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How brands should successfully partner with content creators

Last Monday, Meta vice president Nada Stirratt stated that “one of the biggest questions that we keep getting asked by clients is, ‘What is happening in the creator economy?’”
With Insider Intelligence estimating that 75% of marketers currently work with influencers, and projects that number will jump to 86% by 2025, the market clearly is only growing. 

Nevertheless, media shows us that while many brands are embarking on successful content creator relationships, others are jumping on the bandwagon and left disappointed due to a lack of research and personalisation. Here is a general guide on ensuring you, as a brand, work with the best possible content creator for your business; 

Does the creator have the same audience as you and are they engaged?

It’s easy to stumble upon a cool page, see the follower count and get in contact straight away. But not so fast. Sure they have a following of 75k but their Reels have been getting an average view of 7,000 for the past 12 weeks. Perhaps it’s better to go looking for a curator who has 11k followers but whose reels are getting 7,500 views on average meaning that they have a more engaged audience. If you give the first curator 100 lipsticks to sell they might not have the reach to sell enough so you’re unsure as to what number will result. However if you give the second influencer 20 lipsticks to sell they’ll likely sell at least 50-70%.

Furthermore, when choosing a creator to partner with, brands should research that creator’s audience demographics—and even potentially investigate that audience’s “psychographics,” or their attitudes and beliefs, Butler added. Selecting an influencer who has a high follower count but whose audience is wildly different from the consumers a brand is trying to reach will ultimately be ineffective; for example, a popular creator with “an army of fourteen-year-olds” following them wouldn’t make sense for a luxury fashion brand like Gucci to partner with, Canadian model and influencer Coco Rocha said in a panel.

What does authenticity actually mean?

When it comes to brand partnerships and content creators, companies love to throw the word “authentic” around. But what does it actually mean? Authentic partnerships often offer creators the freedom to speak and act how they normally would in any of their other content and lean into their unique identity rather than trying to stifle their individuality. It’s a genuine partnership not a controlling job put onto the creator.
This also works out better for the brand because the creator is liked by their followers for consistently personable content. Their branded content must maintain this consistency or else users and potential customers are less likely to engage. 

Trust in the creator

Creators often understand platforms and what kind of content works on them better than brands, and they will often take content in creative ways brands may not have considered. This is their benefit. Many influencers have expressed irritation at brands being stubborn. A better tactic is for the brand to almost be a “patron” to a creator, and sponsor the great content creators are already making, said Gabe Gordon, co-founder and managing partner at Reach Agency, a digital marketing agency. However, he also noted that traditional advertisers should be able to pass along tips and tricks of the trade to help the creator, pointing to an example of the cheese pizza pull, which is known to make viewers hungry.

Give the relationship breathing space

Across multiple sessions, creators, marketers and TikTok employees agreed that forming long-term partnerships with influencers is more beneficial for brands than one-time collaborations.

In one panel, artist and creative director Pablo Rochat likened forming a brand partnership to attending a dinner party: A brand simply working with an influencer once is the same as knocking on the door to the party and immediately leaving, rather than entering and engaging with the guests behind the door, he said. Partnering with a creator over several months or even years allows for that creator’s audience to become more familiar with the brand, and that repeated exposure can lead to greater interest in the brand, he said.

Integrating creators more deeply into brand campaigns and “giving them a seat at the table” also tends to be more successful for brands, said Sam Kimmel, who leads creator partnerships at TikTok. Rather than bringing in creators in the last phase of a campaign, TikTok is seeing more brands collaborating with influencers on the creation of the campaigns and even developing products alongside the brand, such as Sephora’s partnership with influencer Addison Rae to launch a line makeup and skincare products.

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