Popular Pays, a Y Combinator-backed startup connecting Instagram users with marketers, has raised $2 million in funding.
Under the Popular Pays model, businesses describe the kind of campaign they’re looking to create, then Instagrammers can apply and list how much money they’d want to participate. The marketer chooses the users they want to work with, those users start posting and Popular Pays provides data about how the campaign is doing. The marketer can also use the photos in their own materials.
According to co-founder and CEO Corbett Drummey, more than 25,000 Instagrammers have signed up to participate in Popular Pays. The company has also worked with some big brands, including Nike, Coke, McDonald’s and Glenlivet. (That’s a sponsored post for Glenlivet below.) On the startup side, clients include Postmates and Harry’s.
In an emailed statement, a Harry’s spokesperson said the company has “always seen the value in working with our favorite Instagrammers,” while Popular Pays “helps us manage our campaigns efficiently so that we can focus on what’s important: building deep, meaningful relationships with photographers that we admire.”
The basic idea of social influencers and marketers is a familiar idea in the startup world — one of those startups, Niche, was acquired by Twitter earlier this year.
Drummey said Popular Pays has been able to scale because it doesn’t do any hand-matching between the brands and influencers. He also suggested that Instagram is, in some ways, a platform uniquely suited to this approach, because users can get a lot of engagement for their photos even if they don’t have an enormous amount of followers.
As Instagram rolls out more ad features of its own, Popular Pays will have to “to really stay flexible, because the marketplace is changing so rapidly,” Drummey added. And the company isn’t limiting its ambitions to Instagram; it also started running campaigns on Pinterest and is looking at Snapchat, too.
“The whole model of a brand listing a brief and influencers applying, it really works on any platform,” Drummey said.
Investors in the new funding Bessemer Venture Partners, Soma Capital, Social Starts, Mike Shinoda (from Linkin Park!) and Romar Capital.