Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a dramatic evolution of influencer marketing and how brands and consumers perceive it. With brands spending hundreds of thousands of dollars working with the likes of Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, or Selena Gomez, this form of marketing is undoubtedly, wildly popular today.
And owing to the success that countless brands have achieved from influencer marketing, more brands are looking to join the bandwagon. However, it’s important to make such decisions after a careful evaluation of the current state of influencer marketing.
Why is it Important to Analyze the State of Influencer Marketing?
Strategies that might have worked a couple of years ago might not be as effective today. So, if you don’t take the time to understand the state of influencer marketing today, you’ll be shooting in the dark.
This is essential, and not just for marketers trying their hands at influencer marketing for the first time. Given how dynamic the influencer marketing landscape is, it’s equally important for marketers who have been at it for a while. They also need to stay abreast of the latest trends and developments.
So, in this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at the current state of influencer marketing. It will help you understand some of the current trends in the industry when it comes to the choice of platforms, budgets, and a whole lot more. Let’s get started.
1. Preferred Social Media Platforms
Instagram has always been the preferred platform for marketers to run their influencer marketing campaigns. This is mainly due to the visual nature of the platform. And since “a picture is worth a thousand words,” Instagram has proven to be a powerful platform at helping brands showcase their products or services to their target audiences.
In fact, in 2018, brands spent over 1 billion dollars on Instagram influencer marketing and this is expected to cross the 2 billion mark in 2019. So, what does the current state of influencer marketing look like as far as the choice of social platforms is concerned?
According to a recent study by Relatable, Instagram continues to dominate the influencer marketing landscape. In fact, 87.6% of marketers said that they turn to Instagram as their primary channel for influencer marketing campaigns. This is followed by Facebook (42%), YouTube (37.3%), Twitter (15%), and LinkedIn (12%).
Image via Relatable
Even though YouTube came in at number three, it’s interesting to note that the study revealed that the CPM and effective cost of YouTube influencer marketing is 3-4X higher than that of Instagram influencer marketing. So, in effect, the market size of YouTube for influencer marketing could be the same as (if not greater) than that of Instagram.
However, when you select a platform for your influencer marketing campaign, make sure that you don’t simply refer to the current state of influencer marketing and the trends. Your choice needs to be based on where your target audience is most likely to be found.
Key Takeaway: Analyze your audience demographics, preferences, and interests to understand which platforms they spend most of their time on. And choose your platforms based on that.
2. Measurement of ROI
For a long time, influencer marketers have found it difficult to measure the ROI of this form of marketing. In fact, most marketers say that the measurement of ROI is their biggest influencer marketing challenge
Image via Econsultancy
However, does that mean you shouldn’t measure the ROI of your campaigns? No.
The current state of influencer marketing has witnessed a paradigm shift to a scenario in which marketers attach a lot of importance to the measurement of ROI. How else will you really know if your campaigns are giving you the desired results or not? And given the amount of money that many brands are now investing in influencer marketing, it’s crucial to assess the ROI.
To make this easier, many brands have started using influencer marketing platforms. These platforms can help you keep track of your campaign performance quite easily and also measure the ROI. Grin, for example, can help you track revenue across your entire program. It helps you analyze your branded content and even compare the performances of your influencers.
Key Takeaway: Use influencer marketing platforms or tools to track and measure your ROI effectively. Make adjustments in real-time to improve the performance of your campaigns based on such tracking.
3. Influencer Marketing Budgets
As mentioned above, the state of influencer marketing has undergone a drastic change in the last few years. What started with brands gifting products to influencers in exchange for positive reviews went on to include the gifting of experiences such as events or sponsored trips.
Today, however, gifting of products or services aren’t enough to help forge lasting relationships between brands and influencers. Offering monetary compensation to influencers is what makes the relationship much more real and professional. This has led to brands setting aside larger budgets for influencer marketing campaigns.
According to a study, the spend on influencer marketing is likely to reach anywhere between $5 -$10 million by 2020. As more money continues to be invested in influencer marketing, the need to identify the right influencers is of utmost importance.
Apart from this, it’s also important to create influencer agreements that include details about payments, schedules, deliverables, and terms of collaboration. Such agreements can help to safeguard the interests of both brands and influencers.
Key Takeaway: Make sure that your influencer marketing budgets are well thought out and account for fair influencer compensation.
4. Authenticity, Credibility, and Transparency
As the influencer marketing industry continues to mature, it continues to bring certain challenges for brands and marketers. The current state of influencer marketing focuses greatly on authenticity, credibility, and transparency. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges that marketers are facing in their quest to be transparent and authentic.
One of the main challenges that brands face is dealing with “fakefluence” – influencers buying followers to inflate their follower counts and engagement. This makes it immensely difficult for marketers to weed out fake influencers from the real ones and make sure that their budgets are spent wisely and well.
A study by CampaignDeus found that 12% of influencers resorted to buying fake followers in the first six months of 2018. This was proven by sudden spikes in their follower counts coupled with unusually low engagement rates.
Most of these followers are bots or fake accounts and therefore they can’t provide any real value. This is the reason why brands and marketers need to be extra careful when they choose influencers for their campaigns. In fact, in the current state of influencer marketing, the biggest challenge for 42% of influencer marketers is to ensure that they don’t fall prey to “fakefluence.”
Image via Econsultancy
The good news is that most brands realize the perils of working with fake influencers. And especially with Unilever’s announcement about taking a stance against “fakefluence,” brands are more concerned than ever.
Keith Reed, CMO of Unilever, issued a statement that said, “The key to improving the situation is three-fold,” he said. “Cleaning up the influencer ecosystem by removing misleading engagement; making brands and influencers more aware of the use of dishonest practices; and improving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact.”
Besides weeding out fake influencers, the state of influencer marketing is such that brands are more focused on increasing the authenticity of their campaigns. Consumers understand that brands are paying influencers to post content on their behalf, write positive reviews, and promote their products.
And so, even though many consumers are still influenced by such content, a few people consider it to be almost the same as paid advertising. To combat this, many brands are now trying to identify influencers who are brand advocates of theirs. The objective here is to get them to promote their brand genuinely or organically instead of having to “pay-to-promote.”
Adherence to FTC Guidelines
Another trend that has caught on in the current state of influencer marketing is the focus on transparency. The FTC has laid down clear guidelines for influencers and brands as to how they need to disclose the nature of their partnership in branded content. Violation of these guidelines can not only make brands liable to legal proceedings but also severe backlash from their audiences.
The idea is to let your audience know that you have paid your influencers or given them free products, services, or experiences to promote you. If your influencers don’t disclose this, then it’s as good as deceiving your audience. In fact, many influencer marketing fails have been caused due to the non-disclosure of the influencer-brand partnership.
Key Takeaways: Make sure to evaluate your influencers carefully before selecting them. Focus on finding brand advocates to make your campaigns more authentic. And finally, make sure that your influencers clearly disclose the details of their partnership in their branded content.
In order to make the most of your influencer campaigns, it’s extremely important to analyze the current state of influencer marketing. This will give you an idea of the social media platforms that are most popular and likely to give you the desired results.
It will also help you with key insights into the major challenges that influencer marketers face today so that you can be well prepared to overcome them. The insights mentioned above will give you a fair idea of the state of influencer marketing as it stands today. Use them to make your campaigns effective and successful.
Do you have any other insights to share about the current state of influencer marketing? Let us know in the comments below.