The data behind the desired: are influencers losing their influence?
When everybody is an influencer, who do you work with? And with commoditisation, has this once hugely popular form of marketing lost its shine? Choose wisely and understand the rules of engagement.
What you need to know:
- An influencer's followers and their interest will evaporate as quickly as gained. Current metrics serve today. Brands need to plan for tomorrow.
- Get under the hood of an influencer's strategy - beyond popularity, aesthetic and even values. Look for subject matter consistency and clarity of purpose. Seek rigorous strategic alignment.
- Compliance counts. Do the groundwork and seek out influencers that take compliance seriously. Data doesn't lie. Some rules were made for breaking; some aren't.
The survival of influencers depends on their willingness and ability to leverage proven philosophies and the strategic discipline brands have embraced for years. As brand junkies (officially termed 'experts'), we're asking ourselves: how do we ensure influencers remain a valuable marketing resource to our clients, and how do we help our clients filter out the good, the average or the bad?
Influencers and brands of influence, we hope you're listening...
It’s simple. If you don’t know what you stand for or where you sit in the market, you can’t influence it. Regardless of the platform, social influencers have become at best, noise and at worst, irritating. They exist within an increasingly loud, highly democratised and therefore competitive landscape. According to KBV Research, by 2025 the Asia Pacific influencer market is forecast to grow by 32.8 per cent.
Globally, brands are forecast to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, according to Mediakix data. From micro, nano influencers, 'kidfluencers', gaming influencers, and virtual (computer-generated) influencers, the market is overflowing with every imaginable mass, niche and sub-niche category. When their influence works, it's magic, offering brands measurable fiscal reward.
But as more and more influencers flood the market, knowing who to collaborate with becomes increasingly tricky. Influencer Marketing Hub states a reported 80 per cent of brands intend to spend 10 per cent of their marketing budget on influencer marketing. With such high and increasing statistics, it's essential to quickly and easily distinguish the right fit from the wrong. We've captured three simple and practical tips to guide our client's social influencer network.
Engagement is everything
While the majority of marketers use clicks (59%), impressions (55%), and conversions (54%) as benchmarks (Linqia data), it's engagement rates that matter most. Meaningful engagement only happens when your influencer is crystal clear on their target; they know who you are (what they stand for) and why they exist. As the saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Find influencers that have identified a clear psychographically profiled target and distinct position in market. Without it, they're dead in the water.
A stellar example of a brand and high-engagement influencer partnership is Jonathan Van Ness's Instagram partnership with Lipton. Van Ness (or JVN) is known for his authentic, colourful personality and clear and targeted follower profiling. As a result of his focused strategy the rewards speak for themselves – JVN’s personal hashtag has been used more than 27K times across the Instagram platform and his posts have on average, racked up a 13% engagement rate for the brand. To put that into perspective, any engagement rate over 1% is broadly considered a success within the influencer category.
Tip: Think long term. An influencer's followers and their interest will evaporate as quickly as it's gained. Current metrics serve today. Brands need to plan for tomorrow.
Share more than values
Current trends suggest brands are looking for influencers that offer more than a pretty face, seeking out the 'everyday' person that uses insightful, relatable wit or talent to entertain. But connecting your brand to content that's purely entertaining does little good for your brand or equity growth. CreatorIQ data reveals there is a clear move within the Asia Pacific away from mega-influencers to micro-influencers.
Micro-Influencers tend to be regarded as experts on a subject, and have laser-focused supporters who take an avid interest in their views. While many people follow mega-influencers and celebrities, it’s often only because they recognise the name, rather than any great interest in their topics or posts.
The 2017 partnership between Pepsi and Kendall Jenner is an epic example of influencer failure. The idea was to stage a Black Lives Matter protest for Pepsi’s global diversity campaign in collaboration with the supermodel. The online content saw Jenner step forward and offer one of the officers a canned Pepsi Cola.
The intention was for Pepsi to become synonymous with peace and the white supermodel succeeds where so many before her have failed. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., even shared a notorious photo on Twitter of her father approaching the police during an American Civil Rights Movement. Her accompanying sarcastic caption was: “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”
According to a report documented in Kubbco, ‘in the wake of the disaster, Pepsi took down the ad, apologised, and explained that they had merely wanted to promote unity in diversity and had meant no harm’. This is a shining example of the importance in choosing the right influencer to convey the right message. Otherwise, it may only incite justified criticism and harm to your brand.
Tip: Get under the hood of an influencer's strategy - beyond popularity, aesthetic and even values. Look for subject matter consistency and clarity of purpose. Seek rigorous strategic alignment.
Compliance is key
Compliance often gets a bad wrap. It's not sexy or fun, but it is vital, and increasingly so - an alarmingly low number of influencers are not currently fully compliant with legal guidelines (86% across Asia Pacific according to Hootsuite). Social networks (in particular, Instagram) have made complying with requirements easier. However, influencers still have a long way to go. Without regulatory improvement, the likelihood of prosecution via the FTC and CMA is a genuine threat, reflecting negatively upon your brand.
The best-known example of this is the infamous unfolding of the Fyre Festival. The strategy was to convene a line-up of the biggest and best social media stars across the globe. It was bound for success with tickets almost immediately selling out. The outcome however took a very different turn. Due to poor planning, the vast majority of the 400 plus influencers involved had little-to-no knowledge of the venture and the marketing team showed little compliance or regard for FTC guidelines. The Fyre Festival brand quickly disappeared into the vortex but not before global humiliation and irreparable reputational damage was cast upon its stakeholders.
Your brand has a responsibility to follow the rules and therefore associate themselves with collaborators who respect and adhere to them too.
Tip: Compliance counts. Do the groundwork and seek out influencers that take compliance seriously. Data doesn't lie. Some rules were made for breaking; some aren't.
It's easy to get swept up and romanticised by popularity, follower metrics, clicks and impressions. Ignore the temptation, plan for the long-term equity gain. Influencers can be a potent brand touchpoint. Choose wisely.
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