In this #mtpcon Digital Americas session, Peter Yang, Product Lead at Reddit, covers creator needs, creator economy trends, and how breakout creator companies get their first 1,000 users and beyond.
Peter says that, at a high level, creators have three different needs: they want love, they want fame, and they want money. Love is the joy of making content, the joy of connecting with fans, fame is growing a large audience, and having a large reach. Money is being able to make a living by being a creator full time. If you’re building products for creators, you really have to solve for at least one of these needs.
Power is shifting to creators
The creator economy is currently the hottest topic in tech, according to Peter. He says that power is shifting from platforms to creators. It used to be that creators weren’t paid for their content, but now they realise they have large audiences and a lot of power. It’s increasing competition among platforms and leading them to lower the amount of money they take from creator earnings.
Large platforms are also seeking to own the entire creator stack: Twitter for example, has been used by creators to build their audience and they then have taken their audience to other platforms to make money. So Twitter is now building features to address monetisation and audience growth. Says Peter: “Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram know that if they convince the creator to stay on their platform and make more content on their platform that will increase overall engagement and they can make money from advertising.”6
Peter believes there’s a big opportunity in supporting creators as the fastest growing SMB class. “I think there’s going to be a new wave of companies, specifically targeted to creators, that help them get education, get financing, and so on,” he says.
Creators will also start to invest in companies, says Peter, and he cites US YouTuber Mr Beast’s ghost kitchen chain which sells huge numbers of burgers. He says that it may be better for companies to take investment from a top creator rather than a venture capital firm because the creator has a big reach.
Peter also says that the Web 3.0 Metaverse is coming.”That means fans will increasingly want to own a creator’s content, or even buy a share of a creator or community success,” he says.
Peter then shares a video from Jack Conte who co-founded Patreon and who he feels has put into words why you should build for creators better than anyone else. Conte says that creators have a history of being poorly treated by companies and by managers who don’t respect them and take away their income. Conte says that creators are people that have filled the world with love and joy and work that makes us all smile and laugh and it makes life worth it. He says:“That’s what’s at stake here. So build for creators, take care of them and treat them like human beings, and give them leverage, give them support. And give them tools and power.”
How do you build for creators?
There are already a few hundred companies building for creators. There’s a lot of competition, Peter says, so his advice is to build with creators and to apply different creative frameworks, and he covers three creative frameworks: creator growth loop, creator demand curve, and creator lean canvas.
Peter says a typical product manager will rely on internal stakeholders, research decks, A/B tests and metrics for feedback, “they don’t actually talk to customers directly themselves”, but “a product manager who builds with creators talks to customers every single day. The PM needs to make the creator and the customer part of their team”.He explains how TikTok, Twitter and Reddit work with customers.
Creator growth loop
If you’re starting from scratch, how do you get creators on board? You can target creators with high word of mouth and existing audiences. You help these creators with money, fame or love, and hopefully they will be convinced to bring more fans to the platform. If some of these fans are also creators, you’ll get a flywheel effect.
Creator demand curve
A demand curve is made up of the price that a fan is willing to pay a creator, and the number of fans willing to pay that price. The problem with monetisation through advertising is that you leave a lot of potential monetisation off the table, because superfans and active fans may be willing to pay a lot more. Peter says you should think about how to maximise the area under the demand curve. He says: “Let’s say I have 10,000 fans. Nine thousand fans aren’t willing to pay me anything, so I can try to monetise them through ads. Then 900 fans are willing to pay $5 a month for exclusive content and interactions with me, so I can monetise them through subscriptions, and then maybe 10 or 100 fans are willing to pay a lot, they’re super fans.”
Creator lean canvas
This walks you through the steps for starting a creative company or product. First consider if you have market fit and then think about the creator niche you’re targeting. Secondly, think about what problem you’re solving for, and whether you’re solving for money, fame or love. “Does the creator segment you’re targeting have a kind of like a burning problem around this area?,” asks Peter. Thirdly, think about how competitors are solving this problem, and think about where they do not want to compete. Substack has been able to grow in the shadow of Medium by thinking about where Medium doesn’t want to compete, he points out. Peter says he has a course called buildforcreators.com that goes into more detail.
How can you become a creator?
It requires a lot of persistence, discipline, and work, Peter says. But it can open a lot of doors and you can make money. Peter points out that he probably wouldn’t have been asked to give this talk if it weren’t for his Twitter following.
He recommends finding a niche, his niche is product management in the creator economy. You should be disciplined and publish frequently – 80% of the content you put out will not resonate but you only need a few viral hits to start really growing your audience and taking off. He says: “Think about what kind of emotion and reaction you want your reader to have. And if you can get the reader to have that kind of reaction, then there’s a pretty good chance that they will like and share your content.”
Peter says you should also remember to have fun, otherwise, you’ll probably burn out.
Explore more #mtpcon video content or use our Content A-Z to find even more product management content.