Have you invested in a social media content creator yet? If not, hop to it, because they’re changing the face of branded social media.
Look, it’s no secret that content has a big impact on shopper’s buying decisions. And when you share that content on social media, you’re hoping and praying for shoppers to engage with your brand.
But let’s be honest: a lot of people are scrolling past your content in their newsfeed.
No matter how great your latest white paper may be, it seems like shoppers want to see different content from your brand.
Fortunately, influencers can help you cut through the social media noise—with the right content, of course. In fact, 80% of people say they’ve purchased something after seeing the recommendation from an influencer.
As a brand, you can leverage an influencer’s reach, authority, and creative skills to:
- Reach more shoppers.
- Increase your social media following.
- Get more leads and increase sales.
Why? It’s because influencer-made content tends to perform better than your run-of-the-mill branded content.
It’s no wonder that every $1 spent on influencer marketing generates $18 in ROI.
While influencer content should be part of your marketing mix, there are so many brands in the influencer marketing space that you need to stand out. It’s not enough to ask an influencer to promote your weight-loss lemonade: you need that influencer to create content that turns heads.
Today, the quality of content is an important differentiator.
You need to evolve past influencer marketing and embrace true social media content creators instead.
Check out this guide to understand how creators differ from influencers, why you need to create visual content for social media, and 7 tips to find the right creators for the job.
Social media content creators versus influencers
Don’t get us wrong: influencer marketing is an effective way to grow your brand. 42% of marketers say influencer marketing is their top ROI-generating marketing strategy.
But there will come a time when you have to hold your influencers to a higher standard in terms of content.
Content creators are better than influencers because they:
- Still have influence over a large number of followers.
- Specialize in a niche and primarily care about the quality of their content over their follower account. This makes content creators more genuine and authentic than other influencers.
- Create professional-grade content that would normally cost thousands of dollars elsewhere
- Free up your team’s time, thanks to their creative skills.
- Provide a library of high-quality photos and videos that your brand can repurpose on your website, emails, and more.
Social media content creators are considered influencers, but they can also be bloggers, key opinion leaders (KOLs), and artists.
They’re different because they specialize in content first and foremost.
That makes content creators more genuine than other influencers because of the strength of their content.
The neat thing about content creators is that they’re already equipped for creating badass content. They usually have a studio, cameras, audio equipment, and editing software that rivals professional studios—without the studio price.
Use a content creator to kick your social media content up a notch, whether you hire them for:
- Graphic design.
You need more than a plain Jane influencer. Social media content creators are a must because they give your team the capacity of an agency with the pricing of an independent creator.
And who doesn’t want more money in their pocket?
Because content creators are also influencers in your niche, they know what content your audience needs to see. Translation: you’ll create better content, get more results, and spend less with a content creator.
Why visual social media content creation is important
Okay, so we know that content creation is what matters for influencer marketing success. But not just any content will do.
Sure, you can ask a social media content creator to write social posts or blogs for your brand. That’s kind of boring though, right? And can’t your team write a blog pretty easily?
When you work with a social media content creator, you need to tap their expertise to create content that’s difficult to make in-house.
Plus, your audience wants to see more visual content. The numbers don’t lie:
- 87% of consumers want to see more video content from brands.
- 96% of online shoppers look for product videos before they buy anything.
- 84% of our online communications are visual.
- Social posts with images receive 2.3X more engagement.
It’s no wonder that platforms like Instagram and TikTok blew up like they did. They focus solely on visuals, and consumers are eating it up!
There’s nothing wrong with emails or blogs, but it’s time for your brand to share the high-quality visuals that people expect from you.
Not sure how to make visual content work for your brand? Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Product pages: You probably have nice photos of your products, which is a good start. But customers want to picture your products in their everyday lives, which is why you should add lifestyle images to your product pages, too. A social media content creator can create these images for your Instagram profile, but you can also repurpose them on your product pages with a platform like Trend.
- Website: Skip the corny stock photos and share brand-specific images on your website. A social media content creator can create a huge repository of branded images and videos that you can plaster all over your website for better branding.
- Instagram Shopping: To make it on Instagram, your content has to be Instagrammable. Trust a content creator to take high-definition images and videos for your next Instagram Shopping campaign. Chances are good that more users will see your ad and engage with it because of the better visuals.
- Facebook and Instagram Ads: PPC ads perform much better when you pair them with amazing content. Improve your costs per click with creator-sourced product photos and videos. You can even ask them to create a full-blown 60-second commercial—the sky’s the limit here.
