Zappos Is Tapping Influencers to Host Shopping Livestreams

Zappos is the latest retail brand to join the shoppable livestream fray through a new partnership with influencer-based broadcasting startup Buywith. Top line The Amazon-owned shoe seller will invite select social media influencers, content creators and bloggers to promote products to their followers via livestreams of themselves shopping on the site, for which they will…

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A new startup wants to build a network of houses for influencers across the US to film in and record podcasts

Summary List PlacementAs the influencer industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar marketing category, interest in non-celebrity, lower-follower-count creators has exploded.
These “micro” and mid-tier influencers often have just a few thousand fans. But they can still earn a full-time living (or run a lucrative side business) by posting sponsored content on apps like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. And unlike Hollywood stars, they often live in cities and towns across the US – not just in the entertainment hub of Los Angeles.
This group of less-famous creators is precisely who the startup Of Note hopes to serve with the launch of its new influencer coworking space and content studio, Note House.
Located in East Nashville, Tennessee, Note House is a professionally designed space for local influencers to visit (not live in) and create content.
Of Note charges a $75 monthly fee for members to work at the house, film in its Instagram-ready rooms, and use its production tools like a podcast studio. Of Note also offers a $25 per-diem option for creators who just want to visit the house once or twice a month, and businesses can rent out the entire house for a flat fee on select days.

The house, which opened on November 30, includes a white-box photo studio and an audio recording space for members who want to record a podcast (an increasingly popular medium among internet stars). These features offer members access to equipment that a part-time creator may not want to invest in themselves.
Read more: Some brands are hiring influencers as a ‘one-stop shop’ for video and animation as production studios shut down — and finding they’re a lot cheaper
But the company said one of the main draws of Note House is its showroom-quality living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom spaces — key set pieces for lifestyle influencers that want to promote bedding, bath products, food items, and other at-home brands on their Instagram accounts.

Of Note isn’t the first company to design a camera-friendly space for influencers.
The influencer agency Village Marketing launched its own influencer facility, “Village Studio,” in New York in 2018, expanding to Los Angeles shortly afterwards.
But Of Note’s plan to focus on servicing influencers who don’t live in coastal cities is one of its differentiators. India Mayer and Katy Shah, who cofounded and self-funded the business, told Insider that they’re eyeing Texas as their next Note House location. Whether they will have the funding to expand into other locations will depend on how 2021 goes, they said. 

“Our goal is not to have a Note House in LA or New York,” Mayer said. “Our goal is really to focus on other markets throughout the US that are not necessarily focused on as much. They’re a little bit harder to access by brands.”
Other creator-house businesses have recently sprung up in cities outside of Los Angeles. Eight members of a TikTok collective, THNAF, moved to Las Vegas last summer, telling Insider that living in the city was less expensive than moving to LA. And two influencer houses, Collab Crib and Valid Crib, recently launched in Atlanta with the goal of creating new opportunities for some of the city’s top Black creators. 
Sharing a space could help online influencers feel less isolated
When Mayer and Shah decided to start Of Note, their original goal was to create a communal space for influencers who typically “are living on their own digital island,” Mayer said. 
In addition to being a content studio, Note House was planned as a coworking space for influencers — an idea that WWD dubbed as a WeWork for local content creators. The Nashville house has an office space and offers coffee, water, and on-site management. And Mayer and Shah said they’re working on introducing some WeWork-style services like educational workshops for members.
But due to social-distancing restrictions associated with COVID-19, the team hasn’t focused much on coworking since the house’s launch. The property’s main value for creators has been its faux home spaces where creators can shoot branded content for their social-media accounts. 

“We don’t have presentation rooms and phone booths,” Shah said. “Instead we have exactly what the influencers need, which is a podcasting studio, a bedroom suite, and full bathroom and bedroom setup so influencers can shoot a home setup.”

The company said it worked with brands like H&M, Joe’s Jeans, Mary Kaye, and L’Oréal to pre-stock the house with clothing, furniture, and other decor. Its early partners “gifted” items to the house (an influencer marketing structure in which brands donate items for free in exchange for social promotion). The house features a styling room and lending closet with off-the-rack clothing options for members. Of Note said it’s now starting to charge for product placements in the house, with brand activation packages beginning at around $500. 

By offering temporary space rather than live-in houses, Of Note may avoid some of the drama that’s plagued other creator house businesses 
While it’s still very early days for Of Note — the company said it has 35 paying members (and a growing waitlist) thus far — the opportunity to build a business in the creator industry is ripe. 
Of Note is one of many upstarts that have looked into finding new revenue streams outside of pure marketing services (though they also offer those) in the influencer industry. Other companies have built businesses around direct-to-consumer merchandise, monetizing interactions with fans, and even developing financial products and banking services for creators.
And creator content houses have taken off in recent months as a wave of TikTok stars have moved in together to make videos and cross-promote each other’s accounts. But running a creator house as a business can get messy when creators live on-site, something that Shah and Mayer hope to avoid by running their house more like an office space. 
“India and I worked together at a traditional public relations and marketing agency here in [Nashville],” Shah said. “We were sensing, and it seems like a lot of our peers in the industry felt the same way, that people wanted more physical touchpoints, especially influencer communities living their career online.”
“We’re catering to a little bit different customer,” she said. “Our influencers aren’t going to live there. It’s definitely not a party scene.”
For more stories on creator-focused startups, read these other Business Insider stories:

After selling a startup to YouTube, this cofounder is betting podcasts are the next big money maker for influencers: Business Insider spoke with Agnes Kozera about Podcorn’s first year and the difference between working with YouTube stars and podcasters.
A new startup helps TikTok creators get paid to post videos with fans as the app’s stars look beyond brand deals: PearPop’s platform allows TikTok influencers to monetize their accounts using some of TikTok’s collaborative features like “duets” and “stitches.”
Finance startups are launching new products designed for influencers including an app that lets YouTubers get paid early: Fintech companies are raising funds and launching financial products for YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram creators.
Influencers describe what it’s like to use Community, the invite-only marketing app that lets them text message with their fans: Business Insider spoke to influencers testing out Community’s app to learn more about the invite-only platform.
Meet the startup helping YouTube creators earn millions in extra ad revenue by reposting their content on Facebook and Snapchat — including $68,000 from a single video: Posting videos across YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat can be a headache for creators. Startup Jellysmack is trying to streamline the process.
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