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In a time where social media usage is growing at a rapid rate, brands now turn to influencer marketing to reach their target market.
Businesses in Southeast Asia spent 3.2 billion to 6.3 billion globally on influencer marketing. On Instagram alone, an average of 27.29% of posts in the region is sponsored by brands.
The rise of influencer marketing came with a price.
With more brands turning to influencers for marketing campaigns — more people want in the influencer industry. Others even go lengths to boost themselves with fake followers and automated engagements.
Some brands, meanwhile, have treated influencer marketing like it’s celebrity endorsement. Their focus shifted to simply having their products promoted, instead of crafting meaningful content.
Case in point: the 2017 fiasco that was the Fyre Festival.
Not only was the event a huge catastrophe — several big name influencers found themselves accused of fraud. And yes, there were multiple subpoenas issued.
With all this, it didn’t take long for audiences to treat influencer marketing as another kind of traditional advertising.
But is influencer marketing really dead?
The truth is, influencer marketing still packs a lot of potential. But, if the industry doesn’t take further steps to sustain it, it may just be another marketing fad.
Here are some tips brands and influencers can do to keep influencer marketing alive:
Influencer marketing nowadays has evolved into a transactional business. Brands merely pay influencers to promote them and then move on to the next one.
Influencer marketing should go back to what it is from the very start: a long-term partnership of influencers and brands — rather than short-term collaborations.
By establishing a genuine relationship with influencers, brands show how invested they are. This makes influencers more likely to express their loyalty and to promote the brands wholeheartedly.
Influencer marketing shouldn’t just be about posting a photo or video of products and crafting generic captions.
Influencers become influencers because of the level of engagement they have with their audience. That should still be the same case when they market brands.
Influencers and brands must put effort into creating content that resonates with their audiences. They must present to their audience something valuable and appealing.
Get inspired by these ideas:
There are a lot of technologies that support influencer marketing.
Platforms have allowed brands to easily connect with the right influencer, manage campaigns, measure ROI, among other features. Some of the best tools in the market include Upfluence, Scrunch, and Famebit.
Influencers can also take advantage of developments in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in creating their content. These will be helpful in establishing trust with their audiences, especially if they’re into live-broadcasting activities and events.
Most influencers right now can be found on Instagram. The platform hit 1 billion active users in the middle of 2018, so it's no wonder influencers and brands flock to the platform.
But with the attention span of today’s online users, it's good to venture to other platforms to widen your reach.
YouTube is a good example, as most audiences are more attracted to video content.
Collaborating with YouTube influencers lets you access an audience that receives daily notifications. Simply put, these are highly engaged users.
Depending on your niche, Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Pinterest are viable platforms as well.
For marketers, influencer marketing isn’t just about employing the most popular influencer to promote their brand. It should ensure good ROI.
Measure the effectiveness of your campaigns by measuring:
As it grows and develops, more fraudulent acts involved in influencer marketing have been exposed.
In 2017, the US Federal Trade Commission issued warnings for brands and influencers to disclose their partnerships. This was after consumers raised their concerns on seeing influencer posts featuring brands, and wondering if these influencers are showing genuine recommendations or if they’re being paid to do so.
Also, global brand Unilever amped up their fight against influencer fraud, declaring they won’t be working with influencers who have paid for more followers.
Overall, transparency in influencer marketing should be a priority.
Every piece of paid content should be tagged as such. Hashtags like #ad or #sponsored, or a customised tag disclose a paid partnership.
Also, influencers must focus on creating high-quality and engaging content instead of boosting their numbers falsely. In the end, no matter how huge their number of followers, likes, and comments look like, what convinces consumers to buy their recommendations is their content.
With the radical ways it has changed the marketing game, influencer marketing is very much here to stay. But, only with the best efforts of the industry — influencers and brands alike — can it be sustained.
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