ShopStyle has seen the negative impacts of Instagram and Facebook’s algorithm changes play out in its influencer network — and the company is responding.
ShopStyle, which is comprised of both an influencer network and a social search engine, services 10 million shoppers per month via partnerships with more than 15,000 brands. The company works with top influencers such as Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam and has an influencer network of 20,000. By Nov. 14, it will roll out three new features aimed at helping influencers combat algorithm changes by monetizing even more content.
“We’ve seen — especially in the last year with Instagram and Facebook — how these algorithms can totally impact an influencer’s business in terms of reach [and] sales,” said Brent Locks, general manager of ShopStyle. “What we’ve focused on was having a strategy around how do we help influencers, how do we build more technology for the channels that they truly own? The two things they own are their blog and e-mail.”
According to Locks, ShopStyle influencers can make anywhere from $100 per month to more than $500,000 per month. He added that twice as many ShopStyle influencers will earn more than $100,000 annually in affiliate earnings this year over last year. He has also seen a 62 percent increase in the number of influencers that drive more than $1 million in sales to retailers this year.
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The first of the new features will allow influencers to embed shoppable links within their YouTube videos.
“If you’re doing shoppable videos for influencers, it has to work with YouTube,” Locks said. “There’s no point in having them upload to some other platform.”
The feature will provide another mode of monetization for YouTubers, who generate most of their ad money from YouTube. The videos will also appear on the influencers’ individual ShopStyle pages, which helps diversify their online platforms, as many YouTubers don’t have personal blogs to accompany their YouTube content.
Platform diversification is something Locks highly recommends.
“There’s definitely a place for an Instagram influencer — all power to them — but you are really at a risk there,” he said. “It’s in their best interest to diversify and realize that they’re not being followed just because of the actual content, it’s for who they are, the stories they tell, the narratives they have and in fashion, the taste and style they have. How do you take that to other mediums?”
ShopStyle’s second update applies to the favorites feature. When shoppers save a product from an influencer’s page in their favorites, they have the option to be notified when the product goes on sale, which is the most-used feature in ShopStyle’s business. As part of the new feature rollout, if a follow-up e-mail leads to a sale, the influencer will receive revenue from the purchase. The follow-up e-mail will also include a checkbox allowing the shopper to opt in to a newsletter for the influencer’s personal blog, thus bolstering their viewership.
Thirdly, ShopStyle is adding “trend pages” that will feature original influencer content. According to Locks, ShopStyle’s influencer network generates more than 5,000 pieces of content per day. To keep up with this volume, ShopStyle is syndicating influencer content directly to its web site, and will update its trend pages about 50 times a week.
Locks estimated that product discovery experiences — such as those ShopStyle is releasing — have the opportunity to influence more than $25 billion in sales to fashion brands and retailers annually. This estimate is based on search and traffic volume from Google, Pinterest, fashion publications and bloggers.
“When you’re working on the third-party platforms, there are limitations of what you can do and there’s always some workarounds,” Locks said. “But as you saw with Instagram, those workarounds can be broken if Instagram or Facebook change their mind. Let’s focus on owning the blog and with our product search engine and shopping engine, we can build things on blogs that make them feel more like e-commerce sites.”
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