New York social media startup Niche, which has just raised $2.5 million in venture funding, has some valuable secrets to share. But what are they? The more perspicuous content manager will be aware that there’s a new breed of celebrity out there: these people may not be household names in meatspace, but on Tumblr, Instagram, Vine and YouTube, they’re megastars wielding enormous influence.
Going native with social media stars
Enter Niche, a community of talented social media influencers (known as “creators”) who the startup links with publishers in need of the secrets of their reach and following. Niche’s star creators now number 2,500 (it was launched last Fall by former BuzzFeed, YouTube and Huff Post executives) and it has accrued a staggering 507 million followers in less than a year.
So how, the inquiring content manager will be wondering, does it work? When advertisers sign up to Niche’s platform, they get access to between 5 and 50 of the startup’s creators, who between them are dab hands at making Instagram photos, Vines, YouTube videos and a host of other types of content. That content then gets massively shared with their hordes of followers (these people are social media megastars, don’t forget). Needless to say, brands get approval prior to sharing and they’re carefully matched with creators who are relevant to their product or message.
A startup to watch
The result? An engaging and highly influential piece of branded content that reaches seriously big audiences. No wonder Niche co-founder Rob Fishman calls the startup a “native advertising factory”: it helps advertisers reach social media platforms in a style that is seamlessly native to those very platforms, courtesy of the carefully matched creators. The latter get paid for their efforts, too: 500 of them were paid over $650,000 in the last four months alone.
Niche ensures that brands don’t end up with the all-too-common social media failures that arise from a corporate inability to understand the nuances of the different platforms as finely as the creators do.
It’s been operating profitably since launch and was named this month by Time Inc as one of the “10 NYC Startups to Watch.” The new funding will go into building out the platform and growing the startup’s 15-strong team.