BLISSFUL BLOGInsider Insights into Influencer Marketing
At this year’s Cannes Lions festival, Unilever sent a strong message against working with influencers who buy followers. The company made a public commitment to actively eradicate any influencers using fake followers, bots, or other fraudulent practices from its brands’ global marketing spend. Following this announcement, many other brands such as eBay, Diageo, and L’Oréal shared that they are also cracking down on influencer fraud.
Social media platforms have joined the fight to rebuild integrity and trust within the digital marketing space too. Earlier this year, Facebook suspended several large groups that helped members artificially inflate their perceived popularity, reach, and engagement on Instagram. One of these groups, called “engagement pods”, boasted over 200,000 members. Instagram actively shuts down third-party services and bots that automate thousands of generic comments and likes on posts. Now Twitter is looking to do the same.
As the influencer marketing industry works to weed out the “fakes” and moves towards greater transparency and trust, here are five ways Blissful Media Group can find authentic and effective influencers for your brand:
Seek True Alignment with Your Brand
Do you know who your super fans are? Can you identify who among your customers truly gets excited about your products or services and already tell everyone they know about it?
You don’t need a social media superstar or celebrity to create excitement and passion around your brand. Look for individuals in your fan base whose personality and audience already align with your brand’s values and voice. Authenticity resonates and working with people who already have a credible connection to your brand is the best influencer marketing tactic.
Focus on Quality, not Quantity
It’s easy to get distracted by vanity metrics like follower counts and impressions. These figures are open to the public, accessible, and widely promoted but, as mentioned above, they are not always an accurate or honest portrayal of an influencer’s reach or value. When looking for authentic influencers for your brand, the quality of engagement matters more than the quantity.
Knowing which engagement metrics to consider for your brand starts with having clear and focused objectives for your campaigns and hiring influencers based on these goals. This leads to more meaningful and successful relationships with influencers and driving the results you want. As your agency, we can help hone the focus for your campaigns and find the very best influencers for your target audience.
Watch Out for Tell-Tale Signs of a Fake
There are some simple ways to sniff out if an influencer is buying followers or faking engagement. A skewed ratio of likes or comments to the number of followers, comments that have little or no relevance to the content of their posts, and huge, overnight spikes in follower rates are just some tell-tale signs of this. It could also be proof that their content simply doesn’t connect with an audience.
As you identify and evaluate influencers for your campaigns, look for people who are creative, actively participating in back-and-forth chatter within their community, and consistently produce more than just sponsored content. Shares, length of video views, and tagging within comments are other strong indicators of genuine engagement, reach, and authority. If available, examine their previous partnerships with other brands and ask for data that proves they have actually swayed audience behavior or public opinion about a brand. A strong influencer will be able to show how they have driven spikes in web traffic, helped reach a new target audience, or generated sales upon the launch of a campaign.
Use Technology AND Humans to Identify Influencers
At Blissful Media Group, we believe that properly vetting influencers initially before they join our network is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting quality influencers without fake followers. We believe the human element is of utmost importance when vetting influencers – we don’t rely solely on technology to identify influencers. Of course, we will use tools that aid in detecting bots but we also believe that having that human touch is a key component in detecting fake followers. We strongly believe that no technology can replace a human’s experience and skills at analyzing.
Creating a Vetting Process
At Blissful Media Group, we carefully vet our influencers by being selective as to who we allow into our network as well as who we engage for particular programs for clients. We vet our influencers not only for the quality of content but for authentic engagement – looking to ensure comments and shares are real and the engagement to follower ratio is realistic.
Influencer marketing is on the rise. Google Trends data reveals that interest in influencer marketing increased by 200% from 2016 to 2017, then grew again by over 350% by 2018. The global ad spend on influencer marketing is predicted to be somewhere between 5 and 10 billion dollars by 2020 and it may even surpass this.
As the influencer marketing industry continues its rapid and explosive growth, new tools, platforms, and services are popping up and promising extraordinary returns on your marketing investment. But how do you know which ones can drive results for your brand?
Before you decide to work with an influencer marketing agency or hire influencers for your brand, here are seven big questions to ask yourself about your business:
How well do you know your target market?
Without a well-defined and tailored target market in mind, your campaigns will be costly and ineffective. No matter how broad your potential customer base might be, narrowing your ideal demographic for each campaign serves multiple purposes. It helps in identifying the best influencers for your brand, in choosing the right channels, and in developing content that gets noticed and truly resonates with your market.
