Tumi Adeyoju, 20, is a public health student at the University of Houston. But when she’s not in class or studying, she runs in Fashion, lifestyle and beauty blog – a company it hopes to turn into a business.
Like many people of her generation, Ms. Adeyoju dreams of becoming an influencer: a collective term for everyone who earns money by posting about products on social media. There are some hurdles, however. Firstly: Ms. Adeyoju has just over 700 followers on Instagram. Many influencer marketing platforms where content creators interact with brands require a minimum of thousands of followers for approval.
Back in November, she heard from a mutual friend about 28 Row, a new app that had no such requirements. All she needed was a .edu email address.
The app is meant to be a place for college women to network about common interests, and for many of them, social media influence is a big issue. Ms. Adeyoju said in a telephone 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.”
Nowadays there are all kinds of resources devoted to the business of influencing – not just websites featuring creators and brands Broker relationships but also Life coaching services and networks focused on Equal pay in the industry. What sets 28 Row apart is the user base: the network is aimed specifically at college women.
Cindy Krupp and Janie Karas, the founders of 28 Row, knew from the start that they wanted to focus on students. In 2018, they recruited 20 college influencers and connected them to several brands popular with young women: Elf Cosmetics, H&M, and Monday Haircare. The company’s influencer marketing platform went live one year later.
“Brands are eager to reach this segment of the population,” said Ms. Krupp, a PR veteran, in a Zoom interview. (Ms. Karas started as her assistant at the Krupp Group, the communications agency founded by Ms. Krupp in 2005.) “It is very work-intensive to check her, to find her and to build up the network. And I think a lot of brands want access but don’t have the infrastructure to build a team to find this network. “
Ms. Krupp, 48, and Ms. Karas, 28, were inspired to develop a social app after members of the influencer network asked to be connected in a group chat.
“They talked about everything, from ‘The Bachelor’ to ‘What are you wearing too formal?'” Said Ms. Krupp. “We really had this ‘aha!’ Wait a minute, that this was built to be something different from what we were at that point in time. “
The app, which was generally available in September, has approximately 1,500 members. Not all of them are budding influencers, although many are. The members of 28 Row’s influencer network are known as “social butterflies”; In the app, each of them has an asterisk next to their username.
Megan Parmelee, 25, who joined 28 Row’s influencer network, said the difference from other influencer platforms is the ability to meet like-minded people.
“Lots of people come together for a common purpose and purpose, and that is to bask in this realm of social media, the world of content creation,” said Ms. Parmelee, a doctoral candidate in the doctoral assistant program Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY
“I joined because I want to expand my network, “she added,” and it’s just nice to be able to share what I’ve learned. “
Christian Hughes, a marketing professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on digital media, said new apps like 28 Row could help users deal with the “tribulations and confusions” of online life.
“Influencers are really under constant speculation and observation and trolling and a lot of negativity,” she said. “And there is a lot out there that suggests that social media can affect mental health.” Hughes alluded to documents published by the Wall Street Journal That showed how well Facebook knew about Instagram’s negative impact on teenage girls. “I think it will give these women a little more support,” she said. “At least I would hope that there can be a lot more support.”
Ms. Karas and Ms. Krupp said they are working to make sure 28 Row fosters an inclusive, positive community.
College women as a whole, Ms. Karas said, need a safe place away from predominant social platforms. “They need a safe place to support and empower one another,” she said.