By Sooraj T R, creative technologist at Socialize
Competition for quality content and mass audiences is intensifying across social media platforms, with the creators themselves fast becoming the new battleground. The recent pandemic and resulting lockdowns have only fuelled audience appetite for greater volumes of easily accessible, often bite-sized chunks of information and entertainment.
Many platforms rely on active creators serving up the all-important content which attracts users and appeals to brands. This is why, to keep the most popular creators on side, they are developing creator platforms – tools which connect talent directly and effectively, with brands.
TikTok’s Content Marketplace and YouTube’s Brand Connect have recently launched as dedicated platforms for exactly this reason. Meanwhile Instagram has new options for its users to monetize IGTV videos and Facebook’s existing creator platform looks set to develop in a more brand-orientated direction, similar to YouTube Brand Connect.
How can creator platforms benefit brands?
Firstly, because they have been created by the platforms themselves, they will readily share more advanced analytics and metrics with brands, giving access to data that only a true insider can provide.
This applies to real time analytics, too, which they can supply better than any third party, because they own and manage the platform. As well as this, creator platforms make it a lot easier to manage the lifecycle of a campaign: the process of shortlisting a content creator, talking to them, and then signing them up can all happen in one place, without having to deal with an external agent.
And what are the pitfalls?
Of course, there are downsides for brands dealing directly with content creators via these platforms. The resulting content on that particular platform may be beautifully showcased, but campaigns are generally more impactful if they’re platform-neutral, so it’s important for brands to get a full picture of that creator’s content across all platforms. This may be hard to gauge if you’re managing it via one channel’s creator platform.
A word of warning, too: You may think you can quickly check feeds on the different platforms to see if these creators are right for you, but in the interest of brand safety, it’s important to be more thorough. You should follow creators for a period of time to familiarise yourself with their work, and make sure you really understand their tone and the way they communicate with their audiences, in every situation, to make sure they really are the right content creator for the campaign you have in mind.
Develop a voice over time
As with any media, there’s a right and wrong way to use each of the social channels.
One reason for TikTok’s growth in popularity, for example, is that it’s a space where people express themselves in authentic ways purely for the fun of it – viewers watch their videos because it’s more fun than platforms that are packed with passive ads and unrelatable sponsored content.
So brands need to be mindful of the aesthetic of the platform and the escapist vibe and work out how to adapt their voices to fit in. They need to consider the user journey before they design their content – make it real, relatable and fun.
Relatedly, when working with content creators, it’s always important to allow them the freedom to lead the output. By definition, content creators are – or should be – creative, but their first allegiance is always to their own brand.
Strategy is still the most crucial element in the mix
Social media offers plenty of opportunity if treated as any investment in marketing would be: never skimp on the all-important, overarching and longer-term view. This is the best way to protect your brand from pitfalls while you build an approach that thrives across social platforms – and far beyond.