One of the first things clients ask us when they launch a campaign through The Cirqle platform is how can we help them identify and recruit the best and most affluent influencers for their brand. Of course, this may seem easy from the outset, but the perils of the market have proven otherwise all too often. At best, brands can now only hope to steer opinions that consumers have about them - and to do so, they turn to an ever expanding marketing stack of technology services and media companies. At a time when many are blocking traditional banner ads or skipping TV commercials (Netflix), influencers become the pinnacle of leading conversations with the world.
In South Korea, over 2 trillion South Korean won (KRW, or $2.4 billion USD) was spent on advertising on mobile platforms last year, surpassing that of advertising on cable TV - 1.8 trillion KRW - for the first time. While Instagram influencers in the US charge up to $100,000 USD for a sponsored post, industry insiders say brands in South Korea pay from 100,000 KRW to more than 2 million KRW for a single social media post, depending on the loyalty of the person’s followers.
Beauty and fashion brands are at the forefront of using social media influencers who have millions of followers. We sat down with Jude Kim, who runs Global Business Development at The SMC in Seoul, Korea and serves clients like Google and eBay, and asked him for his vision regarding the Asian (kol/influencer) market.
Transparency is now coming faster than ever, to all industries, including the industry of influencer marketing. We took a moment to sit down with one of our closest partners in the midst of the hustle and bustle that is New York City to talk through some of the latest developments blockchain may bring to the influencer industry.
What follows is a unique interview with experienced digital strategist and Vice-President Influencer Marketing at MMC Alayna Palgon to hear her take on this evolving frontier.
“Quality of content is critical to achieve success in a sea of information”, said Joe Pulizzi Head of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Yet, even though this is what every marketing campaign strives to achieve, the lack of proxies and measurements make quality one of the most complex factors to determine a campaign’s success.
Indeed, producing great content is one of the most difficult challenges marketers face on a daily basis. Still, when looking at influencer marketing, the quality of the content is often disregarded and undervalued. The biggest mistake made in the popular use of influencers is the extensive focus on the distribution of content in terms of reach and impressions rather than the creation of it.
Integrating content marketing and influencer marketing
In order for influencer marketing to be successful and valuable, it has to be engaging, unique, and targeted to the audience you’re trying to reach. All these elements translate into one and only requirement: quality. It is therefore crucial to require and give influencers enough space to not only distribute but also produce creative and high quality content to make your campaign as beneficial as possible.
Leveraging this expertise becomes a necessity when a brand wants to resonate with its audience and produce authentic and honest content.
Using proxies for quality
However, in order to be able to demand high quality content from influencers, certain measurements need to be set and used in order to be able to assess it.
Measuring quality of content can be based on several basic criteria:
- Quality of content
First and most obvious of all, the quality of the content can be assessed in terms of the creativity of the influencer in its approach to produce new content in line with the brand and its own identity.
- Quality of audience
Second, the quality of the audience needs to be evaluated. Therefore, audience demographics such as country and city of origin, age, gender and even interests and income to fit the specific target and industry are very insightful informations. This then also determines the quality of the content distribution.
- Quality of the influencer
Finally, the quality of the influencer is also an integral part of the overall quality of a campaign. Therefore, measurements such as engagement rates of the influencer with its audience and frequency of posting are relevant measures.
Concluding this attempt to find measurable quality metrics, assessing the quality of influencer content stays a subjective and brand specific judgement. However, referring back to Bill Gates’ essay Content is King, the Influencer Marketing Hub described influencer marketing as being the new « content king », which highlights again the power of quality, over quantity.
After reaching more than 800 million monthly active users in 2017, Instagram has turned into the social media El Dorado. This has made a substantial impact on businesses that rapidly understood the power of the platform for advertising. In fact, Instagram recently estimated the business community to represent 2 Million advertisers (up from 1 million back in March).
Here are some of the key elements behind Instagram's marketing success:
1. Instagram traffic VISITS HAVE HIGHER QUALITY
Visitors from Instagram stay on a site for an average of 192 seconds – this is longer than visitors from any other channel, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. This also means that traffic from Instagram is the most engaged and represents a more attractive consumer panel (Yotpo 2017).
2. Instagram has high organic and targeted reach
The organic nature of Instagram’s audience increases the word-of-mouth effect. According to a recent Yotpo research, 83% of consumers confirmed that seeing a post about a brand on Instagram influences their decision to look the brand up.
In addition, with the current available tools, businesses are now able to leverage this instagram audience even more by targeting specific segments (by age, country or even interest).
3. Instagram's hashtags(#) simply work
Not only do hashtags enable categorisation and content discovery, they are also the driving forces behind most of the user-generated advertising campaigns. According to Sproutsocial, "One of the best ways to kick off a UGC campaign on Instagram is with the help of a branded hashtag" in order to optimise exposure. This is also why 7 out of 10 hashtags used are branded (Simply Measured Study).
4. Instagram enables shoppable solutions
Instagram shopping is real. The platform is providing increasingly more links and solutions to connect user generated content to e-commerce websites within the application.
