It’s been almost 20 years since people started micro-blogging their emotions to a friend named Tom on the now-defunct social media site Myspace. While there were certainly earlier iterations of social media it was around this time that it became ubiquitous in our lives. Shortly thereafter a Harvard student would get drunk in his dorm room and make the first iteration of Facebook. This would be followed by LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Now we are watching each other compete in viral dance challenges on TikTok. What started as a fun way to interact with each other has evolved into THE way we communicate.
While social media started as a way to engage with our friends and family, a fun little side effect was the access it gave us to celebrities: athletes, performers, and creators. Spinning off from social media was the creator economy. Now, platforms like Cameo, Instagram Live, or Clubhouse allow us to engage with some of our favorite celebrities across a variety of industries. For the reasonable price of $333, you can get LeaAnn Rimes to make a video praising your country music podcast, or for $150 you can have Brett the Hitman Hart cut a wrestling promo threatening to throw your best friend in the Sharpshooter.
Similarly, those interested in entrepreneurship could find themselves in a Clubhouse chat with Reddit’s founder Alexis Ohanian discussing his favorite cryptocurrencies and his bullish outlook on NFTs. (Non-fungible token…don’t ask)
The truth is, there are many platforms today selling access to people of (some level of) fame. They are essentially a digital meet and greet for the pandemic era in which we are living. Then there are the non-famous folks offering premium content through avenues such as Substack, a newsletter subscription platform, or Patreon a place to support your favorite comedy podcast. One of the most well-known and controversial of these content subscription services is of course OnlyFans, which despite how you feel about it, cleared $300 Million in profit last year. Case in point: these companies are here to stay.
The main thing these platforms have in common is they are completely digital and largely consumed on phones. You send a Cameo video digitally to your friend. Your paid Pateron subscription unlocks additional content, typically bonus podcast episodes. Even with Substack, your newsletter subscription sends an email to your phone that can be consumed from the comfort of your bed before you start your day.
If all of these platforms are taking place primarily on mobile devices, doesn’t it make sense to market these platforms directly to mobile devices? When we think about the A2P possibilities in this space, some are obvious. Sure, all of these platforms have a native app, but a simple SMS alerting a user of action in their account could do wonders.
“You have a new Cameo.”
“Your newsletter has arrived.”
It’s a non-invasive way to let people know that the thing they have purchased has arrived…just like when you get that text from Uber or DoorDash.
If we expand, you can see a world in which marketing messages delivered over A2P channels such as SMS or WhatsApp make sense.
“We see you ordered a Cameo from Lindsay Lohan, guess what? The rest of the ‘plastics’ are now on Cameo.”
That’s right, Regina George can tell you to stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen. And while this is merely an example of how the technology could work (using a very 2004 reference) you can certainly see Clubhouse wanting to send its users updates on upcoming sessions that an algorithm thinks they might like. You watched Alexis Ohanian’s crypto talk, so maybe you want to hear Serena Williams talk about investing?
These are simple ways to keep users engaged or even reignite a lapsed customer. Currently, a lot of these notifications and marketing updates are going to email and are contributing to the fact that your inbox is overflowing. No one is reading these emails of course, so the value of the communication is net-negative. But if you are served this update on your phone with a link that will launch the app…well why not? SMS has a 98% open rate and is typically read in under three minutes. If we really want to connect creators with users and use all of the technology at our disposal to do so, we should make it as seamless and frictionless as possible.