How to turn Vines and Snapchats into advertising gold

US start-up Niche matches brands with social media’s top talent – and it’s a
lucrative business

Brands used to plough resources into making 30-second TV commercials. But
they’re now dealing with the fact that young consumers don’t watch TV
anymore.

Instead, social media sites like Vine, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram are
becoming more and more popular.

Helping brands cash in on this trend is Niche, a US start-up which has worked
with 100 brands including Coca-Cola, Warner Brothers and HP since launching
just over a year ago.

Niche matches brands with the biggest personalities on social media those
with the highest following on sites including Instagram, Vine, Facebook (NasdaqGS: FBnews) ,
Tumblr and Snapchat. These ‘stars’ will then promote a product on their
feeds, earning several thousands of dollars for a single post.

“Brands know they need to reach people but they don’t have the resources to do
so,” co-founder Rob Fishman says. “Social media has already surged beyond
traditional sources of entertainment like television, film and print as
their number one source of engagement. Younger audiences are hooked to these
mobile apps. We’re connecting with a lot of young folks and we’re really
excited about the potential here.”

Nash Grier, Niche’s number one personality, has more than 24m followers across
social media and gets nearly 18,000 views a day.

A dog known as Biggie Smalls the Notorious D.O.G has amassed more than 83,000
followers across Instagram, Twitter (Xetra: A1W6XZnews) and Tumblr. Through deals brokered by
Niche, the dog, a griffon,
has been used to promote brands including car service Lyft and sports
channel Network A.

This Vine for NFL, by Kc James, has had more than 62,000 likes

There are currently 5,000 ‘stars’ signed up to Niche, which is a mix between a
talent scouting service and an advertising agency.

Niche tells brands who they should be working with. The 28-strong team will
then approve their ideas and help map out the entire campaign. The firm also
tracks the results which and feedback to the advertisers the return on their
investment.

“We try to resist labels,” Fishman says. “We don’t see ourselves as either a
talent or an ad agency we’re more of a tech solution. Brands want to know
well how their campaign is going down with consumers, and we have all the
stats available.”

Niche, which has offices in New York and San Francisco, is now working with UK
brands. It has partnered with Land Rover to capture drivers’ favourite
memories under the hashtag #wellstoried. The campaign will go live in the UK
in the next few weeks, although is already live on the brand’s US Facebook
page.

Meanwhile British talent including Instagram users Louis
Cole , a travel photographer, and Mike
Kus , a UK based graphic designer, are currently being paid to
promote the Samsung Smart Camera on Instagram.

There is plenty of potential in Britain, says Fishman, who used to lead the
social media team at Huffington Post before starting Niche. His co-founder
Darren Lachtman previously worked in digital marketing, working alongside
brands including Google (Xetra: A0B7FYnews) .

Fishman adds that “the learning curve has been a little slower,” but he
expects 2015 to mark a “huge year in social media advertising for brands in
the UK, and across Europe.”

Some brands have even turned their social media success into TV advertising.
This campaign by HP is a TV commercial made up of the best Vines from its
Bend The Rules campaign.

“Right now, we see brands most excited about Vine, Instagram and Snapchat. But
new apps are springing up every day,” says Fishman. “The possibilities are
endless.”