Ever since the inception of social media, brands have searched for ways to capitalize on their popularity and use them to grow their reach and profits.
However, in its early stages on Facebook (and possibly MySpace, but at this point, that era of the internet seems like a dystopian dream, so who really knows), brands were still finding their feet, posting advertisements that wouldn’t look out of place on a billboard or in a newspaper.
But then Instagram happened, YouTube rose to prominence, and, more recently, TikTok had us undertaking choreographed dances with our nan in the backyard.
Suddenly, the rise of digital influencers and content creators was among us. And with it came a new industry, one that is constantly evolving and becoming lucrative for individuals and brands alike.
Bye-bye, Tom. No one wants to be your friend anymore, and hello to the land of advertising opportunities.
For the record, don’t feel too bad for Tom from MySpace; it looks like he is living his dream life.
What Is a Content Creator?
First and foremost, let’s touch base on what a content creator actually is. Much like other industry terms, the phrase “content creator” is incredibly loose. In more traditional industries, this would be equivalent to saying “marketer.”
Marketer of what? And through which channels? And how?
For those working in marketing, you will know that marketing consists of many different categories, such as SEO, paid social, print, email, and so on.
And the same can be said for content creators. The general term is simple to understand; these are people who “create content” (I know, I know, I’m wise beyond my years).
But how these people create content and for which platforms can differ immensely. For example, a content creator could be someone who specializes in YouTube video content creation or someone who has made a living from the pictures they post on Instagram; the possibilities are far and wide.
So, for simplicity’s sake, we will work to the assumption that the content creator covers any person who has amassed a sizable following on any or all social media channels, whether it be through posting, text, image, or video content.
How Does a Content Creator Build Their Following?
Now, you’ll likely have noticed a key term I snuck into our description of a content creator. Without a “sizeable” following, many creators are not viable options for business owners who are looking to grow their brand, although we will touch on one way that these types of smaller content creators can benefit you later in this article.
So, with that in mind, how does a content creator grow their following? Well, through several methods.
Through high-quality content
First and foremost, the easiest way for content creators to grow their brand is to create good content.
Sure, it seems simple, but as you well know from scrolling your social pages of choice, there’s a lot of “content slop” out there. To differentiate themselves and grow their following, high-quality creators will create high-quality content.
That means conducting their own research, adding their own take to anything they produce, and doing so with excellent content, such as well-written scripts high-quality graphics, or investing in tech for production.
One great example of this is an investigative journalist on YouTube called Coffeezilla, who undertakes high-profile fraud cases, offering his audience new information not already available, with excellent onscreen graphics.
It is one thing to create high-quality content, but it is another to do so consistently. Sure, creators can create a social media masterpiece, but if they don’t follow it up with more content on a regular basis, there’s only one way that the subscription number is going to go, and it’s not going up!
Consistency is crucial for high-quality content creators (it’s also what the platform algorithms want), allowing them to build a loyal following and be at the forefront of their minds, two crucial elements for brands to look out for.
Aside from posting content on a consistent basis, it’s also important for content creators to have an engaged audience.
That means creating content that generates conversation and communication, as well as constantly responding to comments, commenting on follower content, and responding to direct messages in a timely manner.
All of these actions provide further exposure, motivates people to follow or remain as a follower, and builds trust, another important trait for successful brand collaboration.
We interviewed the D’Amelios, the royal family of TikTok, and here’s what Dixi D’Amelio said about the value of an authenticity when engaging with an audience:
“The audience on TikTok, they like authenticity, and I feel we’ve done a really good job promoting things that we like,” she says.
“The audience on TikTok, they like authenticity, and I feel we’ve done a really good job promoting things that we like.” – Dixi D’Amelio
Through paid ads
Just like your brand, the best content creators also see their channels as their brand, and as a result, they understand the importance of exposure while growing their business.
Another way to do this that isn’t quite as organic as the first three is for content creators to use paid advertisements to grow their brand, in the hope that the audience will like what they see and hit the subscribe button, tap the follow icon, click the notification bell, and all the other social media CTA’s they could get their hands on.
Finally, content creators can get a little “creative” when it comes to growing their brand and purchasing followers on platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
When you are conducting your research and trying to find large creators you want to work with, it’s important to look past the total follower count. Sure, that’s an important indicator, but so too is engagement in their content.
Think about it this way: a promotion via a creator with 5k die-hard followers is worth much more than a promotion via a creator with 100k followers they paid for and has zero engagement with the creator.
Don’t Skip: Content Creator vs Influencer
Content Creators: The Numbers
So, why is there so much hype around content creators as a viable option for brands who are keen to grow their audience?
Well, here are some of the key numbers brought to you by TikTok Trends Only:
The global influencer market size has increased to $21 billion in 2023
Once referred to as “influencers,” content creators have become a significant element of any brand’s marketing plan, with Statista estimating that the global influencer market size is now worth $21 billion in 2023, a $4 billion increase from last year.
