Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.
The word “creator” has existed for centuries. It’s been applied to godly figures, amateur artists, and social media mavens alike. In the 2021 marketing landscape, “creator” is everywhere. At AMP, we’re seeing more and more influencers identifying as “creators” instead of “influencers.” Social media heavy hitters like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have recently developed services and tools dedicated to creators (e.g. TikTok Creator Portal, Instagram Creator Studio, Facebook Creator Studio, and the YouTube Creators Channel). The creator economy is said to be worth just over $100 billion dollars, according to a Forbes article published last month. But what exactly is a “creator”? How did these individuals become such a core part of the contemporary marketing scene? And most importantly, how can your brand build partnerships with creators who your target audience connects with? In this blog post, we’ll explore the rise of the creator, as it pertains to our industry, and share insights to help you find the right partners. What is a creator? The term itself is a matter of much debate. Different social media platforms have their own definitions. A 2019 eMarketer article highlights a few: YouTube has essentially used the same definition for years, but it segments creators into “established” and “aspiring” to account for varying follower counts. Facebook considers any entity that builds community by publishing content on Facebook to be a creator, whether an individual video creator, publisher or media company. Instagram considers influencers and creators to be one and the same. The company says it uses the term creator because that’s how many of its partners see themselves. Twitter defines a creator as any entity that produces content. It further divides the term into “artists” (known for their skill at creating a particular type of content) and “influencers” (known for their voice or their thought leadership in a particular community). Some people seek to define creators by comparing them to influencers. One measure of comparison is looking at the different content they produce. In a 2021 blog post, the video creation and monetization platform Curastory states: Working with a creator and working with an influencer will produce very different marketing results. Influencers will influence how their followers dress, what makeup they should wear, or what products to buy. Creators, on the other hand, create content that gets people engaged — how-to guides, a-day-in-the-life, tips, tutorials, etc. At AMP, we also find it helpful to consider creators and influencers together. The terms have a number of similarities: They both produce content, partner with brands, and tend to have large followings – yet their function and the purpose that drives them is not quite the same. Anna Tremblay, AMP Senior Manager of PR & Influencer Relations, explains: We interface with so many influencers, and very few of them refer to themselves as influencers. I almost think of it less as a title — like influencer or creator — and almost like a function. These are all people who create and post content, but they can do it for the purpose of creating or the purpose of influencing. And sometimes those needs collide, especially when working with a brand. I do think that TikTok, in particular, has ramped up the use of the word “creator” because that is how TikTok has branded their own influencers.” How did creators become such a core part of the contemporary marketing scene? A 2019 article from The Atlantic suggests that the term “creator” began to gain popularity in 2011. Around that time, Next New Networks — a multichannel network that was later bought by YouTube — developed a program for YouTube stars called New Next Creators. This language, as well as the concept of creators, became a major focus for YouTube. The Atlantic article says, “YouTube was so successful at pushing the term creator that other platforms soon co-opted it.” However, other sources portray creators as a newer part of the social media landscape. A 2021 New Yorker article dubs creators the successors of influencers: The influencer is a fading stock character of the Internet’s commedia dell’arte. The cliché of the influencer emerged, during the twenty-tens, from multimedia-rich platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, where the goal was to forge as curated and polished an image as possible. Influencers were social-media users as celebrities, with much of the vanity and purposelessness that the comparison implies. By now, the connotations of being an influencer are mostly negative—edited selfies, vapid captions, faux relatability, staged private-jet photos, and unmarked sponsorships. Accordingly, social-media platforms are embracing a new buzzword as a successor: “creator.” “Creator” is a term with a more wholesome air, conjuring an Internet in which we are all artisanal blacksmiths plying our digital craft. *Side Note: We disagree that influencers are fading characters on the scene, and believe that there’s a time and place for brands to successfully work with both influencers and creators. While it is difficult to nail down the exact origins of “creator” in the marketing industry, we can speak to the key factors that have contributed to their current popularity in this landscape. Factor 1: Creators speak to consumers’ desire for authenticity. Today’s consumers crave authenticity. More brands are ditching the airbrush and speaking out on social causes. Fewer consumers are expecting perfection from ads. And this lust for realness applies to creators as well. When done correctly, partnering with a creator can give your brand campaigns an air of authenticity. Creators can take your products and show their audience how they uniquely connect with them. It’s high-quality branded content with a personal flair. At AMP, we love partnering with creators who are genuinely passionate about our clients’ products. For example, in 2020, we joined our client Maruchan to partner with influencer foodies like @foodieonfleek. These creative partnerships yielded elevated