How To Incorporate Creators Into Your Content Strategy
Author’s note — this piece was originally written for Sprout Social.
For the past few years, we have seen an explosion in the use of the term “content creator.” While it seems like an identity or profession birthed out of Millennial and Gen Z culture, content creators have been around forever. From scribes that wrote the earliest written texts of Sumerian civilization to the producers and filmmakers that create the numerous entertainment options provided by modern-day streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, content has always been around us.
Social media birthed a new era where content creators are the new “it girls.”
This is not completely surprising as consumers are more media savvy and understand how marketing and advertising works. The bottom line? Your average customer knows when they’re being marketed to. They’re tuning out the noise of over 6,000 to 10,000 ads each day and turning to their most trusted sources of information to learn about the products and services they should be purchasing.
Oftentimes, those trusted sources are their favorite content creators. Whether they have their own podcast, YouTube channel where they review products, host a weekly Twitter Space, or provide daily inspiration to their followers on Instagram, creators have redefined what it means to have a personal brand and “influence.” Now, brands are tapping into the creator economy to work with content creators for their campaigns and programming on a day-to-day basis.
Whether they do design, ideation, photography, and/or videography, creators have a niche skillset that can help you create fresh, exciting content. They can create high-quality content quickly. They are a simple solution to populating your calendar with content that your customers will enjoy and keep them wanting more.
If you haven’t started building out a strategy to develop meaningful partnerships with content creators, consider this your sign to start. Without creators, you’re missing an opportunity to make your content stand out.
Content is here to stay (and so are content creators)
There will always be a need for content which is why content creators are now a hot commodity. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, since 2020, venture capitalists have invested $800 million into creator economy startups.
Social media has provided creators with an opportunity to reach wider audiences, showcase their work and define their own communities online. While creators are building their own brands, industry professionals are paying attention to the individuals who have that “it factor” — the talent and skill set of a career creative coupled with a relatable personality.
The culture is shifting. While influencers and celebrities have large followings and appear to have more reach on paper, brands are looking to them to show value beyond follower counts. They are looking for metrics like engagement and impressions, and often prefer to give influencers referral links to ensure that they can use their influence to make a sale.
Content creators have a unique opportunity because they’re not always needed for their reach, but rather their creative talent.
Keep your eye on smaller creators
Follower count, while a common KPI for growth measurement, doesn’t tell the full story. With that, many social strategists are putting more of a focus on micro-creators (creators with less than 10,000 followers). While they may have a smaller audience or oftentimes no social media presence at all, their value is in the quality of work they produce. Because creation is what they focus on, you can expect them to put more effort into producing a piece of content that you will be happy with — and they will be proud of.
In my work at Sunwink, we partner with creators to produce content for all of our digital channels. This content has ranged from simple UGC-syle photos of our products to written blog posts, to recipe content for Reels.
We hired Brianna Cherniak, a certified herbalist and content creator with less than 5,000 Instagram followers, to create an educational reel to support a product launch. During that time period, our Reels earned an average of around 2.5k views. In the month of the Reel’s publishing, Brianna’s video was our second top-performing video with over 11,000 views.
Erika Ellis, Brand Strategist at sustainable streetwear brand UNLESS, also believes that smaller content creators are more valuable than ever.
“I have had great success with smaller creators because what you lose in reach is usually gained in engagement. I also find small creators tend to lead small tribes of in-real-life people who trust the voice and actions of a micro-influencer. Someone who can influence your behavior is so much more valuable than someone with a ton of followers.”
4 tips to fold creators into your content strategy
If you’re planning to hire content creators, you want to think about the longevity of the relationship you want to have with them. They know their worth and the content creator community is tight-knit across platforms and channels, so act accordingly.
- Set a budget. Long gone are the days of expecting creators to develop content in exchange for your brand’s product and service. Content creators cannot pay their bills with exposure or products. The economy is becoming more and more competitive and creators are locking in brand deals and collaborations on a weekly basis. While every creator’s rate is different, the bare minimum a micro-creator should be paid could range from $500 — $2,000 per asset.
- Hire diverse voices. People of color, women, queer people, gender-nonconforming people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and/or people with fat bodies exist and they are not hard to find. Begin building a list of creators that you would like to work with and initiate conversations with them so that there can be an existing rapport when you are ready to launch your campaign. These voices are so unique that the content can relate to your audiences across channels and help your brand reach new audiences you may not have tapped into yet.
- Build a community. If you enjoyed working with a particular creator, keep them around. You don’t only have to work with them in an official collaborative capacity. You can invite them to exclusive events, send them your newest products, or even invest in their own side projects. These kinds of opportunities can turn creators into your loudest brand advocates. Joechuck Norris, Influencer Strategist at Leviathan Core, has experience with building programs to make their creators feel seen and heard.
“Considering the myriad of difficulties and unique paths to success a tenured and full-time content creator encounters, our program removes some barriers for them. We provide them with daily, direct access to product stakeholders, feedback forums, opportunities to collaborate on content and brand features. It’s an ongoing development and enrichment process for them to learn the ropes, or give back to the next wave of creators.”
- Repurpose the content. The great thing about hiring creators is that you can work with them to create content that can be reused throughout your brand’s channels. A YouTube video can turn into several GIFs that can give your email content a little more pizzazz. A video of a creator raving about your product can turn into a written testimonial used in a blog post. That’s how you get more bang for your buck and ensure that you are getting everything you need from the creator you hire.
Creators are world-changers
Content creators are the moment and the future. No matter their strengths, they’re constantly growing by acquiring new skills and being more proactive in their approach to presenting their work to brands.
As they build their own communities and participate in more collaborations, they gain just as much knowledge about marketing, branding, and advertising as seasoned professionals in the industry. This means that they have the words, imagery, designs and strategic vision to create the world that they want to see.
They are the new change-makers, entertainers, and visionaries. The best thing you can do is sit back and watch…and also open your purse.