Independent creators—individuals who earn money by creating and distributing digital content—number 8.1 million in the US, and the population is growing. The majority are under 40 and male. They are entrepreneurial, fiercely independent, and value flexibility in their lives. This is the Creator Economy, a rising force in the marketplace.
Enterprise-creator partnerships can be mutually beneficial. Such engagements can help creators grow their businesses and expand their skills. In turn, creators can provide a range of benefits to the companies they partner with.
Two Types of Partnership
Today, enterprises can form two main types of partnership with creators: social media influencer partnerships and brand value partnerships. Each has a different focus and set of desired outcomes.
Social media influencers are a subset of the creator population. An influencer has gained the trust of a large number of online followers by being a niche expert in an early adopter of a specific type of product. The formation of social media influencer partnerships is an established business strategy. These partnerships focus on sales through influencers’ demonstrations and endorsements. The effectiveness of such a relationship is tied directly to sales numbers.
Brand value partnerships—those that don’t require influencers—focus on increasing brand awareness, driving more qualified leads, and establishing thought leadershp. Initiatives focus on educational and informative content with less emphasis on product sales.
Another difference between influencer and brand value partnerships relates directly to the creator. The success of an influencer partnership rests in great part on the celebrity of the creator. The more well-known they are, the more likely they will achieve significant results in the form of sales. A brand value partnership does not center on the fame of the creator. Studies have reported that consumers are more motivated by non-celebrity creators to purchase beauty products, electronics, and clothing, and it is reasonable to extrapolate this finding to other buying behaviors.
The Power of Authenticity
Brand value partnerships offer marketers a way to share content with consumers authentically, emphasizing useful information more than products. The lack of focus on endorsements and sales and emphasis on education and information can be compelling to the audience. This perception of authenticity can greatly benefit brand value and help increase brand loyalty. Content examples include instructional videos, unboxings/reveals, and innovative interviews with industry or market experts.
With authenticity as a key criterion, finding the right creator relies more on alignment with enterprise values than on celebrity. In fact, it may be more productive to partner with lesser-known, niche creators who can shine the spotlight on the content instead of themselves.
It’s Just the Beginning
Consumers will continue to use social media to make buying decisions. In addition, social media gives enterprises cost-effective opportunities to connect innovatively with their audiences. Both types of creator partnership will likely increase in business value as consumer expectations and social media platforms evolve.
To learn more about the Creator Economy, check out MBO Partners’ 2023 Creator Economy Report.