5 Influencer Marketing Tips and Insights You’ll Need for 2019
Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.
Access exclusive SMW+ content by marketers whose careers you can emulate with a free 30-day trial!
Influencer marketing is expected to be a $15 billion industry by 2022, up from an anticipated $10 billion by 2020 and $2 billion in 2017. Every year additional brands, agencies, and influencers join the party, and with additional traction and investment, the industry is becoming more accessible and measurable than ever before.
Nonetheless, these statistics don’t offer all of the answers with regards to the space. For instance, how is influencer marketing changing and how does it need to change further? What do we really know about influencers? How can we optimize them for our broader digital tactics?
As we look to navigate the complexities, new players and cross-platform storytelling strategies that enter onto the scene, here are a few key themes and tips to keep in mind:
Followers aren’t everything
Companies are beginning to grasp the notion that rather than tossing a giant amount of money at a single celebrity, distributing that spending to a series of people with smaller but active and engaged followings can be a much better use of a budget. Why? Because their perspectives, tone of voice, and interests have the tendency to mesh more meaningfully and powerfully with the message of the campaign. In turn, followers have a stronger desire to engage around these topics.
This is supported by the fact that 59 percent of brands are using influencers with 50 to 25,000 followers and 66 percent are using influencers with 25,001 to 100,000 followers. Fewer brands, 44 percent, are using “macro-influencers” with larger followings.
Focus on authentic storytelling
Marketing is about the stories we tell in context, that meet people where they are and solve real-world problems for consumers.
As marketers take the time to analyze their efforts – and implement influencer marketing in a more likely to drive ROI – they should keep in mind the impact behind stories that achieve this end. The authenticity and intimacy that influencers have in their communities can be meaningful and impactful, but only when followers sense that influencers mean what they’re saying.
Conversely, when you partner with an influencer who is not legitimately and genuinely excited about a product or campaign, your tactic in utilizing them can backfire, particularly with media-savvy millennials who can often easily detect when an authentic relationship exists and when it doesn’t.
The key is to empower influencers to tell stories in the style their followers have come to expect. As one academic study exploring social influencers in the beauty space described it: “These self-made social media celebrities are vital to brand storytelling, and their thoughts and opinions may actually be more persuasive than messaging straight from the cosmetic brands themselves.”
Once businesses learn this, they can develop trust in the partnership and allow influencers to exhibit the freedom to develop creative stories that serve the foundation for successful campaigns.
Don’t stick to only one channel
Beyond understanding your audience’s interests and values, it is important to have a keen awareness as to where they’re interacting. While a recent report by Linqia found that 68 percent of marketers cite Instagram as the most important social network for influencer marketing, this doesn’t negate the fact that every medium that exists presents an opportunity to engage.
It is important to acknowledge that the channel that offers value for your brand may not be the same channel or combination of channels that offer value for another. Use this knowledge to your competitive advantage and identify ways to approach audience development and shape how you view content across platforms where the next generation of audience members, Gen Zers, are spending their time. TikTok is a prime example of an emerging place that is gaining traction.
Amplifying & measuring your influencer content
Before you can amplify your influencer content, a good practice is to qualify your content. Per Forbes, for leading platforms, this typically takes the shape of automating the creation of ad units from the top-performing influencer content, then testing a variety of permutations to determine the highest performing ads. In turn, you’re left with qualified ads with supportive engagement data that back up their performance against brand creative.
A few ways to amplify these assets with paid social include tapping into the influencer’s own audience by using their handle, using qualified ads on brand handles, or buying qualified ads programmatically.
To measure your results, it is crucial to consider not only the performance of the influencers themselves but also to how the content drives brand and sales lift. This will not only allow you to assess key KPIs spanning likes, engagements, clicks, and conversions but more broadly, how the content played a role in driving overall brand awareness, including audience favorability and purchase intent
Influencer fraud is a billion-dollar problem
According to new research, fake followers in influencer marketing will cost advertisers a whopping $1.3 billion in 2019 and, if left unchecked, $1.5 billion by 2020. In partnership with the University of Baltimore, Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm Cheq found that as influencer marketing spending by brands is expected to reach $8.5 billion in 2019, such “growing popularity [has brought about] greater opportunities for fraud.”
Dubbed the “Economic Cost of Bad Actors on the Internet,” the study recently analyzed the impact that fake influencer marketing will have on trust and overall brand health.
“We’re seeing an almost institutionalized fraud industry within influencer marketing, with standard market rates for purchasing fake followers on leading platforms like Youtube, Instagram and Twitter ranging from $15-$50 per 1,000 followers,” said Daniel Avital, CHEQ’s chief strategy officer.
A few ways the report identified this achieved is through inflation of follower accounts through bots or click farms and use of automated services to act on their behalf “to follow people, unfollow them again to grow in a turbo-charged way. Further, there are less clear tactics including ‘influencer pods’ which allow influencers to trade engagement back and forth amongst themselves.
For more insights into influencer marketing, take our Influencer Marketing Survey, created in partnership with Collective Bias, an Inmar Platform. Each person who fills out the survey will receive a copy of the results report 24 hours before it’s publicly released, a 30-day free trial to SMW Insider, and an entry into a drawing to win a $200 Amazon Gift Card.
Fill out the survey by August 31st, and look out for the results, which are scheduled to be released at the end of the summer.
Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.
WATCH THE SMWLDN 2019 PROMO
Write for Us
Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.