2021 Trends: Open-Source Creativity

Thought Leadership
Lore Oxford

In November, we launched our annual trends report – Think Forward 2021: The Social Reset. It features the six key trends that we expect to shape social media over the next 12 months. This post looks at the sixth trend covered in the report: Open-Source Creativity. For more, check out the full Think Forward report here.

Creativity on social has always thrived through the removal of gatekeepers, the democratisation of tools and the fluidity of remixing what’s already available online. But spearheaded by young, creative audiences with collaborative mindsets, the process of content creation is becoming ever more communal.

TikTok’s meteoric rise is serving as a tipping point. The sophisticated tools and formats its hailed into the social landscape encourage participation, and as a result, the feed is increasingly a place to co-create, not just consume.

This has been catalysed by a shift in how creators are operating in response to the sheer volume of content people now expect to scroll through on social; creators are finding ways to work smarter, not harder.

Dua Lipa found the creative talent for her ‘Levitating’ music video via the #DuaVideo hashtag on TikTok.

The Behavioural Change
People are collaborating with their heroes via social. People are growing accustomed to their heroes, putting them and their talents in the spotlight. Charli XCX collaborated with her fans via Zoom to write her latest album, and on Instagram, film industry polymath Miranda July has been crowdsourcing entire scripts from her followers.

People are participating in TikTok cults. Trailblazed by Melissa Ong (aka @chunkysdead) and her hyper-dedicated following, TikTok cults – which blew up during lockdown – are defined by a collaborative creator-follower relationship.

People are repurposing #challenges as evergreen content streams. In 2020, social ‘challenges’ began to serve as easy-to-find digital spaces where people can create, and recreate, highly inventive content around a unified theme.

How can brands use it?
As platforms evolve their tools and functionality to facilitate more collaborative creations, brands can expect the quality of ‘fan creativity’ to rise and should harness it where possible.

Brands should stop behaving like gatekeepers and foster creativity. Brands that have the cultural footprint to do so should look for ways to facilitate creativity within their audience. Fashion designer Reese Cooper launched RCI – DIY, a collection that was released alongside patterns and instruction booklets, encouraging young talent to make their own clothes, not just buy his.

Brands should use comments and community management to directly inspire content. On Instagram, Gymshark has already been leaning into this shift.

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A post shared by Miranda July (@mirandajuly)

Read about Open-Source Creativity and five more trends for 2021 in Think Forward 2021. The full report is available to download now.