Influencers are hardly a new phenomenon, but with the rise of visual-heavy media sites the role of influencers in brand marketing has increased. It was cited as one of the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition tactics in 2017, so marketers should seriously consider taking advantage of independent influencers. However, brands need to be careful when it comes to choosing which influencers to work with. Influencers need to not only have an affinity for the brand and a relevant target audience, but also the ability to deliver distinct, creative content and provide measurable results.
Here are a couple of considerations for marketers thinking about selecting which influencers to work with.
1. Look beyond the number of followers and explore the demographics and interests of each influencer.
Mid-level influencers may have higher rates of engagement than those with millions of followers. Gathering demographics and building a profile of an influencer’s following will help brands determine if its target profile fits within the influencer’s sphere of influence.
2. Tailor your marketing campaign messaging to the influencer’s followers to ensure the content beyond the initial post is well received.
Take an understanding of the influencer and their following into the creative process. Remember, influencers know their audience and what they want to see, so it is important to work with them when building a campaign.
3. Invest in content formats that maximize engagement
Engagement on Instagram has been declining over the past year. According to a Socialinsider report, the average engagement rate per post has fallen from 3% a few months back to around 2% per post today. A primary reason for this appears to be the fact that Instagram is shutting down a lot of fake accounts – but the engagement rate can be fixed. To improve this engagement, brands need to break the continued reliance on images. The study finds carousel posts, on an average, to have 0.25% to 0.51% higher engagement rates than images or videos. However, with influencers who have between 50K and 100K followers, videos had a vastly higher engagement rate of 2.24%. The bottom line here is to invest in a format that works for your particular campaign.
Two of the biggest trends in influencer marketing
Trend 1: Longer brand to influencer relationships instead of one-time deals
Take the time to build a strong relationship with influencers to produce a more comprehensive dialogue for both parties. This allows brands and influencers to communicate about audiences, trends, and new ideas. Working with influencers for multiple posts can build interest and initiate conversation. Clothing brands are taking advantage of image-based social platforms to capitalise on everything from music festivals to changes in seasons.
Trend 2: Implementation of story takeovers
Content creation and storytelling in the world of short-lived social media stories takes expertise and creativity. Story takeovers—when someone takes over another person or brand’s social media account for a short period of time—have become an essential part of social media strategy. Story takeovers are an excellent way for brands to add diverse content and interact with users. Influencers bring in viewership for brands by promoting takeovers on their personal channels and brands do the same for influencers, so these kinds of partnerships are win-win.
The combination of sponsored posts and story takeovers can lead to a compelling social media strategy with measurable success. A superb example of this combination comes from social media influencer Maddie Greer and her recent team-up with clothing company Nasty Gal during The Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City.
Nasty Gal and Maddie Greer
Leveraging the culture and attitudes surrounding music festivals, Nasty Gal partnered up with Maddie Greer, an NYC based influencer, during The Governers Ball. In addition to sponsoring posts on her page, Nasty Gal had Maddie take over its Instagram story for the duration of the three-day festival. Story takeovers can be an effective way of encouraging influencer’s followers to view and interact with a brand’s page. During the festival, Maddie showed viewers her outfit for the day, all pieces from Nasty Gal. Then, she took viewers through her day by sharing her favourite artists as they performed. Maddie promoted the takeover on her personal page and invited her views to follower her day with Nasty Gal.
H&M with Verniece and Vern Enciso
Travel, lifestyle, and beauty-blogger sisters Vern and Verniece have partnered with H&M for the summer. H&M has utilised the sisters for posts individually and together to have twice the impact on audiences. In addition to their social media partnership, the sisters are featured models of H&M swimwear and have photos in-store around Manilla and the Philippines.
Nadine Sykora with Hotels.com
A world traveller and experienced vlogger, Nadine Skyora has partnered with Hotels.com to show viewers how Hotels.com can make it easy to travel and experience the world. Nadine has partnered with Hotels.com for two posts, one at The Governors Ball Music Festival in NYC and another at Parklife in Manchester. By working with Nadine at two festivals in different countries, Hotels.com highlights the abilities of its brand. Nadine features the brand on her Instagram story throughout her travels and at night before she goes to bed.
How to Take Advantage of Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are a great way to promote products, whilst also keeping your brand top of mind. Take note of unique story features, such as polls and sliders because they will become increasingly important for user engagement.
1. Use links and tags in Instagram stories
Using Instagram stories for business allows for tagging and linking directly within the story. This feature allows brands to capitalize on the attention and viewers of stories. The ability to “swipe up” allows brands to link out content or product pages. Users simply swipe up and are redirected to the new URL. This feature allows for endless possibilities.
2. Polls within stories
Interactive user polls are a fun way to engage with audiences and receive feedback on any topic. Get audiences opinions quickly and apply the findings to further develop the brand and social media strategy. Engage with followers’ content and use it for stories (with permission of course), which makes creating stories even easier.
3. Go live
Exciting events and one-time experiences are perfect for the Instagram live feature, which allows marketers to share journeys with audiences. Go behind the scenes and offer further information to users who are interested or allow users who could not make an event experience it in real time. Instagram saves live stories, so they can be viewed for as long as desired after the original post
Taking advantage of Instagram stories will become more important in the future. Use stories to share more with viewers and create meaningful experiences to increase brand loyalty. Stories allow for endless possibilities and creative storytelling, so make a place for them in social media strategy.
Things brands should keep in mind when sponsoring posts…
Influencer marketing is a powerful tool when used well, however, there are a few key things you must remember if you’re planning to engage an influencer.
- Ensure influencers are following brand promotion rules.
To protect both the influencer and brand from legal troubles, the Advertising Standards Authority issued new rules for working with influencers which involves clearly disclosing that they’re being compensated for promoting your brand. Sponsored content needs to clearly show that a post is an advert. It’s as simple as putting “ad” or “sponsored” in the title of the post. Not doing so is in breach of advertising standards.
- Implement proper measure for tracking KPIs and ROI
Set goals and measurement criteria before the campaign begins and inform the influencers. How will success be measured? Clarifying tools at the beginning will make measuring success easier when the campaign is over. At the end of a campaign, compile the number of impressions and interactions each post received. Check click-through rates on links, hashtag usage, and mentions. It is important to remember however that numbers do not always tell the whole story. Look into consumer feedback through comments and shares. What were people saying about the brand? Was it positive or negative? Then, share findings with the influencer to inform them about their audience and keep the door open for future collaborations.
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