For our latest Creator Spotlight blog post, we spoke with Jack Appleby (@Jappleby on Twitter), an omnichannel content creator, creative strategist, and founder of Future Social, Morning Brew's first ever newsletter covering social media, content, and creators.
“What’s been great about the democratization of content is that there’s a million ways to be creative. There’s an audience for everything. I think sometimes the social media industry needs that reminder .”
Jack Appleby, Creative Strategist and Content Creator
A student of social media, Jack comes from 10+ years of creative strategy experience, having worked with big-name brands across industries, including Beats by Dre, Riot Games, Twitch, Sony, Microsoft, Warner Bros., and more. A thought leader across Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok, Jack found his niche in creating educational content for marketing professionals. Specifically, Jack offers guidance and outside-the-box thinking for social media and influencer marketing leaders—an area where thought-leadership content is often lacking. Below are some key takeaways from our conversation.
With about five million people identifying as content creators today, how are brand strategies being reshaped?
What’s great about the democratization of content: there are a million ways to be creative. There’s an audience for everything. I think sometimes the social media industry needs that reminder. It often feels that within the corporate social media world, brands either have a hyper-aggressive voice or a wildly corporate one, as if there’s no room for nuance. But there are so many niches out there, and so many types of content that can be produced. My advice is to follow all types of creators, and to learn as much as you can from them.
But can getting more creative with content jeopardize brand voice?
It really shouldn’t. There’s always something interesting that can be produced. There are creative ways to approach even the most “stale” types of brands.
What other misconceptions do brands have when it comes to influencer marketing?
Launching an influencer marketing program does take time and creativity, but a lot of brands think that it’s harder than it is. Every brand with social aspirations should be working with creators.
Some brands are even hiring content creators as full-time employees. For example, Nerf hired Sophie Lightning (@sophie.lightning), a powerhouse TikToker, to run their social channels. You should have a few creators on-staff—a team shouldn’t just be made up of strategists and traditional creatives. We’re seeing more agencies hire this type of talent so they don’t fall behind. In general, creators are the perfect balance of conceptors, writers, and videographers.
How should B2C and B2B brands approach influencer marketing differently, if at all?
The B2C versus B2B stuff makes me laugh. B2B businesses are still ran by humans. B2B content can, and should, be just as engaging as B2C-branded content. So yes, I support B2B brands investing equally in influencer marketing.
“As a social media strategist, I get hardly any of my inspiration from people in the same vertical. I look at every other type of creator… there are so many more opportunities out there for creativity, and it’s important to apply different types of thinking.”
Jack Appleby, Creative Strategist and Content Creator
How important is authenticity when it comes to influencer marketing? Is this more important for smaller brands?
Authenticity is a tough word in marketing right now. There’s a lot of good, as well as a lot of stigma and misconceptions behind the word. Most brands still aren’t very real about who they are, and the relationships consumers have with their products. Authenticity is becoming this catch-all term that’s poorly defined.
Of course you want to work with a creator authentically—meaning in a way that’s true to the content they make, and that’s true to your brand and product. But it gets confusing when people talk about “speaking authentically.” There’s a certain group on the internet associated with this—people who type in all lowercase letters and speak sarcastically. It’s overdone. All brands and creators need to truly define what’s authentic to them, and not just throw around the “A-word.”
What advice do you have for up-and-coming content creators about how they can leverage their careers?
Stick to a category that you’re truly passionate about. The reason I’m a content creator discussing social media: I’m fascinated by this world. Figure out the thing that you love, and understand your addressable audience.
On that note, tell me more about the importance of the micro-influencer. Are you seeing them increase in value for brands, both small and large?
Nano and micro-influencers are so valuable—their ability to tap into a specific audience is top notch. The tough part is that these groups require a lot of management, since working with a large number of them often requires more hand-holding. That said, I think it’s very smart for brands with a low-cost product to gift micro-influencers regularly. This will typically result in some amazing content.
What advice do you have for brands as they launch their influencer marketing programs?
Work with different styles of creators. It’s important to know how much wider your brand is, and how many creative opportunities there are within the realm of your brand. As a social media strategist, I get hardly any of my inspiration from people in the same vertical. I would look at every other type of creator… there are so many more opportunities out there for creativity, and it’s important to apply different types of thinking.
What about TikTok? Is the short-form video platform essential for every brand?
If your brand believes in using organic social media to promote your product, then you absolutely should be on TikTok. Its organic reach and chances for virality are insane, more than any other social platform.
That said, I actually think long-form content still remains extremely high value for creators. A creator’s TikTok audience isn’t as community driven as, say, YouTube. There are different types of stakes being built between creators and their audiences on long-form versus short-form video content.
There you have it: once upon a time, having an influencer marketing program was creative in and of itself, but no longer. Nowadays, brands need to take bold risks and think outside of the box in order to run a strong, effective influencer marketing program.
Want to learn more about how to maximize your influencer marketing program?