August 7, 2020

Life After Lockdown

What is the new normal?

The collective experience of lockdown inspired people to look for attainable authenticity and focus on productive entertainment. Content creators have also faced the same limitations as consumers when it comes to access to resources and travel, so under lockdown they have had to adapt.

As a result, new habits have formed and the new emphasis on creator content is realism over perfection. This has seen a huge spike in viewership, the discovery of new channels and ultimately creators adapting their video formats to at-home production on YouTube.

Patreon CEO and YouTube creator Jack Conte talks specifically about the importance of authenticity and how ‘perfectionism isn’t perfect when you’re a creator’. 

So, what changed during lockdown?

The first month of lockdown saw YouTube subscriptions dramatically increase. Following the announcement of the lockdown, the subsequent 45 days saw a huge 20.5% surge in subscribers across multiple categories.

As lockdown continued, viewing habits changed. Gaming, Animal & Pets, Food & Drink came out on top for the greatest increase in YouTube views between February and June this year, with gaming alone seeing over a 30% rise in viewership. Shortly followed by Home & DIY and Health & Fitness, both gaining around 15% in views on YouTube. As for the unfortunate losers of lockdown content, Fashion & Style and Sports came out the worst off, with 13.7% and 15.3% drops in views respectively.

Two-thirds of consumers who follow influencers say they’re likely to continue using social media to the same extent once restrictions are lifted.

How did YouTube creators respond?

In response to social distancing, many YouTube creators saw vast demand for more content and human connection from their expanding audiences. Maintaining mental health and thriving amongst the anxiety of a pandemic is difficult for everyone, but even more so for creators whose fans demanded more from them during this period. 

This pressure came from three directions:

  1. Financial
    Many creators work as freelancers to subsidise income, so when brands and agencies postponed or cancelled marketing campaigns, creators needed to rely on YouTube ad revenue to fill the financial gap, which meant producing more videos content.
  2. Audience
    The relationship between YouTube creators and their viewers tends to be more of a friendship or community, rather than a traditional celebrity-fan dynamic. Creators feel a sense of responsibility to theirs viewers who were looking for a semblance of normality, distraction and comfort during the panic of CV-19.
  3. Working from home
    Due to travel limitations, everyone has blurred the line between personal and professional lives. With a lack of holidays and an inability to produce content around travelling or socialising, creators had to adapt their video formats to content that could be produced at home. Perpetually being at home has structurally pressured everyone to work longer hours, with YouTube creators being no exception.

Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, a lifestyle and LGBTQ+ creator on YouTube is in a vulnerable position. She runs a lifestyle channel and talks about the pressure to create under COVID-19, whilst being unable to leave the house.

“There was a much greater pressure to create during lockdown because I became the sole earner in the house. You also need to be very careful with your content. Coronavirus loomed over everything: if you don’t mention it, people complain that you’re making light of the situation (I’ve seen other creators cry in response to that criticism), but on the other hand it wears you down to go over the global pandemic again and again whilst filming and editing a video.”

If you’re interested in how we’re adapting as lockdown eases, as well as a more in-depth analysis of the effects and future of creator marketing throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, feel free to download our full report below.

Life After Lockdown | Digital Voices.pdf


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