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Influencer Marketing Insights for 2020

WE Communications Blog: Agency

04/11/2019
— Jarred Du Plessis 

It has been predicted that brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022 – with influencers set to play a vital role in the marketing mix. But how do brands and influencers work together to win the hearts and minds of their audiences? I recently attended PI Live and The Influencer Marketing Show 2019 – a two-day tradeshow dedicated to performance and influencer marketing – and these were the key takeaways from the event.

Currently, there are 300 collaboration tools in influencer marketing, but according to Kolsquare’s Quintin Bordage, this will narrow to 5 – 10 in the near future, as these players start to evolve and consolidate into more of a one-stop-shop model, making it easier for brands and influencers to collaborate.

Statistics presented by Kolsquare showed that in 2018, 0.93% of social posts were sponsored. In 2019 this figure has increased to 3.68%, where growth is predicted at 15% in 2020 – proving the popularity of brands using influencers to help market products and services.

The typical types of influencer include:
• Mega influencers (audience size: 1m+)
• Micro/ niche influencers (audience size: 1K – 15K)
• Macro influencers (audience size: 500K – 1m)
• Regular influencers (audience size: 15K – 50K)
• Rising stars (audience size: 50 – 100K)
• Mid influencers (audience size: 100 – 500K)

Most engaged with topics over the past year included: family and friends, animals, pets and travel; with associated engagement rates for hero social channels being: 3.19% on Instagram, 0.69% on Facebook, and 0.02% in Twitter.

MAKE INFLUENCER MARKETING AUTHENTIC

In our Brands in Motion 2019 global study, WE CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin expressed that, “they [consumers] expect authenticity — if you want to tell a story, your brand has to live it first.” This is the same for influencers and what they say and do needs to match to be truthful, be authentic and most importantly, tie-into their values.

The days of taking a photo with a product and posting it are gone. Brands need to do the due diligence and research before collaborating – establishing a long-term strategy, not pure one-offs. According to Influencer Marketing Consultant Scott Guthrie, the love for influencer content is strong, if it brings value. But if your audience feels hoodwinked, expect a negative reaction. The way we look at influencers could help brands develop a stronger and more authentic relationship.

The need for diversity in influencer marketing is also important when it comes to influencer collaborations. Influencer marketing and collaborations should show that there’s a place for everyone, equally. When Youtubers of colour showed up at Coachella for a #Sponcon, it was revealed that fashion brand Dote treated white influencers much differently, with woman of colour segregated into another room. Creating an equal platform in the way brands produce sponsored content is a significant step in allowing a genuine connection between your audience and the content being promoted.

CREATORS NOT INFLUENCERS

Fourth Floor Creative’s Richard Keith believes that the word ‘Influencer’ is troublesome because influence is the output of what these people do and has become synonymous with the term ‘celebrity’, which creates attention for the sake of it – not always considering the creative aspect of the process. Brands need to start thinking about collaborating with ‘creators’ as opposed to ‘influencers’. When working with ‘creators’ it’s much easier to deliver creative campaigns, which mean something.

The biggest thing brands want from a campaign is more control, however creators want creative control. Therefore, a balance is needed to appease both parties, or else creativity will become stifled. Listen to the creators – their audience are your consumers and they will have valuable insight (and in many cases they ARE your audience).

Rob Eades (@leanstudentchef) believes that Influencer strategy works if your personality is dialled up, and you speak and communicate regularly with your followers. It’s in the influencer’s interest to build relationships to ensure the longevity of their brand.

Adanna David (@adannadavid) recommends sharing your experience and tips based on your interests/passion and field – sharing your journey, as it’ll help other like-minded people. She advised that one question brands need to ask before collaborating is: why do people follow this influencer?

Illustrator and visual artist, Alice Skinner (@thisisaliceskinner) feels that brands need to align with the influencer’s ethics, values and moral compass, stating that influencers often only collaborate with brands whose products they believe in and they would buy from. Her suggested key questions for brands to ask before collaborating include: is it a natural fit? Are they diverse? Do they invite negative controversy?

THREE WAYS FOR BRANDS TO APPROACH INFLUENCER MARKETING

1. USE CONTENT EFFECTIVELY

It’s natural for brands to have a nervousness and UGC hangover before working with influencers, but trialling their creative smarts is the best first step. Think about the type of content an influencer can create that your brand can’t and run with it.

2. STAY AUTHENTIC

Authenticity and aligning with everyday people will help build trust and allow influencers to be seen as consultants by brands, not just someone you have a transactional relationship with.

Three UK based influencer’s who have embraced authenticity include: Rob Eades (@leanstudenchef)– dialling up everyday life with a nod to healthy lifestyle and diet; Adanna David (@adannadavid) – a former doctor turned successful family, travel and style influencer; and WE’s very own Bella Foxwell (@thedoorsoflondon) – an Instagram advocate with a passion for photographing beautiful doors across London.

All three have very different focus areas but share one thing in common: they create for the audience they’ve established and engage authentically with every comment they receive.

3. QUALITY CONNECTION OVER QUALITY CONTENT

How an influencer engages with their audience says a lot. Give influencers the creative freedom around content in a way that resonates best with their audience. As a brand, it’s also important to understand if an influencer is the right fit. Does the brand and the influencer have shared values? CPA (cost per action) and engagement is a good way to quantify and measure results i.e. what truly helped drive sales so that you’re making sure every communication is impactful.

This provides as an ideal opportunity for brands when thinking about influencer marketing in 2020 and beyond – paving the way for authentic collaborations with creators. How does your brand plan to approach influencer marketing in 2020?