Some companies use existing customer data and market research to develop buyer personas. These semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer help focus and potentially segment your marketing efforts and may include customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, location, needs, and much more. The more detailed you are in defining your target market, the more successful your influencer campaigns will be.
Where are your ideal customers?
Over the past few years, there have been significant shifts in the way people relate to marketing and consume media. Attention spans are more fragmented than ever before across multiple social media platforms, and trust in traditional celebrity endorsements is at an all-time low. In a crowded and competitive marketplace, your potential customers are looking for genuine and trusted recommendations from “regular” folks who are more like peers or whose lives seem somewhat attainable.
What’s more, they are looking for these recommendations on the online hubs they already frequent on a daily basis. A recent Pew Research Center report shows that Facebook, Instagram & YouTube are currently dominating the social media landscape among adults, but each network suits a different niche. To determine which platforms your target audience is using, take the time to understand how each one functions and caters to its unique audience.
If your company is already active on social media, use analytics and social listening tools to determine where your brand is generating the most engagement on and especially off your brand pages and accounts. Who is talking about your brand on their own profiles? What are they saying? What type of content seems to resonate the most with your target audience – story posts, photos, videos, etc.? Once you understand your target audience’s needs and where to reach them, your agency can craft an influencer campaign that will be a perfect fit for your brand.
How would I measure the success of our influencer campaign?
In a recent post on Marketing & Growth Hacking, Shane Barker explores the 6 Important KPIs of Influencer Marketing That You Should Know. These include boosting brand awareness, growing social media engagement, driving website traffic, and more. In other words, there are many influencer marketing KPIs you could track. The success of your specific campaign begins with figuring out which ones apply to you.
Understanding your company’s goals is just as important in identifying the right influencers for your brand. In his 2012 report The Rise of Digital Influence and How to Measure It, Brian Solis identified reach, resonance, and relevance as the framework for assessing the value of an influencer. Are they liked and respected by your ideal customers? Do they offer a level of authority or expertise in your target market? Are they on the social media platforms where your campaign will take place?
Starting with a clear vision of your own objectives and audience equips the right influencer marketing agency to offer the best guidance and support for your marketing strategy. It also means having more meaningful and successful relationships with influencers and driving the results you want for your brand
What type of content are you looking to explore?
The first questions you will be asked by any influencer marketing agency is “what type of content would like to see produced by your campaign?” and “what do you want the influencers to do to promote your brand?” The answer to both of these questions depends on how well you understand your own product.
What would it take to experience and understand all of its benefits? How long would someone have to use your product to see some satisfying results? Would you consider it a big purchase or a casual buy?
Whether it’s through the written word on a blog or a seemingly spontaneous story on Instagram, the goal of any campaign is to present your product in the best, most engaging way possible. You should also consider how you could repurpose any content that’s developed by influencers, especially if you decide to do several campaigns throughout the year. For example, a long video can be edited into shorter clips for Facebook ads or Snapchat Discover. Quotes from a blog post can be transformed into tweets. Photos might translate nicely onto Pinterest or Instagram.
Are you looking for a short-term campaign or a long-term relationship?
Some product encounters lend themselves to short-term, one-off campaigns with many influencers while others require the cultivation of a long-term relationship between key influencers and the brand. Both can create a tremendous amount of value in their own way, but how do you know which is an ideal choice for your company? Perhaps you can integrate both into your campaign?
Long-term partnerships with influencers offer many rewards. Because both parties have a vested interest in one another’s growth and success, they foster greater authenticity, increased word-of-mouth, and the most value over time. It takes work to build and nurture strong relationships with influencers, and an influencer marketing agency can help you vet and qualify the right ones for your brand.
One-off collaborations with influencers can be as simple as a sponsored blog or social media post, a hosted contest, a video demo, or more. While short-term campaigns might appear to be a quick and easy way to experiment with influencer marketing, one-off collaborations lack the impact of a long-term and measured partnership and do not offer room for learning or growth. It’s better to be consistently working with influencers in the market to ensure that you are indeed focusing on the right audience, tools, and metrics.
What are your budget and your timeline?
When it comes to working with influencers, there is no set rate. Fees and expenses will vary depending on the type of collaboration you’re seeking, the compensation you are willing to provide to influencers, and the management needed for your campaign. For example, some brands will pay for a hotel stay, meals, and an experience in order to showcase their product or service. Others might simply send a sample of their product and ask the influencers to review it.
