In the tech world, we’re all aware of the idea of the ‘citizen developer’. Thanks to low/no-code platforms, software development is rapidly being democratised. And that’s empowering employees everywhere to seize greater roles in creating technology solutions for their businesses. Even if they may not be able to build software from scratch themselves, these citizen developers can still play a far more valuable part in the development process, ensuring their new tools and services do exactly what they – and their customers – need. And that’s where the idea of citizen content creators comes in.
Content creation democratised
I’d argue this is part of a wider sea-change. Unprecedented access to technology, more affordable and intuitive than ever, has opened up new possibilities for people and businesses to create all kinds of things that take them closer to their goals. That includes content creation, which is now more accessible for ‘citizens’ of all industries and professions – and the organisations they work for.
And I think a lot of that is thanks to a certain video-streaming platform you might have heard of.
The YouTube Effect
Since YouTube launched in 2005, it has become the place to host original video content. And today, when smartphones and laptops have cameras capable of recording in HD, creating that content has never been more accessible to more people. Billions are now able to live out their dreams of being a sort of Internet-age TV star, uploading self-made content to a truly gargantuan potential audience across Planet Earth.
Most YouTubers barely manage more than a relatively small number of views – so maybe they’re more like public access TV stars. But some find their own sizeable (and valuable) niche audience, and a lucky few hit the big leagues.
And it’s all possible with a relatively small outlay in terms of equipment expenses. Obviously, the better your camera and mic, the more professional your results. But, largely due to the YouTube Effect, people have now become accustomed to consuming content that’s a little more lo-fi and DIY. So, video content no longer needs to be the stuff of big budgets, studios and production companies. Sorry, Mr Spielberg – we’ll take it from here.
COVID-19 and the at-home ad
I’d argue that the YouTube Effect – our willingness to consume content from citizen content creators – has also been given a boost by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of a sudden, film studios and production houses were forced to lock their doors, and filming had to take place wherever people were. It’s become common to see e-commerce photography shot in models’ houses and apartments, and even at-home ads – TV commercials filmed in the stars’ real-life living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.
The new sense of realism, honesty and vulnerability in these at-home TVCs has had the effect of humanising celebrities and the brands they represent. We can see they’re dealing with the same strange, difficult new reality we all are facing. And when you can relate to someone or something, you become more receptive.
Record that ad in a studio and I’m overwhelmingly aware you’ve been paid to push a product. Film it in your kitchen? You’re working from home because that’s what we do now, and I know exactly how that feels, and btw I like your spice rack. This sense of greater reality counterbalances the inherent artificiality and obvious commercial motive of a TV spot, and as a result puts me at greater ease. As a marketer, that’s very interesting stuff.
Showing your audience the real you
In the B2B world, this pandemic–born twist on cinéma vérité translates to webcam-shot footage from your staff–members at home, or socially distanced how-to videos filmed on your COVID-safe premises. Nobody cares if the lighting isn’t just so, or you’ve forgotten to tidy up a few coffee mugs.
And the B2B podcast boom has arguably followed this zeitgeist. Recording your own audio content is now more accessible and affordable than ever. The fact that multiple participants can join over a Teams call means the show can go on even if restrictions mean you can’t all get together in the same room. And just like with video, audiences no longer expect everything they hear to be a big-budget production. Thanks again, YouTube.
Professional B2B marketing with DIY authenticity
B2B marketing’s new DIY possibilities allow organisations to shape all kinds of new content that vividly showcases their value and USPs. But it would be a mistake for citizen content creators to take on too much and neglect certain considerations. ‘DIY’ doesn’t mean ‘shoddy’, and you want to go viral for the right reasons – not because people are forwarding your URL with the subject line: ‘look at this, lol’.
For instance, even if you can handle the recording part in-house, you may still need a hand with editing it all together. You may also benefit with some assistance when it comes to scripts and ideas – especially for an extended series of films or podcasts. And then there’s ensuring everything is aligned with your brand and content strategy.
And that’s what we’re here for. Fifty Five and Five are keen to help our clients harness every new and innovative method of connecting with their audiences and nurturing sales leads. We can help you create a firm foundation, with the right strategic underpinning, for your citizen content creators to build on. And our experienced team have the creativity and craft to ensure your content really shines.