Influencer Marketing is a term that has been bandied around a lot in the last few years. Some marketers and industry experts think that this form of marketing is set to grow further, and others think the industry is living on borrowed time already and is set to implode anytime now. So who is right? Should brands who aren’t doing it yet, start? How much budget does it take to make a real difference? What should brands expect in return for their investment? Read on for our take on Influencer Marketing in 2018.
Influencer Marketing is a game played on many levels
Essentially, anyone who assists your marketing efforts by putting content in front of their own audience (and therefore, your potential new customers) is an ‘influencer’. This ranges from a niche blogger or the person behind a specific social media account, all the way up to big bloggers/vloggers/social media influencers and bona fide celebrities.
For brands wanting to utilise influencers as part of their marketing plan, knowing which people to try and work with will very much depend on the brand, what they do/sell and who their target customers are. The ‘level’ of influencer they will be able to work with is generally dictated by budget.
How much does influencer marketing cost?
Influencers generally charge for their help with a brand campaign – whether they work at this full time or as a hobby. Sometimes this may be in the form of gifted products or services, but more and more now, and something that we’ve noticed has already stepped up a notch in 2018, not insignificant amounts of money are paid in return for an influencer’s services. This can be anything between £50 for a blog and social posts from a small blogger with fairly low website authority and social following, right up to around £50k for a dedicated video on a top vlogger’s own channel, with more than a million subscribers.
In order for everyone but the very top influencers to keep the brand partnerships and campaigns rolling in, they need to ensure they don’t price themselves out of the market in relation to what they actually give brands in return (more on this later).
Is the influencer industry here to stay?
All the signs are pointing to influencer marketing being a part of brand strategies for years to come. It’s not as if celebrity endorsements or partnerships are a new thing; influencer marketing is simply a newer form of this type of approach.
With less young people watching TV, listening to the radio and reading print magazines, using the individuals and groups that the target audience engage with online is virtually the only way to reach them in many cases.
However, young audiences are very aware that they are being marketed to by the influencers they follow, so brands need to ensure that they choose influencers carefully. Spending money on a campaign with influencers who are not a natural fit with the brand will only bring poor results as the audience see through it instantly. Likewise, influencers who value and respect their audience will only work with brands they have an affinity with to ensure their integrity is maintained. If this falls down, those they ‘influence’ will soon lose interest and look elsewhere.
There are now tools available for brands and agencies to check how ‘real’ an influencer’s following is. This means a number of people who bought their followers and essentially faked their influence find it more difficult to convince brands to work with them. It pays for it to be real on all counts.
Are brands too late to the game if they’re not doing influencer marketing already?
Some brands have been working with online influencers for years, but that doesn’t mean that those new to it can’t use similar tactics. It will come down to who you work with and how you work with them. Making influencer campaign content that stands out isn’t easy, but it can be really effective in a number of ways.
What should brands get from the influencers they work with?
This is the crux of whether the industry sinks or swims in the next few years. Brands can only justify spending budget on influencers when they know what they will get in return, and rightly so. An influencer campaign needs a ROI and it is the responsibility of marketers to set objectives and consider KPIs before they even start thinking about who to work with.
Links from influencer’s own blogs can be a positive SEO signal and can send referral traffic, which can be tracked, along with any sales generated. Social media engagement can be measured, as can site traffic and sales from this source.
Ensure that you use contracts with influencers so that everyone is aware of what the campaign involves, including deadlines dates, and there is no confusion on either side. This should include everything from the number of social posts and which hashtag to use, to who holds image/content rights and a clear start and end date of the campaign.
Watch our video on Influencer Marketing ROI for more information on measuring your campaigns.
So, will 2018 be the year of influencer marketing? Quite possibly so. However, making this type of marketing tactic a brand’s sole focus would definitely be a mistake too. We always recommend a balanced digital marketing strategy that takes multiple channels and tactics into account to maximise the benefit to the brand and their online presence.