The pendulum of content creation, it seems, is nudging away from the amateurs and back to the pros.
And you, dear reader, are one of the experts because, if you work in the field of communications, one way or another you will be an expert at generating content. And the pendulum of content creation, it seems, is nudging away from the amateurs and back to the pros. A pat on the back all round.
I have always felt that the advertising doom-mongers have been mistaken about the prospects for our trade. It is particularly gratifying to note that the good news is coming from one of the very forces that might have been predicted to be our undoing. It is equally gratifying to see the mighty Facebook having to do a bit of a swivel and a pivot, something we’ve been used to doing for years in explaining our day job. Just like advertising, social media platforms change and evolve. At the same time, many of the underlying competences remain evergreen.
However, while adfolk deliberate at length about the turmoil facing our industry, we spend comparatively little time looking at the seismic disruptions unfolding in social media. Even the phrase “social media” is becoming an anachronism. If the big usage trends continue for a couple more years, there won’t be such a thing as social media. We will have gone back to media (content) on the one hand, and social (connectivity services) on the other. The clever clogs at Facebook are well ahead of us, of course. They know they are rapidly becoming more of a media site, which is why Facebook TV is such a big play. Moreover, as the owner of WhatsApp and Instagram, its eggs are in both baskets anyway. Which probably explains its brutal NPD investment assault on Snapchat.
There is another group of experts who will be direct beneficiaries of the re-professionalistaion of content. In fact, they are the embodiment of it. These are the social media influencers. The Casey Neistats, Zoë Kravitzs and Zoellas of this world. SMIs already feature in many good pieces of channel planning, but expect them to feature more. Some, such as Neistat, have already usurped the role of the Hollywood A-List shill to become a TV frontman for brands.
The trouble is that the world of influencers is something of a curate’s egg. Some offer tremendous value, others come at an inflated price. Others still are charlatans, buoyed by follower and share data artificially elevated by fellow celebrity wannabes, who monetise in packs, talking largely to themselves.
As in all markets, we will see increased competition for the services of the best influencers. Amazon, no slouch in the field of media content these days, has made numerous clever plays. Its latest foray, Amazon Video Direct, seeks to attract accomplished content producers by offering what it sees as a more generous value exchange (15 cents per hour streamed on Prime versus YouTube’s 55% of ad revenue). Don’t watch this space. Get involved in it. The advancing bifurcation of social and media should prove a rich seam for adland.
Charles is a brand strategist who began his advertising apprenticeship at Burkitt’s, working subsequently at BBH and WCRS. In 2002 he decided to start working for himself and, along with his three partners (Rooney Carruthers, Adrian Coleman and Ian Priest), set up VCCP. Their founding client was O2, to whom they are eternally grateful. Over the last two decades, Charles has worked on and, in some cases, helped launch a diverse range of brands including O2, ING, Hiscox, easyJet, Canon, Cadbury, Domino's, Dyson, Nationwide, and Vitality.
Outside of work Charles doggedly pursues a variety of sports including cricket, tennis, football, golf, shooting and snooker, all at a consistently low standard. Charles is a Trustee for both The Change Foundation and The Fred Foundation and is co-author of a book called The Branded Gentry.