Moving every few years as a kid, I had to learn to connect. I am a publicist and the Global PR Director for Asian tech company Juwai IQI.
You might think that you cannot possibly have much in common with a man who goes by the name “Mr. Beast,” but you would be wrong. You are both riding what I believe to be a historic shift of power from some of the world’s most powerful corporations to everyday citizens.
According to his Twitter account, Mr. Beast (whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson) began posting YouTube videos when he was 12. By year’s end, he had racked up 15,000 views, which is more than respectable for a 12-year-old.
He recently turned 23 and has gotten a little better at YouTube. Last year, according to his calculations, he racked up nearly 8.2 billion (with a “b”) views. As of this writing, he has over 62 million subscribers.
As a professional communicator who works with influencers, I believe his life story contains lessons for us all.
The Impact Of Creators
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You don’t have to be a full-time, dedicated content creator for your post to go viral. Nathan Apodaca, a man from Idaho who works in a potato factory, discovered that when he racked up tens of millions of views with a 22-second TikTok of himself skateboarding down a highway while lip-syncing to the Fleetwood Mac song “Dreams.” He has since been on numerous TV shows, started selling merchandise and generally taken good advantage of his luck.
Because of Apodaca’s video, Fleetwood Mac also had a revival of their fortune. According to the Los Angeles Times, streams of their song, which was first released in 1977, doubled, and sales of the song tripled.
This is where we get to the historic shift I mentioned earlier. Once all-powerful social media companies are competing to help creators earn money from their fans. Mr. Beast has benefitted, and — often on a smaller scale — many others are benefitting as well.
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The rise of super-creators like Mr. Beast makes clear that only a tiny few account for the largest share of engagement. On YouTube, the top 3% of channels got 90% of the traffic in 2016 research conducted by Mathias Bärtl (via Inc.). If social media companies don’t enable the best creators to earn money, they could lose them to other platforms.
That is why I believe Facebook has introduced paid subscriptions and may soon allow users to leave tips and have paid in-stream interactions.
How Much Is That TikTok Worth To You?
Today, just about anyone can earn something from their online work. Super-creators are rare, but there is a larger population of what you might call “side-hustle creators.”
Although 7 million or more musicians are on Spotify, according to The Economist (paywall), just 0.2% bank more than $50,000 in annual royalties. Only 3% earn $1,000 or more. Despite the skewed distribution of payments, musicians continue to upload more than 60,000 new songs onto the service every single day.
One million views on YouTube might only earn creators a paycheck of about $2,000. The platform OnlyFans has a handy calculator on its website so creators can estimate the income they might earn by selling subscriptions to exclusive content. According to the calculator, a creator with 10,000 followers, say, might persuade 1% of those to pay $9.95 per month. That would mean gross earnings of about $12,000 per year.
For both mega-influencers and mini-moguls, the new tools of the creator economy make it possible to earn something in exchange for content.
How Creators Can Make You Money
The creator economy has erected a new gateway to the customer, so the most popular creators have the potential to generate huge sales for chosen products. In the face of this new reality, business leaders can choose from three strategies to get involved in the creator economy. They can act as creators themselves, pay creators for access to their customers or white-label their products to creators.
RedBull is the preeminent example of a business that has become a successful content super-creator. I believe the sports drink brand creates an image consumers want to identify with by sponsoring competitors and events (paywall) involving extreme physical activities. RedBull’s Youtube channel has 10 million subscribers.
You can also use what is probably the most popular creator strategy for businesses, which is to enter into a brand partnership with creators who have appropriate audiences. According to an eMarketer estimate, 67.9% of U.S. marketers will use influencer marketing for paid or unpaid campaigns this year.
White-labeling is an emerging but less common strategy for businesses seeking to succeed in the context of the creator economy. Creators are now launching their own brands, but they often need help delivering on their brand promises. Creators may not have the desire and ability to manage the complex organizations required to produce and deliver goods, but plenty of existing businesses can and do.
When Mr. Beast launched his own fast-food burger brand called MrBeast Burger, he partnered with Virtual Dining Concepts. MrBeast Burger is a virtual brand. When customers place an order for a Dream Burger with a side of Beast Style Fries, the food is cooked in the kitchen of a local restaurant and then delivered by a service like Uber Eats or DoorDash. Virtual Dining Concepts says it offers restaurants 30% profits and that they can cook the food for MrBeast Burger’s customers right in their existing kitchens.
The new creator economy has changed the landscape of business. Whatever strategy your business chooses, it is wise to adapt.