- With more than 12 million subscribers, Casey Neistat is one of the more prominent creators on YouTube.
- The influencer recently spoke to Business Insider about how media has changed in the last decade, as the barriers between creators and their audiences have disintegrated, thanks to an increase in social media usage.
- “There’s nothing between the individual — the one creating the creating culture today — and their audience,” said Neistat, who added than an “inherent mistrust of the mainstream” is pushing people toward more independent accounts and brands.
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In the growing world of social media influencers, Casey Neistat is an OG.
Neistat is also the creator of Beme, a video-sharing app that he sold for a reported $25 million to CNN in 2016, which was later shut down in 2018.
When Neistat started out on YouTube, the influencer sector was just starting to take off. Today, YouTube is still a major platform to connect with audiences, but other apps like TikTok and Instagram are galvanizing even more creators to reach audiences across the globe.
In many cases, independent creatives are operating in an entirely different landscape than 10 years ago. In a recent interview with Business Insider, Neistat explained how he has observed the shift in the world of media that now celebrates the independent creator over the mainstream.
Cultural gatekeepers are being eliminated
Before influencer culture was big, mainstream entities like MTV or Rolling Stone determined the legitimacy of a cultural trend or movement. As Neistat put it, while individuals still created content, these cultural gatekeepers held the key to reaching the world. With the rise of social media, these barriers have been eliminated.
“There’s nothing between the individual — the one creating the creating culture today — and their audience,” said Neistat, explaining how this phenomenon helped him find fame without the legitimization of additional entities like HBO or film festivals. “YouTube has made it so I don’t need studio heads or television programming directors,” he explained. “I can create my content. I can create my creative expression — which is videos — and then I can disseminate it to the world using social media.”
Today, more brands and people are taking note of this phenomenon. For example, Kanye West frequently shares news and information about his brand via his personal Twitter account, which has more than 30 million followers.
Business Insider recently interviewed Matt Steiner, the 22-year-old founder of Saint. His company’s Twitter account — currently at 173,000 followers — and associated website focus on sneaker and streetwear culture and news. Saint operates differently than platforms like Complex and Hypebeast by focusing entirely on Twitter for engagement.
“Matt is uniquely able to lean into his understanding, which is a wildly nuanced, hyper-specific understanding of a very narrow piece of fashion and culture,” Neistat said. “And the difference is they don’t need that mainstream outlet to lean into. Because of social media, they can create that outlet and then own the entire vertical. And I think that gets into the brilliant business acumen of what he’s doing.”
To Neistat, an “inherent mistrust of the mainstream,” is what is pushing people towards independent accounts like Saint.
“There’s this genuineness to it that I don’t think the mainstream or more traditional outlets could have ever had. And I think that the impact of that is very hard to underscore.”
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