November 30, 2018
Where is influencer marketing headed. Influencer marketing is relatively a new kid in the town and many influencers and marketers seem to be riding the tide for now. But brands are starting to lose their cool. Some challenges and solutions to the problems the industry facing will face in 2019 and beyond.
Table Of Contents
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PA0qg-TVZY
The Process | Under The Hood
“the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts”
"There are 3 different types: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen"
Influencer marketing is more of a marketing to influencers than your target audience. There are four main processes involved. the time spent on each process varies depending on your brand, product, industry, budget, and goals.
- Influencer identification and selection
- Bringing an Influencer on-board
- Marketing via influencers
- Marketing alongside influencers
Unlike other marketing techniques, influencer marketing has no defined structure and timing for each process. It doesn't necessarily include process 3 and 4 every time. Some prefer marketing via influencers while others prefer marketing alongside influencers. Some prefer a combination of both.
The Right Way To Influencer Marketing
Influence Marketing is in its infancy.
The latest two top trends are the "voice search" and "influence marketing" but like every new marketing medium, very few are doing it correctly.
According to a search by Mediakix: By 2020, $10 billion a year would be spent on influencer marketing, with more than $1.5 billion will be spent on Instagram alone.
Now, Ad-blocking is active with 10% users in Japan and 38% Poland.
1 in 4, 18-24 now cite social media as their main source of news/information.
With traditional marketing mediums and channels becoming less viable year over year, no surprise that marketers are looking into influencer marketing for ROI.
But there is a catch.
Not many are getting it right. Three main reasons for that.
- Lack of a proper mechanism to assess influencers
- Lack of a proper mechanism to assess an influencer's reach
- Lack of proper tools for evaluation
Influence marketing process can improve so that brands who are getting frustrated already for being ripped off can have faith and such a good medium could carry on gain momentum.
#1. Broadening Influencer Marketing Channels And Mediums
What marketing channels come into your mind when you think of influencer marketing
... and then we come to the end of the road.
Instagram holds around 10% of global internet traffic while youtube holds around 8% of the global internet traffic.
What about the rest of 82%?
There are millions of potential influencers out there with a strong and loyal fan base who are not on youtube or Instagram but have an online presence on
- Medium LinkedIn
- Webinars and podcasts
- Other Internet platforms
They don't even think of themselves as influencers.
These are authentic, tested sources of influence but somehow we tend to shy away from these when it comes to influencer marketing.
Or we can ask the question, the other way around.
Are all your potential customers only on Instagram and youtube? Offcourse not.
What can we do about that?
We need to include all other mediums and channels into the influencer marketing sphere to unleash the full potential of. It will not only bring influencer marketing within the reach of small to medium businesses but also help diversify and reach more consumers, whatever their mode of information consumption may be.
#2. Influencer Selection Process Is Crap
This is how most the influencer marketing "headhunting", if you may call it is done.
Search influencer by keywords you are targeting and sort by the number of followers each has.
You have got a list.
Now check the price tag...
Or make an offer.
This is how it's literally done because there is no other known way of doing it. A few marketers will take a further step and try reviewing the lists in detail, but that's all.
Will we do such a thing with other forms of marketing? No, never.
The right way of doing this would be the way we advertise on Facebook.
We have lots of selection metrics for the target audience like location, age group, interests, nature of work or business.
When we have accurately evaluated the target audience, we can review which influencer has the highest influence on them.
Unfortunately, we don't have the right tools to shortlist followers as we can do with Facebook advertisements.
Surly tools which facilitate that will be in very high demand in future. In fact, this is how the tools would evolve to facilitate marketers in the future as many brands are frustrated with the amount of money being wasted for fake or non-targetted followers.
#3. Not Only Celebrity Influencers, Value Macro Influencers And Micro Influencers
As I said earlier. Most marketers tend to shortlist influencers by keywords and sort them as per the number of followers.
Most of the time, top 10 or 20 of the list, get all the business.
Think about how many messages being thrown onto a few influencers to relay to their audience.
How much an impact your message is going to have among so many endorsements by a single influencer?
Now, how about if you collaborate with macro or micro influencers?
Instead of throwing all your budget on a few on the top of the list, you can instead, select a few influencers with a smaller following and spend your budget collectively on all of them.
What's the benefit?
As macro and micro influencers are getting less of an attention from marketers, this means there is less noise and more signal if these influencers will do the job for you.
#4. Macro And Micro Influencers Are Easier To Collaborate with
When you try to collaborate with celebrity influencers, you have to align with their model and process. More high profile an influencer is, more difficult they are to fine tune and align with your marketing plan and brand.
