Four Tips for Creators in 2018

After conducting countless analyses on campaigns, and conversations with creators, talent managers, vendors, brands and agencies, the SYLO team has pulled together these four top tips for creators to make the most of their creative strategies and partnerships in 2018.

1. Show Your Authority

The right “influencer” for brands will also be a creator who consistently puts forth quality content. True creators easily separate themselves from the fake accounts and bots that are casting doubt on the influencer marketing space. The creators that brands are now demanding for partnerships will carry out authority on specific topics and will resonate with their audience through innovative and empowering content. Both creators and brands should strive to build a lasting relationship instead of one-off campaigns which appear inauthentic to the creator and brand’s audiences.

 

2. Play to Your Strengths

Utilizing content benchmarks to understand which topics resonate with audiences on various social media platforms will ensure that you are reaching any and all of your engaged audiences. It’s rare that a creator only has “influence” on one topic or theme. Though the you as a creator may be regarded as a “beauty influencer,” you may also see high performance in other areas such as cooking and automotive – which could open up new opportunities to pitch relevant brands with the data showing this “influence.” This can also vary by social media platform. It’s important for both the brand and creator to understand the combination of topics and social media platforms that drive the highest performance and authenticity.

 

3. Cross-Promote your Content

Using the SYLO Score, SYLO analyzed nearly 500 pieces of influencer marketing content produced by creators to see if cross-promotion of their YouTube videos led to better performance. We found that YouTube videos that were cross-promoted by creators scored 47% higher than those that weren’t cross-promoted, and creators with cross-promotions accounting for more than 10% of their branded content saw a 58% higher score on average for that content. However, it’s important that you tailor the content captions to be relevant to the audience for each social media platform – we found that usually, a copy and pasted caption accompanying the cross-promoted content piece underperforms captions that are tailored to each platform’s audience.


4. Embrace Third-Party Standardized Measurement

There are countless articles quoting top marketers from the likes of P&G, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S., and Unilever, demanding for transparency and accountability in the advertising space. Marketers need standardized measurement to track and justify their investments. For creators, standardized measurement will bring more budget into the influencer marketing space as there will be actual measured performance, as well as an increased confidence in the brand partnerships, content strategies, and creators themselves. With more money, creators can afford to be more innovative with their content, seeking out formats that work across different channels. Since they can now see what’s effective, finding content solutions that perform well on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube becomes that much easier.

 

Image source: Pixabay

Top 8 Insights for Influencer Marketing Heading into 2018

By Brett Garfinkel and Erick Schwab, Co-founders of SYLO

With 2017 coming to a close, the SYLO team pulled together all of the trends we’ve analyzed, and now present to you in the form of these top eight insights for your influencer marketing efforts heading into 2018.

1. No one likes to be interrupted

Disruptive ads aren’t something that people look forward to. Platforms have been getting brands excited by trying to make ads less “disruptive” i.e. six-second bumper ads. But what it comes down to is that people really don’t care about what brands have to say about themselves in their ads. That’s why the rise of ad blocking software (600 million devices now block ads) and more than 85% of people skip TV and pre-roll ads.

Brands need to add to the story instead of interrupting it—and influencer marketing is an excellent solution. The key to developing great influencer campaigns is finding what already works for the creator and blending seamlessly into that narrative. 6-second ads and intrusive, sale-sy content just don’t qualify—they are as far from storytelling as you can possibly be.

Related: Stop Interrupting And Start Being A Part Of The Story


2. Influencer Marketing needs to be part of your core marketing mix

Influencer marketing campaigns are generally found on social media, but brands often neglect to connect it to their overarching marketing goal to see how it’s performing in relation to their other media investments. Instead of just using social media influencer campaigns to get exposure and engagement, think of ways to extend them to reap more benefits. For example, you could get creators to work behind the scenes to foster new relationships for your brand. Or, you could connect your influencer campaigns with TV ads and radio and billboard campaigns to increase impact and put out a coherent, uniform message across a variety of different channels.

