The Difference Between an Influencer and a Content Creator
With the rise of social media and image sharing apps, the traditional advertising model of seasonal ad campaigns has given way to a new generation of photographers and micro-celebrities. Here we will delve into defining and differentiating the roles of a content creator and an influencer to help inform you on your brand's advertising needs.
My Story as both a Content Creator and Influencer
In the past, photographers were commissioned for one-off campaigns, lookbooks and large billboard ads. In my case, the very first client who hired me solely for social media photos was a local leather bag brand who needed a large number of images to showcase their collections on Instagram. Quick and easy, I brought those bags with me everywhere; propping them on a worn concrete floor next to a beautifully poured latte or held in my hands wearing a pattern skirt snapping away on my iPhone and editing on VSCO. As I began to take on more clients for social media photos, I was also developing my own personal Instagram account (@samishome) which blossomed from 40k followers in 2016 to 80k by 2018. Brands and PR agencies began to contact me inquiring about my rates for sponsored posts. On the side, I started working with hotels such as W Shanghai and Hyatt Hotels to shoot and showcase their room amenities and luxury retailer, Lane Crawford by hiking up a hill to snap a photo of the perfect picnic all for my Instagram. So what's the difference between my two jobs?
Who is the Content Creator?
A content creator is essentially someone who creates images for you- the brand or client- but is not responsible for posting, distributing or sharing the content. Essentially she provides a collection of tailored 'stock' photos depending on the brand's creative needs for their social media channels. I'd also argue that a content creator is different from the traditional means of a 'photographer' due to the fact that social media images speak and engage with Instagram followers. Many of my clients approach me after they realize their campaign images that were meant for web and magazine glossies don't resonate with their social media audience. The relationship between content creator and brand is a long term partnership to create a stable narrative on their social channels and usually on a retainer basis.
Who is the Influencer?
Are you selling matcha tea kits and not gaining traction just by simply taking photos of your tea and posting on your Instagram? This is where the Influencer comes in. The Influencer is the face of your brand and whose primary goal is to get your brand name out there. He or she promotes a product or service on their own social platforms to drive traffic to your digital platforms. Unlike a brand ambassador who usually retains a year-round contract with a brand to appear in ads and attend PR events, the Influencer uses his or her own voice through social channels to bring awareness and/or push sales to the product. The images the Influencer creates may sometimes not be as 'polished' as the Content Creator (such as a selfie while holding a product) but resonates well with his/her own followers because authenticity and personal branding is what the audience is engaged with. Compared to the Content Creator, the role of an Influencer is a relatively short term partnership who can bring more eyeballs to the brand account (and as a result more followers, engagement and sales).
I created the above chart as a visual aid in distinguishing the different roles between a Content Creator and Influencer. Whether you're a PR agency, a brand or a startup, knowing how to leverage the services of Content Creators and Influencers can help build your brand social channels.
Let me know your thoughts and hit me up on my Instagram if this helped you!