Sharing, connecting and consuming all of the time.
The future of social media, old trends taking on new lives and the direction we are all headed.
I LOVE YouTube.
I am fascinated by Influencer Culture.
The future of media looks fascinating to me.
Every so often, great big questions are thrown into the ether about what the future looks like for the web. The recent onslaught of strange AI produced images raises interesting questions.
As we can expect, ‘traditional’ media outlets are slower or less likely to have these conversations. It’s not a slight on these platforms, it’s simply the audiences and priorities are different.
Recently, Sophie Aubrey wrote the article ‘Weird Phenomenon’: The mundane TikTok trend that has captivated millions. The article speaks to how the once popular YouTube phenomenon has now made its way onto TikTok. The article is peppered with a key word ‘authenticity’. The goal, it seems, is to actually be authentic or present as authentic. It raises some interesting ideas, that TikTok is filling people’s craving for unproduced, raw content. This is an arc we have seen with social media a lot. It has happened with social media in general, providing a reprieve from the highly produced TV series etc. but has also happened within social media. SnapChat’s rough and ready videos were replicated by Instagram. Instagram recently turned itself on its head with the ‘photo dump’, trying to step away from the highly curated grid to a somewhat loose and ‘cool’ dumping of images and now TikTok is trying to step in on this space.
In Alana Davison’s recent video, entitled ‘What’s Happening to YouTube?’ (uploaded June 1, 2022) questions the future of the platform, but also the moving desires of audiences, spurned on by the pandemic. Davison has been on YouTube for nine years and sees the platform as a generational thing. She makes the astute observation that once upon a time, all the social media platforms lived harmoniously with one another, now they are trying to stomp each other out. YouTube creating shorts, Instagram stories, TikTok vlogs etc. Davison has created a community, and many of the comments show the desire for long form content. People still crave it, often citing that they love long vlogs.
This was mirrored in the comments of Lily Pebbles video Is This The End of YouTube? (uploaded May 15, 2022). Viewers said they liked the long form vlogs and would often have them on whilst they were doing other things around the house. Ironically, in the video, Lily Pebbles was folding washing whilst she chats with the 60,000 plus people who watched the video. She herself states that she often finds the fact there are less videos in her subscription box disappointing. I feel the same. Interestingly, much of the content on YouTube has changed, because those on the platform have grown up and so their lives look different. Some of them have kids, which they prefer not to show, so they’re only sharing a very select part of their lives, as opposed to the perception of the whole life previously. Many of them have moved out of cities and are content creators as a living. This is tricky because producing the vlog is their life, as opposed to doing things and vlogging them.
Such concerns were brought up by Victoria Magrath of In The Frow. Her most recent video, YouTube Dilemma and Garden Reno Before and After (uploaded June 15, 2022) sees Magrath sitting down whilst doing her makeup (incidentally, Davison was doing the same thing) and talking about how she is worried her content is boring, often she is just in the house, sometimes she has less events etc. etc. Again, viewers were supportive of the less than riveting content. In fact, some comments seemed downright grateful that she was taking time out of her day to make these longform videos, when she could be making shorter content, which generally takes less effort and has a greater reward (more likes, higher engagement).
The move of vlogs to TikTok may be a symbol of us wanting shorter, more digestible content but alludes to the fact that we are massive voyeurs who like to see what other people are doing, probably to work out if we are in fact, doing it right. The world in general, is such an unsure place, and technology heightens this. Shows such as MAFS, Love Island etc. all highlight a need to see ‘regular people’ in ‘regular situations’ with the volume turned up.
Those we watch vlog are living their lives in a general sense, but often the locations, the clothes, the situation is idealised. Aubrey’s article refers to the ‘romanticised’ notions of life on TikTok. In the article, it suggests that these videos can allow people to appreciate the mundane moments of life, and that not every moment needs to be big to be documented.
This seems to be the idea behind the latest social media app, BeReal. The app encourages users to post a photo a day, within a two-minute window. Each day, the app suggests what people should post. The threads and articles I have read about it suggests it’s a space with less toxic energy, they (users) don’t want it to become a busy platform and it’s just about what people are up to. The lack of brands able to capitalise in this space also seems to be a positive. An article I read suggested the only brand that seems to have developed a foothold on the app is Chipotle (a chain restaurant in the States).
Perhaps it’s cynicism, but I am sure more brands or people will find a way to leverage their everyday lives to garner a following online. It is a two-sided situation. There is the desire to share, and the desire to be at the receiving end of this content. The comments on many of the YouTube videos speak to the fact that people will make time for the content creators if they are producing content. There is the human desire to connect, in lots of different ways, a lot of the time. And our behaviour surrounding these apps, seems to be a way to manage that.