Marketing tools must evolve to keep pace with change across industries and consumers. In 2018, the number of Instagram sponsored posts grew by 44 per cent. The volume of sponsored content presented to consumers is vast and showing no sign of slowing down as brands scramble to interact and engage with us. So how does a brand cut through the noise effectively and engage their audience?
Working with influencers daily we’ve observed the evolution of influencer marketing in the Polish market and for the past year we have been preparing a trends report. We drew several significant conclusions, but here are some highlights:
The Power of Storytelling
The ability to influence through storytelling is by no means a new development. Humans are programmed with the need to share and listen to stories. It is a unique attribute that has enabled our survival from hunter‐gatherers passing on our collective knowledge to become the dominant species. These behaviours continue to play out today. Brands must consider how to harness stories to emotionally connect with consumers through social media.
Influencers and bloggers are experts in storytelling and taking their audience on a journey. Swarovski’s jewellery collections are inspired by stories so in turn, the brand allows their influencers to interpret these in the way they see fit. Swarovski gives them artistic freedom to prepare their own accompanying copy for the content they produce. As with all contracts there are simple ground rules to be followed, but beyond these we need to trust the influencers’ judgment and tone of voice, respecting the reasons why they were chosen for collaboration in the first place.
Brands must consider the influencer’s expertise and respect their approach when collaborating so as not to damage credibility. Partnering with experts whose values and messaging match closely to the brand’s is central to this.
The Rise of the Micro Influencer
Owing to their loyal audience, authenticity and deeper engagement, micro‐influencers have shifted the dial of influencer marketing and increasingly enjoy more opportunities to collaborate with brands.
But what defines a micro influencer? Locally relevant content creators and experts who typically reach a much smaller audience than mega and macro influencers, but whose audiences are highly receptive, often owing to their personal interaction and accessibility. They are aspirational without feeling unattainable. What classes them as a micro influencer in terms of ‘following’ size depends on the local market.
However, after a year of research, experience shows us:
- With increasing attention being paid to micro influencers as a result of their audience resonance, micro influencers have steadily begun to challenge rate negotiations with brands. They no longer come free or simply with gifting.
Due to their lower reach, too much focus on micro influencers can weaken an influencer strategy as wide audience engagement is limited.
The Need for a Balanced Approach
So, it’s essential to consider a balanced combination of mega, macro, medium and micro tier content creators when creating a robust campaign to ensure:
- Increasing prestige by demonstrating commitment from the biggest influencers
- Breadth of focus beyond category-specific influencers, e.g. working with a travel influencer on a beauty campaign broadens reach
- Each tier of influencer has an important role to play and should be embraced for effective collaborations with maximum impact.
Skechers followed these rules for their SS19 campaign and here’s what happened. By engaging only 15 influencers, but from the various tiers the combined reach achieved was 2M. The result was above average engagement with storytelling and credibility achieved thanks to the medium and micro content creators.
The Shift in Vanity Metrics
A study published by the American Psychological Association in March 2019 showed an increase in depression and anxiety in those born after 1995. In part this has been linked to the rise of social media with a correlation made between further spikes from 2011, a year after Instagram launched.
Known as vanity metrics, the volume of likes, comments and shares in social media engagement have been blamed for compounding mental health issues like anxiety. They can allow users to easily and frequently compare their lives and self-worth against content creators. In a bid to reduce these social pressures and their impact on mental wellbeing, Instagram has begun to remove the visibility of the number of likes on social posts.
The decision is already causing a stir amongst influencers and brands who consider it a move that will negatively impact their efforts. Some communication experts believe it will weaken the power of those who have been profitably exploiting Instagram. It’s early days as the initiative rolls out across various markets making the exact impact difficult to gauge. However, it will cause a step change in the way influencers and brands need to engage their audiences. Brands must consider the way their audiences prefer to engage and seek ways to collaborate with influencers that will result in more interaction, connection and conversation. Greater transparency and deeper engagement beyond simple clicks will be at the centre.
The dynamic pace of change demonstrated here proves that as brand and PR experts, we cannot afford to stay still. Aliganza will shortly publish THE INFLUENCER MARKETING TREND BOOK SPRING/SUMMER 2019 for the Polish market. Sign up to our newsletter and find out more at www.aliganza.pl.
By Kasia Piersa, Influencer Marketing Manager at Aliganza