Skip to content
Cover art for podcast episode Social Media and the Creator Economy for Health Marketing

Social Media and the Creator Economy for Health Marketing

Welcome to the Health Marketing Collective, where strong leadership meets marketing excellence.

Today, Ben Ellenbecker is joining us to talk about the ways social media has been reshaping brand storytelling within the healthcare industry and B2B marketing as a whole. Ben is a social media strategist who has been helping household-name brands create impactful content and tell their stories for more than a decade.

It is now clear that healthcare brands need to part of the social media party, even accepting platforms like TikTok and blending education with entertainment to capture attention. We’re focusing on the concept of “social first” marketing strategies, exploring how even B2B brands should be thinking in terms of content, leveraging the creator economy, and replacing highly polished content with more personal, raw videos.

Key takeaways:

1. Unlocking the Creator Economy: The conversation breaks down the creator economy’s role in revolutionizing healthcare marketing. We unpack the strategic utilization of creators as vital resources, producing content that not only engages but also educates, ensuring that healthcare organizations can stay relevant and relatable in the fast-paced world of social media.

2. Creating a Team: Sara and Ben discuss the importance of marrying strategy, creativity, and community management within a team. Whether through hiring in-house or partnering externally, these pillars support the construction of an effective and responsive social presence tailor-made for healthcare’s unique digital challenges.

3. Understanding TikTok: Ben spotlights the unexpected power of TikTok for B2B, advocating for healthcare brands to harness the platform’s potential. He offers insights into producing content that doesn’t just resonate with Gen Z but also sets a viral trend across various social channels, proving pivotal for healthcare narratives aiming to make a widespread impact.

4. Navigating Regulations: In a highly regulated industry, Sara and Ben discuss the balance between compliance and creativity. Discussing proactive engagement with regulatory bodies and leadership, they pave a pathway for healthcare brands to design effective content strategies that not only meet guidelines but also bring enriching, authentic stories to the forefront of social engagement.

Thank you for being part of the Health Marketing Collective, where strong leadership meets marketing excellence. The future of healthcare depends on it.

About Ben Ellenbecker

Senior Social Consultant

Ben is a senior social strategist who, over the past 13 years, has led content and storytelling for some of the world’s most impactful brands, including The United Nations, Google, American Cancer Society, IBM, Nintendo and more. He specializes in helping companies make meaningful connections with their audience through social content and campaigns. He currently runs a consultant practice based here in Minneapolis.


Sara Payne [00:00:12]:

Hello, everyone. And welcome to the Health Marketing Collective, where strong leadership meets marketing excellence. I'm your host, Sarah Payne, a health marketing strategist at Imprella Communications, and I'm bringing you fascinating conversations with some of the industry's top marketing minds. On today's episode, we're gonna talk social media. We'll discuss how social media has changed over the last few years, influenced by things like TikTok and the creator economy. We'll unpack what all of that means for brand teams and brand storytelling programs, and give some effective examples of how modern healthcare brands are leveraging social media. For me, there's a big difference between having a presence on social and and prioritizing social as a primary storytelling channel, where a significant portion of your content originates on social. We're hoping this conversation inspires you to think differently about how your healthcare brand is approaching social.

Sara Payne [00:01:04]:

To dig into this topic with me, I'm thrilled to welcome Ben Ellenbecker, who is a senior social media strategist and consultant. Ben has led content and social storytelling for some of the world's most impactful brands, including the UN, Google, the American Cancer Society, and IBM. He's extremely talented and specializes in helping companies make meaningful connections with their audience through social content and campaigns. He currently runs a consultancy based in Minneapolis, and I've had the privilege of working with Ben on some shared health care clients, including the Children's Cancer Research Fund. If all of that wasn't impressive enough, Ben was recently named one of LinkedIn's top social media voices. He's just a wealth of knowledge and creativity on all things social storytelling, so I'm thrilled to have him here to offer some insights on this topic. Welcome,

Ben Ellenbecker [00:01:51]:

Ben. Thank you, Sarah. So happy to be here with you.

Sara Payne [00:01:54]:

Yeah. Thanks for doing this together. Ben, you know, in our work together, you talk a lot about how social media should be a primary publishing channel for brands. And, you know, it's sometimes you refer to it as social first approach to content. I believe this is still a novel concept for many brands. But let's start with, can you outline the argument for why brands should prioritize social media?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:02:21]:

Yeah. I mean, I kinda can't believe we're still having this conversation. If you remember, in February, Facebook turned 20 years old.

