By Maggie Malek, CEO, MMI Agency
Just over five years ago, the influencer space was very much in wait-and-see mode for marketers; in 2016 the market was $1.7 billion. This year it’s expected to grow to $16.4 billion, according to Influencer Marketing Hub here, reaching this mark at such an explosive rate that it’s created a knowledge gap for many brands.
A recent survey of paid influencers, conducted by the Harris Poll in partnership with MMI, uncovered their expectations and perceptions of brands and agencies, especially as their critical role in the ecosystem has been validated and solidified.
The respondents also had strong feelings about their personal brand: The majority of those polled (59%) preferred the title of ‘creator’ over ‘influencer’, which offers a key indication of how they see themselves.
Values and Passion Stand Out
Among the most compelling findings: Almost all of the creators polled (98%) said it’s important to work with brands that align with their values.
Given the current unsettled state of the world, brands are being pressured more than ever to take a stand on issues that align with their consumers’ values. Because creators now play a vital role in the marketing mix, it’s incumbent on brands to seek out creator partnerships where those values are in alignment as well.
Influencers want to be intimately involved with the brands they represent, and that means sharing many of the same values and outlook. As such, creators have a desire for partner brands to take them into account – and, by extension, the consumers to whom they are so closely connected – when making decisions about key messages.
Along those same lines, a wide majority of creators (77%) are motivated by a passion for the subject area in which they’re engaged by brands, and two-thirds (66%) want to build a community around shared interests. Only 12% say revenue is the most significant factor in determining their success.
If their primary motivation is passion, brands who wish to be successful in this space need to collaborate with their creator partners on messaging that reflects that passion. Three-fifths of creators (61%) say brands should be very conscious of their audience when partnering with them, and 57% say they should keep in mind the need for content to be authentic.
One-Offs Are as Common as Ambassadorships
The duration and nature of creators’ partnerships with brands is a mixed bag: Nearly half (43%) say their average brand partnership is a one-off campaign, while the same number say their brand partnerships are year-long or longer ambassador programs. It’s important to note that more than two-thirds (68%) say brands will routinely engage with them again if the original one-off campaign proves successful. This makes the case for strong support of creators by brands vital to longer-term relationships.
The bottom line: Creators are authentic and passionate about what they do, and brands who aim to capitalize on the strong relationships that creators have with their audiences need to afford them more freedom and autonomy to do what they do best.
The study referenced by this article was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of MMI Agency between April 13 and April 27, 2022, and polled 140 U.S. adults who are compensated in some form to post original content on social networks for a brand, platform or audience/community, and consider themselves an influencer or creator, with at least 5,000 followers or connections on a social network. The data is unweighted.