This article was originally published in Forbes.
Influencer marketing shows no signs of slowing down in 2018. A recent survey by my company of 181 marketers and their agencies found that nearly 40% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing spend in 2018. On the other hand, only 5% plan to reduce their influencer marketing budget.
As the industry matures, marketers are using the channel to drive real business value — from building awareness as part of a product launch to driving sales of a new or existing product. However, as with any emerging channel that proves successful, there are challenges.
From proving ROI to time management, here is how to overcome the top four influencer marketing challenges of 2018.
1. ROI Of Influencer Marketing
Seventy-Six percent of marketers cite that determining the ROI of their influencer marketing programme is a top challenge in 2018.
One of the keys to generating ROI from your influencer marketing programme is to leverage content beyond your original campaign. This will not only help improve the performance of other programmes but will also impact your marketing mix as a whole. Of those surveyed, 81% of marketers said they use influencer-related content to improve other channels. More than half (51%) reported that this type of content performs better than brand-created content. In the next year, we will see more marketers use influencer marketing to create a strategic blueprint that will help drive more ROI from all types of media — earned, paid and owned.
2. Changing Social Algorithms
Amidst Facebook’s new requirement that influencers tag all sponsored content on Facebook and Instagram via its branded content tool, marketers are concerned that changing social algorithms will make organic influencer content less visible. Forty-Two percent of survey respondents cite this as the next biggest challenge of 2018.
Brands using this tool will have a transparent view of how their influencer marketing programmes perform organically, including actual reach, impression and engagement metrics. This is good news for marketers, although it will likely make influencer marketing more expensive. Savvy marketers will use their organic programmes as a content testing lab, where the initial media investment helps determine the best performing pieces of content. Marketers can then use paid media to scale that content for maximum reach.
3. Lack Of Bandwidth Dedicated To Programme Management
Nearly a third of marketers (31%) run more than five influencer marketing programmes per year per brand, which can be extremely time-consuming. In fact, 50% of marketers estimate spending more than 25 hours managing each programme and 25% spend more than 50 hours managing each programme. As a result, 35% of marketers are looking to decrease the amount of time that it takes to manage influencer marketing programmes in 2018. To accomplish this, marketers should seek partnerships to handle the time-consuming aspects of programme execution — from influencer identification and compensation negotiation to reporting and payments.
4. Fake Followers And False Engagements
Marketers must be hypervigilant in monitoring for influencer marketing fraud, like fake followers and bot-driven engagements, which have increased alongside the channel’s growing popularity. To combat fraud, marketers are looking at real results like conversions, downloads and product sales. The bottom line is that bots never make a purchase. When selecting influencers to work with, steer clear of influencers whose followers to engagement ratios are significantly disproportionate. Additionally, examine the quality of their engagements. Comments that are full of vague praise or excessive hashtags are likely purchased.
Influencer marketing has proven its staying power. In 2018, the channel will start to make a cross-channel impact as marketers realize the ability to drive real business results with influencer content. Savvy marketers will adopt strategies that enable them to remain nimble and adapt to changing social algorithms and other market shifts, tying everything back to metrics that weed out the potential for fraud.