What separates the content creators from the influencers? The answer might not be as simple as you think. On today's episode, Lindsay and Nate are joined by Liz Hawks, Stephanie Moore, and Allie Wimes of FleishmanHillard—a global PR and marketing agency—to discuss the differences and overlap between these two familiar styles of digital media-makers, and the different approaches brands should take when partnering with each.

(0s): We actually use Scribd in our home

(2s): Do you really love your Sleep Number. And we do.

(23s): While digital creators have been around since the days of flash videos and new grounds, the term creator wasn't officially coined until 2011 with YouTube's acquisition of next new networks and their next new creator's program, shying away from the term YouTuber or YouTube star creators are much more than a viral dance or a lip sync video. They're producers, editors, directors, writers, photographers, and videographers, although often used interchangeably. Influencers didn't make their appearance on the social media scene until 2014 and the term influencer didn't take hold until early 2017.

(58s): Influencers bring a different style to content creation, oftentimes building up a following with the sole purpose of influencing them into taking certain actions. In short, influencers focus on growing a following who may or may not be deeply engaged with their content creators. Focus on making quality content first and cultivating a highly engaged community of fans.

(1m 18s): I'm Lindsay Smith.

(1m 19s): And I'm Nate Spell. And on this episode of On the Mic with Ad Results Media, we're breaking down the differences between influencers and content creators and the different strategies that they can both bring to your marketing campaigns.

(1m 31s): All right, y'all, thank you so much for joining us today on On The Mic. I wanna take a brief moment to introduce all of you guys to our listeners. So Liz, let's start with you.

(1m 41s): Hi, thanks so much for having me as part of this discussion. I'm Liz Hawks and I am with Fleischman Hillard. My current role for the firm is the head of influencer marketing for the global capability. So I get the fun of working a hundred percent of my time with influencers and creators across our various client sectors.

(2m 3s): Hi, so excited to be here today and talk about our favorite topic. I'm Ally Wellness, also with Fleshman Hillard almost 11 years now. So I've been working in this space for a really long time, primarily in influencer relations for brand marketing and food and beverage clients. But you know, the industry's growing across all verticals, so it changes daily.

(2m 27s): Hi, I'm Stephanie. I'm very happy to be here. I've been with Lifeman Hillard about five months, but I do have 10 years of experience working in social media and influencer relations. I'm a content strategist, so content is my life pretty much. So I'm really excited to talk about this subject.

(2m 45s): This is awesome. I'm really excited to also dive into this conversation. So why don't we start by breaking down the key differences between creators and influencers. And so this is what we're talking about today. I know that depending on where you look, there is some conversation about these being completely different positions that people can take, but I also see that there's a lot of overlap as well. So let's, let's just break it down. What are the key differences between creators and influencers? Just to start us off.

(3m 16s): So I think one of the key ways to differentiate between a creator and influencer is to look at the intent of the content they're creating. Is their intent to educate, inspire, inform others, or is their intent to go viral, to get video views, to get likes? And I think that mindset is a really big differentiator because it also impacts the way that they come about content topics and the authenticity of their content and just the originality of it too. So for example, a creator, they're only gonna share something when they have something important to share, something to say.

Whereas an influencer is worried about posting frequently to play the algorithm game, or they see someone else posting, you know, a trend and they think, Oh, I need to post that too, because that influencer is So I think, you know, when it comes down to it, a creator is more original and an influencer is more into the social media game.

(4m 11s): Interesting. Okay. I definitely feel like that's kind of what I've seen online. Like a lot of conversation that I've seen is that like creators can really work, you know, cross platform. The term really got started with YouTube and then influencer. That term didn't really come around until later and it was really more, you know, geared towards like your Instagram users and the content that we're, that they were creating there. So I

(4m 35s): Think that's a good point because now that Instagram is more video, are Instagram creators that are doing video now creators and not influencers.

(4m 43s): Ah, yes. But

(4m 44s): I think it also depends on the level of effort put into the content creation and the amount of like editing and different creative elements that they bring to their content.

