Trend Alert: 21 Buttons

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

21 Buttons is a fast-rising startup that could represent the future of influencer marketing, and is already attracting great interest from the tech and retail industries. It’s a social fashion app where users post photos of their outfits, tagging items so that others can buy them too. Originally created in Spain, it has been growing in recent months thanks to an influx of influencers, who are using the platform to share their favourite looks and earn affiliate revenue when their followers decide to buy the items in their photos. For young fashionistas, the app is an easy way to earn money from something they’d be doing anyway.

21 Buttons enables influencers to make money every time they post an outfit, even if they don’t have a partnership with that brand. This should lead them to post more authentic content, as they can share products from brands they genuinely like, not just those they are paid to promote. The system also democratises the influencer space - any user is able to earn money from their posts, and payment is equal and fair, as it’s based on actual sales rather than a calculated valuation of a user’s influence. However, 21 Buttons will face the same issues as other platforms around ensuring that any users who have sponsorship deals or have been gifted clothing by brands declare those relationships in a clear and transparent way.

After launching in the UK and Spain, 21 Buttons has over 2 million monthly active users, and is preparing for a US expansion. While investors, brands and marketers will be closely following the rise of this new upstart, it could also be the sign of what to expect from Instagram, as they bring in more advanced shopping tools in the year ahead. Currently users can’t link to products in their posts, and only brands have the ability to tag products in photos (and this is further limited to brands of a certain level, not accessible to all). Instagram has made clear that ecommerce is a priority for the app in 2019, so 21 Buttons could represent a look into the future of Instagram - a place where users can buy, sell and earn commission not just from fashion, but from products of all kinds.

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