Content is everywhere.
Every blog post, social media update, email, product review and video is a piece of content—the possibilities are endless. But it can feel overwhelming trying to keep up with the demand for fresh, exciting content that stays front of mind.
To stand out in this sea of content, everything from your blogs and social posts to Instagram Lives need to tell a compelling and authentic story about your brand.
Partnering with content creation pros can help you resonate with your target audience, reach more people, and build a scalable content library without doing it all yourself.
What is content creation?
Content creation is the act of planning, executing, and publishing content to help people find your brand and learn more about your products or services. It’s a tough job managing it all in-house, which is why the creator economy has blossomed over the past few years. Today, there are more than 50 million creators producing content in a market worth over $100 billion.
So what exactly is the creator economy? It’s an ecosystem that sees creators make money directly from the content they create. Made up of consumers, entrepreneurs, and influencers, the creator economy offers a wealth of resources for advertisers and companies to lean on.
Content created within this ecosystem can include emails, blogs, web pages, social media posts, videos, and podcasts—the most successful type of content ultimately depends on the type of business you’re running, whether you fall in the B2B or B2C category, who you’re targeting, and the kind of products you sell.
The great thing about the creator economy is there are tons of specialists that focus on different types of content so you can quickly populate your content library without spending hours creating it internally.
The rise of ‘lofi’ content
Content forms a major part of every step in the sales cycle. It’s often the first thing people see in relation to your brand and it can have a huge impact on decision-making.
Think about it: every social media post that attracts a new follower, every blog post that leads to a signup, and every email that generates a sale is a crucial piece of content.
But it’s no longer enough to put any old content out there and hope for the best. In fact, 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they engage with, which is why there has been a massive shift towards authentic social media content and video content in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) arena. A new study has revealed that consumers found user-generated content most trustworthy, followed by creator generated content, then branded content.
This has led to a demand for more ‘lofi’ content, which is often less polished but more share-worthy and relatable.
Why is content creation important?
You have a marketing goal, right?
Maybe you want to increase awareness of your brand, drive more sales, or get more engagement on your social media channels. Whatever you’ve set out to do, content can help you get there. It’s a fundamental part of generating new leads, supporting customers in their product searches, and educating, informing, and engaging your customers.
Without content, shoppers will find it difficult to understand what you’re selling and why they should buy from you.
It ultimately creates an infinite shopping loop. Take TikTok, for example, which is a prime example of how popular audio-on-video content is right now. DTC brands are gaining traction there by partnering with creators. The community engages with that content, tries the product, and goes on to create content of their own. And so it continues. Content is the crux of the loop and has changed the way people shop—it’s no longer a linear journey, but an ongoing discovery experience.
Strategic content at each stage of the sales funnel can mean the difference between gaining a new, loyal customer and losing them to a competitor:
- Pre-sale content: Helps you attract the right people, increase visibility around your brand and products, and connect with potential customers.
- During-sale content: Helps you position yourself favorably against competitors, shows you understand customer pain points, and establishes your brand as a trusted, valuable option.
- Post-sale content: Helps you secure long-term loyalty through empowering content that nurtures existing customers and highlights how much you value them.
What is a content creator?
The term can refer to in-house creators, writers, and freelancers, but now more commonly refers to content creators on social media. While there are many similarities, the term isn’t synonymous with influencers. Content creators come from all walks of life and can specialize in a variety of fields.
We’ve covered the key differences in this post, but the main definitions can be boiled down to this:
- Influencers are people who influence purchasing decisions with their content
- Content creators are photographers, videographers, and creatives who are pros at creating high-quality, engaging content
You might also have heard the terms influencer-generated content (IGC) and, more commonly, user-generated content (UGC). The rising demand for authentic, trustworthy content has led to a slew of brands encouraging their customers to share photos, videos, and reviews of products, while IGC refers to content created by influencers that brands have partnered with.
All of these people–creators, influencers, and customers—are content creators in one form or another because they are in the business of creating content for brands.
Why content creators have become so valuable to brands
The evolution of smartphones, the internet, and social media has changed the way people engage, shop, and carry out their daily lives. The versatility of the web and the idea that anyone can create content in a matter of seconds have been the building blocks of the creator community.
