Influencer has become a bad word. Instead, “Creator” is the preferred term, even by the platforms that host the creators.
As creators find more ways to be paid directly for the content they produce, they're dropping the “I” word because they're no longer just monetizing their influence via paid sponsorships. Real influencers are content creators who've worked hard to find an audience and establish a presence people trust within their niche, and by rebranding as creators they’re trying to be respected for their work, not just the byproduct.
While the term may be new to Instagram, it’s actually been around since 2011, when YouTube began branding its stars with the term. The term eventually made its way to the streaming platform’s Creator Academy, which gives people tips and resources to make successful videos.
Also in 2011, Facebook launched its own “Creator Studio”, the publishing tool social media managers far and wide will surely be familiar with.
Since its adoption, the term was co-opted by the industry and you’ll now be hard pressed to find a company that calls its content producers “influencers” on official communications.
Just like the term “creator” isn’t new, neither is the rejection of it by the people formerly known as influencers.
As we said in a previous post, a large social media following doesn’t make someone an influencer, and according to The Atlantic’s Taylor Lorenz this could also be a root of the term’s rejection.
“Influencer is a platform-agnostic term. It describes anyone who leverages social media to grow a following and exerts influence over that following in order to make money... the people who shy away from the term influencer mostly do so, they say, because they find the term a bit cringeworthy. It’s new, and still carries a stigma the way YouTube-star used to.”
Creators want to be recognized for the work they put into producing the content they post, and they want to avoid being seen as someone who is building a presence just to make money via brand sponsorships, and many of the platforms they exist on are shifting their models to allow its creators to earn revenue directly from their content.
Following its parent company’s, Instagram recently launched a feature that allows users to build “creator accounts” as an alternative to business profiles, and no, it doesn’t include “influencers” as an occupational option.
Additionally, it will now start allowing ads on videos posted to IGTV, and will give 55% of the ad revenue generated there to its creators, allowing them to finally monetize the highly successful feature.
“Creators have always been at the core of our community. Since the earliest days of Instagram, they have inspired people around the world with their talents and built their personal brands from the ground up. We have always been committed to supporting creators as they turn their passions into livelihoods… We want to support creators’ investment in IGTV by sharing advertising revenue with them,” Instagram said in the blog post announcing the new feature. “IGTV has become a powerful place for creators to connect more deeply with their fans, pilot new projects and share their lives and talents. With IGTV ads, they have another new way to earn money from the content they work so hard to produce.”
The trend is increasingly moving towards influencers/creators making money not just from sponsored content and branding, but from their originally produced content and merch. Some are even inking deals with digital networks like Quibi and YouTube, adding even more incentive to ditch the original moniker.
Creators follow the money, and in response “creator hubs” that make it easier for creators and brands to connect (like us!) have been popping up in recent years, with platforms developing their own versions as well.
This is good news for brands, since a report on Influencer Marketing Hub showed that almost 40% of brands say it’s difficult for them to find influencers to work with. That same report showed that Google searches for “influencer marketing” have been steadily growing since 2015, so if you’re in the market for creators to work with, hit us up, we can help!