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Anyone with a smartphone can access a world of creative opportunities today. We have computers in our pockets and at our desks that allow us to create content that engages with an audience on unprecedented scope.

More than 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Over 100 million photos and videos are posted on Instagram each day. Content creation is more accessible than ever before, and millions of people are regularly creating and sharing their content online. User-generated content is taking over, transforming the type of media we see each day to be more engaging.

I’m part of this growing group of content creators – working from my mouse and my phone. I started by writing my own blog because I was inspired and could do so for free. Eventually, that led me to earn a degree in journalism. Simultaneously, Instagram’s powerful visuals and YouTube’s engaging content led me to explore photography and videography, now having over 175,000 views on my YouTube channel to date.

These passions have become part of my full-time job, where I film interviews, write articles, and photograph company events. Because I had easy access to creative outlets, I was able to teach myself media skills and pursue these interests.

I’m not alone in exploring creative content because all it takes is two simple tools: a phone and a laptop. Almost anyone can use digital media, whether it is a kid on TikTok for fun or a teen on Instagram all the way to a freelance journalist recording breaking news video on their phone.

This newfound creative potential has prompted brands to incorporate user-generated content into their marketing strategies, namely the increasing use of influencers to connect with consumers. Almost 50% of consumers follow influencer recommendations when purchasing because they trust those whose lives they follow online. This type of non-traditional advertising shows how accessible this sphere has become.

So what does this mean for the future of advertising? Well, the barrier to entry is the lowest it has ever been. Diverse talent can readily be cultivated, expanding the industry’s reach. There are now ample opportunities to bring consumers into the advertising process and be more effective than brands can be on their own. Embracing influencers and other content creators allow brands to reach like-minded people with advertising that fosters greater loyalty than traditional top-down content. More traditional advertising is giving way to the development of new media that empowers and engages consumers by making ads they see more valuable. The brands that succeed will be those who can cultivate fresh user-generated content into their strategy and take their advertising to the next level.