Founder Jules Lund (front row on the left) with the team at Tribe which has just launched in the UK (Image courtesy: Jules Lund)
Founded by former TV star and radio host and now tech entrepreneur Jules Lund, Melbourne startup Tribe has just launched in the UK in the first leg of its overseas expansion. The expansion was funded by a $5.35 million Series A round led by Sydney-based private equity firm Exto partners.
Tribe is an innovative online marketplace that connects brands with micro-influencers on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Starting in November 2015, Tribe has joined 2000 brands to 100,000 influencers and helped produce 75,000 pieces of branded content.
Tribe’s success in Australia has attracted big name brands to the platform in the UK, with Moet Hennessy, Selfridges and Burt’s Bees having already commissioned over 100 pieces of content from UK-based content creators.
Heading the UK office temporarily is Tribe Australia CEO Anthony Svirskis, who is looking for a more permanent head for the company in London. Anthony believes that like many other sectors from web development to taxi service, micro-influencer marketing signifies the fragmentation of traditional marketing in the age of freelancer economy. He adds, “With technology, we’re only starting to see the emergence of platforms connecting marketing professionals with the globe’s talent in creativity, design and marketing services.”
The rise of micro-influencer marketing
Most of us with Instagram and Twitter accounts are pretty familiar with the concept of brands spending big money on influencers with millions of followers to promote their products. What marketers have realised in the past couple of years is that the real value in influencer marketing, in fact, lies at the bottom of the pyramid, in the hands of so-called micro-influencers, typically with 3000 to 100,000 followers.
Micro-influencers have painstakingly built up their following from scratch by showcasing their passions online and thus have a much stronger connection with their niche audiences. This results in much higher engagement for promotions done by micro-influencers. Additionally, micro-influencers typically charge in hundreds rather than thousands, thereby significantly lowering the CPE (cost per engagement) and enabling corporate marketers to tap into multiple groups of audiences at the price of a single mega-influencer endorsement.
Tribe comes at just the right time when the world’s top marketers are in a gold rush to discover the best and brightest micro-influencers in social media and manage effective campaigns that align with the value and image of their brands.
Tribe as a digital marketing platform
The idea of an online platform that simplifies how marketers talk to influencers came out of Jules’ long career as a media personality when he was frequently asked to endorse brands but found the communication process with corporate marketing departments to be convoluted and time consuming going through several layers of agency and management even for very simple requests such as embedding URLs on to a social media post.
Tribe replaces all that with a sophisticated platform in which brands can easily submit a brief with their requirements and invite submissions from influencers within their target niches. Tribe enables marketers to communicate directly with influencers on its platform and review and approve branded content for pushing out through influencer channels. The platform also integrates a seamless payment system for influencers and charges marketers only when a campaign has been approved.
With the company growing 20% month-on-month and generating $1 million in revenue for its Australian content creators in 2016, clearly, there has been a great need for an intuitive digital marketplace both from the marketer and social media influencer ends.
Tribe CEO Anthony Svirskis (left) with founder Jules Lund (right) (Image courtesy: Georgie Cavanagh)
Significance of Tribe’s Global Expansion
So what does the success of startups like Tribe’s mean for Australia’s emerging startup ecosystem? What more can we do to encourage that the pipeline of success continues on?
According to Anthony Svirskis, “What Australia is doing well is shining a light on the emerging startup industry more and more. Government incentives, grants and now tax breaks for small businesses all help, but it will take time for these initiatives to have an impact.”
As a company with a firm international ambition, Anthony is also keenly aware of the need for drawing on top global talent for the enrichment of local Aussie ecosystems.
“I’d like to see more done around skilled technical visas to bring in foreign talent, although all things considered, we’ve certainly taken a big step forward in the last 12 months. That said, we’re still well behind more developed startup ecosystems in the US and Asia, but the more international success stories we hear about, the more we bring organic and assisted growth to the local industry which can start to contribute more significantly to the Australian economy.”
As for the future, Anthony predicts that Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will be the game changers. “Once the technology develops to make the medium more accessible, we’ll start to see brands embrace VR and AR to compliment their marketing mix and create a new channel for closer engagement with their consumers.”