Fennessy is kind of the “Che Guevara” about this problem. “Now could be the time to unite in opposition to the social media giants and reclaim our financial energy…. Social media is our framework for democracy and it ought to be owned by the individuals and worth them. WeAre8 has constructed this know-how,” she says.

Whether or not or not you agree along with her, she’s additionally discovered passionate supporters in her movie star traders. As Balding says: “I’m very cautious about when and the way I exploit social media, so I’m actually enthusiastic about how optimistic WeAre8 is as a platform. I like that there’s now a spot the place hundreds of thousands of individuals can come and provides their time to make a small contribution, which collectively turns into an enormous fundraising initiative for varied charities.”

In addition to this new Crowdcube funding spherical, final month WeAre8 introduced its $15 million Sequence B funding from Channel 4 Ventures, the U.Okay.’s largest “media for fairness” fund, and Centrestone Capital.

New traders into the Sequence B spherical embrace UKTV Ventures, an funding fund by industrial broadcaster UKTV, whose mum or dad firm is BBC Studios, which provides startups promoting in trade for fairness, to the equal of $1.2 million in promoting airtime, that might be delivered over UKTV’s seven tv channels (Dave, W, Gold, Alibi, Drama, Yesterday, Eden).

Brendan Kilcawley, head of Industrial UKTV Ventures, mentioned: “WeAre8 flips the script on the same old expertise/shopper dynamic and places the person expertise entrance and centre.”

However Fennessy isn’t simply speaking these points up only for kicks. WeAre8 can be a licensed B Corp firm, which requires it to report on sustainability and moral values.

Assuming WeAre8 spends this cash properly, it has a shot at getting some customers on its platform, and even claims to be aiming for 80 million individuals on the app by the tip of 2022.

However with a view to try this, it should get many extra U.S. customers, and historical past exhibits that movie star endorsement is never sufficient to win over  shoppers. Paying individuals precise money cash could assist — however it would even have to verify some enterprising hackers don’t find yourself gaming the system someway…

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