BLOG POST BY: Eliza Borrett

INDUSTRY ROUND UP #18: SIDEMEN LAUNCH SIDE+, COINBASE PARTNERS WITH MRBEAST AND TWITTER’S NEW COMMUNITIES OPTION

In this week’s Industry Round Up, we explore what China’s recent cultural crackdown really means for fan groups on social, as well as breaking down a recent protest on Twitch. British YouTube supergroup The Sidemen, also released their own subscription platform, which marks yet another smart business move from the group – and we explain why. Finally, we look into the recent partnership between Coinbase and MrBeast, and cover the latest platform updates from the week!

China Vs Jimin From BTS 

China has recently had crackdowns on areas such as the monopolisation of tech brands to idol worship. China also announced a ban of ‘Effeminate Men” from TV, as part of a cultural crackdown- which was put in far more derogatory terms with the regulator stating they were resolutely putting “an end to the ‘Sissy Men’ and other abnormal aesthetics”. 

This new crackdown is also supposedly targeting the boyband aesthetic, popularised in South Korea and Japan. Regulators stated that broadcasters should avoid promoting “vulgar internet celebrities” and instead “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture”. The aim is to stop the broadcast of reality TV or portraying the admiration of wealth and celebrity culture. Action has already been taken with Weibo suspending fan-club and entertainment news accounts, as well as specifically targeting BTS member Jimin and BTS fan accounts. This came to light following a stunt for Jimin that saw an aeroplane being customised for the singer’s birthday, with a fan group raising more than 2.3 million yuan within an hour. 

So what is clear is no fan account is safe as the Chinese Communist Party is cracking down and banning such accounts on Chinese social platforms such as Weibo. This is an escalating story and is gaining momentum, and as BTS is one of the strongest fan bases to ever exist, what is interesting is the aim to silence such a loyal group who are known to have a huge impact on social media.

#ADayOffTwitch Protest

On September 1st, an organised protest occurred called #ADayOffTwitch to stand against the increased hate raids apparent on Twitch, and the platform’s lack of action against such raids. The protest was led by streamers RekitRaven, ShineyPen and Lucia Everblack, who called for creators and viewers on the platform to boycott for a full 24 hours. 

The process of ‘raiding’ is a feature developed by Twitch that allows streamers to send their viewers to another broadcast, which is usually initiated when a steamer goes offline and want their viewers to support other creators. Raids can be used for good with many creators using the feature to support smaller creators. However, there has been an increase of the feature being used to send viewers to harass and abuse marginalised creators. 

The protest hoped Twitch would take action immediately and raise awareness of this harmful action. As a result of the #ADayOffTwitch protest, there was a 10-12% decrease in streamers broadcasting and 10-15% decrease in viewership. The protest asked Twitch for a number of requests including an option for creators to approve or deny incoming raids. At present, creators can choose to accept raids from accounts they follow, but they can’t choose if they are raided or not and they receive no warning before a raid begins. Twitch is yet to take any tangible action on the requests from the protesters but has acknowledged that creators should not be experiencing hate on the platform and stated that they will be working on features to combat such raids in the near future.

Sidemen Launch Side+

The UK YouTube group The Sidemen, formerly known as The Ultimate Sidemen was formed in 2013. The group is made up of KSI, Zerkaa, Miniminter, TBJZL, Behzinga, Vikkstar123 and W2S- all friends known for playing video games together. After years of consistent uploads and creating a commercial brand, The Sidemen now stand as some of the biggest and most influential creators on YouTube. 

Since January 2018, the group have uploaded a weekly video on the group channel under the banner of ‘Sidemen Sunday’, whilst also having a second channel called MoreSidemen, a third called SidemenReacts and a fourth channel named SidemenShorts. On top of these channels, each individual creator has their own channels where they also post content. However, in recent news the group have now created a paid subscription platform named Side+, essentially offering Sidemen fans a place for exclusive content and more. The group are not making their popular content series ‘Sidemen Sundays’ gated content but simply created a new avenue to monetise bonus content.

This is yet another calculated move by the group, consistently adapting to what is working in the industry. Side+ launched a Twitter account that officially announced the platform -which has already gained 85.8K followers and released details that the new subscription platform will launch on September 12th 2021, and cost £6.99 per month.

David Dobrik’s Travel Series 

David Dobrik is a creator proving that cancel culture is nothing but a buzzword, with his recent controversy seeming something of the past as he returned to YouTube as quickly as he was supposedly ‘cancelled’. David has amassed over 18 million subscribers on YouTube, after getting his start on Vine and then popularising his 4 minutes 20-second vlog format on YouTube. Today the creator receives no less than 7 million views per video and has over time achieved a total of 6,262,454,632 views on his channel since December 2014!

Now the creator is bringing his content creation skills to Discovery+, where David has secured a 10-episode travel series titled ‘Discovering David Dobrik’. Discovery+ launched in January as a paid subscription service and has reportedly amassed over 18 million subscribers- making sense why they’d partner with a social media creator with a huge audience to bring in more of an online audience. The series will feature other Vlog Squad members and will touch on Dobrik’s travel restrictions which were caused by the Trump administration under the DACA program. This show will not mark the first partnership the creator has made with Discovery, with an appearance earlier this year on Shark Week and in 2020 Dobrik hosted a dodgeball competition series, called Dodgeball Thunderdome. 