Sara Payne [00:02:29]:

I know.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:02:30]:

But when you, when you put it like that, it's it seems, like it's been around forever, essentially. And and I know there are still so many organizations and brands that, are hesitant and scared or intimidated by social. You know, the reality is the simplest way, I think, to put it is that, you know, everyone is on social now. 72% of Americans use it every single day, for an average of 2 and a half hours a day. And so when you put it like that, you know, I think some of the arguments of old of why brands maybe weren't prioritizing social were, well, we don't think our audience is on it. But the reality is is, you know, over the last 20 years, it's been so widely adopted that I don't think that argument holds water anymore. You know, you can kinda think of social like, it's a party. Right? It's a it's a a party that happens every single day, and, you know, the whole world attends this party.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:03:21]:

And let's say you've got a product or a service that you wanna sell, you're gonna tell me that you're not gonna go to that party and try to meet people and sell your product or service. It happens every single day. People are there for 2 and a half hours. Right? And so, you know, I think that, you know, simply put, you've gotta be on it at at the very bare minimum on it, and then we'll talk about, like, prioritizing it. Right? So to your point, being on it is one thing, but, you know, keeping the lights on doesn't really move the needle as a lot of organizations still do. And so prioritizing social is kind of this concept of social first, which is when you think about any initiative, campaign, product launch, earned media hit, or anything like that, you know, how does that show up on social, not just as an afterthought, but as a primary thought? How are we gonna merchandise this activity, this new product, this new thing on social media in a really engaging social first format? And that is something that I think companies are still kinda coming around to. I think that consumer brands, right, they have they've adopted I think in the b to b space, more recently, companies have started and kind of committed to attending the party right there. Maybe they're in the Uber on the way to the party, and they're nervous, but they're excited to go.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:04:45]:

And I think that's happened over the last year or 2 because the channels and the algorithms have really changed. Right? In the past, it used to be that, your po you would post something and only your followers would see it for the most part. Actually, a very small percentage of your followers would see it. But now we're in sort of the interest era of social, which is an algorithmic change, and that means that you post something and, sure, some of your followers will see it. But the majority of people that are gone that the the platforms will push that post to are people that they don't know you yet, but they the algorithm thinks that they might enjoy your content. And so what that did, that switch, this interest era, this for you page on TikTok or the Explore page on Instagram does is it gives companies like b to b b to b brands who maybe don't have a large following, an opportunity to reach new people, or reach a lot of people if they if they can create compelling content. And so it's easier than ever to find your people on social, to find your niche community, and really connect with them through through content. And then when we think about health care too specifically, right, I think the health care brands are even more nervous about attending the party, if you will.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:05:56]:

Right? They they maybe they know they need to go, but they are worried that they just don't know what to wear. They're just too nervous to go. And and that's an interesting one I wanted to ask you about that. What what do you feel like is your, understanding of that hesitation or barrier in the health care space?

Sara Payne [00:06:11]:

Yeah. I mean, some of it for sure has to do with, you know, the regulatory requirements in the industry and some concerns there. And, I know I know we're gonna get into that a little bit in terms of some tips for maybe how people can still create engaging, interesting comment or content, if you will. Still keeping those regulatory requirements in mind. I think that's one of them. I also think there's there is this, as you mentioned earlier, this question around is my audience really there?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:06:42]:


Sara Payne [00:06:42]:

Right? Particularly, I mean, I think, you know, brands are gonna lean more tend to lean b to b, specifically brands are gonna lean more into LinkedIn and be perhaps more hesitant for Instagram or for sure TikTok. Right? So, part of it's the audience, part of it is regulatory requirements. And then I think there's still this, I'm just gonna call the word sort of stiffness around this feeling this need to be polished and and, you know, pretty pretty strict in the content. And, maybe that doesn't necessarily always bode well for creating connection and emotional resonance. But I think we have a tremendous amount of potential in health care because this is really literally, in many cases, about saving people's lives. Right? And and making their lives better, increasing quality of life for many people. So I think there's an opportunity to really push our purpose driven brand narratives, our thought leadership narratives to draw out more of those emotional stories and not be afraid to explore creatively what that could look like to your point then, not just in a press release that you put out or not just in a, you know, scripted speech that your CEO executive is gonna give, at a conference or to to your employees, but unscripted, more organic, you know, turning the smartphone on them, you know, on themselves at their desk, being a little bit more relaxed and having those sort of real one to one conversations, not unlike what we're doing today. Right.

Sara Payne [00:08:23]:

But really bringing a lot of humanity and realness into that conversation. So I think those are some of the hurdles. That I see, and I know we're gonna kinda touch on a few of those, today as well.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:08:36]:

Yeah. I I completely agree. There's it's kind of a creative I mean, like, I think, yes, people aren't prioritizing social or or some b to b in health care brands aren't, but at the end of the day, everyone knows they need to be there. It's like there's a pair there's a paralysis around how to show up on social. Yes. And it's almost a creative problem to solve. And I think that there are now finally some really great modern solutions to that problem, like the creator economy, which we'll we'll touch on, and things like that where, you know, you have this economy of people on TikTok who are fantastic at making social videos. And and in the past, that used to cost a lot of money to make a lot of video content, and it doesn't anymore.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:09:14]:

You know, you can leverage these creators to make videos for your company, to come to your office or whatever. And, there's a whole new way of operating here that kinda solves that creative paralysis with social.

