How Brands Can Work with Niche Creators, as Told By Creators at Buffer Festival

Canada’s premier event spotlighting digital creators, Buffer Festival, wrapped up last week in Toronto. In keeping with its mission, the four-day festival festival showcases independent creators who embrace authentic storytelling and create high quality content.

Brands want safety, but they’re missing viewers.

If you follow the digital media industry, you’ve heard about a dramatic shift that’s happened over the past 18 months: demonization of ‘unsafe’ content categories. When social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook launched, they were eager to support a variety of creators and perspectives. However, in response to advertisers’ concerns about brand safety, social media sites have begun to prioritize family-friendly creators and traditional media content ahead of the diverse and, at times, controversial voices that have found a home on these platforms.

Buffer Fest addressed this issue head on through its Insight Series, a sidebar from the main festival where creators could speak freely to brands and agencies. Much of the discussion revolved around embracing creators whose content caters to niche audiences.

Edgy and niche creators can make viable branded content.

Several influencers demonstrated the power of unique voices to connect with these highly engaged online communities. For example, Stef Sanjati is a transgender YouTube creator who explained the diversity of her audience and her content. She spoke directly to brands about how to partner with a channel focused on LGBT issues. To gain the trust of her audience, brands need to show support all year long, not just during pride month.

Hannah Witton also shared her experiences as a lifestyle and sexual health influencer. She advocated her value as a trusted figure to young women who visit her channel to learn about their bodies and find a supportive community. Unlike traditional TV programs that offer broad content for a mass audience, creators like Hannah can provide more personalized recommendations to a specific audience niche.

And finally, intimacy expert and TV personality Shan Boodram shared her struggle to monetize the brand that she’s created. To highlight the challenges she has faced in attracting sponsors, Shan told a story about a technology hardware company that reached out to work with her, only to retract the offer after discovering that her brand was primarily centered around sexuality.

Embrace the voice of the creator and their audience will respond.

That said, Shan also offered several anecdotes about how brands have benefited from aligning with the brand she’s built. Those partnerships were successful when the brand accepted her content strategy and understood that her audience appreciates her brutal honesty when handling challenging subject matter. Brands that can harness a creator’s best elements end up doing the best rather than attempting to water down her content strategy to fit their sensibility.

All things considered, Buffer Festival’s message is powerful and consistent: whether you’re a viewer looking for good content or a brand hoping to reach an audience, search for authenticity and quality. Don’t be distracted by vanity metrics and glossy content. Looks for creators that build trust with their audience and engage a community to deliver a valuable partnership.

Once you find such influencers, make sure to support them! If that means becoming a donor on their Patreon account, tipping on Super Chat, or partnering with them to promote another brand it’s important to monetarily support the voices you believe in.


If you’d like to learn more about how Paladin Software can help you manage your creators and influencer marketing campaigns, contact us at [email protected].

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