Rates will also be heavily reliant on the type and level of influencer you are looking to hire. Some niches are more expensive than others, and likewise, some influencers are simply in higher demand. In its 2017 Global Comms Report: Challenges and Trends, Cision examined the different types of marketing influencers and how to leverage their popularity and impact to reach your customers.
Perhaps it makes sense to include paid media to boost your influencer campaign. In this case, the influencer agency you work with should be able to explain the best platforms and methods to use.
The duration of your campaign is another big factor when it comes to cost. As explained above, there are significant differences between a short-term campaign versus having a long-term relationship with key influencers. Regardless of the length or nature of your influencer campaign, a qualified and reputable influencer marketing agency can offer guidance, oversight, and cost-bundling efforts to help maximize your ROI.
What type of influencer marketing agency do you want to work with?
The word “agency” broadly describes a certain business model, but there are distinct types when it comes to influencer marketing. It’s worth considering how each one functions before determining which one is the right fit for your brand.
There are agencies that manage a portfolio of select social media personalities the same way a talent agency represents an actress, a writer, or a comedian. If there is a high-profile influencer or celebrity your company would like to work with, find out if they have a management agency. They can negotiate terms and simplify the process of hiring the influencer.
Marketplaces or cooperatives invite influencers to sign up and tick their areas of interest. These services will often require registered influencers to meet a specific threshold of fans and followers and provide basic demographic details, social media accounts, or other information. Brands can either submit their upcoming campaigns and invite interested influencers to apply, or simply search the company’s database using keywords depending on the platform or service. Some use data-driven platforms to match influencers to campaigns, track performance, and measure results while others do not. The cost and effectiveness of your campaign should reflect this.
Independent influencer marketing agencies like Blissful Media Group along with digital marketing companies, PR firms, and advertising agencies are hired to work in the best interest of your brand and can support your influencer campaigns from beginning to end. While influencer outreach might be offered as an extension to a portfolio of work that another creative or PR firm is already doing for your brand, an independent influencer marketing agency offers specialization, great results, and expert industry knowledge across each stage of your campaign. An influencer marketing agency can help hone your strategy, create meaningful relationships with proven and vetted influencers, and drive the results you want for your brand.
Having been at the forefront of the industry for quite some time, Blissful Media Group has developed broader and deeper relationships with influencers within popular content verticals. We offer a suite of tailored services including content creation (written, photo, video), content amplification, strategy, research and casting, managed services, and more. We can personally vet influencers in a way that automated platforms cannot.
Blissful Media Group is honored to be recognized on Agency Spotter’s Top 20 Marketing Agencies Report. This quarterly report evaluates more than 2,800 marketing agencies and design firms across different service areas and ranks the top 20 based on their portfolios, projects, and client reviews.
Blissful Media Group received five stars, the highest ranking, for overall creativity, quality, creativity and communication and was named Favorite Influencer Network. Our portfolio and ranking can be found here
If you have a project or campaign you would like to talk about, please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org
A coalition of pioneering influencer marketing agencies, architects of the influencer marketing industry, today announced the formation of the Influencer Marketing Association (IMA), designed to represent brands, agencies, networks and influencers. The national trade association will act as the voice of the industry, providing counsel around influencer marketing trends, measurement standards, transparency guidelines, and best practices for marketers and influencers.
In less than a decade, influencer marketing has established itself as an essential component of marketing strategies for companies around the world. In 2017, the industry was valued at $2 billion and is projected to climb to $10 billion by 2020, according to Adweek. In looking at the influx of organizations in the marketing industry, there is no trade or industry organization solely focused on supporting influencer marketing agencies and practitioners, despite its increasing prominence in recent years. The founding members of IMA identified this need and created the organization. By acting as a resource to members and the marketing / advertising / PR industry at large, the organization aims to promote influencer marketing as an integral component of all marketing campaigns. A founding principle of the IMA is that robust technology, including platforms and analytics capabilities, must combine forces with human oversight, leveraging critical thinking, in order to be effective.
Among the association’s priorities is to establish industry guidelines for ethics and best practices, beyond the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines. In order to ensure influencer transparency, authenticity and disclosure, IMA will encourage good citizenship and adherence to industry best practices, while clarifying FTC compliance standards.
