Welcome to the age of the digital content creator. Today, over 50 million people on social media identify as content creators.
As the creator economy continues to mature and expand, it’s changing what it means to be a social media manager and pushing brands to rethink how social plays into their overall business strategy.
From running affiliate marketing programs to formal creator-brand partnerships, creator marketing is an essential strategy in your digital marketing playbook.
In this article, we’re breaking down how creators can expand the reach of your social media presence and some key advice for working with digital content creators moving forward.
What is a digital content creator?
A digital content creator is someone who creates content for social media platforms and other digital channels.
Digital content creators deliver professional, high-quality content meant to inform and engage their audience, including:
- Blog posts
Put simply, creators create and educate. Yet, they do so much more than that.
Creators are highly-skilled marketers who lead internet culture. They cultivate authentic communities and build unique personal brands, some even reaching celebrity status. They are the bridge between businesses and the people they’re trying to reach.
Jason Derulo: Slowly creators have become more and more popular and have become the premiere idols that kids are looking up to. When I was growing up people had Britney Spears or NSYNC on the wall, now they have Bryce Hall or Jake Paul.
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) September 20, 2022
Creators should be knowledgeable and passionate, especially when collaborating with brands. Credibility is the key to their success: 50% of marketers ask them to produce educational content about their products or adjacent topics. Marketers and consumers both cite that the most important qualification for creators is their experience with the product, followed by their authenticity.
6 ways digital and social media content creators are reshaping brand strategies
Creators help you reduce the content creation burden on your team, but that only scratches the surface of the impact they can have on your brand.
Here are six ways digital content creators help you reach your business objectives, according to marketers:
1. Generate more engagement
Often, creators achieve higher organic engagement rates than brands due to their authenticity and relatability. For example, though Subway has grown an impressive TikTok presence, creator Ben Mofitt garnered over 221,000 likes and more than 2,300 comments on his video about the sandwich company—stats that eclipse their average engagements.
When forming new partnerships, search for creators with an average engagement rate that will help you up-level your metrics. Here are the follower counts and engagement rates you should look for to ensure your creator content reaches a sizable audience:
2. Reach new audiences
Social media has something for everyone. You can find infinite subcultures that connect people based on shared niche interests and hobbies. To connect with a new community, forge a creator partnership with someone who is already seen as a trusted source.
Take JOANN fabrics. The fabric and craft retailer partnered with creator Michelle Hébert on a post where she took her followers behind-the-scenes of making her latest vintage-inspired ensemble. Hébert already had an established reputation as a well-known designer on social media, so the collaboration was a perfect fit.
By tapping into creators, you can extend your reach and access new audiences.
3. Strengthen communities on social
A brand community is made up of people who follow all of your content on social, share your products, services and content with others and enjoy seeing everything your brand does.
By working with creators, you can deepen and expand the emotional connection these people feel toward your brand.
According to Sprout Social’s Creator Economy report, “Successful creators don’t just churn out content, they inspire communities. They bring people together around shared interests, hobbies and identities.”
In BuzzFeed Food’s Spotlight series, they feature cooking tips from chefs-turned-creators. The videos humanize BuzzFeed’s brand and reinforce the bonds in their community.
Seek out the expert creators in your community who could help your brand bring people together.
4. Drive revenue
About 98% of all consumers plan on making a social shopping purchase in 2022. But today’s savvy social users are discerning, and they need to establish trust with a brand before buying something.
Creators gain consumers’ trust more easily than brands. A creator’s unfiltered opinion can be a powerful motivator when making purchasing decisions.
As these comments on creator Trulee’s Reel illustrate, if trustworthy creators like your product and demonstrate its effectiveness, their community will be eager to buy it.
5. Promote brand values
It’s essential to work with creators who align with your brand’s values. According to the Sprout Social Index™, company alignment with personal values is 74% more important to consumers than it was in 2021.
Consumer preferences are fueled by shared values in all aspects, including the creators you work with. By working with creators who embody your values, you can make your brand seem more credible and boost your image.
Notes, a refillable candle company, partnered with creator ReLauren to promote their candles. ReLauren specializes in sustainability content and gives people easy tips to make their lives less harmful to the planet: this partnership helps Notes establish credibility in the sustainability space.
6. Change your audience’s perception of your brand
If you find yourself in the midst of a social media crisis or are battling a negative brand image, align your brand with creators who represent the values you aspire to embody. This is especially helpful if you’re rebranding, trying to reach a new demographic or evolving to meet today’s consumers’ expectations.
