FROM ‘SEARCHING FOR BRANDS’ TO ‘BECOMING BRANDS’
Content creators turning into Entrepreneurs
We’ve said it before and we will say it again — the digital and technological environment right now is absolutely perfect for content creators to evolve and grow in today’s age.
Having seen the popularity of the creator economy and the inevitable growth of influencer marketing services in all corners of the world, top platforms present today are reshaping their models to help influencers monetise social media following better.
Instagram (like others) has already opened additional revenue streams through its Live Badges (users can tip in live streams), shops for creators to sell merchandise, video ads, bonuses and more. They also have a dedicated program for Reels. Meta (the company) has announced plans to put in nearly $1 billion in creator programs by the year’s end, and TikTok aims to match that by 2023. They’re not alone either, with Twitter, Pinterest and many others going the same route.
But even in this optimistic phase, reports suggest only 3% of the 50 million creators actually make more than minimum wage. And while the next digital revolution will grant creators greater control of their content, a lot of existing factors still influence the marketability and monetisation that smaller creators can achieve while engaging in influencer marketing services.
For starters, YouTubers would remember (not happily) the ‘Adpocalypse’ of 2017, when reports of insensitive ad placements led to brand marketers pulling out and, consequently, hurting those who relied solely on the video streaming platform for their livelihood. To better understand this, you need to know how creators are paid on the platform.
The bulk of income (from YouTube) is generated from the advertising revenue of the creators’ content, along with gifts and paid subscriptions from their loyal followers. And that’s great, except that YouTube takes nearly a third of that amount as fees and charges. And as payouts are decided by the number of views, smaller creators (and the majority of the creator economy) usually don’t make much revenue.
And sure, brand collaborations are also a big part of the creators’ takeaway. But whether you’re a big influencer with millions waiting for your next video, or someone grinding to reach that same peak, the Creator economy has realised that vague algorithm changes or loopholes can NOT derail years of their hard work. A loyal following will stay true to the creator regardless of these changes, but their motivation to create may get shot.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of YouTube’s parent company Alphabet, reported a 40% YOY increase in the number of channels earning more than $10,000 annually from ad revenue. All these factors signal that the creators’ potential for growth is on the right trajectory; but as we saw earlier they’ve become wary of relying solely on social media platforms.
Which is why the influencers of today are diversifying and creating new content streams themselves. Whether it’s selling their own branded merchandise and apparel, or asking their fans to invest in their creative pursuits through crowdfunding platforms like Patreon, they’re learning to be more independent and reduce uncertainties that may hamper their growth (analysis of 136,000 channels).
Zoë Glatt, a PhD Researcher at London School of Economics and Political Science studying the growth and experiences of YouTube creators, concludes this trend well:
..it’s no longer enough to simply be ‘just’ a YouTuber;
You’re expected to be a brand, producing for YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, and any other platform that will come along in the future.
As the coming of metaverse inches closer and closer, both social media and influencer marketing services inside will change beyond recognition. AI-based tools along with new-age AR innovations are set to reimagine the way people interact with influencers and each other. And audience engagement will continue to climb in an interactive and beautiful virtual world with limitless possibilities.
New avenues for marketing will be unlocked for both influencers and brands with companies like Coca-Cola, Gucci and many others already making their presence felt in the metaverse (We wrote a Blog about it too).
It is imperative that creators diversify and build loyal following that follows them wherever they go, irrespective of the platform. The creator economy is set to witness new revenue streams and the ability to own and monetise their content — those who adapt to the transition will push how far the creator economy can evolve.