Today there are a number of creative website builders who want to direct fans to a dedicated landing page from their social media profile. If you’ve spent any time on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve probably come across one of those streamlined “link-in-bio” style websites – like the ones hosted by Linktree, for example. A new startup called Tags is now entering this market with the goal of making “organic link” websites even more powerful. Its website builder offers creators an extensive set of tools to monetize their community, including through donations, sales, paid requests, affiliate purchases and more.
After subscribing to the service, Tags guides the user through a series of questions, many of which can be answered with a simple âyesâ or ânoâ. For example, Beacons can ask the user if they want to accept donations or collect emails from subscribers, if they make TikTok or YouTube videos, and what category they fall into, in terms of the content they creates.
This information is used to configure their Beacons landing page with the correct sections of content, which Beacons call âblocksâ. At launch, Beacons offers a dozen of these configurable blocks, like email and SMS collection modules, video embedding blocks for TikTok or YouTube creators, music blocks to embed a track or a song. album, a Twitter block to embed a tweet or a Twitter profile, and link blocks, similar to Linktree, among others.
There is even a “friends” block, which looks like a modern day Myspace Top 8. This allows you to connect with your friends on Beacons, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok.
One area where Beacons differentiates itself from other “link in bio” website builders, however, is its “monetization” block set. Today, it has four tools for creators who want to generate income through their online presence. One of them is similar to Cameo, because it allows the creator to set up a menu of options to accommodate fan requests for personalized content. For example, fans could ask a fitness influencer to critique their routine, or they could pay to have their burning questions answered by someone they admire. The creator can then send a personalized response in public or private.
Other monetization blocks allow creators to accept donations or sell digital downloads, like e-books or paid video content, for example.
Image credits: Tags
The fourth, and perhaps most interesting, block of monetization is a TikTok purchase feature. It allows creators to embed their TikTok videos where they recommend products directly to their Beacons website. From there, they can add affiliate links to the products in question, which allows them to directly generate income when fans buy the items they have featured.
This particularity comes at the right time. Today, TikTok is just starting to formalize its plans around e-commerce. In a recent presentation to marketers, TikTok spoke about plans to launch new online shopping tools that would allow brands to reach TikTok’s younger audience more directly. TikTok also has in partnership with Shopify on social commerce, and experimented with live video shopping, including with a holiday event hosted by Walmart.
But the creators of TikTok have already determined buying trends in categories such as fashion, beauty, home decor, household items, toys and much more, to the point that “TikTok made me buy it” has become a common excuse for impulse purchases sparked by TikTok’s viral content. Enabling designers to benefit more directly and financially from these trends is the next logical step.
Image credits: Tags
The idea for Beacons came from co-founders Neal Jean, Jesse Zhang, Greg Luppescu and David Zeng. Neal, Jesse, and David met while they were doing their PhDs at Stanford to study different areas of research, such as machine learning and AI. Greg, meanwhile, did his Masters at Stanford, then worked at Apple in the Apple Watch team.
Neal, Jesse, and David had teamed up on Beacons and walked through the Y Combinator Summer 2019 bundle, iterating on ideas and rotating the product multiple times. Some of those early concepts could eventually come back, like a Shopify integration that would connect creators with brands selling on Shopify, for example.
The larger goal, however, has always been to help creators make money, Neal says.
âEven before our current product, we were really focused on trying to help creators solve monetization,â he explains. âWhen we kind of turned this mini-pivot into something closer to Linktree, we thought about creating features that can help creators generate income – which I don’t think Linktree or any of the Existing incumbents in space were doing … Even today you can’t really make any money with Linktree, “he notes.
Linktree, of course, is just one of many ‘link in bio’ websites on the market today, which means Beacons is still grappling with a lot competition. Other rivals include Linkin.bio, Lnk.bio, short, Tap.bio, Feedlink.io, Link in profile, Milkshake, Camp site, bio.fm, url.bio and biolincs.me, for example.
Unlike some of its competitors, Beacons offers its tools for free and instead monetizes via a premium package ($ 10 / month) which allows creators to use their own custom domain. It also makes money by taking a percentage of sales on requests and sales blocks, which is either 9% on the free plan or 5% on the paid plan. That rev share doesn’t make a lot of money today – only âhundredsâ of dollars – but the team believes it will evolve as the startup grows and gains a large user base.
âOur strategy is to continue to generate more of these different types of revenue streams for creators,â says Neal. “And as we do, I think the fraction of transactional revenue will become higher relative to subscription revenue than it is today.”
Since launching as a private beta last September, Beacons has registered 90,000 registrations and now has over 20,000 people considered active users of the product – most of them arrived in the past two months when the service began rolling out. some of its newest features. So far, Beacons hasn’t done any paid marketing, with around 77% of new users coming to Beacons because they saw it on someone else’s profile.
The team raised a little post-YC angel ride of around $ 600,000, but are looking to fundraise in the future.