India has a rich storytelling heritage, with ‘content’ passed down from generation to generation. This was revamped with the advent of the Internet and Web 2.0, which gave people unlimited opportunities to express themselves online. Internet and social media platforms have become an essential part of everyone’s life, especially for Gen Z, who have been active online and on social media platforms since their inception and are also a key player in the ecosystem. creators. The Indian influencer economy has grown to an INR 900 crore business. By 2025, it is expected to reach INR 2,200 crore, a whopping CAGR of 25%, according to GroupM INCA’s India Influencer Marketing Report.
The creator ecosystem is driven by the right balance between demand and supply
There has been a fundamental shift in media consumption habits by consumers. Audiences want variety, contextual relevance, and fast delivery of their content. The pandemic has acted as an additional catalyst in this change. The hold of traditional media on consumers is gradually weakening due to changing digital content consumption habits during lockdown – and they are here to stay. This desire and desire to access newer, exciting and trending content, also at such exponential speed, has been addressed by content creators who have identified their own niche talent and personalized content based on the interests of their audience.
Consumers no longer want one-way communication; they seek and value direct engagement. Creators and micro-influencers are becoming more trustworthy and reliable with ever-changing content needs, which helps them build deeper relationships with their viewers. This has led to higher monetization opportunities for creators, making it a lucrative long-term ecosystem. For example, influencers like Awez Darbar, Kritika Khurana have become brand ambassadors and endorse popular brands across all categories.
With such a drastic change in consumer behavior, brands are also adapting quickly to this change. Where brands used to face a daunting task in forging a loyal bond with their customers, creators come through effortlessly through the authenticity and relatability of their content. Social media influencers and creators are increasingly factored into the marketing mix and sometimes also take the lead in brand campaigns.
Another critical part of the growth of this ecosystem has been the platforms/apps that connect creators to their audience. Social media platforms invest heavily in features and technologies that allow creators to create high-quality content and reach the right audience.
From passion to monetization
The creator ecosystem is no longer fueled solely by a passion for creating content. It’s a lucrative career option, and creators equip themselves with all the tools, skills, and technology needed to stay ahead of the game.
From a monetization perspective, creators have multiple opportunities. Social media platforms not only act as catalysts by creating more monetization opportunities for creators, but also incentivize them. Besides social media platforms, brands are actively seeking creators and influencers that fit their marketing goals and are willing to pay a premium for the right talent.
In India, brand collaborations and virtual giveaways are becoming the most active and effective forms of monetization. Some platforms have introduced features such as paid digital events, subscriptions, in-app advertisements and are working on revenue sharing models. Others have facilitated direct payments to creators as well as native affiliate programs, gated content, and newsletters. Include VIP memberships (platform direct or creator), commerce tools that allow creators to recommend and sell products through features such as live streaming and virtual live actions, virtual live experiences (facilitating paid shows, individual interactions or group meetings) are also some of the other options. There are also interest-based paid communities that provide expert commentary, exclusive resources and community support for those with common interests or challenges and digital goods or in-app currency to use for virtual items or upgrades and premium service.
Tap into India’s diversity
The Indian influencer market is only a fraction of the $1.75 billion global influencer market. It is estimated that only 150,000 professional content creators have been able to effectively monetize their services in India. The rest are in a gray area – they have great potential but haven’t yet figured out how to leverage their content and influence.
What makes India unique is its cultural and linguistic diversity. Nearly 49% of active urban Internet users in India prefer to consume online content in Indian languages, according to the “Bharat – The Neo India” report by Group M and ShareChat. This indicates that regional language creators are on the rise. They build a very loyal and engaged audience by customizing content for a hyper-defined audience set. These creators also identify and collaborate with language-focused platforms. Brands appreciate this commitment and partner with these creators to tap into an otherwise hard-to-tap audience. They are also approaching Indian language platforms and creators first for collaborations to reach new audiences.
The road ahead
As the ecosystem evolves, some clear trends are in play right now:
● The mindset of creators is shifting from a platform-centric approach to a business-centric approach. They are no longer limited to a single platform but deploy a media mix that allows them to connect with their audiences. Platforms that help creators build audiences, share ad revenue with them, create content, and even take ownership of discovery, creation, monetization, and growth will stay ahead.
● Creators collaborate with fans to create content and are even part of the content creation process. Thus, the content becomes not only engaging but also participatory.
● With the exponential growth of the creator economy, regulators are paying greater attention to putting in place frameworks to ensure end-consumer protection. The Advertising Standards Council of India recently introduced comprehensive influencer marketing guidelines and an AI-based monitoring mechanism to detect violations last year.
● Finally, Web3.0 will give rise to numerous innovations in this ecosystem. For example, digital creators can now sell their work directly as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Ultimately, whether it’s creators, brands, or platforms, one thing should be kept in mind: those that focus on creator-powered user experience will win the race. .
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