We are seeing an increase in video streaming platforms utilising online talent with Netflix only recently signing a multi-picture deal with Addison Rae, after the success of her movie on the platform called ‘He’s All That’. We should expect more online talent to be leveraged by the streaming giants as they look to maximise viewership and subscriptions, which seems to be an easy win when partnering with creators who consistently hit millions of views on videos posted on their social media platforms.

Coinbase Partners With MrBeast

Coinbase is one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges, offering its customers the ability to buy, trade and hold a variety of cryptocurrencies. Now they are partnering with MrBeast- one of the biggest creators on YouTube to promote the service.

The partnership involved the YouTuber creating a video that puts a group of strangers together in a confined space as part of the last man standing challenge. This is a popular content theme that the creator has popularised, with MrBeast also known as Jimmy Donaldson awarding winners with huge prizes. Integrated into the video the creator pauses from the challenge to discuss Coinbase, covering how to sign up and providing $10 in Bitcoin to anyone who joins using his referral code. MrBeast also announced a #CoinBeastSweepstakes, which allows one winner to receive $100,000 in Bitcoin. 

Coinbase is evidently looking to invest more into influencer marketing strategies, with the platform opening a job listing for an influencer marketing manager to “lead scaling and nurturing creator relationships”. Coinbase also appears to be in a strong position to invest heavily in influencer strategies, with a near $2 billion quarter-by-quarter profit.

Reddit’s Promotions Within Post Reply Threads

Reddit has launched a Conversational Placement ad option, allowing brands to promote products within a highly engaged post comment thread. The placement enables businesses to put promotions in relevant reply chains, appearing above the first comment with a prominent CTA button. 

As explained by Reddit: 

“Community conversations are the heartland of Reddit, where the most engaged exchanges take place across a wide variety of passions and interests, every day. Conversation Placement allows advertisers to connect with their audiences as these exchanges are unfolding, and it works in collaboration with Reddit’s in-feed advertising to reach even more users where they’re most leaned-in.”

The new placement when in beta testing saw success across all industries, verticals and campaign objectives. According to Reddit, test partners saw a 9% average increase in CTR, 10% higher downstream conversation rate and a 23% lower CPC when using both the Conversation and Feed placement. It will be interesting to see how Redditors respond to more advertisers adding promotions in comment streams, but considering the platform is free to use, it does come with the territory.

Twitter Starts Live Testing Of Communities Option

Twitter has announced that its ‘Communities’ option will enter live testing, allowing users to share Tweets with a selected group. This enables greater control of where all Tweets are broadcasted, as a user can now choose whether Tweets are broadcasted to everyone or to a specific audience. 

When Tweeting, a user will have an option to ‘choose audience’ which provides an option of ‘everyone’ or a select community. Users will have to join a community for the option to appear, which will then mean that only those in that community will be able to join the conversation. Communities will also be user-moderated with community rules. One thing to note is that community pages are public so anyone can essentially read, Quote Tweet and report Community Tweets. Therefore, Tweets made for specific communities will not be private. 

All active communities will be searchable on the Twitter app with the addition of a ‘Communities’ tab which will be located at the bottom of the app- which was meant to be the location of the Spaces tab. This move is all part of Twitter’s growth strategy, with a key focus on maximising user engagement and creating a more tailored experience on the platform. Social as a whole is moving in the direction of private communities, so this move makes sense as not everyone wants everything seen by anyone and everyone, platforms are rolling out ‘close friends’ lists so content is tailored to different segments of a users’ audience- something Twitter is also working on!

Facebook’s New Music Usage Arrangement 

Facebook has new deals in place with music publishers which will enable Facebook Gaming streamers to play popular music within streams. This is all part of a push to get more streamers on the platform creating content. 

As explained by Facebook: 

“Last year, we announced the rollout of music on Facebook Gaming. Since then, we’ve been testing with our Partner Creators to ensure they’re able to use a vast array of popular music in their streams without risk of takedowns. We’ve learned a lot and made some improvements. And today, we’re excited to expand access to music to even more creators.”

In the new arrangement, all Partner and Level Up creators can lay background music during gaming live streams on Facebook. The music licensing deals are with the likes of Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment to name a few. What is interesting is that competitor platforms YouTube and Twitch, do not allow free music usage in the same way but do provide copyright-free tracks for use in videos and streams. In contrast, Facebook will allow streamers to use any track they want, with no threat of streams being shut down. 

The new usage deal will not cover streams on all Facebook-owned apps such as Instagram. In addition, the new deals do not cover broadcasts where music is the focus of the stream. To also celebrate the announcement, Facebook is a hosting a series of celebrity DJ streams with select gaming creators.

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Written by: Eliza Borrett

Insights Manager at The Goat Agency