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Why marketers would be smart to prioritise the creator economy

You don’t need me to tell you that it really has never been easier for brands to directly connect with consumers. Of course, social media is to thank here but really this benefit rides on the back of creator content leading brands directly to today’s most fervent group of shoppers while helping them maintain cultural relevancy. In return, many creators are hoping to drift away from the transactional, one-off paid projects in exchange for more collaborative, lasting partnerships that help them grow their own personal brands.

Today, individual creativity acts as a necessary bridge between brands and new audiences. As of 2022, upward of 50 million people contributed to the global creator economy, which is estimated to be worth $104 billion. And in an economically fragile climate, the link between creator and certified consumer community counts for a lot. 

Travis Montaque, Group Black CEO and founder of creator network Crater reminds us that the creator economy and influencer marketing are not the same thing. “Influencer marketing is one genre of creator marketing opportunities. Therefore, they should be really engaged in trying to understand the broader spectrum of marketing opportunities as it pertains to creators.”

The creator economy is therefore an ecosystem that allows creators to make significant revenue through myriad tools and creative offerings, such as long-standing brand partnerships, sponsored content and tipping. Each piece of content or branded opportunity allows the creator to steadily cement their own personal brand or business, further establishing them as burgeoning entrepreneurs.

Brands have an opportunity to fully engage with (and inherently benefit from) the creator economy through thoughtful, diversified partnerships. But marketers can’t begin to do so if they limit their engagement to one-off, surface-level projects. Marketers must consider creators as collaborators from the earliest moments of development to the final piece of creative. 

While influencers have been attracting paid content for almost a decade, recently this new creator-led era of media has really emphasised the full arsenal of skills that highly visible creators possess, many of which translate into effective marketing and brand-building capabilities. Brands that only look to them for the occasional sponsored post are selling themselves short.

Mainstream brands like Logitech and McDonald’s have already demonstrated a proficiency in this approach through platforms like the tech brand’s Defy Logic work, which featured indie musicians-turned-stars Lil Nas X and Lizzo, and sweeping campaigns like McDonald’s sold-out Cactus Plant Flea Market meal, which boosted overall sales.

However, profitable and successful campaigns aren’t only reserved to the Lil Nas X’s of this world. Different industries also tend to require different level influencers and creators. For example, beauty and fashion tend to appeal to a large consumer base. But a smaller group of enthusiastic, less knowledgeable users might connect with a very specific subset of popular creators dedicated to educating followers and introducing them to up-and-coming designers. Those creators can lead fashion marketers to new consumers even when the algorithm favours more well-known luxury brands and influencers.

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