- Organic social media: Yes, social media can be a pay-to-play world, but platforms like TikTok still value organic social media performance. If you’re trying to connect with Gen Z shoppers but don’t want to create lame, salesy videos, social media content creators can help you out.
Here’s the thing: shoppers obviously want you to create more multimedia content. But you know that it’s a pain and a half to make this content in-house.
That’s why you need to partner with a social media content creator: they’ll create strategic content that’s fine-tuned to your target audience and save you a ton of hassle.
How to find the right social media content creator
Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh, well I’ll just partner with a big-name influencer like the Kardashians and call it a day.”
But remember how influencers and content creators are different? You have to choose an actual social media content creator to make content that stops thumbs.
The rules for engaging with a content creator are similar to influencer marketing, but there’s an added layer where you need to evaluate their creative skills, too.
But don’t worry, it’s easy to find content creators in your niche. Follow these 7 steps to find the right social media content creator for your business.
Step 1 - Know what you need first
Let’s get a little existential for a sec: what’s the purpose of your marketing? What do you want out of all of this, anyway?
Goals are a must for any marketing strategy, and content creation is no exception. When you know what you need from a specific campaign, you can hold both yourself and the content creator accountable for achieving those goals.
Basically, it’s a lot easier to find a social media content creator who will actually get results when you know what the end result will be. Otherwise, you’re just throwing money at an unidentified problem.
Every brand is different, but common goals are:
- Increased brand awareness.
- More likes, comments, shares, and engagements on your posts.
- More followers.
- Increasing the number of leads from social media.
- Increasing sales.
- Earning more backlinks.
- Time saved.
You’ll never know if you got a return on content creation if you don’t set a goal before the campaign. Try to follow the SMART framework to create goals that are actually achievable.
Step 2 - Research your buyer persona
You speak differently to your grandma than you do with your bar buddies, right? Marketing is no different. You’re going to change how you speak depending on who you’re talking to.
But that implies that you need to know who you’re speaking to first, and that’s where the buyer persona comes into play.
When you understand your shoppers, you know what content they want to see. And that’s going to help you choose the right social media content creator.
You can build your buyer personas with a tool or you can take a DIY approach. To create a buyer persona, you’ll need to:
- Gather existing customer data from your sales platform, emails, social media, etc.
- Group customers together based on shared characteristics. For example, if a lot of your shoppers are 50-year-old moms, that would be a persona of its own. It’s not unusual to have 3-10 personas for one brand, so don’t be afraid to get specific with how you segment your customers.
- Fill out demographic information, like age, gender, career, personality, etc.
- Understand where your buyer likes to spend their time online. You’ll need to know which social platforms they frequent and the type of content they like to engage with.
- Understand their motivations. That means articulating the shopper’s pain points and challenges.
- Give a name and a face to your buyer persona. Cutesy names like Soccer Mom Sally or Businesswoman Brenda can make it easier to remember your personas on the fly.
Your influencer marketing strategy just won’t work if you don’t have empathy for your customers.
Buyer personas might seem like a fluffy exercise, but they will help you find the right social media content creators who have a direct influence on your personas’ shopping habits.
Step 3 - Plan the campaign deets
You need to set campaign parameters before you start hunting down content creators. Trust us: creators are going to have plenty of questions for you. It’s better to have all of the answers before you start the outreach process to avoid any confusion.
To plan a solid campaign, you’ll need to iron out:
- A specific start and end date for this campaign.
- Who on your team is responsible for each part of the campaign.
- Success metrics based on the SMART goals you created earlier.
- Messaging ideas for the campaign, including talking points and a clear call to action.
- How you’ll compensate creators. Some brands do this in the form of free products, payment, or a combination of the two. You’ll need to let the content creator know this upfront so they know if the campaign will work for them.
- A shot list, loose script, mood board, brand guidelines, or other creative direction if you want to source videos from content creators.
While it’s great to let social media creators have creative freedom, you do need some kind of strategy or guidelines behind your social media creative. Make sure you have these bare-bones first before you partner with a content creator.
Step 4 - Search for potential social media content creators
You’ve set your goals, created buyer personas, and planned the campaign details. Now it’s time to find social media content creators who will be a fit for your campaign.
Remember, not every influencer is a content creator.
You’ll need to carefully vet each potential creator to make sure they’re influential to a degree, but that they have the creative chops to do your brand justice.
You can compile a list of creators in your niche by:
- Searching for hashtags: Sift through Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter for hashtags that are related to your industry or campaign. Try to be as specific as possible so you aren’t pulling in a bunch of generic content. For example, if you’re a shoe brand, you might want to look for #Adidas or #fashionblogger. You can also look for hashtags like #ad and #sponsored to find content creators who have a track record of partnering with brands.
