In this follow-up blog, Paul Greenwood, Head of Research & Insight, explores how influencers come together to share some of the “burden” of the creative process. He discovers this new way of working and how brands can adapt to changing influencer behavior to achieve maximum impact.

When YouTube launched in 2005, few could have predicted the scale and success of what we now call the creator economy. Its impact, which translates into colossal sums of money at stake, and the fact that becoming an “influencer” is now considered a legitimate career choice sought by younger generations, has had a profound effect on the wider marketing landscape.

It has made strangers true stars in the ever-growing community. People whose personality, charisma and skills have been the key to their lasting success. New behaviors, codes and languages ​​have developed around the creators and the platforms on which they operate. This has given brands access to new audiences, paving the way for engaged and enthusiastic consumers.

Despite this success, the creative economy and its pitfalls have a dark side. At the mercy of platforms and the algorithms behind them, creators must continually be present across multiple platforms and be “always on.” The parasocial relationships that many fans develop with creators blur the lines, and some “fans” cross the line.

It’s no surprise that mental burnout among creators is widespread. Additionally, 71% of creators have considered quitting due to stress from platform changes, income instability and production pressure. The pressure creators feel can lead to content fatigue, inability to disconnect, and feelings of loneliness.

Relationships between creators and influencers are increasingly transactional, whether with platforms, brands or their communities. The late-capitalist sentiment of influencer marketing has taken the shine off what was seen as a fun, authentic and fresh way to interact online and build community.

It was clear that a new way of thinking was needed: thinking informed and influenced by the characteristics of Web 3.0 and Generation Z, namely sharing, collaboration and more targeted and intentional results.

A new way of collective participation

Instead of acting alone, influencers come together in collectives to share the burden of the creative process and strengthen their impact.

New ideas take the form of “meta labels,” media collectives or subsets of multiple contributors that create “economic, emotional and creative” alignment among collaborators. Instead of competing for the same piece of the pie, creators engage in cooperation, “bringing together their expertise, audience, and resources to support a broader creative vision or goal.” This is what Yancey Stricklerco-founder of Kickstarter and of Metallic labelhe calls it “multiplayer creativity.”

And this gives life to innovative and high-impact activations:

1) Counterculture collectivism

MSCHF, an American artistic collective from Brooklyn, is one of the most prolific collectives. Whether it’s his Astro Boy-inspired Big Red Boots, his Tax Heaven 3000 dating site that generates tax returns, or his Miami Basel ATM that ranks participants based on their disposable income, every “drop” is critical the current socioeconomic situation and the dominant culture through the means of the absurd and the complicity of the public.

His goal is to shape culture.

2) From the collaborations of experts

The rise of collaborative subsets and the return of the multi-contributor newsletter are shaping the future creator landscape.

This is a return to the first era of influence: long-form, experiential textual content. Here, people are entrusted with the skills of explaining complex narratives to people with short attention spans, and thus become arbiters of influence.

3) Co-create for the future

Other forms of collective action by creators take shape through DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations). These have been likened to cooperative movements powered by technology, which seek to create value and share it with the community based on effort expended.

One such DAO is RADAR, a group of more than 300 researchers, early adopters and innovators, which aims to build “a foundational set of intelligence and collective imagination platforms for a better future”. Along the same lines, Startupy is an AI-powered search engine made up of hundreds of thinkers who “curate and interconnect” the best parts of the Internet. It’s clear that these two collectives seek to shape and inform the future of the web through action.

The possibilities offered by this new type of collaboration between influencers are impressive.

1) Create and shape culture

A generation of digital natives is increasingly aware of the different frameworks that govern online platforms and culture. For forward-thinking brands that want to be at the forefront of culture, this means a host of new partners to work and collaborate with.

Now more than ever, brands will need to understand the codes, aesthetics and metalanguage of cultural spheres to play a role.

2) Objective and will

Collective influence often has a deeper purpose that moves away from the transactional nature of influencer marketing of the past. Brands perceived as co-opting a collective and settling for simple talk of passion or purpose will be relegated to the background.

Values-based marketing will play a bigger role in the influencer marketing and creator economy of tomorrow. Values ​​that drive action.

3) Scalable and impactful

The fragmentation of the influencer landscape means brands will have to do things a little differently. If creators cluster naturally, this helps create natural scale and impact, but an important question is how brands maintain attribution when it can be diluted across many creators.

To keep an eye out for future episodes of the Future of Influence series, follow us on LinkedIn.

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