It’s easy to create content and make it available to an audience of millions. All you need is a smartphone and a social media account to start sharing selfies, pics of your dog or videos of you making banana bread. Whether this makes someone a creator, an influencer or just a social media user is sometimes unclear, fueling the influencer vs. content creator debate.
If sharing your vacation photos doesn’t automatically make you an influencer or a content creator, what does? It’s their marketing expertise. Knowing the difference between these terms can help you choose the right type of marketing professional for your marketing campaigns.
What Is a Content Creator?
A content creator creates content for content marketing platforms, including blogs, social media and websites. They may be writers, photographers, videographers or graphic artists who use their creativity to create work in an array of written, visual or audio formats such as:
- Blog posts
- Screen captures
- Social media posts
The content they create connects with an audience on several levels. It’s visually appealing, tells a compelling story or solves a problem. That’s what makes the work of a content creator so valuable. Their expertise lies in their medium and their ability to use it to construct a narrative their audience wants.
Some content creators become influencers over time. They start out sharing photos and videos — usually focused on a theme or niche — and start attracting followers who have similar interests. Other content creators stick to creating content for their own accounts or for others.
Benefits of Working With Content Creators
Content creators know how to create authentic, high-quality content that resonates with an audience. They have the expertise to interpret the brand’s voice and produce content that aligns with the brand’s marketing strategy.
Working with content creators offers several benefits to brands:
- Experiment with different types of content: Brands can hire a team of content creators who each specialize in specific forms of content to develop an array of marketing pieces.
- Publish more frequently: A team of content creators can produce more content than a single employee. This makes it possible to publish new content more frequently and meet goals faster.
- Save money: Brands can hire content creators as needed for campaigns instead of hiring full-time employees. This also gives them flexibility to hire the type of content creators they need.
- Work with industry experts: Some content creators specialize in specific industries, and their expertise includes this expert knowledge.
The work of content creators targets a specific audience with the goal of eliciting a response from the viewer. It may be to introduce a product, direct traffic to a website or make a purchase.
What Is an Influencer?
An influencer is someone who has — well, influence — over an audience. They typically have a strong social media presence on one or multiple platforms and a collection of followers who want to hear their ideas about specific topics.
Influencers build their base of followers by regularly posting tips, tutorials and information. Their audiences tend to be engaged and pay close attention to what the influencer recommends — in part because the influencer interacts with them on the platform.
The ability to engage and interact with their followers is an influencer’s expertise. They understand their followers and know how to give them the information they want in an entertaining or helpful way.
Influencers can be categorized by their number of followers.
- Mega-influencers have the largest number of followers — more than 1 million. They tend to be celebrities with household names and impressive reach, but often have less engagement and influence over their audience compared to other groups of influencers.
- Macro-influencers have between 500,000 and one million followers. Many of these influencers built their audience over time by posting content that appealed to their audience. They have a high profile that gives them impressive reach within a broad demographic.
- Mid-tier influencers are part of a lesser-known group of influencers, and they have between 50,000 and 500,000 followers. These influencers usually have plenty of experience building relationships with their followers and maintain high levels of engagement with them.
- Micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers who follow them because of their expertise or experience within a specific niche. Although they have a smaller following than mega- and macro-influencers, they often have more engagement — and influence over their audience.
- Nano-influencers often have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. They tend to be community leaders who have a considerable amount of influence over their followers and some of the highest engagement rates. Compared to other types of influencers, nano-influencers have less reach but greater influence.
Some — but not all — influencers are also content creators. What makes someone an influencer is their number of followers — not the content on their feeds.
Benefits of Working With Influencers
When you work with influencers, you gain access to more than a number of followers. You benefit from the relationship they’ve established with their audience. Their followers trust them and their recommendations, and you earn that trust when they mention your brand.
An influencer can quickly and efficiently raise awareness of your product and brand. Leveraging the relationship they have with their audience can drive traffic to your website and boost sales.
Here are more benefits of working with influencers:
- Expand your reach: You automatically increase your reach when you partner with an influencer because your content gets placed in front of new people — usually thousands of new people.
- Increase brand awareness: As influencers talk about your brand, their audience learns more about your story, values and solutions you offer.
- Reach your target audience: When you partner with influencers who share your values, you can count on their audience to also share those values. It’s built-in access to your target market.
Successful partnerships with influencers start with finding the right people. Influencers don’t want to promote products that are in conflict with their values or deviate from the image they’ve created. Brands don’t want influencers whose followers aren’t in their target audience.
Influencer vs. Content Creator: How They Work With Brands
Some people use the terms synonymously, but creators and influencers are not necessarily the same thing. Both influencers and content creators partner with brands, but they produce very different marketing results.
Let’s take a look at how a brand might partner with content creators and influencers for the same campaign.
Brand A wants to generate interest in a new product they plan to launch. They hire a team of content creators to write product descriptions, create an infographic highlighting the benefits of the products, and develop a series of social media posts. All of this content goes on the brand’s website as well as its social media accounts.
The brand has the right to use this content however they see fit, but it may not be enough to generate the levels of interest they want. That’s when the brand may turn to influencers.
The influencer may share a selfie of them posing with the product or post a video of them using the product on Instagram Reels. Ideally, the influencer’s followers then try out the product for themselves or start checking out the brand and what it offers.
Understanding the key differences between influencers and content creators gives brands and marketing directors important knowledge for building a team to work on their campaigns. They are able to choose the people with the right skillset and expertise to expand their reach and generate interest.