Sophie Bishop is a PhD Candidate, Arts Technology and Innovation, University of East London
Following several high profile scandals, YouTube is tightening the rules around its partner programme – raising the requirements vloggers have to meet to be able to monetise their videos.
This means that for creators to make money from YouTube – and have ads attached to videos – they must have clocked up over 4,000 hours of watch time on their channel within the past 12 months.
Channels must also have at least 1,000 subscribers. Channels that don’t have these numbers will simply no longer be able to make income from ads. This change will effectively make it harder for new, smaller channels and hobbyists to be able to make money on YouTube.
It’s not surprising then that these tighter ad rules have been met with dismay by many YouTubers – who feel the changes are an unfair reaction to a small number of high profile events.
The main reasons for the changes are the widespread concerns about YouTube’s ability to regulate its content. And more specifically, monitor what content is inappropriate for adverts to appear on.
Brands such as Lidl and Mars left the platform in 2017, due to their ads appearing next to videos with predatory comments. Earlier in the year, Pepsi and Walmart left because of concerns about hate speech.
Take the popular gaming vlogger PewDiePie, for example, who sparked outrage after he was caught uttering racist slurs back in 2017. Then there was prank vlogger Logan Paul’s video showing the body of a suicide victim in Aokigahara, Japan’s “suicide forest”, while he laughed uncomfortably. The video has since been removed.
A lot of the outrage around these types of videos is the fact that they court a young viewership. This has led commentators to question what types of media are acceptable and where the boundaries of this acceptability lie.
The content made by vloggers like the Paul brothers works very successfully alongside YouTube’s algorithms, so they are promoted widely by the platform. They post daily, their content is meme-saturated and self-referential, and they constantly “beef” with each other and other vloggers.
YouTube rewards these kinds of videos, as they keep viewers on the platform for longer. Logan Paul and his brother (who is also a vlogger) also receive tangible support from YouTube and were the centrepiece of 2017’s YouTube Rewind – an annual star-studded music video.
Everything in moderation
Vanity Fair paints YouTube as a kind of Matryoshka doll of vlogging nightmares, threatening content creators will worsen, until they are “all there is” left in culture. Similarly, The Verge claimed these videos would “never pass muster at a traditional outlet”.
But from where I’m sitting, these videos are a lot like the TV show Jackass – which was on MTV between 2000 and 2002. The show featured self-injuring stunts including inserting a toy car into one cast member’s anus, snorting wasabi, and tattooing in a moving off-road vehicle. The show was broadcast before 10pm, prior to a campaign led by US Senator Joe Lieberman to remove it.
Jackass then moved from broadcast to a movie franchise, which allowed more outrageous stunts to be released – under an 18 rating in the UK.
For the Jackass crew, the question of suitability appeared to be solved by age restriction. Presumably, though, another factor in moving towards film were protests from advertisers – Jackass had become too hot for broadcast commercial viability.
YouTube says it will be talking to high profile creators on the platform to hear their ideas and prevent future scandals. But YouTube also maintains it should not be regulated in the same way as broadcasters, saying it’s a platform that distributes content.
In blogs published by YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki on the topic of the new regulations, it is advertisers and loss of revenue that are foregrounded. And in this way, it seems it is consistentlyadvertisers’ reactions that are invoked as the yard stick for measuring acceptability.
YouTube already offers advertisers the opportunity to withdraw from advertising on some videos – such as LGBTQ content or discussions of mental health – if it doesn’t sit well alongside a brand’s message. It was revealed last year that this can sometimes then lead to content being demonetised. In other words, the creator does not receive a share of ad revenue for that video.
Drawing the line
Of course, YouTube is funded by advertisers. So it makes sense to pay attention to their wants and desires. But under the current model, brands’ reactions are often a placeholder for third party regulation. And at the moment – as content creators are sketching the line for appropriate content – it is often advertisers who have the final say about acceptability.
So while viewers might want LGBT wedding vow videos, discussions about sexual health, and documentaries about suicide prevention, the reality is that some brands don’t want to be associated with these subjects.
This goes against what has drawn many audiences to the platform in the first place. YouTube has a history of LGBT acceptance – being the home of the “it gets better” videos, in which celebrities and public figures tell their coming out stories. Many people have also spoken about how YouTube’s videos on transitioning or mental health helped them greatly. So given this, it is hoped that going forward, YouTube also remembers to pay attention to their communities and audiences as well as the big brands and content creators.
