Nats What I Reckon

The rise of digital first personalities during COVID-19 isolation

The rise of digital first personalities during COVID-19 isolation 720 482 jonathonhutchinson

For many of us who have been impacted by the stay-at-home isolation conditions during this global pandemic, we have turned to new forms of social media entertainment for comfort.

However, for prime-time celebrities who rely heavily on their production teams to create world-class media experiences, the transition has not been so seamless. Instead, what we have seen is the rise of those online content producers who are native to social media platforms amass new audiences of interest.

I have been researching digital first personalities around the globe to understand how single person media productions have become the go-to media source for many individuals, especially in times of isolation.

Celebrities as YouTubers? ‘That’s Chat’

On 30 March 2020, YouTubers Colin and Samir published a video ‘Is this the end of Late Night?’. On the surface this video seemed to make light of the careers of late-night hosts such as Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. In reality, these LA based YouTube creators provide a stunning commentary on the vast difference of skill and expertise levels between native YouTubers and traditional prime time celebrities.

This difference becomes bleedingly obvious when a number of these traditional celebrities were forced to take their productions out of their ‘bright-light’ studios in New York and Los Angeles, and retreat to their private family homes.

While the hosts incorporated the inadequacies of their production design into their nightly comedy routine, for example Seth Meyers making jokes about his attic door which has become something of a regular ‘guest’, the deficiencies in production qualities began to show. Some channels went into hiatus for several days at time, interviews were plagued by poor quality internet connections, lighting was experimental and the technical issues often became obvious for the audiences of these loved programs.

This is not the case for YouTubers who continue to produce high-quality content.

Colin and Samir observe that YouTubers are equipped to not only create entertaining content, but also have the technical skills to write, shoot, edit, publish and distribute at a level far beyond our well-known traditional media celebrities.

‘Good Onya Champ’ – The rise of digital first personalities

I have written about this phenomenon as digital first personalities. Digital first personalities are individuals who produce digital content for maximum visibility by engaging social influencer publication strategies that appease platform algorithms. In other words, they are experts in ensuring their content is seen by large audiences across social media platforms by utilising their entertaining and technical production skills.

Nat’s What I Reckon is one example of online content producers that are rising in popularity on social media, based on their past abilities of interacting with their audiences. As a YouTuber and Instagrammer based in Sydney, he has recently amassed a large audience through his welcomed, no-frills isolation cooking segments. Nat has been posting videos on YouTube for several years, examining the Summer Nationals in Canberra, why cruise ships ‘are weird’, chilli eating competitions, and aliens in Roswell, USA. These videos had a steady audience of just under 10,000 views on average, but as the media hungry, COVID-19 isolated audience grew, Nat’s What I Reckon channel has grown into an almost overnight success story.

As a digital first personality, Nat has spent years not only developing his unique entertaining style, but has also sharpened his interview technique, camera skills, and audio production. Additionally, this digital first personality has honed his public relations skills by strengthening his audience across Instagram and distributing his work across several other social media platforms.

I also wanted to make special mention of Laura Clery, who even makes me laugh as I write her name here – a strong example of a digital first personality, although she does some fame from her previous YouTube life.

The End of the Late Show?

Probably not. But what we are witnessing here is a shift of audience attention away from the large-scale traditional media formats and a continued growth across social media platforms as isolated audiences change their viewing habits indefinitely.

This is a unique moment for online content producers who demonstrate key digital first personality skills. Using TikTok, the demand for content is much higher than what is produced, making this a space ideal for emerging digital first personalities to build their audiences and move from influencers towards native online content celebrities.

Original Image by Newcastle Live!

jonathonhutchinson

Sydney based media academic. Researching internet technologies, social media and public service media.

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