recipes with a Maruchan product base, and naturally resonated with both the creators’ followers and our client’s customers. Factor 2: Content consumption is a significant part of 2021 life, and creators develop content. As the pandemic continues, and the Delta variant raises COVID-19 precautions and fears, many people are still working from home and opting for at-home activities. Even if the world is more open than it was a year ago, many people still depend on virtual entertainment and social media to relax and engage with others. Creators provide an emotional escape or moment of connection for viewers, and brands can leverage these interactions to connect with consumers. Factor 3: Short-form video content has gained huge popularity among creators and brands alike in recent years. Short-form video content is video content with a brief duration, although how brief depends on the platform. A 2021 blog post by the software company HubSpot explains, “A video up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length is considered short-form. But there's no universal number that everyone has agreed on.” And it’s worth noting that these time limits shift based on trends. For example, TikTok recently increased its video time limit to three minutes (the previous limit was 60 seconds). Unsurprisingly, competitor Instagram Reels soon after increased its limit from 30 seconds to 60 seconds). In recent years, we’ve seen a variety of social platforms pop up that are dedicated solely to short-form video content (e.g. TikTok, Musical.ly, Vine). Similarly, many of the other major social platforms have leaned more into short-form content (e.g. Facebook and Instagram rolled out their Story features). This is great news for creators, who are essential to the success and content creation of these apps. It’s also great news for brands. AMP Senior Engagement Strategist Kaitlyn Feniello says: Even before TikTok and Reels were a thing, advertisers have been talking for so long about how videos need to be short in order to get your attention. In the paid social space, you have .25 seconds to grab someone’s attention on an ad before they move on. People have always known that these videos need to be shorter. There’s also something to be said about YouTube videos and these longer form videos that people are watching like TV. But I think that’s the difference. If there’s a video that you’re willing to watch for 30 minutes, that’s more like the mindset of watching TV versus consuming content on TikTok. If TikTok’s spot as the #1 globally downloaded app in 2020 is any indication, short-form video content is here to stay. And brands shouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to create their own short-form video content. So, how can your brand find and hire a creator? And how do you make sure the partnership is a good fit? The Internet has a variety of free and paid options for locating creators and influencers: Free options: TikTok Creator Marketplace Upfluence Chrome extension Check out the TikTok Discover page Peruse the Instagram Explore page Search the YouTube Trending page Explore hashtags on relevant social media platforms Do a Google search for top creators in your industry, then follow them on the social channels that your brand uses Paid search programs: Grin Tokfluence Tagger Media You could also partner with a marketing, social media, or influencer agency to help you build strong partnerships with creators. If you’re interested in going down this route, AMP offers influencer marketing services and we’d love to talk to you about working together. Feel free to contact us with any inquiries! Finally, here’s a quick summary of list of DOs and DON’Ts to help you find a creator who resonates with your target audience and fits with your brand: DO... Look for creators who have an authentic personal brand. Consider if the creator you want to partner with reflects your brand’s values. Seek partnerships with creators who have significant followings on the platforms your brand wants to leverage. When asked which types of creators and partnerships work best for different platforms, AMP Engagement Strategist Rashida Hull said: It depends on the campaign you’re trying to do and where the campaign is going to live. Ideally, if you have an influencer that is on TikTok and Instagram, and has a huge following on both platforms, and you’re going to do a campaign on both platforms, it really works. But I’ve run into a situation where a client wanted to use an influencer for TikTok but they only had their content on Instagram… it doesn’t really work. Explore options for TikTok partnerships. Aside from it’s incredible popularity, TikTok also has made it far easier for creators to be discovered. Tremblay says: TikTok is a huge game changer for influencers. Period. End of discussion. And it’s because discoverability on that platform is unmatched by any other platform. We have seen the growth of so many Instagram influencers due to their presence on TikTok. Consider both short-term and long-term partnerships. While a short-term partnership can drive excitement and buzz around a new campaign, a long-term partnership has the benefit of building a strong public association between the creator and your brand. Make short-form video content a part of your marketing strategy and consider which creators can make high-quality videos for your promotional efforts. DON’T... Focus exclusively on follower size. Many brands are finding success working with micro and nano creators. Niche, loyal audiences can yield greater trust and affinity among potential customers. Partner with just any creator. A good brand partnership with a creator should make sense. If something seems odd or off about the pairing, your brand can come across as inauthentic or out of touch. Make sure to research your creators and consider doing a smaller test campaign before diving into long-term partnerships. View creator partnerships as a one and done deal. The marketing landscape, and the role of creators in it, is ever-changing. Make sure to stay on top of trends in content and platforms, so that your brand feels relevant to today’s consumer.
