Is Influencer Marketing Finally Out of Its Infancy?
Influencer marketing continues to grow at an extraordinary rate. Yet the field is on the verge of an even greater transformation. Here’s why.
Influencer marketing as a general concept stretches back to early 20th century consumer advertising, when athletes, actors and astronauts were turned into pitchmen extraordinaire. Yet influencer marketing in the modern sense has been around for little more than a decade. Despite its relative youth, influencer marketing has proven remarkably popular — and successful.
Total spend on Influencer marketing grew to $6.5 billion in 2019, a significant hike over the $1.6 billion spent in 2016. The industry is expected to crest $10 billion within the next two years, as roughly 70% of marketers expect to increase their spending in this category in 2020.
To earn a competitive advantage, however, you can’t just throw money at influencers — you need to ensure resources are deployed wisely. This means divesting yourself of older influencer techniques that have lost their ability to engage and convert, and deploying new strategies that earn instant attention and cultivate meaningful brand loyalty.
Understanding the evolution of the influencer market
To help you develop a winning influencer marketing strategy, let’s take a look at a few techniques that have lost their relevance:
- Not giving your influencer the latitude to be creative. At one time, giving an influencer a fairly restrictive project brief made sense: Influencer marketing was new, and brands were taking a gamble by allowing non-traditional advocates to speak for their enterprises. Influencers, most of whom are used to engaging with audiences in an intimate and interactive setting, weren’t always shining examples of brand safety or caution, so it made sense to stick to a tight creative script. Today, however, most leading influencers are old pros and more than capable of adding value by stretching the creative bounds of a campaign.
- Focusing too much on size. In the early days, the size of an influencer’s following was the most important metric. Today, however, we understand that engagement is just as critical (if no more so). Audience engagement also tends to drop as size grows, so it makes sense for brands to try to hit the sweet spot that pairs wide reach with active engagement. Brands are also increasingly targeting the micro-influencer space. Even an account with a few thousand followers can deliver an exceptional ROI if those are the right few thousand people.
- Only using influencers within your niche. Again, this may have been entirely logical at one time, but you’re going to activate the Law of Diminishing Returns very quickly. To maximize the power of your influencer marketing strategy, reach beyond your niche or your industry and you can vastly widen the talent pool at your disposal. Great brand ambassadors can be found in the most unlikely places.
I’ve retired my obsolete techniques…tell me what’s next?
If you’re ready to refresh and recalibrate your influencer marketing approach, we think the following ideas are worth pursuing.
- Drop the one-off engagements and build long-term relationships. Finding great talent is the eternal battle for any business. You should view influencers through the same prism. People with engaged followings who can sell your brand in a compelling way that’s consistent with its values…those people are not easy to replace. If you want your influencer marketing efforts to be a sustainable driver of marketing ROI, it’s important to cultivate long-lasting links.
- Don’t get hung up on celebrities. Influencers sometimes get a bad name for being vapid or transactional. Brands that can avoid this and create influencer campaigns that deliver real value will have a great differentiator. Avoid shallow, celebrity-driven engagements and create something with more organic appeal and real value.
- Insist that your influencers use every tool at their disposal. The best influencers stay ahead of the curve on the formats they use (whether video or AR) and the creative approaches they take. Your influencers should be as eager to push the envelope as you are — it’s the only way to remain relevant in a saturated market.
Finding the right influencer marketing agency
At Bigeye, we’ve been harnessing the power of creatively inspired influencer marketing since the earliest days of the form. If you’re looking for an influencer marketing agency that can help you create the kind of campaigns that engage and convert, reach out to Bigeye today.