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Influencer Marketing

In 2015, while the rest of the world was focused on how best to market themselves on social media, Alan VanToai saw an opportunity in the physical world. With most marketing eyes looking at what screens could do for them, VanToai had the...

Influencer Marketing

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Influencer marketing is now a mainstream form of online marketing. It has been a buzzword for a while now, and the mainstream media regularly refers to it. Yet, there are still people who don't really understand what influencer marketing is all about. Indeed, some people come across the phrase for the first time and instantly ponder, "What is influencer marketing?"

The Influencer Marketing Hub is now an established website with hundreds of articles explaining the intricacies of influencer marketing, along with other types of online marketing. The original version of this post was the first article we wrote for the site. We know, however, that there are still people who come here for the first time, wondering what influencer marketing is. So, we have updated this article to focus on the basics of influencer marketing for 2023.

Influencer Marketing is a hybrid of old and new marketing tools. It takes the idea of celebrity endorsement and places it into a modern-day content-driven marketing campaign. The main differentiator in the case of influencer marketing is that the results of the campaign are collaborations between brands and influencers.

It is also important to realize that most influencers have systematically built a keen and enthusiastic audience. It is not accidental that these people follow influencers rather than a brand. The audience doesn't really care less about your brand. They only care about the opinions of the influencers. Don't try to foist rules and business practices onto your influencers. The audience is theirs, and they can simply walk away, taking their followers with them.

An early example of influencer marketing involved YouTube celebrity PewDiePie. He teamed up with the makers of a horror film set in the French catacombs under Paris, creating a series of videos in which he underwent challenges in the catacombs. It was pitch-perfect content for PewDiePie's 111 million subscribers and received nearly double the views as the movie's trailer. Everybody won.

Simply looking at the popularity of the influencer. Influence does not only mean popularity. Remember that your goal is to elicit a particular action from your customers. Don't automatically assume that the people with the most followers are the influencers of a niche.

With traditional social media marketing, a brand can set up its identity on whatever platform it chooses, and as time passes and its follower bases grow, it can see who its brand champions are. These are the customers who like and share content or mention the brand itself in a post. Followers like these can be further nurtured through personal attention and as part of a highly segmented group of all the brand champions. Efforts to market to this group focus on ways to keep them spreading the word.

The first is that by merely interacting in positive and constructive ways on influencers' social pages, you gain early access to their followers. You're not promoting anything to them; you're showing your face as a member of their community, adding to your credibility down the line.

The second achievement is that, eventually, when you do propose some kind of influencer marketing collaboration, they'll already know you. Influencers aren't celebrities, per se, but their online life can look a lot like a famous person's real-world one: lots of interruptions from people they don't know, wanting a piece of their time, either to praise them or to pitch them. You need to be able to stand out from the noise of attention they get in the form of emails and tweets. This means that when you finally reach out to them, they'll already know what you're about, and they'll know whether you're a good fit for their audience.

Each year we conduct an online survey to help us understand how companies see the state of influencer marketing. The results are definitely optimistic, indicating that influencer marketing is genuinely mainstream now, on an upwards trajectory as a preferred marketing method.

There has been a 465% increase in searches for the phrase "influencer marketing" on Google alone since 2016. Clearly, it is now a hot topic, leading to more people wanting to educate themselves about influencer marketing and find influencer marketing platforms and agencies. The period leading up to 2019 was particularly frantic, with a 1500% increase in searches for "influencer marketing" between 2016 and 2019. Searches have slowed slightly since then, however, with influencer marketing now mainstream to many.

Coronavirus accelerated the growth of influencer marketing in 2020, and this is estimated to continue in 2023. From a mere $1.7 billion in 2016, influencer marketing is estimated to have grown to a market size of $9.7 billion in 2020 and is expected to jump further to $16.4 billion in 2022.