Another point of consideration is SEO. While it is considered ‘below the line’ marketing, it can still benefit from the ‘above the line’ activities. Partnering up with ‘micro’ influencers (bloggers, reviewers) can expose your content to different audiences, plus your link diversity gets a significant boost, which will eventually affect your SERP rankings.

Related: Influencer Marketing In The Core Marketing Mix


3. No more one-off campaigns or fake influencers

Technology is enabling anyone and everyone to declare herself or himself an “influencer.” In the realm of influencer marketing, brand marketers should be focusing on “creators” rather than just “influencers”. Not only do the “influencers” need to be authentic creators, but brands looking to partner with them should focus on authentic relationships with these creators. Authenticity, both of a creator and a brand integration, is important to a successful partnership, and brands should strive to build lasting relationships with creators rather than one-off campaigns that hurt the authenticity of both the brand and the creator.

We wrote a whole blog post on tips for developing long-term creator relationships, which you can view by clicking here.

Consistently engaging in one-off campaigns without exploring longer-term partnerships can put both brands and creators in jeopardy. Influencer marketing campaigns will feel like advertisements, the possibility of sending a wrong message increases, and there is no access to any substantial data monitoring campaign performance over time.

Related: Can Anyone be a Social Influencer? | Is Influencer Marketing Still Experimental?


4. Utilize content and platform benchmarks

Harnessing content benchmarks to understand which topics resonate with audiences on various social media platforms will ensure that you’re reaching any and all engaged audiences for your creators. It’s rare that a creator only has “influence” on one topic or theme. Though the creator may be regarded as a “beauty influencer,” the creator may also see high performance in other areas such as parenting and pets – which could open up new opportunities to pitch relevant brands with the data showing this “influence.” This can also vary by social media platform. It’s important for both the brand and creator to understand the combination of topics and social media platforms that drive the highest performance and authenticity.

One thing that often holds back influencer marketing strategies is that they only focus on the category or theme that the creator is known for i.e. Beauty. In a beauty creator case study that SYLO compiled, we saw that beauty wasn’t the only theme she utilizes (or that resonates with her audience). For example, across Twitter and YouTube, this beauty creator’s content performed well when it featured product reviews or advice/recommendations, but not so much on Instagram.

Related: Storytelling Insights You Need to Know


5. Cross-promote your social influencer marketing content!

Last summer, SYLO conducted a study analyzing nearly 500 pieces of influencer marketing content produced by creators to see if cross-promoting their YouTube videos led to better performance (measured by the SYLO Score,) We found that YouTube videos that were cross-promoted scored 47% higher than those that weren’t cross-promoted, and creators who had cross-promotions accounting for more than 10% of their branded content saw a 58% higher score on average for that content.

The content study also showed that cross-promotion needs to be a consistent strategy, and one that is tailored to each platform. For example, one creator in the study used the same caption across all of the social media platforms where she cross-promoted her YouTube video. These posts may have performed much better if she had tailored her caption to a content/caption style that typically resonates with her audience on that platform.

Related: Three Tips for Social Influencer Cross-Promotions


6. Show actual performance with clean data and third-party measurement

Digital marketing is under major scrutiny these days. CEOs of major international corporations (P&G, Unilever, Bank of America) are threatening to pull their marketing dollars if companies and platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and, to an extent, Google) don’t solve their reporting and measurement problems. In effect, marketers are tired of spending their budget dollars without the safety net that is independent third-party verification and measurement, which builds trust and establishes credibility.

This carries over into influencer marketing, which has massive potential but is sorely lacking when it comes to verification and measurement. If the influencer marketing industry doesn’t start providing marketers with quality data and intelligence, CMOs will pull the plug on influencer marketing media to focus resources and budget on what is actually proving ROI.

Marketers should be also informed when preparing the content and creator strategies for their influencer campaigns. As stated in a recent MarTech Today article, “If you want to be a better marketer, you need to start with clean data.” By utilizing third-party, independent data sources that provide creator, platform, and campaign performance, and content benchmarks, you can truly have a data-driven influencer marketing strategy.

Related: Standardized Measurement Will Help Creators Win Long-Term Brand Partnerships


7. The “bubble” will burst…unless this happens

Several articles have described influencer marketing as a bubble that’s going to burst. Yes, it will burst—as long as brand marketers and CMOs are unsure of the value or metrics being reported.

