If one thing remains true, it’s that there will always be a need for content. Think of content as the connection point between brands and consumers. Whether it’s an email newsletter, a video on TikTok, the words on a billboard or a photo on social media, it’s what drives customers to either make a decision about your brand or, at the very least, makes your brand memorable. As companies grow their brands, the need to communicate with consumers and attract new customers puts the demand for content at an all-time high.
Often, marketing teams focus on building content in-house with teams that typically include strategists and several creatives like writers, designers or video editors. These people know every page of the brand book; therefore, they know what kind of content will support a brand’s story and appeal to its audience. However, there is only so much content a team can create, no matter how nimble or well-staffed, which leads brands to outsource some of their content needs to creators.
Why brands should partner with creators
Content creators are definitely having a moment right now. They’re everywhere. In fact, over 50 million people identify as content creators, which means the creator economy is booming. What makes them such a hot commodity is not only their ability to deliver simplistic content that resonates with brands’ audiences, but also their ability to sell and amplify the narrative of those brands.
The thing is—consumers trust content from creators because it feels authentic. Creators develop content based on their own experiences and infuse their personal stories or vision into what they create. That’s what separates creator content from content built in-house.
When brands are ready to hire creators, they first need to figure out how to find them and then vet them to ensure alignment. These initial touch points will ensure the content they create integrates seamlessly into your brand strategy and has longevity.
How to find content creators
Content creators are not hard to find but before you start your search, think about your goals and what you want to accomplish.
Sometimes brands partner with creators for specific campaigns or launches. Other times, brands hire creators on a retainer to work on ad-hoc content assets for various channels like social media or email.
For example, in my previous work as a social strategist, I developed a list of creators and influencers to reach out to for product launches. While we did our own product shoots in-house, we also wanted more UGC-style photos and video clips to incorporate into our social media feed and email content post-launch. This allowed us to push messaging around our product in new and creative ways without putting too much pressure on our internal resources. When we were ready to find creators, I found that looking to our community and third-party platforms was the most helpful.
Look within your community
Your community is comprised of your customers, superfans and partners. Oftentimes, because they’re your biggest brand advocates, they’re already creating content around your products and services. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the people in your community and ask them if you can share their content. Often, because they are your fans, they’ll be more than willing to do it for free or in exchange for products. However, you can drive brand loyalty even further if you pay them for it and allow them to be a part of future launches or campaigns.
Ask your followers
There is no one more tapped into what’s going on in the creator economy than your followers. They are the ones also following the creators and influencers they love. Try posting a question sticker on your Instagram story so that your followers can make recommendations. Alternatively, you can make a feed post and ask them to tag their favorite creators and influencers in the comments. All you have to do is put out the ask, and the creators will come.
Use creator platforms
Platforms like Minisocial and #Paid connect brands directly to creators and influencers, allowing you to spend less time searching for them and more time focused on your content strategy. You’ll just need to provide a creative brief and establish your creator demographic, and the platforms will do the outreach for you. Of course this route comes with a fee, but depending on your budget and how much time you have to do creator outreach, this may be the better option.
How to vet content creators
Many brands have challenges finding the right creators to partner with. Yes, if you want to hire or collaborate with creators, they may need to fall within your target demo. Maybe you want them to live in the cities where your retail locations are, or maybe you want them to have a large social media following. While those things are important, you should be taking it a step further. The creators you partner with should have values that align with your brand’s.
Look at their previous partnerships
The work creators have done with other brands and their partners reflect their interests, style and overall beliefs. Granted, while creators’ interests change over time, you can use this content as a reference for defining how to go about your own partnership with them. For example, suppose you’re an alcohol brand and see that a creator you’re considering partnering with has previously worked with an alcohol-alternative brand. In that case, you may want to reach out first thing and see if they would be the right fit for your campaign or strategy.
Set up some time to chat
Looking at social media presence or an online portfolio is a great way to get a sense of what creators have worked on. However, it’s not always telling of who they are as people. Setting up a video chat to introduce yourself to the creator and/or talk through a creative brief will help build a human connection to your brand and better understand their strengths, passions and interests in content development.
“What inspires you?”, “what kind of content do you like to create?” or “what’s your favorite piece of content you have created?”—these kinds of questions give you insight into who the creators are and what moves them.
Look to their community
If the creators you want to partner with have an engaged community, you can get a sense of who they are. Check out the comments on the creator’s posts to see how they interact with their community and how their community feels about them. It’s hard to fake good vibes, and that’s the kind of energy you want to bring into a partnership with creators.
Building your content strategy
Once you’ve found and vetted the creators you want to partner with, you will want to figure out how to kick off the content development process. Fortunately, I’ve written another article about how to incorporate creators into your content strategy. In this piece, I share the importance of partnering with micro-creators and influencers and provide four tips on folding creators into your brand’s overall content strategy.
my first article for @SproutSocial is live and it’s about my favorite people—✨creators✨. 🙌🏾
if you’re wondering how to incorporate creators into your content strategy, i’ve got the tea. 😌 https://t.co/0ForM7Vwv0
— jayde i. powell (@jaydeipowell) October 18, 2021
As you continue to build and refine your content strategy, remember to keep it flexible. Things change—especially marketing objectives—so you should always consider how your strategy can adapt to your brand’s needs no matter where you are in your marketing plan. The great thing about content creators is that there are so many out there to choose from, and they’re also evolving just as brands and consumers are. It’s up to you to tap in and get to creating!