Young creatives who grew up learning how to make websites and videos on YouTube are quickly gaining more power and control within the content ecosystem. As of 2018, the age group with the most Instagram users worldwide is 18-24, followed by 25-34-year-olds (Statista, 2018). This means that this influx of content production and content consumption is primarily coming from Generation Z and Millennial demographics. I thought it would be helpful to reach out to a few rising creative influencers in my network to offer five ways young influencers are leveraging their talent to finesse digital content in 2019.
Establishing their authentic brand vision, identity and voice.
As the flood of content increases, the need for authentic storytelling that has a clearly established brand vision, identity and voice increases, as well. Joe Gonzales is a celebrity photographer from Atlanta who works with multiple Grammy Award-winning artists and international brands. Joe believes that "[content production] is the easiest and the hardest it's ever been. [It's] the easiest because you literally can look up any tutorial on how to do something and easily create art. It's the hardest because the world literally sees content every second and you have to find a way to stand out."
Chasity Cooper, Co-Founder of The Well, a global networking community for creative and entrepreneurial women of color, has advice for creatives. "Keep it 100," she says. "Don't try to be anything you're not. As a freelancer, recognize what makes you stand out as a creative in your field and build upon that."
Understanding their capabilities by being aware of strengths and weaknesses.
If you don't have at least a year of experience in audio production, don't start a weekly podcast. There are too many times when creatives attempt to offer their audience deliverables that simply don't make sense based on their current capabilities. A key to finessing content is being honest about your weaknesses and doubling down on your strengths. Even if this means your podcast pitch never gets to live, your audience will thank you later for not letting them down.
"I almost always make time to brainstorm before actually creating blog posts or social media copy, and make sure to leverage any and all resources that may be connected to the content," Chastity says. "I also really like creating content that can be evergreen -- stuff that can be timely and purposeful, yet shared three or four weeks later it still holds relevance."
Designing a smart production strategy.
Finesse your content by working smarter, not harder. Spend just as much if not more time defining your goals, accessing your resources and then strategically creating a content production strategy that is repeatable, flexible and cost-effective. "Finesse, to me, means that I make whatever I am doing work with what I have, whether that be budget, talent or equipment," Joe says. "I set the tone and dictate my outcome. Finessing to me is when people say, 'This is amazing work' -- [when] what they think is a 10k project is really 1k".
Emerging content creators understand the value of producing smart content. Brandon Payano, a Content Curator and A&R for Colors, says, "Be thorough! I think there is nothing more dope than to see someone deliver content in a really cool, concise and consistent way. This type of output will precede you more than what the actual content may be."
Optimizing their content through user engagement.
Learning about your audience is key. Knowing information about your users and their engagement can make all the difference. "Data and metrics are huge for the work I do," Brandon notes. "They shed light on which of our key demo audience is actually looking for a heightened level of discovery from us." This information allows creators to shift and give their audience exactly what they want. "We can now ask questions like, 'How can we cater to an audience that we never expected to expand in, let alone start plans to grow engagement in these cities?' -- providing more insight on how we should best shift our attention to other artists from places that have bubbling music scenes."
Paying homage horizontally to fellow rising creatives in their networks.
A final way emerging creative influencers finesse their content is by looking horizontally in order to climb vertically. Therefore, I've included a list of each influencers' favorite content creators below. Happy connecting!
Joe Gonzales | @joegonzales.co
"I try to reach back to some of the greats for photos, like Jonathan Mannion, Chi Modu, Chris Schoonover, and for video I love Director X, Karena Evans and Kid Art," Joe says. "I'm literally always on IG or YouTube looking at new creators, as well."
Brandon Payano | @yano.azar
"A couple of people and a couple of brands/companies: The Fourtress, Michell Clark, BUILD Series NYC, KYRA TV."
Chasity Cooper | @chasityscooper
"A few of my faves right now are Gabrielle Hickmon, Amber Rae, Catherine Ochun and Giselle Buchanan," Chastity says. "I've also been a fan of Alexandra Elle, Karen Spears, Anisah Amat and, of course, Kelsey Davis and the entire CLLCTVE team for quite some time."
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