I’m officially back on the weekly rhythm! And, I even found the time to include intro text closely tied to the subject line rhyme! ; )
This HBR article by Li Jin
, talks about how the creative economy on platforms like YouTube and Instagram look a lot like the U.S. economy (and I’d wager – from my experience – also other (inter)national economies too). Jin
says there are a few big winners but a lot of people hustling to make a living and barely getting by and, she writes, it doesn’t have to be like this. I agree.
The author recommends 10 policies that platforms could adopt to broaden opportunities for creators, the platforms themselves & brands. I’d wager 90% of readers here (including me) create content in some shape or form, so, let’s go!
Focus on content types with lower replay value: “How many times can a person listen to the same podcast episode? Probably not many before the content becomes repetitive and boring. In contrast, one can listen to a favorite song on repeat ad infinitum. To create a more equitable creator ecosystem, platforms could direct users to content types where there’s a greater appeal in experiencing a wide array of content.” My .02? I think Echobox is doing this great live on their site and thereafter with Mixcloud. I even think this is why things like reels are being pushed. High engagement but low replay value, just keeps you coming back!
Serve heterogeneity in user preferences & empower niche: “Rosen’s theory of superstar economics is predicated on “imperfect substitution among quality differentiated goods” — great surgeons who can save 10% more lives get much more than 10% incremental demand.” So in my mind, this comes down to both creators and platforms appealing to many small demographics vs. broad swathes of mainstream appeal. Serendipitous silver lining? This supports diversity too!
Recommend content algorithmically with an element of randomness: “Some theories on why the long tail hasn’t flourished in a world of infinite digital products are that customers find it hard to know what to search for and that most recommendation systems are basic, simply recommending what other users have consumed/purchased. The weakness of this system is that users rarely see anything outside of their interest areas and can get locked into filter bubbles; popular creators are further amplified, making it challenging for newcomers to break out.” I think Instagram is improving with this but can’t speak as confidently about other platforms. Random content is a great non-sequitur surprise!
Facilitate collabs and community: “In his 2001 book Free Agent Nation, Daniel Pink writes, “Free agents may be bowling alone, but they’re not going it alone … loyalty hasn’t disappeared; it has simply changed from vertical to horizontal.” Because content consumption is driven, in part, by which creators a user already follows, creating content together is an opportunity for cross-promotion.” This is a no-brainer & something we love to facilitate at Twotone in the projects we do! I think we should begin to make this even more random in the collabs we do :D
Provide capital investment to up-and-coming creators: “If creators are the new small businesses, what is the new version of small business lending? Some creator verticals require upfront capital investment or capital to unlock the next level of growth and could benefit from funding in order to lower the barriers to entry.” True story! All of our clients are keen on influencer content in some shape or form but often not as ready to support them financially, especially when that creator is at an early stage. A conundrum for (up and coming) creators that platforms have the budget to help solve.
Decouple creator payouts from audience demographic: “A 2013 paper in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found that “online content creators tend to be from relatively privileged groups.” While the paper doesn’t delve into reasons why, I suspect it’s related to the broader reasons that prevent entrepreneurship in general: access to capital and ability to take financial risks.” Another very poignant one. In my experience, the creators with fewer resources and support often devise some of the best content. Rewarding those people, even those not targeting an affluent demographic, really helps an entire platform, niche, and ultimately broader community within that niche grow with new ideas & opportunities. Feels very grassroots.
Allow creators to capitalize on superfans: “Subscription and fan donations can enable creators with even modest audience sizes to earn substantial amounts. These direct fan payment models facilitate greater monetization of highly-engaged superfans, in contrast with ad-based models that reward scale and reach. Customers are willing to spend more to gain closer access to a creator vs. showing passive support through a subscription.” Even here on Revue, I think offering different levels would help. Partly why I also use ko-fi. (Thank you for all the ‘coffees’! You know who you are!)
Create passive (or almost-passive) income opportunities for creators: “Near-zero marginal costs cause digital superstars to accrue massive audiences, the lack of marginal costs can also work in favor of emerging creators, who are able to sell digital goods with little marginal effort/time. When income is incremental, creators are able to dedicate time to other sources of earnings and create a portfolio of various income streams.” Again, Revue has a small option here for this but I see people on other platforms with a broader set of options. Feature request! ; )
Offer a form of Universal Creative Income (UCI): This on relates to #5 & #6: In Austria, the government established a 90 million euro fund to support freelance artists, to provide 15,000 artists with a monthly stipend of 1,000 euros for 6 months. [Elsewhere in the world, the] top obstacles are financial in nature: Freshbooks’ 2019 Self-Employment in America Report revealed that the top barriers to self-employment were: “worry about inconsistent income” (35%), “don’t have cash to invest” (28%), and “worry about earning less” (27%).“ long story short, an idea like UCI (no not that UCI, haha) could in fact facilitate actual cultural treasures & certainly more varied cultural imprinting in these trying times.
Provide creator education and training: "Just as creator [collabs] lift up their participants partly through shared learnings and cross-pollination of ideas, platforms can facilitate these learnings and provide guidance for what creators can do to better succeed. In China, influencer incubators take this educational angle to the next level, and have a multi-step model focused on developing, growing, and monetizing influencers (called key opinion leaders or KOLs).” I think everyone has an opinion on what makes a creator cringe or impressive. But how do they know what’s pro or a no-no? Platforms should provide training to creators on how to do their job best!
Though the article I highlight above is targeted toward social media platforms themselves, I think there are aspects that individuals and certainly brands can adopt and implement as well. Even here at Twotone!
So, next time, before you knock on social media, its creators, and their content think about how much you consume it and how much better it could be!
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