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Try Creators to Optimize Influencer Marketing

By Michal Fuchs

In the last few years, influencer marketing has been one of the fastest-growing trends in digital marketing. As part of marketing's "pivot to video," influencer marketing helped advertisers like Dunkin' and McDonald's achieve marketing success.

But not every marketing campaign is right for influencers. Sometimes, marketers don't have the budget for influencers. Other times, there isn't the lead time or resources for a comprehensive influencer campaign.

Marketers looking for an influencer-like campaign requiring less time and fewer resources should consider creator-driven campaigns.

Not familiar with creators? According to leading industry blog Influencer Marketing Hub, "The difference between creators and influencers is simple: creators make content for the sake of making content and sharing it online. Influencers make content to grow their personal brand and highlight their lives on social media."

Because creators 'make content for the sake of making content', they have a vested interest in ensuring that the content they make for a marketer is the best that it can be. A failed campaign will make it harder to land the next marketer.

Quality Over Quantity

As creators make content, they'll focus on developing quality creative content for a marketer's brand. Unlike influencers, creating content is their business model. They'll make the extra effort because they know that every creative they create could be the one that will enable them to land a large brand with a bigger budget.

Beyond this difference, creators typically have follower counts that are usually in the thousands (sometimes even hundreds of thousands), so the cost/financial risk is much smaller. That's also why creator budgets are much more cost-effective than influencer budgets.

It's All About Trust

Creators are hired because of their knowledge and experience in a specific niche. And their followers follow them and engage with their content because they respect this knowledge and enjoy their content. For this reason, many creators are selective and only work with brands they believe are relevant to themselves and their followers. When a marketer hires a creator, they do so to tap into their experience and often, their follower base, resulting in a relationship where both parties' objectives are aligned.

In productive creator campaigns, the relationship between the brand and creator is an equitable value exchange. The creator generates revenue while the brand receives legitimization in the creator's niche.

Tap into New Technologies Like Generative AI

With many creators being young and self-reliant, we'd expect them to push the envelope when it comes to emerging technologies. After all, creators helped to make TikTok the app it is today. Therefore, I'd expect creators to openly embrace generative AI technologies like Midjourney, DALL-E2, and Runway in the creative they develop.

Moving Beyond TikTok and Focusing on Performance

In their attempts to follow the success achieved by TikTok, Google, and Meta are now courting creators, which offers enhanced marketing opportunities to work with these platforms. Specifically, YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels are the short-form video content that these respective companies have rolled out to compete with TikTok. With most creators more focused on one platform, marketers should experiment with a range of creators across all three platforms, as well as Snapchat, Twitch, and others to find the creators and the creative concepts that deliver the best results.

From our experience, when we start to work on a new creator campaign, we seek out creators in our global database who are most relevant according to geography, language, interests, keywords, gender, mentions, and hashtags. We then manually review the list of creators generated by the database, focusing on key metrics like engagement rates, and then select the list of creators we'll contact.

Our work with creators is defined by the content creation guidelines that we put together with our clients. To ensure campaign success, we usually define a call-to-action where the creator's followers are asked to engage or comment.

One way to ensure creator campaign success is to include a unique coupon code for each creator that is inserted into the content and can be tracked as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI).

Though many marketers use creators for branding, we've succeeded in generating trackable results and strong KPIs in creator-driven performance marketing campaigns, and even User Acquisition (UA) campaigns.

With the growth of short-form video across multiple platforms, and following industry research showing that most agency and brand executives who buy digital video consider creator-generated content to be premium, now is the time to add creator-generated video to your marketing plan. Though we still run influencer marketing campaigns, marketers with shorter lead times and/or budget or resource constraints should be working with creators.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Michal Fuchs is the influencers marketing and creative director at Zoomd.