What makes a successful creator merch drop?

Plus: TikTok’s new creator management platform

Today’s Curious Creator issue a 7-minute read.

What makes a successful creator merch drop?

Alix Earle just schooled influencers on the ultimate merch drop, and here's how she did it:

Editorial Powerhouse: Alix Earle shows the power of a strong editorial campaign in her latest ‘Hot Mess’ merch drop. TikTok creator Brooke of @thebrandblueprint notes the stock images of Earle’s merch are rather unremarkable. But when Earle rocks the same pieces in a well-executed campaign with a 90s Pam Anderson-esque Baywatch vibe, they suddenly become must-haves.

Ditching the Boring: We're all tired of basic sweatshirts and tees. Alix sold a lifestyle, not just clothes. She wore her merch in ways that made us think, "Hey, I could rock that!"

Making It Personal: Alix brought in her squad—like Braxton and Ashtin Earle—to the photoshoot, adding authenticity and extending her reach through their followers.

High-Quality Visuals: The merch designs were simple, but the photoshoot was anything but. Stunning visuals made the merch feel like a legit fashion line.

Learning and Improving: This wasn’t her first rodeo. Alix built on her previous drops, treating each one like a new collection, keeping her audience hooked.

Alix Earle’s merch drop shows that with the right strategy, even simple merch can be a hit. She's set a new standard—now it's up to other influencers to catch up.

The latest news in creator platforms…

Potential TikTok Ban: President Biden signed a bill on April 24th to ban TikTok unless ByteDance sells it within a year. TikTok sued, calling the law unconstitutional. Despite security concerns, experts say TikTok is no riskier than Facebook or Google. ByteDance must divest to avoid a nationwide ban.

YouTube Playables is now available to everyone, offering over 75 games like Angry Birds Showdown! and Trivia Crack. Initially for Premium subscribers, it now aims to attract more users. This follows similar gaming efforts by LinkedIn, The New York Times, and Netflix. Google's Stadia was shut down in 2023.

Google has no comment on a massive leak about website ranking. Leaked documents reveal hidden details about Google's search algorithm, contradicting public statements. The 2,500 pages suggest Google may have misled the public and hint at using Chrome data in rankings. Google's legitimacy of the documents remains unaddressed.

The Doge meme dog, Kabosu, has passed away at 18. Rescued in 2008, she gained fame from a 2010 blog post and became the face of Dogecoin. Her owner announced her death on Instagram and plans a farewell party.

Tumblr launches semi-private Communities in open beta. These new spaces, similar to Reddit's subreddits, allow users to connect on various topics with moderators and privacy settings. With over 5,800 communities on the waitlist, this move expands Tumblr's social networking, competing with Reddit and Twitter.

Linktree hits 50 million users! The link-in-bio startup has grown rapidly from 2.7 million in 2019, adding nearly 10 million in five months. Competitors like Later and Beacons have smaller user bases. Linktree's new social commerce beta lets creators monetize and target a $1.2 trillion market by 2025.

China bans influencers from flashing luxury goods as part of a campaign against ostentatious personas. Influencer Wang Hongquanxing, "China’s Kim Kardashian," vanished online after the crackdown. Critics see it as government control, while supporters believe it combats wealth flaunting and societal divides, highlighting tensions over censorship and values.

TikTok’s new creator management platform

TikTok has dropped a game-changer for creators: TikTok Studio. This new dashboard lets you handle everything—video uploads, editing, performance analytics, and more—all in one place.

TikTok Studio is the upgraded Creator Center for desktop, and it’s all about streamlining your workflow.

What’s Inside:

  • All-in-One Dashboard: Upload, film, edit, and post without jumping between tools.

  • Editing Suite: Features like auto caption, photo editor, and autocut make your content shine.

  • Money Moves: Easily manage monetization programs with personalized growth tips.

  • Learning Hub: Quick access to the Creator Academy for all your educational needs.

Why You Should Care: These tools aren’t new, but having them all together is. It’s about making your life simpler and your content better.

Where to Get It: Right now, TikTok Studio is a web app, but a standalone app is in the works.

How AI and virtual influencers are taking over YouTube and social feeds

A report from The Influencer Marketing Factory reveals virtual influencers are now mainstream, with a significant impact on social media. Key Findings:

  • Mainstream Appeal: 53% of survey respondents follow at least one virtual influencer, showcasing their growing popularity.

  • Tech and Entertainment: People follow virtual influencers out of curiosity about the technology (49%) and for entertainment (36%). These AI personas offer a unique mix of creativity and amusement.

  • Top Platforms: Virtual influencers are most popular on YouTube (59%) and TikTok (56%), followed by Instagram (51%) and Twitch (18%). This indicates a strong presence across major social media platforms.

Brand Partnerships:

  • Positive Views: 28% of respondents feel positive about brands partnering with virtual influencers, showing acceptance and interest in AI-driven marketing.

  • Top Promoted Products: Virtual influencers are particularly effective in promoting tech gadgets (34%) and fashion items (29%), leveraging their digital savviness and style.

Purchase Influence:

  • Limited Impact: Despite their popularity, 71% of respondents have never bought a product promoted by a virtual influencer, indicating room for growth in converting followers to buyers.

Virtual influencers like Lil Miquela and Magazine Luiza are changing the social media landscape, blending AI with human-like interactions. They represent the future of digital marketing, despite some skepticism and the need for transparency.

TikTok of the week…


dad said “ONE MORE TIME” 🤣 #bigwave #dadsoftiktok #blowthisup #dejavu