We all have a favourite go-to Youtuber that we subscribe to or even a particular account on Instagram we would refresh our feed for. Have you ever wondered just how these familiar faces create such appealing videos – much less how they profit from doing so? Despite all the recent advancements in technology and A.I innovation, one would still be surprised how the rewarding of content creators is still lacking behind. Why is it so difficult to monetise content as a creator, and what are the leading social media platforms doing about it?
According to Forbes, 50 million people are expected to become content creators, rapidly climbing the ranks of what is considered a highly coveted job. Furthermore, the sheer number of platforms that creators can choose from makes this job that much more attractive to begin with. Sponsored influencers that manage to monetise their content are worth $8 billion today, with an estimated growth of $15 billion by 2022.
Monetising on content ain’t that easy
Despite the pleasant picture painted, monetising content is not as easy as it appears to be. Most successful influencers we hear are the ones that have lucrative careers which only represent an extremely small percentage amongst the entire collective of content creators. Some instances that act as barriers to monetising as a content creator include:
YouTube: YouTube takes around half of ad revenue – a whopping figure, leaving only the other half to the creators. Although this may still seem like a generous amount, the creator would need to reach a huge view count for the earnings to be a noticeable amount and enough to call a steady source of income.
COVID-19: Content creators have been thriving during COVID due to the massive increase in demand for online content. However, ad revenue has decreased by 33% since the world went into lockdown as companies halted investments into their ad campaigns. This left fewer ads for content creators to monetise their content from.
On top of all this, ad-blocking technology makes it even more challenging for content creators to monetise their content. Due to the various constraints on monetisation through advertisements, there has been an ongoing trend of monetising through subscription fees instead. This solution not only bypasses the restrictions of ad-blocking technology, but it also supports small to medium-sized content creators earning a sizable profit from their content.
Emerging monetisation features
There are new rules and trends in the creator economy world, creating content on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter used to be about acquiring fame, recognition, and likes. Slowly but surely, creators are turning these leading social media platforms into more of a money making machine. Where once there was content free of charge, now a revenue stream.
“The upstarts are forcing incumbents such as Facebook to compensate users for the unpaid work they may not have realized they were doing.” The Economist
An increasing number of newer platforms have begun to compensate their creators such as OnlyFans, Substack, Roblox, and Twitch – prompting dated social media platforms to step up their game. The ever-increasing number of content creators have motivated social media providers to differentiate themselves from other providers in order to attract more creators. Starting by introducing attractive features and tools for creators to better monetise with.
“Companies need to either offer some way to monetise that content on-platform, or… they’ll become just a promotional hub, where people essentially advertise the content that they’re monetising on other platforms.” SignalFire
Prominent leaders in the content market are no exception to this trend, each platform seems to be coming up with upgraded business models in order to make their platform more appealing and unique:
- Cameo: Celebrities can sell personalised content to their fans with 75% of the revenue going back to the contributor’s pocket.
- Substack: Grants its writers 90% of newsletter subscription fees.
- Twitch: Grants its gamers more than half of its subscription fees – including a part of the ad revenue + a bonus.
- Clubhouse: Plans on selling tickets and subscriptions in order to give its users a chance for monetising their content.
- Facebook: Making subscriptions widely available and has plans to launch “Super” (a feature similar to Cameo).
- TikTok: Has a “creator fund” feature.
- Snapchat: Launched “Spotlight” that monetises viral content of creators.
- Apple & Spotify: Allows its podcasters to charge fees.
- Twitter: Added an audio feature called “Spaces” (similar to Clubhouse) which will also have a ticket selling option for speakers to monetise from.\
A noteworthy mention would be Twitter’s feature Spaces, it has plans on taking only 20% of the creator’s revenue, with the remaining 80% going back to the creator’s pocket. Spaces will allow its speakers to charge their fans for exclusive access to their content, furthermore, speakers have total freedom in setting their own prices and quantity of tickets. The leading social media platform has also set up a collaboration with Stripe for a way to pay their creators.
“We’re working on a way for hosts to be rewarded for the experiences they create and for listeners to have exclusive access to the convos they care about most. Soon, we’ll test Ticketed Spaces with a small group where hosts can set ticket prices and quantity.” Twitter
Another upcoming Twitter feature that will allow its content creators to charge their followers for exclusive content is Super Follow. A user that opts for a $4.99 monthly subscription to Super Follow will gain access to their favourite creator’s bonus tweets, community groups, newsletter subscriptions, merchandise, and much more. This new feature was designed in mind to tackle competitors such as Substack and Patreon – other platforms that are known for creator monetisation.
What did we learn?
Even though we live in a technology-dependent world (where virtually anyone can become a content creator), monetising original content still has its obstacles. On top of this, the sheer amount of social media platforms available makes it even harder for platforms to distinguish themselves from the crowd of competitors. Eventually, the platform that provides the best monetization opportunities for content creators will emerge and become the market leader. Even pioneer platforms such as Facebook and Twitter must make an effort in order to stay relevant to as many creators as possible. Thanks to social media, content creation has always been the centre of attraction for a worldwide audience. These borderless characteristics highlight the importance and future of small-value cross-border payments. Having a convenient way to make small-value transactions over international borders with peace of mind is an essential part to the globalisation and success of content creation.
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