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    Creator marketing: Why it’s a must and how to differentiate your brand

    There is no denying that content creators have shifted the world of social media and marketing. The creator economy is booming and as more brands seek out partnerships for their social media networks, marketers need to understand how to remain creative and confident when building their strategies.

    In this article we’ll lay out why creator marketing is a must for marketers over the next year. We’ll also give you tips on how to craft a creator marketing strategy and answer frequently asked questions.

    What is creator marketing?

    Creator marketing is when brands partner with content creators to drive awareness and engagement for specific campaigns or initiatives. It goes beyond simply publishing one post with the help of a creator. It focuses on the larger strategy at play, determining how creator partnerships can support a brand’s overall marketing goals.

    Incorporating creator marketing into your social media strategy can improve your reach, grow audience engagement and help you connect with new communities in an authentic way.

    Why a creator marketing strategy is a must next year

    Every brand should have creator marketing on their radar when strategizing for the new year.

    In a Sprout survey of 280 marketers responsible for their brand’s social media strategy, 57% of respondents collaborate with content creators on a monthly basis. And nearly half of respondents (49%) value creator collaborations more than they do their other social strategies.

    But why are marketers collaborating with creators so frequently and why are they seen as valuable?

    Because creators help brands achieve goals in ways that brands can’t. Creators embody what consumers are looking for: authenticity. The Sprout Social Index™ revealed it’s the second most important creator qualification for consumers and marketers. The best creators inspire communities and drive culture, so they can help brands nurture existing customer relationships and attract new audiences.

    In our Creator Economy Report, we found marketers rank generating engagement (62%) and reaching new audiences (60%) as their top two goals for creator marketing.

    Graph of marketer's primary goals when working with creators

    Types of creators to inform your marketing strategy

    Not all creators are one in the same. Here’s an explanation of the various types of creators and when a brand may choose them for a partnership:

    Content creators

    Content creators produce entertaining, educational or captivating content for digital distribution. This content can include, but is not limited to:

    • Audio content (podcasts and audiobooks)
    • Written works (blog articles, social copy and ad copy)
    • Images (memes, photos or graphics)
    • Videos (Youtube videos, live streams and short-form like TikToks and Reels)

    What’s special about creators is that they have an online presence that draws people to them. Content creators’ viewers are more than just their followers—they’re fans and devout supporters that admire the creator’s unique voice. Their followers trust and respect their opinions because they have created a deep connection with them over time.

    To connect with a particular audience in an authentic way, brands need to collaborate with a content creator who has a relationship with that target audience.

    Social media content creators

    A social media content creator makes and shares educational or entertaining content for an audience across social media platforms. Similar to regular content creators, they can write blogs, create memes, etc. However, the difference between the two is social media content creators prioritize understanding and building an audience on social media.

    This subcategory of content creator usually maintains a presence across all social media networks. Our creator report research found more than half of content creators anticipate using TikTok, Instagram and Facebook creator collaborations within the next three to six months. If your brand is looking to collaborate across several networks at once, social media content creators are a great option. You can request sponsored posts to be shared across all of your interested networks, furthering your reach but with lower lift effort for everyone.

    Influencers

    You may have heard the saying, “All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.” Well, some influencers can be content creators but not all content creators are influencers. You might have heard digital creator and influencer used interchangeably, but they are not one in the same.

    So what’s the difference between a digital creator and an influencer?

    A content creator makes a living creating content, distributing photos, videos, blog articles, etc. Whereas influencers inspire followers to buy or do something. An influencer may have a different profession as well.

    For example, a trainer who shares their favorite athleisure essentials and food brands could be an influencer. Influencers are simply sharing their lives and promoting brands and services they use. If you’re looking to launch and promote a new product or service, influencer marketing is a great option since people are more likely to trust their opinions.

    Content creators by platform

    Along with knowing the different types of creators, it’s important to recognize what creators can bring to the table by platform. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter are some of the most popular social media networks for marketers working with creators.

    Top content formats marketers plan to partner with creators on

    Here’s a quick overview of creator marketing by platform:

    Facebook and Instagram creator marketing

    Some 71% of Facebook and Instagram users have taken shopping action as a result of seeing content posted by a creator.

