5 Ways Influencer Marketing Has Grown Up (And How To Understand It Today)



Remember mommy bloggers? It’s a whole new world out there.

Influencer marketing has come a long way since the “mommy blogger” movement of the late 2000s, which gave way to a new approach to marketing that would sustain well into the present. Over the years, the term “influence” has taken on new forms—and these days, influencer marketing campaigns can extend across paid, earned and owned channels, adding complexity for brands vying to crack the code.

The rise of social media and mobile video have altered influencer marketing, which means that while modern-day (internet) celebrity endorsements are indeed a staple, influencer marketing can also mean co-creating premium content with expert creators. At Social Media Week London, you’ll hear from  Ogilvy’s Victoria Partridge and Chris Walts in a session titled, “Understanding the World of Influence.” Patridge and Walts will discuss tips and tools to define, reach and engage audiences in an era where technology at large—particularly digital media—is constantly shifting and throwing curveballs at influencers and brands alike.

Here are five ways influencer marketing has grown up:

1. Authenticity is more important than ever.

According to eMarketer, 59 percent of consumers say ads that are inconsistent with an influencer’s feed feel fake. This puts high-demand influencers in a precarious spot: with brands vying for their partnership, saying “no” means leaving money on the table. Yet, if you inundate your audience with too much sponsored content, you risk losing them entirely. Influencers today need to demonstrate to their followings that they are in it for more than the coin.  For brands, this means approaching carefully selected partners with creative opportunities that align with their particular subject matter expertise.

2. Regulatory bodies are cracking down.

In May, the U.S.-based FTC announced it had sent letters to roughly 90 social media personalities—namely Instagram influencers partnering with brands including Adidas, Puma, and Dunkin Donuts—found to have failed to properly disclose the nature of their relationship. In an effort to ensure it fulfills its mission of protecting consumers, the FTC used the cases to issue a warning to all brands and influencers partnering on paid campaigns to either disclose or pay up. To ensure everyone is clear, the FTC outlined some revised stipulations for brands and creators to follow moving forward.

In the UK, the ASA has taken a similar stance. Influencer endorsements can be exceptionally powerful, but with an interest to protect consumers, the FTC is pushing for brands to play fair. Knowing whether or not an endorser has been paid to promote a product is a must-have for all influencer campaigns.

3. Bigger budgets.

A 2016 study from Linqia found that of 170 brands surveyed, 48 percent reported that they will boost their influencer marketing budget in 2017 compared to just 4 percent that said they plan to make cuts to their investments in this space. Why is influencer marketing on the rise? For one, it’s working quite well for some brands. As Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal writes, “It’s not exposure [brands] want. Pure numbers and big promises of ‘impressions’ are only half the value. The other, more important, half comes from association.” Suzy CEO Matt Britton echoed this sentiment during his SMWLA talk, in which he made the argument that the Kardashians have been more disruptive to media than the Beatles based on their ability to use their personal brands to sell products.

4. Better measurement.

If marketers can agree that influencer marketing is effective, the next step is to quantify just how effective these efforts can be. Some studies indicate that marketers can generate upwards of $6 in revenue for every $1 spent on influencer marketing programs, although these figures will vary by brand and partnership. Over the years, marketers have been looking for new and better ways to measure the impact of their programs so they can plan their investments accordingly.

As a result, a slew of tools and technologies have emerged to help brands better capture data around their influence efforts. One such platform is Amplify, which will be hosting a session at Social Media Week London, entitled, “Process v. People: Everything You Need To Know About Influencer Marketing.” The talk will be hosted by Amplify CEO and Founder Justin Rezvani, who also spoke at SMWLA.

5. Redefining influence.

Influence used to simply mean having a big follower count, but now brands are looking at influence across specific topics. Subject matter experts, or niche influencers, are more powerful than general social media celebrities because they have authority within specific topics that tie close to a brand’s own products or services. Join Ogilvy’s talk at Social Media Week London to learn about how brands and creators are redefining “influence” in 2017 and beyond.

Register here to join us for Social Media Week London, which returns this September 11-15. Join thousands of leaders in media, entertainment, and technology for an incredible week of events and learning!

Cover image via Vanity Fair

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