June 17, 2017
Influencer marketing has evolved significantly over the last year, as marketers in wide-ranging industries have embraced the strategy. Not only have micro-influencers become an important part of the landscape, but influencers are starting to emerge in the B2B space as well.
In the meantime, veteran marketers are starting to look beyond short-term campaigns and toward more relationship-focused strategies. These are just some of the influencer marketing trends shaping the industry. Here’s what to make of them, and how to stay ahead of the curve:
The Rise (and Compromise) of Micro-Influencers
When it comes to influencer marketing, bigger isn’t always better. Micro-influencers, or those with a niche following of less than 15k Instagram followers, have proven to be more effective at inspiring action in many cases than their more popular social media counterparts.
At the extremes, influencers with 1k or fewer followers generate, on average, nearly five times the engagement of influencers with 1 million or more followers — 8 percent to 1.66 percent. That’s a striking statistic. To use micro-influencers most effectively, however, it is also important to recognize the pros and cons.
Although micro-influencers give you higher engagement, they can also be more draining on your resources since you need to identify and manage a greater number to achieve the same audience size. When your goal is overall brand awareness, larger influencers will still be your best option.
The Emergence of B2B Influencers
If you thought influencer marketing applied only to consumer brands, think again! You need only look to the growing number of expert contributors to websites like Huffington Post, Forbes and Business2Community to realize the importance of B2B influencers. The challenge is that B2B influencers often blog to promote their personal expertise rather than for commercial purposes. This means an editorial, or PR-focused, approach often works best.
For example, you could offer a trial of your product or service for review, or you could submit original stats or quotes for use in future articles. Depending on your industry, some B2B influencers are open to writing a guest article on your blog for payment. Since influencers are likely to share their guest post (and thus your website) with their own followers, this option has the added benefit of greater exposure for your brand.
The Emphasis on Relationships
One of the most encouraging trends we’re seeing in influencer marketing is an emphasis on long-term relationships. Brands are looking beyond individual campaigns and more toward year-long or even multi-year ambassadorships, where influencers include the brand within their content in an organic way.
With this approach, brands must spend more time researching and identifying influencers who genuinely like and use their products in their everyday lives. The extra time and effort is often worth it, and lead to a stronger ROI. The analytics from our own collaborations show that followers respond much more favorably when the influencer has a genuine personal affinity for a brand.
The Normalization of Disclosure
Once completely absent from influencer content, disclosure of brand relationships has slowly become more commonplace over the last year after the FTC took action toward multiple brands, and more recently, sent a “reminder” of disclosure guidelines to more than 90 celebrities and influencers.
This shift toward transparency doesn’t just save brands and influencers from legal trouble; it also strengthens trust and enthusiasm among followers who often make decisions based on influencer opinions. We expect disclosure to become the norm over the next year as brands and influencers alike begin to feel the responsibility.
Read more about marketing trends on Tech.Co
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