Video is more deeply rooted than ever in our society. Considering all that is happening in current times, video communication is now one of the major ways we stay in touch with each other for business and personal contact. While it’s been widely available for many years, many industries have only started to find ways to incorporate it in recent years. Honestly, the public reaction has been underwhelming until now. Here we are in 2021, and everything has shifted.
You may see this as the unavoidable advancement of technology or even just the widespread use of technology as a solution to global problems. The truth is, we are evolving alongside technology. We’re learning to use it effectively and imagining how to apply it to our lives in better ways. We won’t likely go back to a less video-filled life. We’ve all become video creators now.
To get an idea of where we might go on this path of technology and societal evolution, we first need to consider where we currently are and how it compares with our own recent history. Who are video creators exactly and how has the definition expanded? Why do we create videos, how often and for whom? What purposes do we serve in the current society with our use of video? How are these things different already from recent history? As time marches on, how might video creators continue to grow and adapt? If we begin now, can we manifest our own collective future?
We define video creator in more ways than ever
With the launch of YouTube in 2005, a door was opened to allow any person with a video camera and internet access to the dream of becoming a YouTuber. That moniker has generally applied to anyone posting videos consistently on the YouTube platform with the intention of presenting to an audience. Many of them have themes and strategies to build a brand or maybe even an empire. They have been artists, educators, athletes, scientists, entertainers, experts and explorers.
Recently, though, the title has begun to encompass a much broader group of video creators. Due to recent events, people who seldom used video before have adapted and incorporated it into their daily lives. We’re using it to stay connected, continue our work and get things done. People running all sorts of businesses are learning to use video to collaborate so that employees can work from anywhere without sacrificing productivity or wellness.
From preschoolers to professionals and from budding artists to great-grandparents, video creators are all around us. Not everyone who uses video is posting to YouTube for public viewing. Some are just using video-to-video for personal calls. Others are sharing live videos on their social media feeds. At the end of the day, though, they are all using video and should be welcomed and acknowledged as video creators.
Our video content serves new purposes
Early videos on YouTube had a central theme of “look at me!” content. They were often filled with cringe-worthy stunts on skateboards and travelers bragging about their cool adventures. People with great talent—and some without it—posted videos of themselves singing or dancing in hopes of being discovered. Once the concept of subscribers was introduced, though, finding ways to monetize quickly followed. That elevated the entire platform and it became widely used by amateurs and professionals in nearly any field or industry. Since then, a vast array of creators have uploaded an unfathomable amount of content on countless subjects. Many have turned it into a career and millions more aspire to that.
Far beyond dedicated content production, video technology has become a necessary tool and a mainstream method of communication. When major events are unfolding around the world, news networks are creating videos to share newsworthy bits. Viewers often turn to boots-on-the-ground videos from people in the area to try to find the rest of the story. We create vlogs and livestreams to share timely updates and to simply stay in touch.
- Activists and protesters use video to bring awareness to their causes.
- Reporters bring us the latest news with live interviews and on-the-scene reporting.
- Businesses use it for conferences, consultations, sales and training.
- Family members use it in the kitchen to pass along favorite recipes.
- Crafters and do-it-yourselfers send detailed how-to videos to each other.
- Friends and loved ones have video calls to stay in touch when they can’t visit in-person.
Of course, we hope that our posts and livestreams get plenty of likes and reposts from our audience. It validates our point of view or our expertise. That validation encourages us to continue and we feel more connected with the viewers, as well.
How we define “community” has shifted
When you hear the word community, it might bring a few obvious things to mind. You may think of the actual community in which you live. Or, if you don’t feel a sense of community there, you might call to mind a quaint small town with parades and friendly neighbors. Community is often used to describe a group of people who have a commonality and are connected for the sake of mutual support. Video creators certainly fall into this latter category. You’ll often hear the phrase “video community” as a way of addressing the collective filmmakers, influencers, YouTubers, videographers and hobbyists.
As the online video industry has grown and evolved, a new use for the word “community” has emerged. On YouTube and other social media platforms, each channel has an audience of subscribers. The subscribers often feel a sense of familiarity or connection with the host. That collective is the channel’s community. Fans love to be part of the community and that often affords the creators a wide variety of marketing and merchandising opportunities.
