5 Steps to Making Great Content With Creators in Social
So you want to work with a social media creator. Great!
Just know, it requires a different mindset and process than crafting a traditional campaign. Your relationship with the creator—and your ability to trust them—can fully make or break the work.
As someone who's been on both the agency and creator sides of this process, I've developed a few best practices on how brands can get the most out of their creator content.
Give creators full control.
I get why this sounds scary; as the agency creative, you're the one who's been living and breathing the brand and the one who decided to work with creators in the first place! Shouldn't you be telling them exactly what to do?
Not really. You're working with a creator because you value their personal voice and style—so trust them to make choices that are creatively sound and will connect with their audiences. Creators are not actors on set, falling into roles crafted by the brand. They are experts at their platforms and are capable and eager to be a leading part of the creative process.
Keep the brief open-ended.
The more prescriptive a brief, the more stale the content. Successful creator briefs leave plenty of room for interpretation and ideation. They should include the idea you're laddering up to, and any production guidelines (length, cropping, hashtags), but when it comes to form-factor, dialogue and the video's concept—leave that up to the creator.
For example, I'm a comedian who posts character-driven sketches. If a brand wants to work with me, I assume they 1) are familiar with my style and 2) want me to use that style in the content I'll create for them. You'd be surprised at how often that is not the case.
I've been asked for vlogs, "get ready with me" videos, and various non-comedic trends—which are all great ways for brands to activate on social, just not with me. Twice, I said yes to campaigns that fell outside of my typical style. And you know what happened? They flopped. They felt forced, and my viewers quickly swiped away.
Don't overdo the branding.
Creator content is, by its very nature, inherently less branded. In fact, my most successful sponsored pieces don't even mention the brand name in the video. Keeping the branding to the post copy makes the content feel far more authentic to the creator, and means the audience will be much more engaged.
In the first sponsored post I did, I name-dropped the product hardcore in the piece. To my surprise, the client asked me to cut it out. When I did, the video became exactly like my other content, which people were already liking and sharing. So you know what they did with this one? Liked and shared it.
Choose your creators by style, not followers.
Just because someone has a million followers doesn't mean they're a good fit for your campaign. If you have a specific format in mind, look for creators who already make content in that style. Or better yet, find creators who align tonally with your campaign and let them imagine how your brand comes to life within their own styles. Let the comedian create a character who uses your product, the vlogger show how it fits into their routine, the musician write a song about it … you get it.
Respect the process.
Finally, let's talk about how to work with a creator. The answer is with respect, which sounds like a no-brainer, but I'm not talking about please and thank you. I'm talking about showing respect for the work we do. There is a wildly inaccurate perception that creating content for social is "easy." Creators are often asked to do things in ridiculous turnarounds, given little creative ownership, and offered inadequate compensation for the amount of work they do.
Think of it this way: You would never ask an editor to finish a TVC in three days, so why would you ask a creator to concept, film and edit a piece in even less time? You have to remember we're not just creators—we're humans, and most of us are juggling at least one other job on top of our social media presence. Acknowledge that making content is a lot of work, and give your creators the time and support they need to do it well. And respect their creative decisions. If you do want to request edits, make sure they're actually necessary and not small matters of opinion like, "I think saying frog would have been funnier than rabbit" or "I wish she was wearing blue." If they're following the brief's guidelines, trust the creator's choices.
Creators are an engaging and exciting way for brands to participate in culture. And yes, that may be a biased opinion, but I stand by it. For a successful campaign, take the time to choose the right creators, give them trust and creative freedom, keep branding minimal, and above all, show them respect. If you follow these steps, the social followers will come.