With the continual drumbeat of attention on Influencer Marketing, from influencers garnering mainstream attention on CBS’s 60 Minutes and continuing to climb in Google searches to growing concerns about ad avoidance, and threats to traditional media, 2016 has been quite the year for the industry.
As Influencer Marketing continues to mature, we at Bloglovin’ have identified key trends forming between marketers and influencers for 2017:
Rising Micro-Influencers & the Ability to Target Niches at Scale
With the availability of Influencer Marketing technologies that aid in influencer discovery, payment, communications, and campaign management, measurement and analytics, marketers are enjoying increased flexibility and scalability in working with influencers. 2016 ushered in the rise of the ‘micro-influencer’ and subsequently, the ability for brands to work with a set of smaller influencers that have built extremely deep relationships with their niche audiences, thereby driving stronger engagement while also side-stepping concerns of influencer fatigue and over-saturation. In a recent campaign we ran, micro-influencers churned up 2x more engagement than comparable campaigns with larger influencers! Thankfully, technology has made the prospect of working on campaigns with these micro-influencers a lot less daunting, and much more measurable. This year, we expect to see continued growth.
Technology Driving Efficiencies for the Marketer and the Influencer
Apart from driving efficiencies in the campaign management process for marketers, Influencer Marketing platforms are driving efficiencies from the influencers’ perspective as well. The ability for marketers to scale out programs to work with more influencers means more influencers are receiving sponsored content opportunities. Smaller influencers are earning their first sponsored opportunities sooner while larger influencers continue to receive incrementally more opportunities. This, in turn, drives more liquidity in the marketplace and efficiency in pricing. In some cases, we are finding that influencers that are receiving a higher volume of opportunities feel more confident in quoting a more competitive price, driving a better ROI for advertisers, and thereby driving more influencer marketing programs.
Leveraging Influencers to Drive Multiple Consumer Touch Points Across Social Channels
With 88% of female consumers following their influencers on 2 or more channels, savvy marketers are leveraging influencers to create content across multiple platforms to capture attention in today’s distributed media world. This allows marketers to tap into the influencers’ abilities to tailor content by social channel to best engage their audiences while driving multiple consumer touch points and reducing over-saturation. In 2016, we saw more and more brands move from working with only 1 or 2 channels, to partnering with influencers more holistically to create content across multiple channels (blogs, social networks, and even chatbots!). We expect this to continue into 2017.
Deeper, Longer Term Influencer Relationships, Optimized by Data
Savvy marketers are thinking about influencers beyond a quick PR boost. They are finding value in building longer term relationships with a set of influencers, ranging in audience size. From a content authenticity standpoint, it encourages deeper brand messaging as an influencer is weaving a larger story that spans over time, driving stronger engagement and brand resonance with the consumer. For the influencer, a deeper, long-term relationship with the brand also means she/he will go above and beyond for the company. After establishing a rapport she/he will be less distracted by other opportunities and more motivated to ‘give back’ to the brand. ASOS is a brilliant example of an early adopter of this strategy.
Looking Beyond “Categories”: Working with the Right Influencers Based on Aesthetic and Style
Fashion brands should not be limited only to fashion influencers. Marketers that are ahead of the curve partner with influencers that best represent their brand aesthetic while strategically considering benefits to working outside of their core ‘category’. Free People is a great example of a fashion brand that has been smart in leveraging food influencers and food content — a particularly high-traffic and SEO-friendly category.
Stronger Measurement to Bolster Better, More Authentic Content
With stronger analytics and measurement being introduced, engagement became the #1 KPI for marketers in 2016, overtaking Reach and Traffic. Influencers agree! Savvy influencers understand how to best engage their audience. We took notice and built engagement ratios onto our Influencer Profiles so that marketers can more easily identify content creators that really shine in driving engagement. In addition, we work closely with brands and agencies to ensure that a proper level of creative control is given to the influencer to create content that will engage.
Influencer Marketing Goes Mainstream, Invites Regulatory Scrutiny (Not a Bad Thing!)
As Influencer Marketing continues to develop as a viable option in the advertiser’s toolkit, regulators are also paying attention. In 2016, the FTC got more specific on how they expect brands to work with influencers to properly disclose sponsored content. With roughly half of marketers admitting that they don’t know what the current FTC Guidelines are, there is a clear need for better education amongst marketers and the influencers that they partner with as the guidelines themselves continue to change.