The Evolution of Content Creation
Social media and content creation are synonymous with one another, in a relationship that is now built into the very algorithms of our favourite social platforms. The emergence of social media set connection and creativity as its cornerstones, where platforms like Facebook (now Meta) were created with the simple goal: to empower connection online.
Facebook succeeded in creating communities online, but content creation as we know it was far from Facebook’s original repertoire. The beginnings of content creation were instead born out of a new platform, created in response to the demand for a place to share and access video content online. YouTube brought with it a stronger economic framework that put content creation at its forefront. In 2007, it was already enabling creators to make money from the ad-revenue of the videos that they posted online.
YouTube brought with it opportunities en masse. It gave anyone with a camera and an internet connection the ability to create a revenue stream, and build a community of global followers around their content. The monetisation of content on social media, that YouTube spearheaded, opened up the ‘creator economy’, which is now estimated to be worth $104.2 billion worldwide (Creator Economy Report, 2021). One Oxford Economics Report (2020) stated that YouTube became ‘an essential part of modern American life’. It gave the generation that grew up watching videos a new answer to the age-old question of “What do you want to be when you’re older?”.
Caspar Lee, one of YouTube’s early content creators, and Influencer’s co-founder and CVO, praises YouTube for its accessibility, which enabled him to grow a huge audience on the platform before the age of 18. He stated: “YouTube’s ability to empower creators to monetise content really changed the social media landscape. Its ability to respond to changes and truly champion creators has been huge for the industry. Tools like Waves by Influencer are the next iteration of this, enabling creators to measure impact across platforms, monetise content and generate opportunity with ease.”
The social media landscape has since evolved into an ecosystem of platforms that sit alongside YouTube, each providing budding creators with innovative and changing creative and entrepreneurial opportunities. Some platforms, like Instagram, have grown to compete as heavy-weights in the social media space, while other competitors, like Vine, saw a swift rise and equally swift fold. Each platform provides its own templates for creator content, methods for monetisation and algorithms that control reach, creating a continuously growing climate.
Amidst the noise in the ever-changing space, YouTube continues to re-asserting itself as a key voice. The hunger for short-form videos that TikTok wielded brought with it an array of predictions of the future of video content, citing two options; either the death of longer video content as we know it, or an upcoming cultural shift, whereby viewers will eventually grow tired of excessively short videos, experiencing ‘short-form fatigue’, favouring YouTube once more. YouTube created a third option: YouTube Shorts. Hot on trends and changes in the industry, its new feature directly responds to the rise in demand for shorter video content, like that which trends on TikTok and now Instagram Reels. Instead of working against it, Shorts pushes shorter content, hoping to hop on the trend and cater to demand.
The creator duo @MatthewandRyan have amassed a huge following across YouTube, Instagram and TikTok for their exciting and hilarious content. They see the future of YouTube as “full of opportunity to get creative”, and welcome the platform’s latest feature as “another avenue for people to share their creative spark and reach a new audience that they might not reach elsewhere”.
YouTube’s addition will be lucrative to established creators, many of which already have platforms on the app, and will likely incentivise more overall content on the YouTube platform. This month, TikTok’s biggest creator Khaby Lame announced his move to YouTube, prompting the question of how his TikTok style will translate to Shorts as well as YouTube’s longer videos, and more importantly, which other creators might follow. His move highlights YouTube’s continued success in understanding market trends and responding to market demands from creators.
The Creator-First Movement
The social media landscape continues to witness changing algorithms and formats across platforms; TikTok recently launched a carousel feature while Instagram has been focusing on pushing video content through Reels. Tracking which content performs best; on which formats; on which apps, and where content is best placed to generate revenue can seem like a game of luck. Yet this information is critical for creators to navigate the industry and decipher which platforms and types of content are worth investing their time in, and where their audiences are.
While platforms are increasingly catering towards creator needs, Influencer exists to bridge data from across social platforms to support creators. It enables creators to understand platform changes directly, showcase the impact of their content to brands and solidify future work. Influencer is witnessing the pressures facing creators and responding with support. Its latest app feature, the YouTube media kit on Waves, enables creators to have all of their YouTube analytics in one place, alongside their analytics for other platforms such as Instagram and TikTok too. This allows creators to track their performance across-platforms and in real-time to see the impact of their content immediately. Armed with this insightful data, creators now have the opportunity to connect with brands, monetise their impact through partnerships and cement creative collaboration. Influencer is enabling creators to adapt with the industry changes.
YouTube has re-established itself as a major player in the industry, despite the challenge of changing demands for content and new competitors. In doing so, YouTube has shown that responding to creator needs is pivotal to long-term platform success. With this takeaway, the way that other platforms may follow suit in valuing creators in unique ways could create more nuance in the space and see the growth of the social media industry reach a new stage of maturity. As space grows, it’s more important than ever for creators to have the tools they need to empower their choices, amplify their creativity and navigate the landscape so that their content continues to excel.
The Influencer Marketing Factory. 2021. The Creator Economy Report.
Oxford Economics. 2020. The State of the Creator Economy – Assessing the economic, societal, and cultural impact of YouTube in the US in 2021.