Sara Payne [00:09:27]:

Which is both an opportunity, but it's also scary at the same time. But it doesn't have to be. Right? Which is why we're gonna we're gonna dig into that a little bit more because I know you've got a lot of experience in that area and you've got some great advice for folks. Because I think part of it is just letting go of maybe some some limiting beliefs or things that we we have held on to for so long and thinking that this has to be hard or scary or different, and and we sort of just need to to reject that and and go, it's okay. We can we can do some things and push ourselves and and try some new things, And then learn what works for our organization and still feels on brand and culturally appropriate.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:10:03]:

Yeah. And you know what's interesting is I think the old mind social, it has this preciousness to it. Like, everything we post has to be perfect and polished and approved by everyone, and it's gonna live there forever. And so it needs to be absolutely perfect. And and that is, like, old mind social and new mind social with kind of 24 hour stories came and just the volume of TikTok that TikTok requires. It's sort of you know, you can publish something, and it doesn't need to be perfect. It just it it's it's the more you publish, the more people you're gonna reach. There's just a new mindset around content and publishing, and I think that, yeah, to our earlier points, it's just taken quite a while for most organizations to come around and and accept that.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:10:45]:

And then the biggest problem I notice is how to operationalize that inside the org. Right? I I think a lot of people understand what we're talking about, and they're gonna say, yes. That makes sense. I agree. But when it comes down to actually doing it inside the org, it gets complicated fast, and then everyone just backs off and says, we'll figure that one out next quarter or next year.

Sara Payne [00:11:05]:

Yeah. So before we go too far down the path of how, which which we're gonna get to because there's a lot of richness around that, and I know you've got a lot of advice around that, Ben. Let's let's pause, and I'd love for you to give some examples of brands that you think are doing social first well. And if you're able to, if you don't mind, I'd love to hear both health care and non health care examples because I think it's important to both see, you know, leaders, modern brands in our industry that are doing this well, but also to sort of look outside of that and stretch ourselves a little bit too. And before you go there, I would I do want you to just, pause and define from your perspective social first again just so that we're we're throwing that turbine around and maybe new to some people. So just give us that definition and then and give us some brand examples. That'd be great.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:11:51]:

For sure. Yeah. So so to me, social first is a mindset. It's, and as someone who's worked in social for almost 15 years, you it it comes natural maybe to me because I that's just the space that I automatically live in. Anything that comes, you know, across an email is if that's a project or an opportunity to create content, I'm always thinking of how does this show up on social. And that's kinda what the mind says. That's what social first is. It's starting with this idea of, okay.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:12:17]:

We've got this new brief that just came in, this new product, this new something. Instead of starting with, you know, a different channel or a different format or something, you start exactly with how could we make this amazing on social, on Instagram, on TikTok, on LinkedIn, or where wherever. And then you blossom the creativity and opens up from there. Now we know we're thinking creatively about Instagram. How do we activate our consumer base? How do we reach new people? How do we encourage comments and DMs and things like that? That is social first thinking, and it sort of starts there and it blossoms throughout the rest of the content mix. Right? And it doesn't mean that it's social only. I think it's an important, distinct social first is just a way to start to make sure that it's not forgotten in the in the marketing mix or in the content mix. Because a lot of times what I see, on projects and with clients is, something we you know, we'll kick something off a campaign, and and the week before it launches, someone emails, what's the social plan for this? You know? And then

Sara Payne [00:13:11]:


Ben Ellenbecker [00:13:11]:

Get really stressed out, and that's, you know, where everyone scrambles and pulls together a plan for what and then when you post a static image on Instagram for a a whole product launch, which it deserves so much more than that.

Sara Payne [00:13:23]:

Absolutely. Yeah. There's a lot of creativity to be had. Right? If we're really thinking about social in the very beginning of planning a campaign, the richness of of video and, even, you know, in other sort of engaging, whether it's an Instagram live or polling features, right, that could present a lot of opportunity for for increased engagement and therefore building, increased trust as well. So let's let's get to some examples. Who do you think, is doing social first well?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:13:53]:

Yeah. So in the health care space specifically, what I've seen is the brands that are doing it really well are really leaning into this kinda educational style content. Right? Helpful, tips and things like that, but done in a really entertaining and interesting way. As we know, like, social has to be entertaining at this point. Why people open the app, sure, to learn things, but they only wanna learn in an entertaining format because that's how you hold their attention. And when you can hold someone's attention, the algorithm rewards you with more views. And so people that are organizations that are doing that well, like Cleveland Clinic and Mount Sinai and things like that, and their strategies are rooted around this idea of just putting their in house experts, which are literally doctors or researchers on camera. They just put an iPhone on a doctor and say, give me 3 tips on how to not get lung cancer or whatever the topic is.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:14:40]:

And the doctor talks into the camera and says the 3 tips, and that's a real. That's a TikTok right there. And they do this over and over and over again, and it is engaging, and it is interesting, and it obviously is very valuable for the viewer. And so that is sort of how the content strategy works there. And I think if you think about those types of organizations in health care, right, the health brands, you have knowledge, obviously, on on a topic around health of some kind. And, you know, we all know that knowledge is power. But I think in this the age of social, knowledge is content. Right? And so if you have knowledge, if you have something that you're an expert in, your brand, your organization, or even you as an individual are an expert in, that is the core of your content strategy.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:15:21]:

