The Creator Economy: Why creators create and why your brand should care

June 16, 2022

Gone are the days when brand stories were enough to capture the customer’s attention. Today, people are more keen on having a personal connection with brands. So, if you want to survive the dynamic marketing & content creation world, you must start telling your stories differently. Partnering with content creators as the voice of your brand is the call of the hour. This is the best time to cultivate your customer base as they cultivate their audience. 

Working with a few creator-first startups since the announcement of the Accel Atoms program has furthered our insight into the space of the Creator Economy. 

Here are the basics for anyone who wants to know about one of the rapidly-growing business segments.

How big is the creator economy?

The creator economy has been around for almost a decade now. However, marketers and businesses have started to realize its value only recently. It became more prominent when Covid-19 hit us because people quite literally swarmed toward digital media content. Currently, there are about 50 million independent content creators across platforms. 

The ecosystem of the creator economy includes digital content creators, the influencer marketing industry, and all the related startups. With the speculated leap in the market size from $20 billion to a staggering $104.2 billion, the creator economy is looking at unprecedented growth in the years to follow. The numbers alone can only explain the current status of the scenario, but that isn't enough for founders to grasp the true value of its prospects.

How did we get here?

The massive change in media consumption has led to the boom in the creator economy. But, how?

1. Reaching the audience

Imagine yourself walking down the aisle of a supermarket where you find dozens of brands seeking your attention. Which one would you pick? Our natural inclination would always be towards the brand we trust, even if a competitor offers the same product at a lower price. Trust is the key here. 

Gone are the days when the only source of media consumption for people were newspapers, television, and the radio. Today, everybody is putting premiums on creators or influencers because now, more than ever, reach and relatability matters. The traditional marketing tactics like celebrity endorsements no longer generate the same hype because users resonate more with independently created content. This is what several big brands often struggle with - building a relationship with end-users through authenticity. Thanks to social media, along with the creator's fanbase, brands can now collaborate with fellow content creators as well. As a brand, you can encash on this wide reach by having creators promote your products or services to their audience. 

 2. Stretched accessibility

Globally, close to 4 billion smartphone users are on at least one free-to-use social media platform. Features like integrated editing tools or clickable-content technology to connect posts beyond shops and sources have eased the process of content creation itself. 

Additionally, the rapid rise in the number of creator-focused startups is adding to the boom of the creator economy. Earlier, only a small percentage of creators were able to earn a sizable wage through their skills; the rest were clueless about how to leverage their content. The emergence of marketplaces bridges this gap in the creator market by offering creators a more equal chance. These apps enable smaller creators not just to upskill & develop content, but also to build, manage and monetize their follower-base. 

Rigi, a startup from our Diwali 2021 Cohort, is a fine example of this. After thorough data analysis, the co-founder and CEO, Swapnil Saurav said:

“Creators, today, want direct access to their followers under one roof,  without the presence of potential competitors. Popular social networking sites can be problematic on this ground. So, we’re building a platform where creators & influencers can maximize their follower engagement & ‘monetization’ will be the hook.” 

Handling paid groups on multiple channels can also be a pain; this young startup is automating these groups, allowing influencers to manage them seamlessly. Apart from leveraging their online communities, the app also helps diversify a creator’s earnings through varied monetization tools. 

3. More money-making avenues

The ability to rope in niche audiences have given creators the power to demand better monetization avenues from social networking platforms and fair compensation from brands. How much money creators make is of course relative to factors like niche, rate of engagement & location. 

Creating content can also pass as a side hustle for many with day jobs. However, be it full-time or part-time creators, improved monetization avenues act like an incentive for them to stick to a particular platform. Thus, social media platforms had to upgrade their monetization tools to help influencers and creators diversify revenue streams. 

Apart from all the existing creator-friendly features on Facebook (Meta), they also have a revenue-sharing model in the pipeline, one that won’t charge any share from the revenue earned till 2023. Twitter, on the other hand, has also made a move with Revue in 2021 that allows creators to earn via newsletters. With that, they also introduced features like Super Follow (pay-to-access) and Tips (uncut payments from users to creators). 

4. Endless Possibilities

As and when creators gain a strong foot holding in terms of social currency (number of followers), more opportunities present themselves. Gaining extensive market knowledge from brand partnerships & understanding what their community needs, creators can shift to becoming business owners themselves. Many are already doing it which has diversified overall opportunities.  

Can all content creators drive consumer behavior to the brand’s favor?

Well, not always. All creators are not influencers, meaning that even though someone might churn amazing content, they may fail to influence their fans to act in the company’s favor. In that case, as a brand, clear the following grounds to ensure that the collaboration is the right move for you:

  • How strong a relationship does the creator have with their follower community?
  • What are your funds for this campaign? 
  • How will the creator ensure authentic conversion, i.e., what is their strategy- cold advertisement or a story-telling narrative?

Can India place itself as a hub of the Creator Economy?

We’d say that the possibilities are quite promising & that the Indian economy can grow leaps and bounds with the rise of this global economy. 

Despite being a country with the second-largest population, internet penetration has been lower compared to other countries. However, the scene changed when Jio launched unlimited internet packs at an extremely competitive price range. Since then the overall internet consumption in India has increased, to the extent that the number of Indian internet users is speculated to reach 1.5 billion by the end of 2040

As the numbers increase, creators will have access to a bigger market with more followers. International brands are also recognizing the potential that we have in store, Netflix being one of the biggest examples. Mr. Beast, the popular YouTuber, has also started tapping into the international audience base by dubbing his video content into different languages & is planning to target the Hindi-speaking audience soon. 

What’s the catch? 

It is the language. India, as we know, is diverse in religion, culture as well as language. So, we can’t ignore the fact that all 800 million internet users of our country won’t relate to every content out there. However, this can be both good and bad, depending on how brands use it in their favor, because creativity isn’t restricted by region or language. 

The Indian penetration of the creator market has been such that people from various backgrounds and regions can showcase their skills on the internet. The massive flow of regional content across different languages ensures that even if users cannot follow 1 creator due to the language barrier, they will have access to creators who create in the language they understand.

Moreover, multilingual creators are providing some of the greatest opportunities for brands to tap into a regional audience concretely. This wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. 

So, what lies ahead?

The creator economy is here to stay. It has initiated a shift in power due to which creators are no longer under the pressure of brand narratives or underpayment. They finally have the freedom to be self-reliant & create authentic content which they can very well monetize through various channels. 

Brands, however, should be strategic in identifying the creator who can specifically cater to their target audience. Once that's done, partnering with a content creator can prove to be an excellent business strategy for founders to enter the booming global economy whereby they can easily connect with their target audience.

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