New research from social media management firm Sprout Social affirms that content creators are key players in the future of brand marketing. According to the firm’s new report, marketers are not only realizing the opportunity the creator economy presents, but prioritizing it over other marketing strategies, with the majority (74 percent) planning to invest at least a quarter of their social media budgets on content creator partnerships over the next 3-6 months.
Despite the opportunity working with creators presents for brands, many challenges still exist, such as budget (45 percent), lack of internal resources (36 percent) and the inability to find creators that align with their values (34 percent), reinforcing that justifying spend on less traditional tactics like creator content is increasingly difficult.
The firm surveyed marketers about their relationship with the creator economy, from their goals and challenges with creator marketing, to which platforms and content types have the most creator potential.
The data showcases the opportunity creator content presents for brands to nurture and attract customers in authentic ways. Marketers who are prioritizing working with creators rank generating more audience engagement (62 percent) and reaching new audiences (60 percent) as their top two goals, even ahead of driving revenue (42 percent). As the trend of authenticity ranks among the most important creator qualification by consumers and marketers alike, more than half (53 percent) of marketers aim to strengthen their social community and 41% seek to promote their brand values by leaning on creators.
In addition to the goals brands hope to achieve with creator partnerships, they realize each platform lends itself to different audiences. Marketers expect to use Instagram (58 percent), followed by Facebook (51 percent) and TikTok (50 percent) for creator collaborations in the next 3-6 months. While these platforms also top the list for usage among consumers, more than half are planning to spend more time on YouTube, yet only 27 percent of marketers are putting money into creator collaborations on the platform.
“Working with creators will only become more important for brands as social media platforms, consumer expectations and marketing strategies continue to evolve and mature,” said Jamie Gilpin, CMO at Sprout Social, in a news release. “But just as important as working with creators is understanding the role creators play in reinforcing brand values, strategy and identity in relatable ways. With community engagement as a top priority for brands, marketers who strike the right balance of authenticity and audience relevance within their creator partnerships will be the ones who stand out.”
Additional findings from the report and key trends related to the creator economy include:
- Top content formats marketers plan to partner with creators on vary by platform: Story posts reign supreme on Instagram and Facebook, while link in bios are popular on TikTok and brand shout-outs rank first on YouTube.
- Brands value a mix of content when partnering with creators: As brands look for creators to authentically show consumers how to use their product or service, educational content ranks as the #1 type of content brands want from creators. Testimonies, unboxing or reveals, and giveaways or challenges are also popular.
- It takes a team to find the perfect creator: Across businesses of all sizes, social media teams are most frequently involved in the process of vetting creators (72%), more often than communications and/or PR teams (53%), legal (33%) and finance teams (24%), though legal teams are more often involved in the sourcing process among enterprise companies (40%). But as social media teams are stretched thinner, finding the resources to vet and manage creator relationships can be difficult, despite 25% of marketers believing creator marketing can alleviate content creation pressure for their teams.
The data referenced was collected via online survey from 516 US marketers. Participants were recruited by Lucid between May 19-25, 2022. Selected participants were those responsible for their brand’s social strategy or worked at an agency responsible for another brand’s social strategy. Additionally, selected participants were marketers who had previously or are currently planning on working with content creators within a three to six month period.