Instagram is filled to the brim with dazzling images, authentic heartfelt posts, and the occasional sponsored post all about the latest diet fad.
Although it seems like anybody with a smartphone can be an influencer or a content creator, it takes a lot of time and talent to promote brands online.
And, by the way, content creators and influencers are actually two different things.
It’s true: people like to use these terms interchangeably, but there are real differences between influencers and content creators.
As a brand, you have to know who you’re working with, including what they’re good at and where they fall short.
You’ve got to know what an influencer or content creator brings to the table so you can get the most results for your next marketing campaign.
It’s time to inspire, motivate, and entertain, and that means bringing in the big guns.
Use influencers as tastemakers for your next campaign and rely on a quality content creator to boost your internal marketing efforts.
Now, although there are differences between content creators and influencers, they can also be the same.
That’s right: you can work with influential content creators who not only know their way around a camera, but that have a huge following to promote your brand.
But first, you have to know how to tell influencers apart from content creators.
Use this guide to understand the difference between content creators and influencers, why this affects your marketing, and how you can find a content-savvy influencer for your next campaign.
Content Creators And Influencers—What’s The Diff and What’s The Same?
Let’s flash back to elementary geometry for a sec.
Remember learning about squares and rectangles? And how a square can be a rectangle, but a rectangle can’t be a square?
That’s how content creators and influencers are.
They’re two completely separate things, but they do share some overlap that causes people to lump them together. And yes, there are situations where you can find a content creator-influencer, too.
Let’s break down the differences, first.
Content creators make content. That sounds simple enough, right?
Well, we’re not talking about any old content. Content creators are known for making stunning, professional-quality content that really stands out.
Content creators include the photographers, videographers, writers, and artists you might bump into on your Instagram feed.
These folks are making great stuff for the sake of content, not necessarily to gain followers or build a community.
Because there are so many content creators on the internet, the bar is set high if creators want to stand out.
For example, anyone can snap a pic of their cat. But the Suki Cat Instagram account takes cat photos to the next level, complete with a talented cat and an equally talented photographer/graphic designer.
In the real world, this means the more high-end creatives tend to have a ton of followers anyway, even though that’s not a requirement to be a successful content creator.
As a brand, you shouldn’t be interested in a creator’s follower count; you’re interested in their work. (Of course, if you can find an amazing content creator who also has a large following, that’s even better.)
Brands like partnering with content creators because they’re able to farm out creative work, like product photography, for a fraction of the cost.
Don’t bother with a pricey photoshoot for your new product—give it to your favorite creatives to get the content you need.
It’s important to remember that, although content creators aren’t in it for the likes or follows, they can also be influencers if their audience is large enough. Keep in mind that a creator’s focus isn’t necessarily on audience engagement, but beautiful content.
Influencers are different from content creators because their focus is on engagement and community-building. They tend to have large followings (100,000+) that trust their recommendations.
Influencers commonly include YouTubers, reviewers, and bloggers. Their content might not be as insanely high-quality as a content creator, but it’s still engaging and interesting.
So yes, influencers are also content creators. The sticking point is that the quality of this content differs from person to person.
While content creators are in it for the art itself, influencers build communities for the purpose of connecting and helping their followers, which means occasionally influencing an audience’s purchasing decisions.
And it works: 74% of people trust their social networks (which include influencers) for recommendations more than they trust branded content.
Influencers have authority and, well, influence over their audience because of the relationships they build on their platform.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Kardashians have a huge following of millions of people. Any time they promote branded content, brands tend to get a lot of traction because they tap into the Kardashians’ authority.
But you don’t have to work with a mega-huge celebrity to get results. Micro-influencers, or influencers with 100,000 followers or fewer, influence purchase decisions for niche audiences, too.
In many ways, micro-influencers can be more effective than big-name influencers because of the close-knit communities they build. For example, Passport To Friday’s Instagram has just over 20,000 followers, but plenty of engagement on their posts.
