Influencer marketing has taken off in recent years, with some of the biggest brands in the world embracing the benefits of reaching out to their audience via new platforms in this way.
Most notably, social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have emerged as significant channels for many influencer marketing strategies, so working alongside key influencers in this space has now become much more commonplace.
That said, with widespread growth in influencer marketing, there remain several questions around what companies can expect from any investment in this arena. As such, here we outline what organizations can and should expect from any successful influencer partnership.
Aim to create a relationship
The growing maturity of the influencer marketing space means a lot of lessons have been learnt by companies who have explored the best way to carry out influencer-led marketing campaigns. As such, businesses can expect to see a shift in the way top-performing campaigns are carried out this year.
According to Evy Wilkins of influencer relationship management firm Traackr, brands should shift from viewing influencer marketing as something that is transactional and instead focus on building real relationships with influencers and their audiences.
While making use of influencers to highlight product launches or other releases can be impactful, developing lasting relationships where these individuals promote not just the products, but also the values and message of the brand overall, can provide far greater ROI in the medium to long-term.
Focus on micro-influencers
Increasingly, organizations are shying away from the larger, established stars of social media to engage more closely with smaller, fan-favorite influencers in an effort to appeal to wider audiences. Indeed, this is a trend that's grown considerably in recent months and is expected to gain further momentum throughout the remainder of the year.
Research published by the Association of National Advertisers has shown how 75% of advertisers are now actively making use of influencer marketing for their clients. Indeed, among those who have embraced the practice, 59% are now making use of micro-influencers and this figure is forecast to grow.
Data released by Hellosociety last year shows that levels of engagement are considerably higher among this group than their larger, macro-influencer counterparts. It's for this reason that brands hoping to build a larger following are now switching their attention in 2019.
Be authentic in your message
A key element of success in any form of influencer marketing moving forward will be the need to deliver an authentic, impactful message that resonates with a brand's target audience. This means moving away from outdated slogans and offering a more personalized marketing experience.
The way to achieve this is to promote the real-life experience that influencers have with a company's products. The modern consumer is incredibly savvy when it comes to identifying forced or fake promotions, so companies should only work with those influencers who truly support and believe in your brand.
Organizations should seek out influencers who match their brand persona and whose own audience will genuinely buy-in to any collaboration. Wide exposure through myriad influencers can be positive, but if these relationships are deemed to be inauthentic, they won't drive successful engagement.
Embrace the power of storytelling
Finally, brands that tell a story through their use of influencer marketing are likely to see far higher levels of engagement and, ultimately, ROI. Campaigns that offer a narrative and entertain their audience will be far more likely to succeed.
For example, a company specializing in party planning could partner with a range of influencers in the areas of wine-making, cookery and home decor. Having each tell their own story about how to throw the best party, building in elements of their specialist expertise that they know will be of interest to their own followers, can be a positive way to build a cohesive but focused influencer marketing campaign.
In the end, influencer marketing needs to be personable, experiential and entertaining if companies wish to gain traction with audiences in the modern era. Consumers are increasingly time poor and discerning, so capturing their attention with an authentic message is essential.