Thirty percent of US social media users have purchased something after seeing an influencer or creator post about it, according to July 2022 data from the Pew Research Center—a powerful testament to the impact creators have on consumer spending. Successful collaboration with creators allows marketers to tap into highly engaged audiences to boost brand awareness, credibility, and sales.

What is the creator economy?

The creator economy is an ecosystem involving creators, audiences, digital platforms, marketers, and agencies, interconnected through the exchange of content, money, or goods and services. Creators such as influencers, video-content producers, and writers monetize their content through sponsorships, affiliate marketing, subscription models, merchandise sales, donations, and more.

Benefits of the creator economy for marketers

For marketers, the creator economy offers innovative ways to engage and connect with consumers in authentic ways that can drive growth. 

Meaningful interactions 

  • Connection with creators: Marketers align with creators who have an authentic relationship with their audience, boosting brand recognition and trust.
  • Diverse demographics: Creators span almost every generation, allowing marketers to target a broad spectrum of consumers.
  • Range of categories: B2B and sports are fast-growing areas for creators, according to our Creator Economy Explainer report, giving marketers access to specialized audiences.
  • Tapping into communities: Creators are often part of a greater community, connected through shared interests and values, that marketers can reach in effective ways. 

Growth-minded collaboration 

  • Effective brand strategy: Creators provide a direct line to audiences and set trends that resonate with their followers.
  • Creator-founded brands: Early examples of creator-led products and services, ranging from consumer packaged goods to restaurants and branded apps, demonstrate how their involvement can lead to significant sales.

Revenue diversification 

  • Partnerships: Brands can prioritize long-term relationships with trusted creators, ensuring consistency and deeper engagement.
  • Versatility: The role of creators in brand strategy is expanding, as they are increasingly incorporated into ad campaigns, new product launches, and in-house teams. 

What marketers need to know about the creator economy 

The creator economy is a burgeoning ecosystem that has redefined how content is produced, monetized, and consumed, paving the way for new revenue streams and business models.

Who is a creator?

Creators are at the heart of the creator economy, producing content that resonates with audiences and communities while attracting marketers and consumers. Digital platforms offer a space for this content to thrive, providing creation and monetization tools while also benefiting from the engagement that pulls in advertisers. 

Spanning various generations and industries, the creator economy hosts an estimated 303 million creators worldwide, per August 2022 estimates from Adobe, spanning communities ranging from lifestyle and fashion to emerging sectors like B2B content and sports. Most creators, however, have small audiences and are not monetizing their content. Nearly half (48%) of US-based creators cited a lack of predictable income as their biggest challenge, according to a July 2022 survey from MBO Partners conducted by Emergent Research and Rockbridge. 

How much is the creator economy worth?

Although estimating the creator market size is difficult due to a lack of standardized industry definitions, many have cited the creator economy to be worth just over $100 billion as of mid-2022. 

Major contributors include platforms like YouTube, which paid over $30 billion to creators in the three years leading up to 2021, and Twitch, where creators earned over $1 billion in 2021. In addition, brands are continuing to invest in influencer marketing, with 67% of marketing and PR professionals worldwide expecting to increase their budget in 2023, per Influencer Marketing Hub. 

What are the top creator platforms?

Creator platforms offer direct access to mass audiences and communities as well as an array of content creation and monetization tools. 

  • Instagram remains the premier platform for sponsored content, especially with its feature Reels, according to a March 2023 report from Later and Mavrck.
  • TikTok remains the go-to platform for young, video-first creators. According to US content creators, TikTok is the leading social media platform for generating income, per a March 2023 survey by Epidemic Sound.
  • YouTube serves as a platform for both individual creators and brand collaboration, with strong potential for growth as its Shorts audience expands.

There are also emerging creator platforms:

  • LinkedIn is quickly becoming a necessity for industry professionals, where creators are building audiences by sharing insights and business news. 
  • Snapchat, despite slashing its creator fund, is presenting an untapped opportunity with its ad revenue-sharing program, which is proving to be profitable for some well-known creators involved in the beta test.
  • Retail media platforms, such as Amazon, are becoming attractive for established creators who collaborate with brands on lower-funnel objectives.