The "democratisation" of being an influencer that Tiktok enabled
Being an 'influencer' used to be an elite game... that is till Tiktok came along and started churning out folks with 1m+ subscribers by the boatload.
One thing I’ve heard a lot of established creators talk about lately is the ‘democratisation’ of being a creator that Tiktok has enabled.
For example on this video below where Colin and Samir interview the business manager of the Sidemen, Jordan Schwarzenberger.
Jordan talks at length at one point about how the whole creator game is evolving because of Tiktok. Let me explain.
So what do we mean by “the democratisation of being an influencer”?
In the old days it was hard to gather a big following. Unless you were already a pretty big name in the real world.
Like a Hollywood actor, a sports figure, a famous businessman, etc.
And so the ones that weren’t famous in the real world but became influencers online felt special. Folks like MrBeast, The Sidemen, Logan Paul, etc.
These days its not that hard for almost anyone to blow up on Tiktok and acquire a million or more subscribers. Thousands of people are doing it.
New ones each and everyday.
And so the older folks kinda feel like the new guys are a bit 2nd class to them. You’ll often hear them talk about how this new clan of “Tiktok influencers” have no real emotional attachment to their audience.
Or how people on Tiktok don’t really care who they’re watching as it’s just onto the next clip.
And in part they’re right. But fact of the matter is… that this has and is still changing the whole creator game massively.
How has it impacted advertising?
You see the strategy of many advertisers in the past couple of years has changed. They used to be willing to shell out good money for a big name Youtuber.
For example you could easily ask for $50k from an advertiser for sponsoring a video that perhaps gets around 100k views.
But as Jordan explains… that is now very rare. Because advertisers just care about ‘reach’. As in they just care about how many views their brand gets.
And so if you have $50k to spend… you could either spend it to do a single big name Youtuber and get that 100k views. Or you can sign like 200 small creators on Tiktok for $250 each.
And chances are that at least a few of those videos by these small creators will go viral and clock in at least 1m views.
So at the end of the day… you can either:
option A) get around 4m views from these Tiktokers or
option B) you can get 100k views from your single Youtube star.
All for the same money.
And most brands opt for option A as its deemed better value for money.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Jordan talks about the impact this is having on creators and their relationship with their audience. Because more and more creators are chasing the Tiktok views. Simply because it earns them the ad money.
But this also means that these creators have a tougher time chasing other non-ad revenue streams. Because the relationship with their fan base is not deep as it is on longform video like Youtube.
So his hypothesis is that the ‘creator middle class’ is being wiped out.
Meaning you have lots of smaller guys on Tiktok, ie. the “lower class”, that are making enough ad money to start taking things serious.
And you have at the high end, ‘the upper class’, which are the very big Youtubers like MrBeast, Logan Paul and Sidemen who have deep relationships with their audience. And they can go deep on offering all kinds of non-ad revenue streams like products, courses, etc.
MrBeast for example has his own chocolate bar (Feastables) and Logan Paul has his own hydration beverage (Prime).
But to go from ‘lower class’ to ‘upper class’ is getting harder and harder. Because the lower class never established a relationship.
So in a way it almost feels like its evolving into a mix of democracy + oligarchy
By this I mean that the lower class will be flooded with tens of thousands of creators that can make a small living by attaining 1m+ subscribers on Tiktok. Or perhaps by getting some of their Youtube shorts to perform well.
But they never make it to the ‘middle class’ and make more meaningful money.
Meanwhile the guys at the top of the food chain, the ‘upper class’ like MrBeast and Logan Paul, only get bigger and bigger.
Because they are in a virtuous circle of more revenue streams enabling bigger content budgets, which in turn result in better content and more views, thus resulting in more money flowing into their numerous revenue streams.
A stratified system:
The lower class of Tiktokers = democracy
The upper class of big name influencers = oligarchy