Following the lockdown, many businesses are finding themselves in a difficult position. In particular, the tourism industry, as people postpone their holiday plans for the foreseeable future.
However, amongst all of this chaos, one industry has been booming; social media & content creation.
TikTok, unsurprisingly, has kept creeping its way up the social media app hierarchy.
TikTok targets a younger demographic than its competitors, booming in popularity with “tweens” and young adults. Its content creators are also increasingly young, with some of the biggest stars being under 18 years old.
In many ways, TikTok is Vine 2.0.
Similarly to how all the major Vine stars moved into LA’s Vine Street to collaborate and promote each other’s brands, TikTok creators are beginning to form “content houses”.
A “content house” is a property where a group of creators live (usually branding this group and the property with a name, such as “Hype House” or “Clubhouse”) and where they are able to make their videos, with other content creators coming to the property to join in.
The more lavish the property, the better the perceived value of the group.
From LA mansions that look like they’re from a renaissance painting, to penthouse suites; it’s a big step-up from the bedroom in their parent’s house.
It’s definitely not an original idea – brand incubators have existed for a long time – but as with everything todo with TikTok, it’s much faster and more temperamental.
One day the property is full of influencers getting millions of views per day, the next day the individuals within the house have all fallen out and are leaving due to drama; it’s a highly dynamic and ever changing landscape. This is due to the age of these “content houses” occupiers, which are usually 70% children.
For example, in the Hype House (which earlier in the year was covered in The New York Times), the oldest influencer was just 21 years old, with many of the brand’s stars being under the age of 18.
Young, impulsive teenagers with (as far they’re concerned) a never-ending supply of cash are going to make frequent crazy decisions. Such as wanting a mansion, a Lamborghini, & to live with all of their rich friends.
The issue that influencers had, though, was that it’s difficult to rent or buy somewhere when your income is so irregular. Sure, this month you made £10k, but a couple of months ago you were making £4.55 an hour at McDonalds.
Additionally, it tends to be difficult finding a letting agent who’s comfortable with groups of people renting one house together (especially when most of them are under 18).
Airbnb fulfils this need. Sure, you’re paying a premium for the property because it’s through Airbnb, but you’re able to fulfil your dream and quickly. You don’t need to be locked into a year of living in the property together either, you can choose shorter renting periods which will better suit the influencer’s spontaneous movements (or their career dwindling within their time staying in the property and having to move back home).
Influencers aren’t the only young, successful group that are making a quick-buck and want to live a lavish lifestyle. Sex workers (including OnlyFans users), startups, & other “get rich quick” schemers are similarly looking for something to reflect their new found success.
Sure, it’s a very temperamental way of living, but for many of these individuals their careers are short-lived or unpredictable.
Whether we like it or not, influencer culture is becoming a bigger part of everyone’s lives. Social media apps like Instagram encourage people to seek validation from strangers; flaunting fat cat success whilst also having a picturesque social life.
So when young influencers begin renting houses with all their friends, there tends to be a trickledown effect as their viewers also see it as a desirable life choice.
Sure, they can’t afford a mansion in beverly hills, but they can just afford a family house in the nice bit of town. And, let’s be honest, it seems a lot more impressive than living in their parent’s house.
So whilst Airbnb is currently having issues due to the tourism industry being frozen in time, there’s a good chance it could successfully pivot and market to young people as a solution to renting.
As someone who didn’t go to uni and so never experienced that shared living space experience; it wouldn’t shock me if young adults who choose work over education began to more openly use Airbnb as a solution for renting.
Of course, this isn’t a wise investment to say the least, but as our society continues to short-term validation over long-term implications, it’s not unrealistic to say this will happen.