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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Image source: Pixabay