What Does Influencer Marketing Look Like in 2018?

2017 was the year that influencer marketing became a prerequisite. An industry now worth around $1 billion, the channel is said to deliver 11 times higher ROI than traditional brand marketing. It’s an unavoidable line in your budget. But even for the most proactive of marketers, there was some initial scepticism. This is an inflated marketplace, with a reputation not helped by ambiguity over what the term influencer actually means.

There are a few problems to tackle as it continues to evolve, but influencer marketing grew up a lot over the past year. So much so that 73% of luxury brands are now making use of it as part of their strategy. New strings to its bow include the availability of data that provides an accurate measure of ROI as well as efforts from Instagram to encourage transparency. The other side of this is a new appreciation from the industry as a whole for influencers as hardworking professionals. So, as a show of respect for the active contributions made by “influencers”, let’s move away from the term entirely and instead use “content creators”. What are the key considerations around influencer marketing for brands, agencies and content creators as we move into 2018?

For agencies

  •     Numbers Talk
  •     Build Networks
  •     Don’t just consider social platforms

Part of the initial hesitation to embrace influencers as a cost-effective marketing tool was the difficulty of measuring ROI. There’s also a huge discrepancy between what each influencer charges for an individual post. Give your client a clear breakdown of costs and outline from the start of the campaign what you’ll be reporting on – remember they’re paying you to tell them what success looks like. If you’re looking for guidance on how to price influencer marketing, you can find some helpful insight here.

Build a portfolio of content creators in the same way that you’d build a network of freelancers. Having a network of people that you can draw from means that you’ll be able to offer your client a bespoke service – the right person for their brand. The other consideration here is platform. Where is your client’s audience most active? Instagram? Snapchat? Youtube? Find out, and then select the content creator accordingly.

For brands

  •     See your influencer as a collaborator
  •     Nail the Brief
  •      Explore new markets and communities

Image via #WhatWouldYouDoForLove

A couple of months ago marked Dior’s first foray into influencer marketing. Working with influencer agency Whalar and 200 different influencers from 58 countries, Dior’s campaign focused around the hashtag #DiorLoveChain. Put into action by their own in-house faces and then activated across Instagram by selected micro-influencers, the campaign brief invited the creation of content in response to the question #WhatWouldYouDoForLove. For every post tagged #DiorLoveChain, the brand donated $1 to @wemovement, formerly Free the Children. It reached 16.6 million people.

They got it just right and there are lessons to be learnt from their approach even if you’re not quite Dior. Don’t talk about any of the influencers you’re working with as “talent”. These are people with a unique insight into the community you’re targeting and it’s totally invaluable to you. They hold a coveted position as an insider and you’re missing a trick if you don’t invite them into the creative process as well. So, creative freedom is one thing. The other side of this is providing your contributors with a clear brief. You wouldn’t expect a designer to produce an artwork without one, and there’s no reason why this is any different. Give guidelines on the type of content you’re looking for, be clear about the objectives of the campaign (engagement, sales, brand awareness?), brief the influencer on tone of voice and messaging.

Influencer marketing is also an interesting way to find a voice with new audiences. Build in some A/B testing to your strategy. Find key influencers from specific communities and use it as an opportunity to judge which audience engages best with your brand’s message. Whalar’s Neil Waller talked at the Web Summit 2017 about how their campaign with Dior had helped the brand understand the nuanced voices of people in different countries. They gained insight into how to speak to markets like Malaysia and Russia.

For content creators

  •     Keep it real
  •     Stay transparent
  •     Know your audience

Stylist Live hosted an interesting panel discussing trust and transparency with three social influencers at their 2017 event. Body positivity influencer Megan Jayne Crabbe (find her nearly 1 million follower-strong Instagram here), spoke about working with Dove on a recent campaign. Crabbe talked about the importance of only working with brands whose messages and ideals celebrate body positivity, diversity and inclusivity. Promoting products that you haven’t tried or brands that don’t align with your personal beliefs devalues your relationship with your audience. Another part of this is being totally upfront with your audience about which partnerships you’re being paid for. The FTC requires paid posts to be identified as ads using hashtags but there aren’t any enforceable regulations. Fortunately, over the last year, Instagram has recognised the importance of transparency and rolled the Paid Partnership tag to selected content creators.

You’re not creating a closed, inaccessible platform for self-promotion here – you are building a community. You’re sharing ideas and spreading a message that you feel passionately about. Respond to DMs, to comments, give your followers advice. Share content from other people and brands involved without any kind of payoff.

Looking for more insight into digital marketing for the era of influence? We love to talk and it’s YOU we want to talk to. Get in touch here to tell us about your project.

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