There’s fast money to be made everywhere on social media. So much so, it’s hard to keep up. In this year alone, Facebook and Instagram integrated with Shopify to enable sellers to convert potential customers through the platforms; Twitter is testing a new tweet format, complete with a big blue (and unmissable) ‘shop’ button; LinkedIn announced it will roll out product pages; and freelance writers are producing bios for people on Clubhouse. 

Social media is out; social sales are in. Even social media platforms that aren’t following the sales model are finding that users have other ideas: they're finding work through Bumble, or they’re running affiliate marketing on Snapchat. As a direct result of this, hyper-specific micro-industries that are serving the needs of people on these more niche platforms are also coming out of the woodwork. 

Networking live with Clubhouse 

Clubhouse’s audio-only live experience is creating a real you-had-to-be-there effect. Twitter and Instagram launched Spaces and Live Rooms respectively, in response to the rapid adoption of Clubhouse. In early 2021, Clubhouse revealed Creator First, its accelerator programme, through which it will start helping creators monetise their Clubhouse presence. 

Despite the platform having only launched in April 2020, Clubhouse has already opened up access to funding sources and new audiences for small businesses. 

Emerging non-fungible tokens (NFT) artists (creators who sell their art as digital assets) are pitching in real time to record-breaking art seller 3LAU, who buys up thousands of dollars worth of digital art. 

Brands are starting to sponsor Clubhouse rooms to open themselves up to new audiences. Bite, a natural toothpaste, reportedly acquired 30 new customers after sponsoring a Clubhouse room. 

Glowing Feel, a marketplace for black haircare products, sponsored a Clubhouse discussion, offering a discount for everyone who listened in. 

‘At the height of Clubhouse’s popularity, we noticed that rooms were being moderated by hosts with a wide reach, with room capacity being anything from 100 to 2,000 people,’ says the Glowing Feel team. 

‘We agreed to sponsor a room we felt related to a topic that would yield interest.’

Who should explore alternative revenue on Clubhouse?

A. Micro-influencers, digital marketers, copywriters.

Building brand community with Discord 

With a user interface that emulates messaging platform Slack, Discord started out as a chat platform for gamers divided into purpose-built, user-created servers. Within a server, moderators can create tiered sub-communities and give certain members roles. In June 2020, however, Discord moved away from only serving gamers and announced a series of new features like Community Servers, which include in-server advertising, a personalised welcome screen and insights on the performance of a server. 

Gaming-adjacent brands and businesses are starting to take advantage of this. For SuperRare, a digital art marketplace, and the Museum of Other Realities, an immersive VR art gallery, Discord connects artists to collectors, as well as being the first spot for artists to announce new product drops. Sol Press, an anime and manga publishing house, uses Discord to provide real-time customer service and build hype around new product launches with an already loyal customer base. 

Who should explore alternative revenue on Discord?

A. Community managers, product managers, brand experience professionals.

Designing digital fashion with Roblox

Compared with a daily average of 35 minutes on Instagram, Roblox users spend 156 minutes on the platform, according to market-intelligence platform Sensor Tower. Roblox isn’t your average gaming platform, though: here, users can create their own gaming universes, as well as engaging with other creators’ games. That makes for a much more immersive and engaged gaming community. 

While the Roblox aesthetic – boxy, Lego-like avatars – is consistent, users have full creative control over the games they create, including settings, the game’s purpose, in-app purchases and kit for their avatars. The most popular Roblox creators are reimbursed for their games, and payouts to creators went up by 127% between 2019 and 2020. Users spent $700 million on Roblox in the first nine months of 2020. 

A micro-industry of Roblox avatar fashion is also heating up outside of the platform. Gucci created unique, branded digital fashion; even in Roblox’s own in-app currency, Robux, the prices were high. And Nike puts together its own Roblox avatars for users to buy, all three of them sporting Air Max shoes. 

Bespoke digital-only fashion brands are popping up to serve Roblox customers, such as Fresh Era Clothing and Tiger. Freelancers are even selling avatar fashion design services on Fiverr. 

Andre Bracy Jr, who goes by the username Valkenheim on Roblox, has been designing commissioned digital clothing since lockdown began. 

‘There are definitely people who are willing to pay more than $100 for a single outfit, and the quality of the design shows in this regard,’ he says.

Who should explore alternative revenue on Roblox?

A. Graphic designers, digital designers, software developers.

This article was first published in Courier issue 41, June/July 2021. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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