When Victoria’s Secret launched the VS Collective, they were careful to choose founding members who challenged unrealistic beauty standards. These creators, activists, athletes and performers represented the “new Victoria’s Secret,” an updated version of the lingerie company. Creators can play a powerful role in shifting public perception of your brand.
How content creators are changing social media teams
With so many creators breaking into the social media scene, many marketers wonder what this digital renaissance means for their roles.
Social media management is a skill.
Just like graphic design, video editing, writing, digital strategy, data analysis, crisis comms, marketing, photography — are all individual skills and professions.
Somehow, we’ve conveniently balled them up into the title, social media mgr.
— Jenny Li Fowler 이경실 (@TheJennyLi) March 19, 2021
Will they now be expected to deliver creator-level quality content while performing other social media manager responsibilities? The truth is, it depends.
Social media managers and content creators: What’s the difference?
Social media content creators can be both freelancers and in-house team members. When working in-house, their responsibilities include focusing on content development, staying up to date with platform best-practices and serving as the “face” of the brand online (like Nuggs’ social media manager).
These tasks overlap with the roles of social media coordinators, specialists and managers. There are no clear-cut boundaries, and in job searches the term “creator” is used interchangeably with “social media manager.”
The blurred lines can create unfair work loads and expectations for social media professionals. Companies should be mindful of the resources they provide to support their teams, and remember that social media is a multi-faceted channel that requires creation and management.
New positions emerge as a result of the creator economy
Creator and influencer marketing has led to new positions emerging outside of content creation: creator relations managers. Now, dedicated team members are required to find and secure creators, manage a creator program budget and foster relationships.
These individuals need skills including:
- Experience managing budgets
- Project management
- Integrated marketing knowledge
- Data analysis
As the responsibilities of the social team grows, the size of the team must expand, too.
Advice for building a successful social media content creator strategy
If your company opts to work with freelance creators, remember these tips to maximize your creator strategy.
Tip #1: Choose creators wisely
Whether you collaborate with a creator on a single post or a months-long campaign, select people who support your brand’s mission and values, use your products or services and resonate with your target audience.
Montréal Travels’ hospitality account shares content exploring Montréal with local experts. They selected local creators as their ambassadors, including blogger Andy-Riwan. As an established micro-creator, he was an ideal choice to help them reach their niche audience.
Tip #2: Representation matters all year
If you only seek out creators who are people of color, women, LGBTQ+ or disabled one month of the year, you are missing the opportunity to reach and relate to your entire audience for the remaining 11.
Cheetos launched their campaign #DejaTuHuellaFund to celebrate people who are using their magic touch to transform Latinx communities. Winners will have a chance to “leave their mark” on their community with a cash prize. Cheetos recruited Latinx creators like Vanessa Sirias to spread the word about the contest.
By putting promotion in the hands of creators like Sirias, the content surrounding the campaign remained authentic. The result: #DejaTuHuellaFund received more than 125 million views on TikTok.
Tip #3: Let their creativity shine
Creators are highly-skilled professionals and social media trend setters, but some brands struggle to give them full creative freedom. By allowing creators to push boundaries, your brand will achieve a better end product.
In the promotional video for Tim Hortons’ contest, Roll Up To Win, creative photographer and videographer Jared Vandermeer takes viewers behind the scenes of his playful photoshoot. The video was a unique way to promote the loyalty program contest, while entertaining and educating viewers.
Lesson learned from Vandermeer: think outside the box rather than use the same tactics your competitors are using.
Tip #4: Make your partnership a part of your overall strategy
Establishing genuine, long-term relationships with creators can help you reinforce their association with your brand and build better collaborations to maximize the impact of your partnership.
Jayde Powell is a successful business owner, celebrated creator and regular contributor to Sprout’s social media presence and blog. Our ongoing partnership makes it possible for us to join forces on diverse projects and continuously brainstorm new opportunities, including our latest video series on creators.
Tip #5: Be genuine
Today, social media users can sniff out content that feels fake or “like an ad,” and will tune it out. Allow creators to showcase themselves really using your products.
In this video Dylan Mulvaney demonstrates how they use Eos shave cream as a trans woman. A departure from typical airbrushed ads of shave cream and razor commercials, this video is a solid example of why brands and creators should keep it real. To date, the video has over 450,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments.
Start building your digital content creator strategy today
Creators are key players in the future of brand marketing. Whether you work with creators in-house or grow relationships with freelancers, now is the time to launch your strategy.
Not only will creators ease your team’s content creation load, they will expand your reach and bring you closer to meeting your business goals.
To learn more about creator marketing and the future of social media, check out the Sprout Social Index™: Social Media Trends for 2022 & Beyond.