- Looking in your niche: You can also search for topics or pages in certain niches using the same approach. Again, try to be as specific as possible to find content creators that are in your niche. For example, if you sell bespoke shoes, you might look into indie content creators instead of big-name athletes.
- Using social listening tools: A simple Google Alert for your niche can help you find influencers, but there are platforms that help with this too. Whatever tool you choose, you’ll stay up-to-date on which experts in your industry are sharing popular content.
- Checking out your competitors: Did your good-for-nothing competitors partner with a content creator in the past? There’s nothing wrong with finding those same influencers and asking them for a partnership. Or, if you don’t like that idea, check out the creator’s comment section. Chances are, you’ll find a creator of a similar caliber that your competition hasn’t partnered with yet.
Once you’ve located a promising social media content creator, add them to an Excel sheet so you have everything in one place.
Step 5 - Evaluate every potential influencer
Here’s where the magic happens: now you’ll need to narrow down the content creators on your Excel sheet and choose who you’ll partner with.
While you should evaluate every influencer partnership, social media content creators require an added layer of vetting.
You’re trusting them to create a ton of brand collateral, after all; you want to make sure they’re legit.
Make sure you evaluate every creator by:
- Relevance: Does the creator’s content align with your brand’s personality and message? Are their followers a fit for your buyer persona? Think carefully here—irrelevant content is a waste of money.
- Their follower count: You’ll likely work with more micro-influencers if you’re concerned about sourcing awesome visual content. Still, they need to have at least 10,000 followers for a branded partnership to make sense.
- Follower engagement: It doesn’t matter if a creator has 1.2 million followers if half of those followers are bots. You’re in the business of marketing to humans, and that means you need to verify that a) the followers are real and b) they follow the creator’s advice. If a creator’s social posts don’t get a lot of traction, that might be a sign that they aren’t actually influential.
- Work portfolio: Creative work is part of the job. Look at the social media content creator’s body of work. Is everything consistent? Does the content meet your expectations? Does their style match the look you’re going for? Run for the hills if anything looks questionable or low-quality.
- Past brand partnerships: Sometimes it’s easier partnering with a content creator if they have experience working with brands. See which brands they’ve partnered with in the past to see how effective the partnership actually was.
- Authenticity: This is hard to quantify, but you’ll know it when you see it. How believable is the creator? Do you feel a connection with them? They should feel like someone you would grab a beer with.
- Factual correctness: There’s a lot of fake news out there, guys. Be sure to fact-check the content creator so you aren’t associating your brand with someone who stretches the truth.
- Frequency: How often does this social media content creator post on the platform? Are they posting once a month and leaving their followers hanging, or are they posting several times a day? This plays into follower engagement, so always check a creator’s frequency.
Step 6 - Interact before the big ask
At this point, you have a shortlist of social media content creators who you trust with your brand. Now you need to get in touch with them to kick off the campaign.
But not so fast. If you slide into a creator’s DMs, the first thing they’re going to think is, “Who are you???”
Get to know the creator before you ask for a partnership. That means following them on TikTok, Instagram, or wherever they are online. You need to:
- Get familiar with their content and posting frequency.
- See if they engage with other followers.
- Like their content and leave a few thoughtful comments.
This gives you a chance to vet the creator even more so you’re certain it’s a good fit. But this also builds a relationship with the influencer before you ask about a partnership.
The creator will be much more likely to respond to you if they recognize your name, so relationship-building is a must.
After 1 - 2 weeks of following the creator, you can invite them to your campaign. Not everyone will respond and not everyone will say yes, so be sure to contact a handful of creators.
Step 7 - Track your results and optimize over time
Trend will help you track your results over time through our platform, but don’t forget to track your progress on Google Analytics, each social media platform, and in your customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
Creator partnerships are rarely a one-and-done deal. By tracking the data, you can determine which creators’ content was the most successful. From there, you can partner more with the social media content creators who get your brand and churn out beautiful visuals that your followers love.
Marketing is an investment in your business. Since you need to get the most results for as little spend as possible, it’s time to invest in next-level social media content creators to share high-quality visuals with your shoppers.
Not every social media content creator is for you. Some creators won’t be a fit, and that’s okay.
Always follow these 7 steps to find someone you can work with for the long haul. But we don’t blame you if you don’t want to spend the next 2 weeks searching for creators manually.
With Trend, you can set up your campaign and match with influencers in just a few hours. Our influencer marketing platform makes it a breeze to find influencers, send briefs, receive quality content, process payment, and manage creative permissions all in one place.
Ready to see it for yourself? Sign up for a free Trend account now.