Influencers vs Creators - Gigi Robinson

Influencers and Creators are not the same, and provide different value for different types of marketing campaigns.

Today’s learning is controversial. I previewed it on LinkedIn a couple of months ago, and today I get into the nitty gritty, including the three (3) kinds of influencer marketing and the nuances between marketing through content and influence.

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Influencers and Creators are not the same, and provide different value for different types of marketing campaigns.

The debate on Creator vs Influencer has been had ad nauseum, with positions varying depending on age, company, mindset, and more. Millennials love "Creators"; those who think working with brands is selling out hate "influencers", etc.

Gigi's point of view is particularly interesting, being both Gen Z and having brand partnerships as her #1 source of income (full revenue details in last Tuesday’s issue).

She defines influencers as having an audience and making an impact, while Creators make great "user generated content" (UGC), but aren't winning hearts and minds.

There's somebody that can make a great video and that's an incredible win right? They can create an incredible video for a brand in a smart way. But they don't have influence over a community and and industry, and I think that's the key distinguisher.

Creators, in her view, are hired by brands to make content for a low price, but don’t bring any distribution or cultural impact to the table.

An interesting observation she makes is that, within this framework, for-hire UGC creators end up putting downward pressure on the pricing of partnerships with creators who actually have an audience:

I think the biggest issue that I have personally, as somebody who's been doing this for over five years and is verified on every platform and has been working on it in all the creator communities, is the fact that UGC creators have lowered the bill in terms of compensation for the overall ecosystem.
Because there's more of an influx of UGC creators, brands think "If I could spend $50k on hundreds of creators versus five, why wouldn't I do that?" As a result they're trying to get bigger creators to be UGC creators and I've noticed that in my inbox. I don't accept those kinds of deals because that's not worth my time, but that's that's something that I have noticed and it's a little bit concerning.

Gigi's concern is that brands aren't differentiating between UGC creators who don’t have an audience or produce a premium level of content, and influencers who do; instead, they are offering lower fees to both, because the creators who don't have audiences are willing to take those fees to do for-hire work.

As a result, she’s getting more inbound interest in working with her for low fees that don’t acknowledge her years of experience, hundreds of thousands of followers, or the impact her content makes on the cultural conversation for her followers.

I do think that buying content and buying influence are different things and should be priced differently. However, the frameworks here are tricky. Influence can actually undercut a creator's value, depending on the type of content buying that's happening. There are three primary ways that brands market through creators and influencers:

1. Performance marketing buys influence, but is ruthless about using projections around a creator's views, potential conversions, and overall ROI.

  • In these frameworks, creators often make less until they prove that they can convert, because performance marketers have ROI metrics to hit that are clearly measurable.

  • I don't have good market data, but anecdotally, it feels like this is the direction in which most influencer marketing dollars are trending.

2. UGC content that's used in paid media is the lowest-priced, lowest-value content, and that's what Gigi is lamenting.

  • An example is a brand hiring an IG travel creator to make a video about using a travel booking service, that the brand then uses as their Instagram ads.

  • In these cases, the brand wants to spend less on the content because they want to run lots of difference creative, see what works, and then invest all their money in media spend behind the creative that converts.

  • Again - this is subset of performance marketing, and it's low-price for creators.

Food for thought - if a creator has incredible, measurable conversion power, why sell for a brand when they could sell for themselves?

3. Content aimed at brand-building is the highest value content for creators.

  • This is the type of content Gigi is consistently getting, and is paid disproportionately beyond the potential directly measurable ROI.

  • It's about the creative, the audience fit, and building long-term rapport with the customer.

Brand marketers can (and do) spend more relative to reach, because influence isn't about the size of your measurable audience, it's about the power you have with your audience and how far your influence resonates beyond your direct followers. It's the Art of marketing, not the Science.

Gigi is lamenting a symptom of what many traditional brand marketers see as a disease in the broader marketing space - the increasing displacement of marketing as an Art by the growth of marketing as a Science. When all that matters is the immediately measurable financial ROI, both creators and influencers lose - unless they have massive scale or incredible, measurable conversion power.

My mission is to liberate millions of people from dependence on wage-slavery by enabling them to benefit from the emergence of the Creator Economy. I believe that the more successful both Creators and the companies that serve Creators are, the better off humankind will be.

Thanks for reading!

Superlogic subscriber, click through for two (2) additional insights, on the value of platform relationships and how ethics affect creator logic.

See y’all next week with a brand new creator conversation!

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