Here are some of the reasons brands are leaning on content creators so heavily:
- Expert video and editing skills: Content creators are essentially mini-content creation studios. They’re pros at creating video and photo content that doesn’t need to be brought in-house or outsourced to an agency.
- Lofi content: Brands can collect a library full of both lofi and slick, put-together shots which arms them with a variety of creative formats.
- Direct audience communication: Content creators have pre-built followings that allow brands to speak directly to their target audience.
- A source of purchase inspiration: Research by Statista shows that 78% of consumers discovered new content while watching content creator videos and 73% have been inspired by content creators to try new products.
- Authenticity first: Creators know what their audiences love, so they’re able to create engaging content that hits the mark every single time.
- Trusted by their followers: Social proof is critical to building trust and credibility. Creators are already trusted by their following, which automatically transfers to the brands they’re working with.
More and more people are hanging out on social platforms, making them a great way to reach new audiences and nurture existing customers. Pair this with the new social commerce features available, and social media has become a high-performing channel for shortening the path to purchase. Brands that leverage the expertise of content creators and the powerful features available can connect with customers quickly and effectively.
It’s not just access to trusting audiences and industry experts that makes partnering with content creators so appealing—the content itself blows branded content out of the water on almost every count.
The benefits of influencer-generated content creation for brands
- Content by creators is high-performing with an 11x higher ROI than banner ads
- It’s more cost-effective than studio-shot content (MakeupEraser co-founder Elexsis McCarthy used to spend $3,500 on one professional video but now gets 10 videos and 30 photos for the same price)
- Brands have the ability to scale content creation by working with multiple creators
- The volume and variety of content allow for more testing and refining
- Brands can leverage a more diverse collection of content
- Brands can repurpose the content to their own channels, which can support social media teams, email marketing teams, and website teams
- Content by creators can be used in ads to reach new audiences
6 steps involved in influencer-generated content creation
Let’s face it, unless you have a huge content team, you need external content creators in your marketing life. And even if you do have a huge content team, partnering with influencers can diversify your output and help you reach new audiences with trusted content. It’s a win-win situation.
So, how can you get started?
1. Set your goals and choose your channels
The goals you set at the start will determine the outcome of your IGC campaigns. These can include:
- Lowering customer acquisition cost
- Increasing brand awareness
- Generating more sales
- Boosting engagement
- Reaching a new target audience
- Increasing follower count
- Strengthening brand image
Once you’ve set your main goal, take a look at the audiences you want to reach. It helps to create customer personas so you have a consistent, rounded picture of who you want to reach with your content.
When creating your personas, consider:
- Demographics: Where do they live? How old are they?
- Interests: How do they spend their weekends? What are they passionate about?
- Goals and dreams: Where do they see themselves in 5 years?
- Challenges and struggles: What’s holding them back?
Understanding your audience will help you identify your key social media platforms, too.
For example, if you want to target a young Gen Z audience who are interested in the latest pop culture, TikTok is the go-to platform. Research where your target audience is already hanging out—this will help you identify the best-performing content for each of your chosen channels.
- TikTok: Content tends to be authentic, light-hearted, and playful
- Instagram: Content tends to be curated, polished, and inspirational
- YouTube: Content tends to be more thorough, long-form content, but this could change with the emergence of YouTube Shorts
2. Come up with content ideas
Next, consider the type of content you want to create. This can be a collaborative process between your brand and chosen creators, but the most effective results typically come from letting influencers do their thing. 77% of content creators say they’re more likely to partner with a brand that grants them creative freedom, so provide a guardrail, not guidelines.
Your content ideas should also tie in with your goals:
- Brand awareness: Giveaways, roundups, social media takeovers
- Increase sales: Discount codes, sponsored posts, product collaborations
- Boost engagement: Events and experiences, takeovers
- Reach new audiences: Product walkthroughs, reviews
- Increase follower count: Giveaways and competitions
- Strengthen brand image: Reviews, brand ambassadors, product collaborations
Upmarket furniture brand Arighi Bianchi worked with content creator Lydia Millen on a makeover and an Instagram takeover to document the process.
Urban Decay hosted a summer solstice event and invited a handful of relevant influencers to create content during the event.
