In today‘s digital landscape, brands have an abundance of options when it comes to promoting themselves and connecting with their target audience. Two of the most popular are working with digital creators and influencers. But what exactly is the difference, and which is better for growing your brand? Let‘s break it down.
Who Are Digital Creators?
Digital creators are content producers who create written, visual, audio, or video assets, designed to engage online audiences. This umbrella term encompasses bloggers, videographers, podcaster, graphic designers, animators, and more. Essentially, anyone producing creative digital content can be considered a digital creator.
The focus of digital creators is first and foremost on the content itself – creating informative, educational, inspiring, or entertaining media that provides value for consumers. Building an audience and influencing that audience may be secondary objectives. They have creative skills and technical abilities to produce high-quality digital content consistently.
Who Are Influencers?
Social media influencers are online personalities who have built a sizable following based on their lifestyle, knowledge, or expertise in a particular industry or niche. Influencers focus on engaging their followers through social platforms and blogs, leveraging that high engagement and trust to promote brands, products, or causes to their audience.
While influencers do produce content, their main appeal lies in their ability to connect with and persuade their followers because of their established credibility. Brands collaborate with influencers as sponsors to tap into their audience reach and trusting relationship with followers. The larger the audience and higher the engagement, the more appealing an influencer is for advertisers.
So in summary:
- Digital creators prioritize producing content
- Influencers prioritize building audience relationships
There can be overlap, as many top influencers wear both hats – producing great content while also cultivating an audience and personal brand.
Key Differences Between Digital Creators vs Influencers
While there are some commonalities in skills and objectives, some core differences emerge when comparing digital creators and influencers:
Digital creators concentrate their efforts on continually honing their creative skills and keeping up with changing technical tools to produce better content. Their success lies in the quality and uniqueness of their work.
Influencers must focus significant time on audience engagement through consistent posting, responding to followers, understanding audiences and what resonates with them. Their success depends on maintaining visibility and connection with followers.
Digital creators excel in specialized creative and technical abilities like writing, designing, filming, coding, animating, editing, and more depending on their niche.
Influencers require less technical abilities (though it helps) but need strong communication and marketing skills for building and retaining an audience through relatability and trust. Photogenic attributes also contribute to success.
Digital creators measure the impact through metrics like views, clicks, time on page, shares, downloads, and sales generated. Quality engagement with the content is the goal.
Influencers track followers gained/lost, likes, comments, click-throughs, etc. Reach and resonance with the personality are key objectives.
Digital creators own and control the distribution of the content assets they develop. Brands license usage rights for agreed periods.
Influencers promote brands through their own channels and audiences but usually don‘t maintain ownership or distribution control.
Hiring digital creators can require upfront creative and production costs but no ongoing fees. Influencers may command higher upfront sponsorship fees but drive greater visibility.
Influencer sponsorships often come with monthly or per-post pricing to access their audience reach. Less production costs but higher ongoing marketing expenses.
As you can see, while digital creators and influencers target online audiences, their core skills, objectives, and how they add value differ significantly.
Which Is Better for My Brand – Creators or Influencers?
Determining whether to invest in digital creators vs influencers depends greatly on your brand’s specific goals and targets. As the differences above illustrate, brands should align with one or both based on what they hope to achieve. Let’s compare strategic use cases:
Goals Best Suited to Digital Creators
High-Quality Content Marketing
Digital creators excel at producing regular, high-quality content like videos, social posts, infographics, and more that brands can use across marketing channels. This owned media allows more control over branding and messaging.
For one-off marketing collateral, digital creators bring specialized expertise for capturing great photos/video, developing visual assets and designs, coding websites, crafting targeted ad campaigns, and more based on project needs.
Custom Creative Campaigns
Digital creators thrive when provided the creative freedom to develop innovative concepts and custom content that brings fresh, unique branding and storytelling to your marketing programs.
While initial content production may require upfront investment, the ability to utilize that owned media across campaigns and channels over extended periods provides strong return on investment.
Goals Best Suited to Influencers
Awareness and Visibility
Influencers provide brands direct access to large, targeted audiences that have already shown an affinity to the influencer. This allows brands to achieve rapid visibility even entering new markets.
Established Goodwill and Trust
Followers have built strong bonds and trust with the influencers they follow. Brand partnerships allow transferring some of that positive connection and goodwill to products promoted by trusted influencers.
Spotlight Specific Products
The direct endorsement and usage of products in influencer posts gives brands the ability to highlight specific offerings rather than just general brand-building. Driving discovery and trial of new products is easier.
Drive Direct Site Traffic and Sales
With trackable links and promo codes, influencer posts allow brands to drive qualified visitors directly from social platforms to product sites/sales pages. The urgings of influencers can boost conversion rates.
Best Results by Combining Influencers + Creators
While weighing the options of creators vs influencers yields solid rationale to select one over the other for specific goals, often the best outcome combines utilizing both within the marketing mix.
Creators and influencers complement each other extremely well. Digital creators provide the brand storytelling and unbelievable content that influencers can help distribute to the right audiences. Meanwhile, influencers put the polish of personality and urgings that inspire audiences to engage further with brand content.
Here are some powerful combinations:
- Epic Travel Videos + Outdoor Influencers – Spread breathtaking adventure content to new audiences
- Behind-the-Scenes Brand Stories + Industry Experts – Build authentic connections with niche communities
- Helpful Blog Tutorials + Micro Influencers – Establish expertise and approachability
Determining the right creators and influencers to partner with takes research to find good fits for brand identities and target demographics. But it consistently proves very worthwhile, compounding content and distribution strategies.
Keys to Successful Partnerships with Creators and Influencers
To build productive relationships with digital creators and influencers, brands should focus on a few best practices:
Define Clear Expectations and Guidelines
Provide creators/influencers known guidelines on messaging, legal compliance needs, disclosure preferences, and branding so content aligns with overall strategy.
Maintain Open Communication
Keep collaborative dialogue going to provide insights and assets to inform quality content on an ongoing basis. Quick approvals also help keep partners engaged.
Feature Partners Prominently
Cross-promote creator content or influencer posts through website links, social shares, and embedding on brand channels. Make partners feel valued.
Track Performance Diligently
Monitoring analytics tied to creator/influencer content assists with optimizing partnerships and reporting program success and ROI throughout organizations.
Compensate Fairly and Promptly
Having clear compensation terms and ensuring on-time payment shows brands value creator/influencer efforts. Bonuses for top performance motivates ongoing excellence.
Express Appreciation Sincerely
A little gratitude goes a long way. Recognize contributions publicly with shoutouts and privately with thoughtful notes. Memorable juror experiences pay dividends.
Wrapping Up – Creators and Influencers Drive Brand Growth
Today’s online audiences have high expectations for education, entertainment, inspiration, and value from the content they consume and personalities they follow. Both digital creators and influencers can play integral roles in meeting those audience needs while achieving critical marketing objectives for brands.
As this extensive examination of creators vs influencers conveys, there are certainly differences in skills, objectives, and ideal uses that should guide brand decisions. But often the best results come from incorporating both into marketing strategies with a clear understanding of their unique value.
Hopefully these insights provide the education needed by brands, both large and small, to determine how to best leverage digital creators and influencers in building memorable and meaningful connections with target consumers.
What remaining questions do you have regarding putting digital creators or influencers to work for your brand? What partnerships have you found most effective? Please share your thoughts below!