Picture the scene, it’s 9pm on a hot July evening and hundreds of thousands of 20 somethings are perched on the sofa - eagerly awaiting the 60 minutes of fast fashion, love triangles and carefully curated drama that awaits. It’s been well documented that Love Island seems to have the power to not only draw people into what is essentially a scripted ‘reality’, but the influencer marketing opportunities of these aesthetically pleasing islanders is snowballing at an unprecedented rate.
Influencer Marketing is a lucrative strategy for fashion and lifestyle brands, with HubSpot reporting that 40% of companies including it in their budget are planning to plough more money into this approach from 2018 onwards. It’s a curious road to take for brands used to keeping tight control over their creative digital footprint, but Instagram especially has proved that in 2019 successful reach can only come from alliances with those who boast legions of followers.
1. Beware the bots
Enlisting the help of a Love Islander is not a clear cut route to success, with the digital eyes and ears at The Drum reporting that potentially 50%+ of their Instagram followers are fake and generated by bots. The ASA has also cracked down heavily on influencer promotions, demanding that products featured are clearly marked as gifted so as not to mislead their impressionable fans.
It’s important to also keep in mind that although fashion influencers are the most famous dominators of Instagram, there are opportunities on this platform to gain exposure across many different industries and channels, from the tech world to sport and fitness and also B2B marketing. The world of influencer marketing is truly your oyster...
2. Consider engagement over followers
Look beyond the gilded follower count and you may well find that your influencer’s voice isn’t resonating as much as they insist. Scrunch (an online influencer agency) outline that below 1% would be considered a low rate of engagement and 6% plus very high. A recent shift towards using micro Influencers who have a following of between 2-50k and a focussed passion or niche is proving successful for those wishing to target a certain industry sector and type of audience. In fact, it’s estimated that 30% of North American retail businesses actively choose micro-influencers over those with sky-high follower figures, for improved engagement and lower collaboration costs, (Hootsuite, 2019).
3. Dig a little deeper into previous campaigns
Are their people your people? Taking an interest in the brands an influencer has previously worked with will provide a wealth of information to a marketing team. Before you give the green light, check out the statistics they have for past collaborations. Request Google Analytics reports for referral traffic, take a look at the content produced to see the reaction from their followers and talk about their approach to co-creation. Always look closely at the comment thread, it’s easy to spot generic bot responses - e.g. ‘Great post - love it!’. It’s just not going to cut the mustard when the author is housed in a microchip.
4. Equip your influencer with the assets they need
Any positive collaboration must be two way, giving the influencer easy access to the assets needed to create their content and tailor the words to reflect your brand. Having a top-notch digital asset management system will help the whole team find what they need - no more scrolling for hours through nameless photographs and documents. Be clear about your objectives and what you expect from the partnership. Some influencers will curate content with a brand for guaranteed posts, more established influencers will accept gifts through their agents and may or may not use them. The key with the latter is to ensure your team are monitoring these accounts, ready to react quickly if promotion occurs, as clothing brand Missguided do seamlessly.
5. Ensure your goals are aligned across departments
As with all marketing campaigns, the best results come from ensuring the maximum reach of your target audience. Having an open and honest relationship with your influencer and being prepared to jump in on posts when followers begin to ask questions is a valuable rung on the ladder so many companies bypass. SilkFred, a mid-range online fashion brand is so in tune with the power of their fashion-mad following that they have even created an influencer map of London, to highlight the most ‘instagrammable’ locations in the capital. This is a fantastic example of successful forward-planning between eCommerce, social and content teams.
The infamous Fyre Festival is a classic example of the power influencer marketing can have on an audience, but the brand must also take responsibility to keep up their end of the deal too and provide the service or product promoted. In their promotion, it was a case of all smoke no Fyre, if you will.
The proof is in the purchase. Or is it? Encouraging your team to consider influencers you work alongside as an extension of the team rather than an online billboard will go a long way towards nurturing a long-running relationship. Keeping an eye of analytics referral traffic, using affiliate links or purchase discount codes are all great ways to measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign.
In summary, we only have to glance at the many influencer marketing graphs scattered across the web to see that this is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. The key is for marketing teams to approach their strategy with eyes wide and a solid idea of the engagement stats they are seeking to determine the route forward. From the Jones’ next door to lusting after our colleague’s new iPhone, we’re constantly influenced in both our purchasing activity and internal ideology.
Let’s make 2020 the year of co-creation and positive relationships between influencer and brand.