Earned Ep. 62: Instagram’s Head of Creator Commerce Doug Weiss on the Future of the Creator Economy

Taylor Masket
Taylor Masket
Nov 16, 2022

In a special episode of Earned, Tim Sovay, Chief Business Development and Partnerships Officer at CreatorIQ, sits down with Meta’s Doug Weiss, head of creator commerce at Instagram.

We start the episode by learning how Meta has grown and changed over the years, with Doug unpacking the evolution of creators, shoppable content, and content format on Meta and Instagram. We learn what attracts creators to Instagram, and Doug emphasizes how the platform allows creators to reach an audience and build a community in a way that was previously impossible. We then discuss Instagram’s pivot to short-form video content in the form of Reels, before hearing why the platform expanded its model from connecting people to people, to connecting people to content. Next, we explore how the pandemic expedited the rise of e-commerce, and how Meta supported brands in growing their online businesses through shoppable content and ads. Finally, Doug tells us why Meta prioritizes its partnership program with other companies—including CreatorIQ—before closing the show with his predictions for the future of the creator economy, and the role Meta will play in it. 

We’ve included a couple of highlights from the episode below, but be sure to check out the full video above, or tune into the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts!

The following interview has been lightly edited for concision. 

“We are able to [help] an individual to find a community in a way that was previously impossible”: Doug Weiss on Why Creators Choose Instagram

Tim Sovay: Let's dive into the platform or app that probably matters most to us in this conversation today: Instagram. We're fortunate enough to track many platforms in our solution, [and Instagram is] far and away the number-one platform for branded content and creators today. When we look at our thousands, if not tens of thousands, of campaigns that are running through our platform on an annual basis, I think Instagram is north of 75% of campaigns running through our platform. What do you think it is that really attracts creators to the platform, and has been that lightning bolt for the creator community on Instagram?

Doug Weiss: Yeah, I think three key areas. One is just what is, I think, the core to why both Facebook and Instagram are successful at their heart, which is the immense personalization that we are able to do to allow an individual to find an audience, and to find a community of people that have a similar interest, or affinity, or shared experience, in a way that previously was basically impossible. I think our understanding of people, and our understanding of the importance of not only showing content to that person, but allowing for a bit of a two-way conversation between the creator and their fans, or the creator and other creators, or the creator and their community, our ability to create those connections in a really personalized manner, I think was really, before our time, unparalleled. 

As I think about the ecosystem on Instagram, I think of it as users, creators, and brands. We have really invested a lot in making sure that we have capabilities that allow each of those different entities to not only have capabilities that matter to them and are accessible to them and drive value for them, but also to connect to the other pillars. One of the things that we've invested a ton in over the last two years is a set of tools that makes it easier for creators to connect with their brands in improved ways, and allow for the sharing of insights and having a connection in a way that previously was impossible. Or between creators and individuals—whether it be through subscriptions, whether it be through Close Friends, I think it's a constant evolution of capabilities that bring value to all parties. 

And then third, I do think that the content format itself is just very conducive—especially if you think about some of our core verticals, whether it be fashion or home or beauty—the visual first format when Instagram was launched, now more than 10 years ago, was pretty revolutionary. And so I think it became the place where people, when they wanted to show themselves off, when they wanted to showcase a product or a thing or a restaurant or a hotel, it was just a very natural thing where the best way to really communicate a product is really through visuals. And Instagram, at its core, has always been visual first. So the rich formats that obviously have evolved over the years to really map the changes in consumer demands, we've always been at that forefront.

And so between the connection of the personalization, the capabilities that make it easy to bring value to all pillars, and that kind of visual-first immersive format, I really do think that it really has set the platform up to be the go-to for brands, and for creators who really want to have those close relationships with brands. 

Doug Weiss’ Predictions for the Future of the Creator Economy

Tim Sovay: You've been in this space for a long time, you're seeing changes in real time. Where do you see the creator ecosystem going, and just as importantly, what is Meta's role in that ecosystem?

Doug Weiss: Yeah, and again, this is why we're so excited about the relationship with CreatorIQ. I think, no question, and I will fight anyone who disagrees with this, that the emergence of creators and the importance of creators in driving purchasing decisions, and in having influence over users, is potentially one of the most important trends that has happened in the 21st century. 

I think, unfortunately, caught up in that is the fact that a lot of money that has been thrown at not very good ideas, because there's been such a lack of measurement, because there's been a really hard time to connect, "Oh, I'm spending $10,000 on this creator campaign, what am I actually getting out of it? Yeah, sure, I get 300 comments, 1,000 likes, but I actually don't know what value that has to me. I want to make sure that I'm investing in the thing that makes sense.” 

There's a really famous quote that I'm definitely going to butcher that says, “50% of marketing spend is great, 50% is garbage. Unfortunately, I don't know which 50% is which.” I think that is happening 100% with creators. There are a lot of situations where investing in your creators makes a ton of sense because that’s what consumers are looking at. But on the other hand, I think it's been really hard to understand where to place your investments, who to be working with, what types of formats, what platforms. So I think there's going to be a really big push, especially in a world of potentially reduced marketing budgets, where people are taking a much closer look at where they're spending and whether it's actually driving impact. 

So I do think that that's going to be something that we've already started to see, and we will continue to see. And what we hope is that, in all of that, we are the best platform to help creators be who they are, create the content that they want, and connect to the communities that they care about most. I think we very much see ourselves as that place where if you have an hour of time, it makes more sense for you to invest that hour on Instagram than it does on TikTok, than it does on any other platform that may exist, because it gives you more value. And that value can mean a million different things. “I get close conversations with my community, I'm able to build my community, I'm able to directly monetize, I'm able to indirectly monetize.” I think this idea of, how can we be the place where if you have an hour, if you have a day, if you have a month, it makes sense for you to invest that time with us. 

And so creating as many tools as possible, both in the app itself, but also in close collaboration with partners that really can make sure that A, you understand that value, B, you can access that value, and C, you can maximize that value. That is what we envision. This is our north star on creators overall. And hopefully creators are feeling that. And the reality is, it's a competitive world out there. If we are not valuable to creators, they have other places to go. So we have to do that. I see us continuing to really invest in that, and continuing to be the first place that creators think of when they think about where they want to be.


You can watch the entire interview here, or listen to the full episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts. To catch up on our other 61 episodes, featuring leaders from brands like Milk Makeup, Gymshark, Gucci, and MAC Cosmetics, visit our Earned Podcast page.