What’s Your Creativity Suppression Cost?

What’s Your Creativity Suppression Cost?

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How to optimize your creator strategy

Read more: What’s Your Creativity Suppression Cost?

🎧Don’t miss our co-founder Ryan Davis on The Great Battlefield podcast, talking about how creators should be used in politics in 2024.

Are you over briefing and over-directing your creators? You’re probably experiencing a Creativity Suppression Cost, which drives up the cost of creator content and hurts performance.

A recent study by Stanford GSB Professor Navdeep Sahni and colleagues found that the campaigns with fewer creative constraints actually performed better. While we all want to guarantee the right messages get out there, it is also crucial that we think about real success.

In this study the authors examined over 984 creative briefs offered to more than 7,000 creators. These briefs varied in their breadth: some narrow, prescribing what the influencer should say or do in the video, while others were open ended, offering fewer constraints and more authenticity.

When it came to the more prescriptive briefs, the study found that creators were less interested in creating content for those campaigns and ultimately led to a reduced creator participation by 15%.

Okay then fine, we just work with those willing to operate within the constraints as this content is guaranteed to perform right? 

Well, not exactly. Next, the authors examined the consequences for campaign performance. In a follow-up field experiment, they randomly assigned 1,500 creators to either a narrow or broad brief and measured click-through rates to the advertiser’s website.

They discovered that narrow briefs negatively impacted campaign performance: Narrow briefs significantly reduced clicks. In fact, relaxing narrow briefs and making them broader would have roughly doubled the number of clicks to the advertiser’s website.

People First recently conducted a similar analysis on our own data and found comparable results. On average, narrow briefs received 26% fewer likes than broad briefs, even after accounting for other factors such as the characteristics of the creator and the platform.

This shouldn’t be a big surprise; multiple studies from Meta have shown that “lo-fi” content outperforms studio-produced content in both engagement and conversions.

At People First, we advise our clients to allow as much room for creative freedom as possible in briefs while still ensuring the creator includes key messaging and a prominent call-to-action. Place guardrails where necessary and give your creators the space to effectively reach their audience for content that’s truly people-first. Cut your Creativity Suppression Cost and give your creators what they need to perform.