Rachel Aaron, 24, who works in public relations in New York, recently dressed up for a work event at Bloomingdale’s. In the days when “ready to go” videos existed on TikTok, this was the perfect opportunity to create content.
Aaron, who has just 3,300 TikTok followers, captured himself chatting to the camera while choosing a black dress, blazer and belt from Skims. Her post garnered hundreds of views and a few positive comments like “kill the moms”.
Aaron is not a major social media star or a celebrity. At least not yet. But she’s part of a generation that is increasingly posting on social media in a professional influencer-like way, sharing her daily life, pitching and unwrapping products, modeling clothing, and running her personal Amazon storefront. We do publicity, etc. These videos are often seen as cool and entrepreneurial by her colleagues (and sometimes bewildered parents). It can also lead to free stuff and extra cash.
Aaron has an email for brand inquiries on his TikTok profile, with a link to a LinkTree page. Linktree is a site that brings together her commercial affiliations in one place as a way to demonstrate her clout as a sensemaker. Among the links is also her Poshmark page where she resells her clothes.
“Speaking into the camera and recommending products is generally accepted among people my age,” Aaron said.
She added that Generation Z, defined as the group of people born between 1997 and 2012, are particularly fluent in such conversations and are used to ordinary people pitching products on YouTube and Instagram. .
“For a lot of people in my group, and Gen Z creators I know, we’re facing the camera and talking as if we’re on FaceTime with our friends. “It will be less painful,” she said.
People like Aaron spend time on TikTok and other social media sites, so it’s a big deal to act like an advertiser without the embarrassment that comes with door-to-door sales and multi-level marketing pitches. not.
The idea behind it is that anyone can be a creator, bringing money and free products from companies that want to work with young and knowledgeable people on TikTok, which is difficult for brands to get into. Thing. A Pew Research study last year found that women aged 18 to 29 on social media follow influencers and content creators, and half of them have made a purchase after seeing an influencer’s posts. It says.
“You might have 12 followers and you’re selling merch,” said Vicki Seeger, founder of influencer agency Village Marketing. “The macro movement that everyone is a creator, and the idea that creators should make money in any way possible, is reaching the general public.”
Ngozi Oka, 21, a junior at the University of Buffalo, started dabbling in TikTok after giving a presentation about women of color and makeup at the black student union on campus. said that he began to give
“I thought that if I could make a PowerPoint, I could make a TikTok,” says Oka. have about The platform has 5,100 followers and specializes in videos about hair and wigs.
Oka said she created a new email account on her TikTok profile for work inquiries, along with links to her recommended wigs Linktree and Amazon storefront. She gets a small commission when people buy her recommendations on her Amazon. Despite her few Oka-san followings, several brands reached out to her to endorse their products, and she made hundreds of dollars doing so. said Oka.
The mere existence of Linktree and Amazon storefronts can show “areas of deep involvement and influence in the overall content creation,” she said.
“When I go to someone’s page and look at it, it’s very eye-catching,” Oka added. “It’s like LinkedIn.”
Since most social media sites only allow users to promote one link on their profile, millions of users insert a Linktree link into that space and visit the page containing the list of sites they want to share. guide the person. While several companies offer similar services, Linktree has become popular with performers and social media celebrities, from pop star Katy Perry to TikTok icon Dixie D’Amelio. The White House also recently joined the service. (Linktree is used for listings other than e-commerce, such as personal girlfriend websites and her Spotify page.)
“Gmail is like email, but Linktree is like ‘link to your bio,'” said Benoît Vatel, chief executive of Mammoth Media, a marketing company that connects TikTok creators with brands. “This is a status marker for Gen Z.”
One hotlink to include is a link to an Amazon storefront with curated recommendations for clothing, makeup, body lotion, and more.
According to Linktree, the data suggested that most users who linked to Amazon storefronts weren’t influencers, but rather people who acted like influencers. 77% of the Amazon links created on Linktree last year came from users who visited his profile less than 1,000 times.
Still, many young people spend painstaking hours curating Amazon storefronts as part of their TikTok persona. Often it is the only link on your TikTok profile or the first link on your Linktree page.
James Madison University freshman Chloe Van Berkel, 19, has 47 items on her Amazon storefront in categories such as “skin care” and “summer essentials.” Van Berkel said 6,800 TikToks Followers say she earns a meager commission from the store, about $10 a month. However, she added, there is always the chance that her video will go viral and drive a ton of traffic to her site.
“It’s just an ancillary thing to make more money, and of course it’s nice to be able to promote something you like and tell your friends to buy it,” Van Berkel said. .
Van Berkel, who has also received free swimwear and workout gear in exchange for her social media endorsements, estimated that one in seven friends sell products on TikTok and Instagram in their spare time.
“People are making videos all the time saying, ‘Do this, buy this, this is what you need in your dorm,’” she says. “It’s not in any way what you think is weird.”
Norms are different for many millennials and older. They may feel more uncomfortable seeing their social media friends suddenly pitching products to their phone cameras.
Aaron said millennials often hesitate for a pause before speaking to the camera. This is what she and her friends jokingly call “the millennial period.”
College students are inspired by other undergraduates who have become famous on TikTok in recent years. Several women pointed to the rapid rise of University of Miami senior Alix Earl. She has more than 5 million followers and prominently promotes Amazon’s recommended products while partnering with brands like Nars and American Eagle.
Oka said she admired TikTok star Monet McMichael, who has more than 3 million followers and graduated from nursing school last year, and said she thought it was the ideal balance.
But fame and a large following aren’t always the main goals.
“You don’t have to have thousands of followers. That’s a big misconception that many people have,” Oka said. “If I put that email in my bio and prove that I have influence and that I want to have more influence, I can get the attention of the people I want. think.”