And you your content your social content specifically should revolve around helping other people understand this topic or this expertise that you have in an entertaining format. And so those organizations, I think, do it really well on both Instagram and TikTok specifically. Other, companies that I think do it well are GoodRx. That's one of the like, a website that does a great job at using kind of the creator economy. And they have some kind of product promo style stuff, but they also have creators that are just kind of talking about, their lifestyle and things like that. And so that's a great mix. And then on TikTok specifically, there's this account called North Texas Surgical Specialists that I file. And they do such a great job.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:16:06]:

It's a small shop in North Texas as it as it just like it sounds, but they have so much fun, and they jump on trends, and they, you know, use just sort of this platform of, like, honest truths about what it's like to be a surgeon and work at their clinic. And it's fun. And I think that is important for social for to our part earlier that so many health care brands are so stiff sometimes. And I think the ones that are doing it well are having fun, and they're not afraid to be funny or silly while still being helpful, you know?

Sara Payne [00:16:35]:

Yeah. A lot yeah. Those are love that. I haven't I have that seen as North Texas surgical specialist. So cue me after this conversation pulling up TikTok and checking that out. Yep. Sure. A lot of the examples you gave probably are a bit more sort of, b to c focused.

Sara Payne [00:16:50]:

Do you have any whether it's inside of health care, outside of health care

Ben Ellenbecker [00:16:54]:


Sara Payne [00:16:55]:

More b to b examples of brands that are you feel doing a great job really prioritizing social first content strategies?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:17:04]:

Yeah. There's one, in the b to b space. It's not in health care, but, it's an AI tool for email automation for sales teams, and it's called Lavender. And, they're kinda hot right now in the content space because what Lavender is doing is they are creating this really entertaining episodic content that revolves around their topics of cold emailing and how to increase your sales conversion and stuff like that. It's a mark it's a marketing tool, essentially. But instead of talking about, you know, the the nitty gritty technical aspects, which almost 99% of other, you know, marketing tools or or tools would lean into. They just they they play on this, like, fictional, episodic content, and they create characters, and they do storytelling in this really fun, interesting way. And they do it on social, but what they do is they drive that, traffic back to a streaming hub on their website.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:17:57]:

And so they're using social as a traffic generator, which drives back to their website, but not to, like, a conversion page. They're driving to almost like a Netflix style streaming hub so you can just watch

Sara Payne [00:18:07]:


Ben Ellenbecker [00:18:07]:

videos. Yeah. It's really smart, and it's really entertaining, which goes back to sort of the core is, like, if you have an otherwise boring topic or business, right, sales software, insurance, things like that, they're not inherently sexy. Right? Find a way to make them entertaining. Find a way to make it fun to watch. Think about your consumer and say, what would make them smile? What would make them laugh? What would make them wanna watch 3 in a row? And if you can find a topic or a concept where you agree that, like, yeah. That that's great. And I that person would watch several of those in a row.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:18:39]:

They would, you know, mini binge it or something. Then maybe you're onto something, and maybe you should make a series out of that for social.

Sara Payne [00:18:44]:

Yeah. I love that. One of the things I the points you just made that I think needs to be repeated so it doesn't get lost is don't go too quickly to a conversion.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:18:54]:


Sara Payne [00:18:54]:

Right? Because what they're doing here is they are realizing people are are engaging with entertained by the content and then they want to be able to deliver more of that. Right? And, it's like, let's have people come in and, consume more of that content and worry about moving them through the funnel at a later stage. Right? Like, come up with your conversion strategy around that, but don't go too quickly to that conversion because then it's sort of like the content is misrepresenting. Right? Like, it it it it's sort of it's it's it it it appears to be fun, but then I'm gonna I'm gonna sell to you once you show up.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:19:29]:

Yeah. You've kind of, like, severed that brand affinity opportunity. Right? You're like, oh, that was fun to watch, and let's watch more. And then, like, oh, give us your email address, and we're gonna, you know, convert you. It kinda ruins the experience. You know, I heard this phrase a while back, at someone's LinkedIn post, and it it their whole goal around this was about a b to b marketer is was just to create my audience's favorite little corner of the Internet, which I thought was just such a nice way to phrase it because for b to b software companies and things like that specifically, like, your goal shouldn't be to go viral and reach everyone online at any given time. You only need a very small slice. You just need to find your people and make them love your little corner of the Internet through entertaining and engaging content.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:20:12]:

And I just thought that was such a nice way to visualize it. And and that's a great goal. If you can find a community, a niche community that absolutely loves your company, your brand, your content, and your product, hopefully, that is a win in in today's game, in my opinion.

Sara Payne [00:20:27]:

I I agree. That's such a great one to share, find your people. And and I agree with you. There's there's the other takeaway here is to not try to be all things to all people because, you know, it's a a mistake a lot of brands make, not just on social, but in their marketing in general. So I think that's a great reminder here. So let's talk let's talk more about the how. We brought up regulatory requirements. I think we gotta go there first because it is such a vague important topic.

