I've seen this problem with influencer marketing coming a mile away. Some of our clients want to use influencers, but they definitely have some concerns about whether they are worth it. I definitely understand where they're coming from, and that's why the influencer trend is changing for the better.
Influencer marketing started because people trust the product and service reviews of other people. Especially if someone is perceived as knowing a lot about a certain topic, people assign more weight to that person's recommendations. It makes sense.
But no strategy is perfect. Over the years, a couple of problems have cropped up.
● Influencers demanding too much money for their services
● Fraudulent influencers jumping on the trend
● No real returns from influencer posts
● Inauthentic recommendations hurt the brand
As you can see, the main theme concerns getting what you pay for out of the influencer.
Today, it seems like anybody can call themselves an influencer. The label is starting to lose its meaning. How do we know if that person actually has the standing in their little community to make a difference?
In response to these problems with influencer marketing, the digital industry is moving towards better influencer tracking. As digital marketers, it's our role to deeply scrutinize the people we choose to partner with.
It's not just a matter of “how many followers does this person have?” The problem is some people are buying fake followers. If you look carefully at the person's follower list, there are clues if they have bought followers. You'll see a sudden spike followed by a drop-off.
It's also about how that person is engaging with their community. Are they being real when they leave comments? Do their posts sound like they were written by a human being versus a bot? And who was actually doing the writing, a ghostwriter or the person?
So this first shift is the process we use to evaluate influencers. We're putting more emphasis on finding people that have a legitimate audience for the goal of our influencer marketing program. We talk a lot to our clients about using the right influencer for the target market. Just because someone is in the commercial real estate space doesn't necessarily mean that the people who are following them are your target audience.
The second shift is towards micro-influencers. Instead of using a single influencer who has mega followers, micro-influencers are people with smaller audiences, typically between 1,000 to 50,000 followers. The problem with mega influencers is sometimes their audience feels so far removed from them that they don't believe what the person is pitching applies to them. But micro-influencers create better relationships with their smaller communities, making people more likely to trust them.
The final change is to better analysis and tracking of what the influencers actually doing. We're putting more emphasis on if their work is actually driving traffic towards our website or creating product sales.
Thinking about starting an influencer program next year? Do yourself a favor. Start following potential influencers and now and track them over a period of time. You are looking to see how active they are with their social media accounts and what they are posting.
Avoid using vanity metrics like their follower count and their like count. Look more at their engagement and their comments. Break down the number of posts they tend to do and see which posts get the most engagement. What’s the bounce rate from web traffic? How about their email list open rates?
Social Media Today has a pretty good breakdown of analyzing an influencer based on their typical conversations. It makes a pretty clear case for how to pick the right influencer for your brand.
The biggest piece of advice when it comes to using influencers is just take your time. Be thoughtful about who you choose to align your brand with, and get really smart about tracking the benefits of the relationship.
Looking to include influencers in your marketing strategy for 2020? Let’s start the conversation on how we can help.