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Expert Q & A

The Power of the Faceless Influencer

September 6, 2022
Mae Rice

Influencers who spotlight their creativity — not themselves — are often more relatable and trusted than the ubiquitous lifestyle influencer, according to a new Imgur report. We dug into why, and why it matters for marketers.

Table of Contents

When you think of an influencer, you probably think of someone with a face. 

Someone good-looking, who travels a lot. Almost like a living doll that marketers can pay to pose with branded products in scenic locations. 

That’s a lifestyle influencer, popular on Instagram and TikTok — but there’s another type of influencer: the faceless influencer, or “culture creator,” as Imgur puts it in a new report

Culture creators run meme accounts, rack up Karma on Reddit, and land on Imgur’s homepage. 

They’re “less focused on who they are and instead focus on the content itself,” explained Irene Sanchez, VP of integrated marketing at medialab (which owns Imgur).

Here’s what makes them special — and why marketers can’t ignore them. 

They post relatable content.

Lifestyle influencer content skews “aspirational,” Sanchez said, but culture creators’ content is often more relatable.

Instagram meme account @Daquan, for example, has 16.7M followers — just 1M fewer than Joe Biden! — and posts accessible jokes and memes about bad haircuts and Spiderman

It’s clearly resonating.  Daquan gets more than 5X the engagement of Joe Biden, according to Grin

Their private lives are… their whole lives. 

It’s hard to have a parasocial relationship with @Daquan. No one knows who he is.  

“The goal was to create a social media content brand that is synonymous with internet pop culture, not a personality brand,” the (still anonymous) Canadian teen behind the account told Forbes

Creators with known names can cultivate similar brands, too. 

TikTok channel @menwiththepot (9M+ followers) is synonymous with woodland cooking — not its creators, Polish friends Slawek Kalkraut and Krzysztof Szymanski.

Same goes for Imgur creator @PaulDeGraaf, who creates pop-up cards “frequently seen in our most viral content,” Sanchez said. 

He’s not anonymous (he’s Paul DeGraaf!) but his brand is his paper sculptures. 

They’re (often) trusted more than lifestyle influencers.

The typical lifestyle influencer relies on advertisers for income — but the typical culture creator doesn’t.

More often, they… 

  • Don’t monetize, and create as a side hustle, like top Redditors
  • Sell a product related to their content, like @menwiththepot’s knives
  • Sell their whole account, like @Daquan recently did (for $85M!)

This means they’re less likely to promote something sketchy out of desperation — they have other revenue streams! — and makes them more trustworthy.

That’s a priority for social media users; 22% want creators to be trustworthy, while only 1% want them to be famous, Imgur found in a survey of 2,000+ people.

Why marketers shouldn’t ignore culture creators

Marketers that want to achieve results can get an edge by watching — and partnering with — culture creators. Here are three reasons they’re important. 

Brands can follow their social playbook. 

For “entertainment or QSR-led” brands with a humorous voice, it can work to post original memes on social, or try out faceless content formats, Sanchez said — just like faceless culture creators.

That might end up looking like BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos, or one of the many branded Wordle memes.

They can do spon that performs. 

This sponsored Imgur post about Brooklyn 99, featuring Imgur culture creator @coat, got 300+ comments — and this ad from anonymous influencers @menwiththepot for a British cookware company got 145K likes. 

They can help marketers evade PR problems. 

Anonymous influencers are a safer bet for a collab than say… Chris Noth was for Peloton. Though really, anyone and anything can milkshake duck, including a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Our takeaway?

Influencers are more than famous faces.

Creators who don’t appear in their own content — including meme creators and curators, artists and more — have serious sway, with more engaged audiences than the literal President of the United States.

If you work in influencer marketing: pay attention!

Mae Rice
about the author

Mae Rice is editor in chief at MarketerHire. A long-time content marketer, she loves learning about the weird and wonderful feedback loops that connect marketing and culture.

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