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Be it YouTube, Snap, Meta, Spotify, Tiktok or even Twitter, all are fighting over creators’ attention. But the big question is why are they trying to lure content creators? The answer lies in the change in content consumption behaviour of people worldwide and advertisers pulling their purse strings globally.

Big-tech companies were already working in the background to propel user-generated content. What they didn’t realise at that time was UGC would so quickly turn into an economy of its own. 

The battle for creators' attention only started with the advent of TikTok. It gave birth to short video content creators in every nook and corner of the planet. Some might consider Twitter’s Vine as the precursor of TikTok. It, however, vanished because it couldn’t establish a proper revenue-sharing model for short clips. 

The advent of TikTok also depicts there is an audience for all kinds of content. While the app got banned in India, several other short-form content companies came to the fore, given the huge scope of growth in this space. It was a development which couldn’t have gone unnoticed by the big-tech platforms. They realised if they don’t step up, not only will they lose the audience but also their share in the adex. 

Earlier, we consumed content in the form of movies, shows, music and news. But now we love watching other people watching sports, we enjoy ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos, we cherish people sharing beauty tips and cooking videos, we love looking into other people’s lives online, and we just love consuming random content on phones in addition to movies, news and shows. The list is endless.

All this combined with the pandemic forcing people to work from home and figuring out other means of monetisation through content creation has only acted as fuel to the already raging fire.

Platforms view these insights as ways to make more money, they win over content creators to prop-up engagement on their platforms and keep fending off advertising downturns and audiences moving to other platforms. It’s all connected. 

According to Meta’s recent report on the state of the creator economy, there are about 300 million independent creators around the world. The creator economy is forecasted to generate more than $100 billion by the end of 2022. Another report by Linktree states that over 200 million people consider themselves creators.

What big-tech platforms are doing to lure content creators

Globally, Snapchat and Instagram are banking on music and creating tools around it to magnify content creation. 

Most recently, Snap extended its Sounds Creator Fund in India which grants up to $50,000 to emerging and independent artists. Sounds is a feature that allows people to add licensed music to their content on the platform. With this move, Snap’s objective is to deepen its roots in India and propel content creation on the platform. Since launching Sounds, videos created using the feature on the app have resulted in over 2.7 billion videos and more than 183 billion views globally. 

Other than this, Snap has also upped its game on the creators’ monetisation front with the launch of Spotlight challenges, gifting and others. Creators earn money by adding mid-roll ads in Snap Star Public Stories. According to global reports, Snap paid out more than $250 million to more than 12,000 creators through its Snapchat Spotlight program in 2021 alone.

In May, Instagram launched its ‘One Minute Music’ initiative. As part of the initiative, artists can launch original music and music videos through reels on Instagram.

Learning from the success of TikTok worldwide, Instagram launched Reels on the platform and now it has become a favourite of the content creators. According to Meta, there are more than 140 billion Reels playing across Facebook and Instagram every single day. Not just this, Meta has witnessed a 50% increase in Reel video consumption from just six months ago.

By enhancing the shopping features on Instagram that helps creators earn through content, the platform is investing heavily in training the content creators. Some time ago, Instagram launched its ‘Born on Instagram’ initiative in India which helps in the discovery and upskilling of upcoming content creators. From beginning with 5,000-odd creators, it now reaches out to 220 thousand creators registered for the programme.

Meta recently concluded ‘Creator Day’, the annual flagship event that celebrates creators which was held across four cities - Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai and Delhi. 

At the Delhi edition of Creator Day, there were long queues outside the venue to be part of the meet-up and celebration. This endless inflow of content creators which was on display at the Delhi edition of Meta Creator Day hints at how big and important the creator economy is for Meta in India.    

Historically, Twitter has not been a creator friendly platform. It’s a micro-blogging site and will have to almost reinvent itself to become content creation friendly. If it’s able to do that, it would be another social media giant adding to the growth of the creator economy along with giving stiff competition to other big tech giants who are grappling for creators’ attention. 

The platform generated revenue from mostly advertising. But given the focus of his competitors on the creator economy, Elon Musk, who himself markets his recent buy Twitter almost every day, hinted that the micro-blogging platform might be re-introducing Vine. Not just this, but to lure content creators onto the platform, Musk, in one of his recent Tweets said that Twitter will beat YouTube when it comes to sharing revenues with creators. Currently, creators are paid a 55% cut of the ads on YouTube. 

TikTok too splits ad revenue into half with approved creators through its TikTok Pulse program. The platform is banned in India, but globally it added a new solution called Pulse, which allows brands to place their ads adjacent to the top content in TikTok’s “For You” feed.

Facebook shares 55% of ad revenue with creators through in-stream ads and ads on Facebook Reels. 

Not yet launched in India, Twitter rolled out a subscription feature ‘Super Follows’ in February 2021. It is a paid monthly subscription that offers ‘access to bonus content, exclusive previews, and perks as a way to connect with people on Twitter’. According to the grapevine, the platform is also working on rebranding Super Follows. 

Long before ‘creator economy’ was even a term, YouTube introduced its YouTube partner programme to the world almost 16 years ago to help the YouTube community monetise. Over the years, Youtube kept on adding new features on the platform for creators to earn. Now the platform offers ten different ways for creators to earn revenue, such as ads, subscriptions, branded content, merchandising, Paid Digital Goods, Super Thanks and more. According to a YouTube blog, until 2021, the platform had already paid over $30 billion to creators on the platform. 

In 2020, three months after the TikTok ban, YouTube introduced Shorts, a short-video experience in India. The platform has also announced that in early 2023, it will also open Shorts for monetisation for content creators and will share 45% ad revenue it will generate from it with the creators. 

The platform has continuously evolved its content consumption experience and content discovery on the platform. YouTube has also rolled out separate tabs for Shorts, live streams, and long-form videos on all channel pages. In a big move, recently it announced the launch of Shorts on TV.

Among many other monetisation options, these big-tech giants have also launched options for content consumers to tip creators with a large following in the last one year. 

While there are several start-ups helping creators monetise through programmes, brand deals and tools, in the times to come, we’ll also see social media companies upping their game in the world of Web 3 and audio content after making the most of video content.