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GUEST ARTICLE: The creator economy and how it has evolved over the last few years

Today, the creator economy is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion.

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Mumbai: For many decades, we have relied on traditional media outlets like television, radio, and print for our information and entertainment, consuming content created and curated by a few major media houses based on the preferences and requirements of the masses. The advent of the internet and web 2.0 brought a significant shift in how we consumed information by decentralising content communication, creation, and distribution. Thanks to the opportunity offered by social media, we found ordinary people like ourselves writing, filming, and creating niche as well as mass content that resonated with people worldwide.

And as a result of this, people moved away from traditional media sources. They started surfing the internet to consume content and connect with people who shared similar interests and experiences. Over time, people learned to market their skills, hobbies, and interests online. This resulted in the rise of a new economy built by millions of independent content creators, curators, and community builders, marking the beginning of the "creator economy."

Today, the creator economy is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion, and it includes everyone who is a part of the web economy, such as social media, blogs, videos, software tools, and tech platforms like Hypothesis designed to help them grow and monetise.

More than 50 million people worldwide identify as "creators," with two million or more earning a living from their passion through platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, and others. According to a survey, YouTube content creators contributed a whopping Rs 6,800 crore to the Indian economy in 2020.

The evolution of the creator economy

●      The birth of social media platforms

Towards the end of the 2000s, we witnessed the birth of many social and content channels like YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, Medium, Linkedin, and more. The rise of the creator economy has relied heavily on the development of these platforms. We wouldn't have creators if you didn't have platforms on which they could create. It was due to social media sharing that content distribution became normalised. Today, creators are no longer at the mercy of large production companies, as these platforms have equipped them well to solve their distribution problems.

●      The emergence of influencer marketing

Brands began to see the value in investing in creators to promote their products and services to their large on-platform audiences as they began to build a dedicated audience engaging with their content due to their skills and personalities. This proved a very successful marketing strategy, aka "influencer marketing," as it allowed brands to tap into a new market and advertise to a niche audience more likely to be interested in the brand’s product during their moment of consumption.

Brand sponsors began paying creators on platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok in exchange for their reach to an audience gained through the platforms.

●      Covid impact 

As social media platforms proliferated, people found themselves increasingly attracted to screens, both as creators and consumers. What many believed would be a passing phase, like the dot-com era, soon became a compulsion.

With the onset of the pandemic, millennials and gen-z turned towards social and subscription based platforms either out of boredom or to supplement their income due to the economic slump. Because of the nationwide lockdown, everyone was forced to use online health, education, shopping, and entertainment resources.

This has led to the growing dominance of content creators in mainstream media who are willing to pay for tools that help them grow their content reach and maximise their revenue.

●      Creators are brands within themselves

With the constant influx of influencers, competition for branded collaborations is becoming increasingly fierce, prompting influencers to seek alternative revenue streams.

Instead of chasing revenue through generic clickbait content, influencers are becoming the new brands. Today, creators have gained enough loyalty from their audiences to be able to sell any product better than the traditional brands. Creators are launching their brands without investing millions of dollars in a team and resources, instead relying on a combination of audience and reach, good branding, and a distinct point of view with their product.

Today, many brands consider working with creators an essential part of their brand and marketing strategy. But it remains a largely unorganised space, with discovering the right talent to work with and measuring success depending on how each brand structures its efforts. The creator economy needs a unified platform to connect brands with customers through the right influencers and manage the entire campaign pipeline. At the same time, it requires a platform for creators to engage with their audience and build meaningful relationships with brands.

That's where "influencer marketing software services" step in, allowing agencies and brands to discover the right creator, conduct outreach, set up campaigns, and track performance on one platform. On the supply side of the ecosystem, it empowers creators and influencers to reach their audiences by understanding their content performance and audience affinity and collaborating with brands and agencies.

The author of this article is Hypothesis senior VP product and analytics Himani Agrawal.

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