Consumers Becoming Producers:
Social Influencers Are Increasingly Participating in
Online Video Distribution
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Published September 2009. © 2009 Interpret, LLC
Consumers Becoming Producers: Social Influencers Are Increasingly Participating
in Online Video Distribution
The dividing line between media consumption and production is eroding as culture becomes more and
more configurable. The digitization of media allows users to create, re-configure, re-mix and share
music, video, images and even video games. Video consumption is no longer a passive act, as audiences
increasingly play the role of producer as well.
• How is the distinction between consumer and producer evolving?
• Are “influencers” both active online video consumers and producers?
Interpret Insight: Audiences are becoming more and more active and engaged not only with consuming
video, but also with sharing and producing video. Consumers who claim that their friends and
acquaintances often ask for their opinions on new products and services are also more likely to be
actively engaged with online video. For instance, this group is almost one-and-a-half times more likely to
post a short video clip from a TV or movie than the general population. Given this correlation between
social influencers and online video, marketers should become more engaged with those who both
consume and produce videos.
Distinction between consumption and production is quickly eroding.
By now it is a cliché to say that the advent of digital technologies precipitated a seismic cultural shift in
how audiences interact with media. Before media became digital (music, movies, TV, text, photos) the
dividing line between those who consume and those who produce media was fairly entrenched and
straightforward. Large media conglomerates with huge budgets produced, marketed, and distributed
films and TV shows, while consumers passively sat back and enjoyed the fruits of the studio’s labor. The
main reasons behind this division were that media was expensive to produce, distribution was tightly
controlled, and marketing costs were prohibitive. Today, however, the cost of technology and the
knowledge base necessary to create content is within the reach of most ordinary consumers. The
popularity of user-generated content has further blurred the distinction between those who produce
content and those who consume it. Rather than conceptualizing the consumer-producer dynamic as
dichotomous and oppositional (black and white), today it is more helpful (and accurate) to consider the
dynamic as a spectrum. Audiences can move backward and forward along the spectrum depending upon
their engagement and comfort levels, as well as take advantage of the value offered by social
networking, online video, and informational web sites.
There is also a murky middle ground evolving between the two ends of the spectrum, occupied by
“prosumer” behavior. While consumer behavior is characterized mainly by passive viewership, and
producer behavior requires a degree of expertise to create new content or remix/mash-up available
clips, there is a significant juste milieu comprised of various forms of active engagement and sharing. For
online video, this includes tagging content, posting and sharing other people’s video clips, commenting
on video other people posted online, and engaging with online ads.
Active online video users cast a strong sphere of influence.
To better understand the video sharing behaviors of influencers, it is helpful to look specifically at
consumers who identify themselves as people others often ask for their opinion on new products. In
addition to these “influencers,” it is useful to evaluate consumers who mostly hear about n