Influencer marketing has more than proved its worth throughout the global pandemic, online usage has surged and now, more than ever, users are viewing influencer recommendations in real-time and actively seeking honest reviews.
At Awin, we connect the right influencer talent to the right brand. We coordinate branded campaigns from sourcing and planning through to activation, and provide post-campaign reporting to finish. With our licensed influencer marketing solution, Tagger Media, we target authentic and engaged influencers.
We are kicking off our influencer content series discussing all things influencer with Kelsey Formost, Director of Content Strategy from Tagger Media:
NW: What interests you about influencer marketing?
KF: The power of community is an incredible thing to behold. Influencers are experts at cultivating an engaged audience of viewers who look forward to consuming their unique content. When you discover a successful influencer, you’ll inevitably see that they have a very tight-knit community of like-minded followers who engage with, encourage, and even support each other beyond social media.
It sounds obvious, but the idea of ‘influence’ is truly fascinating. It all comes down to the ability of a creator to show up authentically and consistently, cultivating trust and a sense of belonging in their online communities.
How has the industry changed?
Influencer marketing is one of the most rapidly evolving industries out there and has matured considerably over the last year. Where it may have been more of a “Wild West” three years ago, now there are proven influencer marketing systems, strategies, and tech in place in every top agency around the globe.
What’s been incredibly fascinating is seeing how the pandemic has affected the online habits of consumers, and how influencers have responded. More people have grown accustomed to consuming digital content and making online purchasing decisions. In doing so, consumers are forming stronger-than-ever bonds with personalities, influencers, and brands they trust, often repeatedly buying from the same source.
Apart from pandemic-related changes, we’ve also seen a continued upward trajectory of the trend towards hiring micro-influencers over celebrities or influencers with mega-sized audiences. There’s no denying that influencers with smaller audiences consistently show high engagement rates and deliver measurable results. It’s now commonplace for brands to spend the majority of their resources on micro-influencers to take advantage of that higher ROI.
More recently, we’ve observed a trend towards long-term influencer partnerships. Before, brands may have extended a large number of small, one-off contracts and free-product-for-post offers to hundreds, sometimes thousands of influencers. Now, we’re seeing brands using more long-term strategy in their influencer marketing campaigns. These partnerships that carry over weeks, sometimes months (or even years!) repeatedly expose the brand to audiences who are most likely to respond in a positive way.
What does the future look like for influencer marketing?
As more brands and companies learn about the high ROI of Influencer marketing, the industry will undoubtedly grow in market spend in the coming months and years. That growth rate will almost certainly be accelerated by 2020’s surge in digital content consumption.
With regards to the immediate future, Facebook’s huge leap into e-commerce will absolutely affect ad costs, and we predict that will spur many more marketers to re-allocate their ad budgets to influencer marketing.
We also believe there will be huge growth opportunities for verticals that have been affected by the pandemic. Influencer marketing is a much more cost-effective solution than advertising, and therefore gives businesses an opportunity to expand awareness and reach in a more strategic and valuable way.
What makes a successful influencer partnership?
Engaged audiences with a pre-disposed affinity to your brand, and long-term campaign contracts.
First, brands need to ensure they’re putting their products in front of relevant audiences. That’s why it’s so valuable to have access to a platform that allows you to see influencer’s brand affinities and audience insights. If you don’t have access to that data on a granular level, you’re losing valuable connections.
But audiences have to be more than just relevant. They have to be repeatedly engaged. That’s why influencers are so valuable. Studies show that a person must be exposed to something an average of seven times before they purchase or invest in a product, brand, or service. If a trusted person- like an influencer who a consumer has grown to know, like, and trust over time - repeatedly endorses or recommends a brand or product, then it’s much more likely that partnership will drive significantly success.
What advice would you give to influencers?
Be prepared. There’s nothing that can derail a partnership faster than an influencer who isn’t aware of their own stats. Be data savvy; stay on top of your social media metrics and be able to deliver them to brands. This allows you to demonstrate reliability and success. Where possible, show off your hard work and provide tangible case studies. This gives you more leverage when negotiating a partnership.
What advice would you give to brands?
Cultivate an authentic relationship with influencers. The most valuable influencer outreach strategy is one that’s personal. Show the influencer that you’re interested not just in their content but in them as a person. Make meaningful references to their work, style, content, or even past campaigns. If they’re from a different background than you, take the time to research their culture. Remember that influencers are human beings with full, rich lives- not just a social media billboard.
Looking to get started with influencer activity? You can find out more about Awin’s influencer campaign service by contacting the Publisher Management team here.