Influencer marketing has become sufficiently mainstream that companies are continually setting up platforms to help the influencer search and selection process, as well as making the system more transparent and easier for both brands and influencers. Quite a few agencies have now opened that specialize in providing influencer marketing services. Not wishing to lose clients, quite a few traditional agencies have added influencer marketing to the services they offer. There have been 240 new influencer marketing-focused platforms and agencies entering the market over the last 12 months, on top of 380 doing so in the previous year.

While we didn't have updated figures on earned media value (EMV) in our 2022 Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, we did have new figures in 2020. Businesses earn an average of $5.78 promotional publicity for each $1 they spend on influencer marketing. Some companies gain up to $18 EMV for every influencer dollar spent, although 25% either lose money or just break even.

Content marketing is now so firmly established that 59% of marketers have stand-alone budgets for it. This figure is in some ways lower than expected, as HubSpot reports that 70% of their respondents use content marketing. Some firms who use content market clearly fund it from a centralized marketing budget.

Influencer marketing is sufficiently mainstream that 75% of our survey respondents indicated that they would be dedicating a budget to influencer marketing in 2023. This rate is up substantially from the 37% who claimed they would allocate a budget to it in 2017.

Companies clearly see influencer marketing as a direction where they intend to head, with 62% of those respondents already budgeting for influencer marketing planning to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2023. Only 7% of firms declared they would decrease their influencer marketing budgets or move away from it.

Marketers and brands clearly believe in the effectiveness of influencer marketing, and this has led to an explosion of new content created over the last year. 90% of our survey respondents believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing. This statistic has stayed relatively static since 2017, and the signs are clear that this positivity towards influencer marketing will continue into the future.

There is a surprising variation in the number of followers that Instagram influencers have. A few niches, such as modeling and beauty, have some extremely popular influencers with up to 20 million followers each. Other niches, such as lifestyle and music, have fewer "superstars," leading to lower average influencer followings.

The overall increase in influencer marketing, and the growing importance of Instagram as a highly visible social media channel, has led to a significant increase in brands spending money on influencers operating there. 55% of marketers intended to use Instagram for influencer marketing in 2022, second only to YouTube. In comparison, 43% signposted using online ads, 35% TikTok, 29% tv ads, 20% OOH ads, and 20% Twitch. Marketers expect this trend to continue into 2023.

With increased brand awareness of influencer marketing and tighter regulations regarding advertising transparency, we have seen phenomenal growth in sponsored influencer posts. These posts trebled between 2015 and 2017 to 2.68 million posts. These were further expected to rise substantially to 6.12 million sponsored posts in 2023. With the increase in influencer marketing since the advent of COVID-19, this figure is undoubtedly higher now.

Possibly because an Instagram post sticks around for a while, yet a tweet can quickly vanish into a user's feed, Instagram posts tend to give higher engagement rates than tweets. With both social media channels, influencers with fewer followers find it easier to build up a high engagement rate than those with more followers. Influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers average 7.2% engagement on Instagram, 1.4% on Twitter, and 9.38% on TikTok. For mega- influencers with over 100,000 followers, average engagement rates are 1.1% on Instagram, 0.3% on Twitter, and 5.3% on TikTok.

Instead, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) worked with Top Rank Marketing to develop an influencer marketing campaign to spread its message. To be fair, the Content Marketing Institute already has quite an extensive network of influencers they work with; identifying potential collaborators was as easy as looking at who'd be speaking at the conference they were promoting. This is precisely what they did, asking speakers to contribute some thoughts or advice around Content Marketing. The feedback was compiled, along with other educational materials, into four separate eBooks, each with its own unique topic relevant to the programming at CMI's conference. They made each eBook available to view at SlideShare, or as a downloadable PDF, with links pushed out across social media by CMI, Top Rank, and the influencers themselves. The whole initiative was underwritten by Curata, a software developer specializing in Content Curation and Management Platforms. That's a lot of players around one campaign, but look how everyone gets something out of it: 041b061a72

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