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How creators are changing media, branding and commerce in Australia

I have a confession to make: I am obsessed with the @theinspiredunemployed. In two years, the former tradies known for their true blue Aussie skits and dances have gone from video jokesters to one of the most recognised duos in Australian culture.

Their videos and brand have attracted a community of one million fans, magazine covers, a podcast series and labels clamouring to collaborate.

There are countless creators like the @theinspiredunemployed around the world that inspire and push culture forward, and they’ll be crucial as we move to a new and more immersive chapter of the internet and social technology.

Research by The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and the Creative Industries Innovation Centre, show the creative sector contributes about $90.2 billion to the Australian economy and helps generate $3.2 billion in exports annually. Much like how smartphones changed the world and spurred new industries, I believe creators are essential for the future of media, branding and commerce in three key ways.

The Inspired Unemployed

Creators are a new and more diverse form of media

With digital platforms and social media, there’s been a significant shift in power from organisation to individual, which has led to the rise of content creators. People follow not just their favourite team but also the star athletes on the team, like @jessfox94 and @balapat who became stars in their own right from the Australian Olympic Team.


The democratisation of online tools allows anyone to connect with people on scale and to see themselves reflected online. Food creator Marion Grasby recently spoke with our head of APAC Dan Neary about the online community she has built, and how she shares her Thai-Australian heritage with millions of people through social platforms.

It is this connective tissue that makes creators such a powerful new force in publishing and media. In the same conversation with Dan Neary, Suzie Shaw from We Are Social, articulated this in an interesting way saying “… one of the most interesting aspects of this new economy is that creators have come up through non-traditional means. This gives space for new faces to emerge into the spotlight— there’s more diversity and audiences are seeing different perspectives in the public sphere like never have before.

Creators are the new brands

It’s clear that for creators, their personality is their brand. They work incredibly hard to make content that is authentic and engaging, which then attracts a growing audience.

Because the tools on digital platforms allow far more engagement between creators and their audiences, this gives brands an opportunity to tap into these audiences and interact with a group of people they wouldn’t normally have access to, and in ways that weren’t possible to them before.

We believe that transparency should sit at the core of all branded content and we’re always working to make it clear for people when they are seeing a paid advertisement. That’s why we have developed branded content tools across our platforms, and guidelines that state these must be used on any paid partnership. The Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCO) is another great resource and, if a business is engaging with creators for the first time, we’d encourage everyone involved to take a read through their Code of Conduct for some helpful advice and guidance.

Creators are the new retail channel
The growth of social commerce means that creators aren’t only media channels, they’re also becoming commerce channels. This is an evolution of sponsorships and brand mentions, with creators realising they can monetise their audiences and enjoy the benefits of the communities they worked so hard to build

For brands, I’ve seen more of them collaborating on products or sub-brands with creators, and if the creator has enough equity with their audiences, it’s a great opportunity for brands to partner with creators to reinvigorate an image, to reinvent moments, and to launch new products.

One of my favourite examples is from Sephora in the US when they launched their fragrance in what is a crowded category. The brand partnered with neuroscientist creator @jess.herrington to translate her research into AR effects and video content designed by 3D artist @romanbratschi so that people could smell with their eyes. The idea was fun and innovative but most importantly it produced results. The scores in brand uplift broke category norms, including a 17 point lift with creator assets across ad recall, and increases in favourability, and purchase intent. This is only one of thousands of examples, and only a taste of what’s possible.

Across Instagram and Facebook, creators are one of our top priorities and we believe they are essential for our future. We recently announced our vision of the metaverse—and know that creators will be the ones to fill it with the content and experiences that will delight and inform. This will be an entirely new reality using technology like AR and VR, and I can’t wait to see what people like the @theinspiredunemployed do when we get there.

Photograph by James Brickwood. AFR BOSS


Naomi Shepherd is the group industry director at Meta Australia & New Zealand (formerly Facebook).

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