With Macro And Micro Influencers, being less in the spotlight will be able to engage with you better.
Thinks about an influencer managing 10 contracts vs and influencer managing 2 contracts. Which one is going to collaborate, engage and listen to you more?
A research by active.social concluded that
micro influencers have more loyal and active followings than the larger ones.
The problem of wider reach and following could be solved by aggregating more micro influencers in your campaign.
This will require more work on the marketer side but the return on investment and measurements for results would be more accurate and easier.
#5. Measuring Return On Investment (ROI) For Influencer Marketing
Measuring ROI is difficult for any marketing campaign and when comes to influencer marketing it is one those grey areas everyone dreads.
There is no known method to measure ROI when it comes to influencer marketing. There are three main reasons for that.
- There are no specific tools you can use like with content marketing or paid advertising where you can utilize Google Analytics, Google Webmaster tools etc.
- Influencer marketing is a collaboration. When you hire an influencer to relay your message, you don't know how they will carry on with the job for you. Remember they are a brand themselves so they have to think about their audience first.
- The diversity in audience behavior after consuming the message is also very hard to measure.
We know now, randomly throwing money at influencers had been going on for a while and is going to end sooner or later.
We are in a situation where billions of dollars are being invested without knowing the outcome.
Influencer marketing is naturally going to evolve into highly technical and sophisticated marketing effort with more mechanisms to evaluate ROI and influencers credibility.
Very soon, we will need a clear and quantifiable mechanism for the measurement of influencer marketing campaigns, before there is a seroius backlash from brands.
Link data is the goldmine to help you answer such questions. Traditionally used for SEO, consider some of the ways it can be used to achieve better ROI and success for your Influencer Marketing program.
Duane Forrester, Bruce Clay
Until that happens, there are some ways, we can measure results as like for any form of marketing campaign.
Even if we do not have precise tools for the job, other proven techniques can be applied like:
- Location-based impact
- Time-based impact
- Surveys for brand image
- Website traffic with respect to the campaign
- Google trends analysis
- Mention tracking using tools like Moz Fresh Web Explorer
#6. Influencer Marketing Will Be Part of Every Marketing Strategy
There may be barriers to influence marketing for many brands for now mainly due to
- High costs
Soon the market will come up with better solutions as interest in influencer marketing will continue to grow.
The problem of higher costs again can be solved by more macro and micro influencers becoming part of the equation.
Remember! Not every business can afford the Kardashians.
But every business has to rely on marketing in one form or another. When other marketing channels would stop returning results, micro and macro influencer will be in demand to fill the gap to meet the needs of medium and small businesses.
The cost factor is actually high. We are just trying to hire the wrong influencer thinking that only celebrities can do the job for us. The fierce competition pushes the price upwards as well.
When marketers will realize, the real potential of the micro and macro influencer, they will stop complaining about the high costs.
And yes it appears to be sophisticated because it's a new thing. More tools, experience, and knowledge about influencer marketing would make it mainstream in the coming years.
#7. Your Influencer's Brand Can Ruin You Brand As Well
Just a story from 2012:
In 2012, Snickers used social media to promote Snickers and their slogan "You're Not You When You're Hungry” and collaborated Katie Price along with other celebrities.
Now Influencers have minds of their own.
It went horribly wrong for Snickers as Katie Price got involved in politics and macroeconomics. This is not Katie's usual domain or field of expertise.
When Katie felt the heat, so did sneakers.
There was an attempt for damage control but the damage was done.
This taught many a valuable lesson that influencer marketing needs to be in a context, niche based and with relevant audience and influencers.
#9. The Results Are Unpredictable.
Not two marketing campaigns are the same.
But mostly, with other forms of marketing, say content marketing, we have a process and an evaluation mechanism.
Plan, execute, evaluate, repeat.
This is not the case with influencer marketing.
Results from two similar campaigns with two different influencers with the same number of followers could be poles apart.
There is no consistency.
Despite traditional marketing channels losing their charm, they have one thing which is consistent.
Just like content marketing and SEO, having high ROI can sometimes produce unpredictable results, Influencer marketing can be even a tougher nut to crack when planning and investment for a long-term are involved.
Unless we have precise measurements before investments are made and after the execution, brands will not be able to trust and utilize the full potential of influencer marketing.
#10. Identifying The Right Influencers Is Extremely Difficult, For Now At least
Say you have to promote your services to a market, which is a content marketing agency for local businesses in Manchester.
Before you market your service to potential customers, you need to find them.
