By now, you’ve likely heard of influencer marketing and the strategy of working with influencers or digital creators to help market or promote your business.

But did you know that influencers and content creators are not the same? Many people tend to use those terms interchangeably, and while they are similar, they aren’t identical.

So which type should your business work with and what is the difference between the two?

Let’s dive into the main differences between the two and walk you through how your business can collaborate with either an influencer, a digital creator or both.

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What do digital creators do?

Digital creators or content creators create content—to put it very simply. Their job is in their job title. They create videos, photos, graphics, informational resources, blog content, etc., and distribute it across various channels like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, their own personal website and more.

Digital creators focus on creating content that engages their audience. How-to guides, “day in the life” series, tips and tutorials, beautiful photography, engaging videos — these are some of the types of content that they know their audience wants to consume.

Their content is professional and high-quality because creating that content is the sole purpose of digital creators. This is why they tend to draw in highly engaged audiences, even if they may not be all that large.

What do influencers do?

Influencers are social media personalities who—again, it’s in their job title—influence their followers to do or buy something based on what they do or buy.

These are the fitness Instagrammers who share the protein shakes and athletic wear they prefer. The beauty gurus who link each of their eyeshadow palettes with affiliate codes to get a cut of everything their followers buy. The fashionistas who post new #ootd (outfit of the day) photos tagging each included brand.

Influencers are simply sharing how they live their lives, promoting the products and services they use along the way.

Digital creators vs. influencers

While it may seem like these two are pretty similar or even identical, the main difference is in the intention behind their work. Content creators might still influence their audience and influencers are still creating content.

However, influencers work with the intent to convince their followers to purchase a specific brand, product, service, etc., typically because they usually receive their own incentive or percentage from each sale. Alternatively, some influencers can charge a fee per post instead, based on their follower size.

Content creators work with the intent to create engaging content that educates and informs their audience. They have the power to grow a large audience, but it’s typically less about the creator themselves and more about the information they’re sharing.

Here’s a great example of an influencer: Tezza Barton shared a few photos of herself in LELLO sunglasses and included a call-to-action to shop their Labor Day sale right within her caption.

With over 50,000 likes on this image, it’s likely that at least a handful of them made a purchase based on this image alone.

And here’s an example of a digital creator:

A screenshot of digital creator Yoga With Adrienne's YouTube channel.

Adriene of Yoga With Adriene has likely used her platform to sell products at one point or another, but her entire mission is to create videos with yoga routines that her 10.3 million subscribers can follow along with.

In your marketing strategy, you can choose to work with one type of creator or both—but keep in mind that each will yield different results.

Working with an influencer will result in photos and videos that show your product in action. You pay the influencer a fee based on the size of their audience and the amount of product promotion they do for you.

Working with a content creator supplies your business with a piece of content surrounding your brand’s products or services. This might be a blog post, a video, a podcast episode, etc. Content creators likely have their own payment structure, whether you pay by the word, by the hour, or per project.

Let’s dig into the specifics of working with influencers versus digital creators as a part of your business’s marketing strategy.

How brands can collaborate with digital creators or influencers

Working with digital creators and influencers are two completely different processes, they generate different results and they focus on two different objectives.

Working with a digital creator might be your best option when:

  • You need a professional, high-quality piece of content for your business
  • You want to use a creator’s unique style to showcase your brand
  • You want to create a one-off project without hiring a contractor or freelancer on retainer
  • You need to supplement the content your in-house team can create

Digital creators are typically paid by the projects they complete for your brand. You’ll reach out to them to discuss the kind of content creation you want to work with them on, and they provide a quote based on the amount of time it will take or the overall scope of the project.

Working with an influencer might be your best option when:

  • You want to increase brand awareness or reach new audiences
  • You want to improve trust in your brand and resonate with customers
  • You want to reach a specific niche with a new product feature or launch

Influencers create packages that tend to be based on (a) the amount of promotion your brand desires and (b) the amount of reach your brand will receive on average, based on their following and engagement rate. However, some micro influencers work with brands on trade, promoting a product that they received for free.

Essentially, digital creators help you to create content to use for your marketing or sales strategies while influencers help you to reach a wider audience and grow your following.

Start working with creators and influencers to meet your goals

The bottom line is that working with digital creators and influencers alike can help propel your marketing forward; it just depends on what your overall goals are.

If you want to build a bigger audience, an influencer might be your best bet. If you want to have more marketing collateral, a digital creator could be the perfect option for your brand.

Before you start outreach, be sure to flesh out your social media campaigns so you know exactly what goals you want your collaborators to help you meet. Then you can pinpoint whether a content creator or influencer will be most beneficial and start reaching out to the ones you’d prefer to work with.

And as always, make sure you properly measure your content creator or influencer campaign’s performance. You can easily keep track of your top metrics and analytics with tools such as Sprout Social.