It’s time for part two of our CEO’s Guide to Influencer Culture! In our first post, we offered a brief overview of the history of influencer culture and how it rose to popularity in the marketing industry. If you’d like a refresher, you can click here to find that post. Today, we want to talk more about current trends among those who take advantage of this popular marketing strategy.
When it comes to the most popular social media platforms, Facebook is currently the most popular, with over 2 billion monthly active users. However, when it comes to influencer culture, Instagram reigns supreme. According to Business Insider, “nearly four in five (79%) brands predominantly tap Instagram for influencer campaigns, compared with Facebook (46%), YouTube (36%), Twitter (24%), and LinkedIn (12%), per Influencer Marketing Hub.”
Instagram has long attracted sponsored lifestyle content due to its image and video-driven focus, and recent features have made it even easier to produce ads. For instance…
- Swipe Ups. Users with 10k followers are more can utilize this feature, which allows viewers to “swipe up” on an Instagram Story to be taken to a designated URL. This allows audiences to visit other websites without leaving the app.
- Instagram Shopping posts allow you to add product tags that will direct viewers to product costs, descriptions and buy links.
- Sponsored Tags. Tagging a post as sponsored content makes it easy to comply with FTC regulations.
- Traditional Instagram Stories are a maximum of 15 seconds per segment and expire after 24 hours if not saved to a highlight. IGTV, on the other hand, allows you to create long-form, vertical content that can be easily saved and shared. This tool can be especially useful for longer campaigns.
- Live video. Live videos allow users to connect with their audience in real time, answering questions and responding to comments as they come in.
What About Facebook?
Since Facebook continues to have the largest user base, you may be wondering why it’s not as popular among influencers. According to Consumer Reports, trust in the platform has fallen as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which found that the personal information of millions of people was compromised for political gain. It’s also worth noting that “people over the age of 50 are less likely to be on Facebook than younger generations,” which doesn’t line up with the influencer culture’s demographic.
That’s not to say that you should write Facebook off entirely, however, just that you should carefully consider whether your targeted audience inhabits the platform before making an investment into marketing there.
The Rising Platforms of Influencer Marketing
While “old-school” players Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter remain the most popular on the social media scene, you shouldn’t discount the influencer power of the rising generation of platforms, like:
- TikTok: TikTok is a platform for sharing “short-form mobile videos,” and is most commonly compared to Vine, a now-defunct platform owned by Twitter. Most popular with Gen Z, its user base has grown to include more than 500 million people. It was originally created by parent company Bytedance, who purchased the popular lip-syncing app Musical.ly and merged it with its own video app to form TikTok, which quickly became popular for its watchable, viral content.
You can take advantage of this phenomenon by purchasing traditional advertising space via TikTok ads, created to help brands “tap into unique engagement solutions and immersive formats to creatively and authentically connect with audiences around the world.” Or, you can go the influencer route and partner with top TikTok creators to share your unique story. Whatever approach you decide to take, keep in mind that most users are between the ages of 16 and 24, so your audience should fit within that range.
- Twitch: If your demographic includes gamers, then Twitch will likely be a great place for you to find your influencer niche. Amazon-owned Twitch is primarily used as a platform for streaming video games, and influencers, known as Partners, can show formal ads, promote favorite products or equipment, or informally talk about their brand partners.
Gone are the days when social media users could buy their way to influencer status solely by purchasing large amounts of followers. Platforms throughout the industry are cracking down on fake followers and bots, forcing users and brands to get more and more creative with their content in order to vie for views in their increasingly crowded online spaces.
However, that’s not to say that artificial follower inflation doesn’t exist anymore, so you should always make sure that your influencer partners are properly vetted before offering them a sponsorship contract.
Keeping it “On Brand”
Today’s social media users hold both influencers and brands to higher standards than ever, so it’s important to align your company only with influencers that share similar values. Recently, reality TV star Jinger Duggar Vuolo (who originally rose to fame as part of her family’s long-running series, 19 Kids and Counting) partnered with Los Angeles-based donut company Fonuts for a campaign that featured a donut with her name. It wasn’t long before their followers reached out to Fonuts, questioning the traditionally liberal company’s partnership with a person who’s previously expressed religious and political values seemed in direct opposition to their own. Fonuts took the criticism seriously, quickly ending the partnership and pulling the namesake donut before posting an apology.
What can you learn from their mistake? Do your research to make sure a sponsorship will be a good fit.
No False Promises
Along those lines, keep in mind that you shouldn’t advertise promises that you can’t keep. Of course, one of the biggest examples of this is Fyre Festival. You probably know this story, but if not, here’s a quick recap: In 2017, event organizer Billy McFarland made headlines for his disaster of a luxury music festival, which never ended up actually happening due to budget mishandling, insufficient infrastructure and funds, among several other serious issues. Unfortunately, this deception wasn’t realized until nearly all the attendees came to an essentially bare island that lacked basic necessities, much less luxury accommodations.
The ill-fated event was primarily marketed via major influencers like Kendall Jenner, who shared their excitement about the festival along with promotional videos that featured stunning locations, bikini-clad models, and promises Fyre Festival being the hottest event of the year. Of course, that promised vision never came to fruition, and the influencers who participated in the marketing campaign faced the ire of followers who had followed their links to purchase tickets.
A similar faux pas occurred early last year, when swimwear company Sunny Co. promoted a giveaway that offered free swimsuits to any Instagrammer who shared their content in a predetermined amount of time. The giveaway went viral, and before long the company was unable to keep up with demand.
The lesson: don’t advertise what you can’t deliver, or risk permanently damaging your relationship with the influencer crowd.
Tools of the Trade
In order to keep up with the growing demand of influencer-driven marketing, developers throughout the world have created thousands of tools that will help you organize campaigns, create and share content, and more. For instance, Verb’s mobile platform makes it easy to facilitate social promotions and keep your messaging on brand. If there’s a logistical issue holding you back from experimenting with influencer marketing, do a quick search to determine if there’s an already-created tool that can provide a solution.
Looking to the Future
Like other forms of social media marketing, influencer culture continues to adapt and change to keep up with the industry. Staying on top of current trends will help you to fully take advantage of influencer culture as a marketing strategy, so it’s definitely worth your time to keep yourself informed.
And if you’re wondering how much of your budget you should set aside when it comes to influencer marketing, stay tuned: we’ll cover that in next week’s post!