The creator economy is booming. Today’s creators are flooding the world with an endless flow of digital content: videos, writing, music, art, news, and so much more.
And they’re not afraid of monetizing it. At the top tier of the creator economy there are numerous billionaires - yes, that’s billionaires with a “b” - not to mention plenty of other successful creators who live comfortably by sharing their boundless creativity.
This means the agency-publisher relationship is changing, too. Any top-tier marketing agency must be able to keep pace with today’s savvy creator-entrepreneurs.
What Exactly Is the Creator Economy?
The term “creator economy” first gained popularity in YouTube videos about a decade ago, but the phenomenon has been emerging since the inception of the internet. As YouTube stars and social media influencers began to understand the full impact of their fame, they established a lucrative new sphere of digital content creation.
The creator economy might be most famous for making Instagram influencers rich, but it also does something else that’s even more important: It empowers everyday people. Today’s digitally-dominated creator economy gives agency to the creator.
Anyone can go online, share their thoughts, and become a brand. The creator economy turns anyone into an instant CEO, capable of generating an income with very little up-front financial investment.
Some financial experts even say that the creator economy is replacing the attention economy as a primary driver of online value. While it’s still possible to deliver strong value through ads and paid placements, members of the creator economy are also digitizing, democratizing, and monetizing their individual forms of creative expression.
How Is the Agency/Publisher/Creator Relationship Changing?
The creator economy relies heavily on personal branding and direct-to-consumer selling rather than solely building traditional business relationships. It’s no longer necessary for the average creator to have a manager, business partner, or personal assistant. All they really need is access to the internet.
Still, it's risky to go it alone. A solo creator faces obstacles and risks that can destroy a fledgling business empire. What if your popularity exceeds your business knowledge? What if you miss out on huge media opportunities? What if you have a PR disaster?
The most successful creators work with teams of media-savvy professionals to expand and preserve their brands. Otherwise, they risk encountering the dark side of the creator economy, which has led to infamous catastrophes like the Fyre Festival and Olivia Jade Giannuli’s college admissions scandal.
How Citizen Journalists Are Changing Media
Here’s another issue that impacts the agency/creator relationship: the rise of citizen journalism. The creator economy encourages everyday observers to place themselves in reporting roles traditionally held by professional journalists.
While this serves the purpose of informing the public about up-to-the-minute current events, it often erodes the quality of available information. Is faster information better information? How do you know which content creators you can trust?
Meanwhile, many traditionally-educated journalists are finding themselves tempted to turn away from conventional journalism. Instead, they become content creators who head down a path to monetizing their fans.
This creates tension between ethical media reporting and simply presenting paid content, with consumers left struggling to determine the difference. As a result, it’s more important than ever to address media placement concerns like social responsibility, consumerism, and strategic media planning.
5 Things to Know About the Creator Economy
With all of this in mind, here are some of the most important things you should know about working in the creator economy and maintaining the media relationships it takes to succeed.
1: Everyone Is Always Shopping
News isn’t just news anymore. Entertainment isn’t just entertainment anymore. And content isn’t just content anymore.
In the creator economy, creators and consumers tend to assume everything is for sale. As obvious as it sounds, creators are always creating because consumers are always consuming. Never underestimate the consumer’s natural desire to learn where they can acquire something they’ve encountered in a piece of online content.
Make sure to include ample details to source anything shown or shared. Every YouTube video should include on-screen branding and links. Every Instagram post should be tagged with the exact products shown. Today’s consumers consider it essential to provide this level of detail.
2: There’s a New Definition of Community
Remember, communities aren’t geographically-based anymore. Your most important community isn’t necessarily located in your ZIP code. It’s online, where the connectivity is always global.
That means brands have the opportunity to find communities of like-minded people with shared interests. Creators and content publishers can connect with these communities by showing their love for a specific niche.
For example, millions of people with pets enjoy connecting with other pet lovers through Chewy.com, the e-commerce pet supplier. Fact: Chewy now outsells all traditional brick-and-mortar retailers due to its online community-building and success promoting products through digital creator-influencers.
3: Trust Is at a Premium
It’s hard to know who to trust in the digital space. Research shows that 77% of consumers read online reviews before buying products and trust these reviewers more than their own friends and family.
Why? Because online reviewers are helpful. They provide details, opinions, and off-the-cuff reactions that are hard to find in other more traditional advertising channels. It’s a good reminder that people still need help evaluating media options and deciding who’s trustworthy.
4: Personalization Is Everything
Today’s savvy consumers are used to encountering content that is fully personalized and targeted to their tastes. They’re experts at sifting through information and filtering out what’s irrelevant.
This makes it especially important to carefully target your messages and ensure they’re always meaningful for the precise audience you’re trying to reach. If you waste your audience’s time or clutter up their view, they’ll just ignore you.
5: The Only Constant Is Change
The old saying is still true today: Adapt or perish. The digital landscape is always changing, so your media messages and marketing strategies must stay as fresh as possible.
At MBI, we thrive on change. As the creator economy flourishes across the planet, MBI always stays tuned into what’s new and innovative in the world of media. We’re here to help you develop a media plan that makes sense and resonates with your audience.