The creator economy is big business these days, with more than half of Australian marketers either currently working with creators, or planning to next year.
In fact, the creator economy is proving so tempting for marketers that brands such as Meltwater have transitioned their business to focus on brands getting the right influencers and generating the best returns for their campaigns.
“Off the back of COVID, we saw an underscoring of the importance of social media and the relationship that social and creators had in the buyer journey,” said David Hickey, Meltwater’s executive director for Asia Pacific.
“That led to us buying Klear, which now powers our influencer marketing solution. The other acquisition we made was Linkfluence, because we think that social media data is the largest focus group that you could ever hope for. Linkfluence is crawling through the social data that we already had access to but is now doing image recognition and video monitoring to draw insights from that pool of data.”
B&T spoke to Hickey at Meltwater’s offices in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
“What’s been changing for Meltwater is that we have 27,000 customers globally. We’ve been listening to them and speaking to them about where they see the space evolving and, off the back of that, making smart acquisitions that can help our product suite develop that will make sure we continue to be at the cutting edge of the changes we see coming up in our industry,” he continued.
Namely, those changes involve a broad shift in Australian’s attitudes towards online personalities and brand engagement. While influencers have become derided for identikit product placement photos on Instagram, the new generation of content creators are, according to Hickey, not only working harder, but driving better results for their clients.
“When you talk about influencers, you think of the Kim Kardashians of this world and, building a brand in social is not just as simply as whacking a brand on Kim K’s booty,” said Hickey.
“It’s more about finding the people with influence on a particular audience that is aligned with the audience you want your campaign to connect with. It’s also about working with those people to create unique content that they know is going to connect with their audience versus just spruiking whatever content has been created by the marketing department.
“The content creator of today is working a lot harder to be able to position your brand with the content that they create. That’s why we’re very long on the space because we think that the creators that most of our clients are working with are creating unique content themselves and working very hard for their money. It’s not as simple for a micro- or niche-influencer to just hold up a beer can and say, ‘Drink Bud.'”
That assertion is borne out in the data, as well. According to neuroscience research from Whalar, when consumers are exposed to an influencer ad before seeing a TV, Facebook, or YouTube ad from the same campaign, they are 58% more likely to feel positive towards the ad, and 47% more likely to remember it.
“It’s the same as why people would buy a product online because they had a recommendation from a friend. They’ve experienced that content and then, when you find that product, it’s almost like it was your idea because you’ve thought about it before and you’ve imagined yourself wearing or using that product,” said Hickey.
“You’ve seen what it looks like and it’s left a cookie in your mind. When you come across that product on Shopee or on eBay, then you’re more likely to go ahead and buy it.”
When it comes to finding the right APAC influencers to help your brand’s campaigns leave cookies in the minds of shoppers that matter, Meltwater’s social influencer marketing platform found that those creators are three-and-a-half times more likely to use TikTok, four times more likely to use Twitch, and a whopping 18 times more likely to use Discord.
Meltwater’s social influencer marketing platform has a CRM with more than one billion personalities listed, each with their own influencer score. That might sound like overkill but, according to Hickey, brands are increasingly looking to target micro- and niche-influencers rather than the accounts with millions of followers.
“They may not have huge followers counts but, what they do have, is a really, really engaged community of followers. Being able to know who those micro-influencers are that have the audience you want, or have affinities towards your brand — that’s not easy to do,” said Hickey.
Using Meltwater’s vast pool of influencers, which, if you have a public social media account, you might be on, Hickey said that the company’s clients can find who the right audience is for them, the people influencing those audiences, and even start to broker a relationship with those influencers — all within one platform.
“They can actually pay them directly through the platform and then they can track the ROI of their campaign,” he added.
Tracking ROI when working with creators or influencers has been a persistent problem for marketers. Proving that ROI is competitive has been even harder.
“One of the things we say in the report [Meltwater’s The Rise of Creator Economy] is that they [content creators] stand on their own two feet. But, increasingly, we see partnerships with influencers as part of an overall approach to a marketing campaign,” said Hickey.
“If you have an influencer that is pushing out content about a particular TV spot or product that you’re about to launch, then the same people that have seen that content and then watch those adverts on TV or radio, or even see them in an offline publication, they’re substantially more likely to lean into that advertisement and watch it in its entirety. They’re more likely to remember it, as well.”
“That’s the benefit of our social influencer marketing platform working hand-in-glove with out social listening and news monitoring tool,” said Hickey.
“We can understand all the content that an influencer has written about and that can help you understand what their affinities are, but also the red flags from their content that they’ve posted in the past. The catalogue that Meltwater has of social content, and even news content to a degree, is the greatest form of due diligence that you could ever do on an influencer. The fact that those two work hand-in-hand really minimises the risk that a company or brand would have making a partnership.”
The platform also has predictive tools that can help brands identify the right creators to work with. A range of metrics can predict the authenticity of their audience and whether it is made up of bots. It can also predict the likelihood of them using explicit language.
As marketing budgets shrink, Hickey said that creators are expected to become a more integral part of marketing campaign as they provide a significant value-add compared to other marketing channels.
“Consumers are understanding the campaign in relationship with a person that we know and trust. It’s adding another dimension to the way that we think about the campaign and adding a human element to it.”