Influencer marketing is booming. In fact, the market value of the industry is set to grow to a whopping $13.8 billion this year – more than double the value of $6.5 billion in 2019. A lot of this growth can be attributed to the expansion and diversification of platforms, channels and monetization strategies for influencers – not to mention the diversification of the types and demographics of influencers themselves. At ShopStyle Collective, we recently conducted a study showing that there are significantly more influencers entering the market who are previously employed, a greater representation of black and Hispanic influencers, and more men.
With this in mind, brands that are just now looking to begin investing in influencer marketing have several different considerations and best practices to consider than generations past. Even brands that have been investing in influencers for years might need a refresher on how they approach working on new and emerging platforms or leveraging these new emerging types of influencers that we’re seeing come to the forefront.
Here are some tips and tactics for brands that are crucial to finding success with modern-day influencer marketing campaigns.
Investing where your audience is active
One of the biggest questions that brands have when starting an influencer marketing campaign is “which platforms should I invest in?” They also have questions around whether they should prioritize one channel to start, or to invest in all platforms. As more platforms continue to emerge or evolve and update features, these questions become increasingly important for successful influencer marketing campaigns.
Investing in a social platform should be a strategic move, backed by data and analytics of who is active on those platforms and what your ultimate goal for investment might be. Brands should only be investing in platforms where their audiences are active – or else you might be wasting valuable spend on platforms that won’t deliver value to your business. Similarly, investing in only one or two platforms might pigeonhole your marketing efforts and hinder you from getting the most out of what influencer marketing has to offer.
Before jumping into their first influencer marketing campaign, brands should spend time understanding where their customers are active and develop a plan that helps them get in front of their audiences at every possible touchpoint.
New ways to work with influencers
As more platforms emerge, more ways for influencers to monetize their content are growing in parallel. There are several ways to work with influencers across platforms, but two of the most important to understand are campaigns and affiliate.
Before discussing how you should go about navigating the two, let’s take a minute to understand what they are.
Campaigns are the ‘traditional’ way of working with influencers. After identifying the influencer(s) that you want to work with for any given brand campaign, brands then come to a contractually obligated agreement of how many posts an influencer will share to promote your brand, as well as key points and messages that brands want to come across in each of the influencers’ posts. This is a straight-forward way to guarantee content from influencers who will promote your brand in a “paid placement.” Typically, sponsored campaigns are a sure-fire way to build brand awareness across social platforms at the start of your influencer journey.
Affiliate, on the other hand, provides influencers with the opportunity to proactively promote your products without any need for a larger campaign. When working with affiliates, influencers can proactively post links to your products. Instead of paying influencers contractually for scheduled posts, you are only responsible for paying an influencer when a purchase is made. This commission-based way of working with influencers is a great way to drive conversions.
When starting out, brands should consider beginning with larger brand campaigns to build awareness. Affiliate programs are only successful when the brand has drummed up excitement, awareness and possesses a solid foundational reputation within the influencer community. Ensuring that there is credibility in your product or brand allows influencers to link to your products organically from that point on. By starting with out with campaigns, influencers will not only build awareness with your target audience, but with other influencers as well.
Once you have generated enough awareness within the social landscape as a brand, investing in affiliate is a strategic layer to add into your marketing plan to allow influencers to proactively help you drive conversions. Strategically paring the two is a recipe for long-term success with affiliate marketing.
Influencers are the pros
Regardless of how much the influencer marketing landscape industry evolves, authenticity remains the most important element of working with influencers. Oftentimes, brands struggle with giving up control over their influencer content during campaigns. It’s important for brands to understand that influencers are professionals, and they understand their audience better than anyone. It’s a two-way street when it comes to these types of partnerships – it’s a collaboration with other individuals who knows your core consumer, not a traditional ad placement that you buy on a website or TV.
If you give too many guidelines when working with influencers, you are compromising the authenticity that makes influencer marketing so effective. You can provide key points that you want the influencer to touch on but let them do what they do best.
These are just a few of the key considerations for working with influencers in the modern age. As more platforms emerge, and as more ways for influencers to monetize come with them, staying up-to-speed with the latest trends will help you stay ahead of your competition and get the most out of your influencer marketing investment.
Amy Choi, Director of Brand Partnerships, New Business at ShopStyle Collective.