In the world of social media, trends, features, and even platforms can seemingly become a phenomenon overnight. One night, you go to bed after scrolling your Instagram feed, and the next morning you wake up to a brand new, intriguing yet unfamiliar app called TikTok. It doesn't take long for this app to surpass all others as the most downloaded app of all time with over 1 billion active users across the world. Flash forward to the present day where Instagram - and almost every other popular social platform, for that matter - are scrambling to keep up with this new app. So, what makes TikTok so attractive, and can Instagram compete with their look-a-like competitive feature, IG Reels? Well, let’s dive in! Why is short-form video so popular all of the sudden? Before we talk about Reels and TikTok, let’s first address why the short-form video nature of both platforms caught on so quickly. For a long while, social media marketers have strategized their content around the fact that the attention span of our followers is short- and we mean short. According to Facebook, marketers only have 0.25 seconds to capture a user’s attention before they keep scrolling. With that in mind, snackable video content became the name of the game for brands and content creators and opened the door to a scrappier style of content - especially for brands who had typically seen video content as an expensive, high-production-value ordeal. The lower production value required for a high-performing Reels or TikTok video was key for brands. That, paired with the fact that these platforms became widely popular during a pandemic when creative teams were developing content out of their own homes. Additionally, it opened up a new door for brands and content creators to turn out quick-hit, entertaining content. What’s the difference between Reels and TikTok? Now that we’ve covered why short-form video content is so popular across both Reels and TikTok, let’s discuss the key differences between these platforms that have affected how they’ve been adopted by social users. Reels TikTok The Takeaway The User Experience To navigate to Reels, users must first open the Instagram app, where they will be shown their regular feed from accounts they follow. Then, they will select the Reels icon from the bottom menu to start viewing Reels in a TikTok-esque feed of content that’s been curated for the user by Instagram’s algorithm. When a user opens the TikTok app, they are immediately shown a curated feed of TikToks the platform’s algorithm has chosen - AKA the “FYP” (for you page). The full screen and vertical swipe feed create a frictionless user experience that makes it as easy as possible to enjoy the app. TikTok’s unique user experience puts short-form video content curated just for you at the center stage, creating a seamless and simple way to enjoy content. On the other hand, Reels is only a feature of Instagram among many others. Music & Video Editing Tools Due to copyright concerns, Instagram business accounts only have access to Reels’ library of royalty-free tracks, while content creators have access to a larger library full of popular copyrighted music. While Reels does offer video editing tools, they can be tricky to navigate and their filters and effects are not very extensive. Music and sound are the cornerstones of a TikTok video, and the app has nailed this feature with its extensive library of music and user-generated sounds available to content creators and brands alike. On top of that, TikTok’s video editing features are user-friendly, and they offer a wide variety of filters and video effects. TikTok is the clear winner when it comes to music and video editing tools given their extensive music and sound library and editing capabilities. Platform Purpose Instagram, home of Reels, is a network-oriented app, where users are used to seeing content from people they are familiar with and have chosen to follow. However, in the Reels section of the app, it takes on a content-oriented approach, serving users content from people they don’t know. At its core, TikTok is a content-oriented app. It normalized the experience of seeing content from people you don’t know in your feed based on your usage history and learned preference. While both platforms' short-form video features are content-oriented, Instagram is known for being a network-oriented app. Instagram has offered a similar user experience through their “Explore” page since 2012, so this balance between content and network orientation is something they’ve been teetering for a while. The Algorithm Instagram has been less transparent about the Reels algorithm, however, it has provided a few best practices for success. For example, Instagram recommends that Reels content is entertaining, fun, and inspiring, uses the app’s creative editing tools, and leverages the music or sounds provided. Instagram has also shared that content that is visibly recycled from other apps (e.g. contains a TikTok watermark) will also be deprioritized by the algorithm. Beyond all of the features listed above, TikTok’s arguably largest advantage is its algorithm. The platform’s parent company, ByteDance, has been very transparent about the large investment