You may remember this: in 2006, ‘You’, was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine for “seizing the reins of the global media and … beating the pros at their own game.” The front cover was a mirror, underpinning the idea that an individual was transforming the digital age by going online.
“And we didn’t just watch, we also worked. Like crazy,” Time Magazine’s 2006 profile read. “We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars…”
It’s been around 50 years since the birth of the internet, and its original promise of pushing down power into the hands of the people has taken shape in numerous innovative ways. We’ve seen the internet evolve from the hilarious virality of home videos to the emergence of breaking news at the fingertips of first-hand responders, and the long-form blogs that inspired new cultural trends. Content was born out of creativity, and individual voices were given a platform like never before.
Adam Mosseri, Meta’s head of Instagram, re-visited the idea of this online power shift from institutions to individuals during a TEDxTalk earlier this year. A rally cry to young and emerging creators, he detailed a world that is no longer bound by traditional job security — one where anyone with a compelling idea can turn their passion into a living. From 2006’s spotlight on the rise of digital creativity to today’s class of 2006 reaping the rewards of a booming creator economy, the trajectory for success has a sturdy blueprint.
For the latest generation of content creators, the potential is greater than ever. Creators have always been a big bet for us at Meta, and we want to keep helping them succeed. A few days ago, we launched Creators of Tomorrow: a showcase of emerging creators around the world who are inspiring a new movement of creative content online. As we spotlight a new class of talent, I’ve put together a number of trends that I believe will play a role in these creators’ careers — and the opportunities that will emerge as Web 3.0 takes rise as a new creative metropolis.
1. More methods to monetise
To date, Meta has invested in creators in ways no other social media company has — giving them a home base to create engaging content and myriad content formats and creative tools. On our platforms, creators earn money in a number of ways, such as through subscriptions, revenue share and partnerships with brands. Meta platforms, just like others, will continue to prioritize ways for creators to make money — whether that’s through enhanced ad opportunities or the creation of digital collectables.
Even more exciting is that as creators continue to gain recognition as skilled professionals and craftspeople, it is likely they will gain a higher degree of autonomy and independence over their work. Developments in Web 3.0 networks based on blockchain and open data networks will give them ownership of their content, and the freedom to distribute it even more freely across different platforms. The future could see creators cashing in on their content where they choose, at the price they set, without the need for an intermediary.
2. An autonomous brand identity
We’ve long defined creators as individuals whose “personality is their brand.” They’ve established rooted identities amongst their communities by entertaining others in interactive ways. This is what continues to make them so attractive to advertisers and businesses, who are compelled by their ability to authentically tell stories and engage audiences. Today, platforms like Meta support these relationships through branded content partnerships, such as our Brand Collaborations tool, and often broker relationships that allow creators and businesses alike to find synergies in their storytelling. For instance, in the MENA region, we’ve spotlighted a number of content creators who were able to build their own brands from scratch. Hadia Ghaleb, a fashion content creator, just launched her independent swimwear line, and Nourane Owais, a talented graphic designer, kicked off her own business on Instagram and turned her passion for art into a living. In fact, she was the artist behind Meta’s #SheCreates digital book.
In the future, this brand-creator relationship is going to get stronger. Instead of creators being used to leverage existing products, we’ll see an increase in creators who are actively co-creating with existing brands. New tools and the emergence of Web 3.0 will increasingly empower them to build their own small businesses from scratch — whether that’s fashion brands, written work, filters or otherwise. Underpinning this is the rise of tools and infrastructure that allow creator-entrepreneurs to build small enterprises more easily.
3. A flourish in new formats
At Meta, we are always adding new ways for creators to tell their stories — giving them the flexibility to experiment with formats that best suit the appetite of their audiences. Today, short-form video formats such as Reels are becoming increasingly prominent. Over the last quarter, we saw more than a 30 per cent increase in the time people spent engaging with the format on Facebook and Instagram. We’ve also been exploring new forms of expression through augmented reality (AR), giving creators access to our free global platform, Spark AR. Already, over 700 million people use AR for connection, expression and commerce every month. The majority of these experiences are built by our creators. Here in the region, Mohammed Al Habtour was one of the first creators to experiment with Spark AR and now has a portfolio of filters that he has created and co-created with his community. Another talent that has taken the region by storm is Faisal Al Saif, who is constantly on the hunt for the newest technologies and innovations.
This innovation in formats will continue to flourish. Tools including AI creation of human likenesses, GPT-3-type text and image generators, powerful and easy-to-use 3D production software, and interaction/simulation engines like Unity, are all emerging. These methods will give new ways for people to develop engaging content like we’ve never seen before. The evolution of such tools may give rise to creators who are more directors of AI content generation than simply makers of content.
4. Increased creative collaboration
Today, creators operate pretty autonomously when it comes to the creation of their content. However, they are increasingly taking advantage of new collaboration options available. Platforms such as Roblox, Fortnite or even Meta’s own Crayta are acting as waypoints for creators to create and participate in the building of different immersive worlds.
These developments may lay the groundwork for the growth of a more collaborative creator input into the metaverse — which looks to be dominated by immersive environments and 3D creation. Rather than publish work independently, the continued rise in collaboration could see creators build entire digital worlds together, and see them leveraging the direct, global sales of their created assets for financial opportunities.