Written for Telegraph Magazine by Analise Trotter- Hoozu head of Advocacy
Influencer marketing isn’t as simple as choosing an influencer with a hefty following to post an ad for you. There are a multitude of key shifts in 2019 that brands should be factoring into their influencer marketing strategies now.
The broad market shifts informing these trends include rising consumer expectations around authenticity, an increase in influencers making it even harder to reach proposed target markets, and a shift towards the need for solid evidence of ROI.
Below is a list of effective strategies that can help you stay on top of these key trends:
- Influencers are people too
By now, it’s pretty clear that brands need to identify an influencer that ‘fits’ their image and has an appropriate audience.
Basic advertising and marketing principles dictate that a brand needs to have consistency across all of its messaging, imagery, stunts, and so on. These same principles apply to choosing the right influencers.
For true market penetration in the influencer marketing space, brands need to shake up the way they see influencers. For the best chance of success, brands need to stop being purely transactional with influencers and start building genuine relationships with them.
Ensuring there is a synchronicity between the influencer, their brand and the target audience is key and will often drive the most genuine engagement and return on investment.
Of course, the irony with using influencers is that paying an influencer to post an ad for a brand is everything but genuine. Therefore, it is important to be mindful that influencer marketing is actually a partnership and when working together, both reputations are on the line.
- Video is the new black
Now and then, popular culture gives rise to trends and they stick – so much so – that they are still iconic generations later. The 20s had smoking and flapper dresses, the 60s had the flare pants and tie-dye, the 80s had the boombox, and the 90s had the blackberry.
In today’s digital climate, the legacy that millennials and Gen Zs have left is the ubiquitous use of social media. In addition, this demographic has really propelled an unprecedented amount of user-generated content full of memes, videos, and live streaming of stories.
Considering 90% of Generation Z and 83% of millennials are spending at least two to three hours a day watching videos on their smartphones, for brands to successfully penetrate this market, they need to capitalise on the use of video in their marketing strategies. Creating fun video content and memes that can be easily shared resonates well with this generation more than any other form of media.
- Authenticity is key
The most successful influencers have a highly captivated audience. Why? Because their followers feel that they are real people sharing insights about real products and experiences and believe their content to be authentic.
As millennials and Gen Z’s are digital natives to social media and advertising across these platforms, they are also more switched on when it comes to recognising when they are being overtly marketed to.
According to a study by Deloitte, 72% of millennials use social media as a good way to stay connected to news and topics that are important to them. While 65% of millennials said that they are happy to receive targeted content if it aligns with their interests.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Therefore, businesses wanting to engage an influencer to market to this demographic need to be mindful about content that’s not consistent with the influencer’s audience and brand.
Instead of looking to influencer marketing as another means to merely sell your product, brands need to change their thinking to view their relationship with influencers as adding that critical “human element” to their marketing approach.
The best way to make your interactions with influencers less transactional and more relationship focused is to help them understand the brand and why its image, character, values, and positioning is the way that it is.
It may be the case that choosing an influencer with a large following may not be the right strategy and changing tack to work with micro influencers who genuinely share mutual interests with your brand might be more fruitful in the long run.
- Data is King
Influencer marketing has long struggled to measure up in the world of traditional marketing strategies. Traditional marketers question whether it can yield actual commercial results.
The reality is – it can. The best example of this is Aussie based company, Hi-Smile. Founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic’s started Hi-Smile with $20,000 of their own savings and through the use of influencer marketing, grew the company into a $40M business with over 100,000 customers across the globe in three years.
Measuring ROI and using data to track the success of a campaign is important, not just because you can say with authority that investing the marketing budget into the influencer space was a wise move, but so you can optimise your campaigns.
Influencer marketing is still relatively new and there’s a huge potential to lead the market.
- Talking to Gen Z
Gen Z’s are expected to account for about 40 percent of all consumers by 2020.
In fact, 80% of purchases made by this generation have been influenced by social media. The channels making the biggest impact are: Instagram (44%), Snapchat (21%) and YouTube (32%). Social media influences everything from purchasing decisions and lifestyle choices to political perspectives.
After almost a decade of focusing on millennials and Gen Y, brands that haven’t started factoring Gen Z into their strategies are shooting themselves in the foot.
Given Gen Z’s have an attention span of about 8 seconds, capturing their attention requires authentic and engaging content that they can contribute to, interact with, or be a part of. They want to feel like they are part of an actual community attached to authentic causes.
As technology continues to advance, the way we use technology to market to consumers will also need to evolve. While the digital landscape brings with it, what can feel like unrelenting challenges, what is exciting about it is the numerous opportunities for brands to tap into a highly engaged audience if marketed to correctly.