This is a guest post from Online Influence Awards 2019 sponsor Gleam Futures, which manages digital-first talent: fantastic creators, entertainers and entrepreneurs who have emerged from digital platforms. It represents individuals who have established loyal audiences while creating highly engaging content online, and helps elevate them to the next level, as talent.
The agency only manages quality talent who are among the top creators in the world; dedicated and passionate individuals who are determined to be professional and accountable while exploring their potential in all areas of media, merchandising and business development. It is strategic in its approach to management and works with talent to shape and maintain long-term careers.
Earlier this year it also launched Gleam Solutions, a consultancy that provides brands with a single route to creating and delivering quality, innovative, effective talent-led marketing campaigns which have creativity and authenticity at the heart and deliver results that matter.
The industry is still in its relative infancy, so we are seeing big changes all the time.
The biggest change, and one which has had a number of knock-on effects, is the increase in the number of creators. Whereas ten years ago there were roughly 15,000 creators globally, there are now more than 50 million – this has dramatically changed the media landscape and the way that audiences interact with each other and with brands.
While this is fantastic because we’re seeing a number of extremely talented creators come to the fore and a more authentic and targeted way for brands to reach and engage with audiences, it has unfortunately led to an overuse of the term ‘influencer’. This label lumps every creator into a homogenous mass of people and doesn’t distinguish the ‘talent’; creators who have an expertise to share, produce high quality content, form purpose in what they do and maintain a deep connection and dialogue with their trusting community.
It has also led to an obsession with data where the industry is attributing value to ‘influencers’ based on numbers alone, causing many creators to buy fake followers or engagement in an effort to be discovered and seek success. And this in turn has driven the commoditisation of content, where talent and the content they produce is viewed as a media product first and foremost, often driven by data. This lens can lead to a lack of creativity and authenticity, and a lower quality of content.
As a result of all the challenges the industry has faced over the years, brands and marketeers are becoming savvier and more strategic in their approach to ‘influence’, understanding the true meaning of talent and what makes high quality content – it’s an exciting time. They are seeing ‘influence’ as a legitimate channel within the overall marketing mix and in many cases taking a talent-led approach so that talent are not only creating organic content on their own social media channels, but are also present within the rest of the mix, from out-of-home to point of sale.
Aside from the marketing aspect, being a content creator has become a legitimate career with many who are super talented becoming entrepreneurs with multiple businesses, branching out into traditional media and building their own brands – this is a huge change not only in perception but also in opportunity.
The industry will continuously evolve as it has done for the past ten years – marketeers will make savvier choices when it comes to the talent they partner with, the approach they take and the way they distribute content, always with wider business objectives in mind and as such better measurement solutions will be realised. More and more we will see talent leading campaigns across the whole marketing mix with authenticity and creativity playing a crucial role.
There is a real movement right now towards purpose-led creators who have a cause to champion or those who have real expertise as these are huge differentiators amongst the millions of creators out there. It provides brands with the opportunity to find common ground with both the talent they partner with and the audience they reach, meaning that they can have a more interesting dialogue and engage in more meaningful ways.
It will be interesting to see brands tackle the Gen Z audience and how much platforms like TikTok will play a part in this – the platform is doing interesting things when it comes to brand marketing and collaborating with creators.
Online Influence Awards
We are thrilled to be sponsoring this year’s Online Influence Awards which has always recognised truly talented creators. With so many new creators coming to digital and social media platforms to share their creativity and expertise, online talent spotting is a lot harder than it was ten years ago. We’re always on the lookout for creators who are making waves so we’re excited to be sponsoring the Best Newcomer category this year.