The marketing landscape has seen some huge changes over the last 12 months but the success of influencer marketing on particular social channels has only increased, Adimo looks into why brands are continuing to use it in their marketing strategy...
Influencer marketing is perhaps the most loaded term in the advertising lexicon. When we hear it we reflexively imagine a sort of Wild West on the fringes of the internet. We conjure up images of neck tattoos, fake followers, TikTok teens, Tummy Tea, and Kardashians flogging cosmetics. But over the past few years, we have seen this derided and marginalized marketing sector elbow its way into the mainstream. And while many companies view influencer marketing as a risky strategy in which the possibility of great success is tempered by the likelihood of being fleeced, as the influencer industry evolves we are discovering more accurate ways to assess the claims of would-be influencers and the ROI on campaigns. Let’s take a look at why brands need to keep navigating the dizzying heights and murky depths of this strategy in 2021.
While many brands continue to have reservations about diving into the influencer pool, the evidence clearly shows that many of the most significant problems are being addressed. Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2021 Benchmark Report survey saw respondents report that they were less concerned with the possibility of fraud than they had been in the past, and that “far fewer respondents had experienced fraud than previously.” The survey of over 5000 professionals, of whom 68% work for brands or marketing agencies, also found that 67% of respondents felt that they were accurately measuring ROI on their influencer spending, and that 90% found this form of marketing to be effective.
Another gripe about influencers is that the results of campaigns vary wildly. Ian Randolph, Head of Product and R&D at Tailify, writes that the top 1% of influencers are often responsible for as much as 50% of the success of most campaigns. Randolph acknowledges that this makes the industry somewhat of a crapshoot, but he remains optimistic. He feels that technology is poised to deliver the tools to crack the code which determines the success and failure of campaigns. As he puts it: “Computer vision and NLP now make it feasible to learn influencers’ emotional patterns from their facial expressions and track the loyalty of their audiences, to name but two signals among a wealth of insights which can be gleaned automatically and at scale.”
TikTok’s dominance of the social media landscape was a massive story in 2020, and it has revolutionized the way young people consume media (and marketing content). As the new year began, the platform boasted 800 million users, of whom a truly impressive 600 million were daily active users. And analysts are predicting the platform will end this year with 1.2 billion pairs of eyeballs focused on the app.
TikTok was early to sense the power influencers were poised to wield, and quickly established a “Creator Fund” to ensure that popular streamers were compensated, and thus more likely to remain on the platform as their popularity soared. Gen Z consumers have fallen in love with TikTok, and its stratospheric rise makes it a Holy Grail for brands targeting younger audiences. The positive, light-hearted, and minimally edited videos favoured by TikTok’s audience create a genuine bond between influencers and audience, and finding the right partners on the platform is a potential goldmine. With consumer psychologists reporting that celebrities and ostentatious displays are losing their appeal to shoppers, the authenticity of TikTok stars is a strong selling point.
One such success story is the partnership between Dunkin’ Donuts and star creator Charli D’Amelio, who was already known to favour the brand. The launch of signature drinks and merchandise in September of last year led to a 57% increase in downloads of the cafe’s app and a 45% surge in orders for cold brew coffee. By building on the star’s established preference for the brand, the campaign delivered the authenticity that audiences look for. Making sure that your product is relevant to the influencers you choose will ensure that your message resonates.
Old media is dying, and even the giants of social and online media are struggling to stay relevant. Short form video has never been more popular than it is today, with clips, viral dances, pranks, tutorials, recipes, and before and after videos dominating our attention. Research has shown that attention spans are growing shorter every year. Meanwhile, live streaming has been a growth industry for years now, and consumers watched a whopping 7.46 billion hours of live content in the third quarter of 2020 alone (92% growth year on year!). The massive success of live online shopping events in Asia has led US platforms and retailers to experiment with similar events in their own markets.
Influencers are sensing their newfound power to shape the media and marketing landscapes, a trend which has led many to attempt to rebrand themselves as “content creators” or “creators.” They don’t see themselves as paid spokespeople desperate for quick payouts and free products who shill for brands. They are looking to be respected for the high quality content made with their unique talents for photography, videography, writing, or performing. They want to be judged for their craft, not the sheer number of followers they’ve amassed. These “creators” are worth seeking out, because their integrity, authenticity, and close connections to their audiences are likely to yield better long-term ROI than influencers chasing a quick buck.
Investing in influencers is an easy way to ensure that your brand establishes a beach-head in the hearts and minds of Gen Z, as well as the app that they’ve fallen in love with: TikTok. There are certainly many challenges ahead as you strive to establish connections with the social media stars who fit with your brand, your values, and your message. But the rewards the right campaign can unlock are spectacular, and the danger of sitting on your hands as the media landscape shifts is real. If you need advice on marketing in today’s social media dominated world, Adimo is here to help!