August 31, 2022

The rise of content creators and how to use them to your advantage

Social media is always evolving

People’s lives have drastically changed since the beginning of the pandemic. And one thing that we’ve learned is the digital landscape and means of communication have become more essential than ever before. Over the last two and a half years, the trend of short-form video produced by content creators is overtaking the perfectly produced influencer shots and campaigns that previously graced users’ feeds.

While influencers and content creators share multiple similarities, the core distinction is that influencers post sponsored content briefed by brands, while content creators utilize their insight and expertise to create original content for their audience. Knowing the difference between the two is important as they both provide different value to their audiences.

As consumption behaviors change and social platforms expand, the rise of raw and authentic short-form videos will remain a key format for brands to invest in if they want to engage with priority audiences. According to a July 2022 Insider Intelligence report, Instagram will continue to command the highest share of influencer marketing dollars, but TikTok will overtake Facebook in 2022 and YouTube in 2024.


Defining “content” in a digital environment has changed

“Content has taken many interactive forms over the years but is primarily intended to educate or inspire,” Bailey Lauerman Social Media Director Moira Delaney says. “Most importantly, it retains audiences due to its highly engaging nature.”

Rival social platforms are leaning into how content is brought to life in response to TikTok’s rise in popularity over the past two years with short-form video. With Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and Snapchat Spotlight, platforms are shining even more of a focus on how users interact with content.

Today, some of the most successful viral content comes from a variety of content creators. These creators design, produce and provide entertaining or instructional content for their audiences. When done right, many content creators are seen as credible experts in the space and create ongoing content for their audiences to learn and benefit from. From there, partnerships arise. Through these partnerships, creators can join together with brands to promote their content, products and services while simultaneously reaping the rewards of authenticity.

Creators spend a great deal of their time understanding their audience and the personalities of their followers through one-to-one comments, messages and engagement. Creators have a way to personally connect with individuals that most brands struggle to adapt, allowing them to take follower feedback and preferences into consideration to optimize their content for both the viewer and their platform.

One of our recent client campaigns proves the impact content creators have versus brands. In a five-part video series we launched with the Brownstone Boys, the content creators’ spots produced 11 times the number of comments over the same video posted on the brands’ platform.


The “perfect” influencer is a thing of the past

Influencer collaborations date back to the 18th century, but the biggest modification of their original design has been social media. As one of the most popular and effective forms of online marketing, influencer collaborations have been transformed into a fast-paced billion-dollar industry that brands can take part in.

Influencers are now moving toward the business of content creation, moving away from the overly produced, beautifully shot Instagram-like posts to real, raw, authentic short-form video.

Whether in the form of Instagram Reels, TikToks or YouTube Shorts, creators can easily film on a whim to talk to their audience directly, versus setting up that “perfect” shot. With their loyal followers, creators are changing the game—one post at a time.


Content creators are now the key players driving influence

“With the influencer atmosphere becoming more saturated, a lot of influencers are creating their own voice through content unique to their channel to differentiate themselves from others in the space—ultimately creating their own niche audience,” Delaney said.

As an influential content creator with a focus on real estate, Shaheedah Hill is a prime example of a creator who understands the importance of authenticity. Starting as a real estate agent who first created content as a way to break down the complex homebuying process for clients, her helpful tips and tricks soon turned into successful educational content that went viral. With more than 114K subscribers and over 5.8M views on YouTube, Shaheedah Hill is a valuable member of our EIB Influencer Network at Bailey Lauerman.

“Social media is the vehicle to get your content to the public,” Hill said. “Some content is better suited for a particular social media platform than it is for others.”

According to Hill, brand partnerships are most successful at creating authentic content when the brand is already valuable and applicable to the creator or influencer’s respective audiences.

“You don’t have to force a fit,” Hill said.


Brands can leverage these partnerships to show a strong ROI

Brands typically work with content creators to reach audiences in a more authentic way, while still producing high-quality work. Content creation takes energy, dedication and insight that some businesses are unable to devote in-house resources to.

“When working with content creators, you’re getting the benefit of not only a highly produced video, but also extended reach for the brand by utilizing their audience base,” Delaney said.

“The most effective way for a brand to work with creators is to align with the purpose of the content and how it will provide value to both parties, remembering at the end of the day their audiences want authenticity more than anything,” Delaney said.

At Bailey Lauerman, we utilize creators as subject-matter experts to help clients expand awareness to audiences that may be harder to reach through traditional, branded content. From contract development and campaign launches to content reviews and final reports, BL handles all the nuts and bolts needed to make a creator partnership successful.


Launching a successful campaign

The biggest step when deciding who to work with is to identify your desired outcome. This can be done by considering the fact that content creators are more collaborative by nature, hands-on and can be seen as an extension of your content team, while influencers traditionally have been more comfortable with executing an idea defined within a project brief.

Regardless, by cross-promoting creators and influencers in a variety of ways, brands can utilize these relationships to drive traffic back to their websites, increase brand awareness and promote products and services. This type of content also produces strong results when brands whitelist influencer handles and amplify them through paid social, appearing more organically through social feeds to targeted audiences.


Take your content to the next level

To get the most out of influencer and content-creator partnerships, it’s critical to do your research. Be sure you are selecting a creator who is credible within your space but also has the audience to match your goals. Content creators want to stay true to their craft just as much as brands want to stay true to their mission. Quality work and genuine partnerships can transform your brand for the better.

If you have questions about content creators or are interested in activating a short- or long-term campaign, reach out to Moira Delaney, Social Media Director, at [email protected].


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