A recent report by Deloitte has mentioned partnerships with creators among the top-5 major marketing trends for 2023. According to Deloitte’s statistics, the tech sector is the one most actively engaging in creator marketing. We’ve talked to Ksenia Kurganova, ex-marketing manager at Google who was also engaged in leading B2C marketing campaigns for the EMEA market, about how the tech sector can approach creativity in 2023.
Ksenia, you’ve been working in marketing departments of giant tech companies such as Google and Yandex for a few years now. In your opinion, what makes them want to expand partnerships with creators in 2023? Statistics say that tech businesses are even more open to these collaborations than consumer brands, how can you explain it?
Creativity is considered to be one of the most scalable sources of growth, especially while facing current economic challenges. Working with creators means being more human, which is normally a bigger challenge for tech companies compared to consumer brands, that’s why they might be putting more emphasis on creator marketing.
Moreover, working with influencers enables brands to be less glossy and veneer, and look more authentic and approachable instead. A great example of these values is the “anti-insta” app BeReal which has rocketed lately. In 2022 we saw more and more influencers and celebrities sharing their personal experiences, leaving unretouched pics with scars, cellulite, and no makeup on, so it looks like the need for authenticity is here to stay.
Apart from that let us not forget that Gen Z makes up over 40% of today’s consumers, unlike boomers or millennials that rely heavily on product reviews, Gen Z put trust in influencers when they make purchase decisions. A survey conducted by Google found that 70% of Gen-Z relate to YouTube and Instagram influencers more than other celebrities, younger generations demand brand authenticity and originality, and working with creators is one of the easiest ways to achieve it.
How do marketers decide which creator to work with? Is there still a threshold of a certain number of followers, engagement rate, etc. that is key for choosing the right influencer for your brand?
Standard metrics like the number of followers and engagement are still considered traits but they are not decision-drivers anymore. I would say the era when everyone wanted to work with the biggest influencer on the block is long gone, there’s plenty of fish in the sea and plenty of niche creators with small but mighty communities.
The most important thing for a marketing pro today would be to check creator-brand fit and understand what pains you would like to address and what issues you would like to solve with this partnership. Before making a decision on collaborating with a certain creator, ask yourself the following questions: Does this creator share the same values as your brand? How active and loyal is that creator’s community? Does this creator have the audience you look for?
How can creator marketing impact the performance of tech companies?
An important advantage of creator marketing is that it can help you target your users without cookies, which is quite a headache for marketers these days, as third-party cookies are dying and can no longer provide necessary tracking data. However, the impact of creator marketing can go far beyond bringing new leads or increasing engagement.
Creators can be your key to reaching out to niche audiences and strengthening relationships with these audiences. Alongside creators themselves, these audiences can be a valuable source of feedback and new ideas both in marketing and product development. They can bring in new ideas that can inspire the organization to think differently and even lead to major brand transformation.
What benefits do creators expect from partnering with brands?
Apart from the money they’re getting from collaborations, creators prioritize as well the opportunity to gain new audience and become more visible in the commercial field, as it allows them to attract more potential advertisers. Most creators find it inspiring to work on something new together with the brand they respect and trust, and in some cases even impact the brand’s marketing strategy.
In your experience what are the main challenges in working with creators?
Creator marketing is all about you and a creator having the same understanding of your goals, resources, and desired outcomes. The most important thing in building a creator marketing campaign would be to cross-check creator-brand fit and the issues you would like to solve with this partnership. You need to align your expectations at the very beginning as well, and make it clear, what quantitative and qualitative outcomes both of you expect.
It also usually goes without saying, but like any other marketing project, a creative process has to be managed with a proper brief and all legal and financial liabilities put on paper. As marketing pros, we should also keep in mind that briefing properly doesn’t necessarily mean limiting and immobilizing creative canvas. It’s your responsibility as a brand and marketing manager to provide the creator with every possible resource available, for them to understand your brand’s goals and values.
What should CMOs consider before approaching their first creator campaign in 2023?
I think that the first thing a CMO should pay attention to when starting to work with creators is to check, whether there are any red flags in the creator’s content or audience behavior. Of course, everyone has their own understanding of what a “red flag” is: some brands are bold and daring, and others can be shooed away by a curse word in an emotional video, but it’s important to make sure your brand and the creator share the same threshold of what is appropriate or not.
Secondly, it’s very important to find out how open and interested this creator is in different forms of partnerships, how engaged they are in creating something new together and not just posting a paid ad.
Last but not least, it is crucial to check creator’s activity on social media platforms. When and how frequently do they post? How many views do their posts receive? If they only post twice a year, they might not be ideal candidates for a partnership. The audience needs to see more of the brand’s content and get familiarized with it, that’s why being constantly active and posting more content is helpful.