A Crash Course in Gen Z’s Obsession with Creator-Driven, Influencer-Heavy Streaming Content
Ads and retargeting are accepted, measurable marketing channels, but if you’re trying to garner attention from the next wave of consumers, you need to engage the community of streamers, creators, and/or influencers. The advent of digital media platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook/Instagram has created a new form of engagement that relies on a more intimate two-way relationship between creator and audience. Marketers and brands can effectively utilize this if they get over their preconceptions and prejudices. After all, when a creator consistently has videos with over a million views, you need to pay attention.
Several influencer platforms have started to make an impact by operating like digital agencies based around creator content engagement.
Influencers Are Not Pitchmen: They’re Believers
Authenticity is crucial for influencers because their audience is their currency. Influencers with loyal followers have built their audience by being an extended friend to their communities. Information sharing is the foundation. How to sous vide a prime rib. How to win the latest League of Legends. How to make slime. How to wear eyeliner. Young people, as soon as they know how to navigate a video app, crave understanding of and connection to the world. Because of this, influencers have to earn the trust of their continued following by being authentic and open with their information.
The savvy viewer can sniff out a clear sponsorship because they almost always interrupt the core flow of information. Commercials still feel like commercials and skipping over them is super easy. Instead, if the content were more instructive, maybe even adding caveats about drawbacks, the influencer earns points as does the brand. That’s authenticity.
Fresh and Frequent
Influencer content is remarkably timely. This is partially due to gaming culture which is quick to provide the latest information on new game updates and tips. But it’s also driven by the idea that you can learn just about anything off the internet. That, of course, means someone has to create that content, but chances are, it exists.
And content begets new content. Creators are often responding to other creators or their followers offering their take on particular topics and causing a viral, interwoven effect. Pretty soon, the group conversation becomes impossible to avoid. For as disparate as the web is, it’s astounding that people still congregate in vast numbers as quickly as they do.
For creators to maintain their audience, it requires a rigorous and religious commitment to bringing relevant, timely content up constantly. At the same time, if they’re creating content, they’re not “working,” so how can they make a living? Videos take time. Podcasts take time. Quality is rarely immediate and does not come naturally. It must be designed, which also takes time.
So, creators and influencers align themselves with platforms where they can actually offset or fund their content endeavors. Concurrently, platforms look to find monetization vehicles for their creators to continue thriving. This is where brands and marketers can have a say.
The best platforms are able to make frictionless payments to their global creator networks. Why global? The beauty of the internet invites contributions from creators across international borders—new voices with interesting perspectives.
Adding Performance Marketing to Influencer Networks
As important as a content platform is, it’s also not all about a single distribution point for influencers. The most prominent creators understand they need to be on every platform that their audience engages in. That alone could be a full-time job, and it’s where influencer networks come in.
Several influencer platforms have started to make an impact by operating like digital agencies based around creator content engagement. This is a natural evolution from multichannel networks (MCNs), offering marketing scalability and performance management to advertisers, not to mention access to top creator talent. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, at the start of 2019, there were 740 Influencer Marketing platforms and agencies in the market. It’s been a dramatic increase in just the last few years.
- CreatorIQ – Platform for building in-house creator/influencer brand advocacy campaigns. Customers include Investor’s Business Daily, Fullscreen, and ipsy.
- Influential – A data-driven market intelligence platform for identifying and engaging influencers. Brands include Pepsi, McDonald’s, Venmo, Wells Fargo, and the NFL.
- Izea – A self-service influencer search tool to build marketing campaigns. Brands include Subway, Comcast, Target, and eBay.
- Omnia Media – Fueling creator engagement for fan culture IP. Brands include EA, Capcom, Universal, and Paramount.
- Upfluence – Relatively new, this company offers two products: Reachr to access influencers in the blogging arena and Publisher to build native content programs. Brands include PayPal, Mercedes Benz, Nestle, and Ricola.
The benefit of working with an established network is that the influencer population is constantly evolving, and these platforms are actively measuring viable outlets for advertisers. Much of the heavy lifting for seeking them out and engaging is done. At the same time, because so many platforms are appearing so quickly, advertisers will likely have a lot of trial and error as they build these campaigns.