Most businesses understand their data is the lifeblood of their company. And when it comes to content creators, creator data is no different. Well, at least in terms of importance. Content creator data can be very different from a "traditional business."
Unlike a local restaurant accurately tracking their busiest times and their most popular items, or an online store having a central merchant hub for all their customer info, content creators deal with literally millions of different data points from dozens of different sources. Some of the data is first party. Much of it comes from third parties.
It's frankly overwhelming.
But it's also an opportunity. Because understanding what your creator data says about your business creates a competitive advantage.
Wait, A "Competitive Advantage?" Who Am I Competing Against?
Excellent question — because in most cases content creators aren't in competitive business the same way two "traditional" businesses are. You're not trying to convince somebody that your flooring company is the best in town. Or that you should come into Walgreens instead of the CVS literally right across the street.
Even if you are primarily a coach who sells online courses, you're not really trying to compete with other online courses. In fact, collaboration is often a path to mutual growth with digital content and you might find yourself collaborating with what a traditional business might see as a competitor.
But you are up against a lot of competitive factors. For one, you're battling against a lot of unseen variables in things like content algorithms. You're competing with a volatile landscape where the "rules" seemingly change every few months and every platform has something else to consider.
You're competing for eyeballs, but not in the old-school way where somebody has to decide between two things to watch on TV. Now you're competing with whether or not your content will come up in a carousel featuring content from all over the globe.
You're also competing with — not to sound trite here, but — the concept of time itself. As in, how much time do you have to make your next piece of content, and do you have a good handle on whether it will be successful with your audience? Does your audience have the time at the moment to consume it. Is the timing right for the subject matter?
All of this is where understanding creator data can better help you create a competitive advantage.
What We Mean When We Talk About Creator Data
Alright so what exactly does "creator data" entail? After all, there are dozens of different types of content creators in the digital space and hundreds of different platforms creators utilize.
When talking about it generally, we mean all of it. Everything from your Instagram likes to your Shopify conversion rates, YouTube search terms, Substack subscribers, Spotify streams and everything in between. Seriously, millions of potential data points per creator.
But trying to address this much data to identify trends and create an actionable plan for growth is a herculean task. That's why we advocate for a question-based approach to looking at creator data. You should have access to all of your data, but you don't need to use all of your data all of the time.
Examples Of How You Can Use Creator Data To Work Smarter
Look, we don't say this to be patronizing, but a lot of content creators simply don't know how much money they're making from certain platforms. And by extension, where their time is best spent.
Let's say you're an artist who also livestreams on Twitch, runs a Patreon page, and sells merch via an online store. Any one of those four things can be a full-time job in and of itself. But sometimes something as simple as sitting back and tracking your revenue for each platform over time can provide some clarity into where your bread is really buttered.
But not just how much you're making — how much you've grown (or declined). How much time you put into each of those platforms as revenue streams and, ultimately, what the opportunity cost of spending more time on one or another is.
Sometimes it just creates a nice "check in" on the health of your different platforms. Sometimes it inspires a heavy shift in strategy.
Evaluating Geographic Revenue
This one is a little more marketing heavy, but it's something any business that spends money on marketing (read: most of them) would want to know.
If you're driving people to your content via digital ads, you're probably testing different countries. You may be jazzed to learn that you can get 5 times the results by advertising to certain markets outside of the U.S. But when it comes time to get paid for the content they're consuming, you rarely break down how much you're making from those specific countries.
When you utilize distribution statements to reference your income based on geographic location, you have a much better understanding of just how much traction those different countries are building for you. And if you cross-reference the data from your marketing campaigns with platform backends (like Spotify for Artists) you can determine whether the people you were advertising to are actually sticking around and staying fans, or if the consumption in those countries shuts off the minute the ads shut off.
Creating Comprehensive Pictures of Your Reach and Engagement
While many content creators will tell you they have one or two platforms they prefer over the others, their brand value and leverage comes from the whole big picture now more than ever. If you're a content creator doing smart things like crossposting and diversifying your platforms, you're building a portfolio of reach and engagement that you could potentially use to leverage partnerships (or cash).
When you're able to create a qualified overview of your engagement metrics on all platforms as well as things like how long people stick around on your content or livestreams, you create a better case for yourself. Even if you think your numbers aren't that "impressive" compared to other creators, you'd be surprised. A lot of companies love working with creators who have small but passionate fan bases because it reinforces the organic feeling they want their customers to have.
But if you're only thinking about your one or two biggest platforms, you're missing an opportunity to really show the strength of your community. A comprehensive picture of everywhere you are on the Internet allows you to set yourself up for more success when it comes to landing brand deals and other opportunities.