Op-Ed: Millennials Are Ushering In A New Era Of Content Creation

Op-Ed: Millennials Are Ushering In A New Era Of Content Creation

Storyblocks CEO TJ Leonard explores the shifting needs of digitally-savvy young creatives, who are producing more bite-sized content at faster speeds

  • 18 april 2018

With social media and content creation tools increasingly available at our fingertips, it’s no surprise that millennials have quickly grown to become the most prolific content creation generation we’ve seen yet. Since they are proving to be one of the biggest driving forces behind the evolution of our creative landscape, we took a closer look at how millennials are approaching the creative process.

To do that, we surveyed over 1,000 stock media buyers to learn more about where they go to find inspiration, how they approach the editing process and how they engage with stock media.

What we found is that younger creatives view the creative process through an entirely different lens than that of their predecessors. In particular, we believe the next category where you will see major changes driven by the evolving needs of younger digital artists will be the tools they choose to use.

While it’s not surprising that millennials pull more from social media than older creatives, the disparity between the two groups is. Millennials are twice as likely to visit YouTube in search of inspiration, with Pinterest and Facebook following closely behind. Older creatives, by contrast, are more than twice as likely to turn to online and print publications when looking for a creative spark.

In that sense, YouTube is the perfect place to search for inspiration. The imagery is often imperfect, authentic and personal. The platform engenders a feeling that the personalities are talking directly to us, even if there are millions of us at any given time. It’s the perfect antidote to the print-driven imagery of an old ideal that younger Americans have abandoned.

For a long time the creative process was made up of a number of discrete steps. You shot, edited, incorporated stock and published. Projects were typically longer both in form and timing, and in many instances different individuals were responsible for different steps. Many younger creatives today place more value on integration and speed, especially as the duration of the content we produce shortens while volume increases.

For example, our study showed that millennials are nearly five times more likely to download stock media through a product integration than older artists (27% vs. 6%). We saw a corresponding decline in the percentage of them who download directly from stock media sites (69%) compared to their older peers (89%).

That being said, our study showed that millennials are shifting away from traditional “all inclusive” software suites like Adobe Creative Cloud and moving toward lighter, browser-based “use case” driven editing tools. And this shift is directly impacting how creatives find and incorporate stock media into their projects.

When you combine the self-starter nature of millennials with digital savviness, you end up with a higher percentage who regularly use stock media as part of their full time job (50% vs. 44%). Younger workers don’t outsource content development to the design or creative department like many older professionals do, and they think differently about the editing process as a result.

More often than not, millennials approach editing with a discrete business objective in mind: we want to create a digital video ad, we want to explain a new service on our website, or we want to tell a more compelling story on our travel blog. As a result, they are creating more bite-sized content, and production speed matters more. If Adobe’s appeal is waning with millennials, as our survey data suggests, we believe this trend could help to explain why.

Storytelling at its core is an aspirational activity. When we develop a new creative idea, it is rooted in reaching for some kind of ideal. Although the process may be changing, we all still have the same goal in mind: connecting with our audience in a way that inspires them.

TJ Leonard is the CEO of Storyblocks, which empowers the creative community by providing premium stock media at prices all creators can afford. Prior to his current role, he led the marketing team at Storyblocks (formerly VideoBlocks) as CMO for over two years, and has driven customer growth, retention and monetization for consumer internet and mobile businesses for the last decade and a half.

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