There’s been a huge shift in the democratisation of technology, placing increasingly powerful tools in the hands of the masses. The advancements in gadgets like smartphones, 360 degree cameras, stabilisers and drones has seen a shift in power from a limited group of professionals to a much larger group of creators, storytellers and digital content creators. With the access to high performing technology and the difficulty of producing engaging quality content reducing, the barriers to entry are lower than ever before. So much so, that we’re all becoming digital content creators.
More people than ever have access to the tools to produce engaging digital content, in the UK smartphone ownership has increased from 52% in 2012 to 85% in 2017 according to Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2017. This represents a large group of people carrying cameras with the ability to capture high quality photos and videos, add to this increasingly sophisticated smartphone apps and you can see that digital content creation isn’t just for traditional professionals or even influencers, it’s gone mainstream.
You only have to go out with friends or family to witness them snapping photos of their dinner or waiting for them to capture some street art, shareable highlights of their day. What was once something that I would do as a blogger seems to have been taken over by… well, everyone and it’s slightly unnerving.
Along with the availability of the tech itself, the ease of which apps make sharing something engaging is having an impact on just who is sharing.
Well known brands like GoPro have made steps to make it even easier to create stories with their cameras via their QuickStories app. Complete with the tagline ‘Your story, automatically’. DJI also have similar automatic video editors available with their apps for drones, cameras and stabilisers. The app produces surprisingly good results that are compelling enough to share via social media.
But one glaringly obvious app that seems to have made the switch to the ‘mainstream’ is Instagram. Just like Facebook did around 2009 to 2012, Instagram has gone from an app that bloggers and photographers used, to one that most people around you seem to be using.
When Instagram first appeared on the scene back in 2010 it was all about mobile photography, but since then it’s morphed into something quite different. Today, the app is starting to resemble a vlogging/storytelling platform more than a portfolio of a photographers work.
The Facebook owned app has managed to convince the masses to shoot outtakes from their daily lives without it seeming like a ton of effort. Those very people who frowned upon the basic concept of Snapchat are now posting content from their days via edited and overlaid photos, videos, boomerangs and live on their Instagram Stories.
How have they managed to do this?
Well, apart from being heavily ‘influenced’ by key successful features that Snapchat rolled out. The one main reason why my friends are now snapping photos of their roast dinner or shooting videos of buskers in the street is because of how easy an app like Instagram has made it to create an interesting story with minimal photo or video editing skills. Anyone with a half decent smartphone can produce a fairly engaging story without downloading photos/footage and editing it all into a masterpiece of a vlog. Instagram Stories is basically vlogging for the masses, or probably more accurate… storytelling for the masses.
Instagram hasn’t finished there
Instagram is still evolving – with their recently launched feature allowing users to archive their Stories and pin their favourite moments to their profile. This shows an even bigger emphasis on less static content and a move to highlight the more engaging storytelling element of the app.
So where to next?
With video viewing on smartphones increasing across all video formats, for companies like Facebook (who own Instagram) and Google (with YouTube) the easier it is for people to create great content and the more eyeballs watching it the better. The battle for people’s attention is fueling smartphone app’s innovation as revenues from video and creative content snowball year on year. For example, in 2018 YouTube’s net advertising revenues are projected to hit 3.96 billion US dollars, an increase of 2.24 billion from 2015 according to Statista. The total U.S. digital video advertising spend is projected to be more than $14 billion in 2019 as stated by Mediakix. There’s a lot of money to play for and the big players need users to be creating engaging quality content to drive their long term revenue.
As the processing power of smartphones increase (take a look at the iPhone X) and apps become ever more capable, we’re going to see just how easy it is for high quality storytelling and digital content creation to be done with very little effort.
If we’re not all digital content creators yet, it’s surely only a matter of time?