Last month, General Mills made headlines with an announcement on how their brands plan to prioritize brand advocates over traditional influencer marketing tactics. The article headlines certainly drew in an audience and led to many marketers to ask, "are brands moving away from influencer marketing?"
The short answer... no. But the definition of influencer marketing for some is changing.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
This past year, we've seen brands significantly shift from partnering with larger, big name influencers (macro/social-celebs) to micro and nano-influencers with brands citing more efficiency and authenticity coming from these groups. While this strategy has always been effective (we've been recommending micro-influencers vs celebrity influencers from the start) brands are finally embracing this tactic.
6 Stats that Prove the Influencer Marketing Industry is Still Growing
If you're still unsure about the future of influencer marketing, here's a few stats that show the trend is continuing to grow.
- Influencer marketing investments are set to grow to approximately $9.7B in 2020. On track to reach up to $15B in 2022.
- 4 of 5 brands have a dedicated influencer marketing budget for 2020.
- 2/3 of marketers say they increased their influencer marketing budget Y-o-Y for 2020.
- 91% of brands and agencies surveyed believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing.
- Searches for the term "Influencer marketing" have increased 1,500% over the last three years.
- By some accounts, 8 in 10 consumers report making a purchase after having seen it recommended by an influencer.
How Your Brand Can Build Effective Influencer Programs
Whether you're considering running your first influencer program or looking to optimize your existing strategy, there are a few tips we'll share with you to ensure influencer marketing effectiveness.
Pay Attention to the right metrics
Different goals means focusing on different metrics. If your influencer marketing team is telling you that impressions are the only important KPI available for influencer marketing, that's a lie. From True Views to Ad Recall Rate to Search Volume Lift, there are tons of different metrics you can use, the key is focusing on the ones that correlate with your primary objective. If you're unsure which one's those are, check out our influencer marketing strategy guide for more details.
Focus On the Audience Makeup, Not the Size of the Following
This tip goes hand in hand with the strategic direction General Mills and other brands are going in, and it's a best practice within our agency. It's important to understand that reach DOES NOT equal influence. Just because an influencer has 1 million followers doesn't mean that every single one of those followers are your target audience. One of the many reasons we focus on working with micro-influencers is because we've found, on average, they have 22.2x more conversations on their content than the typical Instagram user. So start off identifying micro-influencers, but while you're vetting them, take the extra step to dive into the makeup of their audience and confirm that the majority of their followers align with the audience you want to target.
Leverage Paid Media with Proven Content
Don't mistake this tip as a call to hit the "boost button" on your influencers content (we never recommend doing that). But, it's no secret that organic reach continues to decline and if you're only leveraging the influencers organic audience then you're missing out. We're recommending that you put into place a system that helps you identify which pieces of influencer content are the most effective assets and then run paid media to reach additional audiences outside of the influencer's organic follow.
At Carusele, we're able to do this by running ads directly from the influencer's accounts. They grant us business manager access, and we take it from there: turning their words and their content into an ad, building the audience, and managing the budget. We then check every single ad unit daily to identify opportunities for optimization.
Don't let the headlines phase you, influencer marketing is far from over. Even in the middle of a pandemic, nearly 80% of influencers are reporting higher engagement from their followers. So get your influencer marketing strategy ready, set, and optimized to go. Make sure you also sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay informed on industry trends throughout the rest of the year (form below).
Sign Up for Our Newsletter, The Spin