In Part I, we defined today’s electronic content as an ongoing discussion, where we take an idea and build on it. So, what does that mean for a business, and where do we go from here?

We are in the position where content creators and pop culture have formed a symbiotic pact: the content creators leverage what is happening to create original content that is relatable through their brand. Is it wholly original? That is up for debate. Is it unique to them and aimed at their audience? Completely. What this has done, as audiences get more adjusted to seeing brands, celebrities, services and other original content repurposed for new audiences, is create a new competitive playing field for brands.

Brands are in the same content creation categories, fields, and locations as independent content creators. They aren’t only fighting for attention, but, in some cases, are borrowing assets from each other in order to be seen. Content has had to be relevant for years; this is something both brands and independent content creators know, but the path to relevancy is what is changing.

With content now so engrained in our daily lives, it has to represent something bigger than merely information or entertainment. Now, content has become an outlet for, and a form of, expression, even if it requires branded assets in order to get the message across. The affinity isn’t so much tied to the brand as it is to the feeling that brand evokes.

This is crucial to understand, because it’s an area where independent content creators continue to thrive over branded content. Independent content creators are leveraging content as a relatable emotion, whereas branded content continues to push a message.

It is why independent content creators are banking on brands such as Disney and Star Wars. They’re leveraging how those brands make us feel. “Stranger Things” is a great example, too. After that show exploded in popularity, independent content creators were doing everything from makeup tutorials, film style guides, effect break downs, fanfiction, pin and clothing production and more—and none of it involved the brand itself.

This new wave of unlicensed content is not only profitable, but relatable—because it’s being made by people who are creating what they would want to see made, is based on a trendy subject, and is aimed at a built-in audience they have grown from nothing. It’s almost become a machine in some sense. Wait for something to trend, apply it to your channel, create content that would relate the trend to your audience, and wait for the views.

In some regards, this means independent content creators have it easier than brands, who, despite their best intentions, sometimes have horrible content misfires that, unintentionally, turn them into content generators for independent content creators! Can you say “vicious cycle”?

And then there are cases where brands are catching on, and beginning to leverage the same tools, techniques and drivers as independent content creators. I’m looking at you, Arby’s team and your wonderful, niche social media creations . . .

Is your head spinning yet? Maybe I should give you a listicle of ten ways to make the headache go away. Or maybe a short form video on how to turn this lengthy, two-part blogpost into a few key notes? I could just upload a video of this with a bunch of Minions gifs in the corner for some free views—or I could just end it with a good ole’ fashioned TLDR; (and, no, the punctuation is not a typo).

Here’s the answer to the question: What is Content, Anyway? Content itself is an emotional outlet. Content creation is a battlefield and independent content creators are winning. Not because they have a bigger or better audience, but because they know how to hit the message home, and they’re willing to use whatever they can in their arsenal to make it work. Brands should take note.

Here, have a cat.

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