Do You Need to Become a ‘Digital Creator’?
One of the bits of advice that we often see thrown out to small businesses is that they need to start emulating the twenty-something “digital creators,” who essentially market themselves on TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube by sharing the details of their daily lives.
After all, from a pure marketing standpoint, these “creators” are often effectively marketing themselves. And, the argument goes that if your small business audience is made of up Gen Z or Millennials, who consume a lot of this creator content, then you, as an owner, should think about doing the same. But we know a lot of small businesses that hesitate with this kind of “hey-look-at-me-approach” to marketing, especially when it comes to focusing on themselves or sharing stories about their own lives.
The question is: To be effective, does your business really have to do the same thing? The answer is, of course, no. You don’t have to do it the same way. Many small businesses don’t even cater to younger generations on these platforms or don’t have a product or service that fits any particular niche that would apply to marketing to audiences in this way.
That said, we always recommend taking a look at what others do well in the marketing space – seeing what you can personalize and apply to your own business. For example, if you take a deeper look at what successful digital creators do well, there are several things we would highlight:
- They build a brand by putting themselves out there to be seen on video in particular. They’re not shy about putting their faces or bodies first, which people inevitably connect with (as the individuals who do this are often – though not always – attractive people.)
- They share personal stories or discuss an issue others care about, increasing the emotional connection with audiences and expanding their influence.
- They’re constantly producing new content and engaging with audiences.
Let’s break some of these concepts down further.
Putting Yourself Out There
We’ve talked about this in previous posts when it comes to building a brand. As a small business, it’s important to get over any reticence about self-promotion. That doesn’t mean you have to parade around in a bikini, take your shirt off, or do any of the ridiculous things that some of these creators do to draw attention to themselves. But putting your face out there (especially on video in particular) is often effective at helping you connect personally with audiences. That’s because people identify best with other people. Maybe it’s a short video of you talking about why you started your business, how you want to help people or even the things you care most about.
And certainly, it’s not just video. Write a blog if you feel more comfortable doing that. Start a podcast, create a whitepaper, do interviews with other experts in your field. There are lots of ways to “put yourself out there” that don’t involve video as well, though it’s certainly a big way individuals consume content these days.
Sharing Personal Stores or Discussing Issues Others Care About
Some digital creators share a lot of personal information – shockingly almost too much, for individuals like me, who might be more oriented toward privacy and keeping personal matters to themselves. That said, when the individuals share that personal information, often it creates an emotional connection with their audiences who may be going through similar things.
The key word here is emotion.
Even if you don’t share a personal/private story, you can certainly discuss issues your audiences care about. Talking about those issues will help you create a greater emotional bond and let others know where you stand, a big part of building your brand. This is where understanding your audience comes in. A few questions to think about that involve more of the emotional aspect of marketing to individuals:
- What drives them? What are their ambitions/goals?
- What do they hate? What do they fear?
- What do they love? What makes them happy?
- What are they suspicious of? Who do they trust?
- What do they worry about?
- What makes them laugh?
By understanding more about your audiences, you as a small business owner (like the digital creators) can create better stories that will be more relevant and engaging.
Constantly Producing New Content and Engage with Audiences
It’s a bit hard to compare a digital creator – whose job revolves around producing the next video or next content piece – with your own as a small business owner, who has to run your business and then think about marketing. We get it. There’s only so much time in the day!
That said, one of the lessons you can take from successful digital creators is that they are relentless in producing regular content and posting it to different social channels. The benefit to them is obvious. The content is free promotion and puts them in front of audiences where they stay top of mind. On this blog, we’ve often talked about how content is the guerilla marketing of today, especially in the digital world.
How do you find time to do that? That’s the key question. And it’s not easy. One thing we do – a lot of our content is developed at night, or during weekends or off hours after we’ve finished what we need to do to support our clients. We know lawyers that produce videos in their cars, talking about a legal issue during their commutes. We know other businesses that record videos or audio while on a leisurely hike. Other small businesses can gleam insights while on vacation that they jot down.
The key, of course, is to find something you like doing when it comes to content creation. If it’s video, great. Maybe it’s designing a quick checklist. If you like writing, try to do more of that and commit to it.
As for engaging with audiences, that clearly takes time too. But anytime you get an earnest reaction from someone (either through social, email, or any other method) we would always say that you shouldn’t hesitate to engage. That interaction can be the difference that makes someone try out your brand or tell others about you. The successful digital creators certainly know this.
Admittedly, I have no particular affinity for today’s “digital creators.” I tend to view some of the activities they undertake as equivalent to standing up in a high school cafeteria and screaming “look at me!” And a lot of what is produced certainly smacks of shameless self-promotion and superficial connection. But if you really take a look at why some creators are successful, I think you can glean some ideas for your own business. That doesn’t mean you have to fully embrace his or her approach but take the bits you feel comfortable with, and experiment from there.
Have you downloaded our 2022 Small Business Guide to Social Media? It walks you through all the major social channels, with strategies, tactics, and tips.