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The Ultimate Guide to using Creators with Paid Media this Holiday Season

Creator Marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, pay-per-click ads...There’s no shortage of digital marketing strategies that companies can use to build their business online. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options.

The good news is that the most effective creator marketing stratgies are often laser focused about combining and overlapping across different methods. One of the most advantageous combinations is at the intersection of creator marketing and paid media. When deploying creators + paid strategies in tandem, these two bundled up can be extremely effective. In this guide, we will take a look at how companies can use the power of influencers in their paid media for maximum results.

But first, let’s make sure we have a clear understanding of what exactly paid media is, and what it isn’t.

The 3 types of media: paid, earned, and owned

In digital marketing, you can think of paid, earned, and owned media as the triangle of three. A balanced marketing program needs each type of media as a part of their strategy. Let’s take a look at each of these marketing categories.

1. Earned Media: earned media, also known as organic media, is public attention that a business did not pay for and does not control. In the past, this type of media was commonly called “publicity.” Anything that would get others talking and publishing about your brand--like shares, links, shoutouts, or news coverage--constitutes earned media.

2. Owned Media: Owned media is media created by your brand to be used on platforms and in content that you control. Common examples include your website, social media accounts, marketing emails, marketing materials, or company blog.

3. Paid Media: Paid media is any type of promotion you have to pay for. This is what we think of as good old-fashioned advertising. In the past print ads and broadcast commercials were the backbone of paid media. But in the digital landscape, paid media includes more subtle and creative approaches. Sponsored social media posts, online display ads, and pay-per-click search engine ads are all typical examples of paid digital media.

Why paid media is the fuel to any Creator Marketing Engine

Paid media is very much the centerpiece of any scalable creator marketing plan. By paying for exposure and content promotion, your brand reaches audiences that it might not have through different methods at a scale that's unprecedented in comparison to working with creators on an organic basis. Paid media remains one of the fastest ways to drive relevant traffic to your brand. And when combined with powerful strategies like organic influencer creative, the potential for driving growth for your business is unparallaled.

In addition, the organic reach rate for organic influencer creative on a platform such as Facebook/Instagram is 3-5% p/post.

This means that for an influencer with a 100.000 followers, you effectively reach a fraction (3%) of the creators audience, while you may be paying for the full 100.000 followers.

Paid media effectively mitigates risk by combining the influencer creative and their @ handle with powerful ad targeting capabilities: audience(s), gender, location and placements. Facebook has rolled out a feature called Branded Content Ads which give advertisers the ability to do this more seamless.
However, as a Facebook Business Partner, our platform now natively supports the ability to send organic influencer creative straight into the FB Business Manager. No more manual downloads or uploads. No more lengthy processes or creative errands. The Cirqle is now a full, end-to-end creator management platform for performance.

The plethora of Paid Ads on Social

Today, each major social media channel offers paid media options like Facebook ads, TikTok Spark Ads or Instagram promoted posts.  But when you are intentional about using influencer-created content as the basis for your paid media, you get even more bang for your buck. Both in the ads that you run from your account, but moreso from the creators own channels.

Position Creators at the heart of your Paid Media Strategy

Many businesses ask us why they should use creators in their paid media strategy in the first place. Isn’t the point of influencer marketing supposed to be its low investment and impressive ROI, with the flick of a switch?

It’s true that creator marketing is extremely cost-effective, but not without a paid component added to it. A 2019 study found that influencer marketing yielded up to $18 in earned media value for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. Those figures are impressive but they don't move the needle on true business fundamentals: sales and revenue. When you directly pair the impact of influencer marketing with paid ads, the value of your paid media will be a magnitude higher than it would have otherwise. Here are a few of the reasons adding creators to your paid media strategy this holiday season will yield big dividends:  

📈1. More creators = More channels = More RoAS

Aside from your own brand marketing efforts, creators help you open up a plethora of channels when you partner up with them. Potential leads and customers will not only see ads coming from the @Nike handle, but als from their favorite creators: Creator A, Creator B, Creator "N", and so forth. This will enable you to discover the channel and creative that's most effective and optimize accordingly. Again, without a paid strategy backing up your organic program, don't even get started working with creators in the first place: you'll be extremely disappointed by the poor results. This is data speaking, not us:


🚦2. Trialled and tested creative assets

Influencers function as the perfect conduit as the world's most powerful producers of authentic content. If a creator's post performs well on social media, it’s already a proven winner. The content resonates with the creator's audience and they reacted valuable with likes, shares, and comments. High performing influencer content can easily be repurposed and optimized for use in paid ads and on other social platforms.

🚀 3. Authenticity and scale

Today’s audience is more skeptical than ever, so if something smells like an ad they will probably scroll on by. However, when the content contains an influencer who is already well-known and liked by your paid media audience, they are more likely to stop and engage with the ad. One study found that a whopping 92% of people trust people more than brands. And influencers are just that--people! The presence of the influencer in a paid ad brings a trust factor that’s absolutely vital.

