We’re Moving to 1st-Party Creator Data: GRIN and Meta Background

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Brandon Brown |

CEO & Co-Founder of GRIN

Last Updated: November 7, 2022

Summary

  • On October 1st, we began removing third-party creator data from our product. Most social networks are not allowing the use of third-party or publicly available data. Plus, it is not as reliable as first-party data which has consent from creators and the highest level of accuracy.
  • 87% of brand<>creator agreements in GRIN are attributed to other recruitment sources – not our third-party search engine. This indicates that search engines are not as effective as they seem and are not critical to top creator programs.
  • The discontinuation of third-party data in GRIN has been disruptive for many customers and we apologize for any negative impacts. We have been working around the clock to minimize the disruption as we transition all customers to our new expert-led, discovery-as-a-service solution, GRINup. GRINup helps customers find new creators and will be included free with annual subscriptions for a limited time.
  • GRIN’s API access for our social media and ecommerce partners is functioning at 100%.
  • We remain the most comprehensive creator management platform, offering an end-to-end solution including creator discovery, outreach, relationship management, campaigns, product seeding, content tracking, sales tracking and analytics, payments, taxes, and more.
  • Third-party data exists because there are gaps in what the social networks provide to the industry. Although some networks are starting to take action, there is no ability to access first-party creator discovery data programmatically and at scale across all networks. This is an issue for creator management software companies and the brands and creators they support. 
  • For the creator economy to thrive, social networks should provide the tools needed to accelerate brand<>creator connections. We’re continuing to lobby on your behalf to see these changes come to market. GRIN is committed to being a first-mover at supporting new capabilities from the social networks as they become available.

On October 1st, we began removing third-party creator data from our product.

What does this mean?

“Third-party data is any data that’s collected by a business or other entity that doesn’t have any direct link to the visitor or customer.”

HubSpot

First-party data, on the other hand, is acquired via direct access to social network APIs, such as Meta, with consent from the creators themselves. This data is available when creators and brands authenticate with creator management platforms like GRIN. 

“Authenticated data provides the campaign engagement metrics and audience demographics modern brands need to fine-tune outreach and prove ROI. Not only that, but it also ensures a deeper and more accurate understanding of a creator’s audience before a campaign even begins. In other words, don’t waste another dollar on influencer-supplied reports or third-party guesses. The best way for brands to verify that their influencer investment is solid? Get direct access to the data that matters.”

Forbes Council

Why make this change now? GRIN & Meta update

There are two main reasons why we made this change. 

First, we were asked to by Meta in order to continue accessing Meta’s API. GRIN and all other companies in the creator economy have to comply with the terms of the major social networks. Any software vendor that doesn’t comply will face deactivation or worse. Enforcement like this has not happened to software companies in our space in the past, to our knowledge. It’s a sign that creator management is getting bigger and bigger and facing more scrutiny. And GRIN, being the #1 ranked platform, faced this scrutiny first. But these are industry-wide rules, and we have heard that similar enforcement is happening with other influencer marketing platforms. 

There is also significant pressure on social media companies from the US and other governments regarding data privacy concerns. The networks are more motivated than ever to enforce their rules, so not following them is a poor decision for any influencer/creator platform. And any brand that is using a non-compliant platform, or a platform that hasn’t been audited and re-certified recently, is at risk of losing its influencer program data at any time.

Second, we discovered that over 87% of brand<>creator agreements in GRIN could be attributed to other recruitment sources – NOT our third-party-powered search engine. Our product functionality that was powered by third-party data was not solving customer problems at an acceptable level, in large part due to data accuracy issues. Furthermore, the vast majority of our most successful customers weren’t using our search engine at all.

So what impact does this have on customers?

It depends. For many customers, this change is significant and highly disruptive. That’s why we did not take this decision lightly and take full ownership of the challenges this has caused them. We empathize with having to deal with this change. And we are working with all customers to transition them into our new solutions while minimizing the disruption as best we can.

