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.
The Strategy team at AMP is on a mission to better understand marketers’ most sought-after consumer segments. Each week, individuals from these segments take over @AMP_Agency Instagram stories to give us a peek into their world as part of our digital ethnography series, “Through Their Eyes.” Throughout June and July, we focused on millennials who are in the midst of planning their weddings and saw the world from the perspective of Jillian from Allentown, PA, Casey from Chicago, and Haley and John from Boston. As marketers, we frequently consider how to reach and resonate with our audiences during times of pivotal life moments. This month, we decided to focus on the time leading up to what is often considered to be the “most important day of your life” – your wedding day. How are engaged millennials posting on their Instagram Stories during this time? What do they consider to be the elements of their day worth showcasing? Keep reading to find out. The way to the heart is still through the stomach Yes, learning to co-manage meal routines is integral to cohabitating (see our earlier Grocery Diaries reflection for more here), but our participants’ Stories also reminded us that sharing meals together is still the perfect setting for creating memories as a couple. Food is especially important to Haley and John, as they met at culinary school, and their Stories showed the small ways in which food helps them “play house” as a couple and demonstrate their care for one another: John made Haley breakfast, while Haley texted John a photo of the quiche she was making for him in turn later that day. Food also plays a role beyond the day-to-day drudgery, as we saw Jillian and her fiancé’s spread at a taco date night, as well as Casey and her fiancé posing at the dinner table during their friend’s wedding reception. The New York Times understands the hecticness of this time in fiancés’ lives and the power of food to force a couple to slow down and enjoy each other – in their robust How to Plan a Wedding guide, they even go so far as to instruct the reader to take a break from wedding plan and go on a date. There’s opportunity for brands in relevant industries like food, restaurant, and grocery to remind millennials at the wedding planning stage that they deserve a break. Food is love: (L to R) John cooks Haley breakfast, Jillian enjoys date night, and Casey poses at the dinner table during her friend’s wedding reception. Everyone else in their life is getting married and having babies too While culture likes to romanticize weddings as a time to completely celebrate oneself and one’s partner, in reality this time is extra stressful because fiancés aren’t just planning their own affairs – they’re spending considerable time and money attending and participating in their millennial friends’ similar milestones and events. While the average wedding in 2019 cost almost $39,000, nearly 20% of millennials say they’ve also spent $1,000+ to attend a friend’s wedding. In fact, our soon-to-be-Mrs. Casey, chose to take over our Story on a day when she was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. We followed as she got ready (in matching wedding tribe tees), put on her bridesmaid dress, and enjoyed the beautiful venue. While it was undoubtedly a day filled with love and memories, we were reminded that in an already financially-stressful time, wedding expenses go beyond those for a bride and groom’s own big day. While financial tools like Ellevest for wealth management or The Knot for wedding planning help fiancés save for a wedding and keep an event budget, brands like these could expand their offerings by helping millennials also account for the money they need to save in order to participate in friends’ celebrations in the same time period. While planning their own weddings, brides and grooms may also be participating in – and budgeting for – friends’ marital events. Every fun wedding extra, like Bride Tribe t-shirts, should be factored into budgets for brides, grooms, and members of the wedding party. “I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!” At the end of the day, our Millennial Fiancés warmed our hearts. (And maybe that’s because of the prolific use of heart emojis, gifs, and stickers they used on their Stories.) By following the days of Jillian, Casey, and Haley and John, one couldn’t help but sense the wave of positive energy that comes over an engaged couple during this exciting time in their lives. And while the “big” moments, like Jillian’s wedding band shopping, surely set off a surge of emotion, Instagram Stories also continues to be an arena for sharing all the “small” details that might make a fiancé smile when spending the day with the one they love, like Jillian taking her partner to the site of her childhood summer camp, or Haley driving John to work. When brands speak with millennials, who are likely in the midst of major life events, they shouldn’t forget utilizing imagery and copy that also celebrates everyday life and the small moments that make it all worth it. Don’t forget the small stuff: While Instagram is of course ideal for posting about big milestones, like Jillian’s wedding band shopping (L), you can also feel couples’ excitement as they experience “regular” days with their partner.