This article was written by Michael Waters, He is a business analyst and marketer.
When Carla Stevenné streams on Amazon Live, the company’s little-noticed live shopping platform, she said it’s like a party. Stevenné, a 22-year-old beauty influencer, has been making videos on YouTube since she was 14. But Amazon Live feels more intimate than YouTube ever did.
Before she unboxes a new eyeshadow palette, she might say, “Drumroll, please” and do a dance on screen. In the chat in the corner, viewers tell her they’re dancing at home with her. “The experience for the customer and the viewer watching is different because you’re really, truly connecting,” Stevenné said. “It’s different than getting a comment and replying later.”
Outside the U.S., livestream shopping is a massive business. In China, it has driven $63 billion in sales. You can think of it like an interactive QVC: Influencers try on clothes, backpacks and lipsticks while they chat back and forth with viewers.
Brands are increasingly turning to Amazon Live to showcase their products, Stevenné said. Companies often offer to pay much more to get on her Amazon Live than they would if she were to feature them on her YouTube or Instagram. That’s likely because chances of conversation are much higher on Amazon than the other platforms.
So far, viewer numbers on Amazon Live aren’t staggering. A big stream might net 400 viewers at any given time, or several thousand viewers over the course of an hour, according to Stevenné. But her numbers have ballooned so much in less than a year that she is steadfast in her belief that Amazon Live is going to catch on. Around Prime Day, for instance, she saw more than double the usual streams. “I would suggest any influencer who’s serious about influencing, who really wants to grow a big audience, you want to start now,” she said.
To become an Amazon Live influencer, you have to apply through the Amazon Influencer Program. Anyone with a popular Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or Twitter is theoretically eligible. The requirements are a bit of a black box, although one company advertisement for food influencers requires 2k+ Instagram followers and a 2.1+% engagement rate.
“I have read reports that people with as low as 1,000 followers have actually been accepted,” said William Gasner, cofounder of the influencer marketing agency Stack Influence. “What they’re really caring about is engagement rates and conversion rates.”
Once accepted, Amazon Live influencers stream themselves trying on outfits, cooking, making their beds, dressing their babies or playing video games. Beneath each video is a slider of the products they use. Every time a viewer buys something, the influencer gets a cut. Commissions vary based on the product; influencers get a 10% cut of luxury beauty sales, while they earn just 1% from Amazon Fresh.
New revenue streams Brands are also seeing some early upsides. According to a pitch deck obtained by AdAge last year, Amazon claimed that a prominent placement on Live drove more purchases than a Prime Day sale. On average, a prominent Live slot brought a 95% sales bounce for electronics goods and a 131% jump for home brands, according to Amazon.
Amazon has been pushing sellers to set up their own live video demonstrations during major sales days, like Cyber Monday. That might be a smart way to boost customer engagement. But ultimately, if it catches on, Amazon Live may well become an important facet of Amazon’s growing media and advertising business.
For brands, getting featured on Live is also a way to spruce up their product pages. Search for “sweatpants” on Amazon, and you’ll be bombarded with dozens of nearly identical brands. A great way for one of those pairs to stand out? Have a good influencer video embedded in the page.
“When you’re on Amazon, it’s such a competitive landscape right now. So many different brands, so many different reviews, and the way you have to differentiate yourself is having enticing content,” said Gasner.
That’s all the more incentive for brands to pay influencers to highlight their products on Amazon Live. And given that Amazon has started to cut its affiliate commission rates, the fact that influencers have this extra income stream from brands makes Amazon Live more attractive.
It doesn’t matter if Amazon itself gets stingy on the commissions; brands are already paying the influencers — and any added commission is a nice bonus. As Stevenné puts it: “You’re going to end up making more money on Amazon Live. ”Get more stories like this
Shane Barker has helped businesses accelerate their growth with customized digital marketing consultation and services. Having won many accolades, he has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.
As of June 2018, Instagram has over 1 billion users and 500 million daily active users. It’s a behemoth of a social media channel which continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. But what does that have to do with you?
Well, if you’ve ever wanted to monetize Instagram, then now’s the time for you to do so. Given the sheer size of the global audience, it’s fair to assume there’s a niche market out there for you. Regardless of the kind of content you create, there’s an audience for you. One that, in all likelihood, you can leverage to earn a fortune.
Although it is a platform designed to share photos and videos on, with the right approach, you can monetize Instagram. But before we talk about the different ways you can monetize Instagram, let’s look at what you’ll need to achieve that.
