Thanks, TikTok: Why Your Feed Is Full of Creators

2021 had a lot of trends, but one that has remained consistent throughout the entire year is the popularity of creators on social media platforms.

Social media influencers, now better known as creators, have, in some ways, taken over platforms this year. You can’t scroll your feed without seeing some creator talking about their latest favorite skincare product. Experts say creators have become the backbone of social media this past year, and platforms are taking note and following the creator trend.

“We’re going to continue seeing examples [of the creator economy growing] next year; it’s exciting to see social media giving creators opportunities that previously might not have been associated with the industry,” Justin Kline, CEO and founder of influencer marketing firm, Markerly, told Lifewire over email.

The Creator Economy
Social media platforms have been increasingly prioritizing creators and incorporating more ways for them to make money and grow their following, especially over the last year. Spotify, for example, opened up Podcast Subscriptions so any creator has the chance to generate revenue. Then there’s YouTube establishing a $100 million creator fund, and TikTok’s new Creator Next feature, which includes tips, video gifts, and the opportunity for more creators to join the TikTok Creator Marketplace to collaborate with brands.

“We’ll definitely continue to see more TikTok influencers pop up with each passing day.”

“Creators on TikTok entertain over one billion people globally—their content brings us joy, makes us laugh, teaches us something new, and offers us a sense of community,” TikTok said in its blog post about Creator Next. “From those making TikTok videos ‘just for fun’ to side hustlers and those who consistently create, we know creators have different goals, motivations, and expectations.”

It’s no wonder why platforms like TikTok and others invest in features explicitly geared towards creators. The numbers don’t lie, and the creator economy is growing dramatically.

A recent MBO Partners study found that 7.1 million Americans have earned money in the past year as part of the “creator economy.” In addition, 3.2 million people plan to become content creators over the next two years.

On Instagram, the number of brand-sponsored influencer posts has grown considerably from 1.26 million in 2016 to 6.12 million in 2020, all thanks to creators on the platform.

One huge change that occurred this year was that creators began to make money directly from their fans or followers rather than solely from brands or platforms. For example, Twitter introduced direct ways to tip people you follow with Super Follows and Ticketed Spaces.

“It makes sense to incentivize creators now because, in the attention economy, content creators are the gatekeepers of users’ attention,” Daniele Saccardi, campaigns manager at Preply, a language learning app and e-learning platform, wrote in an email to Lifewire. “Businesses can invest all they want on flashy ads and marketing campaigns, but there is nothing that drives user engagement more than content that they resonate with.”

More Content to Come
Kline said TikTok came out on top this year in providing creators what they want and that the platform will only grow further into 2022.

“We’ll definitely continue to see more TikTok influencers pop up with each passing day,” he said. “That’s always going to be TikTok’s advantage across any year: anyone can blow up overnight, and from there, the possibilities are endless, whether they be monetizing on TikTok itself or the newfound exposure handing them opportunities elsewhere.”

“It makes sense to incentivize creators now because, in the attention economy, content creators are the gatekeepers of users’ attention.”

TikTok is now creators’ preferred platform, according to the 2021 Creator Economy Report from the Influencer Marketing Factory. The video app is preferred by 30 percent of creators, followed by Instagram (23%) and YouTube (22%).

The report also shines a light on the money being made within the creator economy. The total Creator market size is at least $104.2 billion and is growing by the day. In the report, Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon, said there’s no better time for creativity than the moment we’re living in right now.

“Creators are about to have leverage, control, and political and cultural influence to a degree that is unprecedented,” Conte said in the report.

“The affordability, accessibility, and ubiquity of creation tools, coupled with the level of global connectivity of individuals is creating an irreversible movement in favor of explosive creativity.”

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