By Tiffany Heimpel
Creators as part of our marketing mix are here to stay. In fact, we at IZEA call this “the creator economy.” Creators are working in a variety of ways to maximize your brand message. Whether that means lending their creative lenses to your specific brand message and seeding that content on their own social channel or being part of your creative team in a 360-degree media solution, creators have never been in such high demand.
The above statement might encourage or scare you depending on where you are in your marketing journey with creators. Marketers are being constantly bombarded with what we should be doing, what everyone else is doing and how our brands measure up. Pair this with limited Canadian data on how creators impact our consumer buying habits and we can be left feeling like creating line items in our budgets are more like rolling dice than based on fact.
State of Canada’s creator economy
Knowing this is where many marketers start from, IZEA commissioned the State of the Creator Economy study. The U.S. study, now in its eighth year, has provided a baseline for how creators, consumers and marketers feel about influencer and content marketing.
But every country is different. To that end IZEA Canada executed the State of the Creator Economy for Canada study. Knowing how we are starved for country-centric data, IZEA aims to level set the market with the study (we believe it is the largest of its kind) and provide a go-forward discussion point for all brands.
So, what does the data say? Where are we going this year?
Content and influencer marketing are on the rise.
Over half of those surveyed implemented content and influencer marketing programmes in the past year. Moreover, marketers ranked these two mediums amongst the top four most effective marketing approaches; content coming in first. Not only that, consumers ranked influencer marketing as the most effective medium. Meanwhile more traditional approaches like TV and radio are losing momentum year over year. The takeaway here is that if you’re not invested in at least one of these strategies, your consumers would like you to be.
Let’s look at the marketing perspective. Marketers have ranked content, experiential, brand web site and influencer marketing as the top four most effective mediums to reach consumers. If you take a look at this, all mediums work hand in hand.
Firstly, all mediums live outside of paid banner ads which is excellent, as 76% of marketers do take into account ad blocking software in their planning.
Secondly, as brands we want to have great web sites with in depth content that positions us as thought leaders. Of course, if we build great content, we need to get people to see it? Yes, we can pay for traffic (which we may not even get due to ad blockers) but having a first party endorsement from a creator who speaks to our audience proves to be 10X more effective. So, we leverage influencers to drive back to the web site where we have created content.
Finally, knowing many consumers are saturated with brand messaging and want an “authentic experience” we look at creating a one of a kind experiential event for our consumers. Of course, if we have an event and only the select group of people have seen it then it ends there. But if we invite creators to the event, film it and put the content on our site as well as via their social handles, all of sudden our event has legs, our site has content and we have creators who are reaching our consumers. It only makes sense that these four mediums rank as the most effective and work together holistically.
28% of marketers are asking creators to not disclose they are working together.
Why? Study after study show that consumers do not want to be left in the dark, they know creators are being compensated, they trust their opinions and voices and just want transparency in how creators are speaking. However, as a marketer, you could be part of the 61% who are not familiar with Canada’s Ad Standards guidelines (www.adstandards.ca). This is a serious mistake that could have major legal as well as brand reputation consequences. The Ad Standards require companies to make such disclosures and it cites actions by the federal Competition Bureau against companies that fail to publicize that fact.
Canadians tends to spend more time with social media than Americans.
We drastically over index consuming blogs (76% in Canada versus 63% in the U.S.) and there’s a 5% difference in our consumption of Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A few hypotheses from this data could be that due to our colder climate we spend more time online. However, I would venture to guess that due to our widespread geography, our time spent with blogs actually means we do more in-depth research and reading than our peers in the U.S.
For both marketers and consumers, the data speaks loud and clear. Influencer and content marketing are not going away: in fact, it is gaining momentum in Canada and you would be wise to add pieces of it to your plan for 2019.
Tiffany Heimpel is managing director for IZEA Canada (www.izea.com). Over her 14-year career she has worked in accounts at agencies, as a brand manager and key account manager in consumer goods and she became an influencer when the space was in its infancy eight years ago. Her varied background has given her a unique marketing perspective for the Canadian landscape.