Third-party measurement in the influencer marketing space can validate the results and truly justify the spend. But, what we need to prevent the influencer marketing bubble from bursting is: Participation! MCNs, vendors, talent managers, creators, agencies, PR firms, and brands all need to get behind a solution, that is third-party standardized measurement. You need a village to make this a reality, with all of the key players in the influencer marketing universe coming together for the betterment of the space.

Related: How the Influencer Marketing Bubble Won’t Burst


8. It’s time to take influencer marketing to the next level

It’s been years since influencer marketing started making a difference on the digital scene (at least in the format we’re familiar with now – first YouTube, and now Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms). We have a growing number of creators (and brands willing to work with them), agencies connecting them to each other, and startups offering all kinds of services to both sides. It’s definitely high time to solve the pressing issue of standardized measurement in influencer marketing so that the industry can continue to develop. SYLO’s innovative approach to this problem enables the influencer marketing community to move the industry forward – learn more at meetsylo.com.

Related: Influencer Marketing in Desperate Need of Verification and Transparency

 

Image source: Pixabay

How the Influencer Marketing “Bubble” Won’t Burst

By Brett Garfinkel, CEO and Co-Founder at SYLO

When winning and executing any type of campaign, a key thought process for media sales teams is that they need to maintain this business to help deliver on or above their set quota. To achieve this, they need to show campaign success so that the brand marketer looks good. When the brand marketer looks good, this increases the media vendor’s chance of gaining repeat business and overachieving on quota.

For media types, such as TV, digital advertising, or website advertising, there are third-party independent measurement solutions to verify and validate this success. The way we know which are the best performing TV shows during Tuesday primetime is because there is standardized reporting – the Nielsen rating.

In the influencer marketing space, there was such no third-party out there where they could see the success. Up until now, reporting is often just creating the story to keep brand marketers satisfied and keep the business coming.

My team has been told this over and over again in meetings with brand marketers. They’re left with the apparent reality that every campaign is a success. We ask, “When was the last time you received a report that showed that your influencer marketing campaign performed poorly?” Answer: *crickets*, and then *chuckles* as they realize the reality of the situation.

It is for that reason that independent, third-party standardized measurement is necessary for the influencer marketing space.

The Current State of the “Bubble”

Several articles have described influencer marketing as a bubble that’s going to burst. Yes, it will burstas long as brand marketers and CMOs are unsure of the value or metrics being reported.

Then, there are a number of vendors who present themselves as all-in-one solutions with matching, execution, and reporting components for influencer marketing campaigns. Can you see how this might introduce conflicting factors when it comes to real, accurate measurement? They have a horse in the race, but are still providing reports.

Perhaps your influencer marketing tech stack includes an influencer identification/matching tool and/or a platform that manages and executes the campaigns. Regardless, you will need a third-party measurement platform to validate the results and truly justify the spend.

The Most Valuable Word in the Influencer Marketing Space

What we need to prevent the influencer marketing bubble from bursting is: Participation! That should be the most valuable word in the influencer marketing space. MCNs, vendors, talent managers, creators, agencies, PR firms, and brands all need to get behind a solution, that is third-party standardized measurement. You need a village to make this a reality, with all of the key players in the influencer marketing universe coming together for the betterment of the space.

There are countless articles quoting top marketers from the likes of P&G, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S., and Unilever, demanding for transparency and accountability in the advertising space. This needs to be demanded for every type of advertising. So, if you believe this, then participateno one entity can make this a reality. For brands and their agencies, standardized measurement will legitimize their reporting and provide confidence in what is succeeding and what is not so that they can tailor and improve their strategies; when you receive conflicting numbers and reports from various sources, there is no moving forward and the “bubble” will burst. And for the talent side, it will bring more budget into the space as there will be actual measured performance, as well as an increased confidence in the brand partnerships, content strategies, and creators themselves.

What is It Worth?