(4m 56s): Yeah, that's interesting. I think, I know, whenever I think of influencers, I definitely think of people who are maybe more the lifestyle side where they're vlogging a lot and a lot of that can be just like, you know, on the go video content that doesn't need to be heavily produced. It's funny, I, I actually follow creators like all over the spectrum. One of the creators that I started following is a Michelin star chef who started creating content just for chefs who were trying to get like good at their game. I'm, I'm, I'm not a chef, I'm a foodie who just like some po upon this guy's content and I just thought it was so, so cool and so indicative of like the creator mindset.

That's a very small niche. There's not like millions of people searching for that, but he has like 30,000 followers that are, you know, on Patreon. The

(5m 39s): Way that I like kind of think about it as like influencers often are trying to sell something, influence the behavior of their followers, whereas content creators wanna educate their followers. Like the chef isn't trying to like sell pots and pan like his own line of pots and pants, probably not. But he is trying to teach his followers what he knows that's his goal, rather than like influences their behavior to go to this restaurant, eat this food, buy this, whatever it may be.

(6m 6s): Yeah, the creator might be also more inspirational in their content or they might be more entertaining and there's not that transactional nature of promoting something necessarily.

(6m 21s): So that picture of the intent of a creator, they're going to their audience with a goal of educating them, inspiring them, elevating them. I'm curious, we've started to touch on some of the ways that the content can look different, but what are some of the marks of creator content? What are some of the things that creators do that's just like, this is exactly what sets creators apart from people who, yes, they're creating content technically, but it's really more about being an influencer. This is someone who is a creator.

What are some of the telltale signs?

(6m 53s): High quality work for sure. Beautiful images longer form videos I guess, that are very well edited and not just like on the, on the go, on the fly. They, they're more thought out and more like strategic than a quick like picture of somebody in the kitchen, like working with something that they're, they have a sponsor code for whatever.

(7m 14s): Yeah, I think a creator also is invested more in just their production elements, right? I mean there's more going on behind the scenes to ensure that kind of elevated quality of the content that that they're producing. Whether that's video or image content, it's like their creator understands more about aesthetic and how that aesthetic can play in other platforms outside of the creator's own handle.

(7m 47s): The thing that immediately came to mind is the fact that creator content can be more long form and more planned out. I just think that's really interesting because we talk a lot about what works for an algorithm. You know, people are always like, oh is shorter video, more engaging is you know, like a quick easily scannable tweet better than a 10 page, you know, where like someone's technically doing a Twitter thread that's almost like a dissertation. But it's interesting because an audience, a creator's audience, they're really engaged. So that content actually does work really well for creatives.

(8m 17s): It's the quality of the audience, not the quantity. Because yes, if you're trying to, as I think Liz mentioned, like play the social media game, that quick content is gonna get eyes, but do you want the right eyes or do you want a lot of eyes? And content creators usually are trying to get, you know, quality eyes of people that they want to inspire and that care about their content so they invest in it. Whereas influencers, their game is to get lots of eyes because they want people to see it, they wanna go viral, they want to get followers and they that that's their goal.

(8m 52s): So y'all mentioned creators really focusing on, you know, know, education and reaching maybe sometimes niche followers and niche areas. What are some benefits to working with creators on top of, you know, getting those quality views and really getting that really in depth knowledge that that they come with?

(9m 14s): Yeah, I wanna speak to that because when you think about like quality versus quantity, I really don't see that as a creator versus influencer proposition. You know, I think that there are some influencers who have become in influential because they're really great creators first and therefore they've been built up that audience of people who are dedicated to what they're coming out with next, right? And they're interested in what is this creator interested in, maybe I should be as well.

And so I don't think that influence can be boxed into only an influencer because truly influencer, right? Is it the heart of the strategy of either the influencer or the creator And you know, we might work with an influencer on behalf of a client because through data we've been able to analyze that the people following them are exactly the people that our client is interested in marketing to and we, you know, wanna work with them to help collaborate together on, you know, how they might bring this concept to life for us, but maybe we're not going to work with the influencer to then take that piece of content that they've created and amplify it with paid media behind it and getting it in.

You know, maybe we're not gonna put it in the brands channels, maybe we're gonna let that live just within the influencers handle. Whereas with the creator, you know, maybe it's just because of the higher level production quality that the creator has, we're gonna take that piece of content and amplify it and use it in other places and spaces as well. But I just wanna mention that because it's not necessarily like a one or the other depending upon, you know, what your objective is, is really how to make the decision.