Sara Payne [00:20:53]:

You know, it's something that weighs on a lot of folks' minds, to make sure that they're staying, you know, inbounds and what the organization, can be talking about. Mhmm. What tips do you have for how to create social content in a highly right regulated environment?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:21:08]:

It is tough. I mean, it's there's no way around it. You know what I mean? It's it's the the the idea or the approach, in my opinion, is to build your content strategy around the regulations and around the rules. Right? So you know what you can and can't say. Okay. Fair enough. We can't give medical advice or something like that. Right?

Sara Payne [00:21:28]:

Right. Right.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:21:28]:

Okay. But we can still tell stories, tell emotional stories of patients who have gone through something. You just gotta find a different door to open to to make it into your your consumer. Right? It's gonna be different for every organization because the regulations will vary and things like that. But it's it's a creative problem to have to solve, which is, okay. We can't create content about x, y, or z. We'll have to go back through all the rest of the letters and find something we can create content about, and then you just follow those rules we talked about earlier. Make it engaging.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:21:58]:

Make it entertaining. You know? Make it that Yes. You know, people are gonna wanna watch and gonna wanna share.

Sara Payne [00:22:05]:

Yeah. And I think, you know, some of this is having conversation with the regulatory team and leadership as well as to sort of get them, bought ins, maybe not the right word, but, everybody sort of having an understanding of what it is that we're trying to do and and having proactive conversations about where to your point, like, where are the watch outs? What are the major concerns that we need to try to avoid? And then how do we make sure we're putting sort of all the right approval processes in place to to avoid those things from happening without making it so rigid that, you know, it takes 12 weeks to get anything out the door. That's not gonna work on social, obviously. I I do want to acknowledge there probably will be some organizations and some regulatory departments that are just super, super, ultra conservative, don't want to inherit risk. That's their job. Right? And they're just gonna say, they're gonna say, sorry. It's a no go. Yeah.

Sara Payne [00:23:01]:

And and I don't know that we have any particular, you know, tips or advice that's gonna overcome that. But, I I think there are some some leaders when when they're educated on what the organization is trying to do through marketing, through social media, and can be shown all of the different sort of checks and balances are that are being put in place to help uphold that, I think that, you know, that can work. Yeah. That the organization can can get there.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:23:29]:

Yeah. I totally agree. Those meetings to bring everyone together. Right? And to help like, you bring the social lead into a a meeting with legal or with regulatory and and show examples of what other companies are doing in the same space and ask questions. How are they able to do this, and how could we maybe do something similar? Right? And just have that open conversation, and I guarantee you will leave that room with some semblance of a direction that wins for everybody.

Sara Payne [00:23:54]:

Yeah. Yep. Agreed. Let's talk about some advice for how to build a social team. Mhmm. And I know you've you've worked with both large complex organizations as well as startup organizations, and those team structures are gonna look very, very different. But what are your thoughts on how to build a team to to do this kind of work really well?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:24:18]:

Yeah. There's a couple, roles that are nonnegotiable here, and, there are a lot that probably don't need to exist anymore that probably still do in large complex organizations. But there's 3 that that really come to mind that are absolutely required to to build a social team, either at a start up or or at a large organization. You need a a strategist. Right? Someone who thinks social first, going back to what we talked about the very beginning. This person, is constantly thinking about how we can take whatever initiative the other department is doing, whatever product is doing, whatever, you know, communications is up to, and spin it into amazing social content. That is a strategy mindset. That is a requirement.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:25:01]:

Next, you need a creator or create used to be called sort of creative, which maybe would be like, you know, a designer or a photographer in the old social world. And in the newer social world, this is like a creator role, which is someone who can make videos from start to finish natively within TikTok or within Instagram. And and the strategist and the creator work super closely together. The strategist comes up with an idea or a direction. The creator collaborates on, says, yeah. We could do it this way. And within 2 days, that post has been videoed and created, and they pass it off to the 3rd person, which would be a community builder. Right? Or community manager is what it's typically called to call the community builder because they do so much more than managing.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:25:42]:

Right? What they're

Sara Payne [00:25:43]:

really that. Yeah.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:25:44]:

Right. What they're really doing is, they're in there replying to comments and DMs on our post, sure, but also out there in the rest of the social world on other people's posts. Their job is to build engagement and to build, the feeling of community around your product, service, or brand. And so those are three really important roles. You are very lucky if you can find 1 person who can do 2 of those things. You will, like, not find a person who can do 3 of those things, which I think is for companies to to realize that. And then the smaller, you know, smaller setting when you only have 1, you know, enough budget to hire 1 social person, You're gonna wanna find some, a community builder who thinks like a strategist, which is becoming more and more common. And then you're gonna outsource to a creator.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:26:30]:

Right? Someone who makes great video content. And that's where the creator economy can come into play and take those concepts and make them at scale for your company.

Sara Payne [00:26:39]:

Yeah. I I love that. You you said you're gonna outline the ones you think every brand needs to have, and then you were gonna talk about ones maybe they don't need to have. You wanna go there?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:26:50]:

No. No. There's so many titles. I wouldn't be able to to to even know where to begin. You know? I just think that the org charts can get bloated as as well. Sure. Sure. Fair enough.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:27:02]:

This is specific to social. I won't speak to the rest of the marketing functions and things like that.