they made to design the app’s algorithm that picks up on users' personalized interests in record time, contributing to the effortless and enjoyable nature of consuming content on the app. Overall, TikTok’s algorithm is the first of its kind and unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the social space, which ultimately contributes to its success. We don’t know as much about Instagram’s Reels algorithm, but we can assume it attempts to mimic the TikTok experience while staying true to the app and attempting to keep Reels content unique. How Brands Can Be Successful on Reels and TikTok To be successful on Reels and TikTok, brand content shouldn’t feel like brand content. Brands need to get scrappy and creative to grab user’s attention and not stand out like a sore thumb among the style of content shared by individual creators. With that in mind, both Reels and TikTok require a unique content strategy within the brand’s larger social strategy. However, that inevitably requires extra time and effort. To decide which of these platforms to begin focusing your efforts on, ask yourself these two questions: Which platform is your audience on currently? Which one can you commit to doing consistently? While there are many benefits of TikTok as discussed above in our comparison of the two platforms, many brands have already established themselves and have grown a following on Instagram, and therefore beginning to utilize Reels has a low barrier to entry. While cross-posting between the two platforms is an option we’ve seen numerous brands take, a carefully thought out strategy for each channel your brand has a presence on is more important than simply having content out there. When it comes to a brand’s social presence, quality is always preferred over quantity. The social world is ever-evolving - and at the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which platform is best - the answer is unique to your brand’s priorities and your team’s bandwidth to thoughtfully manage the channels on which your brand appears.
It's that time of year to reflect on 2013 and predict what's to come in 2014. As a full-service agency, AMP knows a lot about a lot of things. We asked the experts to share their predictions for 2014. Read their insights below. Content Marketing: Content Strategy We've known for years that content is king, but it looks like the landscape is shifting from a bunch of 'cowboys'? (bad poker reference) at the forefront of content development to a full house of brands saddling up to jump into the content marketing mix. Recent data from the Content Marketing Institute and Marketingprofs shows that 90% of B2C marketers are already using content marketing in some form with 72% producing more content than they did one year ago. The scary/exciting part of the story? Only 39% have a documented content strategy. As Content Marketing budgets continue to rise (see below chart), 2014 will be the year that content marketing strategies become core to a brand's overall marketing approach. Key to this evolution will be an increased focus on leveraging audience insights to identify relevant content themes, delivery channels and formats. Search: Content Creation In 2014, search marketers will work even closer with content creators, video producers, and infographic designers in order to help brands grow their library of interesting, shareable content. Content will be focused on answering questions that consumers care about while helping brands gain additional visibility within search engine results. Search marketers will utilize measurement tools such as Google Analytics to measure: Site search: to see what searchers want to learn about when they're on the site Landing page visits: to see what types of content drive the most traffic Social shares: to see what types of content leads users to sharing on social media In addition, search marketers will be focused on creating tactical content sharing campaigns which utilize Social, PR outreach, and perhaps even Email, to expand the reach of new content. In 2014 brands will have to ask themselves ' what is the most exciting content for my industry? Display: Programmatic Buying Due to its cost efficiencies, targeting capabilities, and transparency, Programmatic spending is estimated to grow year over year to $4.66 billion in 2014 (38% growth over 2013) and up to $9 billion by 2017 according to an eMarketer study (eMarketer, Dec. 2013). Some challenges with programmatic spending in 2014 include: Continued education to advertisers and publishers Cross device targeting Cookie deletion and the affect on first and third party data points Inventory quality and viewability Social: Mobile. Visual. Content. The three words of 2014. Mobile. Visual. Content. Social Media has evolved into an inherent part of the marketing mix. While most brands have adopted social in some form, the challenge in the coming year will be how brands can reach the right audience and make an impact. The answer lies in providing content that's accessible and contextually adds value to consumers lives. Quick-hitting ,highly-visual, mobile content will be what resonates with consumers and provides positive brand experiences. Measurement & Analytics: Integrating the Data Measurement will continue to move towards integrating different data sources, both offline and online. We have seen this with the two web analytics leaders, Google Analytics and Adobe Marketing Cloud, being no longer just limited to website behavior. Where ever there is a consumer touch point, these solutions will seek to integrate that data as marketers try to make sense of the digital ecosystem. Additionally, there has been an increasing push to acquire offline data to deliver a complete picture of product research and purchase cycle. For example, Google has stated that they will be moving users from the old ga.js Google Analytics code in favor of the new Universal Analytics code, which enables integration of offline data including point of sales data at the user level. This has big implications considering that over 62% of the top 10K sites on the web utilize Google Analytics in some form. All these tools will become more user friendly as analytics vendors make their products more accessible and less technical skill intensive. Tag management tools, which allow the capturing of data across touch points, are becoming less tech intensive and more user friendly - empowering marketers to edit tracking on the fly without the need to edit code. All these advances will allow analysts to spend less time gathering data and more time analyzing data. Keep checking back to our blog in 2014 to see our analysis of these predictions as they come to fruition. Blog Post Contributors include: Michelle Gilbert, Christina Wong, Andrew Ricker, Rachel Lawton and Matt Jacobs.
It seems like since they emerged, we've been vigilant to find the Facebook killer or the next Twitter, Tumblr or YouTube. While we have been introduced to countless promises of "the Instagram of video" the "Twitter of audio" or any other combination of "the ____ of ____," the truth is that many of these apps and platforms come and go and the Colors of the world far exceed the successes. That being said, let's get all excited over the next big thing before we realize that it doesn't have a business model, shall we? So what is the thing that everyone has been talking about? Pheed (of course it's spelled that way). And guess what; it has a business model, and a pretty interesting one at that. In a nutshell, Pheed creates A SUPER EASY way for users to share text, photos, videos, audio tracks, voice-notes and live broadcasts. Then it gives them the option to place all of that content behind a paywall ranging from $1.99 - $34.99 per view or per month. The application is free, and you don't have to charge for your content, but the thinking is that if you do charge a premium price, you will be forced to create premium content. That's slightly concerning because one thing that the Internet hates is paywalls and one thing that the Internet loves is creating way more awful content than "premium" content. Despite these two potential deal breakers, right now Pheed holds the #1 spot in the App Store's Social Networking category and is currently #17 on the Free Charts. And unlike the growth of Vine last month, Pheed's success doesn't appear to be from porn; at least we don't think so at the moment. In fact, the majority of its recent growth can be traced back to a few popular teens. What may be even more interesting to users is that in a world of encroaching privacy policies and debates over who owns the content posted on sites, Pheed makes it abundantly clear that all uploaded content "is owned by the user, Pheed retains no rights or ownership toward it." The app even gives you the options to copyright or watermark each of your posts. Those two very un-Facebook-like moves should at the very least make Mark Zuckerberg and friends stop to think about the future of content sharing. Even if it's just for a second (which we all know is about a second longer than they actually will). So is it going to be the next Twitter or kill Facebook? Most likely not. However, our passion for creating and sharing content has never been hotter and any platform that looks great and allows people to do it easily has a chance. Fortunately for Pheed, it succeeds at both of those things. So what are others saying about Pheed? Here are some of the best recaps we've read: Huffington Post - "It's now the No. 1 free app in Apple's App Store under the Social Networking category" BostInno - "Once [college students] cope with the fact a group of teenagers beat them at making something 'cool,'? they'll likely jump on the Pheed bandwagon, too" Forbes - "its Twitter-with-a-business-model approach stands to seriously impact the social media game" So what do you think? Does Pheed stand a chance to make an impact on the social space? Or will a two-week media love fest followed by obscurity continue to be the norm with new social platforms?
Hear the AMP Insights Lab perspective on social media metrics and measuring what matters. AMP Agency presents Videos by the Insights Lab- a think tank dedicated to uncovering, understanding and leveraging the best way to connect brands with consumers via the latest technology. To learn more about these metrics, download the Psychology of Social whitepaper at http://bit.ly/z0OQvX