Koi Footwear partnered with creator Grace Beverley to launch a new product in a hotly anticipated collaboration.
A good starting point is to leverage current social media trends. Identify patterns that are happening in the creator space and explore trending TikTok sounds to make the biggest splash on TikTok and Instagram Reels.
To do this, type “trending sounds” or “viral sounds” into the search bar, filter videos to “this week” to see TikToks from creators using the top trending sounds or jump to the “sounds” tab to get a list of the trending sounds and how many times they’ve been used.
3. Plan your campaigns
The details of your campaigns, like the timing, execution, and creativity will determine their success. It can be tempting to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks, but a strategic plan will ensure you’re on track to meet your goals and are doing everything by the books.
Think about the kind of content you need to bolster new and existing campaigns.
For example, you might plan a bunch of content for seasonal events, evergreen content that you can repurpose again and again, and content for tactical campaigns like upcoming product launches or to accompany a rebrand.
Find the right content creators
Once you’ve identified what kind of content you need for each campaign type, find the right influencers to partner with. It’s important that the audiences of your chosen creators match the personas you created in step one.
According to Crowdtap, 44% of influencers said that the biggest motivation for working with a brand was that the opportunity is relevant to their audience.
The success of your content creation campaigns hinges on the influencers you choose to work with. Get it right, and you both can enjoy fruitful, long-term success. But, get it wrong, and you’ll struggle to reach your goals or get the traction you hoped for.
Here’s what to look out for when choosing content creators to partner with:
- Audience affinity: Is the creator’s audience the kind of audience you want to reach? Are their followers relevant to your brand and are they going to be interested in your products?
- Values: Do the creator's values align with your own? Choosing influencers who support the same issues and missions as you will resonate well with your audience and make for a great long-term partnership.
- Engagement: How does a creator interact with their followers? Are their engagement levels as high as you’d expect for their follower count? What are their relationships like with their audience?
- Credibility: Are the creators you’ve chosen credible in their industry? Are they qualified to be talking about topics you want them to talk about and are they well-trusted by their community?
Our full guide to finding the right influencers goes into detail about what you need to do before you reach out to creators and where you can find good-fit influencers.
Top tip: Through Aspire’s Influencer Search Engine, you can take advantage of advanced demographic, authenticity, and location filters to really help you hone in on the right creators.
April Bobadilla, Social Media Manager at Ovation Hair, found the ability to filter creators by defined characteristics to be a huge benefit to the brand’s influencer campaigns. As well as finding creators who matched Ovation Hair’s aesthetic, April discovered creators who were authentic, had great photography and videography skills, and spoke directly to the brand’s target audience. Read more on Ovation Hair’s success story.
Influencer-generated content is a collaborative process and requires a good deal of communication and laying down expectations at the start. We recommend creating briefs to limit rounds of revisions and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Creator briefs are crucial for two key reasons:
- Influencers know what you expect from them and can keep your guidelines in mind while creating content
- You can make sure you’ve provided all the relevant information so influencers can create their best work for you
We’ve written a detailed guide on writing briefs for influencers, but these are the main areas you should cover:
- Brand information, purpose, and values
- Campaign overview and objectives (including hashtags)
- Campaign messaging
- Channels and deliverables
- Content dos and don’ts
- The content review process
- The payment process
Sticking to a brief gives influencers the freedom they need to create content that will resonate with their audience while also keeping in mind your brand goals and objectives—everyone wins.
The finer details
Next, plan the finer details of your campaigns. Sign influencer agreements and discuss acquiring usage rights before deciding on the influencer strategies you plan to use to accompany the content. This might include:
- Providing affiliate links
- Offering promo codes
- Securing reviews
- Encouraging signups to your community
Basically—what do you want your audience to do when they see and engage with your content and how will you encourage them to take that action?
4. Execute away
Now the fun can begin. You’ve got your creators on side, your content mapped out, and you’re feeling prepped up and ready to go. But there are still a couple of things to consider to ensure your campaigns run as smoothly as possible.
The timing of your posts
Working collaboratively with creators means making sure you’re on the same page about when content goes live and the order it should be posted in. Consider how posts will coincide with your wider marketing activities, like seasonal discounts and new product launches, and discuss the best days and times to post content with your influencers.