- Instagram stories
By introducing the swipe up option in Instagram stories, direct product referrals are possible, creating a direct linkto an e-commerce website within the platform.
- Shoppable third-party solutions
Companies such as Curalate are also providing solutions to turn your Instagram feed into a shoppable feed. Again here, a direct link within the platform makes instagram scrolling and buying a natural consumer path.
- Shoppable tags
Last but not least, Instagram recently developed it's own shoppable posts, currently only available for businesses in the United States using the Big Commerce platform. The tool is simple: retailers can insert shoppable tags on their Instagram pictures featuring a product to get the Instagram user directly to the store.
This add-on is another proof that Instagram is slowly shifting towards a key selling tool for retailers, something to keep an eye on in Europe as well!
What's more, Instagram is estimated to rake in $4 billion in global advertising revenue by the end of 2017, an impressive growth prospect!
As consumers are increasingly overwhelmed by a variety of product choices, impulse buying seems to become a trend of the past. Consumers look, ask, search, compare, review, and re-think before purchasing advertised products.
The one key element however, that is often forgotten but does fundamentally impact purchase behaviour is a critical one. And that is: Trust.
Word of mouth is entirely based on the fact that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising (Nielsen, 2012). The real question here is: if consumers value word-of-mouth and marketers believe it is effective, then why aren’t marketers more focused on it? One simple answer is the need for tangible measures of word of mouth marketing.
Measures for w-o-m
McKinsey’s report (2011), “A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing”, attempted to provide a new formula to measure the impact of WOM, also called “word-of-mouth equity”. Yet, this impact is measured on the basis of black or white qualitative criteria such as influential or not, relevant or irrelevant message content, close or large network etc. This leads to think that McKinsey’s new measurement tool only results in two-sided answers, far from the tangible output needed to change marketers’ decisions or budget allocations.
Our objective is to fundamentally understand how and why specific pieces of content perform better in comparison to others. In order to guide our clients towards the right consumers, through the right content and in the right setting, the interpretation of the right data is of critical important. Thus, we make sure brands understand the value of their investment through personalised and substantial feedback on campaign content and through carefully assessing and evaluation the feedback our technology delivers.
This is why we focus on individual content analytics such as impressions, engagement points, followers and demographic data (gender, city, country, age, income data, amongst others) of each influencer and content allocated to a campaign. Coming back to McKinsey's measurement tool, this enables us to look at both volume and impact sides of a campaign.
However, the actual impact of a campaign does not limit itself to the above. The Cirqle, calibrates the impact of a campaign throughout the entire campaign management process, moving away from McKinsey’s 4 impact criteria.
This process moves from the deliberate recruitment and selection of influencers towards the audience the influencer is actually targeting; to the campaign content and channel selection (beyond the continuous communication b/w brand- and influencer). All these factors are taken into account in in the final impact assessment of a campaign.
Despite of these efforts to employ different impact measurements, capturing the campaign's relation to actual customer conversion remains the ultimate goal. A goal which we'll continue to relentlessly pursue and will hope to present our findings for in the next weeks to come.
We're announcing a partnership in the next week which we'll hopefully lay the groundworks for helping us to achieve this mission.
As the founder of The Cirqle, a startup that enables brands, communities and businesses to launch influencer marketing campaigns, I’ve watched the days of exclusive press releases/events disappear. The Internet has changed the inception process. In 2017/2018 companies seed products through influencers, leak "exclusives" to reporters, bloggers, and consumers, live-stream launch events globally and reward brand advocates with pre-access. The velocity of the news cycle and the uprise of social media makes launching a new product far easier in some ways—and more difficult in others.
Marketers love influencer marketing because it takes the brand out of the equation. Instead of filtering the message through a brand’s lens, the influencer makes the product or service his own. We've seen three challenges that will push more brands, agencies and institutions towards the influencer marketing realm:
1. The Rise of Ad Blockers
In the US, more than 32% (Europe > 20%) of all internet users have an Ad Blocker installed. Making online advertising increasingly more inefficient. At the same time, 92% of consumers trust user-generated content and word-of-mouth more than advertising and 74% rely on social network to help guide a purchase (eMarketer).
2. There's a push towards influencer marketing, but it's a time-consuming and expensive ordeal.
- Finding the right influencers for your target audience on the right platform;
- Managing contacts with influencers and negotiating contracts cross-state/country;
- Accurately measuring the effectiveness of the content;
- Managing workflow around influencer marketing solutions;
3. Fragmented landscape
Brands have to contact numerous different types of agencies, tech companies and services to run simple, straightforward campaigns. There’s no efficient full suite solution for running influencer marketing campaigns across different countries.
Influencer marketing, why?
The broader digital advertising industry represents a $14 billion revenue opportunity and is expected to see double-digit growth over the next five year (Forbes). With 84% of brands planning to launch an influencer marketing campaign in the next 12 months, the interest in influencer marketing continues to grow as brands seek the most effective way to target their core audience.
If social influencers didn’t add value to an organization, 84 percent of marketers would look elsewhere for their campaigns.