Prerequisites to Monetizing Instagram
This is never going to a simple task. It takes more than just a catchy Instagram name, quirky description, and posting photos to make money using the platform. It might work well to impress your personal circle, but it takes a lot of hard work and patience to monetize your Instagram account.
Here’s what you’ll need to be able to get to those desired monetary returns:
1. Fanbase and Influence
The question you need to ask yourself is why would businesses be willing to pay an Instagram user, like you, money? They would do so to gain exposure and access to your audience, in the hopes of selling their products to them.
Starting out, your audience size is low and unlikely to be able to drive sales for your own or a brand’s products. You need to grow your reach, organically, to at least a few thousand to be able to have an impact.
You should measure the performance of your Instagram account using HashtagsForLikes. Their analytics feature, based on open data and AI technologies, can help you discover what works best. You can easily identify the top-performing content and hashtags in your niche and use them to grow your followers and reach.
But reach, alone, isn’t enough. To generate sales, you need to be able to create and share compelling content(ProWritingAid). Your followers have to take actions based on your product recommendations.
Thus, having a reach and an influence over the purchasing power of your fanbase is critical. Here’s what an Instagram sales funnel looks like.
2. Dedicated and Engaged Followers
Having a sizeable fanbase does, mathematically, increase your chances of appearing in the feeds of more users. But what’s the point of that if people don’t engage with you or your content? The trick to increasing engagement is to create content that solves certain content needs for your audience.
And how can you measure that? Not by the number of followers you have, but the number of people liking, commenting on, and sharing your posts. If you have an “engaged” community, brands will be more willing to invest in you to drive their profits.
Just take a look at Jenna Farmer. She has a relatively small audience of around 4,900 followers. Yet, she still managed to garner 151 likes and 15 comments on this post promoting Tyne Cheese. That’s a very respectable engagement rate of 4.2% (approx).
What Do You Need to Do
Now, we’ve covered the most basic requirements that you’ll need to meet to monetize Instagram. But what can you do to actually achieve that social reach, earn that influence, and attain high engagement?
1. Leverage the Right Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to improve the discoverability and reach of your content. While Instagram allows you to use a maximum of 30 hashtags, I personally recommend a decent 10-15 for the maximum effect.
However, it’s crucial to get your hashtags right to ensure that they can create the maximum effect.
But, how can you find the right hashtags?
There are multiple hashtag generator tools out there that can do the groundwork for you. Based on your niche, they can send you a list of the most popular hashtags in your niche.
The problem is there are many tools for hashtag generation. And not all of them are genuine. If you are new to the field, you may struggle to filter out the wheat from the chaff.
To save your some time, I’ve got a recommendation for you:
This AI-powered hashtag research tool can help you get in-depth insights into each hashtag so that you can figure out if it’s worth using it. All you need to do is enter the hashtag, and the tool will do the work for you.
But that’s not all.
The tool can also find the right hashtags for your profile. Just enter your Instagram handle and the tool will find the best hashtags for you.
Remember, though, you shouldn’t be using any random hashtags. Try using ones that are relevant to your posts and will help you reach out to bigger audiences. Feel free to get creative and witty with your hashtags, as well. The Brothers Buoy sure know how to do this right.
2. Have a Snappy Bio
Regardless of whether you’re a business or individual trying to monetize Instagram, you need to post wisely. Your profile bio is valuable real estate you can leverage to pitch to first-time visitors.
I’d advise that you have a simple, crisp, and perhaps quirky, bio. Showcase your creativity and what value you might add to them.
Let’s take a look at Luvvie for inspiration. Her bio is catchy, visually appealing, and establishes her brand’s credibility.
3. Be Regular
To nurture any relationship, you need to interact with each other on a regular basis. The same principle extends to your presence on Instagram.
You need to post content and engage your followers on a regular basis. It helps to set up a fixed posting schedule. One that aligns with the times your audience is most likely to be on the tool.
According to Tailwind, there is a positive correlation between the frequency of posting and engagements rates. Not only that, the more you post on Instagram, the faster your audience will also grow.
Take this to a whole new level by regularly interacting with your followers in the comment section of each post. This will go a long way to show your followers that you genuinely care and appreciate them.
4. Improve your Content Quality
One of the most important things you need to do to monetize Instagram is to improve your content quality. There are plenty of content creators out there vying for the attention of your target audience. Standing out in this sea, then, is more than a task.
Always use high-quality images and never repeat your product pitches. Base your captions on your actual experiences with brand products to come off as genuine and more engaging.
