Understanding the top trends within influencer marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new – in fact, almost 70% of brands already use this tool according to the annual Influencer Marketing Report hosted by Forbes. What’s changed is how people use it. Using the internet to enhance our lives has become almost second nature. Five or ten years ago, tagging a mobile GPS to remember your parking spot, outsourcing your love life to a deluge of dating apps, or crowdsourcing where you want to eat dinner on Friday night simply wasn’t the norm — but today it is. 

Video rules the influencer sphere: 

Although Instagram is often cited as the most popular social media platform for influencers and celebrities, video is the most popular medium to get the word out. In a world where SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook (and many others) offer disappearing videos and live-streaming options, static imagery can feel too permanent or too official. Or worse — be confused with a paid ad. Disposable and live videos offer snack-sized vignettes rather than full-scale productions, yielding an opportunity to showcase glimmers of authenticity in an otherwise highly curated and Photoshopped social landscape. There are only but so many filters you can apply to an on-the-go Instagram story. 

For example, former contestants of the multi-million dollar Bachelor and Bachelorette reality television franchise have long been criticized for selling themselves out as brand influencers, posting photo after photo of tagged, brand content across their social media accounts. While these would-be celebs are, indeed, influential, the negative attention around their brand partnerships undermines their credibility and effectiveness. Where a posed photo and brand copy rings false and may invite a deluge of derogatory comments, a quick, candid video of these influencers can feel less contrived and subconsciously encourage more adoption and less scrutiny. It doesn’t hurt that Instagram and SnapChat stories don’t always allow comments that would otherwise lead more receptive viewers. 

Bottom line: more video, less photo. 

Don’t forget your micro-influencers: 

It’s great if you have A-list celebrity connections (or a budget that will make it look like you do), but micro-influencers can be just as effective and, in some cases, more effective than big-name campaigns. Consider the near cult following of popular, local athletic trainers or the sway of regional political and sports figures. For location-based or niche marketing efforts, these endorsements are sometimes more effective than national and global figures because the influencers appear to be more authentic, relatable, and genuine. Even after your brand reaches a national scope, there is no reason not to include micro-influencers to target special interest groups and regions.

Here’s an example. In 2013, just outside Raleigh, North Carolina, a suburban housewife and her husband created a holiday video of their family singing in their pajamas. The video parodied the song “Welcome to Miami” by Will Smith as the couple danced around with their kids in matching holiday attire singing about their “Xmas Jammies.” What started as a fun family prank turned into a regional phenomenon with more than 17 million views on this one video alone. The Holderness family now has their own website, YouTube channel and millions of followers who eagerly await their parenting tips, product recommendations, and – of course – musical parodies. While they may not be red carpet royalty, this family wields tremendous influence over the young-parenting crew in North Carolina. Local clothing brands and child-friendly products clamor for their attention and a quick product nod because what the Holderness family says, goes. 

Bottom line: Sometimes you really do need to think local, not global.

Avoid freebie freeloaders:

The word is out. Influencer marketing is working. But as the popularity of this medium has grown, so has the new wave of aspiring tastemakers entering the blogosphere in hopes of receiving free swag, comped trips, and insider perks. This is great news if you are just starting your influencer marketing program and need to people willing to endorse your brand. Budding bloggers don’t follow the pay-to-play model celebrities live by. While Kylie Jenner can charge upwards of $100,000 per Instagram post, emerging internet personalities will often try or promote brands for free in exchange for access to your products and a turn riding your company’s coattails. This can often be a mutually beneficial relationship, but it’s important to choose where you invest your time, money, products, and energy with care so you don’t get taken advantage of.

You want those individuals chatting about your products to mirror your brand values and have a big enough following to matter (otherwise you’re just sending people free products). To avoid giving too much away, create a budget that will help you evaluate just how much you’re willing to invest in influencers and what you hope to get in return. Map measurable KPIs against these figures (such as how many people are viewing your influencers’ blog post, how many likes did you get, is there a way to collect leads, etc.) and doggedly enforce your return on investment.

Influencer marketing should be fun and exciting, which is why we’re here to help. Click here to learn more about other influencer programs we’ve supported and how you can get involved. We guarantee your next influencer campaign will feel more authentic and engaging than your traditional marketing mix. Be sure to check out our website to learn more about our services and contact information.

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