But the benefit of working with them is definitely based on kind of allie's, allie's point about what's the intent? They can help deliver on an awareness play, they can help deliver on engagement, they can help deliver on conversion, they can help fill, you know, the funnel but then also bring people down to it. So maybe a creator in that more like entertaining or inspirational realm is more kind of like top of the funnel or kind of that higher level just like awareness opportunity.

Whereas maybe an influencer, again, depending upon the type of influencer or the type of creator is maybe better at conversion because they're like, click on this affiliate marketing link to purchase this product that I am endorsing because I'm a fan. And so I think you might like it too because that's why you're following me. And so maybe, you know, it's just a matter of just kind of using data to determine who is the best fit creator or influencer for number one, who's the audience that you're trying to ultimately reach through this person?

Number two, what is the objective of, you know, working with them? What does success look like in terms of that output? And then finally, what are the ways that you're measuring success based on those metrics related to like I mentioned, awareness, engagement, conversion, et cetera. So lo I mean I think there's just a lot of benefit to working with both types and especially when you think about, you know, where we've been over the past few years with the pandemic and major ad productions kind of shutting down and then that that ad budget being switched into the creator economy and still needing to develop and produce a lot of high quality content for use across channels but not necessarily coming from the brands constructed and high dollar, you know, shoots and sets and things.

(12m 57s): That's one of the things that gets me the most excited about creators is seeing how impactful they can be in paid spaces and in traditional forms of advertising. And not only the quality of their content being on par, but also the efficiency. We have conversations all the time about, well if we need this asset we need six weeks and then another six weeks and another six weeks. You're like, wait, no pause, we'll just get a really great creator and they can do it in six days and everything will be great.

So I just get really excited seeing that creative being used in additional spaces and really changing the way advertisers advertise.

(13m 38s): That's an interesting point about the efficiency. That's not something that I've really thought too much about. So it sounds like what you're saying is the creator almost takes on this kind of multi hat, like they're, they're their production team, they're basically doing the work that you might be paying someone to do product photos or, or some sort of, you'd have to hire an actor, you'd have to do all of the video shooting. That's something that a creator is already doing for their own content and so their, the brand gets the benefit of that being part of their day to day plus the fact that they're tailoring it I guess even more to their audience.

(14m 13s): Yeah, so I recently worked on a campaign for a product launch and they were on about their fourth creative iteration and they just still weren't landing on something they felt really passionate about and they ran out of time. And so all the, you know, agency partners came together and said, what do we do? We're supposed to launch in two weeks and we don't have final creative. And so really we're able to engage creators to be the hero and save everyone. And not only do they fill the gap from a resource perspective, but sometimes their content performs better too because that authenticity

(14m 51s): That brands can't always hit.

(14m 53s): That's a huge thing that we talk about is that authenticity for in podcasting.

(14m 57s): I was really just about to say that that seems to be the theme of 2022 authenticity in, in branding and in creating your content. Like that's a lot of what we heard at VidCon from a lot of creators being authentic in what they are creating and you know, their partnerships that they're building. So I I'm glad that I'm hearing it from y'all too.

(15m 20s): Yeah, the other thing I would just add to that is I'm thinking of, of another client that we work with and their inhouse creative it, you know, has a very defined look and feel and brand standards for how that plays through all channels, right? But there's a big difference in what creative works well in catalog or a big seasonal promotion offline as compared to what works best in social.

And sometimes when the team wants to have that exact same aesthetic and look and feel through all channels, the performance just isn't there in social. And so that's where just kind of letting go a little bit of that like highly produced creative and letting a creator, you know, take your brief and your direction, but then collaborate with them on how they authentically would bring it to life in the way that they know people who are interested in their stuff get, you know, get engaged with, you know, if we just kind of can give a little bit of that like ownership over to the creator as partner and let them, you know, kind of put their spin on it, then the, the data proves, you know, that in social especially, that's gonna perform better.

(16m 40s): I'm sure it's really hard as a brand designer or like someone who's working on the marketing team because you're so focused on consistency, you're trying to make this brand so iconic in every location that it appears. And it, you know, looking back to what branding, like the foundations of branding, they, they came out of a time when we didn't have something like media ubiquity. Like we're constantly plugged in. And so it's just interesting to think about how that context is so much more important. And yeah, I mean I know for podcasting, just as a listener, what works is always when the brand gives up a little bit of that consistency for the sake of the context.

