By Mercy Ndegwa
Tapping into creators is an extremely valuable tool for businesses, but you need to know how to authentically work together in order to reach the right people.
The value of the creator economy has increased from $1.7 billion per year to $9.7 billion – in just five years. This fact alone is reason enough to explore why creators are important and understand how businesses can work with them.
People don’t come to social media to shop, they come to be entertained and inspired. They’re on a journey of discovery. When people are on that journey, they discover new brands and products out of the blue and creators – as trusted and influential members of our communities – have a role to play, acting as guides on this journey.
But why are people drawn to creators in the first place?
The allure of creators
The biggest misconception is that people are attracted to a creator’s fame when it’s actually their creative originality that is key. From dancers to make-up artists, creators have a unique personality or craft that entertains and inspires us, and – most importantly – it offers us an original perspective.
But why is this useful for businesses?
Because people trust creators. Around63% of 18-34 year olds say they trust what a creator says about a brand more than they trust what a brand says about itself.2 In this way, creators act as guides and a powerful word-of-mouth discovery tool, helping us to decide which products or brands to consider and purchase.
Have you bought something over the past 18 months because a creator showed you something you liked? [Insert a personal example of how a creator showed you something you liked.] It’s not a one-off. In fact, 82% of people discover products and brands across Meta’s family of apps.
Businesses and creators can work together
So we understand why people interact with creators, but how can business authentically tap into this as a useful tool for marketing?
The key to this is storytelling. Content, created by a brand or otherwise, needs to earn its place in a social media feed. It needs to be arresting, engaging and entertaining. Businesses need to find creators that will effectively harness the power of storytelling for their brand. For example, 82% of people would try, purchase or recommend a brand when the content is ‘inspiring’.4 It’s not enough to rely on a creator’s fame, established trust, or highly engaged audience. It’s about how the creator delivers information. This creative content is crucial to brand success. In a recent study of over 160 creator-driven product sales campaigns, we found a correlation between ads in which the creator used some form of ‘demotainment’ to tell the product story in an entertaining way to convert customers.
When businesses work with creators on a piece of paid content, it has a different job to do than organic content. Paid social content can be shared with spend behind it to help it reach a much wider audience beyond the creator’s own network. Because this content is reaching new people, creativity is as important as the creator delivering it.Which is why it’s necessary to focus on the creator’s craft – a great post is 67% more predictive of positive brand sentiment than a likeable creator.
This has a knock-on effect on how businesses work with creators – they need to make space for creators to do what they do well. If a brand tries to make them an extension of their brand campaign, the collaboration will lose its superpower: authenticity. A creator’s power lies in the fact that their voice and their opinion is authentic to them – it’s not a copy of something else.
Businesses can work with creators in this way across the purchase funnel. Creator effectiveness isn’t limited to just one moment in the purchase funnel. When used alongside other marketing methods, creators can help to build brand awareness, favorability, inspire purchase intent, and drive conversions.
How do you find a creator?
Creator marketing is a mix of art and science – but mostly art. So there’s no easy formula for finding the right creator, but there are a few different ways to think about finding the right fit for your business that work across three main categories.
‘Category fit’ is the most common. For example, if you’re a beauty brand, you might want to partner with a beauty creator, or if you’re a gaming brand, you’ll partner with a gaming creator. This kind of partnership works well for products that benefit from the subject matter expertise that creators can provide, as they can show how a product works or talk about it in-depth in order to make a sale.
If you’re happy to experiment a little further from home, think about a ‘lifestyle fit’, starting with your product and the kind of people who might use it. For instance, if you’re a photo-printing service, a creator with expertise in the interior design space could be the ticket. This level of association will still make it relevant to an audience that’s interested in your brand.
Finally there’s the ‘craft fit’. This approach often creates the most unexpected and rewarding creative. Imagine being a beer brand collaborating with a graffiti artist, or a footwear brand partnering with drag queens. Craft-driven collaborations have the ability to move your brand in new directions, which is why they’re often great at building a brand personality – even while driving sales.
The world of influencers is ever expanding. In fact, it is predicted to grow by another $4.1billion this year alone. Be part of this engaging and creative movement and explore the new frontiers of influence. Now is the time to find creators that will shake up your brand and help new audiences discover your products.
(Mercy Ndegwa is Public Policy Director for East and Horn of Africa, Meta).