In 2017, influencer marketing is bigger than ever – and the industry is constantly changing.
So, we’ve picked out five of the biggest influencer marketing trends that are raising the game.
1. The rise of the micro-influencer
Macro-influencers are still at the forefront of the influencer world, but micro-influencers are certainly running the show and are currently on the rise.
Businesses are becoming less enamoured with large follower numbers from macro-influencers and are instead seeing the huge potential in influencers who have a smaller following. We’re starting to see a trend of audience increase leading to engagement decrease. It’s great to have more eyes on your content, but not if they’re eyes that don’t care.
With everyone going after the same pool of macro-influencers, prices have been hitting some serious highs – so businesses are looking for a more cost-effective option. Enter the micro-influencer. They can receive higher engagement rates than those with larger audiences; their voices are considered more authentic and trustworthy; and they come with a much smaller price tag. Now, that’s ticking a lot of boxes.
Not too long ago, guidelines surrounding influencers and advertising were non-existent, but advertising regulations are now a huge focus in the industry – and the rules are getting tighter in order to protect consumers before they engage with sponsored content.
Influencers are expected to be completely transparent with their audience when it comes to disclosing their relationship with brands. Whether they have received a product for free or are being paid to talk about it, it’s now social media law that they make it clear. For example, blog posts, YouTube videos or social media posts should clearly feature words like “Ad” or “Sponsored” if content has been paid for.
This responsibility should be a two-way street between advertiser and influencer, to ensure content is disclosed correctly. But ultimately, it’s the influencer who would have their content removed or even their account blocked for not disclosing where content is sponsored.
To help make content even more transparent, Instagram has recently introduced a paid partnership tag, that will allow creators to tag businesses they have partnered with for a particular piece of content. This can be used on both standard Instagram posts and Instagram stories.
Audiences are getting smarter when it comes to the content they see in their feeds – so can easily sniff out an advertisement that is not authentic (reality TV stars, we’re looking at you).
Authenticity is a huge factor when it comes to your influencer marketing strategy. Content that obviously appears to be for the purpose of selling a product is likely to receive lower engagement, so it’s in everybody’s interest to have the most authentic content possible.
It’s therefore essential to take the time to research and find the right influencers, whose personal brand aligns with the core values of the business.
When seeking influencers to potentially work with, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do they reflect your brand values?
- Will your brand/product naturally fit into their content?
- Would their audience be interested in our brand/product?
4. Content creation
Not only is it essential to find the right influencers for your campaign, but authenticity also relies on the content itself.
The biggest mistake that brands often make as part of their influencer marketing strategy is not giving the influencer full creative control – but it’s becoming more important for influencers to be given their creative freedom.
They’re the experts, so there needs to be a level of trust in them to convey the desired message. And as the industry evolves, influencers are becoming content creators in their own right, so stringent briefing and content approval requirements should be reduced.
They know their audience much better than you do and they know exactly what’s going to be the most engaging for their followers. Which is why it’s so important for the partnership to be authentic and the content relatable and engaging.
5. Relationship management
The way in which brands work with influencers is constantly changing – and one of the major changes is the rise in working with influencers on a long-term basis, as opposed to a one-off. It feels that we’re really shifting into an era of influencer relationship management with regular partnerships.
Relationship building is imperative when it comes to influencer marketing, so working with influencers on a long-term basis will only help to strengthen a great rapport. It will also increase the authenticity of the content, as audiences become familiar with regular partnerships. It’s a major part of recognising the importance of using influencers to drive brand reputation, not just sales.
Many brands are even on-boarding influencers as brand ambassadors and incorporating them in their own digital brand advertising. L’Oreal is a great example of this, with the creation of their ‘beauty squad’ – which is made up of YouTubers, bloggers and social media influencers, giving L’Oreal a combined reach to 5.5 million beauty and makeup fans.
Want to know more about using social media influencers to promote your brands online? Ask our experts for friendly advice, direct support and lots more.