How influencers supercharge your own efforts

Use creators and paid media to dip your toes into new social platforms

Paid media can take time to figure out. If you want to make the most of your budget while you test out a new platform, using an influencer may help. Many influencers are active on more than one channel. Even if a platform is new to you, you might find an influencer who already has an audience. Use that! This way you can ensure that your foray into a new paid media platform is as cost-effective as possible.

Use paid ads to promote and extend the shelf life of your creator posts

Paid ads amplify influencer content by extending their reach. An influencer’s audience is narrowly tailored, so their posts will appear before a specific group of people. But if you repurpose the influencer’s post with a paid post, the content can both reach new audiences.

Social media posts also have a shelf life. Creators post a significant amount of content. Once an Instagram post gets its initial flurry of engagement, it will quickly move to the bottom of the feed and become stale. Out of sight, out of mind. But a sponsored post using that same influencer content can be run indefinitely. Your influencer content becomes evergreen.

For marketers, one of the most attractive aspects of amplifying influencer assets in ads is extending the reach of the content. Influencer marketing reach is generally limited to the people that already follow that influencer, but paid media gives you the luxury of expanded targeting, boosting your efforts.

Target Creator's Lookalike (LAL) Audiences

One of the best things about creator ads is the ability to target the creators audience in a hypertargeted way. When considering influencers, it’s easy to get a read on their audience demographics. If you use an influencer’s audience as a basis for your paid media or retargeting, it can enhance your paid efforts with this information, it could be extremely valuable but it's definitely nothing more than that. We've learned that a creators capability to produce compelling creative is by far the biggest determining factor to successful campaigns.

Another perk of influencer lookalike audiences is that you can create custom demographics that blend the audiences of two or more influencers. A good whitelisting tool can help with this strategy by giving you special access to find prospects that often engage with the influencer. Recommended reading: Maximize Influencer Ads with Influencer Audience Targeting

The Importance of Scaling

Once your influencer marketing program is thriving, it’s paramount to scale those efforts. Keep in mind, IG Stories last for 24 hours if you're not putting paid behind the creative. Creator programs thrive on momentum, so once you’re on a roll you shouldn’t wait to prioritize growth. Here are a few things that you can do to make scaling your creator program easy:

💃🏿 1. Leverage an end-to-end workflow

One of the quickest ways that creator marketing can become overwhelming is if there are no systems in place. Having a prescribed workflow for outreach, follow up, sending out product and storing content will make it much easier to scale your program.

💵 2. Be sure to have a method for creator agreements

Influencer marketing can feel informal, but it’s crucial to have an agreement in place laying out clear expectations for both parties is critical. Make sure that your content expectations are clear. Some brands don’t want to stifle influencer creativity with too many restrictions—and that’s ok! But it’s still important for your creators to understand what they can do to ensure a successful partnership.

🏃🏾 3. Deploy Paid whitelisting at scale

The performance layer to your creator program. Influencer whitelisting is when an influencer allows a brand to produce paid media under their persona by creating dark posts. For example, a paid ad would go out under the influencer’s profile, but is paid for and managed by the brand.

It’s crucial to make sure that influencers understand what whitelisting is and how to give the right permissions. Automated whitelisting solutions like The Cirqle's make whitelisting permissions clear and easy for both the influencer and the brand.

Tips/Things to remember

Acquire the right permissions

When you start working with your creators, be sure to get the proper permissions to use their content in your other marketing endeavors. If you don’t have explicit  permission to use their posts in your paid media you could run into a sticky situation down the road.

Paid media in Creator Marketing should account for 80% of budget

Make sure that no one portion of your marketing budget exists in a vacuum. It’s a good idea to add paid media costs to your budget when you’re developing your influencer marketing budget. This way the decisions you make about repurposing hot influencer content won’t be limited.

Determine your KPIs for creator and paid

While you should budget for the paid media aspect of your influencer marketing plan carefully (read: this is where you should dedicate 80% of your budget), be sure to determine the proper independent KPIs for influencer content performance versus paid media. The two campaigns might have different goals (e.g. brand awareness versus lead generation). Keep in mind, organic creative is not driving any performance across the Facebook/Instagram ecosystem. You're required to put paid spends behind every single creator and every single creative.

Follow paid media best practices

Paid media is a beast of its own. You should always use a performance marketer to execute the campaign. That way you can be sure to properly tweak your ad spend and optimize your ad copy for the platform. Also, be sure to optimize your content for each platform.

Moving forward

The backing of creator content with paid spends will continue to become even more popular and lucrative than it is today. With help from our friends at Meta, we'll be releasing several exciting features that will help our clients further accelerate their efforts with deploying paid strategies using creator content.

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