“Influencer marketing has finally come into its own as a marketing strategy – not a tactic – that engages influencers to create and share sponsored content that reaches millions of target audiences and drives proven ROI,” says Danica Kombol, president of Everywhere Agency. “The Influencer Marketing Association believes real people tell the best stories about the brands, products and services they love. We also believe brands want to reach real, human customers. Therefore, none of our members would ever rely solely on an algorithm to pick influencers for our clients. To be effective, influencer marketers have to be tech-enabled to scale, but human-powered where it counts.”
As with any marketing initiative, influencer marketing needs to be measured to demonstrate value and ROI, however there is currently no industry standard to do so. Therefore, the association is developing industry benchmarking standards in order to determine the effectiveness of influencer campaigns based on audience growth, performance analytics, consumer engagement and campaign reach. The association will also challenge the industry to look beyond engagement numbers, analytics and metrics, and instead consider the value of integrating the human element with technology.
The Influencer Marketing Association was founded in 2018 as the official trade organization committed to protecting the authenticity and ethics of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is defined as real people telling real stories about the brands, products and experiences they love. Our mission is to drive growth in influencer marketing; advocate on behalf of influencers, marketers, and consumers by ensuring ethical standards are met; and serve as the go-to resource on best practices, measurement standards, and trends. The Influencer Marketing Association was founded by a group of pioneering influencer marketing agencies and networks whose founders continue to lead the influencer marketing industry today.
The Influencer Marketing Association emphasizes the value of integrating the human element and leading-edge technology while operating under a set of ethical standards to achieve marketing objectives and deliver ROI.
- Protect the tenet that the human element of influencer marketing is critical because brands want to reach human consumers
- Field critical research on influencer best practices and trends
- Educate the industry on influencer marketing trends and being an expert resource to all who engage in it
- Establish guidelines for ethics, best practices, and measurement standards
- Promote influencer marketing as an integral component of successful marketing campaigns
- Advise brands, agencies, networks and influencers on how to establish and maintain proactive, collaborative and creative environments
- Develop industry standards for measurement, metrics and analytics to inform future influencer marketing programs
- Ensure good citizenship and adherence to industry best practices and disclosure standards
- Be a resource for agencies and/or brands wanting authentic, credible, objective marketing strategies
- Support Influencer Marketing practitioners to encourage market strength and growth
- Encourage new ideas and industry growth through inclusion, respect and good listening
- Challenge the industry to combine, consider, and encourage authenticity and human critical thinking skills alongside technological resources
Social media users are quick to spot if a celebrity or top-tier influencer is only hired for a one-off, short-term marketing campaign. As a result, these recommendations seldom carry much weight among audiences. Add to that an expanse of media channels, advances in technology, and 24/7 access to information, and it is clear that a “single promotion running for a limited time” often fails to deliver the same value as a long-term, “Always-On” campaign with the right influencers across multiple channels.
Over the past few years, brands and marketers have started seeking relationships with a mix of different types of influencers (celebrities, top-tier, and micro-influencers). This integrated approach allows brands to reach target audiences at multiple levels and drive more engagement on an ongoing basis.
As the industry shifts to embrace a more holistic approach to influencer campaigns, here are five considerations for going from single, one-off campaigns to strategic, Always-On influencer programs:
- Lead Influencer Strategies with Data and Clear Objectives
A successful influencer program is supported by clear business objective and metrics. There are a number of tracking tools and tech platforms that can connect brands to strong influencers, but without understanding who to reach, where, when, and why, it’s difficult to determine the success of a program. It also makes it difficult to quickly respond to opportunities or map content to the customer journey.
An Always-On program is built on ongoing relationships between influencers and brands. It is meant to generate a flow of leads over time and requires multiple strategies to be pursued as the partnership evolves. Breaking out of the cycle of short-lived, campaign-led programs allows businesses to experiment with different types of content, learn from the findings, and shape what is needed moving forward while maintaining trust and consistency.
- Demand High-Quality Content
“Always-On” does not mean pushing volumes upon volumes of posts to every social media outlet, email list, and website you own. It means reliably publishing high-quality content that keeps your brand top of mind for the people you want to reach.
A mix of good storytelling and interactive materials – whether it’s in the form of a Snapchat Story post, Facebook Live broadcast, or Instagram poll – will draw audiences to your company and keep them engaged long-term. While an eye-catching image or sharable video can interest people in your brand, being delivered by the right influencers makes it accessible, relevant, and compelling. So it makes sense to seek partnerships with creators who can endorse and recommend your product in an interesting, familiar, and creative way.
