Post Thumb

Covid-19 has come as a catastrophe for almost all industries, impacting how agencies, brands, and platforms do business. It has also created hardships for content creators, who are seeing brand collaborations and content strategies disrupted as they are confined to their homes, and most production either postponed or cancelled.

As unprecedented times call for a change in strategies, it has also put content creators in the public eye. As, if it is a crisis for some, it can rightly be an opportunity for others. Even as content creators and publishers trying to find an opportunity amid the crisis, the pandemic will be a true test of patience and skills for them given the challenges.

Aarushi Sethi

The pandemic has presented a great opportunity for creators to go back to the kind of original content that their followers like to see and was a reason why they garnered a loyal follower base, to begin with, said Aarushi Sethi, Director of Pollen, a full-service influencer marketing agency of Zoo Media.

Rajeshree Naik

Rajeshree Naik, Co-founder and Director for India Food Network, believes the current situation is more a test of creators' ability to change fast, experiment and also one's ingenuity as a company.

“The pandemic has tested your ability to rally your team / yourself and be creative with limited resources. For individual creators, it's almost an extension of their work or the way they worked when they started. The challenge is much more for larger platforms and publishers who have established a norm of working with a certain amount of infrastructure etc., and now have to innovate without all of that in our own homes," she added.

Consumption of content has peaked differently for different platforms amid the pandemic and the lockdown.

Harikrishnan Pillai

According to Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and Co-founder of TheSmallBigIdea, the pandemic has not affected all creators alike. A lifestyle or a travel publisher is worst hit, while comedians still have ways to build content on the back of solid narrative.

As creators come in all shapes and sizes, some are brilliant as individuals and some do great as a collective. That is not a statement on their ability, he said, but is a judgement of their comfort zone.

Pandemic is a great time to test the skills of creators

It is understood that this is the right time to diversify, collaborate, learn new skills that a creator otherwise might lack. It is also an excellent time to test the audience.

Nikunj Lotia

Nikunj Lotia aka Be YouNick, one of the leading names in the YouTube Comedy scenario with over 7.5 million subscribers across platforms, said though there will be a compromise on quality, there's no replacement for talent and creativity.

Chhavi Mittal

Chhavi Mittal, Co-founder of Shitty Ideas Trending and Founder of Being Woman, YouTube, believes this pandemic will surely test the endurance level for all.

Sethi of Pollen thinks necessity being the mother of invention, there is no better time for content creators than right now.

Considering that people are homebound and have more spare time, a lot more content is being consumed. Influencers committed to delivering content consistently are gaining a larger audience and rapidly growing their communities, as opposed to those who may be more talented or creative but are posting less frequently, said Sethi. 

Ranveer Allahbadia

Ranveer Allahbadia aka BeerBiceps who is a huge hit among his Hindi-speaking audiences, and has garnered over two million followers in just one year and co-founded a digital entertainment start-up Monk Entertainment, said this is not the age where one needs to rely too much on skill or equipment. It is much more about storytelling and the love of creation that will get one ahead.

Madan Gowri

Madan Gowri, one of the biggest YouTuber of South India with around 3.5 million subscribers and close to 500M views on his YouTube channel, said that while there will be creators who are peaking during this lockdown, there will also be those who will get forgotten.

The challenge is to be in the loop with engaging yet relevant content with the situation. Creators do what creators are always supposed to do, keep their audience engaged and entertained. Lockdown or no lockdown, the focus of a creator is still to create value for their audience, and they should focus on doing it.

Who is more impacted: Small creators or the bigger ones?

Mittal said that in some sense, the more prominent creators might feel disabled in creating the same kind of content with reduced resources, and the smaller ones might have an edge in the sense that they would be more equipped to handle everything with fewer hands on deck. At the same time, it is also about reaching the right people/platforms for collaborative efforts. The bigger creators might have an edge in that department.

Even Allahbadia of BeerBiceps thinks that usually the financially stable creators have right equipment because of which they get an advantage, and now everyone's on the same playing field.

Gowri said the deep pockets do come in handy, but the lockdown has managed to bring down the giant publishers from their former glory.

All publishers will face similar issues – as they depend on advertising linked with consumer sentiments. The scale of problems will differ but to each, it's as big. The nimbler and quicker you are in making changes, the better placed you are, suggested Naik of IFN.

Pillai of TheSmallBigIdeas believes that if the opportunity is of the audience growth amid the crisis, then it will belong to the better content creator and size won't matter.

In terms of opportunities, according to Sethi, the pandemic has been an equalising factor in this regard for all.

All brands are working with limited resources and are being cautious about their budgets. What is more important than the size of the publisher is evaluating ROI, which is the ability to reach the right audience and engage in conversations with them. Also, it's almost like hitting a reset button, where creators have started posting relatable and organic content again by shooting content from their homes sans elaborate production. All in all, this pandemic has led to the rise of a new era for influencers/creators.

Impact on pricing as creators continue to produce content from their premises

Props are incidental expenses, and they won't have much impact on the pricing, said Pillai. Even if they do, he doesn't think the market is in a position or mood to haggle. In these times, any money coming anyone's way is welcome, till it is clean, covers your cost and leaves you with some margin.

Naik said price is all very relative. "While that is one way of looking at it, a brand would probably say that since your output is compromised without expensive lights and cameras, you should charge less. Or perhaps even their budgets are stretched. So one has to be more cost-effective. Brands will always want a good deal, and creators/ publishers will always want a good fee. Finally, value is in the eyes of the beholder," she said. 

Mittal believes it is the other way around with reduced marketing budgets. The advertiser also understands that the quality that he receives from home is not the same as the one he receives professionally and not many creators can match that.

Having worked with a variety of influencers across campaigns during this lockdown, Sethi of Pollen has mixed experiences. She said the macro-influencers are charging a premium during this time as they have to play multiple roles for a shoot. They need to take care of their makeup, wardrobe, manage technical issues such as lighting, sound, editing and directing over and acting. This has been a massive adjustment for them, as one is used to being spoiled on the sets where these technicalities are taken care of. Another reason for the premium fees quoted is because their follower base and engagement rates have doubled in the last two months.

On the other hand, Sethi said the micro-influencers believe the quality of their self-shot videos is not as premium as the quality of a professionally shot and edited video and hence have realigned expectations and commercials. Overall, everyone understands the brand's budget constraints during this time and is charging less than usual, she said.