Anybody with even a cursory eye on the content zeitgeist will agree that this moment in time belongs to the creator. Brands, social platforms, tech companies and venture capitalists are increasingly organising themselves around this game-changing class of content entrepreneurs who are influential, relatable and community builders.
The Indian ‘creator economy’ has gained more meaning and momentum in the last two years. A real-world lockdown brought creative professionals, subject-matter experts, passionate hobbyists and even just the very-bored-but-very-talented onto the virtual playground—and brands and advertisers along with them. According to this year’s Twitter Trends India report, the conversation about creator culture and aspiring content creators on the platform grew by 78 percent and 231 percent respectively. Now as restrictions begin to ease and the world tentatively returns to somewhat regular programming, this economy is at an important juncture: teeming with potential, poised for radical growth, and in crucial need of harnessing in order to convert into a thriving industry. Both talent and those who engineer around them would be wise to take note of some larger content trends that are afoot.
The personal is universal
Creators who fearlessly lean into the specificity of their lived experience, linguistic and cultural background and peccadilloes, and pursue their real interests and passions, strike a deeper emotional chord. This manifests in likes, retweets, vibrant comment sections, and loyal followers whose emotional association with the creator will have them root for and participate in their success. Individual creators such as Danish Sait, Shraddha, Sakshi Shivdasani, as well as accounts such as Terrible Marathi Tales and Bobbywood have built influence and often thriving business on a bedrock of the familiar, the niche and the personal.
If a global pandemic taught us anything, it’s that there is power and grace in community and collective wellbeing, action and growth. The term creator took on a whole new meaning earlier this year when in the throes of the deadly second wave of Covid-19, a people’s movement gathered momentum and in its fire were kindled a whole new category of social influencers. Take for instance, medical experts such as Ambarish Satwik who assuaged public panic and worry with timely, reliable knowledge-sharing; Dalit rights activist Srishty Ranjan and anchor Janice Sequeira used their social platforms as information and resource helplines; to independent web developers like Arnav Gosain and Umang Galaiya who used Twitter’s API to build user tools to streamline information. This isn’t just true in times of strife either. Communities are formed in moments of joy, discovery, shared nostalgia—the aggregatory Twitter account @TamilSpaces, for example, draws its niche but deep influence from having rallied a proud, positive and highly engaged community of Tamil users around Twitter’s live audio product Spaces since its launch early this year. Creators and brands who are able to catalyse these moments and foster a sense of belonging, will stay ahead of the curve.
Rise of the generalist expert
These terms may seem antithetical, but a rapidly maturing digital audience with a one-stop-shop consumption mindset, needs its influencers to keep up. As our virtual and offline lives lose their outlines and slosh together, creators who step beyond their core areas of influence and engage more deeply and widely will attract and retain engaged audiences looking to be entertained, educated, inspired and motivated all at the same time. Consumers need proof that the individuals they look to as windows to the world, are like them, complex, multifaceted and engaging with the world at large. Beauty and wellness influencer Vasudha Rai, food blogger and author Nandita Iyer, and digital marketing entrepreneur Viraj Sheth are examples of subject-matter experts whose ability to speak to a larger audience from their niche vantage points have drawn them loyal, leaned-in audiences.
Diversification meets collaboration
The multi-hyphenate individual isn’t a new concept but the multi-hyphenate creator is. Rapid disruptions and evolution in tech and content, as well as external cultural and political shifts, will mean that creators will increasingly need to stay nimble and recognise the value of cultivating influence across genres and platforms. A Reels star who is also a YouTube Shorts star who is also a Twitter Spaces Super Host? Invincible.
While diversification is easier for the handful of tier-1 creators with established influence and systemic (platforms, advertisers) support, the up-and-coming creator can leverage strategic collaboration to build impact. Stand-up comic Samay Raina, for example, parlayed his love for chess into the newly launched global Chess Super League competition (with a Rs 40 lakh prize fund) which he co-founded, by rallying the support and advocacy of another comedian, Youtube and chess influencers—all between the last year and a half of the pandemic.
Here are four tips for budding creators
While you may have a primary social platform that is an organic fit for your content, take an inventory of all available options, their content grammar and offerings (creator tools, monetisation models) to build a safe, diversified social media arsenal.
Monetisation is the goal; organic consistency is the road to it
While a surge in the number of creator monetisation startups and growing investment by social platforms in this community signals promise, meaningful monetisation—that enables a sustainable, profitable creator career—comes not from virality, but from building deeply rooted communities and influence, and takes time and/or consistency.
Read the room
As a creator, your relatability and resonance to your followers is your superpower; and it’s fueled by staying open, sensitive and responsive to the larger public conversation and the real-world experiences of your audience (and your own!).
Set down personal goals and targets, schedule content, file your invoices on time, take regular stock of your social media insights and analytics, create an introduction deck—to make it a career, you have to treat it like a career first.
The author is partner manager-entertainment, Twitter India.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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