As you increase your influencer marketing spend, and see yourself working with more creators across more platforms, shouldn’t you expect a better understanding of your results via third-party standardized measurement? If the answer is yes, then how much is it worth to you? Not in terms of just budget, but in efficiency and the ability to positively affect your business goals. What is it worth to you to be able to have third-party standardized measurement and content benchmarks that will save you so much time, effort, and money on underperforming campaigns and influencers?

I’d love to hear your answers to the above questions, as well as hear your thoughts and position on what was discussed in this blog post. Please contact me at brett@meetsylo.com to continue this conversation, and you can also visit www.meetsylo.com to learn more about standardized measurement for the influencer marketing space.

 

Image source: Pixabay

Influencer Marketing in Desperate Need of Verification and Transparency

By Brett Garfinkel, CEO and Co-Founder at SYLO

Influencer marketing is an industry open to everyone. Much like the Wild West of yore, it’s full of opportunity lurking around every corner – barriers to entry are minimal and pretty much anybody can start creating content with the goal of partnering with a brand somewhere down the line.

Does this mean that the industry is all sunshine and roses?

Of course not.

Influencer Marketing Threatened by the Lack of Standardized Measurement

Where there’s ample opportunity, there’s ample danger. Now that there’s plenty of land to stake a claim on, there should also be at least a semblance of order. Digital marketing is under major scrutiny these days. CEOs of major international corporations (P&G, Unilever, Bank of America) are threatening to pull their marketing dollars if companies and platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and, to an extent, Google) don’t solve their reporting and measurement problems.

In effect, marketers are tired of spending their budget dollars without the safety net that is independent third-party verification and measurement, which builds trust and establishes credibility. This carries over into Influencer marketing, which has massive potential but is sorely lacking when it comes to verification and measurement.

How much longer will marketers spend money on a marketing strategy that’s difficult to compare with other media buys; a strategy that defies benchmarking and that is in dire need of a tool which will act as a single source of truth?

In my opinion, if the influencer industry doesn’t wise up soon and start providing marketers with quality intelligence (and not just data), CMOs will pull the plug on influencer marketing media and, instead, focus resources and budgets on what is actually proving ROI. A promising industry (that’s providing value to marketers, creators, and publishers) will then be left on the fringe, without ever realizing its full potential.

What Can Be Gained from Standardized Measurement?

Marketers need standardized measurement to track and justify their investments. Also, platforms would welcome standardized measurement, especially if that is the only way they can keep taking their slice of the pie.

As for the creator community, there are two core benefits here that need to be considered.

The first is money. Marketing budgets might be tight (at least judging from the P&Gs reaction) but the purse strings are easily unleashed for strategies that truly work. However, marketers have issues with paying for dubious results or strategies they can’t measure and benchmark. Until they can do that, influencer marketing will stay in the realm of experimental, and so will the budgets allocated to it.

The second benefit is innovation. Standardized measurement gives marketers the opportunity to work on scale – it allows them to easily run campaigns on different platforms while gathering valuable insight. With more money, creators can afford to be more innovative with their content, seeking out formats that work across different channels. Since they can now see what’s effective, finding content solutions that perform well on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube becomes that much easier. As a consequence, creators will become more daring and will push the envelope when it comes to the content they create.

It’s Time to Take Influencer Marketing to the Next Level

It’s been years since influencer marketing started making a difference on the digital scene (at least in the format we’re familiar with now – first YouTube, and now Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms). We have a growing number of creators and brands willing to work with them, agencies connecting them to each other, and startups offering all kinds of services to both sides. It’s definitely high time to solve the pressing issue of standardized measurement in influencer marketing so that the industry can continue to develop. SYLO’s innovative approach to this problem adds order to this “Wild West” and enables the influencer marketing community to move the industry forward – learn more at meetsylo.com!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Influencer Marketing Is a Team Sport

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

This is part two of our series on standardized measurement helping both creators and brands move the influencer marketing space forward. Click here to check out part one which recaps the conversations Team SYLO had with the Buffer Festival creator attendees on the need for standardized measurement to increase partnership investments in the space.

To ensure a better tomorrow, the creator and brand communities must participate in solving influencer marketing’s standardized measurement problem.

