By Danielle Long | Asia Pacific Correspondent

September 19, 2022 | 8 min read

WeAre8, the sustainable social media app, has launched its first Australian marketing campaign as the company eyes its New Zealand expansion.

The social media app, which pays users to watch adverts and donates 60% of its revenues to social and environmental causes, has kicked off its first consumer marketing activity and revealed the local celebrity' change makers' who will add content and clout to the app.

WeAre8 Australia CEO Lizzie Young told The Drum the campaign is targeting an audience it calls "optimistic change champions" to attract up to 2 million Aussies to the app.

"There are 2 million people in Sydney and Melbourne who fall within our identified segment of 'optimistic change champions'. They are early adopters, university students and parents with young children. Our initial target is converting a portion of those 2 million people to the platform as quickly as possible."

"It's too early to talk about how we're going against that, but the curve is going in the right direction every day," says Young.

WeAre8, launched in Australia on 8 August, following its UK launch in April, aims "to be good for the planet, free-from-hate, put money in your wallet and celebrate and champion good in the world in just eight minutes a day."

It is the brainchild of Sue Fennessy, the Australian-born and London-based tech entrepreneur who founded Standard Media Index (SMI). The mission is to create a positive social media environment and revolutionise the $450 billion digital advertising market with an effective, efficient and transparent model.

Fennessy enlisted Young, a media veteran who quit her role as managing director of local markets and group marketing at Nine Entertainment Company, to take the helm of the Australian operation.

A unique win-win model

WeAre8's model pays users – or citizens as WeAre8 calls them – to view ads and answer a few questions about them for eight minutes a day. Citizens can use the money they earn from viewing the ads to invest in charities or causes through the app or keep the money for themselves, "there is no judgement," says Young.

The app partners with groups and organisations (it calls these impact partners) across eight different areas: climate equality, poverty, health, peace, water, education and animal welfare.

The advertising model means brands only pay for a fully completed video view, so there is zero wastage and high engagement. WeAre8 Australia launched with nine brands already on board: Suncorp, SBS, Dove, Rexona, Omo, Virgin Australia Airlines, Nature's Own, Coles and Telstra, and Young says more announcements are imminent.

"We're asking brands to move 6.5% of their social media spend to us, but there's no risk in that because we only charge them for a fully completed video view," says Young.

"We're asking brands to give us an opportunity to demonstrate what we can do in an environment that does the right thing by people and the planet. There's also no wastage for brands from a financial perspective, because we only charge at the end of the fully completed video view. We can guarantee the engagement and attention and that's important to brands."

"We had nine launch partners, who, we talked to about the fact that we were starting, not from zero in Australia as we did have some organic citizen growth happening on the platform, but certainly a very small audience. But their view was that they wanted to be there from the beginning and scale with us. And I think because there's no risk for a brand."

WeAre8 reports a 98% opt-in rate for advertising and a 100% view-through rate. In terms of ongoing engagement, WeAre8 has a 37% click-through rate. Young notes a case study for Nike UK, which received 180,000 free text responses to the advertising.

So, what's the catch?

The biggest challenge to WeAre8 is scale. The model's success relies on people to work effectively, and the more, the better. Australia has the highest social media penetration in the world, with 82.7% of Australians using some form of social media at least once a day, so getting people to start using yet another platform could prove challenging.

"The biggest challenge is absolutely citizen growth, converting people and getting them to add on to their existing social media repertoire," says Young. "There are 21 million Australians on social media platforms, and they spend an average of 90 minutes daily. Our view is we want to be a part of that repertoire. So you can go and hang out in the metaverse or learn a dance on Tik Tok, you can tweet on Twitter, but you change the real world on WeAre8.

"We are trying to take a small portion of the time people are spending on social media daily and asking them to spend it on WeAre8 because here they have the power to change the world. Just by coming to us for eight minutes a day, money automatically goes back to climate solutions and causes that matter to help solve some of the biggest social issues in the Australian community."

WeAre8 is already a BCorp and currently donates 60% of its revenue to people and the planet. Its citizens follow its lead, with 54% donating their earnings to the app's impact partners.

As the cost of living rises and people face more pressure on their living expenses, Young is keen for WeAre8 to help. She wants to forge partnerships with supermarkets, telcos and utility companies to help WeAre8 citizens with living costs. The company already has an arrangement with UK telco EE where people can use their WeAre8 wallet to pay off their mobile phone bills.

Content is still king

While scale is a significant hurdle, WeAre8 also relies on good quality content to keep its citizens returning. To help fuel this, WeAre8 has enlisted local celebrities and influential figures to create content and help migrate their existing social media followers onto the sustainable app.

Australia's AFL legend, former Australian of the Year and Indigenous advocate Adam Goodes, ARIA Award-winning singer-songwriter Adrian Eagle, author, climate advisor and the founder of the global I Quit Sugar program Sarah Wilson, Māori artist Stan Walker, and the new Yellow Wiggle Tsehay Hawkins, have all signed on to the app.

Young says these change-makers and their significant followings are key factors in attracting the target audience. The marketing campaign will seek out the rest through out-of-home, audio and streaming radio, TV, video-on-demand, online video, street posters on recycled paper and street chalk in high-traffic locations such as university campuses. The marketing does not include any paid social channels.

"It's all about the content," continues Young. "It's one thing to get people there but we need them coming back daily. That is what our model is based on. We want to be habitual but not a habit. We only want people to stay for eight minutes because we think that's healthy, but we do need them every day because that daily ticking over is their ability to make an impact."

"That means you've got to have a great content strategy. So, we are currently working with people in the creative community across photography, arts, culture, music, and the full gamut of the creative industries to put together a creative council. We also have a creative fund where we divert 5% of our revenue back into the creative economy, for up-and-coming creators who need a project funded or have an idea, we want to support them in doing that to help create content that is engaging and interesting."

Expansion strategy: Next stop NZ

Hot on the heels of the Australian launch, Young says she is looking across the ditch to New Zealand as the next launch market.

"It's early days, obviously, but we are seeing positive signs from citizen growth, from the creators that are coming to the platform and from brands. Our ambition is to launch into New Zealand as quickly as we can. Then we'll go into America, Canada, and then Southeast Asia early next year."

WeAre8 has big ambitions. "At a global level, we'll be very happy to hit the million-citizen mark, that will be a great hurdle to achieve."

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