Create a central hub
If you’re working with multiple influencers, it can be helpful to have a central dashboard where you can check in with creators and ensure all content goes live when planned. This can also be a great place to communicate with your creators and create a central content hub that your entire team can access (you can check out how to do this with Aspire).
5. Track your campaigns
Content by creators lends itself perfectly to testing. Having access to a diverse content library will help you see what’s working and what’s not pretty quickly, but the most important thing is that you’re monitoring progress. And that doesn’t mean just checking how the content is performing, but also learning from the results.
- Is the content striking the right tone with the audience?
- Are engagement levels where you want them to be?
- Are people clicking through if a shoppable link was included?
- Are people using the affiliate codes provided?
Answering questions like this will help you determine if you’re on track to reach your goals, but it will also give you a good overview of the type of content that’s resonating best with your audience and what incentives are proving most popular.
Continue to track your campaigns over time, check in consistently, and use your findings to optimize and elevate future campaigns, either in terms of the content you’re creating, the times you’re posting, the creators you’re working with, and the incentives you’re offering.
6. Boost your content with influencer ads
It’s tempting to sit back with a big sigh of relief when your content goes live, but the process has only just begun. Now, it’s time to make that content work even harder for you and the creators you’re working with.
Consider strategies that will help boost your top-performing content once it’s out there in the wild. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Branded content ads
Turn your best content into ads to reach new audiences and increase visibility. Branded content ads highlight the partnership between a brand and a creator but allow you to choose the kind of accounts you want to reach. It’s a great way to give your content an extra nudge in the right direction.
Don’t let your content fade away into the ether. Give it a fresh lease of life by repurposing it on your own channels. For example, you might turn a TikTok video into an Instagram Reel or immortalize a brand takeover in a video you can put on your website and in your email newsletter.
Remember to store your content safely. You should always have easy access to your content for upcoming campaigns, to use on your website or OOH advertising. Build a content library that you can pluck pieces from when you need them and organize them in a way that makes it easy to use them over and over again—content is for life, after all.
How much does it cost to work with influencers for content creation?
The million-dollar question: What costs are involved in influencer content creation?
It’s a controversial question because there’s no solid answer—all we know for sure is that brands are planning on spending more on influencer marketing in 2023, with 68% planning to increase their budget in the next 12 months.
Ultimately the cost will depend on the type of influencers you’re working with, what platforms you’re using, how high engagement levels are, the industry you’re in, and a million and one other factors. It’s one of the only industries where there are no set prices as such, which can make it difficult to create a budget if you’re just getting started.
Working with Kim Kardashian or Christiano Ronaldo (who charges a massive $2.3 million per post) is going to be considerably more expensive than partnering with a local creator that has 6,000 followers. Influencers tend to be split into five tiers that can help determine how much it costs to work with them:
- Nano-influencers have 5,000-20,000 followers
- Micro-influencers have 20,000-60,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencers have 60,000-200,000 followers
- Macro-influencers have 200,000+ followers
- Mega-influencers have 1,000,000+ followers
Obviously, it will be cheaper to work with a nano influencer than a macro-influencer, especially if you’re not a big-name brand with a lot of clout. Working with nano influencers also provides more scope for starting a relationship with free products and working up to monetary payment over time, which is always an option if money is tight. However, we only recommend this as a short-term approach, because ultimately everyone should be compensated for their work.
It’s not just cost-effective to work with creators with a smaller audience. While nano-influencers have fewer followers, they’re actually the most engaging type of creator with a typical engagement rate of 3.69% compared to the 1.61% garnered by macro-influencers. The smaller audiences of nano to mid-tier influencers provides a greater platform for authenticity and relatability, which ultimately leads to increased trust. It’s easier for followers to believe and trust an influencer that has a similar lifestyle to them than a mega-influencer who’s jetting off in their private plane every weekend.
We’ve put together a quick chart that shows the average cost of a post on the top social media platforms from research compiled by Influencer Marketing Hub.
Quickly scale your content creation with influencers and UGC
Working with content creators and influencers can help you dramatically scale your content efforts and reach your content goals—whatever they may be. Not only does content created by influencers perform better, but partnering with trusted creators in your industry can put your brand on the map and increase visibility on your chosen channels.