Content creation and influencing used to be a skill unique to just a few. Nowadays, everyone and their mommas (respectfully) are creating and posting content with just a click of a button. According to Forbes, more than 50 million people worldwide now consider themselves influencers or creators.
It poses the question, what truly makes a person an influencer? Once upon a time, influencers had the power to make us buy a cute pair of shoes within a snap of a finger. In some cases today, they still do. However, most influencers today can’t even get us to show up to a meet and greet, no matter how big their following is.
Digital creator Oré Otun says it was a lot easier being an influencer in the past because there weren’t as many platforms. “Platforms did not have to compete with each other because they all stayed in their lane,” Otun told GU. “Nowadays every app wants to compete [but] all [they’ve done] is merge into one.”
Otun, who’s been creating beauty and fashion-related content for four years, says she’s been observing the world of social media for almost a decade and has noticed how “accessible” content creation has become in the last few years.
“People learned that content creation was a way to make money, and [now] they want a piece of the pie,” says Otun. “I think we have seen a shift where there are more lifestyle and commentary content creators [contributing] to the idea that anyone can be a content creator, all you have to do is talk about trending or controversial topics, and you pretty much have a platform and are a content creator.“
Micro-influencer India Monee’, says this is why there’s a decline in quality content creation. “I feel like the game has changed because people [create content] to get free things and not [to] offer their personalities, creativity, and passions to the world,” says Monee’. “Every day, someone is deciding to pick up a camera and create, and the problem is [there’s no] purpose behind it.”
Since content creation is now popular, smaller creators like Monee’ who’s been making content since 2014, feel it’s harder to thrive. “Back in the day, there was so much individuality, everyone was different,” says Monee’. “These days with trends, everyone’s the same, and it seems like audiences only want to see a particular type of content.”
Monee’ also says trends didn’t move as fast, and people valued the effort and art of creating. “We didn’t have apps to do everything for us, we had to really know how to make something from nothing.”
Likewise, Otun says apps like TikTok allow almost anyone to go viral and be seen. Whereas other apps like YouTube and Instagram aren’t as generous and require more effort. “Platforms like YouTube prioritize consistency, so if a creator does not post for a while, they know that when they come back, the algorithm will not favor their content and push it out to their subscribers.”
With new creators popping up on the scene daily, there’s no real way of telling where the influence begins and where the creation ends. But one thing is sure: passionate or aloof, they’re here to stay – regardless of whether we’re tuning in.