Scrolling down the feed on any of my favourite social media apps on my phone, I’m guaranteed to come across sponsored posts within a few swipes. From semi-famous bloggers to the top social media celebs, these influencers combine eye-catching images or videos with engaging captions to promote brands and products. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, IGC (Influencer Generated Content) is now commonplace, reflecting how influencer marketing has become established as a mainstream customer acquisition method in recent years. While calculating the success of influencer marketing campaigns can pose a challenge, marketing experts looking to convince brands of the opportunities of influencer marketing typically cite some key stats:
- Influencer Marketing delivers 11 times the ROI over all other forms of digital media.
- 76% of people say they trust other consumers’ content more than branded content, and 92% of consumers trust recommendations from others.
- 90% of marketers plan to maintain or increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2019.
- Influencer marketing is now widely recognised as the fastest growing online customer acquisition method, outbidding both organic search and affiliate marketing in terms of growth.
So, what is influencer marketing all about? A fusion of old and new marketing tools, influencer marketing can be described as a modern-day retake of celebrity endorsement. But whereas traditional endorsement attaches the status of an idolised celebrity to a brand or product to encourage fans to buy it, influencer marketing is based on trust and word-of-mouth advertising. The perceived expertise of the influencer is vital. Whether it’s cosmetics or cars, gaming or fashion, consumers use influencers as a go-to source for reliable advice, making them a crucial factor in their purchase decision journey.
Rules, regulation and cultural nuances: The best practice from market to market
There’s no doubt that influencer marketing is a worldwide trend, but one of the things I’m reminded of on a daily basis in my job is that each market is different and there’s no one size fits all. Regulations, maturity levels and consumer behaviours vary from country to country and finding out what works in each market can be a daunting task.
Fortunately, Convosphere can help with this. With a team spread across the globe, we are ideally positioned to pull local insights when it comes to social media trends. I turned to my colleagues in our local offices to find out how influencer marketing works where they are and what brands should consider before they begin to plan cross-market campaigns. Based on their research and prior knowledge, I created this table outlining the main points.
A step-by-step process to influencer marketing success
Grasping these market differences and local nuances is crucial as they will affect the execution and outcome of any influencer campaign. Keen to learn more? Explained below are the steps where Convosphere’s local expertise and tool knowledge help to ensure a smooth process, from start to end.
- Influencer identification
In terms of finding the right influencers, a country-specific but generic list of the most influential social media accounts won’t cut it. You will need the local expertise to identify those that fit your brand’s ethos and are influential in the community that you want to reach. Our influencer identification methodology goes beyond sheer numbers and takes into account the influencer’s affinity, audience size and members, prior activity in the specific field and, crucially, whether they comply by the local guidelines. Based on these quantitative and qualitative variables, we present clients with a shortlist of the most suitable influencers for their campaign as well as potential engagement opportunities.
- Understanding the influencer’s content tone
Once the preferred influencers have been identified, our local experts dig deep into the influencers’ content in order to paint a picture of their style. These insights can be used by the client to help develop effective campaign material that is aligned with the influencer’s tone of voice and resonates with the intended community. Because, while keeping to brand guidelines is the priority for marketers, in influencer marketing, these have to be combined with the influencer’s personal style as followers are likely to be put off by brand-specific jargon.
- Tools to measure performance
The next step is to set up our social listening tools to monitor the performance of the campaign. With access to several different platforms, we combine different technologies to allow the client to closely track the engagement levels, awareness, engagement, virality and conversation trends on a global and local level. As an example, we often use a social analytics tool to track the performance of the content on the influencer’s profile combined with a social listening platform to understand the conversation about the product prior to, during and after the campaign. Running key audience analysis in addition to this gives us a 360-degree view of the project.
- The Holy Grail of ROI measurement
Then we land at the ‘Holy Grail’ of influencer marketing: measuring the overall campaign impact and ROI. In case you were hoping to find the golden solution, I’m afraid I will have to disappoint you. As with anything ‘holy’, this is something that can’t be explained with a mathematical formula. Each project and campaign has a different set of formats and goals and the metrics and KPIs are never the same. What we can guarantee, however, is a credible method to evaluate the project success and help the client understand what worked well and where there’s room for improvement.
What does the future hold for influencer marketing?
Talking to my colleagues about the current state of influencer marketing in the countries they call home was illuminating. As we pondered what the future holds for this powerful digital marketing form, there was plenty of food for thought, but two themes stood out to me.
In several markets, consumer concerns are emerging about the blurred lines between ads and genuine recommendations. Addressing this, regulators and trade bodies are implementing measures to ensure transparency and clarity. More rigorous guidelines are to be expected as brand and influencer partnerships will be subject to inspection, with the markets at the forefront of influencer marketing leading the way. Staying on top of regulatory changes is a must for any brand to avoid ending up in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
The balancing act of credibility
Social media users are becoming savvier by the day when it comes to “sponcon” (sponsored content) online. Just like advertising scepticism has long been an issue for brands trying to get through to consumers, paid-for posts will increasingly be overlooked by users browsing their feeds. The key is in personalisation and relevance; brands will have to work even harder to define their audience and creating content that is actually meaningful to this group.
Have you got a successful influencer marketing project to share? How do you expect influencer marketing to change in the next few years? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn today.
With a background in brand communication and journalism, Moa heads Convosphere’s content marketing and is the editor of the blog.
Before joining Convosphere, Moa worked as a writer and brand consultant for agencies including The Future Laboratory, LS:N Global, Canvas8 and Stylus, with a focus on packaging, retail and technology trends in the UK and Scandinavia.
Prior to this, she formed part of Cision’s Scandinavian research and analysis division, where she worked on PR projects for clients across different sectors, managing a large team of freelance reporters.