Cuz as a listener to podcast, you feel like they're speaking to you in a way that says like they, they know what's up. Like, and if you're on social and you don't know what's up, you stand out.

(17m 29s): Yeah, I, I totally agree with you Nate. What my team does here at Ad Results is we kind of measure the overall performance of spots that come through and the ones that always just the, when the brands give a little and the creators and the hosts are able to just kind kind of run with it and make it their own. Like it always just performs so much better with my team. There's the recall is better. Like they can absolutely say, Oh yeah, I remember X, Y, and Z on this show.

Like let me go find it, it was two weeks ago, I have to share it with you. Like they remember exactly what they heard, where they heard it, what they were doing. So yeah, just giving them the room to just be themselves and bring their full selves and their full authenticity to the spot is just, it's really the way to go.

(18m 19s): So we've talked a lot about the differences and I think a lot of the overlap between creators and influencers and I'm just curious if there are any final takeaways that you could share for advertisers who are maybe thinking about getting into the creator economy or working with influencers. What are some strategies that they can explore or things they should have in mind as they're starting to explore that?

(18m 44s): I think in my experience, the number one thing is prioritizing relevance overreach and not getting blinded by the numbers when you're selecting the right creator or the right influencer. Because the relevance is going everything and really is what brings that authenticity that we talked about being so important. So relevance overreach,

(19m 5s): I think it's about just remembering that influence is everywhere, right? And it doesn't only exist in the hashtag ad content on Instagram, it's not just the fashionista with the link to click. You know, an influencer could be an expert in a specific subject matter, an influencer could be an executive in the company, an influencer could be even a detractors has influence, right? Even the conspiracy theorists are influencing an audience.

And so I think it's just about remembering that influence is not a new thing. You know, we've always been working to get influential third parties with people who trust what they're talking about, what they're sharing, what they're interested in. We've always worked to get those third parties to talk favorably about our clients. They might be spokespeople, they might be on a speaker's bureau, they might, you know, influence can show up in social, it can show up in media, can show up in websites, newsletters, email, whatever.

So I guess I would just say kind of think about the use of influence holistically. You might be working in a campaign that you have a reason to integrate both influencers and creators and to use their influence in multiple places and spaces. So just kind of thinking about your strategy from that more holistic perspective with that idea of who's influencing the audience that we're after and how can we use data to find the right fit, activate them in the right ways, and be really hyper focused on what was our objective in working with them in the first place.

(20m 46s): On top of that, I would say the biggest thing, like Liz just mentioned kind of research, you want authenticity, you want your brand or whatever your partnership is to work with the influencers brand or the content creators niche or whatever it may be. So you want authenticity, you want a good storyteller, you want to fit into their feed, their content. So do the research, do the backgrounds, make sure that them being your partner isn't outta left field for them.

Same with like the relevance over reach. Like just because they reach a lot of people, if you don't fit into their storytelling of their content creation, their influence, it's gonna be weird. So definitely you want it to be authentic, you want the partnership to work authentically. So don't try and like wedge your way in there, even if you think like, oh my gosh, this is an amazing partnership, but like if it doesn't make sense, do the research. Find something that makes sense.

(21m 45s): I love all of that. I think that those are some great takeaways that hopefully our listeners will take with them.

(21m 50s): I think I'm just excited to learn that Lindsay, you and I might be influencers or creators or maybe both.

(21m 57s): We are on our way,

(21m 59s): They're not mutually exclusive. You can be both for sure.

(22m 3s): And yeah, I do, I do really hope that listeners are thinking about that overlap and how as an advertiser the maybe the most important thing is not a choice between influencers and creators. That's like a false choice. That's the kind of the takeaway I think I hope people get. And I really appreciate you guys hopping on to talk about that. And I hope any advertisers who are thinking about entering the space got at least a little bit of relevant insight, relevance being the key.

So thanks so much.

(22m 37s): Thank you. Thank you.

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(23m 8s): On the M is hosted by Lindsay Smith and Nate Spell, edited by Jeffrey Stallings and produced by Ad Results Media. For more information about Ad Results Media, go to adresultsmedia.com or follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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