The rise of the role of the ‘influencer’ in social media marketing is being consolidated by fashion app 21Buttons. Brands setting aside a budget to pay YouTube stars, known as ‘vloggers’ (Video Bloggers), to endorse their products became an established practice a couple of years ago now. The new celebrity category that is vloggers will be familiar to anyone who is in regular contact with teens, or even younger children. For others, it may be a bit of a mystery.
Basically, vloggers regularly record themselves ruminating on particular topics of interest which can be anything from pop culture to sport and politics, or simply being amusing. They post these recordings to, primarily, YouTube, where armies of hungry fans are waiting patiently to consume their next offering.
The huge popularity of these social media personalities, the biggest have millions of subscribers to their YouTube channel, may sound somewhat bizarre to anyone over the age of 25, but it is undoubtedly a ‘thing’. It’s basically like your one friend on Facebook who’s every post seems to get a tidal wave of ‘likes’, taken to a whole new, and commercial, level. The number of eager young minds hanging on their every word or funny face pulled, means vloggers can be paid thousands of pounds to feature and extol the virtues of a particular brand or product in one of their ‘vlogs’.
21Button is a little bit like eBay for vloggers. In the same way as eBay created a digital retail marketplace that allowed anyone and everyone to sell anything and everything, 21Button evens the playing field for aspiring influencers. Via the app, anyone can use their social clout, bigger or smaller, to generate income by endorsing their favourite brands.
21Button users photograph or bookmark fashion items they either own or intend to buy and share these posts with their followers on the app, or network of friends on social media platforms such as Facebook. Every item of clothing posted comes with a ‘buy’ button. For every sale generated by the followers of a user going on to purchase the item through 21Button, the company receives a commission, which is then split with the influencer.
While other social networks, such as Instagram and Pinterest, have also now introduced buy buttons, 21Buttons is the first to really place this at the centre of its business model form the beginning. And it seems to be a successful approach with the company saying that ‘most top fashion influencers in their geographies are already using 21Buttons to share their looks with their audience’.
Investors have had faith in the concept from the beginning, with seed funding raised in 2015 from Samaipata Ventures, Breega Capital, 360 Capital Partners, Banc Sabadell Venture Capital, Sputnik, and Mediaset. The traction Barcelona-based 21Buttons have gained since then has seen the company now close a $10 million Series A funding round led by Kibo Ventures and JME VC, with the original investors also all participating again.
The funds are earmarked to help turbo-charge user uptake in the UK where 21Button has recently been launched, as well as further international expansion.