In July 2020 a group of British fashion Instagrammers joined together to create the first Instagram union; The Creator Union. It’s looking like it will become the first union of its kind to represent content creators across social media.
But what exactly is a union?
A union is a collective or group of people who can legally come together and challenge the management in their workplace. You might have read about staff at publishing companies forming unions (like at VICE) or being discouraged from unionizing by previous management (like at Hearst). Unions can negotiate issues that affect their job and wellbeing, such as treatment of staff, pay disparity and benefits, working conditions etc. In the case of The Creator’s Union, the members are campaigning to be eligible to discuss the parameters of influencer marketing with both the platforms and the brands involved.
The move to unionise came as influencer marketing seriously ramped up (The industry is estimated to be worth $5.5bn (£4.3bn) and forecast to grow to $22.3bn (£17.4bn) by 2024) and with it came a distinct lack of diversity in the campaigns, as well as a lack of proper formal contracts and content usage protection – where copyrighted content belonging to a creator is used elsewhere without permission.
The Creator Union will cover anyone creating paid-for content for social media, from Instagram to Twitch to TikTok. The founder, Nicole Ocran, has said that “The union is here to push back against the various issues that we come up against in this space, including: working for free, working for small amounts of product – or just for product in general, which content creators and influencers can’t use to pay our bills.
“There is strong evidence of an ethnicity pay gap in which Black, Asian, Middle Eastern influencers are being paid significantly less than their white counterparts. Pay gaps also exist along and in between the intersections of age, disability, religion and sexual orientation. The pay for these groups is far less and the opportunities available are vastly disproportionate. It’s a huge problem.
“Influencers and content creators also often work without contracts, having to produce content within tight turnaround times which leaves no time to negotiate, which has only become a bigger problem during the pandemic.”
In short, if you create content for brands on social media, you should care about this union that will work to advocate for better and fairer pay, equality and diversity, and decent working contracts for you. You can sign up to The Creator Union’s newsletter here.