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The Influencer World is Growing Up: The Rise of Creator Marketing

If you’ve used the terms “influencer” and “creator” interchangeably over the past several years, you aren’t alone. It makes sense because, on the surface, these two terms seem extremely similar. However, they are two different things, and “creator” and “creator marketing” are gradually taking hold as the preferred expressions. Let’s discuss how these two terms differ and what this language shift illustrates about our collective view of creators.

Creators vs. Influencers

What’s the difference between influencer and creator marketing, and what does that mean for the marketing world? As a creator-driven platform, we believe in progressing the narrative around the creator class. They are no longer a minor part of brand budgets, and they are now a major part of most of our lives as social media consumers.

But, progress takes education and advocacy. Below, we break down the nuances and connotations between “creators” and “influencers”, and what the shift represents for sponsored content.

What to Know About Influencer Marketing

The truth is, influencers have been around for decades — possibly even centuries. The term “influencer” brings to mind a social media salesperson, someone with a strong personal brand and as the name implies, a lot of influence over their audience. They may have a specific niche, like fashion, makeup, tech, or fitness.

The power of influencers stems from their name and celebrity status. Many reality TV stars and professional sports figures have drifted into the influencer space simply because they are household names. And now, social media stars become powerful influencers in their own right, sharing content about their daily lives and attracting followers who resonate with them or their niche.

The “influencer” label doesn’t come without baggage, however. Many associate the word influencer with people who are vapid, fake, materialistic, and likely to sell out to a brand they don’t even support or use personally. Under this lens, relationships between influencers and brands are more transactional, and less based on genuine alignment and partnership.

Savvy social media audiences know when this is the case, because content may also end up lacking authenticity. So how and why are we shifting the conversation to “creator marketing” in 2024 and beyond?

What is Creator Marketing?

If influencers are powered by their name and status, creators are powered by the quality and authenticity of their content. The term “creator” implies mastery of a craft, which is what drives the most successful social creators. They are talented photographers, videographers, writers, marketers, stylists, tech experts, and more. Their brand is their content, and their content is often highly personal and personalized to their audience.

While not all creators are mega-stars with huge followings like Alix Earle and Mr. Beast, the point is not quantity — it’s quality. Creators are passionate about the content they create and who they create for. Ultimately, they want to develop strong connections with their audiences. That means being thoughtful and deliberate about the brands they work with.

For brands, they can think about creator marketing as going beyond just selling a product. Creators are activated to educate viewers about a product launch or build fresh excitement around an old standby. They draw from their own experiences or expertise to showcase creative new ways to use a product, and even build engagement with the brand by asking for feedback. And, with the right brand partners, are extremely successful at boosting sales too!

Looking for inspiration for your next creator marketing campaign? Get our guide to 2023’s creator marketing trends and 2024 predictions!

Creator Marketing Grows Up

Creators vs. influencers — what does the terminology matter to your brand and its marketing strategy? For brands, it’s a matter of shifting from a solely bottom-of-funnel strategy with creators to a holistic, full-funnel approach. Let’s break down why creator marketing and the creator class are the future of social media marketing.

The Rise of the Creator Economy

As The Washington Post reported late in 2023, the creator economy is now a global industry valued at $250 billion, with tens of millions of workers and hundreds of millions of customers. Brand-sponsored content can no longer be thought of as the latest Gen Z craze or a passing trend. It’s a part of our daily lives and for many across age ranges, creators are a gateway to learning about new and existing products and services.

As Jim Lounderback commented on LinkedIn, soon we’ll stop calling it the creator economy. We’ll just call it media. Creator marketing is a mainstream marketing channel that’s here to stay – and only growing as a critical piece of a company’s strategy.

Creators Are Content Experts

The term “influencers” implies a personality that delivers content. On the other hand, “creators” make content with personality. Each creator is uniquely positioned to engage their specific audience. They take the time to produce high-quality content that resonates with viewers. In other words, the most impactful creators live and breathe for their audiences. They know it can take years to build rapport and trust, so they’ll avoid breaking this trust at any cost.

This is a positive for brands, who can leverage creators’ well-earned trust in their social media marketing strategy.

Creators Think Outside the Box

Influencers, in the traditional sense, are great at what they do: influence consumers. However, most social media professionals are much more than one-trick ponies.

Creators are, as their name implies, creative. Their brand is tied to their expertise, their experiences, and their passion for the content they produce, so they aren’t limited in their creative endeavors. This endless creativity is excellent for brands looking to stand out from the competition.

Take Your Brand to New Heights With Creator Marketing

As a business owner looking to take their campaigns up a notch, creator marketing can open a new world of possibilities for your brand. Creators are savvy, yet authentic marketers.

By shifting towards a creator marketing mindset, brands can fully unleash the potential of their own creator programs: high-quality content that goes outside the box and engages audiences in creative, authentic ways.

Ready to take your creator marketing strategy to the next level? Reach out to MagicLinks to connect with vetted, professional creators in your space who are aligned with your brand!

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