Social media platforms are making huge decisions: where and how will content be shown and distributed, revenue shares, and other big-ticket items that are hard to exert any executive power over. In response, creators are banding together more in the hopes of influencing social media execs, as showcased in this video made by a famous YouTube creator, Casey Neistat.

Brands, on the other hand, have a marketing budget and goals to achieve. They need to require independent, standardized measurement for influencer marketing (same as all other media they purchase) so that they can support their spend. It’s too great of a risk to spend ever-increasing amounts of their marketing budget on a marketing medium that they are unable to quantify and compare against, say, the same spend on TV. So far, they have been working with several metrics that don’t translate to all the other media purchased for a campaign:

  • Engagement
  • Views
  • Likes
  • Subscribers

…and a few others. However, while these metrics tell them that something in their influencer campaigns is working, it doesn’t tell them what that is or why.

If the creator community started to leverage all of its performance data, it would unlock a solution to marketers’ burning question – where should we spend our money to make more money!. Otherwise, marketers will continue to see influencer marketing as something experimental with an unclear ROI.

2018 needs to be the year in which we make sure that the word ‘experimental’ is no longer associated with influencer marketing. To make that happen, we need to make standardized measurement our priority. By partnering up with SYLO, creators can show brands everything they need to see measurement-wise and, I guarantee, these brands will want to invest more of their budget in the data-verified creators.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Standardized Measurement Will Help Creators Win Long-Term Brand Partnerships

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

During my recent trip to Toronto, I had the chance to participate in a couple of events organized by the good folks from Buffer Festival. I met a lot of smart creators who work with brands on a daily basis. They create awesome content for these brands, but are dealing with an ever-growing challenge of bridging the gap from storytelling to finding out how their work impacted brands’ goals.

We also discussed current influencer marketing trends, problems, and future perspectives. Almost all of our discussions ended on the same note: influencer marketing has great potential and is already living up to some of it, but there is a bigger opportunity on the horizon. That opportunity involves shifting huge TV and programmatic ad budgets over to influencer-based marketing; maturing from experimental marketing to a core part of a brand’s marketing mix.

Everyone who I talked to agrees that our industry’s biggest problem is standardized measurement. It’s a problem for brands who need to justify their investments with verified data, but it’s also rapidly becoming a problem for creators, who find it difficult to secure more mutually beneficial long-term brand deals.

When Third-Party Measurement Is Established, Brand Investments Follow

I’ve been reading that we can expect an uptick of branded posts in the coming years. Some figures show that their number will be close to $35 million by the end of 2019. In fact, the influencer ad market is now worth $1 billion and, with projected increase in posts, that number will only grow.

That sounds like a lot, right?

To put that into context, brands are spending around $71 billion on TV ads and around $83 billion on digital advertising per year (2016 was the first year in which digital surpassed TV). In addition to that, the video marketing industry is expected to break $135 billion in the US alone this year. That’s a total of $289 billion dollars being spent on three different (and broad) marketing channels. Projected influencer marketing spend (those $1 billion) in 2017 is exactly 0.34 % of those astronomical budgets!

We can all agree that TV would not see that level of ad spend if Nielsen ratings (standardized measurement) didn’t allow marketers to effectively gauge what they are getting in return.

Now, imagine the same type of standardized measurement serving as a driving force for influencer marketing. Once marketers have the same degree of confidence in the ROI of influencer marketing, and can benchmark it against TV ads and programmatic (those video ads you see all over the web), it’s going to bring with it marketing budgets the creator community has never seen before. Just picture what the landscape would look like if 20-30% of TV ad budgets are reallocated and made available for creators? The industry would explode – more work for creators, better returns for brands, more incentives for platforms to further develop their features – and that’s just the beginning!

We have an opportunity to do just this. If we can offer actionable numbers to marketers, they will choose creators – not TV, not billboards, not programmatic – and there’s no doubt about that. They just need to see that their investment is working, in black and white, from an independent third party.

This is part one of a two-part series on how standardized measurement will help both creators and brands move the influencer marketing space forward. Stay tuned for part two which demonstrates why influencer marketing is a team sport.

