Social-media content creators have a growing influence on setting cultural norms and business trends.
Any creator, marketer or media personality with a significant digital following is referred to by the catchall term “influencer.” It’s even become a career aspiration. A recent US survey found 54% of 13- to 38-year-olds want to become social-media influencers, and a UK study found 30% of kids listed YouTuber as their top career choice.
A big responsibility rests on the shoulders of influencers – especially in Israel, where influencers often find themselves as unofficial ambassadors through their lifestyle content (such as “a day in the life of”), beauty and fitness content or business and entrepreneurship content (such as the Startup Nation narrative).
That’s why many influencers on stage at the Nas Summit for content creators in Tel Aviv on June 12 stressed the importance of transparency and authenticity in building and engaging with an audience.
The event was hosted by the wildly popular Facebook influencer Nas Daily (Nuseir Yassin), who grew up in an Arab family in northern Israel and amassed 63 million global followers for his 1,000 one-minute videos on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
Previous Nas Summits have been held in Los Angeles, Dubai and London. The question is, why Israel?
“Why Israel? Why not Israel?” said Nas, noting the country’s creator economy.
“Most technology products will come from here. So, [if] the entrepreneurs are going to build the tools for creators, then they need to understand them.”
Social-media platforms popular with Israelis include Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn. While Facebook is declining in popularity in America, it is still popular in Israel, and closed social media such as WhatsApp is widely used as well.
The culture of creativity, action orientation, and technological innovation have created a robust ecosystem of creators and startups that support and accelerate their reach across the globe.
The universal goal for influencers is to create content that “sticks.” What is unique to Israel, and was on full display at the Nas Summit, was the emphasis on community.
Community is key in sharing knowledge and helping promote fellow creators’ content. It truly takes a community to become an influencer, and local creators came together in Tel Aviv to learn, network and develop powerful relationships.
The summit was an opportunity to learn from notable influencers such as Israeli TikToker Liel Eli (1.2 million followers) and Israel’s biggest YouTuber, gamer Idan Telem (1.2 million), as well as influencers from other countries, such as photographer and YouTuber Jordan Matter (28 million); magician Julius Dein (72 million) and the Internet’s favorite travel vlogger, Alyne Tamir (3.8 million).
The combined following in that room was in the hundreds of millions between presenters and attendees, and probably set a record in Israel for most influencers in one place at one time.
Topics of discussion at the summit included creating engaging content, growth on social media, and the role generative AI will play in the creator economy.
Presenters representing the Israeli tech space included Omer Rabinovitz, the VP of creative marketing at Lightricks and a particularly inspiring fireside chat between Nas Daily and serial entrepreneur and philanthropist-investor Morris Kahn.
“The questions that I was asked were incredible,” Dein told ISRAEL21c. He spoke at the recent Nas Summit in Dubai as well. Israeli attendees, he said, “were really intellectually curious about how I grew an audience.”
The business side of the creator economy
Tools such as generative AI give creators superpowers and automate many of their tasks, assist with content creation, and help them reach as many people as possible.
In attendance at the summit were heads of startups Narrative, SHOUT and Riverside, which support creators with additional tools and strategies.
SHOUT is an influencer content agency that selects and manages content creators for international brands such as Coca-Cola, American Express and Nike, and Israeli brands such as Strauss, Dr. Fischer and Neviot.
Riverside.fm makes it easy for podcasters and media companies to record remote interviews in studio quality, and is popular with the podcasting community.
Narrative handles all influencer marketing needs, from strategy to content creation, for large companies. Narrative’s CEO, Regev Gur, was instrumental in bringing the Nas Summit to Israel.
“Startup Nation,” Gur tells ISRAEL21c, is not just a buzzword.
“We literally like to create things. Israelis try to locate where there is a problem and how we can solve it. The creator economy has a lot of problems because it’s a new economy… payment, smart contracts and stuff like that. Israelis are amazing in solving problems.”
Israeli LinkedIn notables
Tech, business/entrepreneurship and educational content are significant areas where Israeli influencers are leading the way.
Baker is a born-and-raised Brit who started her copywriting business at age 21 and started networking and attending groups across London. When she moved to Israel, she didn’t find much formal networking in English, so she went and created English Speaking Networking.
More recently, she saw a demand for online meetings and last year founded ESNInternationals to help business owners in specific niches around the world network and grow their business.
In this way, Baker is on the cutting edge of the creator economy, mixed a strong online presence with in-person experiences of value for her audience.
Kruman is an award-winning Chief People Officer, sought-after HR industry expert, speaker, board member and leadership coach. He works with Fortune 500 companies, Top 10 global consultancies, VCs/PEs and fast-growth startups.
In his newsletter, he writes about life in Israel as a new immigrant, what it’s like to work remotely from Israel, and how difficult (and yet, rewarding) the adjustment process is here. His content lives and breathes firmly in Israel. He also hosts a podcast on which he’s interviewed Israeli unicorn tech CEOs and influencers.
Israeli TikTok notables
Local TikToker and startup founder Ari Mor has 28K followers and shares insights on his channel about topics such as tech, Apple, Tesla and entrepreneurship.
His previous startup, Passly, a gamified creators’ marketplace, was shut down last year. Mor is building his second startup, Asky, aiming to ramp up the decision-making process.
Epitomizing the hustle and entrepreneurial spirit of the Startup Nation, TikToker Rina Waisman goes up to people – including both well-known Israelis and random people on the street — and asks them what they do and what their biggest dream is.
Born in Israel, Waisman grew up in New York, studied psychology and drama at NYU and is the author of the book How Meditation Empowers You. Her goal was to be a lecturer about the power of meditation, but when no one watched her videos about why it’s important to meditate, she decided to go to Jerusalem and ask people about their dreams.
She has amassed over 50K followers, and her TikToks have gathered thousands of comments, and millions of likes.
Israeli podcasting notables
Podcasts have taken off in Israel and are particularly popular in the tech community.
Ben Lavi, 25, has a production company called Perspective that produces videos for businesses and content creators. He also hosts a popular podcast, Hakol, in which he creates content and interviews people excelling in their niche.
In the last year and a half, Hakol has become one of the top 20 podcasts in Israel, and Lavi started producing podcasts and content for many local businesses and content creators. He also sold half his company to Leos, one of Israel’s top digital companies.
Nas looks at all the action around content and its technological support in Israel and concludes:
“I think to become a content creator, it means you have to be crazy enough to believe you can succeed. And that is really the story of Israel. You have to think you’re crazy enough to believe you can land on the moon, you can build a startup. Somebody told me Israel has 79 unicorns. Basically, what I’m saying is, Israel is the crazy place and you should just be around crazy.”
Jonathan “Yoni” Frenkel is a LinkedIn ghostwriter, content marketing strategist, creator and founder of YKC Media.