Influencer Marketing: Thinking Outside the Tube

Millennials and Generation Z audiences spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms, (Common Sense Media), yet advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to cut through the clutter. A study by Anatomy Media revealed that two thirds of US millennials have installed an ad blocker on their desktop or mobile device and this combined with the decline in Pay-TV TV viewership among younger consumers and the prevalence of social media has contributed to influencer marketing’s rise as one of the most effective ways to promote a message or product to youth audiences.

Communities around shared interests such as beauty, fashion and fitness have emerged on all the primary social media platforms. And influencers who are trusted spokespeople or entertainers within those communities have risen to prominence. These savvy social media stars have an ability to produce unique and authentic content that resonates with their fans on a personal level, which is why 92% of consumers trust online influencers more than an advertisement or celebrity endorsement (Musefind) and why an increasing number of brands are including and increasing their involvement with influencer marketing in their external communications strategy.

New platforms are starting to open up for influencer marketers

Among brands, YouTube has established itself as the go-to platform to launch an influencer marketing campaign – and not without good reason, as 70% of YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTubers more than celebrities. Some of the platform’s most successful stars – such as Smosh, Zoella and Tanya Burr – have attracted millions of highly engaged subscribers, which brands have been able to tap into and gain organic reach with highly engaged audiences.

While YouTube offers the opportunity to work with a range of very popular content creators with a big reach, it’s not the only game in town. And just as social media influencers don’t limit themselves to one platform, smart brands are also experimenting with other social networks with niche appeal. In fact, following “adpocolypse ” – where some brands pulled advertising from YouTube due to ads appearing next to videos promoting hate speech or terrorism – many influencers have chosen to not put all their eggs in one basket. On top of this, a number of influencers are finding their content sits well on other platforms, and it allows them to extend their reach and the opportunities to monetize their content.

While YouTube offers the opportunity to work with a range of very popular content creators with a big reach, it’s not the only game in town.

A case in point is Colleen Ballinger’s over the top character Miranda Sings: an Internet sensation who started on YouTube in 2008. Due to her comedic portrayal of an eccentric, narcissistic but lovable ‘Youtuber.’ Miranda Sings amassed a loyal following and her YouTube channel has generated over 1.3 billion views and attracted over 8 million subscribers. while YouTube still remains a core platform for Miranda Sings, she has also built a significant audience of 3.7 million fans on the video social network app Musical.ly, which enables users to create 15-second videos and choose soundtracks and soundbites to accompany it. While Musical.ly is more niche and lower in absolute numbers than YouTube, it enables Miranda Sings to create content for a more targeted audience, which typically includes young teenagers who are passionate about creating and sharing videos.

How are brands following suit?

Forward thinking brands are taking note of which platforms influencers are expanding to and following them in order to further increase the reach of their campaigns.

DreamWorks is an example of a brand which has taken this on board and has expanded its social media footprint. The brand led a successful campaign on Musical.ly for the 2016 Trolls theatrical movie release and subsequent home entertainment effort at the end of last year. Musical.ly was a perfect platform for the Trolls campaign because music is a core part of the film’s appeal punctuated by the Justin Timberlake hit ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ and the service over-indexes on pre-teen and teenage audiences who use the platform to engage, create and share around a passion for music.

DreamWorks and QYOU Media collaborated with some of Musical.ly’s most popular influencers (AKA Musers) to encourage fans to engage and share their own creations with film assets (song clips etc.) that DreamWorks released during the campaign. The campaign delivered millions of fan engagements on the influencer videos, propelled the Trolls Musical.ly channel to become the franchise’s most subscribed social channel after Facebook with over 100,000 subscribers and drove fans to create and share over 200,000 original videos on the service with film assets.

While a number of YouTube stars command huge audiences, brands don’t always have to partner with influencers that have the highest number of fans. Musical.ly, and even platforms such as Twitch, show us that sometimes targeting less well known influencers can pay dividends. Many influencers have a niche audience and less followers as a result, yet those followers are deeply engaged with the content and therefore more likely to want involvement, and to share the content with their peers.

Where next?

Forward thinking brands are taking note of which platforms influencers are expanding to and following them in order to further increase the reach of their campaigns.

Influencer marketing is going to continue to be a big part of marketing strategies in the coming years, emerging as one of the primary ways to create meaningful connections with consumers. As more platforms find a place for influencers, there will only be greater opportunities for brands. Snapchat initially wanted to avoid influencers, but is now embracing them. Facebook too is placing a huge emphasis on video in the future of the platform. For brands, it’s a case of looking to where the influencers are (niche and mainstream channels) and building a content strategy that leverages the most relevant platforms and audiences for the campaign’s goals.

Glenn Ginsburg

Glenn Ginsburg

SVP Global Partnerships at The QYOU
Glenn Ginsburg

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