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Chasing the zeitgeist: why speed trumps creativity in social video marketing

Cover image for Chasing the zeitgeist: why speed trumps creativity in social video marketing

Photo: Prateek Katyal

Photo of Ben Woods
by Ben Woods

TikTok has redefined what it means to be part of a cultural moment. In the past, engaging with trends meant being a consumer of content that captured the spirit of the time. For video, this was largely expressed through watercooler moments, where discussing the most popular TV shows and movies with friends, family, and colleagues was a symbol of one’s cultural capital. Those who  wished to go a step further were fans who expressed their passion through merchandise, such as buying t-shirts, posters, CDs, or DVDs.

Social video platforms have reshaped this behaviour by making creating just as important as consuming. Engaging with popular culture means not just seeing the viral video but using it to create one’s own skit or meme. Piggybacking in this way not only fuels the reach of the original video but also provides a springboard for piggybackers to go viral themselves.

This is why social video is so appealing to marketeers. Like consumer creators, brands can also directly engage with cultural moments through piggybacking. In many ways, this is nothing new. Brands have a history of riffing on popular TV shows or sporting events to try and monetise cultural moments. The difference with TikTok is the sheer volume: these moments occur weekly, if not daily, on social video platforms. Therefore, marketeers wishing to piggyback need to create at speed if this is to have an impact at scale.

Monetising the creator economy’s marketeers

Creating at pace means having video creation apps that streamline the production process. Vast banks of overlays, transitions, and colour grading options are of little use when a video needs publishing within a matter of hours. These tools are helpful for carefully crafted advertising campaigns, but not for surfing the cultural wave across social.

Catering to this demand is a lucrative opportunity for creator tools companies – especially those pivoting from professional production to consumer creation. Marketeers have bigger budgets to deploy and can be easier to retain once teams become hooked on a video product. The danger is assuming the needs of consumer creators is the same as the needs of marketeers. Both appreciate simplicity, and will want to inject their personality, but piggybacking marketeers are more concerned with replicating creativity rather than being the direct source of it.

Bridging the gap between creators and marketeers

Given the insight into their users, video creator tools companies should position themselves as conduits for the piggybacking process. This could include developing plugins that scrape viral videos straight into editing suites. Or helping popular creators sell their creative process to marketeers through guides, tools, or AI prompt packs for text-to-video services. AI apps should be able to ingest a viral video, diagnose the tools used, and then help marketeers produce similar output, fast. As mentioned previously, AI text-to-video programmes like Sora will be used right up and down the video creator value chain. However, the pace at which they create is what will make them particularly appealing to marketeers.

Capitalising on the creator economy is about understanding where the similarities and differences lie between consumer creators, marketeers, and professional creators. Streamlining the production process is not a one size fits all approach. Widening the creator funnel by building tools that lower the barrier to entry is different to building tools that help marketeers remain culturally relevant. Simplifying creation is ultimately the key to securing untapped value across the value chain. However, this is only going to be realised if creator tools companies are closely aligned with the needs of their users.

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