We’ve heard it all… the blue economy, the green economy, the start-up economy and the gig economy. The new kid on this block is the creator economy. Vishal Saini at medium.com writes that “Investors have already put $1.3 Billion in the creator economy in 2021 alone. Facebook has planned to pay out $1 Billion to creators for generating the content, and other social platforms like Clubhouse, Twitter, and Tiktok are also in the race to engage creators to stick with their platforms.”
Indeed, Facebook’s move would bring it closer to what it wants to create for itself: Zuckerberg’s ‘metaverse’.
“Zuckerberg recently told its investors that he wants Facebook to be known as a “metaverse company”. Metaverse is essentially an online world where people exist in shared virtual spaces through avatars. This digital economy with hundreds of millions of people can be monetised through ads and commerce” according to this article in The Economic Times.
We should first try and understand the main operators of the Creator Economy, the creators themselves, or ‘influencers’ as they are referred to at times. For example, one of my personal favourites is the Germany-based Samoyed dog Maya, also known as Mayapolarbear.
The four-year old dog, whose owner is of Chinese origin, has a presence on all of the major platforms: Tiktok, Twitter, Facebook and of course, Instagram. The dog alone has 2 million followers on Instagram, 1.87 million on Youtube, 1.3 million on Facebook and a mere 198 400 on Twitter. It is estimated that her combined accounts generate revenues of US$ 1.64 million.
What differentiates ‘creators’ with celebs, is that they are internet-made celebrities. There is no specific recipe for success in this world, but playing to an audience. If a furry pet would seem to be an easy thing to adhere to, there are others who play more on themes or subjects.
One of them is the 21-year old Khaby Lame, who was born in Senegal and raised in Italy. His funny silent skits aiming at simplifying what the internet tends to complicate, punctuated with a signature hand gesture has taken social media by storm. Lame has over 113 million followers Tiktok and more than 47 million on Instagram.
Social media is the place where everyone can share their content and this is precisely how to earn money. Since the platforms themselves create nothing, they are keen on retaining the influencers and creators who keep these running. Money therefore freely flows towards those who are rolling in the bucks in return for the tech giants.
Lately, there has been much talk of creators taking a bigger part of the money pie. And the tech platforms are listening, with not only massive investments by Facebook but also incentives such as commission-revenue. Twitter, for example, will not retain any charges for its creators when these receive Bitcoins via its Tips feature.
The Creator Economy is wanting to shift to more autonomy via speaking directly to fans and having to depend less on the algorithmic tantrums of the tech moguls.
An Influencer Marketing Hub survey indicated the following in terms of revenue share for creators in May 2021.
They may want to, but it may be a long time before they can with the amount of money that mainstream social media platforms will pour into keeping them around.
Other than the ‘Metaverse’ ambition from Zuckerberg and Facebook, Tiktok has also reportedly planned to invest some US$ 200 million in the cream of its crop. Youtube is also investing its Tiktok lookalike, Shorts. A fund of US$100 million has been set up to that effect. Many other apps in the select and regional categories (Clubhouse, Koo etc) are following suit.
But creators will still try and hold on on their own, Saini believes. Many will do so via their own apps, websites and monetisation platforms. Some of them are moving into creating their own businesses independently or within a community of influencers.
They are likely to succeed as 9.2 billion apps have currently been downloaded. Users are estimated to be spending over 700 billion hours on these platforms. Studies show that by 2025, social apps could generate revenues of up to US$ 17.2 billion each year.