The new influencers

February 23rd, 2024

Together with

Cellular meltdown. Were you one of the more than 70,000 AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile customers who lost cell service yesterday? While the reason for the outage is TBD, there’s no proof that it was due to a cyber attack — as was the case in Netflix’s recent disaster movie, Leave the World Behind. Still, that hasn’t kept people online from comparing Thursday’s outage to the film’s apocalyptic turn of events. Check out some of the reactions here.

In other news... Instagram is the go-to news source for millennials and Gen Xers, generative AI is disrupting more Hollywood jobs, and TikTok Shop influencers are on the rise.

Top Trends

YouTube → The Gentlemen

Reddit → True Detective

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The daily scroll // Illustration by David Vendrell

Instagram can’t stop the rise of news influencers

The Future. Instagram has become the hottest news source online among millennials and Gen Xers. But with the company attempting to de-platform political content, many news-influencers may need to spin off their accounts into newsletters or podcasts to continue growing.

The post paper
Instagram is begrudgingly making headlines.

  • News accounts have soared in popularity, with 16% of US adults regularly getting their news on Instagram — more than TikTok and YouTube.

  • Accounts like Mo News, News Not Noise, Sharon Says So, and Roca News — many from former high-profile journalists — have amassed hundreds of thousands to millions of followers by breaking down the news on Instagram.

  • Why the engagement? Users seem to prefer curated, bite-sized takes on headlines that they can comment on and share… all on a platform they’re already using.

Ironically, the news account growth comes as Instagram has stopped recommending political content on the platform after Meta found itself at the center of several controversies. The algorithmic change has had an effect — a study by social media management firm Dash Hudson found that the posts of 70 major news accounts have dropped 26% weekly.

As expected, news influencers are not happy about that news.

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Robot replacement? // Illustration by Kait Cunniff with Midjourney

Sora generates stress in Hollywood

The Future. OpenAI’s Sora is just the first stab at AI’s revolution of or attack on Hollywood (depending on who you ask) — the exact fear that powered much of last year’s strikes. Whether or not AI fully replaces some Hollywood crew members, the cost-cuts of using AI could lead to a boom in effects-driven independent films.

Piloting the pilot
Concept artists, VFX workers, and storyboard artists are under existential threat due to generative AI.

  • 75% of entertainment leaders who responded to a survey last month said that AI “supported the elimination, reduction, or consolidation of jobs at their companies,” per THR.

  • That has led to a do-or-die moment for Hollywood workers — either reject AI and hope that it’ll be regulated or learn how to include AI in their workflow (even if it cuts hours and jobs).

  • Sora’s ability to compose and select shots may also prompt some producers to use the tech to create proof-of-concept videos for projects.

But, there’s one big wrinkle — plagiarism detector Copyleaks found that 60% of ChatGPT 3.5’s outputs contained copyrighted material. If there’s even a whiff of infringement in anything made for film or TV, studios could be opening themselves up to major lawsuits.

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Shop star

TikTok is incubating influencers for Shop

The Future. TikTok is hoping to crown ecommerce influencers as a way to boost engagement on TikTok Shop — which is doing well for small and medium-sized businesses but still hasn’t caught on with major brands. If TikTok is able to mold talent who’s famous mainly for selling products, those influencers could be best positioned to launch their own brands down the line.

Marketplace ambassadors 
TikTok has started a “Star Creator” team that pinpoints and develops talent that they think could make successful influencers on TikTok Shop, according to Insider.

  • The company is hiring for several open positions, including “star creator manager,” in the US and UK.

  • The team provides influencers with tips on how to optimize their content, connection with brands looking for partnerships, and data on what products are selling the best.

  • TikTok is also tapping third-party agencies and talent coaches to help get training going. Additionally, affiliate creators have access to the newly launched TikTok Shop Academy.

The social star isn’t a new concept for TikTok — the model is already super successful on Douyin (TikTok in China). There, they’re called “key opinion leaders” (or KOLs).

Now comes the billion-dollar question: can what works in the East work in the West? Only time will tell.

So, now we want to hear from you…


We ask the hard-hitting questions.

Do you buy products recommended by influencers?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

51.9% of you voted Yes in yesterday’s poll: Do you use ChatGPT?

“I use it for work. I’m in marketing. I use it to help outline blog posts and then use internal experts to review and tweak them.”

“For school work mostly.”

“Hell no. One word has forever ruined me for the use of AI… Skynet.”

“I cannot run the risk of intellectual property becoming part of the LLM that ChatGPT uses, thereby sharing it with our competitors.”

“It makes life easier.”

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The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

  • Dana Walden, the co-chairman of Disney Entertainment, seems to be the frontrunner to succeed Bob Iger at the top of the Mouse House C-suite. Read More → thr

  • Vice announced that it would no longer publish pieces on its website, opting instead for an agency model where it sells its stories to other outlets. Read More → variety

  • Live Nation reported that it had its most successful year ever in 2023, with revenue up 36% and concert attendance up 20%. Read More → thr

Fashion & E-Commerce

  • Cause: Beyoncé is about to drop a country album. Effect: cowboy fashion is experiencing triple-digit interest. Read More → complex

  • Bella Hadid may be launching her own fashion line called Orebella. Read More → highsnobiety

  • Inditex, the parent company of Zara and H&M, is expanding its ultra-fast fashion, Gen Z-focused brand Lefties to compete with Shein and Temu. Read More → bof

Tech, Web3, & AI

  • Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus officially touched down on the Moon yesterday — the first time an American lander has in 52 years and the first time ever for a private space company. Read More → usatoday

  • Google suspended the image-generating feature of its Gemini chatbot after it created historically inaccurate images, including Black Nazi soldiers. Read More → variety

  • A woman is marrying a hologram, AILex, that was trained on data from her exes. Read More → insider

Creator Economy

  • Nearly half of adult TikTok users have never posted a single video, according to Pew. Read More → techcrunch

  • Substack added a million new paid subscribers last year, inching it closer to turning a profit. Read More → axios

  • The Flip, a TikTok Shop competitor, turns everyone into an influencer — it only hosts videos that can earn affiliate revenue. Read More → theverge

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Today’s email was written by David Vendrell.
Edited by Boye Akolade. Copy edited by Kait Cunniff.
Published by Darline Salazar4

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