Influencer marketing is now mainstream: it was the talk of Cannes Lions this year. “The choice is a simple one: embrace a warm welcome from the creator community excited to share in your story, or be left behind,” Cannes Lions wrote in its wrap-up report, in partnership with none other than TikTok. “Brands that put people, creators, and communities — especially historically excluded ones — at the heart of every step of their creative process deliver more insightful, authentic, and successful work. This is work that will influence culture and society for the better.”
At Storyhunter, we added “Influencers” to our list of more than 50 services. You can discover and hire top influencer talent on our platform for your next social media marketing campaign. Influencer marketing is worth $16.4 billion worldwide, and marketers plan to pour more money into this industry in 2023. But, you need to approach influencer marketing differently as it’s becoming more authentic, diverse, and measurable. Here’s where the space is going.
No more glitzy influencer events
There’s about to be a major shift in the influencer marketing space as we have come to know it. Jules, who runs Influent, a digital content marketplace, predicts consumers will go to brands that make them feel included.
On TikTok, where she’s racked up over 3 million likes, she says: “Consumers are fed up with watching brands blow money on influencers and give away the products that they are asking you to pay for, for free. In place of expensive influencer events and obnoxious gifting, consumers are going to gravitate towards brands that build in public and make them feel part of the process.”
This approach doesn’t mean influencers are going away. Rather it’s a refocus on authentically connecting with consumers.
Tower 28 Beauty, selling “clean makeup designed for sensitive skin,” has found the balance. “A big part of growing our brand, not only our Instagram following, was identifying and engaging with influencers and industry leaders early on. We decided to invest in a few large product seedings to micro-influencers as well as people with larger followings like Jillian Dempsey, Nicole Guerriero, and Katie Jane Hughes,” said founder Amy Liu in this interview. “As these people began to organically talk about Tower 28 on their accounts, we saw the numbers climb. We also try to give back to our audience with giveaways and collaborations with other brands, too!
In the TikTok below, Tower 28 shares how it has scrapped the fancy influencer events:
The rise of micro-influencers
Brands like Tower 28 have placed their bets on micro-influencers. While this type of influencer may have fewer followers (between 1,000 and 100,000), they are experts in a niche, and their audience is highly engaged.
Brands can access these curated communities and interact with them on a more authentic level than is possible with macro-influencers.
The biggest influencer isn’t necessarily the right influencer: As the follower count shoots up, the cost of working with these influencers rises, and brands end up going all in on a single piece of content. Also, the more sponsored deals a macro-influencer gets, the more likely their followers will question their authenticity. On the flip side, micro-influencers are not only more affordable creative partners, but they have also developed a relationship with their followers based on expertise and trust.
LaCroix relies on micro-influencer marketing to stand out in the crowded sparkling-water market. The brand is on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter. It’s constantly responding to and reposting its consumers, no matter their follower count.
“Instead of going after influencers with followers in the thousands, they’re actively sharing content on their feed from Instagram users with as low as 150 followers,” Toni Box, director of social media and content at PM Digital, told Digiday. “It gives them a more authentic and community-based feel.”
ROI-driven influencer marketing
Influencer marketing will be carefully measured and controlled in the years ahead. Despite the rise of influencer marketing, only 33 percent of brands are measuring the return on investment (ROI) from campaigns.
The first step to ROI is setting a goal. Is it to build brand awareness or increase sales? Next, it’s determining the key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to the purpose. For example, tracking impressions will outweigh tracking revenue if the goal is to increase brand awareness. After pinpointing metrics, brands need to know the costs of achieving those results, which include influencer and production fees.
The best way to boost ROI is to do more of what works, and brands can achieve this by teaming up with various influencers to see how each one performs with the same type of campaign (A/B testing). Another way is to focus on the social media platform where the audience is most active and engaged.
In 2023, influencer marketing will be a media channel propelling brands further into the digital eye.
By Shivan Sarna, Head of Stories