According to a new report from social media analytics platform Talkwalker, authenticity and long-lasting influencer relationships are among the priorities for marketers. There is also a need for improved measurement frameworks to better gauge the effectiveness of influencer campaigns.
“In 2019, influencer marketing will face one major challenge: the quest for authenticity,” said Todd Grossman, CEO of the Americas at Talkwalker, New York. “The high-profile fraud of the Fyre Festival and the ‘luxury’ campaign from Payless had deep impact.
“A new search for authenticity over appearance, and on quality over quantity, leads brands and agencies to look for long-lasting relationships with a few very specific influencers – focus on smaller actors whose numbers and impact are easier to track,” he said. Talkwalker’s report is based on a global survey of more than 800 marketing and public relations professionals.
Sixty-one percent of respondents plan to increase the money they invest in influencer marketing this year. Talkwalker found that less than 32 percent of respondents have an official influencer program, despite 30 percent listing influencer marketing as a top strategic priority. About three-quarters of these brands and agencies have at least one employee dedicated to identifying and managing influencers.
One of the biggest challenges facing brands and agencies, as cited by 38.9 percent, is measuring the return on investment for influencer marketing. To a lesser extent, marketers are also struggling to identify impactful influencers and find creative opportunities with them.
More than 62 percent of respondents do not use specific tools to detect, manage or measure the performance of influencer marketing initiatives. “One astonishing fact is the stunning big gap we see between intent and impact,” Mr. Grossman said. “While brands are eager to leverage the power of influencers, many of them haven’t yet developed a reliable measurement and management strategy, which makes planning and tracking these types of campaigns more difficult.”
According to 65.8 percent of respondents, the primary objective for influencer programs is to make brands more visible. Less than 17 percent were looking for lead generation or more purchases.
Brands and agencies are also moving away from making their marketing decisions based on an influencer’s following and instead are looking to work with creators whose posts are already high-quality and cohesive with a brand’s messaging. However, engagement rates and the size of an audience still remain important.
As marketers become more selective about which influencers they work with, these relationships are becoming more long-term. The majority of influencer marketing professionals, 71 percent, currently work with rosters of 50 influencers or less.
Risks and opportunities
More brands are turning to influencers to authentically connect them to new audiences as influencer engagement increases, with more room to grow.
Influencers drive an overwhelming 72 percent of social media actions, according to a webinar presented by Shareablee. In 2017, percent of social media engagement occurred with an influencer, numbering more than 122 billion. The 10 most popular influencers alone have more than 242.6 million followers and drove 1.2 billion social actions – a like, comment or share, depending on the platform.
However, as celebrities and influencers continue to face legal consequences over copyright infringement, luxury brands must be aware of the repercussions they could face due to improper sharing of intellectual property. On occasion, arrangements with social media influencers have led to complications for brands.
Mr. Grossman said “The recent influencer marketing shams show that brands struggle with this challenge.Therefore, the luxury industry especially needs to use precise data and analytics to find the right influencers and measure their tangible impact on the brand’s high-end image,”
Dusit Thani, a luxury resort in the Maldives, receives at least six requests per day from such individuals. “People say, I want to come to the Maldives for 10 days [all inclusive] and will do two posts on Instagram to like 2,000 followers,” the resort’s marketing manager Kate Jones told The Atlantic. Ten days comes to £6,785 at Dusit Thani.
Natasha Eldred, whose agency Shine PR handles press for Keemala Hotel Phuket in Thailand, told Telegraph Travel: “The expectations are often outrageous, things like ‘in return for a TripAdvisor review and two posts per day to my audience of 2,000, I would request two villas for four nights with free food’. Influencers have completely changed the shape of a PR’s working day.
“Now we receive 25 per cent of our daily emails from these people, and I would say one per cent of these enquiries are of value to my clients.”
“Everybody sees themselves as an ‘influencer’ these days, and the requests stream in from around the world,” he says. “I don’t think this trend will go away anytime soon, so it will just be more work for people like me to filter out who can be effective and who is just looking for a free ride and a place to take selfies.”
It gets even worse. Alice Paris, co-director associate at Riad Yasmine, a boutique resort in Marrakech, says: “We receive requests for free stays every day, but that’s not even the annoying part. Some actually ask to us to pay them. It happened only last week, the blogger requested a free stay plus $250 (£190) for the photos she would post on Instagram.”
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