Sara Payne [00:27:06]:

Yeah. Yeah.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:27:07]:

You know, whether it's director of social or senior manager and all those things, it's it's all, you know, semantics at this point. You need someone who thinks strategically, someone who could make great creative, and then someone who has a a knack for building community.

Sara Payne [00:27:20]:

Yep. It's more about the the the skill sets of the strengths, the expertise that they bring to the table, versus the the titling structures, etcetera. And and to your point, maybe there is some some legacy old school thinking that needs to be, evaluated a little bit in terms of these team structures that, like, really ask brands and and and marketing leadership need to truly ask themselves, do I have these three skill sets on my team? Yes. And if I don't, you know, do I have the resources to hire them in house? And if not, how do I augment with, you know, external partners? Mhmm. You know, whether it be be a PR firm or to your point bringing in creatives or even someone like you as a social strategist. Yep. Ben, let's talk about the use of external creators.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:28:04]:


Sara Payne [00:28:04]:

When should a brand think about using them? Obviously, you just gave a great example. You need to have a creator on your team. And if you don't, then you need to you need to find some. But I think this this notion scares some people because, you know, I think there's this this, conception or or perception right or wrong that that people are gonna be giving up control, right, of their brand to to a creator. So let's talk a little bit about when a brand should think about using them and what that's like and how they can do that well.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:28:37]:

Yeah. Let me start with defining it because I think that there is can be some confusion

Sara Payne [00:28:42]:


Ben Ellenbecker [00:28:42]:

In the industry about the difference between influencer and creator. Yes. So if you remember years ago, an influencer marketing was the hottest thing, and everybody, you know, is activating influencers to talk about their product or whatever on the influencers' profiles because they wanna reach their 250,000 followers or whatever. That's influencer marketing. We all totally understand that for a very long time. It's my opinion that influencer marketing is dead because the trust. Right? Consumers caught on. At when it was Yeah.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:29:11]:

First revealed, we're like, oh my gosh. This person believes in that product. I'm gonna buy it. That's amazing. But now it's hashtag ad at the beginning of the caption, and we're we've caught on. We all understand that they're getting paid to say this, and we don't believe it anymore. So it's lost its power, the buying power, in my opinion. And so enter the creator economy, which is not about how many followers of a video maker.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:29:34]:

Right? At the end of the day, these people are experts at making social video content with their iPhones. Influencers are too and so are creators. The creator economy is not about how many followers that person has or how many people they can reach. It's about using them as a production resource. Right? They're experts at making short form engaging video content that has a hook at the beginning that gets people to watch it through till the end, and that's the type of content that all brands need right now and not just one video a month. We needed that scale. We need 20 videos a month. And so how the creator economy works is you can go out and, you know, you have a a niche that you're that you wanna play in, whatever that is.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:30:13]:

It's if it's in health care or if it's in a b two b niche or any other thing or a consumer niche. And you go out and you find a creator who's making awesome content in that niche. You can just go on TikTok and search some keywords, and I guarantee you will find someone that you love. They'll be like, wow. That person is making such good videos. If only they were on my team making that for us. That's how you leverage the creative economy. They can be.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:30:35]:

And it's really simple. There's obviously, you know, agencies that specialize in this type of outreach now. But if you don't wanna mess with that, you just DMO and say, hey. I love your content. Do you wanna make some videos for for us too? And then you just kinda negotiate and and get the price and

Sara Payne [00:30:50]:

all that. Contract in place with somebody, whether it's a longer term gig or not. It It could be for a certain campaign project, what have you. Try them out. You like their them, their style. Look at a longer term ongoing thing with them if it seems like they really do a great job of of capturing your brand and and the style that you that you like.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:31:10]:

Yeah. A 100%. And and I will say a couple tips on that is the obviously, the creators prefer, longer term contracts, and that can influence the cost and potentially bring it down. But it works better for the brands too. I mean, obviously, there's a little test period to make sure that, you guys are aligned and the the content is what you expected. But after you get through that, the longer term partnerships work better for the brands too because that person becomes a regular face on your on your profile. Right? They're in in some regards, they're becoming one of the several faces of your brand for that order or that year or whatever. And that is fantastic for engagement for consumers.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:31:49]:

When they see that person again on their feed, they know exactly what brand it's coming from, what product that person's talking about. So it's sort of a win win. And so the recommendation there is to definitely partner with creators and think about longer term contracts, maybe a 3 month partnership where you can, kind of make the scope of work something like they're gonna give us 4 videos per month for 3 months, and then we'll reevaluate, for whatever the cost is. Right? And then to your point earlier about how you're sort of releasing control, it can be really collaborative. Right? You can brief them. We want you to create video content about x topic, y or z. Next month, we're doing we have a new launch or a new initiative, and we want, you know, you to touch on that. And the rule of the rule is really to let the creator do the ideation for you because that's what they're great at.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:32:37]:

Yeah. They'll pitch you back to concepts. You choose your favorite. They go and produce it. You know, it doesn't take long because they're shooting iPhone usually. And then you review the content, and you can edit if you want or not. And it is, in my opinion, the new working model of how branded content is getting produced now and will be produced in the future, not only for all the things we just walked through on how beneficial it is for brands, but it also produces the the most engaging content. Right? That's what we all love to watch, our people real life people talking to camera out there in the world doing amazing things.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:33:10]:

That's what TikTok is. Every time you swipe, it's a different person or a creator, right, doing something or talking about something, and it's just incredibly engaging.

