In the second quarter of 2018, global advertising spend on Instagram was up 177% year on year, according to research from Merkle. Marketers are shifting more of their budget than ever before into social media, and subsequent investment in influencer marketing also continues to rise.
Influencer marketing can be an effective way for brands to tap into specialized audiences, broaden their reach and have their product seen in a different light by their prospective customers. These authentic product placements can also result in impressive engagement for brands who often fail to reach the same standards with their own content.
But despite its popularity, influencer marketing is still in its infancy - especially when viewed in comparison to its predicted $101 billion worth by 2020. As such, brands and marketers are still getting to grips with best practices, and there have predictably been some slip-ups along the way.
Learn from their mistakes and make sure the strategy you’re taking into 2019 is up to date and utilizing the latest insights.
Mistake #1: Being hung up on follower counts
Traditionally influencers with larger followings were thought to be the key to wide reach and awareness, and therefore a more effective campaign, so marketers have targeted them first, and often paid over the odds for access.
However this practice overlooks one of the fundamentals of influencer marketing - the process is effective and engaging because influencers don’t feel like celebrities. They feel approachable, they’ll reply to your comments or messages. You can imagine wearing what they wear because they’re more relatable than a model.
What's more, once follower counts rise to a certain level, engagement rates drop. According to a 2017 survey by Edelman, 49% of internet users worldwide said they trusted information from online personalities with a small following, whereas only 36% said the same of well-known online personalities.
In choosing a micro-influencer - someone with fewer followers, but a more engaged community - you’ll not only be increasing your chances of achieving stronger engagement, but you’ll also be saving money. Your budget could stretch to multiple influencers, in different vertices, with different niche audiences, making the connections so much more relevant.
A much more worthwhile consideration here is the quality of the content. After all, inspiring, high-quality content will provoke a reaction.
Prioritize choosing talented content creators over high follower counts and watch your engagement soar.
Mistake #2: Writing over-prescriptive briefs
Marketers are logically protective of their brands. They have a vision for their campaign, a precious budget and they're invested in ensuring everything goes to plan. But overly detailed briefs, with no room for creative interpretation, are one of the fastest ways to derail an influencer campaign before it even has a chance to get started.
Showing unique experiences of your product is one of the beauties of influencer marketing. Restricting this by telling an influencer exactly how they should photograph, and/or write about your product, can make the collaboration look forced and fake. Their loyal followers will soon notice the change in the tone they know so well, and the post will be dismissed as a blatant ad. Not only this, but you'll be depriving your campaign exactly the type of creative flair and talent that made you choose that influencer in the first place.
By all means set the ground rules, make any campaign messages loud and clear - but then step away and wait to be surprised and amazed by the content.
Mistake #3: Letting content live and die on social
Once you’ve assigned your budget, selected relevant influencers with top notch creative credentials, and created a brief which enables them to work their magic, you’re going to be left with some epic assets - incredible images, cinemagraphs and videos.
So what do you do? Leave them all alone on your social profiles?
All too often, brands fail to amplify content created by influencers on their own social channels. What a waste. Instagram has made it easier than ever to republish Stories a user has been mentioned in, and there’s always the humble #regram.
Modern marketing demands more content than ever to satisfy the expectations of an ‘always on’ approach. Why not use the influencer-created assets you've already invested in as the fuel for your marketing machine. This year we’ve seen them used in Facebook ads, out of home, and on websites. The possibilities are endless. Some brands are now even bypassing the product placement stage entirely and using influencers purely as creators of authentic and budget-friendly assets that can be used in their marketing mix.
Given the popularity of social communication, influencer marketing is only going to become more prevalent, and a more relevant consideration in marketing plans. If you're looking to add influencers into your 2019 mix, keep these tips in mind.