US content creators largely driven by passion, not money, finds poll

The study also found that content creators would not work with brands whose values were misaligned with theirs.

US content creators largely driven by passion, not money, finds poll

Header image: Popular gaming and entertainment content creators Offline TV, image taken from their Instagram page.

Influencers and content creators are often accused of chasing fame and money, but a new Harris Poll shows otherwise. Brands and companies, consider these findings when drafting your next marketing strategy:

Commissioned by MMI Agency in April 2022, the poll found that 77% say they create content because they have a passion for their respective subject areas, whereas two-thirds (66%) want to build a community around shared interests.

Moreover, nearly all of those polled (98%) say it's important to work with brands that align with their values.

"While these findings may be surprising to some, the attitudes expressed align perfectly with what we find within our own influencer programs," says Maggie Malek, CEO of MMI.

"Out of passion, influencers want to be intimately involved with the brands they represent. They care deeply about the products and services they promote, and they're willing to work hard to make sure any content they produce is relevant and compelling to their audiences."

Popular gaming content creator PewDiePie has, since 2010, gained a massive following of over 111 million subscribers on YouTube

Influencer: A "bad" word? Maybe, maybe not.

The poll also finds that the majority (59%) prefer the term "creators" to "influencers", expressing that the former term better encapsulates their role in the marketing process.

"Influencer” has some negative connotations and feels a little like you're bragging. I feel that I create content more than I influence people.", said one content creator polled.

But there remains a large segment of respondents who stand by the controversial word ‘influencer’: "It helps viewers understand that I am here to give suggestions and help people," shared one.

The study polled 140 U.S. adults who are compensated in some form to post original content on social networks for a brand, platform, or audience/community, and consider themselves an influencer or creator, with at least 5,000 followers or connections on a social network.

"The role of influencer marketing has grown to be a vital component of the marketer's playbook," says Malek.

"We commissioned this research to gain new insights into how this tactic can be most effective, in order to provide unquestionable value to the brands we serve and their audiences."

"Content creators and influencers can't be bought by brands with misaligned values," says John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll: "Influencers are truly obsessed with the category they're in, they are always in discovery mode and love to bring something fresh and unexpected to their followers.

Six in ten (60%) say engagement with their followers and building a community is the most significant factor in their overall success. Marketers need to understand this passion. It's what drives them."

Other key findings from the study

Brand and companies keen on working with influencers or content creators will also find these other findings valuable:

  1. Three-fifths (61%) of creators say brands should keep in mind their audience when partnering with them, and 57% say they should keep in mind the need for content to be authentic. Per one respondent: "The most important thing for influencers and creators is the relationship with their audience, so sponsorships or brand endorsements that threaten those relationships are potentially very damaging."
  2. Money is secondary: Only 12% of respondents say revenue is the most significant factor in determining their success.
  3. More 'influencers' choose TikTok than 'creators': By a significant margin, 72% of those who consider themselves influencers are more likely to be on TikTok, versus 54% of creators.
  4. One-offs are as common as ambassadorships: Four in 10 (43%) say their average brand partnership is just a one-off campaign, while the same number (43%) say their brand partnerships are year-long or longer ambassador programs. Only 14% say they have permanent or indefinite partnerships with brands. However, more than two-thirds (68%) say brands will routinely engage with them again if the original one-off campaign proved successful. Brand partnerships provide a significant chunk of income for many: For nearly a third of creators (31%), brand partnerships make up 50% or more of their revenue.
  5. Out-of-pocket costs are taking a toll: Nearly two-thirds of creators (63%) say out-of-pocket costs such as photoshoots are a significant burden. And close to half (47%) say brands should keep these costs in mind when partnering with them.
  6. Half stumbled into the gig, and half sought it out: 52% of respondents say they purposely sought to become an influencer or creator with the aspiration to become popular; 48% say they accidentally became an influencer or creator, and are now taking advantage of the following they have.

"These findings can serve as a guide for brands and agencies as they interact with creators moving forward," says Malek.

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