Keeping Up With the Top Influencer Marketing Trends

Heather Satterfield Heather Satterfield, Marketing Manager

Influencer marketing is no longer new but it continues to grow and evolve. Influencers are individuals with large followings who are highly respected in their fields. They may have popular blogs, Facebook or Instagram pages, podcasts or YouTube channels. The basic principle of influencer marketing is to borrow some of the influencer’s credibility and tap into his or her audience. Yet this isn’t always as straightforward as it first appears. You need to choose the right influencer and design a campaign that works to further both of your interests.

The simplistic idea of finding someone with a huge following doesn’t work for most businesses. For one thing, working with very popular influencers is expensive. Additionally, you want to find people who can help you build credibility in your niche. A well-known pop star, model or athlete may have millions of followers but might not be the best choice if you’re in a field such as SaaS, logistics, medical supplies or many other industries. Influencer marketing is becoming more sophisticated, with businesses starting to recognize that they need a customized approach. Let’s explore some of the latest trends that will help you get the most out of your influencer campaigns.

The Benefits of Working With Micro Influencers

Micro influencers have small or moderate-sized audiences in specific niches. They aren’t as widely known as “mega” influencers but they often have enthusiastic followings in their own fields. It’s easier and more affordable to connect with this type of influencer. Another benefit of using micro influencers is that they are often seen as trustworthy. The more famous someone is, the more your influencer campaign will have the feel of a traditional TV commercial. Even people who admire a celebrity might be suspicious of his or her motives for working with you. On the other hand, micro influencers focusing on their specialty can project a more authentic image. Of course, it’s important to choose an appropriate spokesperson who has the right voice for your brand.

If you want to find micro influencers, search books, blogs, Twitter feeds and podcasts in your field. You might also check out speakers who give TED or TEDx Talks on topics relevant to your customers. Micro influencer marketing is a good approach for smaller businesses that don’t have the budget to hire more costly mega influencers.

Instagram and Facebook Stories are Ideal Platforms for Influencers

Instagram Stories have quickly emerged as one of the most popular features on social media. Facebook, which owns Instagram, has its own version of Stories. While Snapchat actually came up with Stories first, it’s struggling to keep up with its larger competitors. With Stories, brands can offer ephemeral content that’s highlighted at the top of followers’ pages. Instagram Stories are currently used by 250 million people. Facebook Stories are also taking off both on the regular Facebook platform and on Messenger.

Stories are, in many ways, the perfect vehicle for influencer marketing. Content for Stories should be timely with a sense of urgency. Influencers can help you get the word out about a new product or upcoming event. Both Instagram and Facebook now accept paid advertising on Stories. There are several types of ads you can purchase such as video ads and Carousel Story ads that let you combine three images or videos. Both organic Stories and paid ads can be part of your influencer campaigns. One brand that has made good use of Instagram Stories is Gap, which saw a 73 percent increase in click-throughs from Carousel ads compared to their previous strategy.

Focus on Analytics

At first, many businesses embraced influencer marketing without much discernment. The novelty of having recognized experts or celebrities speaking on their behalf made it easier to put analytics to the side. It’s true that influencer marketing can be good for building brand awareness, which is difficult to quantify. At the same time, as businesses invest more in influencer campaigns, it’s essential to measure ROI.

To track results, you need to set clear KPIs. You can measure the same analytics you do with any digital marketing campaign such as traffic, clicks, likes, and shares. However, you can also set up campaigns that have built-in features to make measurement simpler. For example, you could have the influencer offer a coupon code and track the number of followers who use it. Before starting an influencer campaign, set clear goals, with at least some measurable ones. It’s then possible to compare the results you get with influencers to other types of marketing such as PPC ads and organic social media posts.

Find Influencers to Work With You Long-term

Some influencer marketing campaigns are one-off affairs where you hire someone to speak or post for you on a single occasion. This is easier to arrange than ever with platforms such as Shoutcart. You can even buy “shoutouts” on freelancer sites such as Fiverr. With shoutouts, you can quickly connect with influencers without ever meeting or talking to them directly. To build trust with your audience, however, it’s better to develop long-term relationships with people who are the right match for your brand. Your readers and viewers will come to trust influencers who speak on your behalf consistently.

When you think in terms of working with someone long-term it also makes sense to have them appear on multiple platforms. While you may find that certain channels such as Instagram Stories work well for you, remember that your audience is active on many other sites as well.

Effective branding nowadays requires a multichannel presence. Rather than just having someone speak for you on a single channel, he or she might create Stories for you, make videos on YouTube, mention you in a podcast and possibly appear with you at live events. This helps you turn influencers into brand ambassadors who are seen as not merely actors but people who genuinely believe in your vision. Of course, it takes time and discernment to find influencers who can fill this kind of role.

These are some of the trends that are driving influencer marketing and making it into a more profitable strategy for businesses. No matter what your goals, it’s important to use influencer marketing in a pragmatic and results-oriented way. Make it a part of your overall marketing strategy, track your results, and focus on finding influencers who can become brand ambassadors who help you grow.