Soothing and personal content top draws for online audiences in 2022 – Hybrid creators and communities rule in 2023

  • 65% of Generation Zs agree that content that is personally relevant to them is more important than the content that many other people are talking about, says YouTube.
  • Fandom also emerged as a popular trend in 2022, with fans actively communicating and interacting online.
  • In 2022, several digital creators moved from social media to the big screen – Prajakta Koli (Jugjugg Jeeyo) and comedian Viraj Ghelani (Govinda Name Mera)
  • According to talent management company Clout Talent and YouTube, leveraging the power of communities will be integral to a creator’s growth in 2023.

From financial advice to sex education, content on every subject imaginable is at your fingertips across a variety of digital media. But amidst this wide variety of content, personal connection and the power of community were most important in 2022. These two themes defined content in 2022 and creators who produced material around these themes won big.

Here’s a look at the trends that dominated the creator economy in 2022, and what this space will look like in 2023.

Personal relevance & connecting

By foregoing the “watercooler discourse,” 65% of Gen Zs agree that content that is personally relevant to them is more important than the content that many other people are talking about, says video-sharing platform YouTube in its CCulture and Trend Report 2022.

Venture capital firm Kalaari Capital echoed this sentiment the Creator Economy reportstating that “Consumption patterns of Indians have also evolved. They want to follow people they identify with and consume products that show their individuality.”

As Vinay Pillai, head of talent management firm Clout Talent, shared with India, “People have moved from vlogging, DIY content (DIY) to thoughtful, sketch-based, informative and easily relatable content – anything that offers connection, be it light-hearted comic content, informational content, wellbeing content or content that is pleasing to the eye.

Fan communities are no longer on the sidelines of entertainment

According to YouTube, online content consumption in 2022 will be dominated by communities and soothing or comforting content. Fandom also emerged as a hot trend in 2022, with fans actively communicating and interacting online – be it the BTS ‘army’ or ‘SRKians’.

Pillai also added that there has been a surge in community-led content. “Whether it’s the ‘orange juice gang’ or Viraj Ghelani’s connection to the Gujju community, we saw people loving them as a group and as one of them,” Pillai said.

According to YouTube, fan communities are no longer a side effect of entertainment. Rather, they’re at the heart of the entertainment experience, with 61% of Gen Zs agreeing to describe themselves as a “really big or super fan of someone or something.”

Pillai also added that fan culture has reached new heights, with a creator’s success – on any platform – being determined by the level of engagement with the audience.

“Fandom takes a creator out of the box of just creating content, into something bigger. They can enable social change, launch companies that matter to their audiences and strive for success in their new ventures,” said Pillai.

A good example of using fandom to launch new ventures is digital creator Vishnu Kaushal’s apparel and merchandise brand, Peach by Vishnuthat started in 2021 and sold out four of its collections within days.

Short form content and democratization

In terms of content format, there is an increase in short content. According to YouTube, 59% of Gen Z’s use short video apps to discover things.

“With Meta’s launch of Instagram reels and YouTube’s launch of short films, people started consuming more audiovisual short content. We also saw a surge of “bored-at-home people” who became content creators. With features built into the app, it was easier to create content, post and get involved,” added Pillai.

Reiterating this sentiment, former RJ and digital creator Antil Yadav shares with India that since the moment he started creating content (in 2015), the two big shifts have been the democratization of content and the affinity for short content.

“The democratization of content introduced by various short format apps changed the idea that only big publishers can create content. Anyone who has a good story to tell can find an audience these days,” says Yadav, who lives by the Instagram processes rjkhurki.

RJ Karishma, Viraj Ghelani and Ankur Warikoo among creators who won 2022

Despite fierce competition and users’ declining attention spans, certain creators have built a loyal content base, growing their reach and following in leaps and bounds. Clout Talent named digital creators Karishma (also an RJ at Red FM), Viraj Ghelani, Sakshi Shivdasani and Macwin as their top creators for 2022.

“This year we witnessed the fastest growing female comedy maker, RJ Karishma; She has grown 333% in the last year and her every 5th reel has over 10 million views and has an average of 5 million views in total,” said Clout Talent.

In 2022, several digital video makers also switched from social media to the silver screen. Prajakta Koli, one of India’s first successful YouTubers, starred in Dharma Productions’ Jugjugg Jeeyo in 2022. Comedian Viraj Ghelani also played a supporting role in Dharma Productions’ Govinda Name Merasharing screen space with actors like Vicky Kaushal and Bhumi Pednekar.

Then there’s digital creator, entrepreneur, author and YouTuber Ankur Warikoo, who has achieved the unthinkable (at least by 2022) – convincing people to read again – with his novels, Do epic shit and Get epic shit done. Most young professionals and students look up to Warikoo as a self-help guru as he follows the gold mantra of creating successful online content – being authentic and relatable.

“I had made so many mistakes with money, my career, my prejudices, my relationships and as a manager that I started sharing all of that in the form of content. When I talked about the mistakes I made in my twenties, I realized it resonated with people between the ages of 18 and 24. These people wanted someone to talk to them who had had similar experiences. One of the reasons my content exploded was because I’m old and I don’t put out random stuff. This was actually my life,” Warikoo told India in an exclusive interview.

As Pillai puts it, “We’ve seen people from different genres like food, finance and gaming branch out and create content about the things they know best, empowering more people to learn just by clicking one button click!”

The future is hybrid

According to YouTube, the future of online content is here hybrid makers or multi-platform creativity, and actively developing communities.

Clout Talent’s Pillai believes the most important thing it takes to make it as a content creator in today’s marketplace is a creator’s ability “to not only consistently create content around what they love/their passion/their skills the most, etc., but also the ability to engage and connect with their audience. A consistent effort to build a loyal community helps a creator survive in this industry.”

Simply put, while different songs, activities, and even creators can go viral at any given time, the public in general is looking for personal involvement. And creators are well aware of this.

Yadav also shared that “for any community to grow, two-way communication is important. By engaging with your community, you show that you care about their thoughts, opinions, suggestions or compliments.”

Aside from that, YouTube believes that trends not limited to a single digital video format or medium will shape the future of content, and hybrid creators and constantly remixed trends are expected to become the new normal.

“As both watching and creating videos become part of everyday life, trending concepts are spreading fluidly across different formats and content types. As a result, the way two people perceive a trend can now be completely different. Producing and consuming remixable content – often as memes – is an important way Gen Zs and millennials participate in pop culture,” said YouTube.

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