Let’s be honest: job titles are made up. You can call yourself whatever you want. That’s why LinkedIn has a text field and not a dropdown option. This is true for all types of corporate jobs (hey, Chief Innovation Officers), and it's no different in the influencer marketing industry.
You’ve probably seen people market themselves as an influencer, content creator, brand ambassador, or just creators. Ultimately, it’s more about the work produced than the self-identified title.
Yet there remains a question. Is there a difference between an influencer, a content creator, or a brand ambassador? What are those differences, and how do you define each? What terms should you search for when you’re looking for someone who can create beautiful, engaging, and persuasive content?
These definitions are fluid and change with the cultural tides, but let’s try to nail down precisely what they mean.
Generally speaking, you can define an influencer as someone who influences another. In the context of the marketing world, it goes deeper than this.
Oxford Dictionary defines an influencer as “a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.”
An influencer is somebody who got their following and their business by helping people make decisions on what products to buy, where to travel, or how to decorate their home, for example. The products promoted can span across many verticals—fashion, beauty, home, travel, dining, and more.
The core content that an influencer creates revolves around brands and which brands they recommend. It’s persuasive content showcasing a lifestyle or way of being, and their community values their opinions and trusts their decisions.
You can break down influencer types into several different tiers: types of content or media type (bloggers, YouTubers, etc.), follower numbers (nano, micro, macro, or mega), or engagement.
Influencers create content for the internet and their communities, but they also have a personal brand and are defined by their ability to affect purchasing decisions.
"All influencers are creators, but not all creators are influencers." - James Nord, Negronis with Nord, Episode 1
A content creator has a broader definition. A content creator is defined as somebody who creates content for the internet, in any form of media type, whether written content, videos, photos, graphic art, etc.
This definition posted by Indeed reads, “Content creators are professionals who use writing, graphic design, visual storytelling or a combination of these disciplines to make any topic relatable and interesting to the consumer or audience.”
We see this term trending upwards in the influencer marketing space to highlight more technical skills outside of community building, influence over purchasing decisions, or following size. With social media moving more and more towards video, more influencers are beginning to identify as content creators to showcase their all-encompassing skillset. Another shift towards this term is that creators with a large following are moving away from the broader (and sometimes negative) cultural connotations of the term ‘influencer.’ This brings us to brand ambassadors.
At Fohr, we believe that ambassador marketing is influencer marketing at its best.
A brand ambassador promotes a brand and its products to their network to increase brand awareness and help drive sales. A brand ambassador is “the face” of that brand or product and knows it inside out.
Sounds similar to what we described as an influencer, right?
Historically, a brand ambassador refers to an internal employee you might leverage to promote your brand or product. Another use of the term is for a customer that creates organic content or user-generated content (UGC) that the brand would like to recognize, whether via a one-off campaign, highlighting a testimonial, through gifting or free product, or a longer-term partnership.
With the rise of social media, more niche communities and accounts with small followings can be considered highly effective brand ambassadors. It’s taking control of the highly sought-after word-of-mouth marketing.
According to Ogilvy Cannes, 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in purchasing decisions.
But you don't need a large, celebrity-like following or influencer status to be effective. Brand ambassador marketing is about finding your true fans, no matter their following size, and turning them into your ambassadors or spokesperson. Influencer marketing is more about finding creators with a community or following as a way to advertise.
These definitions are undoubtedly nuanced, subjective, and may change depending on the company, brand, or person creating content. There's no wrong answer here.
Are you creating content for your online community or the love of the craft? Do you ultimately have power over your community’s purchasing decisions? The answers can help you define yourself in this influencer marketing space.