Even more recently, another form of community is developing, too. People have found creative ways to use business-minded tools like video conferencing and screen sharing apps for more social purposes. We host watch parties to view our favorite shows, movies or sporting events together. We have group video calls with our social groups or book clubs that previously held regular get-togethers. There are online gaming communities, support group communities and pet-lover communities. We might even connect over a video call to have a cocktail and long chat with our closest friends. While the word community can be defined in more ways than ever, but what we do with it is just as meaningful.
The measure of “success” isn’t simple
In the early days of Hollywood and silver-screen starlets, the delivery of stories for entertainment was clear-cut and full of standards. The success or failure of each film was quick math that mostly centered on box office dollars earned and theater seats filled. Accolades from critics and award ceremonies were icing on the cake and a producer was only as good as their last film.
Unraveling the stats for “success” in modern times can be a lot more complicated. Videos posted on TikTok are never more than 60 seconds long. By contrast, when Netflix drops a new season of a popular show, excited fans will binge for several hours. Video gives us a way to kill time in a waiting room and also gives us a way to learn something new without going to a class. Then, with a quick, anonymous thumbs-up or thumbs-down, we can express our appreciation or disdain for the creator’s work. We can share it with one person or thousands with just a few clicks, as well. With access to online streaming services, audiences are seldom paying either per person or per view.
Under these circumstances, the definition of success can vary based on your goals. If you’re creating a dedicated channel, you might measure success in views, likes and audience growth. These stats help play into your monetization and advertising revenue can be factored in as well. If you’re a teacher, however, success may be more accurately measured by the amount of engagement and participation among the students. When the students complete assignments or projects, you’ll have an additional metric for your own success.
How will this progress as we move into the future?
As audiences shift away from traditional movie and television options, they have discovered that YouTube and similar platforms are full of quality content. The fandoms are growing and talented creators are rising to the challenge. Trevor Noah, host and producer of satirical news production, “The Daily Show” is a great example. While the show itself has a strong fan base and long-standing reputation, Noah has used his online presence to the advantage of his offline career. He’s adopted a more YouTuber-like editing style and renamed it “The Daily Social Distancing Show” as a nod to the current state of the world. These sorts of decisions give his show immediate relevance. In response, his online audience has grown dramatically.
The entertainment industry has adapted, too. They are learning how to run a tighter ship overall by furthering their use of video and editing capabilities. They’re finding creative ways to get things done with less travel and fewer people on site. Video conferences between artists reduce the number of people needed on sets. Furthermore, smaller production companies are doing amazingly creative work. Their films have a better chance of gaining an audience because of the fast-growing streaming services available.
When we look at how widely video is being used right now, it’s easy to see that it will continue to be further integrated into our personal and professional lives. That should lead to a collective realization that it can add to our own quality of life. We’ve already started adapting to collaborating remotely. Maybe we’ve also noticed that doing so eliminates our commute and gives us more free time at home. We’ve got the gear, we’re building our skills and we’re finding the benefits, it makes sense to continue using it.
So, what’s the big takeaway?
In times like these, video is vital to our communication on an international, national, business, and personal level. It’s become pivotal in more than just the transfer of information and entertainment. Video technology is keeping schools in session, keeping some businesses running that would otherwise be closed, creating alternatives in medical care and keeping people entertained. It’s giving people who can’t be together a way to stay connected. Chances are good that it’s bringing people together who may never have met otherwise. We’re sharing ideas, art, skills, and stories.
Just as YouTubers have communicated to their audiences online for years, we all are doing the same. We’re vlogging about our lives, or struggles, our successes, our views and our dreams. Many of us are video conferencing, working remotely and distance learning. We’re also creating dedicated content and doing our own editing and graphics. People who’ve been doing these things for years already are creating their own videos to teach the rest of us how. It’s creating a new kind of community with boundless diversity.
As we push forward, we each have the choice to embrace or resist changes and advancements. Many who have resisted video technology are now finding it a necessary tool. We also have the choice to use our tools, skills and voices in ways that are either divisiveness or unity. That’s probably a good lesson that we can all carry into the future. Progress is unavoidable but what you do with it is what defines your own experience and the mark you leave on the world.
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