Additionally, you should strongly consider leveraging video content in the form of Stories or even on IGTV to stand out.
Take a page out of Colin McCarthy’s playbook and rake in those engagements by leveraging video content.
5. Build Relationship with Other Content Creators
As a user who’s only starting to monetize Instagram, quality content and compelling captions will only get you so far. An important element of growing your reach and influence is cultivating relationships with other content creators from your niche.
You could always get in touch with them and ask them for a shoutout on one of their posts. Or you can actively engage with them and their followers on their posts. Better yet, you can collaborate with them to create content together.
Humble The Poet and Lilly Singh (@iisuperwomanii) are known for their collaborative content.
In addition to this, you can also run giveaways and contests with influencers to boost your visibility.
Here are some different ideas you can experiment with:
Ask your followers to tag their friends in the comments section
Encourage your followers to like and share your posts
Ask your followers to upload a photo with your products
Ways to Monetize Instagram
We’ve covered what you need and some pro-tips that will help you monetize your Instagram account. Finally, let’s talk about some of the different methods you can use to achieve this.
1. Affiliate Marketing
One of the easiest ways to monetize Instagram is by becoming an affiliate marketer on the platform. Essentially, you work as a brand ambassador for certain products that you use and believe in.
Your audience may find it helpful if you share a link or discount code, with them, for the products you’re promoting on your page. Whenever someone buys a product using your custom link, you get a certain percentage of the revenue generated.
But, how can you create an affiliate marketing campaign?
To create an affiliate marketing campaign from scratch, I recommend using ShareASale. This comprehensive tool makes the entire process of affiliate marketing simple.
You can create campaigns for social media, apps, and websites using this tool and can start off with just a few clicks. The best part about this platform is that it helps you track the progress of your campaign, too, so that you can figure out how it’s performing.
Here’s a good example of what that looks like.
Cassie Andew pairs a high-quality image with a compelling copy. Note how she’s incentivizing people to buy using a special discount code.
2. Sponsored Posts and Shoutouts
Once you achieve “influencer” status, be it as a micro or macro influencer, you could leverage your influence to promote brands. Once you have established your thought-leadership in your niche, you can monetize Instagram for a profit.
Oftentimes, brands partner with influencers for sponsored posts that help spread the word about their offerings. Typically, such posts revolve around the product itself, with a small review from yourself. It’s important that such sponsored posts should blend in with your other content so as to not seem overly promotional.
For instance, if you’re a plus-sized apparel influencer, then you want to be working with brands that promote body positivity. That’s why Gabi, here, often partners with brands like Premme because they align with her personal values.
3. Advertise Your Products
Building on the above premise, you can always do for yourself what you would otherwise do for brands. Confused? If you have a strong personal brand and aren’t too keen on promoting other companies on your page, you could always market your own products.
Top real estate firm, VIP Realty, does a great job of promoting their real estate listings on social media. They share posts with virtual home tours to entice potential home buyers. This way, they can generate solid leads from social media and monetize their accounts.
So long as you have an ardent fan-following, you can easily monetize Instagram this way. Design and sell your own products like clothing, books, merchandise, cosmetics, etc. So long as the items relate to your niche and resonate with your audience, you can use Instagram to sell them.
Cartoonist, Nekoma, has done well for herself by starting her own store and then leveraging Instagram to promote it. She promotes her art, comics, and plushies by sharing related content on the platform.
4. Teach What You Know
People follow you on Instagram for a reason. They love your content and are looking to learn from you. So, why not teach them how to be like you?
There’s a huge pay-off in creating information products to market on Instagram.
Zach Rocheleau, for one, uses the platform to teach his followers how to make a healthier version of their favorite junk food.
Alternatively, you can become an Instagram marketing guru and help budding content creators or brands improve their capabilities. After all, if you’re good at something, you should never do it for free. Take your knowledge and become a social media marketing consultant, write and sell ebooks on the same to monetize Instagrams.
5. Product Placement Videos
Product placements have been around since the dawn of video advertisements. And there’s no reason why you can’t do the same to monetize Instagram.
Basically, you create a video that features you using a product and then earn some money for advertising it.
Explainer videos, DIYs, testimonials, or even quirky shorts are a good way to go about producing such videos. Now, you could either do this using normal videos or Instagram Stories, but if you want to stand out, I’d recommend giving IGTV a shot. A lot of brands are looking to partner with content creators on IGTV, and you should make the most of this opportunity.