Not sure of the difference between an influencer and a content creator? Keep hearing the terms but not quite sure what sets them apart? Here’s a quick summary into the content creator vs influencer debate and why they’re different.
With influencer marketing spend expected to hit a whopping $16.4 billion USD in 2022, it’s no denying that influencers are here to stay as a key marketing tool for brands across all industries.
But while the term “influencer” is well-recognised by brands and consumers alike, the term “content creator” seems to be gaining steam and in many circles is absolutely becoming the preferred title for people who make money from their content.
These two terms aren’t exactly interchangeable but there absolutely can be a lot of crossover, which is where the confusion comes in! So lets do a little break down on content creator vs influencer, what is a content creator exactly, and why we should distinguish between these two titles.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is someone who is able to influence their audience or their community to make purchase decisions. It might be someone who is an expert in their field like a financial advisor or a medical specialist who talks about their specific industry, or it might be someone who has built a large social media following through being involved in the entertainment industry and now “influences” their audience to buy different products.
An influencer’s main selling point is the sway that they have on their audience to convince them to make a purchase.
The Kardashians are a classic example of a pure influencer, no one follows them because they’re excellent photographers or caption writers (no offence Kim), and brands work with them to be able to access their huge audience.
What is a content creator?
On the other hand, a content creator (another common term is digital creator) doesn’t need to have an audience at all to be successful in what they do, because they focus on the content they create rather than the influence they have. A content creator might create photo, video or written content and it might be posted on the brand’s marketing channels and/or their own marketing channels.
Brands might work with content creators in the way that they also work with commercial photographers and videographers, where they give the creator the product or invite them to try out a service and then the creator in turn provides content that can be used on various channels.
A content creator’s main selling point is the quality of the content they can create.
Content creator can also encompass different types of content, so rather than someone calling themselves a photographer and videographer and blogger and writer, the term “content creator” is a far easier way to refer to what they do.
Can you be an influencer and a content creator?
Absolutely! Many content creators also have an aspect of influencing in their role, where they receive income from both creating content for brands as well as sharing products and services with the audience they have built.
Influencer vs content creator: Why does it matter?
In my experience, the main reason that many creators prefer the term creator to influencer is because of the negative connotations that surround the influencer industry.
When you think of influencers you probably think of someone from a reality TV show or who has made a name for themselves for no specific reason, maybe someone who promotes charcoal toothpaste and detox teas to their audience, or someone who seems to work with every Tom, Dick and Harry brand if they’re getting paid. Influencers are seen as money-hungry, talentless freeloaders and there’s been loads of press coverage to reinforce this view.
Content creators, on the other hand, refers to people who are known for their talent in producing top quality content in their chosen format, which is a much more positive way to be viewed.
If you’re pitching to brands, I can almost guarantee that calling yourself a content creator will elicit a more positive reaction than introducing yourself as an influencer (provided you are great at creating content of course!).
Another key difference between influencers and content creators, particularly from a brand perspective, is the type of return on investment you expect from a collaboration.
If you engage an influencer to promote your product, the aim of this partnership is probably to build awareness, get views on your page or clicks through to your website.
If you engage a content creator, the aim is probably to gain incredible content that could be used on your brand’s channels and/or the creator’s channels, with more of a focus on the content itself rather than the amount of reach you’re getting.
Of course many brands want to be able to benefit from both awareness to their target audience as well as gaining access to amazing content, so many partnerships will include both content creation and influencing deliverables.
The job title should match the job description
What the influencer vs content creator argument really comes down to is what someone’s job actually entails, and the title they use should align with that.
If your job is mostly building a social following, engaging with your community and you make money based off the size of your audience, you probably fit the “influencer” term. If your job is focused on coming up with unique and creative content ideas whether that’s for your own channel or a brand’s channel, “content creator” might be more fitting for you. If you’re a bit of both, choose whichever you prefer!
So am I an influencer or a content creator?
For me personally, I prefer the term content creator for a number of reasons:
- I create content across photo, video and written formats for both my channels and brand’s channels
- The community I’ve built is part of my key selling point but the majority of my partnerships come to be because of the quality and creativity of my content rather than the size of my audience
- Calling myself a travel blogger, photographer and social media influencer is far too wordy
While there is definitely some “influencing” involved in many of my brand partnerships, what I really pride myself on is shooting vibrant photos, making creative video content and writing informative blog posts, which are all part of being a content creator.
I hope this explanation has cleared up the influencer vs content creator difference! So with all that in mind, do you see yourself as an influencer or a content creator, and why? Tell me in the comments!