In October this year, many Meta-related features including the Instagram creator search were wiped from Grin: a popular creator management platform. The customers of Grin, and potentially many other such influencer marketing platforms, were left dumbfounded. They had less than a week to ensure their prospect, creator, and influential customer lists, along with existing content and reports, were downloaded before they vanished from the platform.
On September 26, Grin notified its customers that changes to its platform were imminent.
“To align with the requirements for Meta's API and service guidelines, our industry is going to undergo some changes, and Grin is on the front lines so that we make sure we remain the closest to Meta and all these changes.” Grin announced in an email.
Two days later, Grin sent another email requiring all users to export their content and performance data from the platform in two days' time to avoid losing their work.
"To reiterate, we will not have access to any content or data collected from non-authenticated creators via Instagram and Facebook available in GRIN after September 30th," the email from Grin stated.
Meta asked Grin that to continue accessing Meta's API, GRIN and all other companies in the creator economy have to comply with the terms of the major social networks. Any software vendor that doesn't comply will face deactivation or worse.
The terms here are - “remove third-party creator data, and use first-party data with creator’s consent.”
GRIN was forced to remove its key functions: an Instagram discovery tool, and a Shopify integration. Many other similar platforms are also starting to get affected requiring the entire industry to revisit data-access policies and guidelines.
Let's delve into the details:
Legit methods of getting creator data:
To legally use data for the purposes of influencer marketing from Meta, it can only come from one of two places:
1. Data consensually given by the creator
2. Manually acquired from Meta
Since it is impossible to acquire creator data at scale manually; businesses are left with the choice of first-party data. Let's look at what is first-party data and why it is legal to use it:
What is First-party data?
First-party data is information collected directly from your users or site visitors based on their interactions with your platform. This data is usually accessible by leveraging the APIs that most social media platforms today provide. Some examples include Instagram's Graph API and YouTube's API.
Third-party data, on the other hand, is collected by scraping the web for any and every publicly available information. It involves collecting data from websites, cleaning it up, and organizing it in a structured form that can be analyzed.
Read: Why Platform API Over Third-Party Data Scrapers
Why is First-party data better for your business?
- The main difference between first and third-party data is the source platform. With first-party data infrastructure, you get real-time, reliable data directly from social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, etc. This results in improved quality and fewer errors.
- Privacy and consent are another huge differentiation. With API integration, there's usually an agreement with the platform and/or creator about using their data.
- Third-party data is only available for public information. With APIs (depending on the platform), you can access data points only visible to creators and crucial to your business.
- Last but not least. With Meta starting the trend, it would be wise for businesses to expect other social media platforms to also ban third-party data scraping. Companies need to invest in first-party data infrastructure now!
Don’t let Third-party data shut you down!
It’s not the first time Meta’s decisions have had a disastrous effect on other businesses, and it would be the last. In 2018, Shopify quiz app Octane AI almost had to shut its shop because of Facebook. The Cambridge Analytica data privacy fiasco meant that Facebook shut down its API to audit the developers on the platform. Octane AI’s business was built on top of Facebook chatbots, and the company was rendered useless without its APIs. Luckily for them, Facebook opened its API again just in time for them to stay alive and raise a new funding round.
Enforcement like this had not happened to companies in the creator space in the past. It’s a sign that as the creator economy gets bigger, it will face more scrutiny.
There is also pressure on social media platforms from the US and other governments regarding data privacy concerns. The networks are more motivated than ever to enforce their rules, so not following them is a poor decision for any influencer/creator platform.
"What the industry needs are creator discovery APIs that provide first-party data at scale. It would be explosive for the creator economy and a boon to whichever social network does it first."
- Brandon Brown, CEO & Co-Founder of GRIN
How to have First-party data integrations?
The ideal way for businesses to get access to first-party data would be to develop API integrations with every creator economy platform. However, accessing multiple platform APIs is a lot of work and hassle. You'll have to dedicate significant time, energy, and engineering resources to build the entire data infrastructure for first-party data.
This is why we built Phyllo. Phyllo acts as a data gateway to creator economy platforms. We provide you with the necessary data infrastructure so you can focus on building your product.
With Phyllo, your users can grant access to their data within your app. Once granted access, you can fetch details of a creator's identity, income, and activity & engagement on platforms (like Instagram, YouTube, Substack, and many more) using our REST APIs.
Easing out the hesitation of creator log-in
The main issue that brands face with creator-consented data is the log-in process. Creators are often apprehensive about sharing their data as they are not sure about the data points that are being tracked and its usage.
Phyllo has an in-built consent architecture. At Phyllo, we provide creators with authorization-based log-in flows that take explicit consent from creators. This makes creators comfortable sharing their data as they have complete transparency and control over the data points they want to share and who is tracking it.
Phyllo complies with GDPR, CCPA, and other fundamental data privacy laws. We also maintain a record of the creator's consent to share their data.
If you’re running an influencer marketing program or vetting an influencer marketing platform, make sure you know where the data comes from. The IG search tool and Meta features are not returning to Grin. More importantly, they are mostly going to go away from other third-party devices as well.
The only sustainable option is to deal exclusively with tools that use legally-acquired, first-party data. At Phyllo, we are here to help you shift to a first-party data infrastructure, much like Grin is doing now!