There are, without a doubt, moments that leave an indelible mark on every generation. And it is the examples that give it shape and definition for the generation to come to remember. The 70s had Woodstock, Beatlemania and the moon landing as watershed movements. My generation has the internet, social media, and the birth of celebrity culture.
Unrestricted access and high-volume exposure to the personal lives of celebrities seeped into society to shape the culture of the times. And it wasn’t long before the market realized that celebrity culture is intrinsically linked to consumer interests, where celebrities turn their fame into products for brands. But it’s like they say, all things (good or bad) must come to an end!
The birth of an alternative
The name of the game today is mindful consumption. The global pandemic acted as a huge catalyst for the invisible walls between fame and reality to finally become tangible, as celebrities thrived and led lives of luxury while it was the general population that faced the brunt of the difficulties caused by the pandemic. As a result, consumers are now entering a phase of democratic media consumption where they choose what they listen to and whom they trust. Gone are the days when a company could sell a product just because an A-list star was the one promoting it. Today, people are more likely to buy products or be influenced by people who have the factor of being like them. It is under these circumstances that the influencer marketing industry grew by 40% in 2021 and is expected to increase its revenue from Rs 900 crore to Rs 1,200-1,300 crore in 2022!
More and more brands are waking up to the fact that they are now catering to an audience that is more interested in a genuine cause rather than just being vehicles for mindless promotions. The famous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner has been pulled after public outcry over claims it co-opted protest imagery. On the other hand, movements like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the Black Lives Matter protest, and the #LoveWins campaign created impact and awareness because they were driven by a real cause, championed by the right people. In the case of ALS, the campaign was able to raise $115 million for ALS organizations around the world!
But as content creators around the world draw attention to brands, there’s a gap created by monetization tools. Creators are now looking for an infrastructure to live sustainably from their content and creativity. Social media influencers who helped industries attract users last year are now feeling the heat of the market downturn as funding dries up. As the global economic scenario resets and startups focus on revenue and cost, corporate marketing budgets are slashed across the board. As a result, creators’ earnings have dropped significantly.
The lack of a strong infrastructure to protect creators in an economy where digital content becomes a currency works against them. While many platforms are moving towards creator-led models, the crucial thing to remember is that the end goal of most platforms is to grow their user base rather than incentivize users. small but impactful communities created by creators. This reinforces the need for an overarching structure to protect creators. A good starting point can be:
- Rules of application: Just as TV ads have been regulated around the world by relevant bodies, regulations for content creators will help pave the way for the responsible content creation we need to build consumer trust in brands. A by-product of this will be brand loyalty, increased sales and increased brand market share. This can be our next step in ushering in a culture of accountability among creators that can also protect their communities by extension.
- Diversify creative channels: When Miguel de Cervantes said, “Don’t put your eggs in one basket,” he had no idea it would fuel the conversation about influencers trying to protect themselves. Building a presence on various platforms and trying out different types of content can help creators find new niches and audiences across platforms. And just as I mentioned above, staying platform independent is imperative if we are to build communities that resonate with our content.
true reverse new art forms flourish at the beginning of each new period, only if we take steps to preserve what is being created today can we hope to see the true potential of the current landscape in the years to come.
(The author is cco-founder of True Beacon. Opinions expressed are personal.)