Photo credit: Pixabay

3 Tips for Developing Long-Term Creator Relationships

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

As more and more brands are depending on influencer marketing to reach their target consumers, it is becoming increasingly important to develop relationships that are authentic for both the brand and the creator. Before deciding to implement influencer marketing into your brand communications strategy, it is crucial to identify WHY you are using the medium and goals to measure against.

Analyzing thousands of recent campaigns there are three pillars to develop a genuine, lasting relationship with creators on influencer marketing campaigns.

1) Define the Purpose

Your first key ingredient in building a positive relationship is to define the purpose of influencers in the marketing mix. Why are you ultimately going to implement influencers into your strategy? Is it because sixty percent of all brands use it? Or maybe you’ve realized that it has worked for other brands you’ve studied. Whether you’re goals are  brand awareness, favorability, or purchase intent, start by asking yourself why you chose influencer marketing and what is success.

2) Know What Works for Your Creators and Strategize Accordingly

Once you have mapped out your reasons for implementing influencer marketing into your marketing mix, the second step will be to experiment with the content and test what has worked for the creators you’ve partnered with. Ensure that all creators are verified, brand-safe, and FTC compliant via a third-party. Research the various programming to develop brand-safe creative strategies that fuel proven storytelling.

3) Do Not Plan for a One-Off Interaction

After understanding the top performers and creative strategies, the third and final step will be to sign long-term partnerships. These relationships are authentic and effective. Marketers should strive to build partnerships that are mutually beneficial. The right “influencer” will also be a creator who consistently puts forth quality content. True creators easily separate themselves from the fake accounts and bots that are casting doubt on the influencer marketing space. The creators you will inevitably want to partner with, will carry out authority on specific topics and will resonate with their audience through innovative and empowering content. Move toward building a lasting relationship with creators instead of one-off campaigns which appear inauthentic to the creator and brand’s audiences.

If you want to ensure that your relationships and strategies are working best for your brand, make sure to check out metrics and insights provided by SYLO.

Image source: Pixabay

Influencer Marketing in the Core Marketing Mix

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

This is part two of our series on how brands can integrate influencer campaigns into their marketing mix and measure for success. Click here to check out last week’s post on whether influencer marketing is still in the experimental phase.

Last week, I discussed how influencer marketing needs to move past the experimental stage, and find its way into brands’ core marketing mixes. So how can brands go about this? Instead of constantly ‘experimenting’ with influencer marketing, do something different—dig in deeper to find the real value it can bring to your brand. The first question you need to answer is WHY you’re doing influencer marketing at all. Establish goals, define KPI’s, and make sure that they align with other marketing tactics you’re spending money on.

Social media is the natural home of influencer campaigns but brands often neglect to plug it in and connect it to their overarching marketing goal to see how it’s performing in relation to everything else. Instead of just using social media influencer campaigns to get exposure and engagement, think of ways to extend them to reap more benefits. For example, you could get creators to work behind the scenes to foster new relationships for your brand. Or, you could connect your influencer campaigns with TV ads and radio and billboard campaigns to increase impact and put out a coherent, uniform message across a variety of different channels.

Another point of consideration is SEO. While it is considered ‘below the line’ marketing, it can still benefit from the ‘above the line’ activities. Partnering up with ‘micro’ influencers (bloggers, reviewers) can expose your content to different audiences, plus your link diversity gets a significant boost, which will eventually affect your SERP rankings.

This Is How Porsche Does It
Porsche’s recent campaigns demonstrate the true power of integrating influencers with other tactics at their disposal by taking on a challenging goal – changing the perception of sports cars from something that’s for men that are going through a midlife crisis to something that’s cool, young, and vibrant. They ended up organizing pop-up events in iconic US locations and using social media creators to deliver both buzz and a sense of urgency. Curated content was delivered to smartphones using geo-targeting and Instagram and Snap stories allowed the audience to get behind the scenes. These impromptu races were then broadcasted over radio and listeners were directed to web pages where they could find out what other Porsche events were taking place nearby.

As you can see, Porsche went all out, understanding that good influencer campaigns connect with everything else; when done properly, they can amplify the message and give other marketing tactics (placement, paid media, SEO, PR) a boost that they need.

