Does the rise of social media signal the death of the professional creative?

Simon VeksnerIn this guest post, Simon Veksner argues that the glut of user generated content may finally bring about its long-threatened transformation of the marketing landscape.

Clients, you still have a job. Planners, you still have a job. Creatives, don’t get too comfortable.

Why do I say this?

Because the audience has now well and truly clambered onto the stage.

Armed with cheap yet impossibly impressive cameras, and fuelled by a level of creativity that no one knew they had, they are now perfectly capable of creating the content on which ‘professional’ creatives depended to earn a living.

The quality mostly isn’t that great, but you can’t argue with the quantity.

An old friend of mine used to write a blog called Loser-Generated Content, which critiqued the phenomenon. At that time, most user-generated content was rubbish.

And it still is.

However, there is now so much of it, that even though only a tiny percentage may be any good, that’s enough. As long as you can find it, of course.

Hence the rise of companies like Stackla. This outfit uses sophisticated software to trawl the internet for content about brands. Which actually isn’t as easy as it sounds. For example, a teenager might take a picture of themselves on a beach in summer, drinking a Coke. It might be a fantastic image, that Coke would love to use. But the problem is, the teenager probably doesn’t tag it ‘Coke’. So how would Coke ever find it? Stackla have their methods.

Of course, just to re-iterate, most of these images will be low quality. But some won’t. Some will be great, exuding a naturalness and authenticity that a professionally-cast shoot could never achieve.

Even if brands end up having to pay for this content, they typically don’t have to pay too much.

A professional creative expects a salary, so they can buy a car, and rent an apartment. And, you know, eat.

But the amateur creator already has a day job; they are creating just for the love of it. I’ve heard stories of creators making high-quality videos for brands in return for nothing more than some free product.

How do you compete with free?

Goodnight, everybody.

  • Simon Veksner is the founder of social media agency Hungry Beast

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