Google searches for “influencer marketing” have grown 1,500% in the past three years. The market is flooded with talented content creators, and research shows that year after year, marketing budgets for influencer partnerships are growing in double and triple digits. Navigating this space requires a dedicated strategy, as more influencers join the party and consumers become savvier. Today over 57% of consumers think that less than half of brands create authentic content.
As influencer marketers, we understand that studying the changing landscape of digital marketing is crucial to leveraging the growing power of influencers in an authentic way to ultimately achieve client goals.
Here are three trends that will help to ensure that your influencer partnerships generate higher engagement, larger conversion rates, bigger return on investment, and last but certainly not least, increased trust.
Authenticity Is Key
Consumers crave trust with brands. According to a study by Olapic, only 25% of Millennials and 24% of Boomers in the U.S. trust branded content. Building and fostering authentic relationships with influencers can help your brand bridge that gap. Engagement rates and follower counts are no longer enough when it comes to picking the right influencer. More than ever, authenticity should be regarded as an essential part of the vetting process.
When choosing influencers, we must make sure that they have a strong voice that resonates with your brand and its key target audience.
Good influencers care a lot about their reputation and the authenticity of their content because it strengthens their relationship with their followers. When we understand content from this perspective, we can simultaneously be better partners to the influencers and brands that we work with. When brands try to have too much control over the influencer’s voice and content, it will affect the authenticity and trustworthiness of the content and will also affect how consumers see your brand.
Ensuring that influencers feel they can exercise their creativity is extremely important to building trust on all ends. When creators are given the space to exercise their artistic license, they are much more likely to create authentic content in their own voice- the voice their followers already know, love and trust!
If an influencer works well with your brand, nurture that relationship. Consistently partnering with the same influencers can strengthen brand trust because it shows that the influencer is loyal to your brand. Revolve is a perfect example of how fostering relationships with influencers can bring great success for a brand.
The company was a pioneer in the realm of influencer marketing, investing in over 3,000 influencers who continuously wear and post their product. But it doesn’t end there. They host many events like their #Revolvefestival and take many of their influencers on over-the-top #Revolvearoudntheworld trips to exotic locations such as Ibiza, London and Thailand.
Not only do these trips and events provide countless instagrammable moments, but they drive sales, especially around these specific activations. In 2018, Revolve generated almost half a billion dollars in sales and their marketing budget of $74 million (15% of sales) was put directly back into influencer marketing, events and activations.
Revolve recently launched its first in-house influencer collection with blogger Aimee Song of Song of Style. Song has over 5 million Instagram followers. While the collection is new, the relationship is not. In an interview, Song mentioned she has known Revolve’s founder more than eight years. This even further shows the kind of time, money and trust the company puts into their influencers.
While not every brand is able to put millions of dollars into their influencer marketing budget, there is a lot we can learn from Revolve’s strategy as marketers. Revolve’s parties and events make their influencers feel special because they are being showered with attention, gifts and money. Making influencers feel so powerful and important to your brand will incentivize them to go above and beyond when they are posting to their social feeds. The key here is making your influencers feel good (and you don’t need to fly them to Ibiza to do that).
Long-term partnerships also provide both brands and influencers the ability to do A/B testing on different approaches, formats, images and messaging. By pinpointing which types of content do best, both parties can improve.
Lastly, repeatedly exposing your brand to an influencer audience helps our clients to stand out from the crowd, gain credibility among their target demo and remain relevant. The more familiar an influencer’s audience becomes with your brand, the more receptive they will be to your brand’s key messaging.
Small But Mighty
Learning how to leverage smaller influencers will be key to your brand’s success in 2020. Over the past few years, brands have begun to understand that less is sometimes more. Not only are micro and nano influencers cheaper to work with, but they also have higher engagement rates.
A study by Markerly actually showed that the more followers an influencer has, the lower the engagement rate (likes and comments). Another study showed that Influencers with over 10,000 followers had an average engagement rate of about 3.6% globally, while influencers with a following of 1,000 to 5,000 have the highest engagement rate at 8.8%. Building long-term relationships with smaller influencers can be a great way for your brand to tap into and maintain exposure among a highly focused and engaged audience.
Smaller influencers have powerful voices, as consumers are more likely to trust someone with a smaller, more targeted audience. A study by Experticity showed that micro-influencers have 22.2X more conversations than the typical Instagram user. Moreover, 82% of customers surveyed by Experticity said they would be very likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer. For brands trying to reach a targeted audience, micro or even nano influencers are a great option. See more info in our white paper here.
Keep It Real In 2020
Consumers today are flooded with advertisements of all types, making it increasingly crucial to produce genuine content that creates an open dialogue with your brand. As experts in influencer marketing, we understand the immense importance of not only picking the right influencers to meet our client’s specific needs but also nurturing those relationships over time to produce the best results. Consumers are no longer interested in generic sponsored posts. They want captivating content that speaks not only to their wants and needs but also their beliefs and values.