At any rate, if you need to drive brand awareness, click-throughs, and sales, influencers are a good option.
These folks directly promote your brand or product to their audience with a clear call-to-action, as opposed to content creators, who churn out gorgeous photos of your product.
The Pros And Cons of Content Creators Versus Influencers
Content creators and influencers commonly get thrown into the same bucket. Even though they have some similarities they do have key differences.
Depending on your brand’s needs, you may need to partner with a content creator instead of an influencer, or vice versa.
Keep in mind that there are hybrid content creator-influencers out there, but you need to have a sharp eye to locate the right person for the job.
Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of content creators and influencers so you can partner with the right person for your brand.
Content Creator Advantages
Outsource your brand’s photos, videos, and more to a content creator. You’ll enjoy sweet wins like:
Quality content: This is the number-one reason to work with a content creator. The quality of their content just can’t be beat.
Multifaceted talent: Content creators tend to be jacks-of-all-trades. If you hire a photographer, they’ll likely know how to edit and add graphic design elements of photography, too.
Save time and money: Don’t train your unpaid intern on how to use a DSLR. Relying on a content creator saves your brand time and money, tapping into someone else’s expertise while you focus on running a business.
If you need a magazine cover, social media ad photos, or video for your next Instagram story, partner with a content creator to churn it out in no time.
Content Creator Disadvantages
While content creators make pro-level creative for your company, they do have a few disadvantages:
Fewer promotional opportunities: Content creators don’t have the following or community engagement that influencers have. If you also want to promote your product to the creator’s following, it’s less likely to get a ton of traction.
A lack of process: If you partner with an inexperienced content creator, they may not have a process in place for working with brands. That could lead to some misunderstandings that delay the project. Make sure to vet creators carefully before agreeing to a campaign.
Influencers might not know their way around a fancy camera or editing software, but they have a close rapport with their followers. When you partner with an experienced influencer, you enjoy benefits like:
Building trust: Just 34% of consumers trust the brands they shop with. But 63% trust influencers more than brands. When you tap into an influencer’s network, you borrow an influencer’s trust, forging a shortcut to more conversions.
Finding more followers: Need more followers? Influencers are the cure for whatever ails you. Partnering with an influencer can boost your web traffic as well as your social media following.
Niche-specific targeting: There are a lot of influencers out there, and that means you have your pick of the litter. Choose an influencer in your industry or niche to connect with more customers more quickly.
We love influencers, but they might not be right for your brand. Consider these disadvantages carefully before partnering with an influencer.
Limited content expertise: Influencers know people, not content. While some influencers are skilled at content, some are so-so. If you want to repurpose visuals from your influencer campaign, choose your influencer wisely. They need to demonstrate content expertise, and some of them aren’t content experts.
You need to carefully vet them: Not all influencers are created equally. You have to do the legwork to make sure the influencer’s audience is truly engaged, and that they’ll be receptive to your branded message. If it comes off as spammy or irrelevant, you won’t get the results you paid for.
But who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?
Fortunately, you can tap into the best of both content creators and influencers.
Remember, influencers and content creators can be one in the same.
It’s all about sourcing quality influencers who know content. Trend’s curated network of influencers are also high-quality content creators.
You don’t have to settle: go with a trusted influencer to boost your brand and product stunning branded imagery for your campaigns.
The Bottom Line
As you’ve probably guessed, there’s a lot of overlap between content creators and influencers. Some influencers are also content creators, and some content creators become influencers.
Influencers and content creators both bring something great to the table. But it’s up to you to use their talents in a way that gets results for your brand.
Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between a content creator or an influencer.
You can work with influential content creators who create great content, and who also have an engaged following that trusts them.
But it can be hard locating true, vetted influencers with content chops. Don’t waste your time sifting through Instagram.
Check out Trend’s platform to connect with trustworthy influencers who can not only provide stunning, branded visuals, but promote you to their audience in the process. Get your free demo now.