As the pandemic rages on and screen time increases, consumers have come to value creators more than ever. But constantly entertaining, educating and uplifting social media users comes at a price for creators. According to Vibely’s latest report “Creator Burnout Report,” 90 percent of creators have experienced burnout and 71 percent have considered quitting social media altogether.
Thought content creation was all fun and games? Think again. According to Vibely, the most-cited causes of creator burnout include: changes to the algorithm (65 percent), making a living (59 percent), constantly having to come up with new ideas and post to new platforms (51 percent), follower count anxieties (51 percent), hate and online bullying (42 percent), imposter syndrome (29 percent) and backlash (19 percent).
Sixty-five percent of creators find algorithm changes to be the single-most mentally taxing part of their profession given their livelihood depends so heavily on the guidelines and regulations of the social platforms they use. Vibely found that even small changes to the algorithm and shadowbans have long-term implications on creators’ content strategies, day-to-day operations, income and overall mental health.
By Vibely numbers, over 50 million creators comprise the global influencer economy. Among them, 2 million consider themselves professionals who maintain their income primarily through content creation. Regardless of whether being a creator is their primary source of income, 59 percent of Vibely’s respondents said algorithm changes have taken a toll on them.
Given the nature of content creation and creators’ susceptibility to the pressures of the influencer lifestyle, as much as 51 percent of them named the “hamster wheel” of content creation one of their largest sources of distress. The hamster wheel effect occurs when an influencer attempts to juggle the need to reply to a large number of messages, which then gives rise to the need to post regularly, causing an increase in pressure to invent new ideas and again an influx of inbound messages. The pressure to produce fresh idea after fresh idea has proven exhausting. The issue is amplified for creators who attempt to become conveyor belts of new ideas across multiple platforms.
As much as 51 percent of creators reported anxiety involving follower count—understandable given the fact that many deem follower count one of the most important metrics for gauging social media success. Apart from earning more as a result of having a high follower count, audience size affects certain immeasurable elements of success such as social currency and comparison.
Despite the several measures social media platforms have introduced to curb negative interactions, hate and online bullying continue. Forty-two percent of creators cited hate and online bullying as one of the most taxing elements of their trade. Fitness YouTuber Chloe Ting told Vibely: “It gets really challenging and hurtful when some people try to villainize me. And sometimes I can’t block off all the hate.”
Another mentally draining part about being a creator is imposter syndrome according to 29 percent of respondents. It is likely that these feelings derive from the fact that many creators offer content that their competitors don’t, thus causing them to question their expertise and making them feel as though they’re pretending to be more specialized or knowledgeable than they actually are, notes Vibely.
Nineteen percent of creators report being particularly concerned with the risk of backlash given so much of their personal lives are on public display – one misstep and cancel culture kicks in. American fashion blogger, influencer and Something Navy founder Arielle Charnas reported experiencing blowback when, at the start of the pandemic, she posted about quarantining in the Hamptons. Social media users, including her fans, responded with hate and criticism over her posh visit as many were facing serious health issues and fear.
Vibely is calling on big tech to make six major changes aimed at alleviating creators of burnout – the first of which is psychological safety. Algorithms are a constant source of tension for most creators because getting seen is dependent on a discreet and relatively rigid set of rules, including post engagement, perceived content quality and content types. Creators must learn repeatedly learn the ambiguous rules and then re-learn them when they suddenly change again. A creator’s relevance can plummet overnight due to the volatile nature of some algorithms.
Vibely has urged Facebook and YouTube to disclose and make visible certain major platform changes as a “basic level of respect.” The report maintains that creators deserve psychological safety and shouldn’t be risking career loss due to lack of transparency, adding that “progressive companies who truly care should offer complimentary mental health services.”
A study by the Knight Foundation and Gallup revealed 80 percent of Americans support the creation of an oversight board at each social media company. This would increase the transparency of rules dictating what kind of content is deemed offensive or against community guidelines and also of the reasons behind shadowbans and removing posts. An oversight board could immediately curtail one of the main sources of stress that content creators experience.
Creator monetization tools are a relatively recent phenomenon adopted by social media companies. Given the popularity of TikTok’s Creator Marketplace and Creator Fund, companies like Pinterest and Instagram have started rolling out monetization tools with tipping and shopping. Vibely suggests big tech make creator monetization a primary objective given that it’s the creators themselves who actually drive the social media ecosystem.
The report also identified creators’ usage habits and sentiment toward social media platforms. Here’s a breakdown of their satisfaction levels with TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Snapchat.
- 73 percent of creators post TikTok videos weekly
- 38.2 percent of creators post TikTok videos one to two times per week
- 23.6 percent of creators post TikTok videos three to five times per week
- Creators report a 5.5 out of 10 satisfaction level with TikTok
- 96 percent of creators post Instagram Stories weekly
- Creators are most likely to share more than three times per week
- 61 percent of creators post an Instagram Reel weekly
- 31.9 percent of creators post an Instagram Reel once per week
- 89.9 percent of creators post to their page at least once per week
- 36.9 percent of creators post weekly
- Creators report a 5.9 out of 10 satisfaction level with Instagram
- Less than 15 percent of creators consider Facebook their favorite platform
- 10 percent of professional creators rely on Facebook as their primary source of income
- 69.9 percent of creators do not post on Facebook
- Creators report a 4.4 out of 10 satisfaction level with Facebook – the second lowest of all platforms surveyed
- YouTube is the favorite platform for roughly 25 percent of creators
- 20 percent of creators rely on YouTube as their main source of revenue
- 34.7 percent of creators post on YouTube once per week – which is substantial considering that creators must invest time and money in filming, editing, software tools and filming equipment
- Creators report a 5.9 out of 10 satisfaction level with YouTube
- Creators didn’t list Snapchat as their favorite platform or main income source
- 84.6 percent of creators never post on Snapchat
- 12.6 percent of creators post on Snapchat one to two times per week
- Creators report a 3.7 out of 10 satisfaction level with Snapchat – the lowest of all platforms surveyed
- Pinterest remains one of the last untapped platforms for creators, though it was not listed by creators as a top platform for engaging with their audience or as a source of revenue
- 74.3 percent of creators do not post once per week on Pinterest
- Nevertheless, creators report a 5.1 out of 10 satisfaction level with Pinterest – beating both Snapchat and Facebook