Influencer marketing is one of the hottest trends in digital media, with an increasing number of brands looking to tap into the skills and knowledge of established creators to help boost their brand presence.
The stats don't lie - 95% of consumers favor credible content from industry influencers over material from brands, while 82% of consumers are 'very likely' to follow the recommendation of an influencer they follow. And brands have taken note - 65% of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets this year. Yet at the same time, 61% of marketers also say that they have trouble finding the right influencers, a key issue in making the process work for your brand.
Have you looked into influencer marketing? What concerns and challenges do you see in the practice?
This was the focus of our most recent #SMTLive Twitter chat - and our always active SMT community delivered a range of tips and insights into the modern influencer marketing process.
Here's a recap of the conversation.
Questions and concerns
Working with influencers can feel like unfamiliar territory for some, and still a risk for others. We wanted to know what everyone on #SMTLive worried about the most when it came to this strategy.
@JenniferBakerCo had concerns about the whole fake follower issue. This issue has gotten some attraction on Instagram specifically, with many users and marketers sharing these concerns. Although the platform is very aware of this issue, Instagram users still have reason to worry being that purchasing followers eventually so common.
You have to get creative with the style of content and storytelling. I think micro-influencers might be an interesting option too. You can get far more detailed in your efforts and better personalize your content so it stands out. #smtlive— Bentley University (@bentleyu) July 16, 2019
We heard a lot about micro-influencers during this chat. Spoiler alert: We're all for them.
Q1: Ensuring that I'm working with influencers who have an authentic and engaged following that is strategic to my clients. And that audience isn't simply other influencers working together to fight the algorithms. #SMTLive #influencermarketing— Travis Joyal (@TJMO) July 16, 2019
@TJMO shared some more common concerns among marketers about influencer marketing.
Great point! We've found that when you spend time watching how they interact, who's commenting on their content, etc., you can tell who has true influence. #SMTLive— IMP-SF (@IMPSFengage) July 16, 2019
This user encouraged doing your homework when it comes to connecting with influencers can help alieviate some of these worries.
Doing your homework
Your brand's influencers should definitely be qualified for the job, but what do these qualifications even look like? These users shared a few examples of what they think qualifies someone to be a worthwhile influencer.
A2: We love a good engagement rate. Aside from that, certain clients might look for ratio of sponsored content vs organic, quality of content/images, and style of storytelling to see if it aligns with their overall goal. #SMTLive— Sway Group (@SwayGroup) July 16, 2019
Yes! That last one is incredibly important! Does their tone, voice, style align with yours? It will help you ensure that you are reaching a similar audience and it keeps your brand consistent. #SMTLive— Bentley University (@bentleyu) July 16, 2019
Especially on Instagram, quality of images seems important. But more broadly, the whole "tone, voice, style" concept feels important as well. As @SwayGroup mentioned, even their style of storytelling should align with your own. Say you had influencers talking about your company for you on a podcast. Would you want them to speak very casually and use their own vernacular when talking about your product, or would you want them to read off a script from you and sound more formal? @bentleyu mentioned that keeping tabs on their style can help keep your brand consistent, which is a large part of why we use influencers in the first place.
Terms and conditions
These Twitter chatters told us about the terms and conditions surrounding their relationships with influencers. Turns out, each of these users had their own specific terms that felt important to them
Q4: Timing for content publishing. The content should time with all other marketing tactics your team is building around a specific message/launch/event. Timing is key so the cohesiveness of the campaign stays intact. #SMTLive— Travis Joyal (@TJMO) July 16, 2019
Integrating influencer marketing with the rest of your campaign seems important to @TJMO.
A4.— Bentley University (@bentleyu) July 16, 2019
-Ownership of content
-Timeline for content/posts
-Strategy + follow up
-Expectations + responsibilities#SMTLive
Yes, absolutely!— Bentley University (@bentleyu) July 16, 2019
You have to define the KPI + how you will track/measure success.
These users also noted specific metrics and clear communication between the brand and in the influencer.
The authenticity question
Influencer marketing became popular because consumers found it authentic. Hearing from a trusted influencer versus a brand itself should promote authenticity, right? It's important to to keep this strategy true to its roots, so we asked Twitter how to make sure influencer marketing still comes off as authentic now that it's so wildly popular.
Q5: The best way is to have a budget to pay the influencer for their time and efforts to really become immersed within the brand - an extension of the marketing team. If they truly understand the brand and respect it, they will WANT to build content around it. #SMTLive— Travis Joyal (@TJMO) July 16, 2019
"Extension of the marketing team:" YES. Love this. Embedding influencers into your team will help them better understand the brand and its goals and could steer them to be more willing to work with the team on creating stronger content. #SMTLive— Natalie Koltun (@natalie_koltun) July 16, 2019
Integrating your influencers into your marketing team could help them understand the bigger picture of your marketing strategy better, and therefore, how they can be the most effective asset to that strategy they can be. Communication and understanding feels important here.
Agreed. Maintain their voice. It's clear to users when content has been heavily edited by brands. #SMTLive— Natalie Koltun (@natalie_koltun) July 16, 2019
Ultimately, users follow influencers for their content, not your brand's. These users emphasized the subsequent importance of keeping the influencers' voice authentic to make sure their content for you comes off as authentic, too.
On myths and facts
Influencer marketing has gotten huge, so naturally, some myths around the strategy have become prevalent in the industry. Our #SMTLive community worked as our mythbusters around a few issues here. First and foremost? Micro-influencers.
A6.— Bentley University (@bentleyu) July 16, 2019
That the influencer needs to have a huge following for your efforts to be successful!
Micro-influencers can have a big impact and are often more connected to their audience, therefore generating more engagement + involvement in your efforts.
As @bentleyu wrote here, micro-influencers are a great asset. Someone doesn't need to have a million followers to be a great influencer for you. In fact, sometimes less is more, and micro-influencers could even be more useful to you than those users with larger followings.
That last bullet! I feel the FTC will get their hands deeper into influencer marketing, especially on IG, and make it more challenging for brands and influencers, alike. And, like you've said, influencer partnerships are starting to look way to similar to one another. #SMTLive— Travis Joyal (@TJMO) July 16, 2019
@natalie_kotlun not only reiterated our micro-influencer fandom here with the "popularity does not equal influence" reminder, but also brought up a new interesting point. Is influencer marketing here to stay? It feels important for these partnerships to stay authentic, as @TJMO said.
Q6: Agree with @bentleyu! Micro influencers carry a ton of influence, ESPECIALLY on a local/regional level. For a national brand, I find it more strategic to partner with numerous micro influencers in multiple markets/regions vs. a couple big-name macro influencers. #SMTLive— Travis Joyal (@TJMO) July 16, 2019
Did we mention we love micro-influencers?
That's it for today's #SMTLive Twitter chat recap. Be sure to RSVP for our next conversation here.