Sara Payne [00:33:18]:

Yeah. Absolutely. You started to talk about some different, you know, budgeting structures or contract structures you could put in place with creators. Let's talk about budget more broadly. Mhmm. How should brands think about their budget as it pertains to social? What do you think is I know it's all relative, but, you know, healthy or a viable budget to do some of the things that we've been talking

Ben Ellenbecker [00:33:39]:

about? Yeah. It's a tough one to say because to your point, it totally depends on the the overall marketing budget for any given organization. I will say, you've gotta have a separate bucket for production, right, for this creator content, for other style video shoots or photo or something like that. A lot of times what I see is, you know, a marketing team will come together to launch something or to talk about a new topic or something. And all these great ideas will come up, and we'll get all the way through the planning of it all. And then someone says, well, how are we gonna pay for the the shoot or whatever the thing is? And and they haven't quite thought through that idea of, like, we it costs money to make content. Right? Yes. Sort of appear.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:34:22]:

And so that's definitely a must as you've gotta sort of make sure you you think I I actually like to start there because when you know Mhmm. Have $20,000 for production for a given initiative, it gives you a ballpark to brainstorm within. Right? We're not gonna come up with ideas that cost a $100,000. We're only gonna come up with the ideas that cost whatever money we have, and so it's actually a great place to start in terms of ideation and creative.

Sara Payne [00:34:47]:

Yeah. All of you marketing leaders listening out there, you know, we just started the year. But when you come when it comes to your 2025 marketing budget, make sure you've got a healthy bucket and and line item for for the production of content. And if you still have room in your 20 24 budget, you should make sure you're reserving those dollars as well. Let's we're almost out of time, but let's talk about something that I think a lot of brand leaders are are skeptical about, and that is TikTok. We've mentioned it a couple of times. I think, you know, many marketing leaders are are either intimidated by it or they think they think it's not for b to b brands or they they think their audiences are on TikTok. So can you, pitch the case, for why brands should should be on TikTok or or what types of brands should be on TikTok?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:35:34]:

Yeah. I I think everyone should be on it. And and I'm and I know that that's sort of controversial because of the demographic that uses it so heavily, which is Gen z. And maybe you have an older audience. Right? And you say, why we would we don't wanna reach Gen z, which is totally understandable, and I think it's a strong argument. The truth is, though, is, Gen z is, you know, if you have a brand that you wanna be around for a long time, you have an opportunity to meet Gen z right now in a format that they find really entertaining and engaging, and do it in a way that's fun and interesting and sort of get some hooks in them right now for later on. So there's one argument to make there. The other one is that TikTok, a lot of times right now, is the birthplace of viral content for the rest of the Internet.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:36:21]:

Yes. So if you post something on TikTok and it goes viral or it gets a lot of engagement, you probably have heard this. You're gonna see it on Instagram, like, maybe 2 weeks later. And then you're gonna see it on Facebook, like, a month later. Right? And so whatever happens on TikTok slowly trickles through to the rest of of social and of online. And so, there's an opportunity there to kind of jump start and reach a lot of people very, very quickly with how their algorithm works. And then lastly, speaking to the algorithm, it's one of the places you know, I talk a little bit about the interest era of social right now where, you can reach really, really niche but passionate communities on TikTok, with your content. And so let's say you do or you have a b to b organization or a brand, and you don't feel like you have any business being on TikTok and talking to Gen Zers.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:37:07]:

Well, you know, whoever you're trying to reach is on TikTok, and there's a small group of them, but they're incredibly engaged, and they love watching content. It goes back to that point I made earlier. Your job should be to be, you know, the best little corner of the Internet for that person, and a lot of times, part of that corner is on TikTok. So I've got 4 kinda quick tips for TikTok right now that I think Yeah.

Sara Payne [00:37:30]:

That's great. Let's do it.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:37:31]:

You can just put them in their pocket. And, you know, the truth is is if you're an expert on something, you know, on TikTok, one of the quickest ways to get engagement is teach people something that they don't know yet or didn't already know. So make your content helpful and educational, and do it in an entertaining way. That's number 2. Use a hook at the beginning. Get them watching out of the out of the gate, and do it in a very entertaining way. If you don't understand how to do that, talk to a creator like we just talked about because that's what they do professionally. On the b to b and health care side for TikTok, stop being so serious.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:38:01]:

Right? We don't have to be serious on TikTok. We can be funny. We can be raw. We can be human, and that's what performs there. So it's actually an opportunity to experiment with a different side of the brand for a different audience and have some creative fun there. And then lastly, I think a lot of people are intimidated by the trends aspect of TikTok. You know, it started

Sara Payne [00:38:19]:


Ben Ellenbecker [00:38:19]:

This, trend, and it still is a very trend centered platform, but it doesn't have to be for your strategy. If that's something that just like logic logistically, you can't jump on trends within 24 hours, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be on there because you wanna wash your hands of it. It's okay. You don't need to jump on trends. You know, you're you can still create engaging content that can still reach a lot of people without having to jump on the latest trending audio or filter or whatever.