The Strategy team at AMP is on a mission to better understand marketers’ most sought-after consumer segments. Each week, individuals from these segments take over @AMP_Agency Instagram stories to give us a peek into their world as part of our digital ethnography series, “Through Their Eyes.” In May we focused on Gen Z college students and saw the world from the perspective of Courtney from Oregon State University, Cortes from California Polytechnic State University, Alexa from UMass Amherst, and Haidar from the University of Rhode Island. Move over, millennials. Marketers’ latest obsession is with Gen Z, the cohort born between 1995 and the early 2010s. You might already know that they’re pragmatic and frugal, multicultural and accepting, and native to the digital world. But we uncovered a few more insights as we followed four college students preparing for finals and the summer ahead... Everyday, they’re hustling Everyday Gen Z is hustling, and we mean that quite literally – a decorative sign with that very motto was spotted in the background of one of Alexa’s posts, next to a Post-It reminder that said, "Harvard Business or Bust.” Follow any one of these individuals around for the day and be prepared to be exhausted. Both Courtney and Cortes found time for workouts between multiple classes, work shifts, and study sessions, while Alexa is on the board of five different clubs and Haidar’s roster of classes as a Global Business Major and Arabic Studies and Engineering double minor is enough to make your head spin. Our team wasn’t surprised to see this given what we’ve read about the generation as a hard working and focused bunch – only 38% think work-life balance is important, compared to 47% of millennials, and 58% say ‘bring it’ to working nights and weekends in exchange for a better salary. No (iced) coffee, no workee While all that hustle is self-driven, it’s apparently also fueled by caffeine – specifically in the form of iced coffee. We couldn’t help but notice that three of our four participants made a point of creating a post specifically in admiration of their respective iced coffees, ‘gramming it beautifully against a flowering bush, decorating their coffee selfies with a “good day today” gif, and even adding Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us” as background music for the post (below). It all made sense, when our research showed that 56% of Gen Z has purchased iced coffee in the past month. They find fun in responsibility We were impressed by Gen Z’s ability to create joy, even during times when duty called. Courtney took her studying outside to a scenic patio. Cortes savored a sparkling coconut water in the sunshine. Alexa got a little sassy with her Stats study guide. And even Haidar, who was busy observing Ramadan during his feature, took a selfie with a friend as they stood in the aisles of a convenience store shoveling down cups of cereal in the early morning hours for Suhur. Despite their exhausting schedules, on-the-go nature, and mountain of responsibilities, Gen Z is clearly able to appreciate and enjoy each moment. In the future, they’ll be looking for workplaces that encourage this outlook as well – 65% of Gen Z look for a “fun” working environment when assessing whether a company culture is a good fit for them.
Facebook’s Instagram is stepping up its features to better compete with the dancing ghost. Yesterday, Instagram announced live video in Instagram Stories and ephemeral photos and videos for group and one-on-one messages. Now, there's little to differentiate the two platforms for marketers, according to Justin Celko, our own Associate Director of Social Media at BLITZ. To him, the difference lies in Instagram's history. One more reason to skip Snapchat.
In October, Tastemade’s main Instagram channel generated 20 million views on its Instagram Stories content. The account, which publishes three to four stories per week, is consistently getting more than a million views per story. That’s the good news. The bad news: Tastemade isn’t making any money off any of these views. Instagram doesn’t offer the opportunity for publishers to run ads in Instagram Stories, and Tastemade hasn’t tried any brand integrations yet. No dollars for you.
Today, Instagram is adding three new features to Stories in what they are calling the biggest update to Stories since its launch, including letting creators add URL links. One of the biggest gripes with Snapchat has been creators can’t add links to their Snaps and Stories, meaning their viewers are stuck inside the Snapchat ecosystem. This makes it extremely hard for creators (and brands) to monetize. Your move, Snapchat.
We use Instagram to share photos of the beauty around us, the delicious meals we've eaten or created, and our personal highs. But it is a social network, and we also use it to share our feelings when we're sad, upset, or when we need some moral support. Today, Instagram made some subtle but important changes to its app. Now, if you see a friend post something that feels like a cry for help, you can do something about it — without being confrontational. See something, say something.
There are over 500 million Instagrammers across the world — more than 300 million of whom use Instagram daily to share some of their most exciting and precious moments. And with that many people sharing their attention with Instagram every day, there’s a ton of potential for businesses and marketers. Below are the ten top Instagram resources that we hope can help you bring your Instagram game to the next level. IG game strong.
The number of advertisers on Instagram has more than doubled over the last six months and now exceeds 500,000, up from about 200,000 in February, the company announced on Thursday. But what this really highlights, says Instagram’s COO Marne Levine, is Instagram’s strength as a place to market to users’ passions, and that Instagram’s next ticker big opportunity is catering to small- and medium-sized businesses. Go big and go small.
For years, people on the street have crooned over Haileigh, dressed in classic Diane Von Furstenberg-style wrap dresses and fitted. She accessorizes with oversized shades and cross-body purses, making her look like an adult in a child’s body. So Ms. Vasquez began posting pictures of her then three-year-old to Instagram. Four years later, Haileigh has 129,000 followers. The social media posts have turned her into a child model, an aspiring actress and an Instagram star. Shine like a star, dream like a child.