READ MORE: The Year of Digital Creators (Media.Monks)
Community is the new version of word-of-mouth, and the opinions of creators and their followers can boost or block sales.
That’s the verdict of marketing agency Media.Monks on the launch of its new report, “The Year of Digital Creators.”
The key to the door of the social media’s new era is “community,” and it is content creators who can unlock it.
“Web3 is slowly but surely becoming a bigger dot on the horizon, paving the way for an internet era that’s governed by the collective,” says Media.Monks.
It is the collective or the community which will own, run, and be rewarded in the creator economy.
It is not as if “influencers” have gone away or been transitioned into “creators.” The distinctions are highly nuanced and subjective, but their combined impact has rapidly expanded into a creator economy that Media.Monks says is already worth $20 billion.
Influencers are presented as growing their audience through creating more personal content — content that shows a curated lifestyle and the brands that align with it. Importantly, “they connect with their audience through authenticity and relatability, showcasing their talents, passions, and a peek into their personal lives.”
The cultural impact a creator has is already surpassing that of traditional media, but there’s still a stark imbalance of power between proprietary platforms and the creators who use them. Discover what it takes to stay ahead of the game with these fresh insights hand-picked from the NAB Amplify archives:
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By contrast, creators lean into their own talents or a specific topic, creating content that’s entertaining, educational or engaging enough to grow a strong community.
Both are developing content with the aim to entertain, educate, surprise, or engage their followers and steadily grow their community/fandom.
But creators are not the next generation of influencers.
“There’s a fundamental shift in the way creators monetize their activities to provide an independent and flexible income that’s not at the mercy of social platform algorithms or related to building a huge following,” Media.Monks claims. “Creators provide content and expertise on all kinds of niche interests to engaged communities.”
The group’s advice to brands looking to build community is: “make funny and entertaining content, demonstrate what you stand for, invent new memes and challenges, and share information. Belonging, information-sharing and demand for a product are all stimulated by the powerful influence that community can wield.”
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Gaming is identified as a leading source of online community among Gen Z in particular. Collaborations between brands and gaming platforms are not just becoming more common, but also more serious with the former owning virtual spaces inside video games or even producing their own unique, artistic gamified experiences.
Community-building is central to the gaming experience. “Communities are being formed in and around gaming, which is fascinating,” says Funs Jacobs, gaming category lead for Media.Monks. “However, many brands don’t have a strong community at the moment. They may have fans, but they don’t have that 360-degree relationship with their consumers — and that is something that needs to change in order for brands to survive.”
Another way of building engagement among the gaming community is to livestream. Popular game streamers are interacting and connecting with fans on platforms like Twitch, Instagram, and YouTube.
“Brands want to reach audiences far and wide, whereas streamers want to be sponsored and earn an income from doing what they love — it’s a win-win. Moreover, they provide a very useful space for brands to gather insights and feedback,” Jacobs says.
By getting to know the digital community and looking closely at its behaviors, preferences and needs, brands have a “unique opportunity” to deliver tailored products, services, and content.
In other words, the digital community is an innovative, effective, and fast-paced way for brands to sell directly to their consumers in the social media space.