Six Ways To Win At Influencer Marketing in 2018

As we approach the beginning of the year, every advertising and marketing decision-maker is looking into what’s next: What’s the newest, hottest tech or trend to jump on in 2018? While we’re bound to see new product and service launches that’ll shake our industry, as long as social media reigns strong and true, content marketing, targeted advertising, and influencer marketing will need to keep up with finicky and vocal consumer sentiment. This must inform how we do business.

Here are CLEVER’s top six influencer trends to watch for in 2018 and how to prepare your company or clients to embrace them.

Go Big Or Go Micro

Despite the robust influencer strategies brands are currently leveraging, many are still getting it wrong. We shouldn’t be aiming to solely place brands in the hands of celebrity influencers, whether it be athletes, musicians or massive social media stars. Celebrities have a place in the influencer marketing ecosystem—they can generate incredible reach, but are they may not be as relatable as a trusted friend. There’s nothing wrong with tapping a Youtube Star or Olympian to promote your product, but engagement is much stronger when you also tap a microinfluencer.

Think of microinfluencers as the really cool co-worker or extended family member that has great taste and even better recommendations.

Microinfluencers are trusted significantly more by their audiences, in fact, their audiences often view these influencers as good friends even if they’ve never met. Think of microinfluencers as the really cool co-worker or extended family member that has great taste and even better recommendations. Their audience is comprised of peers who trust them to be authentic and transparent when it comes to the products or services they’re promoting. This leads to higher engagement and greater positive sentiment.

Audiences feel special engaging with microinfluencers because their comments and interactions don’t get lost in a sea of thousands of other comments and likes, which can be the case with celebrity influencers with large audiences. In this partnership, the intimate relationship between microinfluencers and their communities is where the value lies for you.

Shop ‘til Your Thumbs Drop

As we saw with this year’s Black Friday numbers, shoppers are choosing online shopping rather than visiting brick and mortar stores. So much so that early reports state that in-store sales dropped 4%, online jumped 18% (WSJ) and mobile increased by 29% (Reuters). Tracking dozens of holiday ad campaigns can be maddening, but shoppable content has proven to be a year-round practice of driving engaged influencer audiences to brand sites, and ultimately towards purchases. Initially, both Instagram and Snapchat Stories drove massive amounts of traffic to up-and-coming brand sites, especially when those posts were created and promoted by microinfluencers.

The process of converting engagement into actual sales is now even easier with CLEVER’s shoppable content offering—influencer posts that contain direct links to products and services. The significance of this offering is it allows for concrete data collection. It’s easy to track traffic that comes from a social media website to your homepage. In fact, JaM Cellars has been able to track and identify that they’ve received 15x more traffic from CLEVER’s influencers than any other channel. The goal for 2018 is to create shoppable content that makes it easy for targeted audiences to immediately purchase the items that catch their eye.

In Content We Trust

The best way to create authentic, beautiful, eye-catching content is trust influencers to be the creative experts. This means allowing them the freedom to “art direct” their visual and/or written content with minimal guidelines and requirements. The past year has brands have faced tighter marketing budgets and yet there is always a need for fresh, new branded content. There’s no reason to book studio time and hire professional photographers, producers and talent when influencers have the expertise to conceptualize, develop, and shoot content that’s not only curated to their audience, but is gorgeous, “magazine-quality” work.

Influencer generated content (IGC) performs better than the cut-and-dry branded copy or standard hero images to which we’ve become accustomed to using. Trust your influencers to merge their voice with your key messaging to deliver content that makes your brand come alive. They can hit the sweet spot where your potential/desired consumer lies with content that is created expressly with them in mind.

Perennials Are Changing The (Advertising) Game

There is a baffling number of articles on millennials and their spending power, but why have we forgotten perennials—especially women? Perennial women are in their 40s and 50s, but instead of behaving like the out-of-touch, mom-jeans-wearing middle-aged women depicted in media, they’re actually trendy, tech-savvy, active, and in-tune with cultural shifts.  In fact, these women are wallet-holders and decision-makers in the vast majority of families, and they’re defying traditional age-based ad targeting.

To reach this demo, we must focus on their interests rather than their age. What are they genuinely interested in? Is there a way they like to be targeted? Using 20-something Cara Delevingne as the spokesperson for an anti-aging product is absolutely not the way to do it. It’s about showing women like Gwen Stefani, Kerry Washington, and J.Lo promoting products that perennial women actually stand by. Everything from their eponymous labels to the beauty products they’ve sworn by is regarded as authentically useful for this age-defying demo. Tap into influencers across all levels (celebrity, micro, nano, etc.) to engage with goods and services that perennials genuinely believe in.

Know Your Audience…And Their Audience As Well

We can go on and on about how technology has informed different aspects of our industry, but we know there is always more we can measure. Tech in the influencer marketing industry has allowed us to hyper-target influencers and learn a lot about them, and now CLEVER can target their audiences as well. We’re able to see which pieces of content receive higher than usual engagement numbers and hone in on exactly what it is that makes these pieces compelling. Not only can we target influencers that cover topics in the same vertical, we’re able to analyze their audience and figure out if your true, ideal consumer lies within that group.

Measurement You Can Trust? (Hint: Not All CPEs Are Created Equal)

New tech means new ways to measure the efficacy of influencer programs, which is great news for all of us in the influencer space. Unfortunately, as new measurement tactics arise, so do opportunities for gaming the system — and we’re seeing it happen. 2018 needs to be the Year of Transparency, which begins with clients asking the right questions. For example, if engagement rates seem too good to be true, or vary widely between vendors, ask why. Remember: We are all working with the same types of influencers who average the same levels of engagement; extreme variances usually mean paid media tactics behind-the-scenes. Until there is widespread agreement on industry reporting standards, brands need to use extreme caution when evaluating service offerings.

We have much to look forward to in 2018. Whether it’s hyper-targeting, developments in tech or data-driven content creation, influencer marketing and the world of content driven marketing has massive opportunities to shift how we conduct business.

Stefania Pomponi

Founder, President & Chief Evangelist at CLEVER
Stefania sparked a modern marketing revolution when she became one of the first people to hire and pay bloggers at scale to produce content for major media corporations—launching the very first version of the powerhouse marketing tactic we know today: influencer marketing. An expert in social media marketing, Stefania’s authentic online presence and unparalleled PR expertise have been instrumental in taking CLEVER from a bootstrapped startup in 2009 to thriving agency known for their work such as #BatKid. Prior to CLEVER, Stefania helped to launch influencer platforms for Viacom/Nickelodeon and Babble.com, and was on the parenting advisory boards for Graco, Disney’s Family.com and Hidden Valley Ranch.

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