Measure Everything And Replicate Success

Integrating influencer marketing and making it a part of your other marketing activities allows you to connect campaigns and see how they can benefit from each other. Since they are all working towards one overarching goal, it’s a shame not to use their synergistic interaction to your benefit.

These integrations also give you context and allow you to compare influencer marketing with other mediums in order to gauge its true value. Measuring these integrated campaigns and comparing them to what was done in the past will light up where to focus in the future in order to improve ROI. Keep the integrations that are working and keep experimenting with the others until you get what you’re after.

Benefits of influencer marketing can sometimes feel hard to grasp but they are there. The way to reap them is to partner up with someone who can show you the real value of influencer marketing through metrics and data. Only then can you build effective influencer marketing strategies that will help you achieve your goals. SYLO can provide you with those metrics so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Is Influencer Marketing Still Experimental?

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

Here’s something I’m sure all marketers can agree with – you don’t have it easy.

With so many different marketing approaches popping up on a regular basis, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. The question is always: “what to add to your core marketing mix and what to leave behind?”

Influencer marketing is one of those tactics that often inspires lively debates.

Is it still new and experimental? How do you measure its ROI? Which team should handle it – PR, media, social? Seeing how it hasn’t been long since it became mainstream, it’s easily understand the confusion that influencer marketing creates internally.

So, is influencer marketing still experimental?

The answer can be both yes and no, and it depends on how you treat it within your company. If you’re activating your first few campaigns then yes, it’s experimental. However, the costs will balloon up quickly, making its ‘experimental’ status unsustainable in the long run.

That’s why it’s important to plug influencer marketing into your core marketing mix as soon as possible. Treat it as you would any other media you purchase so it can be evaluated equally against contributes to your overall goals. As for who should handle it, the answer is – dedicated professionals who will make sure that influencer campaigns don’t devolve into more questions verse results.

Integrating influencer marketing into your core marketing strategy and benchmarking it against past practices allows you to see its effectiveness in relation to everything else you’re doing. It also gives you an opportunity to measure the impact influencer marketing is having on your other marketing mediums – what it boosts and by how much.

If you fail to do that, you run the risk of executing campaigns that miss the mark more often than they hit it. Experimenting is good and well, but if you’re not measuring—if you’re not learning from those one-off campaigns—you can’t evolve your strategies. The real threat here is becoming locked in superficial partnerships and never exploring what you can get from deeper, long-term relationships with creators.

Why One-Off Influencer Marketing Campaigns Are a Missed Opportunity

Instagram alone is a $1 BILLION economy in terms of influencer marketing. It’s possible that the economy on that one platform is even bigger when we factor in the related costs. Add all of the other social media platforms to that and the amount of money spent on influencer marketing becomes mind-boggling.

I’m willing to wager that a good chunk of that money is spent on one-off campaigns, with just a fraction of it being diverted into long-term relationships that actually have some value.

Consistently engaging in one-off campaigns without exploring the deep end of the pool can put both brands and creators in jeopardy.

  • Campaigns will feel like adverts – an underlying thread connecting the brand and the creator is often missing, resulting in disjointed campaigns that are not in sync with everything else the creator is producing.
  • The possibility of sending a wrong message increases – since there’s no connection, there’s no way to know how audiences will react to the brand. Will they consider the collaboration an ‘intrusion’? If they do, they will simply manually ‘ad block’ content and that will be the end of that collaboration.
  • No access to any substantial data – monitoring campaigns over time gives brands the opportunity to learn about demographics, trends, engagement, and more. One-off campaigns are a very unreliable source of said data.

This is part one of a two part series on how brands can integrate influencer campaigns into their marketing mix and measure for success. Click here to read part two which dives into the best practices for making influencer campaigns a part of your core marketing strategy.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Stop Interrupting and Start Being a Part of the Story

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

Are ads really something that people are looking for? I think that we can all agree that the answer is a resolute no.

So, why don’t marketers see that? The insistence on inherently flawed disruptive marketing is not going away. Instead, audiences are getting served tweaked video ad formats in the hopes that they’ll accept them without too much grumbling. The best example are the YouTube 6-second bumper ads – the whole industry is excited about them. They were introduced a year ago and, recently, one of major TV networks, FOX, started adopting them as well.

