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Influencer marketing is often referred to as the ‘Wild West’ of the marketing space because of its sense of lawlessness. In an industry dominated by rules and best practices, influencer marketing came onto the scene as an outlaw because there were no hard and fast rules to making strategies succeed. From influencer compensation, to the best outreach tactics, the early days of influencer marketing saw many successes and failures. That’s all changing now.
According to our Influence 2.0 research:
In order to understand what the future of influencer marketing holds as the space graduates to a new frontier, we reached out to the marketers who are in the trenches everyday.
We asked brand marketers who will be speaking and sharing their knowledge at Content Marketing World (CMW) this year: What trends will impact the influencer marketing space and help it grow out of the wild west?
Influencer marketing has emerged from the wild west to become a highly organized and productized media offering and communication strategy. In terms of its next frontier, expect to see more impact-versus-impression influencer strategies, where quality of audience and influencer passion point overlap will replace the inexact and costly “purchasing reach” model made popular during the wild west period. These smaller-yet-more-highly-targeted audiences will be more cost effective on a per influencer partnership basis, and will allow communicators to invest in greater scale across a broader influencer mix, with a tailored content strategy for each audience.”
Micro-influencers are particularly interesting to me as a B2B influence marketer. In order to truly harness their power and reach, I think big data will take a more prominent role in discovery, intelligence, and reporting for influencer marketing programs. When I can pull up a searchable and manageable history of an influencer’s footprint, and couple that with my own brand’s engagement with that influencer and their audience, I’ll have a much more actionable set of data that I can use to craft better experiences with them.”
As we move toward sophistication in influencer marketing, I think a few things will help it move from the "wild west". First, the ability to track activities and assign value to the business for each influencer. Second, more sophistication and standardization for the way that influencers want to / expect to work with brands. Third, a way for brands to more quickly assess whether or not they've chosen the "right" influencers to partner with their brand. “
Influencer marketing will continue to mature, separate those who blindly message anyone they deem to be an influencer to those brands who take the time to develop actual relationships with influencers. One area that is important for brands to realize is that there needs to be a benefit to the influencer. While exposure is great, many influencers do not benefit from sheer exposure alone. The simple effort of a personalized gift can mean a lot. It shows that the brand made an effort to customize something for them. Anything like that, where it shows that the brand cares, turns it into a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Influencer marketing is the new thing for companies to try these days- and it’s a bit like the Wild West – full of possibilities and success, but we must also pay attention to the best way to conduct business and create value for influencers and businesses alike. Here are the some things that will lead us out of the wilderness:
1. Measurement and ROI: Companies are looking for and will need to see ROI in influencer marketing outside of social media metrics, especially in B2B. Brands are now seeking the measurement behind pipeline and what will help push buyers further in the sales funnel.
2. Influencer led programs vs brand serving: Brands need to approach influencers as partners not “people who can shill my message”. Remember, the purpose of influencer marketing is to bring an informed third-party voice to an issue/topic to your buying audience. Your audience will benefit from knowledge, point of view or insight from this – and the influencer’s audience will get exposure to your point of view on an issue, topic expert, etc. Audiences are savvy – and will follow those influencers who are truly authentic and not selling.
3. Become a part of the customer journey not just awareness/social media campaigns: Influencer marketing will become a part of the marketing function outside of the awareness part of the sales funnel. It’s something that will be incorporated across the sales cycle with lead-gen, demand gen and nurture type campaigns – leading all the way to advocacy (customer influencers).”
As influencer marketing moves toward a new frontier, these trends will make a major impact on how the practice is perceived and approached by brands as part of their overall marketing programs. It’s going to be a wild ride, and we can’t wait to see where the trail will lead next.
Come hear more influencer marketing tips, strategies, and predictions at Content Marketing World (CMW) taking place in Cleveland September 5-8th. This three day conference is packed with thought leaders and brands paving the way and innovating new trends. For the first time, this year’s conference will include an influencer marketing track focused on how big brands are executing influencer strategies. Register for Content Marketing World today and receive $100 off with code: SPONSOR100. We hope to meet you in Cleveland to further discuss the future of influencer marketing.
Whether you are attending Content Marketing World, or just want to jump into the online influencer marketing conversation, join our new Slack group. Specifically designed to connect marketers who are testing influencer strategies in the field everyday, this group is a safe place to come ask questions, offer advice, and accelerate learning in the influence space. Join the IM at CMW Slack group today.