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  • Writer's pictureDonna Jaros

The State of the Creator Economy

Reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time is central to what we do as strategic communicators. While historically done via traditional advertising or media relations, the landscape has drastically changed, and being more fragmented than ever before, we see an increasing number of brands partner with creators to more effectively reach their audiences.

Last month we sat down with industry expert, Meghana Dhar, to get her current thoughts and musings on the state of the creator economy. See what she had to say:

What explains the rise of the content creator economy? What makes it so influential right now? Is it the culture, technology or the individual creator?

"I think the creator economy has taken off because of larger and less exciting changes in the ads / platform ecosystem. That change is iOS14. Because of Apple’s privacy regulations, and increasing privacy laws globally, the digital ads market has significantly shifted. Brands don’t have access to their audiences like they once did; and users, too, have become more discerning in their clicks and engagement.

Because of these ecosystem changes, creators have begun to serve as the perfect brand and marketing ambassadors for businesses trying to reach their audiences. And with creators being experts in their delivery, content, and community, brands have now found a sweet spot for paid and organic access, via creators.

This isn’t to minimize the cultural moment of creators however, which has steadily risen for the past decade, and especially escalated post-COVID. Their cult of personality and ability to entertain and call their audiences to action makes their standing monumentally significant in social, media, and commerce."

Who are some of your favorite creators right now? What makes them stand out?

"As a fashion & beauty fanatic, my favorite creators are mostly in this space on IG and TikTok. However, I believe we’re also in a unique moment in which being a “Creator” is being democratized. Anyone and everyone can become a creator, and I often find myself following super-niche creators brought to me by the all-knowing algorithms (right now, my niche is Lagree Pilates and clean cooking).

Recently I’ve also found LinkedIn to be a really interesting place for creators. It’s an opportunity for professionals to build their personal brands and share their experiences and tips, in a new form of content creation that involves professional thought leadership. I’m excited to see where this platform and content goes."

How should brands think about working with creators?

"The best way to work with creators is to find the absolute right ones. I’ve seen too many brands choose a big creator, overpay, and see limited results because of a mismatch in messaging. In this regard, I think working with a smaller, up-and-coming creator (a micro-influencer) who is tightly-connected with their audience can be more useful and efficient for a brand than a big name. Alignment is key!"

Are there brands that you think work with creators well? Brands that have missed the mark?

"I have a creator friend who has amassed a significant social following after being on a prominent reality show. After the show premiered, he was swarmed with enticing cash offers for social posts. This creator calls it his “rock bottom” when he accepted a dandruff shampoo campaign for ~$10,000 and ended up seeing the biggest dip in engagement and follower count after the post.

Why? Because he doesn’t have dandruff; has nothing to do with health & wellness; and has never talked or posted about shampoo or hair. He lost his audience’s trust and it took a very long time to regain it.

The creator economy works because audiences trust their creators, and it’s imperative for brands and creators alike to honor that trust and leverage it correctly in order for brand campaigns to truly work.

On a more positive note - Alo is considered one of the best-in-class cases of successfully leveraging creators to build and revitalize their brand, using everything from Alo “houses” for content creation, to sponsoring events, and even hosting creators at their Beverly Hills gym that was essentially built for an Instagram post."

What are some of your favorite campaigns and why?

"I think so much of success in this period of social media is about capturing the cultural moment. How can you work within your brand, or partner with a creator, to be a part of the conversation, or drive it. Duolingo is a phenomenal example of this, and often considered best-in-class.

It’s a language learning app that has completely captured the cultural conversation with its bizarre Owl logo coming to life as a mascot and bringing its personality and conversation into its social media. They’ve also leveraged creators to drive home the levity & accessibility of their brand and ofc, drive consumer adoption of the app. If you haven’t seen their TikTok channel yet, have a look for yourself."

What are 3 pieces of advice you would give brands who want to work with creators?

"Be intentional. Find the right creator; not the biggest, or the most popular."

"Relinquish (some) control. Creators know their audiences best. Tell them what you need but don’t over-produce; let them stay authentic to their voice so that your message can be best translated to their communities."

"Do it early and often. Don’t wait for the perfect moment for a creator campaign; instead, test early and often with creators to see what works for your audience and brand."


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