The Do’s and Don’ts of Partnering With Creators

There are reasons why VCs poured $1.3 billion into the Creator Economy in 2020 and that it reached almost $5 billion in 2021. 

Consumers are more interested in supporting and following creators than ever before, and VC firms recognize that “monetizing the individual” is the way of the future.

While VCs are investing heavily into new creator platforms and unique monetization tools, it doesn’t mean that brand collabs aren’t still integral to the success of creators and these platforms.

In fact, it’s just the opposite. Stats show that creators still make a bulk of their money by partnering with brands. 

And consumers are over-the-moon excited about brand and creator collaborations. Think Yeezy + Gap for starters 🔥

So, the question isn’t whether or not brands and creators should continue to partner up on exciting and lucrative initiatives.

They should.

The question is:

What makes for a successful brand + partner collab?

In other words, what are the do’s and don’ts brands must know to make these collabs work to the best of both your benefit.

Do’s of partnering with creators 👍

1. Pay your creators with cold, hard cash

While it’s fun for creators to get free products from your brand, it’s not enough to keep them excited about promoting your brand.

Think of it like this. 

Not only is your brand getting a unique, engaging, and authentic ad that audiences will love, but…

You’re also tapping into an already-engaged audience of thousands that consists of your target demographic. For example, say you hire @/kallmekris on TikTok. She’s giving you instant access to 40 million people.

This instant audience exposure and new customer acquisition initiative are worth the cash you invest in your content creator.

2. Partner with micro-influencers 👼

While every brand hopes to partner with someone like Ariana Grande or Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s not likely you’ll have the budget for a celebrity or access to one.

What’s more, it’s also not necessarily as effective to partner with celebrities over micro-influencers.

Stats show that micro-influencers have better engagement rates than mega-influencers and even celebrities.

Micro-influencers have engaged niche audiences. Not to mention, being lesser-known adds an element of authenticity that consumers crave.

3. Be selective about who you partner with 🕵

The ultimate goal of entering into a creator and brand collaboration is to acquire new customers and boost brand recognition.

But, to be successful, you have to market to the right audience.

Study the creators you want to partner with, and make sure their followers are your target audience. It’s also important to choose partners with similar goals and values as you and your company.

Don'ts of partnering with creators 👎

1. Don’t micromanage

It’s tempting to hand your creators a brand book and shell out ideas of what you think would work. 

Avoid the temptation.

Walk away from the table and let your creators do what they do best—create content they know their audience will enjoy.

2. Don’t polish up the content 🏆

If there is one reason why apps like TikTok are growing like wildfire, it’s because the content is short, sweet, and authentic.
Audiences—especially Gen Z—have grown tired of polished and contrived ads. They love the raw, authentic content influencers are serving up.  Here’s an example from TikTok influencer Salah Brooks of an ad for Spotify.

It’s raw, funny, encapsulates her sense of humor excellently, and it’s performing.

Once your creator makes an ad for you—leave it be.

3. Don’t overlook every social platform 👀

While you may have a social media darling, keep this in mind. Each platform attracts different creators with unique followers.

The best strategy is to invest in creators with audiences across various social platforms. This is especially true if you plan on marketing your products to different demographics.

For example, if you’re marketing to Gen Z, invest in TikTok creators. If your customers are Millennials, partner with an Instagram creator. If you’re marketing to Boomers, check out Meta for Creators.

Above all, remember this:

Creator + brand collaborations are the way of the future in advertising. 

As your DTC brand moves forward, do everything in your power to foster mutually beneficial relationships built on trust and respect.

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