When I tell people I started a SaaS platform for micro influencers their eyes glaze over. So let me try this instead: I am starting a beekeeping co-op.
Our platform is the hive. The creators are the bees. The content they make is the honey. And the brands are the beekeepers.
Today, there are 450 other hives that house bees and sell honey (up from 190 hives a year ago). So how are we different?
Other hives have two main problems: a decline in cross-pollination and an increase in bears. Here’s what I mean:
Other platforms don’t allow creators to collaborate with one another. Our competitors are marketplaces where brands connect with the creators of their choosing. Brands can speak to creators. Creators can respond to brands. That’s it. It seems great, because brands easily find creators to make content for them and post about it to their following, but, creators can’t engage with one another. In my opinion, to make the best content, creators must collaborate, just like to make the best honey, bees must cross-pollinate. Creators want to collaborate because when they each post each other’s content they gain each other’s followers – it’s the best way to grow. Collaborating is also the best way to create the most creative work; work that has two creative minds behind it instead of one. Our competitors keep creators isolated from one another, powerless, in a large database. They lie in wait, hoping the right brand comes along to make them a reasonable offer that enables them to create content true to their personal “brand” and thus more compelling to their followers. They crave a beekeeper who respects their process, who won’t take too much honey at once, or be too prescriptive about how they make it. What they get instead, are bears.
Most platforms follow the easy money. Most of our competitors are young, poorly funded, and need cash flow. The easiest brand money comes from bears because bears are hungry, and want a lot of honey. The problem? They devour all the honey and swat at the bees. Bears are big and stupid and don’t care about the quality of the honey or how it was made. I’m talking, of course, about the “volume players”, brands like Diet Detox Tea, Bootay Bag, Coffee Scrub, etc. These brands have shitty products and try to make up for it by flooding the market with hundreds of thousands of dollars of thinly veiled “endorsements”. Remember banner ads from five years ago that told you you’d won a free iPad? Same playbook. Brands like Diet Detox Tea offer pennies on the dollar to any influencer who will take their offer and run them into the ground. In other words, by posting seven times for Detox Tea the influencer in question loses the trust of their following and then no one wants their honey anymore. Bears are great for platforms because they consume vast amounts of honey (and generate meaningful revenue very quickly), but they are terrible for bees. And as far as I’m concerned, what’s bad for bees is bad for bees-ness.
Don’t like puns, try this: whoever has the happiest bees, has the best honey. Whoever has the best honey attracts the best beekeepers. Whoever attracts the best beekeepers, doesn’t have to let bears in. Whoever keeps the bears out, keeps the bees happy.
At H, we protect the bees. We have built our brand around our creators, literally, in so far as most of our employees at any given time were hired from our community and were “creators” before they were “employees”. Ex-creators run our socials, manage our clients, host our events, and run this blog. As a company, we have hosted hundreds of creator trips to facilitate intimate collaboration, dozens of events (like art shows and meet ups) per week, and panels. We have 25,000 users all over the country but, truly, it really feels like a family. I, personally, have met over 5,000 of our bees.
When we decided to build a hive (our platform, The Hub) we built it for the bees (with the beekeepers as a distant, second priority). Friends, advisors and investors scream for revenue but we are committed to creating a swarming, happy hive first, and selling the honey second, once it’s really, really good. In fact, we haven’t even allowed beekeepers into the hive yet. To date, our platform has six modules all of which provide value for bees and bees alone. Bees can search through tens of thousands of other bees all over the country and message one another; they can collaborate (by creating shoot concepts or events and inviting others), they can critique each others work, and they can learn more about their following (through our data) and more about the industry (through our blog). The bees love it. In fact, 10% of our bees are buzzing in our hive every day (thats the same ratio of daily active users to users as Twitter) #TheBirdsAndTheBees.
A swarming hive means we have unprecedented data on our bees. When we allow beekeepers into the hive (in March of 2018 when we launch our brand module) we will be able to recommend bees (and teams of bees) with surgical specificity. Already, we can report on which bees work best together and which combination makes the best honey. The beekeepers are going to love it. Oh, and to make sure the bees stay happy, we will carefully vet the beekeepers and make sure they respect the rules of our hive and source their honey sustainably. This is the bee’s home, after all.
Want to know more about our buzzing hive? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org