Content Creators and Organizations

Exposure bucks, ROI, and relationships

You see it on Twitter every day. An organization makes an announcement that they've signed a content creator. Congratulations ensue.

What does this mean? What do these content creators do? Are they paid? I'll go over these things from my point of view.

What are content creators?

Content creators can be divided into two categories: streamers and YouTubers. There are more but this covers 95%. Streamers broadcast themselves in front of a live audience. YouTubers upload videos to their respective channel. Often times, a content creator does both of these things. 

Why would an organization sign content creators?

After running Disrupt Gaming for 2+ years, my answer to this question is much more solidified now. There are three reasons: 

1.     To increase brand exposure for the organization

2.     Advertising inventory for the organization's brand partners (aka sponsors)

3.     Creating content for the organization

When an organization is getting started, it helps to have people know who you are. By signing content creators you are able to leverage their built in audience to grow the organization's. The mistake many organizations make is overvaluing these "exposure bucks". Exposure has a purpose, but it RARELY GENERATES REAL ROI. There are many organizations that pay content creators but are not able to generate a return. This is a leading cause of death for many organizations.

If an organization has brand partners, content creators are utilized to fulfill deliverables. This includes things like rotating logo carousels on streams, "panels" beneath a stream, and Twitter shoutouts to name a few. At Disrupt, part of our offering to brand partners is that we have a network of 30+ streamers and content creators. Seemlessly a brand would be able to activate across our entire network, but only have to deal with a single point of contact.

Lastly, content creators CAN and SHOULD create content for the organization’s owned channels. You’d be surprised how rarely this actually occurs. “Content Creator” doesn’t only mean creating content for yourself.

Why would a content creator sign with an organization?

There are two reasons:

1.     Money

2.     Exposure

This is pretty straight forward. Frequently an organization will recruit a content creator and a standard transaction occurs: “I pay you X and in return you do Y”.

Outside of dollars, there are several benefits for creators to be part of an organization that all tie into exposure. A creator may be able to reach a new audience through the organizations own network or collaborate with other creators in the network. Some organizations have an “agency” function in which they may be able to secure brand deals for the creator. Finally, there are some other perks that creators can receive from being part of established organizations like assistance getting verified on Twitter or Twitch, or connections with publishers to be invited for game demos or other special events.

As a third reason, sometimes a creator just likes an org and its community. No transaction required.

If you are an organization

Make sure that you fully understand what the dollar for dollar ROI is with your content creators. If you can’t do that, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sign them, it just means you need to be 100% aware of what you are getting (oftentimes, it’s nothing).

If you DO NOT HAVE BRAND PARTNERS, you need to be very careful with your expenditure on creators.

If you are a content creator

Understand the ROI that you can provide. If a brand gives you a code to promote, how many sales will you do? If you don’t know the answer to that, that’s OK, it just means that you are going to have to tie your value to….exposure bucks! Yes, the thing that all creatives hate to be paid in, but love to give in return. I say that in jest, but on a serious note, if exposure is what you can offer, be up front about that and have that be the focal point of conversation. Be able to explain to an organization the measurable and trackable benefits that would come by signing you.

Does the organization that is recruiting you have brand partners? Its OK if not, but based on what I’ve already written it potentially means they have no immediate way to generate ROI. Ultimately it’s not your responsibility to ensure good business practice by the organization, but don’t be surprised if the relationship does not end well.

Other Thoughts

Esports and gaming is still nascent. Because of this, there is no set playbook. Every organization likely has different viewpoints on the purpose of content creators in their organization.  

From my personal experience the largest issue with content creators and organizations comes down to the distance between a creator’s own perceived value and how much the organization is willing to pay.

If you scroll Twitter, it won’t take long until you see a disgruntled creator claiming that they were underpaid or flat out scammed. You’ll see them up in arms about being paid in “exposure bucks” but the irony is that is likely the only benefit they are returning to their organization. Organizations on the other hand, get themselves into uncomfortable positions because they did not have a clear plan for how to utilize their creators. They are then left with a feeling of seeing dollars go out, but none coming back in.

The best way to prevent hiccups is to be EXTREMELY CLEAR and upfront about what the expecations are. At Disrupt Gaming, we don’t have the manpower to keep consistent and direct contact with all of our creators. We certaintly try, but its just not possible. By nature this means that many of our creators, over time, will feel a little left out. We try to the best of our ability to let people know this up front... “Hey X, you’ll be getting paid on the 1st and 15th of the month, if you don’t hear from us often, that must mean carry on!”.

Thanks for reading. If you have any topics you’d like me to cover, feel free to drop a reply in the comments. 

All the best,

Mark

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