News 4 minutes, 28 second read Rosie Blake, Founder and CEO, The Social Club
Last year was notable for influencer marketing and the main channels brands used for favourable return on investment (ROI). Instagram continued to grow substantially post its expansion in 2017 and 2018. In fact, it was the fastest growing social network last year and is quickly ramping up its user base to compete with Facebook.
With growing competition due to the influx of new influencers to the market in 2019, combined with the fact that 63% of brands intended to increase their influencer marketing budget last year, it is important for brands to take note of some key learnings from the past 12 months.
So what are the top trends we saw in 2019 to consider moving into 2020, for maximising ROI?
As brands followed through with their plans to increase their investment in influencer marketing, many were left disappointed. After paying large sums for ‘bigger’ influencers with the largest audiences and frequent social media updates they saw disappointing returns. For some (usually newer brands), influencer marketing goals are to increase brand awareness and visibility, as well as lend value through credibility and quality content, so their collaboration with big influencers was still useful but their investment did not convert to as many direct sales.
For 2020, brands who were left in this less favourable position should consider shifting towards micro-influencers who are more relatable and drive higher engagement rates, as they promote brands to a more dedicated following.
This shift will see greater ROI, as brands can keep their budget the same but distribute the spend among a larger number of influencers, each with higher engagement. For those looking to increase brand awareness and not necessarily too concerned with driving direct sales, perhaps engaging with big influencers will still be beneficial.
With ASA guidelines requiring disclosure when any content is sponsored, audiences are becoming more aware of advertising on Instagram. This transparency has led to a growing aversion to seemingly inauthentic adverts and has resulted in more than 50 percent of customers not wanting to be influenced at all.
People feel less inclined to listen to influencers who will promote too many products and, on the flipside, influencers are cautious of sharing sponsored posts in an obvious way that doesn’t seem a good fit for their content and audience.
So 2020 should see more brands focusing on authenticity when choosing influencers to work with by partnering with the most relevant influencers to act as brand ambassadors. Think multiple posts and longer partnerships as opposed to just one-offs. Building a longer-lasting relationship with customers via influencers will be key in keeping audiences engaged in influencer and brand content.
From issues with measurability to a lack of trust between brands and influencers, since its rise, influencer marketing has proven to be very time consuming to get right. These barriers to success were only made worse by Instagram removing “likes” last year.
The best influencer partnerships take time to test and evolve, then there’s the time-consuming process of negotiating fees and content. These are a few of the many reasons 320 more platforms and influencer marketing agencies like The Social Club were created last year.
Such platforms and agencies will continue to act as a tool to speed up and simplify the process by utilising influencer relationships and the knowledge that they have over a wider network.
In the drive towards better ROI in 2020, it will benefit brands greatly to continue to engage with these platforms to play the role of the ‘middle man’ and manage the back-and-forth with influencers, as well as utilise their knowledge and ability to target the best performing influencers.
Looking back, 2019 taught us that brands see more effectiveness with influencer-produced content than that produced in-house, especially when using their advert spend on sponsored posts. It’s also more effective when content is promoted from an influencer channel as a brand advert, as opposed to traditional marketing.
For these reasons, in 2020 brands will find better value-for-money by merging both their content and influencer marketing budgets, and repurposing influencer content to cover their traditional marketing messaging under one roof.
So 2020 will be the year for fine-tuning brands’ strategies for utilising influencer marketing effectively. The chase for better ROI in influencer marketing will only ramp up this year and thankfully these key learnings from the past 12 months will be instrumental in moving one step closer towards foolproof budgeting and spend in this growing marketing tool for brands.
Consumers are becoming more savvy in their understanding of influencer marketing, and frankly, do not respond well to brands’ attempts to ‘influence’ them so blatantly. The main changes in strategy that brands should consider this year are based around engaging with their customers in a more authentic way by using micro-influencers with a more dedicated following.
Brands have previously wasted large proportions of their budget attempting to learn how to do this themselves, and usually getting it wrong. This year, they should minimise risk and instead leverage professional influencer marketing platforms and agencies who have the knowledge and wider network to be able to tackle these issues, and with a fraction of the time and cost.