When it comes to social content creators, one size does not fit all. They may all have content creation in common, but their priorities, abilities and market value vary across the board. Some have the ability to influence, while others do not. Yet both are hugely valuable to marketers when understood and used correctly.
Influencers, in the more traditional sense, are tastemakers who have a roster of social media followers that look up to them. Their audience may have followed them for years, interacting with their content daily, feeling a close connection to them. They want to know every detail of their routine and ultimately emulate their lifestyle in some way. Whether that’s following the same skincare regime or buying the same shoes. These influencers are able to use their aspirational position to impact the purchasing intentions of their audience through recommendations. Therein lies their value for marketers.
Even if a follower isn’t hanging on their every word, there is still an opportunity for influencers to drive awareness through reach. Collaborations can introduce their audience to new products they would be interested in but may not have discovered it before. If these collaborations are relevant and feel genuine, they have a huge potential to convert. Even if it’s not coming from a place of emulation.
On the other side, there is a growing community of content creators building an audience on social media. Photographers, illustrators, videographers, and artists all thrive on visual platforms like Instagram where they share their work. With the space becoming more crowded and competitive – and affordable technology and editing software becoming more accessible – the standards of creative have soared. Seeing creators rise to this challenge has caught the attention of brands.
They realise that these creators are experts in creating mobile-first content that resonates with social audiences. They are also realising that these creatives can produce work of such a high standard it can be repurposed for their own social channels, in digital ads and even out-of-home advertising at a fraction of the cost of traditional agencies. Even if they’re not sharing their work in their own social channels, these social creators have huge value in their ability to produce original, high-performing branded content.
When used in brand channels, influencer-created content still outperforms content created by the brand. Marketers looking to capitalise on this are increasingly issuing content-only briefs.
An evolving industry
As the social media marketing industry matures, brands priorities are changing. The early obsession with reach and high follower counts has been replaced with a focus on engagement, quality content and a solid return on investment. Marketers are looking to social creators with more specialised, niche and connected audiences to achieve their goals. The rise in popularity of micro and even nano influencers is a testament to this.
With this shift, the lines between influencers and dedicated content creators are blurring. Brands like Adobe have managed to straddle these two groups effectively. In engaging budding photographers and videographers, they have generated a bank of amazing assets and at the same time have put their products in the hands of professionals. These creatives have shared their Adobe-enhanced work with their photography enthusiast followers and so have been able to influence and create at once.
Consider content creators as a freelance community
Marketers should consider social content creators as a freelance community. They are all creative specialists in their own right but have a variety of strengths and skills in different areas. Defining your objectives clearly will determine which type of creator is the right choice for you. Of course, this can vary from campaign to campaign. An awareness-boosting campaign to drive sales of a new product would benefit from influencer endorsers, while a brand looking to create a bank of high-quality content would turn to social creators.
The flexibility and diversity offered by these two communities are what makes them such an attractive marketing solution to brands.