It’s official. Influencer marketing needs no further proof of concept. Influencer marketing has evolved from a very simple process of working with social personalities (influencers) to promote brands among their audiences to that of highly strategic marketing efforts that have many moving pieces. Over the past few years, influencer marketing momentum has been undeniable. With that, it is important we evolve with the trends that will come to fruition in the upcoming year and understand how to utilize technology to stay ahead of the curve.
Here are the five overarching trends that I predict will be game-changers in 2019:
1. Raw, Episodic Content Will Lead To Higher Brand Affinity
The secret sauce to a successful influencer marketing campaign is authenticity. Fans of an influencer want to believe that there is a genuine connection between the influencer and the ad. As influencer marketing efforts become more sophisticated in 2019, branded content will need to showcase a strong brand affinity and creators who genuinely love or have a strong affinity for their products or services.
There are two ways to approach brand affinity: measuring brand affinity through technology or a content-focused approach. With a content-focused approach, brands can shift toward episodic content, showcasing raw craft similar to what Anthony Bourdain did with viewers to achieve true brand affinity. With Bourdain, fans felt a deep connection to his unabridged thoughts and feelings. If linked with a brand, fans felt they could trust Bourdain’s recommendation. Similarly, influencers who will take their fans along for an almost unedited journey foster a sense of authenticity, which translates to engagement.
2. Ambassadorships Or Bust
Brands that have scooted along with one-off influencer campaigns will need to up their influencer relationships. Creating an ambassadorship program, with long-term and ongoing content, adds to the believability for consumers. Repeated brand exposure through the same vehicle (a designated brand ambassador) has a higher likelihood of resulting in an action or purchase by audiences.
3. Measurement Needs To Grow Up
Social needs to step it up with respect to third-party pixel tracking. Google Tag Manager has been a viable tool for marketers who are looking to organize tags and manage websites; however, there is still a gap when it comes to measuring organic branded content. In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook had to make a change with more eyes on how the company’s information was being handled or misused.
In October 2018, Facebook made the move from third-party cookies to allow advertisers and/or publishers the ability to use first-party cookies. Assuming users opt-in and allow first-party pixel usage, advertisers are able to track and measure data with very few limitations. There are Instagram analytics platforms like SproutSocial and Iconosquare that aim to provide metrics, but there are not many platforms that provide solutions to third-party pixel tracking. With respect to influencer marketing, this is a step in the right direction — and eventually, platforms will need to make the necessary steps to allow organic to be tracked as easily as paid media.
4. Influencer Audiences Will Need to Be Verified
Unfortunately, the truth is that fraud exists within influencer marketing. Virtually anyone with a social account can purchase followers, and there are companies that can generate millions of fraudulent account followers at a time. Fraud follower platforms can even deliver these accounts over a period of weeks to ensure it seems like “real” or “organic” follower count growth. Fake engagement consists of fraud accounts performing the same type of actions you’d expect from real users, including liking, commenting and reposting content.
The impact on marketing dollars is also very real. There was over $2.1 billion spent on influencer marketing on Instagram in 2017, and it was reported that 11% of that activity came from fake accounts, making it all that more important to make sure marketing spend gets allocated to real efforts. With influencer fraud, comes the responsibility of brands or third parties to ensure that the influencers they are pitching and working with have verified audiences.
Influencer fraud is a newly identified industry-wide issue, which means many agencies are handling this reactively instead of proactively. There are platforms that will assess influencer fraud with manual checks and balances with respect to follower growth trends, location of followers and any unusual spikes in engagement. As the need to eradicate influencer fraud grows, platforms like the one my company offers are introducing technology measures to safeguard future marketing campaigns, and companies like Kellogg’s are using technology as a means of utilizing in-house prevention.
One way to measure this is through verified reporting. Verified reporting features allow brands the peace of mind that the audience of a creator is comprised of real people, thus ensuring all engagement and marketing efforts have not gone to bots/bot-based traffic.
5. ROI Will Become A Key Factor
In 2017, eMarketer reported that measuring return on investment (ROI) is a challenge for influencer marketing, one that they would like to see solutions for. One way influencer platforms have resolved this issue has been through reporting measures of campaigns. Influencer platforms that have gained API access can report and calculate true ROI on influencer campaigns, indexing them against industry and competitive benchmarks. In order to measure key performance indicators such as awareness or recall, brand studies can be used. However, hitting numbers (impressions, views, likes) has to be a measured process. Any Influencer company that is running campaigns should be held accountable for full reporting measures calculating EMV, reach and engagement.
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Original Source: Five Influencer Marketing Trends For 2019