Why?

Well, marketing and agency executives think that these disruptive ads are less of a nuisance the shorter they last. In my opinion, they are simply an attempt to kick the can down the line so someone else has to deal with that particular marketing hot potato. Essentially, marketers are trying to signal their customers and boards of directors that they’re changing with the times while staying firmly set in their old ways.

Disruptive marketing is not working anymore so it’s high time to call a spade a spade. People simply don’t care about what you have to say about yourself in your ads. The rise of ad blocking software (600 million devices now block ads) and the fact that more than 85% of people skip TV and pre-roll ads is a clear indication of that.

How can your brand make sure that it’s respecting the viewers instead of ticking them off?

Respect the Creator and Their Audience – Add to the Story Instead of Interrupting It

Interruptions in creator content (done under the guise of influencer marketing) are as glaring as those on YouTube videos. They are painfully obvious, out of touch, and don’t make that much-needed connection with the audience.

For example, after observing several creators and analyzing their collaborations with brands, I’ve noticed that there’s a distinct dissonance between the work that they put out independently and the work that’s created for the brands. Namely, this ‘promotional content’ sticks out as exactly that – promotional.

It happens in one of two ways:

  • Brands look at creators as ad units, taking into account their reach, engagement, audience demographics, psychographics but that’s where it typically stops.. The creator’s personal brand of storytelling is ignored and what works for them isn’t even on the brand’s radar. Brand’s creative team sets to work, producing content that fails to connect with the audience. The result is usually promo content that not only doesn’t deliver, it’s also damaging to both the creator and the brand.
  • Brands make the mistake of thinking that the creators are their creative extension. They will supply them with a rough idea and a brief, expecting creators to come up with a way to integrate the brand’s messaging with what they usually do. Creators struggle to achieve this, spending days figuring out something that agency teams work months on. The result is often an underperforming one-off campaign that completely misses the mark. This happens often and the fact that a lot of influencer marketing ‘experts’ encourage brands to rely on the creator to develop the creative strategy is not helping.

Both approaches result in underwhelming results.

The right strategy lies somewhere in the middle. Brands need to learn which audiences and themes the creator resonates with across various social media platforms. Which of their stories grab people’s attention and hold it?

When you figure out what makes a creator successful and how you as a brand can facilitate that which is already working…well, you’ve found the sweet spot.

Be The Fuel That Keeps A Successful Story Going

How can brands go about doing that?

For starters, you drill into all of the data about the creator that you can get your hands on to see what makes that particular audience tick, Why are they coming back every day—particular formatting, the way the story is told, humor; the list is endless. You then enable the creator to tell those stories with more ease and without disrupting the experience. A good relationship between the brand and the creator is essential because, eventually, it will spill over to the content more easily, lending credibility to the collaboration.

Secondly, you step out of the box and stomp on it. Remember that audiences have diverse interests and by identifying the various themes where the creator’s content is successful, brands and creators can build mutually beneficial and lasting relationships.

For example, we partnered with a creator in the gaming area to help measure success with a growing brand partner. The branded gaming content was doing ok, but the results could be better. By pulling up the SYLO Score of hundreds of creator’s videos, we’ve noticed that his non-gaming content was getting some serious traction. Things like his workout routine, cooking and recipes, day-to-day rants were interesting to his audience. We spoke with both parties about focusing the collaboration on that. The content was branded but integrations were kept low-key and, ultimately, that content exceeded native pieces. Why? Because it was human, real, and fun and the creator was not trying to sell something.

The key to developing great influencer campaigns is finding what already works for the creator and blending seamlessly into that narrative. 6-second ads and intrusive, sale-sy content just don’t qualify—they are as far from storytelling as you can possibly be.

If you want to find out what does qualify, make sure to check out metrics and insights provided by SYLO. In the meantime, tell me more about your favorite influencer campaign in the comments and I’ll tell you how it could have been better executed (or the coffee’s on me the next time we meet).

Photo credit: Pixabay