The stereotype of influencer marketing is perfectly described by Urban Outfitter's 'Influencer' Halloween Costume; a skinny Kardashian effigy with a wig, workout clothes, and big sunglasses. While the costume is just a pointed joke (from a company that sometimes tries too hard), it brings a valid point to mind: how do people who are not in the industry perceive influencers? And moreover, how far off — or spot on — are they?
1) The Influencer Marketing Industry Won't Last
A wise man once said "follow the money," and there are lots of dollars to follow. According to a study by Mediakix, the Influencer Marketing industry is expected to become a 5 to 10 billion dollar industry by 2020; that's a lot of money for something short lived. A counterargument might sound something like, "people are investing for a quick buck, who really believes in this?"
Considering influencer marketing is rapidly becoming one of the fastest growing sources for online customer acquisition, and over 75 percent of marketers are using influencers in some capacity, the picture we're painting looks a lot different than that of a dying industry. To really drive home the point, 60 percent of marketers using influencers will increase their budgets next year, and many are investing in specialized tools like Julius to optimize the process. Increased visibility, budgets, and investment can mean only one thing: it's here to stay.
2) Influencers Are One and Done
Keeping with the stereotype the costume paints, there is an expectation for influencers to post one-and-done deals to capitalize on temporary fame. Such posts can be seen all over Instagram's explore page. But these types of deals are rapidly becoming the exception, not the rule. As the industry grows, two things become clear: higher engagement rates maximize returns on investment, and long-term partnerships can maximize Earned Media Value. Don't know what those mean? Read our article here to know more.
The fact is, both influencers and brands prefer long-term contracts, and the industry is steadily moving in this direction. The Julius platform keeps track of both long-term and shorter engagements for this very reason.
3) Influencers Don't Follow the Rules
Just a few short years ago, it was difficult to discern what was and was not sponsored. Influencer marketing was still the wild west of sorts, with no real regulations at hand. In 2017, the FCC instituted guidelines for disclosure to ensure consumers were made aware when a social post was sponsored. The guidelines instituted fines for failures to disclose.
Luckily, according to a study done by Linqia, almost 90 percent of brands working with influencers require their contractors to comply with FTC regulations. Though there are plenty misses, like this one from watch brand Daniel Wellington and UK influencer @louise.thompson, the industry is getting better about disclosure. And influencers are doing their best to follow along, especially when the stakes are so high. In the past, not disclosing or complying was to keep an influencer's posts 'on brand' so to speak, without having to deal with the clunkiness of sponsorship. Now that the public has adjusted, most consumers prefer the transparency and authenticity derived from disclosure.
4) Influencers Are Millennials With Too Much Time on Their Hands
While this stereotype is not too far of a stretch, given that social media is primarily used by millennials and gen z-ers, it's incomplete to suggest that they are the only ones with social media influence. The Julius platform has 13 categories, and even more subcategories, for influencer classification. From 'Beauty & Fashion' to 'Travel & Adventure,' there are thousands of influencers under each topic. Though birthdays are often underreported, a significant portion of the influencers we have catalogued are of all ages, backgrounds, occupations, and even species.
As for time invested, 28 percent of influencers claim that being an influencer is their full-time job. These levels of influencers work all hours of the week optimizing their social channels, producing compelling sponsored or branded content, or interacting with their followers to maintain their influence. It's certainly not a conventional gig, but it's not an easy one either.
That leaves millions of others to whom being an influencer is only part of their jobs: the photographers shooting the ads, the bloggers writing this week's big thought piece, the dog owners making your morning commute that much cuter. These influencers fill social feeds with their free time — and are lucky enough to get for it sometimes.
5) Influencer Marketing Effectiveness Cannot be Measured
Intuitively, it's not hard to reach the conclusion that influencers can't be effective or worth the money. There's simply so much noise in digital advertising, so little trust in social networks, and so many ways to customize and tailor your online experience with ad blockers and premium subscriptions.
To address this perspective, you just need to run the numbers. For starters, influencers are 10 times more likely to drive in-store purchases than celebrity endorsements. Almost 50 percent of social media users in the US and UK have considered or made a purchase after seeing an influencer's post, because they trust their perspectives, expertise, or authenticity.
Why are influencers so effective at driving purchases? For starters, sponsored content posted by influencers boosts perceived favorability of a brand and promotes good-natured feelings in consumers. Influencers can increases traffic, drive better brand engagement, and improve audience sentiment.
Using influencers to target specific niches of people is perhaps the highest form of data-driven marketing. One might say, "what stops people from scrolling past and not engaging in sponsored content?" On one hand, sponsored content gets and equal like rate to non-sponsored content because social media users are not as turned off by sponsored content as intuition suggests.
On the other hand, influencers are contracted specifically because they can speak the vernacular of their audiences. They don't achieve a following overnight — their content and personality is what attracts their audiences. Because of this, influencers can earn a conservative $6.50 for every dollar spent in earned media value, with some estimates pushing this number all the way up to $12. Depending on the influencer and the efficacy of the campaign, that return on investment can go even higher.
Because of the incredible and unparalleled value achieved through influencers, 94 percent of marketers who use influencers believe it's effective. So, what are you waiting for? The industry is growing rapidly, and so are the players involved. Don't miss out on your chance.