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The real difference between creators and influencers

Oct 07, 2020

Influencer News

The real difference between creators and influencers

The terms “creator” and “influencer” have been floating around the web for many years, and are often used interchangeably in reference to a wide range of people who build attention, popularity and acclaim online. 

Creators and influencers, though, are not quite the same as each other; however, some reasons for confusing creators and influencers are understandable. 

So, how do you distinguish between creators and influencers? And what are the implications of this with regard to the professionals your brand may choose to work with on future marketing campaigns?

creators and influencers

No, it’s not about gender or platform

Various theories have been posited as to how many of us became confused about the respective meanings of “influencers” and “creators” in the first place. Some theories suggest that women may be more likely to self-identify themselves as influencers and men as creators. There has been many discussions between the connections of the terms and different social media platforms—sometimes with the terms “creator influencer” and “content creator influencer” being thrown about.

Instagram has been instrumental in the development of the influencer marketing space we know (and love) today, given the proliferation since the early 2010s of creators and influencers leveraging the platform to grow a following and partnering with brands to make money. 

However, both “creators” and “influencers” are gender-neutral and platform-agnostic terms. This raises the question of what the real differences are between them from the perspective of brands that may look to tap into their talents.

Content Creator vs Influencer: The key differences and similarities

The likelihood for the confusion in the creators vs influencers debate, is that there is a large amount of overlap between creators and influencers. However, there is one key element that explains the influencer vs creator narrative simply. A creator focuses on creating high quality content; influencers are more concerned with influencing. More specifically, influencers are concerned with influencing other people’s purchasing decisions as a result of their genuine or perceived authority, knowledge, relationship or position. 

You can probably begin to see how the lines between creators and influencers can become blurred. Given that almost anyone can take a picture of their cat or brunch with their smartphone and share it on Instagram, an influencer may sometimes be categorised as a creator as well. And of course, content creators can have large social media followings and exert influence through their own close work with brands. 

Let’s get beyond the mere technicalities, though. Someone who consistently produces an especially high standard of content online—think the likes of professional photographers, writers, videographers and creative directors—is likely to be regarded as a creator. If, meanwhile, a given popular user of a social network publishes relatively unpolished content but has a profile replete with product reviews and testimonials, they will usually be described as an influencer. 

Many influencers are also noted for their level of celebrity that in recent times, has even reached the point of appearances in mainstream news. That isn’t always the case, though, such as in the case of micro-influencers who typically have lower social follower counts, but considerable renown and influence in a given space, such as beauty, sport or fashion.

creators and influencers

Creators and Influencers: The pros and cons

As with any marketing strategy or asset, there are pros and cons. This is the same for creators and influencers. It’s important to understand the differences between creators and influencers so you are able to pick the perfect partnership that will result in maximum impact for your brand. 

Content Creator Advantages

When outsourcing your brand’s photos, videos, graphics and more to a content creator, you can experience incredible advantages such as: 

High-quality content—this is potentially the main reason to work with a content creator over an influencer. The quality of their content is what has likely given them a large following on social media platforms. Their content can be posted on their own channels and then to yours. 

Multifaceted talent—content creators are jack-of-all-trades. It is highly likely that they will be able to not only take great photos or videos, but edit and add graphic design elements too. Content creators are a package deal, rather than just a one-trick wonder, meaning you can get more bang for your buck.

Saved time and money—using a content creator means you don’t have to spend time and money learning how to use a DSLR. Using a content creator allows your brand to tap into someone else’s expertise, saving your brand time and money and allowing you to continue focusing on running a business. 

Content Creator Disadvantages

While content creators can make incredible content for your business, they do have a few drawbacks. 

There are fewer promotional opportunities when using content creators. A main difference between creators and influencers is that creators usually don’t have the following or community engagement an influencer has. Despite having great content, using a content creator means you are less likely to receive a tonne of traction. 

If you choose to work with an inexperienced content creator, they may not have yet implemented processes for working with brands. Unfortunately, this can lead to misunderstandings and delays within your projects. Working with creators requires a thorough vetting process. 

Influencer Advantages

While creators and influencers know their way around making content, influencers have a closer relationship with their followers. When working with experienced influencers, you can enjoy many benefits. 

Consumers are cautious when trusting brands, but are very willing to listen to and trust influencer recommendations. When tapping into an influencer’s pre-existing network, you can associate yourself with them and thereby gain their network’s trust. 

Influencers know how to build and maintain a following. Partnering with an influencer can boost your brand awareness, followers and web traffic easily. 

There are prevalent influencers within every niche on the internet, and there’s a lot of them too. This means you can have your pick of influencers that are hyper-relevant to your business and goals. Choosing a niche influencer will allow you to connect with customers more quickly. 

Influencer Disadvantages

While influencers can put you directly in front of relevant audiences, they may not be the best fit for your purpose. 

Influencers know and understand people, but they have limited content expertise. Some influencers are skilled at content, but it is usually limited to a specific aesthetic or format. If you want to be able to repurpose content, you need to select your influencers carefully. 

Just as with creators, you need to carefully vet your influencers. Not all influencers gain influence in the same way—some are built with viral hits, others with controversy and some with a slow-burn. You need to make sure your chosen influencer’s audience is genuinely engaged in order for them to be receptive to your brand. If you accidentally work with a money-grabbing influencer, your content will appear ingenuine, irrelevant and spammy, meaning you won’t get the results you hoped for. 

Creators and influencers: Who should you work with?

Naturally, the answer to this question is… it depends. After all, you may work with individuals who possess some level of renown as both creators and influencers, and both types of famous or celebrated person online can help to drive results for your organisation.  

If you’re seeking to have content created for your brand’s website, social media profiles, paid ads, emails or printed materials, you’ll probably be best-served by someone describing themselves as a creator. Influencers, by comparison, are skilled in leveraging their loyal audiences online to help to spread awareness about brands’ products and services. 

For a more detailed talk about how our expertise and experience in the gamut of influencer marketing here at Socially Powerful could be key to elevating your brand, please don’t wait any longer to get in touch with us.

FAQs

What are creators?

Creators are people online that make creative, professional and sometimes highly edited work. They are digital artists and can create content to an incredibly high standard. Creators are skilled in many forms of digital media, including photography, editing, videography, graphic design and more. 

What does a content creator do?

A content creator is an individual that creates high quality content, from photography and videography to graphic design and animation. It’s in the name; content creators… create content. 

Is a content creator an influencer?

You can argue that content creators and influencers are incredibly similar. After all, with the capabilities of phone cameras, access to editing software and the ability to build a following, creators and influencers appear very similar on the surface. Content creators can now build followings, and influencers can create high-quality content. 

While the basic fundamentals of creators and influencers remain different, a content creator can become an influencer, and an influencer can become a content creator. 

What is the difference between an influencer and a creator?

It is incredibly important to know the difference between creators and influencers so you can make an informed decision on who to work with. While there is definitely some overlap between creators and influencers, the main difference is that one focuses on creating content, while the other focuses on influencing. Another way to describe the difference between creators and influencers is that creators know how to create content, but influencers understand people.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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Author

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James Hacking

Writer

Socially Powerful, founded in 2017, stood as pioneers of the influencer marketing industry. Today we are a global social marketing agency and technology company.

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