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Influencers vs Creators: Meet the Next Generation of Social Entrepreneurs

Content creators are disrupting influencer marketing by starting brands of their own. Learn what that means for the way brands connect with consumers with a deep dive into the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

May 12, 2023

6 mins read

Elliot Taylor

Influencer marketing has undergone dramatic transformations in recent years, with brands continuing to capitalize on the revenue potential the channel brings. In fact, 67% of businesses intend to increase their influencer marketing spend in 2023, with 23% planning on spending more than 40% of their marketing budget on influencers.

Facilitated by accessible technology, innovative social platforms and changing cultural norms, influencers have shifted from a useful way to boost brand awareness to an essential marketing tool for businesses from across the spectrum. 
Today, we stand at the next stage, one where content creators are becoming owners of their own brands. 
Authentic, original and motivated, content creators are building the natural evolution of influencer marketing, becoming brand owners in their own right and disrupting the traditional relationships between influencers and their followers – and the way brands work with them. 
Read on to learn what the future holds for content creators and influencer marketing. 

What are influencers?

Influencers are already well established in the marketing space, known for the promotion of an existing brand through sponsored content in return for a financial or product reward. In short, influencers are paid by businesses to market a product, getting paid with a fixed cash sum or via gifted products.

What are content creators?

Content creators, on the other hand, are a newer arrival. Content creators often create entertaining, educational or informational content within a specific niche. Their focus is the creation of original, value-driven content with the purpose of sharing knowledge or, in many cases, building a brand for their business.

Content creators vs influencers: what’s the difference?

The ideas of “content creator” and “influencer” are often confused, and the terms are frequently used interchangeably. But while they can overlap, there are some key distinctions between the two. 
Where influencers simply monetize their reach, content creators actively build a brand through the production of vertical-specific value.  
A useful parallel can be drawn in the nuances between entrepreneurs and employees and content creators and influencers, respectively. Like many entrepreneurs, content creators are motivated by business growth, with their success measured by the equity of their brand. Influencers, however, are similar to employees – they always get paid, regardless of the product’s quality. 

A content creator lies on a rug, surrounded by products.

Why are creator brands emerging?

The way in which we consume media has changed dramatically. Enabled by YouTube, Instagram and, TikTok, consumers now have access to a growing network of real people that are creating their own content in one form or another. 
78% of consumers have discovered a new product while watching creators’ videos, with a further 73% purchasing a new product as a result. The trust consumers place in the voice of creators is clear to see – and content creators are primed to win as a result. (Get our insights on how to gain trust through influencer marketing here).
Content creators are becoming increasingly aware of this, capitalizing on the opportunity in their own selling power and moving away from solely promoting other brands’ products to focus on creating their own revenue streams through brand ownership. 
This has led to a surge in content creators to successfully pivoting to brand ownership – not least KSI and Logan Paul. 
The YouTube content creators capitalized on their combined following of over 70 million subscribers to create Prime, a sports hydration drink valued at around £20 million in the first year. The drink is immensely popular, sparking shopping frenzies and creating a lucrative reseller market. 
Molly Mae is another example of this transition. Originally an influencer, the ex-Love Island contestant has embraced the benefits of brand ownership, launching an array of self-tanning products to her millions-strong social followers. 
These successes are part of a wave of creator-driven direct-to-consumer (DTC) product launches, from MrBeast’s Feastables to David Dobrik’s eponymous perfume, with content creators across verticals capitalizing on the opportunity. Ingenuity works with influencers across the beauty and nutrition verticals, and has seen a noticeable increase in content creators looking to launch their own DTC brand.

The impact of content creator-owned brands on the influencer industry

There is a growing concern that content creators will detract from the reach of sponsored influencers, creating a marked shift away from the latter to the former. 
Content creator brands are redefining the standard of authenticity in content. By raising the bar for original and genuine content and placing their efforts behind their own brands, these so-called “genuinfluencers” are undermining the transactional, revenue-driven status quo of the traditional influencer model. Whilst the monetary value of authenticity can’t be exactly calculated, its bottom-line impact and influence on brand loyalty cannot be understated.  
This is exacerbated by increasingly marketing-savvy shoppers catching on to the focus of profit over quality, with 47% of consumers feeling tired of repetitive sponsored content from influencers. 
As a result, the sense of trust and authenticity influencers had built with their audience has been eroded, and customers are beginning to doubt the true value of influencer-brand partnerships. Content creators are perfectly positioned to capitalise on this, growing their brand by offering their own products that offer genuine value for the consumer. 
But the situation is not lost for influencers. The recent de-influencing trend offers an opportunity to redress the balance through active promotion of products to avoid, as well as those to purchase. Honesty, authenticity and originality remain the key to winning customer influence. 
However, it’s not just influencers that are under threat. As content creators focus on pushing their own products, brands that had historically collaborated with them may now face increased competition in their market. 
Faced with this growing competition, brands are frequently looking to gain from the influence of content creators by turning to collaborations and limited-edition products. These partnerships take advantage of both the brand and the content creator’s reach to create a unique product with appeal across their shared verticals.

An influencer scrolling through her Instagram feed.

The future of content creator-owned brands and influencer marketing 

What does the future hold for content creators, influencers, their followers and brands seeking to adapt to the evolution of the influencer industry? 
As the landscape changes, so too will the way brands approach their influencer marketing. Rather than focusing solely on sponsored influencer content, we will surely see an increase in brand collaborations that capitalize on their cross-vertical relevancy. 
Alongside this, it’s also natural that many influencers will soon make the move to creating an owned DTC brand and tap into the growing content creator economy. 
But any transition they make will need to be built on a platform of trust and authenticity, and we can expect to see a renewed focus on building and maintaining loyalty with audiences. This starts with owning a direct relationship your audience, swapping algorithm-dependent social platforms in favor of an owned domain with total control over marketing, design and your revenue.

The is where Ingenuity can help. For creators seeking to set up their own brand, we can host, build and establish the value proposition for your DTC site from the concept to go-live. Embrace the next stage in your content creator journey with a fully integrated digital solution and start owning your success. 
To learn more about how Ingenuity could support your brand, get in touch today.


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