It’s not an exaggeration to say that the world of media has gone through a complete revolution in the past decade or so. With the continuing march of the internet and the proliferation of social media platforms, podcasts and blogs – the landscape has changed completely. It has happened so fast that traditional media lags behind the cultural zeitgeist leaving room for modern content creators to build to kinds of audiences that never would have been possible beforehand.
This is even more true from a generational standpoint. Gone are the days where network gatekeepers were the judge and jury on what content would make it to the limited number of mainstream media channels. These barriers to entry have been decimated and, in its place, has grown an online media world where anyone has the capacity to grow an audience focused on anything that they’re passionate about. It has decentralized the power of traditional media and given the reins to a rising group of what we now call ‘influencers’.
Of course, for the millennials and the Gen-Zs, this is all they know. They have grown up following individual personalities, social media trends and online communities rather than mainstream networks. They have an infinite number of entertainment options at their fingertips and being spoilt for choice has forced online content to get more and more engaging with every iteration. For a modern-day influencer to earn the trust of a millennial or Gen-Z audience, they have to deliver high-quality content, on a very consistent basis, that surfs the waves of culture. For those who can do that, they earn a platform to share whatever messaging they think are most important – in a way that mainstream media never could.
A perfect example of someone taking advantage of this shifting landscape is Canadian comedian, actor and YouTuber: Alex Ketchum.
With roots in film production and comedy, Ketchum has cleverly forged his two passions together to entertain a fast-growing audience of loyal viewers on his YouTube channel and various other social media outlets. As with so many creatives, his journey started young. When he was 13 years old, he was making videos on his first flip phone – just for the love of the craft. The quality of the camera didn’t matter – for him, the rush was being able to tell stories that made people laugh. He became addicted to the feeling of manifesting an idea from his mind into a piece of creative expression that could be shared and enjoyed with other people. Unbeknownst to him at the time, these early experiments would form the foundation for what was to come.
As he got older, his passion for entertainment never faded and the world was shifting in front of his eyes. All of a sudden, a career as a content creator was not as far-fetched as it once was. Leveraging his stand-up comedy experience in Toronto, his film production experience from York University and a never-say-die attitude, he took the plunge into the influencer world.
What’s happened since then has been nothing short of remarkable. In a very competitive space, Ketchum has managed to maintain a steadily growing audience who return week after week for his wit, comic timing and fresh takes on social media trends. If you’ve ever watched one of his videos, you’ll know that he will always go the extra mile to ensure that what he makes is as good as it can be. This consistent attention to quality is arguably the main contributing factor in his early success.
His work has been highlighted and shared by a range of different online brands including LadBible, VT and Right This Minute amongst others – which has validated his unique brand of comedy as something that is ready for the big time. It’s incredibly rare for someone to have so many viral videos in such a short space of time and so it really does feel like the sky is the limit for Ketchum.
He represents a new age of influencers, a group that truly understands the media landscape for millennials and Gen-Zs as well as their future buying power. It can be easy to sneer at influencers sometimes because their lifestyles can look quite lavish, but anyone who actually knows what it takes to build an audience would tell you that the Instagram photos don’t tell the whole story. The truth of the matter is that content creators like Ketchum make it look easy – that’s what makes them so good at what they do. Behind the scenes, the work ethic that you need to cultivate in order to create fresh, interesting pieces on an algorithmically incentivized schedule should not be understated. It truly is a full-time job that is hard to relate to from the outside. Putting yourself out there as an influencer opens you up to wide-ranging criticism, imposter syndrome and the continual judgment of the online world. Ketchum and his peers would tell you that it takes a certain resilience to keep creating day after day.
This is not to ignore the skill needed, of course. With so many people trying to become influencers – it takes exceptional skill to stand out from the rest. When you’re competing against the best of the best from around the world, your work must stand for itself. Ketchum is showing us it’s possible to rise to the top through consistent hard work, social media savvy and the right attitude. As his star continues to rise, he looks set to carve his own path as an influencer – doing things the only way he knows how. This is a name you won’t want to forget, for this is only the beginning of the story of Ketchum.
If you’d like to keep up-to-date with Ketchum, you can do so by following him on Instagram @AlexKetchum.