A ‘three-sided marketplace’
LTK—formerly known as rewardStyle and LIKEtoKNOW.it before rebranding last year—revolves around influencer recommendations and enables consumers to browse influencer-curated collections of products known as “shops.” The creator-oriented shopping app was the brainchild of co-founder Amber Venz Box, a creator herself who sought to monetize her fashion blog content back in 2010.
Like Amazon’s influencer program, creators receive a cut of the sales their shops drive on the platform, with brands individually determining their commission rates. And, similar to Amazon’s halo effect, these commissions are based on the price of the entire order that included an item from the creator’s shop, not just that specific item, “because it’s their traffic, their loyal follower,” said LTK’s Williams.
Over 200,000 influencers use LTK, according to the company. The platform functions as a “three-sided marketplace,” bringing together creators, brands and consumers—allowing brands to directly partner with influencers to promote clothing, skincare products and other items to shoppers looking to creators for product recommendations, Williams said.
“The intent is mutual success for all three,” she said. “Brands have a really personal, organic way of reaching their shoppers; shoppers get the stuff they want from people who look and feel and shop like them; and creators earn for sharing all of those products and brands.”
Some creators add new products to their shops daily, Williams said. Jen Adams, also known as @interiordesignerella, is one of them. Since joining LTK in 2016, the commissions she earns through her 619,000-follower shop have formed the “backbone” of Adams’s full-time influencer career, she said. Adams has oriented her entire social media presence around driving followers to her LTK shop, hiring a team of nine people to help create photo collages of clothing and accessories available on her shop and short videos of Adams modeling many of these items. Along with a direct link to her LTK shop in her Instagram bio, almost all of her posts also include the link in their descriptions.
Through LTK, Adams has also entered into deals with brands like Express, Nordstrom and Walmart to feature some of their products on her LTK shop and her social media channels. The platform works directly with brands to coordinate partnerships between brands and creators, providing a “self service platform” that gathers information about various creators open to brand collaborations for companies seeking creators for a campaign. Adams has received several offers from brands through that portal and has been able to review contracts and other details about potential collaborations directly through the LTK platform, she said.
Since LTK’s founding in 2010, brands have invested over $1.8 billion into these creator deals, according to a recent press release. The skincare brand Elemis, for example, tapped LTK creators as brand ambassadors in a campaign to boost brand awareness, which reached almost three million consumers across LTK, YouTube and Instagram.
Wenrick said she, too, receives offers from brands, with many asking her to test one of their products and feature it on her storefront if she likes it. Although she has agreed to add a few beauty products to her recommended products after getting these messages, the pay is typically “super low” or simply a gifted item from the brand, she said. Amazon also lacks a centralized platform for brands to connect directly with creators and their storefronts. Though Adams also has an Amazon storefront, she primarily directs her followers to her LTK shop when showing off different products in order to keep all of her recommendations housed in a single place.
“It makes total sense that, as creators, we offer a one-stop shop for our followers,” she said. “And for me, personally, that is my target market. I know every creator runs their business a little bit differently, but my followers are shoppers. If you look at my Instagram and my LTK [shop], it’s all just about deals—what the sales are.”