    Facebook and Instagram offer branded content ads, making it a great option for ecommerce, retail and consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brands. When compared to creator handle ads without the paid partnership label, Instagram branded content ads see an 82% increase in probability to win purchase outcomes. The numbers speak for themselves—creator marketing can help convert consumers and encourage them to buy.

    YouTube creator marketing

    YouTube is the OG home of content creators, so naturally it’s a great fit. The video platform is known for its educational and entertaining content, so almost any brand can join in.

    Pinterest creator marketing

    Although it isn’t as popular as the other channels, Pinterest creator marketing can be effective as well. Content on Pinterest never expires, so you’ll be able to reach new audiences long-term. Creators can collaborate with brands via shoppable paid partnership tags and affiliate links.

    Pinterest is all about the aesthetics and DIY projects, making them a great avenue for the beauty, fashion and interior design industries.

    TikTok creator marketing

    There’s a reason why #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt remains a trending hashtag. TikTok is basically modern word-of-mouth marketing. TikTok reported 67% of users say the app inspired them to make a purchase decision, even if they weren’t looking to buy anything. And with over 1 billion monthly users, nearly any brand can take advantage.

    How to differentiate your creator strategy from the rest

    From generating engagement to reaching audiences and driving revenue, there are a variety of ways you can use digital content creators to supercharge your brand strategy. To achieve impactful business results, you need to remain creative and relevant when brainstorming creator collaborations.

    Here are five ways to make your creator strategy stand out:

    1. Use creators to strengthen your brand community

    According to our Creator Economy Report, “Successful creators don’t just churn out content, they inspire communities. They bring people together around shared interests, hobbies and identities.”

    Use creators to help strengthen your brand community. Your brand community consists of the people who follow your social content, and advocates for your brand’s services and products. Essentially, they are fans so they enjoy seeing anything your brand does. Pay attention to creators who are already thriving in your community and identify how you can collaborate with them.

    2. Follow the trends

    As a marketer you need to stay on top of industry trends. Sign up for newsletters, listen to podcasts, follow top creators and publications who center creator marketing content. The information you receive could ignite the spark you need for your next partnership.

    3. Consider hiring a creator relations manager

    A creator relations manager is an emerging role, but it could help your brand significantly. Their sole focus is finding and securing creators. They also cultivate relationships and can manage a creator program budget, if you’re looking to go that route. Creator relations managers have a pulse on the creator economy and may be able to identify unique opportunities.

    4. Empower diverse creators

    Collaboration with diverse creators has become more important than ever as more consumers want wider representation and desire to purchase from brands who align with their values.

    For example, partnerships with Latinx creators like Vanessa Sirias illustrate the value diverse creators bring to the table. Her collaboration with Cheetos for the  #DejaTuHuellaFund resulted in over 125 million views on TikTok.

    @vanessacsirias

    #Cheetos_Partner Submit your video for a chance to win the prize from the @cheetos DejaTuHuellaFund. Create and post your video by 8/19 for a chance to win including #DejaTuHuellaFund and #Entry so you can leave your mark in a big way!For rules and to learn more: https://c8.io/tLEcBQ

    ? Party – Bad Bunny & Rauw Alejandro

    Diverse creators not only encompass creativity, authenticity and cultural competence, but they can help audiences relate to your brand across social media. However, note that only looking to creators from marginalized communities once or twice a year comes off as ingenuine.

    Plus you’re limiting your reach, especially when it comes to connecting with existing and new audiences. Adding a rainbow flag to your profile page during Pride Month or a single Black History Month post isn’t going to cut it. Build a list of diverse creators you would like to work with and build a rapport with them so you’re prepared when it’s time to launch a campaign.

    5. Don’t count out smaller creators

    Leaning on smaller creators is another great way to incorporate creators into your content strategy. Micro-creators may have a small audience, but they’re just as valuable, if not more valuable to brands depending on the niche and industry.

    Smaller creators typically value creation, so you can expect high quality content. Plus they’ve gained loyal followers who trust their opinions and are likely to be influenced to use your brand.

    Creator marketing just makes sense

    Similar to the early days of YouTube gurus and belly laugh-inducing Viners, the new creator economy is just getting started and will continue to evolve.

    If you want to learn even more ways to maintain creativity while building your creator marketing strategy, read our Creator Economy Report.

    The post Creator marketing: Why it’s a must and how to differentiate your brand appeared first on Sprout Social.

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