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Don’t Call Me an Influencer: The Rise of the “Content Creator”

“When everyone is famous, no one will be,” wrote American author Michael P. Naughton. The same is true for influencers.

This is why some New Zealand social media personalities are moving away from the term influencer itself.

The profession has been marred by an oversaturation of social media marketing, high-profile scandals over the authenticity of paid posts and backlash against “grammars who flouted the rules and flaunted luxury during the pandemic”.

Kennedy Anderson, 27, is a photographer by trade, who put his 36,900 Instagram followers to good use as the creative director of his own digital marketing agency, Glass Elephant.

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Despite his aesthetic food fashion, nifty mirror selfies, cars and vacations – there’s no way he’s calling himself an influencer.

“I’m a content creator,” he says.

“I started telling customers ‘look what I’ve done with my stuff, here’s what I can do for you’.”

Anderson thinks we’ve entered a “new era” in marketing. Big corporations are snubbing the brutal instrument of putting products in the hands of attractive people to hook them up by the pool, in favor of user-generated content.

“Thanks to TikTok, everyone is now an influencer,” he said. “Whether you have a platform or not, whether you’re ‘famous’ or not, you can sell a video to a brand.

“So it caught the wind on the word. We watered it down.”

Remember Lyia Liu, the Kiwi entrepreneur who sold $3.5 million worth of waist trainers in 2017, following a paid Kylie Jenner post? “If you were to pay him $1 million for a position, you wouldn’t see the same return today,” Anderson says.

“A lot of us who make a living online haven’t grown in a while. We don’t have the same attraction we had, maybe even two years ago.”

Simone Anderson is one of a handful of New Zealanders who could truly call themselves 'influencers', according to Outspoken by Odd's social media manager.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

Simone Anderson is one of a handful of New Zealanders who could truly call themselves ‘influencers’, according to Outspoken by Odd’s social media manager.

Content creator, influencer, digital advocate, collaborator, brand ambassador – it doesn’t matter – aren’t they the same thing? Courtney Rupe, head of social and digital networks at Outspoken by Odd talent agency tells me: No.

She represents Simone Anderson, Sharyn Casey, Vaughan Smith, Rachel Hunter and Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck, all of whom are called talented. The agency has a plethora of “content creators”of all different industries, on his books.

But only a handful of people have any real influence.

“Simone would probably be one of the few who could really drive sales or push a brand forward,” Rupe says.

Big corporations are snubbing the brutal instrument of putting products in the hands of attractive people to hook them up by the pool, in favor of user-generated content.

Getty Images

Big corporations are snubbing the brutal instrument of putting products in the hands of attractive people to hook them up by the pool, in favor of user-generated content.

Anderson says the biggest difference between a content creator and an influencer is the amount of work involved.

“If you’re a creator, I expect you’ll come back with three videos taken with a real camera, and have concepts and ideas around it. If I send my teeth whitening product to an influencer, I expect a few Instagram stories with a coupon code attached.

He uses the example of Daniel Simmons, a London-based Kiwi with millions of TikTok followers. Every day, Simmons shares a video showing how he puts together an outfit. He doesn’t share anything else about his life.

“I wouldn’t consider him an influencer, however, if he puts a clothing brand in one of these videos, it’s most likely going to sell out,” Anderson says.

“Brands that hire creators don’t go to them for their follower count or how much they talk about their lifestyle.”

For example, the Hallensteins often pay him to create videos for their social media, but he is not expected to post them to his personal account.

According to Murray Bevan, head of fashion advertising agency Showroom 22, it’s the monetization of this profession that has become difficult for people to understand.

“Frank Sinatra was an influencer. Marilyn Monroe was an influencer.

Although, some Bevan clients are only interested in using influencers.

Murray Bevan, director of fashion advertising agency Showroom 22.

Provided

Murray Bevan, director of fashion advertising agency Showroom 22.

Word of mouth is still the most valuable form of marketing, he says, but influence has muddied the waters of its authenticity.

“The word influencer has been tarnished by people who have done a bad job. So we get things like ‘content creator’, ‘digital advocate’ and ‘key opinion leader’ as people try to disassociate themselves from this idea of ​​a screaming, narcissistic, inauthentic person taking a check left , right and center.

“They are all very similar. »

Agencies like Bevan’s are moving away from influencers who advertise a cereal one day and show up to a party with an exclusive handbag the next.

People with an authentic message are sought after, he says, but hard to find. Even so, he still calls out the right influencers.

“It’s a little hard to think of them as anything else, because that’s clearly what they are. It’s their full-time job, and it’s good for them.”

Kate Hall writes all things eco for numerous publications (

Abigail Dougherty / Stuff

Kate Hall writes all things ecology for numerous publications (“it’s my bread and butter”) and Ethically Kate, the personal blog and social media where she documents her life of sustainable living and advocacy. of fashion.

When Ethically Kate’s Kate Hall tells people she’s an Instagram influencer, “They see me laying on my couch taking selfies all day.

“They assume my husband supports me financially (he doesn’t) and that my life consists of freebies, taking pictures of my latest organic smoothie and getting just the right thigh gap so that social media like to flood.

“That’s far from the truth,” Hall wrote in a recent blog post titled Why Instagram Influencer Is Harder Than It Seems.

The climate change activist and educator acknowledges that influencing is her profession, but says “the word comes with quite a bit of baggage. Personally, I prefer inspirational sustainability.”

More broadly, she shares Anderson’s point of view. “Changing the jargon to ‘content creator’ helps draw a line between people who share their lives online and people who make a living on social media,” she says.

“An influencer is not necessarily someone who creates content for a living.”

Still confused? Yeah, so are we.