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Why Influencer Marketing Will Dominate Media In 2018

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This article was originally published in The International Business Times

Keyword stuffing, link building, QR codes, and automated cross-channel posting — all were once promising marketing tactics and strategies that have since been characterized by some as marketing fads. At one point, marketers wondered if influencer marketing was going to suffer the same fate. Many claimed that blogs were dying and changing social media algorithms continued to diminish the organic reach of influencers.

However, influencer marketing has done the exact opposite: The channel is only growing stronger as the industry matures and evolves. And as with any tactic that drives concrete business results, marketers are responding by increasing their investment in the channel.

WIDESPREAD ADOPTION OF INFLUENCER MARKETING

Eighty-three percent of global consumers report that online advertising interrupts their online experience and the time spent watching traditional TV is dropping for every adult age group. As a result, marketers must find new ways to reach consumers with relevant messages in ways that establish trust and drive measurable results. Micro-influencer marketing has gained traction in recent years because it provides brands with the ability to reach their target audience through the voices of those they trust most: their peers.

Today, 86 per cent of marketers are using influencer marketing, 92 percent of whom find it to be effective. Nearly a third of marketers run more than five programmes per year per brand; and according to a new report, The State of Influencer Marketing 2018, marketers are calling for more. Thirty-nine percent of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2018 to accommodate for more frequent and larger-scale influencer marketing programs. The continued widespread adoption of influencer marketing indicates it is becoming an integral part of the marketing mix and is not a passing fad.

INFLUENCER MARKETING DRIVES REAL BUSINESS VALUE  

As the industry matures, we are starting to see marketers use influencer marketing to drive lower-funnel actions like signups, downloads and purchases. For example, Mezzetta, a popular CPG brand specializing in pickled vegetables, spreads and sauces, launched a three-part influencer marketing campaign to raise brand awareness and grow its email database as part of a broader initiative to increase its U.S. market share. By employing an “always-on” micro-influencer marketing strategy, the brand was able to grow its email marketing database from zero to over 70,000 qualified consumers.

Influencer marketing has also proven that it can successfully drive product sales. Gerber, which turned to micro-influencer marketing to launch its new Lil’ Beanies snack product, was able to drive a 5 percent national sales lift. When asked what made the programme so successful, Gerber’s brand manager said, “If you Googled Gerber, or just Lil’ Beanies, you would see [influencer] sites come up organically that featured beautiful photography of children eating the product or the mum looking for it [in store].”

INFLUENCER MARKETING TRENDS AND CHALLENGES FOR 2018

Influencer marketing is not going away. As the industry evolves, the channel is adapting to keep pace. While 2017 saw the rise of the micro-influencer, the survey found that 52 percent of marketers plan to leverage multiple types of influencers (celebrities, top-tier, mid-tier and micro-influencers) as part of an integrated strategy in 2018. Determining the ROI of influencer marketing remains the top challenge going into 2018, calling for marketers to take a serious look at their measurement methodologies and hold their influencer marketing programmes to the same measurement standards as their other media investments.

The key to realising influencer marketing ROI is to leverage the content beyond the initial campaign to improve the performance of other programmes. The survey found that 81 percent of marketers are using influencer content in other channels, with 51 percent reporting that it outperforms brand-created content. Of those that haven’t tested influencer content against brand created content yet, 59 percent plan to do so. In 2018, you will start to see marketers use influencer marketing to develop a strategic blueprint that will enable them to drive greater returns from their paid, owned and earned media.

 

How To Overcome The Top Four Influencer Marketing Challenges Of 2018

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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.

Sourcing the right influencers for your brand

Sourcing the right influencers for your brand

According to a recent Forbes article, nearly 50% of marketers upping their influencer marketing budgets in 2017, it’s clear that influencer marketing is an effective tactic. Influencer marketing campaigns, however, are only as good as the influencers chosen to participate.