What does "let creators create!" mean?

Deciding how much creative input you should give inlfuencers isn't easy, but here's a simple way to think about it.

Welcome to issue #12 of Return on Influence, a newsletter by me, Eleni Zoe from Modash, about the details that make influencer marketing a formidable channel. Get new ideas to improve your processes, workflows, and strategies every two weeks.

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How much creative freedom should we be giving influencers? Does every type of influencer get total freedom? How do we figure out how tightly we hold the reins?

I want to answer all these questions because “let creators create!’ is one of the most common but easily misinterpreted advice I see in influencer marketing.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad advice. It just isn’t complete advice.

And the people need details.

So, we interviewed a few senior influencer marketers to understand what “let creators create” actually means.

TL;DR: The consensus was that the amount of creative freedom you give depends on two major factors: familiarity and complexity.

This flow chart can help you determine how tightly or loosely you can hold the creative reins. Follow it, and who knows, you might save yourself some time.

Let’s look at each stage. 👇


When to give the most input (check the concept and first draft)

When familiarity is low (working with someone new) and complexity is high, you want to be hands-on and hold tight on the reins. These situations require brand guidelines, examples of successful influencer content from the past, fact sheets, product tutorials, and anything else to help influencers deliver their best work. You’ll want to align on the creative concept and review draft content to approve before posting.

What do low familiarity and high complexity situations look like? Here are a few examples: 

  • When you’re collaborating with a creator for the first time or if they’re not experienced
    You don’t know each other yet, so make sure you’re fully involved in the process. They might need a bit more help than someone who’s been partnering with brands for a hot minute.

    Influencer Marketing Consultant Andreea Moise adds that despite the additional work, the ROI is usually there:

Newer creators might need more support understanding what you want and how to integrate it into their content. Consider giving them extra time and creating more detailed assets to support them. They often make up for lack of experience with enthusiasm, so it’s ok in 99% of the cases!

  • When your product is complex

    The more complicated your product, the more guidance a creator needs. They might present inaccurate information without your input. You’ll definitely need to approve content before it goes live.

  • When the type of content requires it

    Complexity can also refer to the type of content an influencer creates. Some types are more complex and need more guidance than others.

    For example, if you ask someone to embed your product into a “day in my life” video, they don’t need much help from you. But you can't give them as much creative freedom if you want them to make a full-fledged product walkthrough. They’ll need much more input from you.


When to take the middle ground (align on concept)

As you become more familiar with an influencer and your product isn’t highly complex, you can loosen the reigns. Your briefing process might become simpler. You want to align on the concept before they start shooting, and all you’re checking at the draft stage is whether the facts are accurate — not creative input.

Community & Brand Marketing Lead Anna-Maria Klappenbach uses an analogy to describe the middle ground.

Imagine being given a blank piece of paper and asked to draw anything instead of something (specific) like a house. Within the framework of ‘a house' lie certain limitations that allow creativity to blossom. That's how I approach it with (most) creators: tell them the message/feeling, and then let them paint the picture with their own colors!

Here are a few examples of when taking the middle ground makes sense:

  • When you’re collaborating with a regular influencer partner or experienced creators
    The more a creator collaborates with you, the more they understand your product & expectations. You can let go of some creative input. An experienced creator might also need less hand-holding — even if it’s their first time working with your brand. They’re able to pick up things quickly and deliver what you need.

  • When you’re introducing a new creative angle
    If you’re in experimentation mode, the middle ground is the best place to be. Don’t guide a creator every step of the way, but let them take charge of more than usual.


When to give the least input (share goals and guardrails)

When working with highly trusted long-term partners, you can hand the creativity to the creator. You provide a loose brief with the campaign goals and some critical dos and don’ts, but that’s about it.

For example:

  • When you’ve built trust over a long-term collaboration

    If the creator’s been partnering with you for months or years, they know your product and what kind of deliverables you like.

  • When you’re collaborating on Stories
    Some content formats are simpler than others. Stories are meant to be less polished and only up for 24 hours, while an in-feed post has a much longer shelf life. Stories are the perfect format for giving creative freedom and reducing your workload.

The flow chart and input stages are designed to provide a starting point for you and might not be as relevant for seeding/gifting/affiliates. Use your experience as a marketer and your gut feeling to break this process if/when it feels right. 


What type of creative input do you give most often?

Let's see what everybody else is doing. Results are live, and votes are anonymous. 🙈

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You might want to join Modash at Women In Influencer Marketing’s Best in Influencer Tech!

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See you in the next issue of ROI!

Eleni Zoe xx
Marketing @ Modash and Lady Who Is Spending Her Free Time Making Friendship Bracelets. Say hi on LinkedIn or visit Modash.