While it may seem like all content is created equal, there are two distinct categories that have risen to dominance – content creators and influencers. In order to create the most effective campaign strategy, it’s important to understand the difference between an influencer and a content creator in order to utilize each for the best effect.
These days we enjoy the luxury of being able to consume a near unlimited amount of content on the internet. We watch videos on our phones that teach us how to do new things, give us advice on what to buy, or simply entertain us. Digital marketers understand that capitalizing on this trend is a surefire way to gain interest and trust in a product or brand.
Keep reading to discover exactly what separates an influencer from a content creator and how both can help you build an audience into a strong community centered around your marketed product or brand.
Instagram: The Influencer vs. The Content Creator
Instagram is a major platform where you will find both content creators and influencers active. The difference between them is the way in which the two utilize Instagram for their goals. Content creators use Instagram mainly to showcase their content whereas influencers use the platform to create a community of engaged Instagram followers.
A content creator on Instagram will likely have a profile that showcases their content over themselves. Content creators often go so far as to create secondary profiles for their content separate from their personal accounts. They don’t want anyone to be distracted from their content whether it’s photography, poetry, jewelry, paintings, or another type of art. They might not have the most followers on Instagram, but their skills guarantee that their work will be professional and aesthetically pleasing.
Influencers, conversely, are pushing their lifestyle as their product. This means that an influencer Instagram profile will highlight themselves. Whether their niche is cooking, travel, fashion, or makeup, the influencer’s face and personality are integral to their Instagram use. After all, it’s much easier to engage with someone when you see them as a person and not an anonymous account. An influencer also is more likely to know the best time to post on Instagram for engagement and to capitalize on the Instagram live feature to let followers in on their life in real time.
YouTube: The Influencer vs. The Content Creator
Like Instagram, YouTube hosts both influencers and content creators. The majority of youtubers begin as content creators and then gain a large following that gives them influence. James Charles is a great example of this. He began his YouTube journey posting makeup tutorials and eventually became the first ever male ambassador for CoverGirl. He even went on to create his own makeup line in collaboration with the popular brand, Morphe.
The focus of a content creator is to make YouTube videos that bring value to the viewer within a topic the creator is knowledgeable about. Yoga with Adriene, for example, is a YouTube channel that regularly posts follow-along yoga flows so that users of all levels can practice wherever they like on their own time. The channel isn’t interested in promoting any specific activewear or yoga equipment, it simply exists to help users lead a healthy lifestyle.
Conversely, an influencer’s YouTube channel is equally about them and their content. Vlogger influencers might upload videos about topics such as a day in their lives, where they highlight their outfit of the day and where each piece was purchased. Or they’ll post a video detailing the top Amazon purchases they can’t live without. The common theme is that these channels influence purchasing decisions and ultimately can create entirely new cultural trends. A solid influencer has the effect of a trusted friend giving you their opinion on a hotel, piece of clothing, or kitchen gadget – and this is a very powerful skill for influencers to have.
Social Media Tools for Influencers
Influencers also differ from content creators in the tools that they rely on for different platforms. Major influencer tools include:
- Canva – a content creation site made for less advanced users to create graphics and videos that can be optimized for different uses, from a carousel post to an IG story.
- Instagram business account – switching your account from a personal to a business one is free and affords you a host of additional features. Setting their accounts to business allows influencers to view the analytics for each new post they make as well as their profile stats overall.
- YouTube Studio: Everyone who makes their own channel has access to YouTube analytics through the YoutTube Studio. Influencers are likely to pay a lot of attention to this because their subscription count and viewership is directly related to their ability to monetize on the platform
- Scheduling Tools: There are a variety of scheduling tools available depending on budget and needs. What’s important is having one place to batch and schedule content ahead of time so that social media doesn’t consume the life of the influencer and keep them from taking time off.
- Influence.co – This is a database that influencers can join in order to make themselves easily available for brand partnerships and sponsorships.
Not every influencer will use all of these tools but they serve as a great starting point for understanding how influencers work.
Content Creation Tools for Content Creators
There are many categories of content creators so the tools they use can vary widely depending on their niche. Here is a noncomprehensive list of tools a content creator might use:
- Blogging platforms – a bloggeror poet might use a site such as WordPress or SquareSpace to create written content that they promote or repost to social media.
- Video editing platforms – If videography is a content creator’s specialty, then they definitely have a favorite video editing software. Whether they use iMovie, Filmora, or another software, they will know how to use it in order to create a stunning finished video.
- Google Trends – This is a great site to keep up with the most current trends, especially for creators who regularly blog or work as content creators for a company.
- Trello – Trello is a visual platform that allows content creators to establish a workflow that is easy to see and edit. It’s great for collaboration should the creator ever be hired to make content for a company or brand.
- BONUS: visual content creators such as artists will likely have their own specific tools that they use. Each artist has their own preferences but tools might include a stylus, an Adobe Photoshop subscription, and more.
The Bottom Line
Generally, content creators simply push out creative content focused on a certain topic – art, true crime, movie reviews, etc. – for the sake of creating the content. Meanwhile, influencers are focused on building community and growing/engaging their follower base. They are very specific about where they shop, eat, and generally spend their money and so they end up having a lot of power over purchasing decisions and creating trends.
A content creator is not necessarily going to promote your product or brand, but they can create beautiful, professional work that will showcase what you need them to efficiently. An influencer can help build trust and make more people aware of your brand – but they are not necessarily experts when it comes to editing or videography. It’s important to be very specific about the goals you have for your project so that you can hire the right people for the job. This might be an influencer, content creator, or both. As long as you are all on the same page, you should be able to create a marketing campaign that brings you desired results.