A Look at the State of Influencer Marketing

By John Licardi  | 

As liaisons between companies and consumers, influencers play an important role for many brands. Despite a few reports suggesting a decline in the power of these online stars, they remain a vital part of the advertising ecosystem, particularly on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. With coronavirus affecting the global economy, the influencer marketing industry is also doing its best to adapt. While some brands are reportedly postponing influencer campaigns in an effort to cut costs, the increase in time that consumers are spending on their phones is driving up engagement rates on social media. Though influencers and marketers must now shift strategies to continue working well together, there’s no doubt that influencers’ product and service recommendations tend to have a quantifiable impact on sales. Mediakix projects that brands will spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. Here are three ways marketers can maximize their reach using today’s best influencer practices.

Adapting to the Current Climate
As some brand campaigns come to a halt, influencers and marketers can consider mixed-compensation models and revised structures to manage costs and improve overall ROI. For example, the spike in live video we’ve seen during this time, has given creators, marketers and tech platforms new ways to work together through livestreaming. With the shutdown of production companies during the pandemic, some brands have been turning to influencers to create content.

Go Small or Go Home
The use of macro-influencers, celebrities or those with 500,000 to 1 million followers, is waning. A great part of their appeal has centered around the sheer number of fans they command, but social media feeds have lately gotten cluttered as macro-influencers pepper a broad swath of audience pages and this has resulted in viewer fatigue. Influencer fraud likewise continues to rankle online users, with fake engagement rates spiking on Instagram last fall. To combat both issues, brands benefit from tapping micro- or mid-tier influencers who aren’t A-list celebrities, but rather trusted experts within a given field. Their lack of star power is what makes them approachable, and while their reach is smaller (micro-influencers typically have 10,000 to 50,000 followers while mid-tier influencers fall in the 50,000 to 500,000 range), they in return command the loyalty of truly dedicated consumers. Those bonds are strong, allowing brands to convey relevant, impactful buying messages that often result in real spending. While overall Instagram influencer engagement was lower in 2019 than in previous years, micro-influencers are still riding high, with nano-influencers (1,000 to 10,000 followers) enjoying the highest engagement rate at 8.8 percent.

Videos Are Vital
That comes as no surprise to marketers. A sure way to engage audiences is via influencers who post quick, compelling interviews or tutorials. And while many effective visual campaigns span up to two-minute runtimes, some streaming platforms—like the just-launched Quibi—are moving toward content that’s ever more snackable. Gen Z in particular tends to favor TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Netflix, where the winning move combines attention-grabbing videos featuring influencers who endorse products in a genuine way. Case in point: TikTok’s recent #DistanceDance fundraising campaign, which garnered over 8 billion views and 1.7 million (and counting) impersonation dances by everyone from celebrities to sports heroes, after influencer Charli D’Amelio kicked off the now-viral video event. As the most-followed content creator on TikTok, D’Amelio’s strong voice was used to promote a vital message: staying home saves lives. Virtual influencers are likewise helping marketers employ the latest AI trend to advocate for socially responsible causes. Millennials especially vibe to brands that value ethics and sustainability. In January, The Drum introduced Floresta, a 25-year-old half-Brazilian, half-Portuguese computer-generated influencer who’s passionate about environmentalism. More recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) enlisted the help of virtual influencer Knox Frost to reach younger audiences on social media channels with information about stopping the coronavirus spread while raising money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

While some brands face challenges to find a way forward during the pandemic, there is still a need for social content. Influencers are well-equipped to adapt to the current situation as we see a change in consumer behavior and uptick in social media usage. Consumers are seeking content that might be helpful during this stay-at-home time and influencer content is currently adapting to this new climate. The efforts mentioned above are examples that stand as a testament to the real power of influencer marketing.

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