Sara Payne [00:38:44]:

Yeah. No. That's I think that's great. Those are excellent tips. Ben, I feel like we there's so much we could go into on this topic. It's just it's so rich. A lot of really great insights. Before we go, I wanna take a minute to get some insights for you from you, a part of a special segment we call the collective quick fire.

Sara Payne [00:39:02]:

I've got 4 questions for you. First question is what topic is overhyped in marketing?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:39:09]:

Overhyped in marketing. Prop you know, influencer marketing, I think. I don't know if it's still overhyped as it was. But as I said earlier, I think it's on the way out, and so we'll go with that one.

Sara Payne [00:39:18]:

Yeah. No. That's a good one. We've gotta talk about AI, Ben. We haven't yet. Give listeners a couple quick examples of valuable ways that you're tapping in a generative AI in your day to day work.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:39:29]:

Yeah. For sure. I would say, like, top surface level ideation for social concepts. If you know how to prompt, AI to start to think like a social marketer and want, you know, an Instagram video idea for whatever topic you need to talk about, for that day. It's a great tool just to for an idea starter. That's for sure.

Sara Payne [00:39:53]:

I love that. Yeah. I love using it as a brainstorm partner.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:39:55]:


Sara Payne [00:39:56]:

How do you stay current on trends and your own professional development then? Do you have some go to sources that you turn to, for for new information, certain organizations that you follow?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:40:09]:

Yeah. LinkedIn has changed so much over the last year. It's, you know, you it used to be, you know, a a resume holder, and now it's they've just changed the the whole platform. It actually has a creator program, and so it's encouraging people to post more and to give tips and stuff like that. So I've been able to grow a community, excuse me, on LinkedIn, and my feed is just filled with social marketers who are constantly giving tips, and case studies and amazing things that they saw online. And so that's where I go, you know, every morning to kinda get in the in the the brain space for thinking creatively about social. And I have some newsletters too. There's a lot of great, you know, thought leaders who have started their own newsletters that send once a week for, you know, best best in class social that's out there right now.

Sara Payne [00:40:54]:

Yeah. No. I love that. Lastly, what's the best podcast episode or book on either leadership or marketing that you've consumed recently?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:41:05]:

Best podcast episode. You know, this is kind of an old one, but I still listen to it. Reid Hoffman, who's the founder of LinkedIn, has a podcast on entrepreneurship. I'm trying to think of the name of it. We can put it in the show notes, the name, but, it's a great podcast. It interviews, entrepreneurs and builders who have built, you know, startups to $1,000,000,000 companies and just talks about how they did it, what challenges they faced, and it it's really inspiring. It's also just fun to hear sort of how, you know, these companies started from nothing and grew to unicorns. So I'd say that

Sara Payne [00:41:39]:

one. Oh, that's really great. Well, this has been fun, Ben. Thanks so much for for doing this with me today. A lot of really great insights for folks. I I suspect people may wanna reach out to you and and talk social a little bit further. How can listeners get in touch with you?

Ben Ellenbecker [00:41:54]:

Yeah. Thank you. I would start, on LinkedIn. It's Ben Ellenbecker. You can find me there. Otherwise, is my website. And, I wanted to mention on the website, I do this thing called free content chats, which, I you know, there's a calendar on there. You can book 30 minutes with me for free to and I'll give you, you know, any help I can offer.

Ben Ellenbecker [00:42:15]:

It doesn't matter if you are a thought leader or you have, you know, your own company or you're a marketing leader at an organization or you run an agency and you just wanna talk shop, it's just a great, you know, 30 minute chat about anything that comes up. And, I've been doing that for the last 6 months or so, and it's been so long to just meet people and, you know, talk shop. So, book 30 minutes with me at Otherwise, connect on LinkedIn.

Sara Payne [00:42:40]:

Love it. Thanks, Ben. Mhmm. As usual, the collective dished out some pretty great insights today. If you're feeling inspired, do us a favor and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for being part of the health marketing collective where strong leadership meets marketing excellence because the future of health care depends on it. See you next time.

More episodes

Cover art for podcast episode Brand Consistency in the Rapid Content Era: Part 2
Brand Consistency in the Rapid Content Era: Part 2
Read More
Cover art for podcast episode Brand Consistency in the Rapid Content Era: Part 1
Brand Consistency in the Rapid Content Era: Part 1
Read More
Cover art for podcast episode Social Media and the Creator Economy for Health Marketing
Social Media and the Creator Economy for Health Marketing
Read More