How Creators Are Crushing Monetization #STCDeepDive

 

Key Points

      • The creator economy is booming as more brand marketers leverage their budgets to prioritize influencer activations
      • Social platforms are putting creators first with funding and new tools that reward them for good content
      • Creators are unlocking new revenue streams to enhance their earnings
      • Brands and social platforms are driving innovation in their creator partnerships to increase participation and overall revenue

 

Follow The Money and See Where It Goes

From brand partnerships to platform-specific creator funds, influencers are making bank and rising up the ranks. Influencer marketing is poised to grow into a $15B industry this year, with brands rapidly increasing their budgets… and it’s clear why. 

51% of brands say that influencer-generated content (IGC) outperforms brand-made content. Not to mention, 61% of consumers say that they are more likely to trust product recommendations made by a friend, family member, or influencer. That’s huge for social proof and for brand strategy, plus makes for a compelling argument in support of influencer partnerships. Especially considering we have a host of success stories from brands like Totino’s and Express with results that speak for themselves.

This brings us to our point: As social media functionality grows to prioritize creator monetization, the industry will grow along with it. Here’s why:

1. Because platforms know that more traffic means more revenue.

Not only do all social media platforms rely on constant content production to keep their users engaged and entertained, but they also make a pretty penny in advertising revenue – $50.89B in 2021 in the U.S., to be exact. And with more users flocking to social media, there are more opportunities for ad revenue to climb even more in the coming years. 

Take TikTok, for example, which reported one billion monthly active users worldwide in September 2021. Since then, it’s been the top downloaded app on Christmas Day 2021 and reportedly, TikTok users spent $2.3B in the app that same year. There’s money to be made, and social platforms know that, which means they’ll continue to prioritize creator monetization.

2. Because proven success means more future creators.

Influencers on social media have proven that anyone can do it — as in, you don’t need to be famous already to make a living in this industry. Modern-day micro-influencers — creators with 10,000-50,000 followers — began their careers with little more than an idea and their phones. And while they may not make enough (yet) in brand partnerships and affiliate marketing revenue to support themselves full-time, they’re well on their way.  And doing so just by being themselves and by sharing expertise with their audience. Even now, the rise of the “non-influencer” is becoming increasingly common.

All this proven success means that now more than ever, new creators will continue to emerge across platforms. Expect a new wave of influencers to start monetizing with brand partnerships, digital storefronts, affiliate programming, and much more.

3. Because brands want a cut of the profit, too.

TikTok has proven that branded content with creator involvement performs better. Additionally, YouTube’s CEO pointed out in a recent letter that the creator economy’s success on the platform is driving change. Meta, too, champions creators in their functional upgrades to Instagram and Facebook. All these platforms (and more) are prioritizing creator involvement, which enforces what we already know: creator content works.

 

Plant Seeds and Grow

With major projected growth on the horizon, what does this mean when it comes to all of the ways creators can monetize? To understand where they can go, first, we have to understand where they currently stand. 

1. Brand partnerships are a go-to revenue source.

brand-collaboration-preference-graphThey’re the money maker. Brand partnerships and cross-brand collaborations, especially long-term agreements, are preferred by creators because they result in a consistent cash flow. And as creators get to know their brand partner, their style, and their content requirements, it’s easier for them to pivot and produce work at a faster rate.

2. Affiliate marketing, ad revenue, and digital storefronts are subtle, but lucrative moneymakers.

These commissions may feel slow-going at first, but these earnings add up after a while and are a nice supplement to other endeavors creators might have in place.

3. Ambassador programs are long-term partnerships that are great for a creator’s personal brand beyond just social media.

When a brand takes on an ambassador, they’re reactivating a creator as a brand partner on a regular basis and consistently compensating them for their work. While still not as popular as brand partnerships (but getting there), brand ambassadorships allow a lot of flexibility and name recognition amongst a creator’s followers, especially for influencers generating content in a particular niche.

4. Social media platforms have prioritized creator monetization with tools that help them make money while they sleep. 

The top social media platforms have a host of programs to incentivize creators to make content for them, and this trend is only going to grow. Already, the changes have been swift and plentiful. Instagram is a great example of this rapid change. While they started with basic ad revenue allowances for brands, they quickly grew this toolkit into subscriptions, affiliate tools, Badges, social commerce options, paid events, and bonus programs. 

They’re not yet at the level of TikTok, but based on creator backlash over TikTok’s pay model, that might not be a bad thing. Along with these developments, there are bound to be areas for improvement. Platforms are bound to pay attention to creator feedback and adjust their models and make enhancements accordingly.

how-creators-generate-revenue-graph

Bet: Creators Will Become The Audience, Not The Channel

Here’s what it all means. Because consumers have come to rely on creators for advice on almost everything — from what shows to watch to how to fix a sink to what to purchase on Amazon — creators have become major guides to your purchasing decisions. They’re granularly in tune with their audience, which makes them such great resources. Soon, creators will not just be the channel that brands use to promote their products and services, but the very audience that they hope to reach. Which, by the way, we predicted would happen this year. 

Creators are a key component of future innovations, including the metaverse and Web3’s proposed digital playground. As the creator economy grows and the lines between social media and reality continue to blur, brands will be able to experiment with new tactics that blend creator content and marketing together.

 

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