On the other hand, many customers are not as affected, and some are not affected at all after the transition. After analyzing internal product data and interviewing lots of brands with high-performing creator programs, we saw that the best programs use a wide array of recruiting sources that don’t necessarily require or rely on third-party data. 

“Sourcing is an art. We’ve made it a mission to explore every possible strategy for identifying creators, including referrals from existing partners, tapping into agency relationships, leveraging the ‘Similar Profile’ feature offered by networks, and the often-overlooked practice of organic discovery. The key is to blend a variety of methods to achieve a diverse pool of influencers at scale.“

– Ethan Frame, Director of Brand at Cuts Clothing, former MVMT 

The most effective methods involved finding clever efficiencies in browsing social media directly to identify the best creators for their brands. This vibe-first approach goes beyond follower count and engagement rate. We also found that while relying solely on a database was alluring in its simplicity, it tended to yield poor results. 

Can GRIN still help customers with all aspects of creator management? 

Yes. We have full API access with our social media and ecommerce partners. We can track content, mentions, tags, help brands discover new content creators, and solve dozens of other challenges like outreach at scale, relationship management, campaign execution, product seeding, content tracking, payments, taxes, sales tracking, analytics, and much more.

Our move toward first-party data has strengthened our partnerships. And we look forward to continuing our collaboration on industry innovations that will help our customers achieve their goals. 

Why are other providers still using third-party data? 

There are dozens of ways influencer marketing products can run afoul of the terms of social networks, and many of them do, whether intentionally or not. 

And when it comes to large, third-party (or publicly sourced) creator search databases, we know these are not compliant or as effective as they seem. However, the allure of “super fast, easy, and big growth” via a search engine is hard to ignore. But if it seems too good to be true – it likely is.

Even with “opt-in” databases – those with authenticated creators – top brands frequently complain about not being able to find the right quality and quantity of creators in these models. This makes sense because while there are 8 billion+ social profiles on the networks, even the largest influencer search engines cover less than one-half of one percent of that (30M or less).

There’s a need in the market

Many people may not know this, but access to first-party creator data for discovery is not widely available today programmatically. While some social media networks are beginning to add APIs to support creator management, they are several years behind more mature use cases such as publishing or advertising. 

Opening up creator discovery APIs may sound alarming. But our take is simple – creator accounts are not the same as personal accounts. Creators are businesses, and they want to be discovered. Brand collaborations are key to their success. 

What the industry needs are creator discovery APIs that provide first-party data at scale. It would be explosive for the creator economy and a boon to whichever social network does it first.

Our new methodology for creator discovery

After extensive consulting with industry experts and top brands, and assessing program performance within GRIN, we’ve identified the best practices for creator discovery and combined them into a new offering for customers. 

This new offering is expert-led. It’s modeled after some of the most iconic influencer programs ever built. It’s much easier for our customers. It focuses on quality brand<>creator connections. And it’s not limited to a small internal database. It works on top of the social networks and looks across all public creator social profiles. 

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce GRINup – the industry’s first discovery-as-a-service product that combines expert human touch with GRIN’s best-in-class creator management software. GRINup has already launched for Instagram and will be available on other major networks imminently. For a limited time, GRINup will be included free with all annual subscriptions. 

Creator management and the future

The creator economy has changed modern marketing forever. Consumer attention has shifted away from companies and toward people. The enduring brands are ones who understand that in this world, word of mouth is paramount and authenticity is everything. 

Trends come and go, and even social networks fall in and out of fashion at intervals that can sometimes cause whiplash. The reason GRIN is built to withstand these changes is simple: we exist to help brands form long-term partnerships – directly – with all types of creators. When brands do this well, they build community and foster positive sentiment around themselves online and off while creating a competitive advantage.

We have a lot of exciting plans on the roadmap for the year ahead, but our north star remains: help brands thrive in today’s creator economy. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the impact that brand/creator collaborations can have on modern-day commerce and the zeitgeist, and we’re excited about what’s ahead. We hope you’ll join us on the ride. 

Brandon Brown, CEO & Co-Founder of GRIN

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All-in-one creator management platform helping ecommerce companies build more valuable brands through the power of creator partnerships.

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