- Capitalize on Micro-Influencer Relationships
Research from both Activate from Bloglovin’ and #Hashoff reveals that micro-influences foster more genuine messaging and organic content sharing than celebrity sponsorships. The research also revealed that micro-influencers tend to be a valuable source for real-time product feedback and insights on trends, views/reach, and overall engagement.
The key components are authenticity, sincerity, and relatability. Having spent years nurturing their audiences and growing their niche, micro-influencers are familiar with the products and content that resonates best with their fans and followers. They are usually looking to represent brands they already use and love.
Whether your company is looking to work with an A-list celebrity or a local phenomenon, ask influencers how they plan to maintain the relationship beyond the campaign and be prepared to answer the same question.
- Look Beyond Your Niche
When looking for influencers, focus on channels where your ideal customers tend to be and seek the experts who have a professional catalog of work. Also look for personalities that have a mix of both organic and paid posts or come highly recommended to you.
Among the many parameters to consider, choosing individuals who align with your company culture and brand personality. They will be a natural fit for representing your products and services. It may even be worthwhile to explore influencers who may seem outside of your industry, but can help you expand into a new market.
- Align Your Influencer Relationships with Your Entire Business
An ongoing influencer program requires sustained collaboration from all levels of your company — from sales and customer service to product development and beyond.
Not only can each department provide valuable insights into the company’s various product lines, share customer feedback, and alert marketers about potential leads, it offers a support system for developing the right kind content and delivering it to the right audiences. This collaborative approach also makes it easier to track the overall ROI and success of a far-reaching influencer marketing program.
Photo from Pexels
The impact of influencer marketing campaigns reached an all-time high in 2017 and shows no signs of slowing down this year. With significant advances in technology, targeting, and reach across all social media platforms and the proven effectiveness of influencer campaigns in driving sales, it’s not surprising that most B2C marketers plan to increase or maintain their budgets for influencer campaigns in 2018.
What can brands and marketers expect from influencers in 2018? How can businesses leverage new content strategies and evolving social media channels?
Learn more about the top three trends that will dominate influencer programs in 2018:
1. A Continued Shift Towards Video Content
The biggest influencer marketing trend in 2018 will be the continued rise in video content across all social channels. A study from Influicity projects that video consumption will hit 80% of global online traffic by 2020. In addition, multiple studies have proven that video is the most effective driver of sales when compared to text-based or static content in influencer campaigns.
Over this year, influencers must become more skilled in video production across a wide range of social platforms, not just on YouTube. In turn, video creators will want to learn more about integrating brand deals, sponsorships, and other influencer marketing opportunities into their content.
Whether it’s on Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, augmented reality, or wherever, it will not be difficult to find the right video stars and personalities for your brand.
2. The Rise of Ephemeral Content
Snapchat was the reigning leader in ephemeral content before it was dethroned by Instagram Stories. Within one year of being launched, Instagram Stories accrued more than 250 million daily users. That’s astonishing when compared to the 173 million daily active users it took Snapchat years to build.
With the stories features being expanded even further into Facebook, WhatsApp, and other platforms, 2018 will see a spike in the prevalence of ephemeral content on social media.
The fleeting nature of this type of content adds to its novelty and appeal among audiences, especially younger ones. Because ephemeral content is short-lived and spontaneous, it is thought of as being more authentic than sponsored posts and raises the potential of “FOMO” (fear of missing out). As a result, viewers tend to act fast and purchase now.
There is a great opportunity for influencers and marketers to capitalize on the high engagement and ROI ephemeral content sparks while it is still fairly unique and relatively uncharted territory for brands.
3. Shoppable Content and E-Commerce Opportunities
The Influicity study also predicts more influencers will be interested in creating their own branded products that complement their online personality and niche. “With their reach and authority growing at an accelerated rate, influencers will start to explore new avenues of revenue generation, primarily e-commerce.”
New features like Shopping on Instagram, Buyable Pins on Pinterest, and Collections ads on Facebook make it possible for influencers and brands to drive purchases directly from a social media post. In 2017, Amazon rolled out a new program called Amazon Spark that enables customers to follow influencers and, with one tap, purchase the item that they saw on the app.
The growth and expansion of these e-commerce tools in 2018 allows brands to leverage more specific calls-to-action to purchase in influencer campaigns and experiment with different programs. It also makes it easier than ever before for customers to directly purchase products shown in influencer content and for brands to determine campaign successes through solid KPIs like foot traffic, e-commerce sales, and subscriptions.