Tumi Adeyoju, 20, graduated in public health from the University of Houston. But when she’s not in class or studying, she runs a fashion, lifestyle and beauty blog – a business that she hopes to turn into a business.
Like many of her generation, Adeyoju dreams of becoming an influencer – a catch-all for anyone who makes money posting about products on social media. There are still some obstacles. First: Ms. Adeyoju has just over 700 Instagram followers. Many influencer marketing platforms, where content creators connect with brands, require a minimum number of thousands of followers to be admitted.
In November, a mutual friend told him about 28 Row, a new app that didn’t have this requirement. All she needed was a .edu email address.
The app is meant to be a place for female students to connect around common interests, and for many of them, the influence of social media is significant. Ms. Adeyoju said in a phone interview that 28 Row “really introduced me to a lot of new faces, a lot of diversity when it comes to influencers and content creators.”
There are all kinds of resources devoted to influencing activity these days – not just sites where creators and brands can negotiate relationships, but also life coaching services and pay equity-focused networks. in industry. What sets 28 Row apart is its user base: the network is specifically aimed at female students.
Cindy Krupp and Janie Karas, the founders of 28 Row, knew from the start that they wanted to focus on the students. In 2018, they recruited 20 college influencers and put them in touch with several brands popular with young women: Elf Cosmetics, H&M and Monday Haircare. The company’s influencer marketing platform has gone live one year later.
“Brands are dying to reach this demographic,” said Ms. Krupp, a public relations veteran, in a Zoom interview. (Ms. Karas started as an assistant at Krupp Group, the communications agency Ms. Krupp founded in 2005.) “It is very laborious to look at them, find them and build the network. And I think a lot of brands want access but don’t have the infrastructure to put together a team to find that network.
Ms Krupp, 48, and Ms Karas, 28, were inspired to create a social app after members of the influencer network requested to be logged in in a group chat.
“They talked about everything from ‘The Bachelor’ to ‘What do you wear to be formal? “” Ms. Krupp said. “We really had this “aha!” Moment it was built to be something different from where we were then.
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 influencer network are called “social butterflies”; on the app, each of them has a star next to their username.
Megan Parmelee, 25, who joined the 28 Row influencer network, said what makes it different 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 with a common goal, and it’s just to bask in this social media arena that is the world of content creation,” Ms. Parmelee said, a graduate student. in the Medical Assistant program at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY
“I joined because I want to grow my network, ”she added,“ and it’s just nice to be able to share what I’ve learned along the way.. “
Christian Hughes, a professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on digital media, said new apps like 28 Row could help users cope with the “trials and tribulations” of life online.
“Influencers are really the subject of constant speculation and observation, of trolls and a lot of negativity,” she said. “And there are a lot of things that indicate social media can harm mental health.” Dr Hughes was referring to documents published by the Wall Street Journal it revealed how well Facebook was aware of Instagram’s negative effects on teenage girls. “I think it will give these women a bit more support,” she said. “At least I hope he can give her a lot more support.”
Ms Karas and Ms Krupp said they are working to ensure that 28 Row fosters an inclusive and positive community.
Female students as a whole, Ms. Karas said, need a safe space away from mainstream social platforms. “They need a safe place to support and uplift each other,” she said.