It would be easy If we had a tool like Facebook advertisement engine where we can narrow down our target audience depending upon their interests, demographics and age groups etc.
How do we know
- What our target audience are reading?
- Who are they following on social media?
- What are their interests?
- What events do they go to?
- What twitter handles they follow?
- Why are they reading/following these but not others?
- How do they interact with their own audience?
- When are they most active in business?
Unfortunately, this kind of information is not available and we do not know how to acquire this information for influencer marketing.
One company, sparktoro aims to solve this problem by utilizing some unique techniques to access, assemble, and upgrade the information about the audience and their behavior.
Until this information is readily available, it will difficult for brands to fully delve into influencer marketing with bigger budgets and long-term projects.
#11. Relationship Issues: Product, Influencer And The Trust
The younger generation has a different mindset.
They interact and behave very differently than older generations.
From older, I mean over 35's as of 2018.
They were born and grew up in a completely different world than all the generations before them.
Many marketers now fear the connection and trust between an influencer will break one day, just like advertisement lost its charm.
This might be partly true.
But history doesn't always repeat itself.
The meaning of life, socializing and connections have evolved.
Every follower out there is an influencer in their own capacity as well.
This is not a one-way thing like traditional marketing.
Content marketing and influencer marketing are different. These marketing formats will always reach people because they provide an opportunity for the audience to be part of an equation by being able to interact.
#12. The Domain Problem
Just take an example: Microsoft would like to promote their Azure cloud computing service and would like to collaborate with influencers.
Now if they turn to Instagram, what are their options.
Every top influencer you find is not related to tech or development.
What you find is food, fashion, modeling, and everything revolves around that.
There are a few exceptions but with a limited following or reach.
What could be done about it?
Again, the solution is to collaborate with macro and micro influencers more. This will create demand and influencers will be motivated to create more of the relevant content.
Their a re a few like coderhumor | 23k, codeblogger | 11k, coderworlds | 48k, peoplewhocode | 58k.
A collective collaboration with 10 such Instagrammers can provide access to more than half a million. These are the right influencers a tech company should work with.
#13. Transparency Issues
In 2018, 61 percent of UK consumers agreed that brands were not transparent about their collaboration with influencer marketers. Statista
9 out of 10 would like to know if the message being promoted by their influencer is a promoted one.
60% said they have a positive opinion of a brand who are transparent about influencer marketing
70% of consumers want Standards Authorities to do more in this regard.
What does this tell us?
Audience have a serious transparency issue.
In the UK, way back in 2008, consumer protection law added that
any editorial content is clearly labeled if the purpose for its creation is a promotion.
The law is there but the problem is with the implementation. But as we understand from many examples, consumers can scrutinize a product or service far better than authorities.
Uber is just an example.
Transparency is what consumer care about. Influencers and brands not caring about consumer concerns can get a big hit at any time.
It doesn't take long these days for a brand to go down the hill, over slight mistakes.
#14. Fake Or Not!
The dilemma of our time.
Separate fake from genuine.
It used to politics and politicians only.
Now, It's News? Blog? Documentary? Statistics? You name it.
It's equally true with today's marketing channels. Mainly social media. Influencer marketing is no exception. In fact, the problem is far worse than other marketing mediums. The platforms themselves have contributed to the problem.
Followers and likes are the glue that makes users stick and spend time on a platform. In today's age, social currency is centered on likes, followers and comments.
Millennials sometimes care more about the health of their social accounts than their finances.
This leads to he very serious problem. When there is demand, someone will fill the gap. Even with fake followers and likes.
And we have fake influencers too. A lot of them.
PACEDM reported that half of the paid engagement on Instagram is fake.
Thing is so terrible that Unilever attempted to ban influencers ith paid follower base
There is very little in the arsenal to fight back fakery.
One great tool we use here at quoracreative (and it's awesome) is Fake Followers tool for Twitter by sparktoro
It is not possible to unless the big players, like Facebook (Owner of Instagram), realize this as a serious issue and let third parties bring in better tools by sharing data with them.
Three things will prevail and gain market traction in 2019 and beyond.
Content Marketing, Voice Search and Influencer Marketing.
Marketers are still dealing with the algorithmic changes brought in by Google in terms of SEO. No doubt having a difficult time with content marketing and having no clue about voice search optimization, many have flocked to influencer marketing. Looks pretty easy for now ... but won't last very long.
The music will suddenly stop.
Influencer marketing will definitely continue to gain market share but brands will become cautious and will demand analytics, predictable ROI and quantifiable results.
Those marketers who practice differently than the rest will prevail, just like those in SEO and Content Marketing.
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