Want to Be an Influencer? Here’s One Place to Start.

Tumi Adeyoju, 20, specializes in public health at the University of Houston. But when he’s not in class or studying, he runs a fashion, lifestyle and beauty blog – a company that you hope to turn into a business.

Like many people of her generation, Ms. Adeyoju dreams of becoming an influencer – a mixed bag for anyone who makes money by posting products on social media. However, there are some obstacles. First: Adeyoju has just over 700 followers on Instagram. Many influencer marketing platforms, where content creators connect with brands, require a minimum number of followers of thousands for admission.

In November, he heard from a mutual friend about 28 Row, a new app that had no such requirement. All I needed was an .edu email address.

The app is meant to be a place for college girls to connect over shared interests, and for many of them, the influence of social media is important. Ms. Adeyoju said in a phone interview that 28 Row “has really introduced me to a lot of new faces, a lot of diversity when it comes to influencers and content creators.”

These days, there are all kinds of resources dedicated to the business of influencing, not just sites where creators and brands can negotiate relationships, but also pay equity focused life coaching services and networks in the industry. What sets 28 Row apart is its user base – the network is specifically for female college students.

Cindy Krupp and Janie Karas, the founders of 28 Row, knew from the beginning that they wanted to focus on the students. In 2018, they recruited 20 college influencers and connected them to various brands that are popular with young women: Elf Cosmetics, H&M, and Monday Haircare. The company’s influencer marketing platform went live One year later.

“Brands are dying to reach this demographic,” Krupp, a public relations veteran, said in a Zoom interview. (Ms. Karas started as her assistant at the Krupp Group, the communications agency that Ms. Krupp founded in 2005). “It is very laborious to examine them, find them and create the network. And I think a lot of brands want access but don’t have the infrastructure to build a team to find this network. “

Ms Krupp, 48, and Ms Karas, 28, were inspired to make a social app after members of the influencer network asked to be connected in a group chat.

“They talked about everything from ‘The Bachelor’ to ‘What are you wearing to be formal?’” Ms. Krupp said. “Us I really had that ‘aha!’ moment, that this was built to be something different than where we were at that time. “

The app, which became widely available in September, has around 1,500 members. Not all are budding influencers, although many are. Members who are part of the 28 Row network of influencers are known as “social butterflies”; in the app, each of them has a star next to their username.

Megan Parmelee, 25, who joined the 28 Row influencer network, said that what sets it apart from other influencer platforms is the opportunity to meet like-minded people.

“It’s a lot of people coming together for a common purpose and a common goal, and that’s just enjoying this realm of social media that is the world of content creation,” said Ms Parmelee, a graduate student. . in the medical assistant program at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY

I joined because I want to grow my network, “he added,” and it’s nice to be able to share what I’ve learned along the way.. “

Christian Hughes, a marketing professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on digital media, said that new apps like 28 Row can help users deal with the “trials and tribulations” of life online.

“Influencers are really under constant speculation and observation and trolls and a lot of negativity,” he said. “And there are many things that indicate that social media can be tough on mental health.” Dr. Hughes was referring to documents published by The Wall Street Journal which revealed the extent to which Facebook was aware of the negative effects of Instagram on teenage girls. “I think it will give these women a little more support,” she said. “At least I hope I can be a lot more supportive.”

Ms. Karas and Ms. Krupp said they are working to ensure 28 Row fosters an inclusive and positive community.

College women as a whole, Karas said, need a safe space away from mainstream social platforms. “They need a safe place to support and encourage each other,” he said.

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