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The Emergence of the Content Creation Class

Content Creators are not a new internet typology or buzz word. They’ve been around for quite some time now. In fact, before the success of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, content creators were happily producing content on a regular basis mainly in the form of blogs, communities or websites.

But with the explosion of social, content creators have not only grown in numbers and influence but also in their proliferation across multiple platforms. The most prolific have made money, others have made successful businesses. But what unites them all is the fact that they produce content that a lot of people ‘consume’ - its just that social has exploded the level of visibility any creator can reach to levels that were previously considered unachievable.

But for brands and organisations, the explosion of content creators is presenting a double edged sword.

Firstly there is the question of balance. Content has proven to be a huge driver for interaction within social spaces. But how should a brand decide what content they should produce and what content should they ask external, third party creators to produce? On one hand brands and organisations have complete control over the content they produce. But in a world driven by peer to peer recommendation, content created by external creators will have greater credibility. Unfortunately, organisations and brands have less control over this content and the extent in which it brings their key messages or communications to life.

Brands and organisations then need to consider relevancy. YouTube is, of course, a key platform for content, but how many individuals are out there who would be willing to invest time in order to produce YouTube relevant content for a brand or organisation without substantial payment? And how do they manage the perception of their subscribers if all of a sudden their YouTube channel begins to fill with ‘sponsored’ brand driven content? The other challenge with YouTube is existing content. If relevant content does not already exist then you could argue that there is no real demand. Therefore should a company invest time in creating something that users are not actively searching for?

Then there are blogs and Twitter. How many 149 character Tweets will it take for a brand message to be communicated effectively? I would hazard a guess that it would take several posts but by then you run the risk of being considered spam and subsequently the user in question loses credibility amongst their following.

To all of the above points, brands and organisations looking to run content centric campaigns need to invest time up front to ensure they approach the social eco-system in the most effective way. Understanding the extent in which creators already post content about brands is of huge importance. By doing so they can find the right balance and not ask creators to act in a way that is outside of their normal behaviours. They also need to understand the extent in which brand or organisation driven content is already used and accepted by the influencers they are hoping to influence. There’s no point throwing money at a video just because a company wants to produce a ‘viral video’. They can easily justify its creation against data that is readily available through listening tools or social platforms themselves.

Finally organisations need to look at content from an ‘always on’ perspective. They should not build content once, push it out and then sit back waiting for the results to come in. They need to constantly engage with their audiences, to understand how the content has been received, how far it spread and also finding out what did and didn’t work. From this they can then plan on-going content updates that not only meets the need of their business, but also the individuals they hope to engage with.

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