Attention marketing has emerged as more important than a great product. There's so much noise out there, engagement and attention are the new metrics in which brands identify success or failure.The trend of micro-influencers has morphed into the new norm for our new marketing landscape. Social shopping and influencer marketing platform, Dealspotr conducted their Millennial Fashion Shopping Study, an annual survey to better understand the shifting dynamics between Millennial consumers, lifestyle influencers and retailers and the findings have indicators that influencer marketing is in sharp decline.
Even with social media influencers garnering position as the primary factor driving fashion shopping decisions among female Millennials, 52 percent of Millennials said that they trust social media influencers less these days. It is going to take a lot more than metrics to get past the growing skepticism. Thanks to the giants who were not careful about who or what they promoted, micro-influencers, with a smaller engaged base are emerging as a bit more trusted right now. Think, the growing boom in Podcasters with less than 100,000 listeners per month.
So How Do We Get It Right and Overcome Skepticism?
Consumers like influencers because you get to choose who you want to trust, and that feels better for the individual shopper, like you've made a new friend, a connection with someone who gets you. On the flipside, there are issues with influencers getting paid to promote things and then not disclosing that, or promoting anything regardless of quality, minimizing trust over the last few years. Because I personally operate on both sides of the aisle, I decided to break down how to do influence the right way, from both the brand business perspective, as well as the influencer perspective.
Do Your Research
Brand: I'm now seeing a rise in businesses and AI technology handling the upfront legwork matching brand and influencer. You need to know who the influencers are in your industry, whether or not they have real influence or followers, and whether or not they accept sponsorships. A lot of businesses choose influencers on a whim because they "seem popular" which can be disastrous.
Influencer: If you've been inflating numbers or participating in bad business practices to boost your influencer career, beware. Just like Dealspotr, mentioned above, there are new businesses dedicating themselves to researching and shining a light on the real/fake world of influencing and once your reputation is spoiled, making a comeback will be nearly impossible.
Brand: Just because you've just hired a 20-something Instagram-famous influencer, doesn't mean it isn't still business as usual. Put the same measures in place to protect yourself, use the same tight contract, and make professionalism your bottom line. If you choose an influencer who can't do business basics, at some point, they will do or say something online that is less than professional. This is your red flag. Take the warning and your business elsewhere.
Influencer: Again, this is still business. If you are partnering with someone who is less than professional, has questionable requests, or doesn't honor your integrity as an influencer, save your reputation. It's not worth it. Also, when it comes to business, knowing your platforms is your business. This is your job to understand how you can best serve your business partners. Don't expect them to understand Facebook's newest algorithm and how it might affect their reach. That's on you.
Authenticity Isn't Enough, Try Transparency
Brand: The pull for working with an influencer is the deeper, more authentic connection your audience can feel. However, authenticity is a slippery slope. What if the influencer you choose to partner with, authentically wants to visit a forest where people go to die... and vlog the whole thing? Get personal. Look at more than the numbers. I am shocked by how few of the brands reaching out to me to sponsor my Podcast actually listen to the show. Watch, listen and learn about who you are partnering with and what they are really like.
Influencer: A recent study by eMarketer showed us that transparency isn't the norm. 41 percent of influencers shared that they only label sponsored content as such, if told to. A few things to keep in mind:
Receiving free products is sponsorship, unless you send them back after reviewing them.
You should be clearly marking each post when there are partnerships so your audience has no question about the relationship you have with that product or company, not just at the bottom of your About Me page in size 9 Arial font.
Sponsorships should be known, outlined, in big letters, and clear. Transparency is, in a sense, your authenticity. It lets people know that you are honest, and that alone, goes a long way.
Wield Your Power Wisely
The points listed above matter because the influencer game is place of high risk and low control. Complacent partnerships die early. Facebook's latest changes will put even more power in the hands of influencers, and less in the hands of brands, as they work to produce more organic content. With great power, comes great responsibility. For influencers, you have to operate like a business with integrity. For businesses, you have to operate like a business with integrity. Desperation, unspoken sponsorships, becoming a freebie junkie, expecting something for nothing, and choosing poor partnerships are so 2017.