The ILNA Team
A World of Possibilities: The Creator Economy
By Hiba Ali
According to Forbes, 50 million people worldwide consider themselves content creators. While mostly consisting of Gen-Z and Millennials, the creator economy drives current and future popular culture, making it the source of media the vast majority consume on a daily basis. Even important information like news is shared through these platforms to younger audiences. With multi channel platforms, marketplaces, and tools, creators and entrepreneurs are able to make a living through their passions.
With the onset of social media, our world has changed dramatically, primarily through a new mode of entertainment, access to information and advertising. Social media allows creators to gain a large following that allows them to build personal communities. This social media model has given way to the creator economy presenting new opportunities and insightful ways for revenue, entrepreneurship and creative skills. Social Media platforms like Instagram Tik-Tok and even YouTube have given access to a world that allows for endless creative pursuits and the advantage of creating your own personal brand.
The ability to create your own community based niche has given ample possibilities for creative industries to flourish. Before social media there was a collective reliance on a single stream of marketing, advertising and information. The creator’s most important attribute is attention, making it a valuable commodity that drives the creator economy. It takes away from the traditional power structure and influences of corporations and celebrities and allows the individual to take control and create their own communities and shaping perspectives. It democratises the way we consume, and add to society.
Content creators have the opportunity to create unique social communities that give them access to followers that share similar interests. By having direct access to your own community, creators bypass traditional corporate hierarchies and advertising firms. This gives them more control over how they choose to showcase brands, ideas and themes. This power through digital tools to change conversations and even challenge the status quo has never existed before.
There are creators for almost everything, from lifestyle bloggers to food lovers to travel enthusiasts, photographers and fashion influencers. It has also changed industries such as fashion and media where content creators work closely with editors and publicists. In the past, industry leaders would shape trends but creators these days, have equal opportunity and maybe even more influence through their own following.
As the creator economy continues to rapidly grow, industries shifted their own strategies from hiring practices to incorporating social media and creators into their companies. It has become an integral aspect of life and continues to break barriers in many ways. Social media has become a gateway for showing skills and creative potential especially in marginalised communities around the world. Content creation through these platforms levels the playing field where creators can work with brands, companies and offer their services all over the world. Not to mention gain recognition for their talents and additional opportunities to work in their particular field. This has been especially true this past year with lockdowns and travel restrictions, showing the full potential of social media allowing global community engagement with diverse individuals and collaborating on projects together.
I recently interviewed a rising Kuwaiti creative Taiba AlNassar to learn more about her journey and thoughts on social media and how it continues to shape her career. Taiba is a multidisciplinary creative who is based between Kuwait and London where she studies Fashion Communications at Central Saint Martins. When she’s not in class she is working on her passion project, a print magazine called 3asal. She describes herself as someone who "loves fashion and creating different dreamy looks all the time.”
How would you describe your work?
My identity as an Arab woman heavily informs a lot of my work and the ideas I dissect. I also find so much inspiration in my culture, as I navigate it with newfound love and acceptance in my adulthood. Common themes that weave throughout my work are glamour, theatrics, nostalgia, bitter-sweetness.
Has social media become an integral part of your work and if so how?
Over my many years online I’ve grown a platform that has evolved alongside myself as well as the things I create. While I wouldn’t say social media is integral to my work itself, it has been an incredible tool in giving my work a space to be experienced and allowing it to find its audience.
How has social media defined your career so far? And has it had a positive or negative impact?
Since unconventional career paths and interests are so taboo in our communities, Arab creatives flourish online. Social media has played a huge role in guiding me to the Arab creative community that exists so prominently on social media, that I remember having no idea existed before. Finding this community in my mid-teens made me feel less alone at the time, and like whatever I wanted to do was in my means. It was an extremely formative time that lead me to where I am now. Not only did social media give my work a platform, it connected me to life-long friends and mentors within my industry that continue to inspire and uplift me.
Do you see social media as a necessity in your area of work especially in the future?
Social media’s current relevance in the fashion world is undeniable, but I feel as though it’s peaked, and definitely in decline. It’s not the space it once was, and it feels like we’re all looking for something new to stand in its place. I believe the future of the industry will be lead by those innovating and creating new ways to engage with fashion outside of social media.
Anything else you’d like to comment on in regards to your work and social media?
I think the remaining value of social media is its potential for connection. I still think it’s incredible to be able to reach anyone in the world and build infinite bridges and form meaningful relationships. Numbers don’t hold nearly as much value as community and connection.