BLISSFUL BLOGInsider Insights into Influencer Marketing
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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.
Food companies are at a great advantage when it comes to influencer marketing. Since sharing food is such a prime part of family and friendship and influencer marketing is about building relationships, food and influencer marketing are a great fit. According to AdWeek, when it comes to appealing to viewers’ food lust, people don’t care if the content is sponsored or not, as long as they feel inspired. Influencer marketing can help food companies increase brand awareness and community engagement. According to a 2016 chart by eMarketer, the earned media value of each dollar spent on influencer marketing was $14.29 for CPG (consumer packaged goods) food brands.
Here are a few tips for food brands who want to launch an influencer marketing campaign.
- Be a resource. Nobody reads a blog post, creates a board on Pinterest, or watches a video on YouTube just to be marketed to. Consumers flock to social media to learn meal tips, find ideas, and learn new recipes. The conversation should be about the buyer more than the brand.
- Holidays are an excellent opportunity. Who doesn’t love holiday cookies and dinners? Food is on everybody’s mind around the holidays. Holidays are an optimal time to focus marketing efforts around food influencers.
- Expanding into a new market? Choose food influencers who are part of your specific target community and region. Don’t have any – Blissful Media can help you find them.
- Photography and video quality are key. Nothing makes mouths water more than an enticing image. But sometimes relatable, low-tech videos and photographs are more successful than expensive professional photo shoots. Lighting, framing, and staging are even more important than fancy equipment.
- Match the products to the influencer. You wouldn’t ask a vegan food blogger to show off your artisan beef jerky. What is your company ethos? We’ll help you find the right influencer to partner with and the right community for your brand to reach.
Let us help you create beautiful shareable content. Request a proposal: Paula Bruno email@example.com or by visiting here: Blissful Media Group
There’s a lot of buzz about do-it-yourself influencer marketing programs, but brands should think twice before solely relying on automated platforms. One of the fundamental principles of influencer marketing is humans reaching other humans. This process can’t be totally automated. When it comes to producing memorable, engaging consumer connections from influencer content, automated platforms can be a useful tool but should not replace the hands-on expertise that an agency provides.
Here are three reasons why:
- Truly impactful partnerships between brands and influencers come from authentic relationships between brands and influencers. Influencer marketing agencies can find the perfect fit and help cultivate those relationships.
- Influencer selection is not just about meeting certain criteria from keywords or followers. Many subtle factors go into selecting the right influencer. Influencer agencies don’t rely solely upon predefined criteria like followers, location or unique visitors but rather they tend to have a better understanding what topics and brands the influencer cares about and more importantly, what their audience cares about.
- Influencer marketing agencies provide quality control, ensure that all brand messaging is consistent and FTC disclosures are met. Automated platforms can’t check content accuracy or quality.
To recap, self-serve influencer platforms are best used for campaigns where nuanced criteria, subtle branding efforts, and high-level collaborations are not critical. Additionally, to fully utilize these self-serve platforms, users must possess a solid understanding of developing, managing, and executing influencer marketing campaigns. Without advanced experience, it’s best to go with an influencer marketing agency.
If you’re searching for the right influencers for your campaign, we’ve love to partner with you.
Request a proposal: Paula Bruno firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting here: Blissful Media Group