How Influencer Marketing Will Change In 2015
Influencer Marketing 101
Influencer marketing can be loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals who have influence over potential buyers. Influence isn’t just characterized by having a lot of followers. It’s also driven by expertise on subject matter and the relationship between the influencer and his or her followers. In the past, brands may have focused on popular bloggers and celebrities, but today there is a new wave of “everyday” consumers that can have just as large an impact.
Over the past year, companies in the fashion/lifestyle, beauty, automotive, and food/beverage verticals have increased their focus and attention on influencers across various social media platforms. According to fashion blogger Ruby Park, some influencers can be compensated through product (i.e., clothes, jewelry, bags, etc.), a paid contractor position ( modeling, styling, or posting for exposure), or commission-based programs. Brian DiFeo, founder of an Instagram creative agency Mobile Media Lab, pays influencers roughly $250 to $3,000 per photo depending on the size of their audience and how much engagement they receive.
More Platforms & More Sophistication:
One of the main drivers of influencer marketing is the fragmentation of consumer attention. Now instead of being centered around television, it’s spread across various digital channels, with a major focus on social networks. YouTube and Instagram are currently seeing a lot of the influencer marketing spend but platforms like Vine, Pinterest and Snapchat are quickly rising as well. In 2015 I expect influencers to rise on nearly every platform in increasing numbers.
“With the emergence of this new type of marketing, technology is being developed to improve the effect and reach of influencers. Existing influencer platforms are becoming more sophisticated in matching brands to influencers” says Marcos Vicente Blanco of Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments. As brands turn their focus and budgets to this field, so too do the technology developers who seek to tap into advertising budgets. “The emergence of new influencer verticals/talent will allow brands to execute more targeted campaigns.”
Return to Authentic Brand Advocates:
One of the original advantages of influencer marketing was that it was considered “more authentic” than a message that came directly from the brand. However, as professional influencers increase their branded campaigns, savvy consumers are starting to weed through the sponsored marketing messages.
Rebecca McCuiston, SVP of Influencer Marketing at 360i believes that brands should strive to find credible and authentic personalities who can talk about campaigns in ways that are genuine to the influencer and the product. A great example of a more genuine interaction this year was Skittles partnership with Marshawn Lynch, a huge Skittles fan and popular NFL player. It was a natural and believable campaign because Lynch was already a known Skittles enthusiast before the partnership.
In short, if you have a great product that your influencers use, you have a much better chance of leveraging influencer marketing effectively.
Less Brand Control will Lead to Better Content:
For brands to get the best results, I strongly believe they need to give the influencers more control and flexibility over their creative expression. In my last article I proposed an equation for thinking about influence.
Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers
Unlike the targeting consistency you find on various digital advertising options, no two influencers are created equal. They have different expertise and audiences which require different messages.
According to Brent Weinstein, Head of Digital Media at United Talent Agency, brands should trust digital influencers who have an intimate understanding of how their millions of fans will respond so the brand message is delivered both organically and effectively. Brands must alter their thinking when it comes to influencers and their fans. Instead of saying “do this,” they should be asking “what should we do?”
Potential Roadblocks Down the Road
While influencer marketing is expected to grow in 2015, there are a few concerns that the industry faces. If more brands put their marketing spend behind influencers, they essentially cannibalize the advertising business of the various social media platforms themselves. How will these platforms react? Moreover, as the space begins to heat up, will the FTC and other regulatory agencies shine a brighter light on disclosure?
Influencer marketing works because social media allows word of mouth marketing at scale. I myself have been introduced to many new brands and products through my friends and people I follow on social media platforms. As the space evolves in 2015 it will be interesting to see how brands and influencers partner to connect with consumers.
Kyle Wong is the founder and CEO of Pixlee, a startup that helps brands market using authentic customer photos. Follow him on Twitter at @kwong47.
By: Kyle Wong
Read more at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kylewong/2014/12/22/how-influencer-marketing-will-change-in-2015/3/