On social networks like Instagram, hashtags such as #ad, #spon and #gifted have quickly become part of the influencer lexicon, with followers and creators alike well-versed in the language of affiliate marketing and brand advocacy. However, a new report, Depop Economics, has found that there’s an evolving ecosystem of social shopping emerging outside mainstream social networks – and it’s certainly one to watch.As audience understanding of the business side of Instagram grows, so too does users’ desire to buy from influencers they trust, whose personal brand they believe in. And, over time, the lines between who the consumer is buying from have become increasingly blurred – is it the brand, or the influencer themselves who is converting the sale? Against this backdrop, we’re seeing the emergence of a new type of social shopping – driven by the Depop influencer, a new breed of creator and entrepreneur taking the retail world by storm.With a third of 15-24-year-olds in the UK currently registered with the resale marketplace app, it’s no exaggeration to say that the next budding online entrepreneur could literally be the girl or boy next door. On average, 115k items are uploaded for sale each day, resulting in an 85% increase in year-on-year global sales in 2018. For top sellers on the platform, this could mean raking in up to £2,000 a month – nearly 10 times what they could earn working a traditional Saturday job.  

Selling through Depop vs. Instagram

So, how does selling through Depop differ from selling through Instagram, or even other established resale marketplaces such as eBay or Gumtree? Unlike more traditional marketplaces, Depop combines the selling functions you’d expect with the social mechanics of networks like Instagram. In contrast to the brand partnerships being brokered by influencers on Instagram, Depop influencers are selling their own products directly to their followers – cutting out the middleman, and curating collections directly from their wardrobes. In fact, the Depop ecosystem even has its own fashion trends, and users agree there’s a ‘Depop look’. This makes the app unique; more than a brand, it’s also a product, a supplier and a trend. Depop’s alternative micro-economy sits alongside but apart from the financial economy of mainstream fashion retail. Born from a combination of hustle culture, the rise of self-branding and Gen Z immersion in the influencer universe, Depop is helping create a new type of ‘social stock market’, where social and economic mechanics intersect. Instead of a high-street, Depop offers consumers access to a whole host of social style tribes, from hype-beasts and Y2K girls to vintage collectors and beyond. And, between them, these tribes are building a virtuous circle of cultural and commercial capital: purchase, posting, and popularity. Crucially, Depop influencers trade in more than just money. In fact, they’ve created a brand-new currency for this resale revolution: clout. Traded over social media platforms, this currency combines followers, brand power, social credentials and status to create an entirely new value system for the Gen Z consumer. 

New frontier for online influence

Key to Depop’s success is its permeability; the ease with which Depop influencers are able to share content and followers both within the platform and across other social networks. The social currency that is the backbone of Depop is generated and distributed transversely on platforms like Instagram through the acquisition of likes and followers, earning of money, posting of pictures, purchase, and sale of items, and the subsequent rise and fall of social status that these transactions provoke.Such permeability is enabling these budding entrepreneurs to grow a new type of cross-platform brand equity, built on both social and economic foundations. By looking beyond short-term revenue and focusing on building a robust personal brand across multiple platforms, Depop influencers are forging careers as content creators, fashion curators and entrepreneurs that can live beyond the grid. This is arguably a new frontier for online influence, extending access to the type of lucrative personal brand that was, until recently, only available to a handful of blue-ticked Instagrammers. With value in the retail space constantly being redefined, and Depop set to continue its trajectory of rapid growth into 2020, it’s clear that this next generation of influencers cannot be ignored.
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