The Art and (Data) Science Behind Influencer Marketing
The result is that the Influencer Marketing space is projected to exceed $5 billion in 2020 and companies are popping up all over to take their piece of the pie. The landscape is further complicated by the massive numbers of players and ever-changing platform opportunities and rules, making it harder than ever for brands to make informed decisions about who the best partners are and how to get the most return for their investment.
Intuitively, marketers turn to data for answers, yet in this state of flux, digital metrics can be a blessing or a curse. It all comes down to how structured a brand’s objectives are. Still one thing remains constant, the best-in-class Influencer marketing brands have figured out how to marry the right data with sound strategies to create successful campaigns.
Establishing your story, your target audience, and your KPIs at the outset remains critical to the process of finding the right Influencer partners and crafting a plan for success. However, as social media platforms mature, brands need to adapt their strategies and expectations along with these changes.
Influencer data is now easier than ever to come by, but buyer beware: not all Influencer campaigns or partners are the same. Many agencies are spinning their numbers to win clients. In this rapidly growing space, metrics that sound good but fail to tie to any tangible ROI have been on the rise. Be wary of any combined “Reach-Engagement” or hybrid speculative metrics, and be strategic about the data you use to set up and quantify the success of your Influencer Partnerships.
What We Will See in 2018
As brands begin to drill down on ROI, organic reach and true engagement will take priority. Over time, fake metrics will no longer be tolerated. Partners will be forced to deliver reliable data to help evaluate the success of Influencer programs.
Most agencies and Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs) only work within their network (or roster) of talent, and often only within one tier of Influencer. Influencer categories range from the traditional side with Experts and Celebrities, to the digital side with Top-Tier, Mid-Tier and Micro-Influencers. There are pros and cons to each tier of Influencers and all should be leveraged in different ways, but the most important factors to focus on are authenticity and engaging content that reaches the right audience. The best agency partners are those that can deliver integrated campaigns agnostically across all tiers of influencers, leveraging the right talent to meet specific campaign goals at the right time. Savvy brands are realizing that a blend of multiple tiers of Influencers, leveraging key primary channels, is critical to the success of the overarching campaign strategy and delivering on KPI’s.
What We Will See in 2018
Brands will increasingly partner with Top-Tier Influencers for longer term partnerships, in a more collaborative, integrated way. Micro-Influencer campaigns, that work with a large number of Influencers but achieve little reach, will begin to see push-back from brands looking for more scale and ROI.
Influencer Marketing is a pay to play game. In year’s past, it operated in a silo, where Influencers were paid to give a shout out or create a branded post on their channel, and that was the extent of it. Many brands still operate under the assumption that partnering with an Influencer who has great reach will help them reach their objectives. But reach alone is not a guarantee of ROI.
Reach should always be looked at in conjunction with engagement and Influencer-created content should not exist in a silo. There should be a strong owned, earned, and paid amplification strategy to ensure you are achieving the reach you are looking for, targeting your exact audience, and capturing the strongest ROI.
As FCC regulations have strengthened around #sponsored posts, and the number of branded posts has increased, social platforms have pushed a number of branded posts away from people’s feeds so as not to spam them. This means it is now absolutely necessary for brands to include paid amplification as part of campaign budgets if they want to maximize the success of their Influencer programs.
What We Will See in 2018
Due to algorithmic changes across main platforms, and a focus on maximizing ROI, Influencer marketing will be forced to breakout of its silo and brands will need to integrate Influencer created content into their owned, earned and paid amplification strategy, optimizing for top performance.
While the rapid changes within the Influencer Marketing landscape can be daunting, the space is growing exponentially, and offers huge opportunity for brands to integrate their messages directly into the content their target audiences are seeking out. The key is to determine which metrics matter for your campaigns. This is a critical step to help inform which platforms, tiers of Influencers, and specific talent are going to deliver the best results. Once you have a plan in place, you can begin to co-create with your Influencers and amplify their content across your owned, earned and paid.
- Define Your Goals
Know the story you want to tell, your target audience and KPIs
- Hire the Right Influencer
Use real metrics and a scorecard to rate potential Influencers to find the best fit to deliver on your campaign’s goals
- Maximize Your ROI
Amplify and optimize your Influencer-created assets across your Owned, Earned and Paid channels for maximum ROI
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