3.32% Instagrammers have more than 100,000 followers
With over 1 billion active users (supposedly, the numbers haven’t been updated for quite some time), Instagram has become the home for many content creators who specialize in visual content.
Not only that but around 3.32% Of Instagram users have between 100,000 and 500,000 followers, making them ideal for promoting brands to a large, loyal audience.
The creator economy could reach $480 billion by 2027
Experts estimate that the combination of increased digital consumption and advancements in technology (many of which we covered at our recent AI Summit) will lead to the creator economy increasing even further, as much as $480 billion by 2027.
How You Can Utilize Content Creators For Your Brand
Now for the juicy stuff: how to utilize content creators for your brand.
If you’re still confused about the content creator revolution, try and think about it like this: Instead of paying a TV network, radio station, or magazine to advertise your products, you’re partnering with individuals who’ve built their own TV networks through social media.
Instead of paying a TV network, radio station, or magazine to advertise your products, you’re partnering with individuals who’ve built their own TV networks through social media.
The perk of working with content creators is that they are mostly individuals, and you don’t need to go through a formal process to get ahold of them. It can be as simple as a DM.
As you may already know, there are several different ways creator content can benefit your brand, but they often fall under these main categories.
1. Grow your audience
You’re looking to grow your audience. You want to wake up one morning and see that sweet, sweet extra zero at the end of your brand’s follower account on social media.
It’s time to go from startup to blowup.
For this type of growth, you need to get in touch with a wide variety of content creators, both big and small. Essentially, we want to make your budget go as far as possible, gaining the maximum reach possible and getting it in front of as many of your target audience members as possible.
Talk to content creators with varying follower numbers in your niche to gauge the going rates, and put together a plan for them to start talking about your brand or product and ensure that the CTA for each of them is to go to your page and follow your brand.
Perhaps you do this through some form of small giveaway and ask the creators to promote your giveaway to their audience, asking them to like, share, and follow to be entered into the draw.
It can be tempting to ask your creators to push their audience to purchase, but if your goal is audience growth, you must be clear and concise with this approach to get the best possible results.
2. Provide you with content
However, there’s no point in growing your social following if you don’t have an attractive page or website for your target audience to engage with.
That said, finding the time to create high-quality content alongside the many other roles you are required to do as a founder is pretty much impossible, and chances are, if you’re like me, the outcome will not be worth the effort!
If only there were a whole host of people who you could pay or gift to do this for you…
You guessed it, that’s where content creators come in handy. Content creators don’t just have to be utilized as a promotional option on their page; some will also be happy to create content that you can use, whether it be reposting it on your social channels or within marketing campaigns such as email or landing page content.
For this type of content creation, you want to pick creators who clearly make high-quality content but don’t necessarily have the biggest following. Remember, their follower count doesn’t matter, as the content is getting produced for your page, not theirs.
So, to keep costs down, opt for creators with smaller followers, as their fees are lower. They may even do the work for free in return for your product.
To keep costs down, opt for creators with smaller followers, as their fees are lower.
3. Promote new products or sales
Finally, we have the big one, a brand new launch or product sale.
Now, this one can get a little complex to manage, but if done correctly, the results can be monumental. As with our growth strategy, exposure is important here, so you’ll want to budget for creators with large and smaller follow counts.
You can also coordinate all of the creators you are working with to post about your brand at the exact same time or in stages to help build the hype around your new product or sale.
Top Tips for Content Creator Campaign Success
Now, you have all the information you need to undertake your first effective content creator campaign.
But before you get started, here are a few elements you must consider to ensure it is a rip-roaring success.
- Strategy: First things first, it’s time to strategize. What is the goal of your campaign, trying to increase your brand’s social following? Gain content to post on your pages or promote a new product? Each of these goals will require different content creators, and therefore, adequate planning is a must.
- Budget: Before starting out, it’s vital that you set out your budget and allocate those resources to your creators before executing your plan. When working with creators, ensure you ask them to agree to certain terms and conditions to ensure your budget is not wasted on creators who post sloppy content, post content to the wrong channel, or don’t post at all!
- Multi-channel approach: When starting a new creator campaign, try to find creators that suit your brand across different brands. Not only will this help you grow your brand on all fronts, but it will also provide you with valuable insights into where you should be devoting your advertising spend for the best possible results.
- Track: Use affiliate codes or tracking links to see which content creators are providing your brand with real value and which ones aren’t making as much of an impact.
Keep Learning: How to Build Strong Relationships with the Right Influencers
Leverage Content Creators
To learn more about content creators and how they can support your brand, don’t miss out on our free training, full of insightful takes on how to find the best creator for you.