Imagine you’re in a supermarket, walking down the cereal aisle and dozens of brands vying for your attention. Which do you choose? Your answer would be the brand you trust, love and respect, even if a lesser-known alternative is available at a lower price.
It’s a similar scene in the creative world. Simply put, the creator economy includes small businesses centered around independent content creators, also known as influencers, who are vloggers, writers, comedians, and musicians, and earn through monetization. While many influencers seek public attention, only a few end up having a large following and the opportunity to earn monetary benefits.
Influencers have various sources of income such as YouTube ad revenue, online courses, subscriptions, products and services, affiliate links, monetary advice, but brand deals are the biggest monetization opportunity for the creators, according to CB Insights. For a long time, marketers have relied on traditional media channels and celebrity endorsements to increase brand awareness and drive sales. However, conventional marketing techniques are no longer suitable for millennials, who prefer social media to television or newspapers. This is leveraged to fuel the economy of creators.
According to a report by Statista, the size of the global influencer marketing market has increased eightfold in just five years, from a mere $1.7 billion in 2016 to nearly $14 billion in 2021. anyone active on social media will have noticed that the race to become an influencer has begun. The market will inevitably see an influx of many creators and due to the growing crowd, the likelihood of creators getting lost is higher than getting noticed.
Many creators think they can stand out as influencers by gaining social media followers. It’s wrong. An influencer is a personal brand, which is not only made by the number of followers. Audiences and marketers generally do not seek general popularity. Instead, they’re looking for a creator with a personal brand and positioning.
Here are some steps content creators or influencers can take to better navigate their personal brand journey:
Find a niche, become the master of it, then develop: Al Ries and Jack Trout, the pioneers of the concept of (brand) positioning, advised narrowing the objective so that a brand can possess a word in the mind of the prospect. The term niche refers to a specific area enjoyed by a small group of audiences. When subscribers view a creator as an expert in a particular area, they take that creator’s recommendations seriously. Additionally, marketers prefer to work not only with established creators with strong followings, but also with emerging creators who have a niche.
Be open to doing things that others haven’t done before: From comedy to cooking, the internet is full of content. It’s human nature to follow the status quo. So most competitors follow the market leader and end up getting lost in the crowd. If an influencer develops something similar to popular creators and offers nothing different, the public has no reason to stick with it. People like authenticity and differentiation, so it’s important to develop a unique style.
Add value: Compared with TV series and movies, videos created by YouTubers lack high-end setup and special effects. So why do people watch YouTubers faithfully? The answer is because of the exciting content. Content is king, queen and everything in between. An influencer needs to think about how they can make their content worthy of their audience.
Adhere to the publication schedule: Becoming an influencer means being disciplined with the posting schedule. Posting good pieces of content consistently will help increase following and engagement.
Keep improving in crafting: Being good at something shouldn’t mean becoming overconfident. A little doubt is fine. The day you feel like you know it all, the fall begins. Keep looking at what others are doing in the same field and what you can do again.
Do not be fascinated by the success of others: When new creators look at the lives of established creators on social media, they probably think the other person is happier and richer, while they’re struggling. Unfortunately, they miss a crucial part: you can’t see other people’s backgrounds, hard work, and struggles on a live social network. If designers think too much about other people’s success, they may tend to be prone to glamour. However, if they focus on the tasks at hand, they will learn and grow on the journey.
Keep audiences first and branded offers second: When an influencer has significant followers, many brands reach out to them for collaboration. Remember that reputation and public trust are the most powerful assets for any influencer. Before accepting any collaboration opportunity, undertake extensive brand research. From existing customers, try to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the brand’s product. If possible, use the product. Go only if the brand can be authentically integrated.
Create a team around you: Creators create the best result with proper time for thought and experimentation. But they also have to interact with the public and take care of editing videos, selecting brand offers, negotiating contracts, planning brand campaigns, etc. The cumulative effect of many minds is better than one mind working on many things. Thus, a creator must identify the right team members and delegate tasks.
Understand the audience and their expectations: To create a strong connection, a creator must have a good understanding of their target audience. Some creators or influencers can connect well with urban audiences, while others can connect well with people in small towns. Some creators can connect well in English, and some can connect well in regional languages. Social media analytics and audience feedback are great quantitative and qualitative sources for understanding where audiences are coming from, what they like, and what needs to be offered.
Take care of your health: The world of an influencer is filled with hard work. But it hurts when people don’t like their jobs and share their hate on social media. Performance pressure can lead to anxiety and stress. If influencers want to play long term, they need to take care of their mental and physical health. If health suffers, performance suffers more and audiences move on to other available options.
Marketing guru Seth Godin says, “Brand humility is the only answer to a competitive and rapidly changing marketplace. The humble brand understands that it needs to win back attention, win back loyalty, and reconnect with its audience like every day is day one.
So on your journey to becoming a remarkable creator, stay humble, stay consistent, and stay relevant.
The writer is author of “Booming Brands” and co-author of “Booming Digital Stars.” The opinions expressed are personal and do not necessarily represent the views of any company.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are those of the author.
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