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Digital Essays 2022: Changing the narrative from ‘influencers’ to ‘creators‘ – by InHype’s Nour Chaar

Content creators are an ecosystem that represents the creative team and the channel, says InHype’s Nour Chaar

By Nour Chaar, founder and CEO, InHype

Let me tell you a little secret. I am kind of over the word ‘influencer’. It has lost its allure, meaning and cultural relevance.

Let’s move away from the word ‘influencer’ and the catch-all phrase of ‘influencer marketing’. Let’s embrace the reality of what influencers actually are. They are content creators. This is what lies at the heart of what they do. They are entertainers, brand experts, reviewers, storytellers and crafters of tales that capture people’s imagination – all in quick, snackable, bite-sized content. 

Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok have known this for years. They know the power that content creators wield, both for audiences and for brands. Why else would TikTok host creator camps in China, where content creators provide strategic counsel to brands? Instagram too has placed creators at the heart of its strategy, openly acknowledging that it wants to provide them with new ways to tell their stories, to connect with their audiences and to express themselves. By the end of this year, Meta will have invested more than $1bn in creators across Facebook and Instagram.

TikTok’s community-driven approach is helping to forge an entirely new way for brands and creators to connect with their communities, and this is only the beginning. The management consultancy Deloitte noted in its 2022 Global Marketing Trends report that influencers may be the next iteration of the creative agency. That would mean moving the relationship from ‘influencer’ to ‘creator’, and placing those individuals and channels at the centre of the brand to work on bigger-picture creative challenges.

So why do we continue to call content creators ‘influencers’? Why are trustworthy experts in their fields, with dedicated audiences, being looked at with something akin to derision? I know we cannot move away from the term ‘influencer marketing’ entirely, but let us at least acknowledge their true value. After all, the numbers speak for themselves. 

Influencer marketing spend is expected to grow consistently

According to this year’s Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, the industry was set to grow to approximately $16.4bn in 2022. That’s an 18.8 per cent increase on the previous year with no sign of that growth rate reducing. It is also the highest growing marketing segment. 75 per cent of brand marketers say they intend to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing this year. Although some of those budgets are relatively new, Traackr’s 2022 Influencer Marketing Impact Report noted that 51 per cent of marketers said they spent between $50,000 and $500,000 a year on influencer marketing, and 15 per cent spent more than $1 Million. 

As we prepare to enter 2023, that investment will only increase as brand managers delve deeper into a category that maximises return on investment and offers a unique ability to produce meaningful conversations. We already know that marketers are increasing their creator budgets across social, that the likes of Instagram are committed to continue building a suite of tools that support creators’ needs and ambitions, and that creators themselves are closer to products – and customers – than almost anyone, as Deloitte notes in its 2022 Global Marketing Trends report. 

Better ROI with content creators

Content creators are not just another marketing channel; they are an entire ecosystem rolled into one. They represent both the creative and the channel. Compare this ecosystem with the wider industry where PR agencies, creative agencies and media agencies can all be involved in the creation of a single campaign. That is a lot of money and time, not to mention production costs and retainer fees – all of which magnify a brand’s expenditure. With a content creator, you get the media, creative, PR and agency all in one. This is where you maximise return on investment.

And then there’s impact. Traackr’s 2022 Influencer Marketing Impact Report noted that more than half of marketers (54 per cent) said that influencer marketing has successfully increased brand awareness. More significantly, 82 per cent acknowledged creators’ impact on driving sales. Earlier this year, TikTok also released a report stating that TikTok-specific branded content in collaboration with creators drove a higher ad recall of 27 per cent, while partnering with creators boosted view rates for in-feed ads. 

It is evident that content creators are hugely effective and the industry is booming. That’s where InHype steps in. Our role as a next-gen digital creators’ agency for brands is to help companies maximise the potential of content creators. As a hub for creation, curation, execution and measuring of content creator campaigns, InHype plans and creates branded snackable content worth sharing on social media. We do so by helping brands formulate strategic objective-driven ideas, identifying the right content creators, and using global data tools for analysing and measuring results. In doing so, we leverage creators as brand ambassadors and brand storytellers.