To Maximize Creator Relationships, Brands Should Think Long-Term


As social media creators continue to play a bigger role in brands’ spending, marketers are looking for richer data and insights

Within a few decades, the advertising landscape has shifted from largely brand-driven messaging via print, TV, and the web to a more collaborative ecosystem, in which many brands are partnering with content creators to reach customers on social media platforms. Just a decade ago, few CMOs included such relationships in their advertising plans—yet today, creator partnerships can be table stakes in some industries.

In the future, creators may play an even greater role in consumers’ lives—and that trend could have important ramifications for CMOs. According to Deloitte research, 41% of surveyed U.S. consumers spend more time watching user-generated video content online than they do watching streaming video services. And in 2023, the market for social commerce—in which consumers make purchases via social media platforms—could surpass $1 trillion in annual sales. Furthermore, nearly half (46%) of U.S. consumers say that if an online content creator they trust has reviewed a brand’s product, they are more likely to trust that brand.

As the creator economy continues to evolve, it likely will become increasingly important for brands to take a strategic approach to creator partnerships, leveraging data and analytics to connect those relationships with business results. To that end, marketers can apply the concept of customer lifetime value to creators, with the goal of maximizing the value creators generate over the length of the relationship. Approaching creator and platform partnerships with this concept in mind can help CMOs develop a growth-oriented creator strategy that drives critical business outcomes such as brand loyalty, sales, and customer engagement.

Below are a few takeaways brands can consider as they leverage creator relationships to help maximize ROI:

Think of creators as a long-term investment. To develop effective campaigns, it’s important for brands to partner with creators who can amplify brand messaging and values in a way that resonates with the target audience. It is also important for brands to work with creators who share brand values and are less likely to do something that detracts from the brand once a campaign is over. For these reasons, brands can benefit from thinking of creator relationships as a long-term investment. Marketers can begin the creator matching process by seeking to gain a deep understanding of creators based on genre, audience size, demographics, and platform relationships.

Understand what motivates creators. To maximize the value of creator relationships, brands can consider not just their own goals but also creator incentives—particularly as the creator economy becomes more competitive. When evaluating potential partners, creators’ top considerations include brand relevance to their audience, monetary value of the partnership, and brand values and purpose, according to Deloitte’s recent report, “Creator Economy in 3D.” Additionally, many respondents say they prefer long-term, ongoing partnerships with brands, as opposed to one-off assignments. Taking such considerations into account can help brands attract top creators and foster more impactful collaboration.

Lean on platforms for quantifiable results. Beyond helping brands identify the right creators with which to partner, platforms can also help brands measure and articulate the value creators provide. These metrics can include campaign-specific key performance indicators that determine how well creators and platforms deliver desired outcomes, as well as longer-term measures such as audience engagement and growth. As they develop their creator strategy, marketers can look for platforms that have the most evolved capabilities for creator tracking and analysis. Often, this depends on a cloud-based creator segmenting solution as well as integrated first- and third-party data.

Partner with platforms that prioritize creator growth. Today, the average creator uses at least two platforms, and many see ways in which platforms could improve—driving greater competition to attract and retain creators. This trend can create an urgent need for platforms to think about building creator loyalty by facilitating brand partnerships, enabling campaign-trend matching, monitoring KPIs, developing audience insights, and providing AI-enabled support and educational resources. In this environment, marketers can consider placing their bets on platforms that invest in creator development, since those platforms may be more likely to attract more ambitious, engaged, and loyal creators.

As the creator economy matures over the next several years, creators, brands, and platforms will likely become even more intertwined—and strong relationships may be important for the success of all parties. Brands can lay the groundwork for continued growth in the creator space by partnering with platforms to better understand and support creators. By taking a long-term approach to creator relationships, brands can not only drive desired business outcomes but also build more authentic, long-lasting customer relationships.


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