With social media becoming ubiquitous, today’s generation follows social media stars as closely as movie stars and sports celebrities. As a result, businesses of all sizes increasingly engage social influencers as part of their marketing strategy to connect with the social and mobile-first consumers in 2015.
Several major studies were carried out during the year to understand the efficacy of this channel. McKinsey’s study revealed that marketing inspired word-of-mouth generated more than twice the sales of paid advertisement and had 35 per cent higher retention rate. Another study found that average earned media value from influencer programmes was at $9.6 per $1 spent, up from $6.85 in 2014.
So, how will influencer marketing shape up from here? While 2016 will be the year of maturation for social influencer marketing, below are the five viewpoints that will be useful for marketers to decipher influencer marketing from being a pure play branding exercise to driving sustained and meaningful influencer relationship:
The biggest difficultly marketers faced in integrating influencer marketing was the ability to discover and connect with the right set of influencers. With emergence of self-server platforms like Blogmint, this barrier is broken and the power of influence is within the reach of businesses of all sizes.
Marketers will be selective in engaging influencers, focussing on those who are credible and loyal. To fall in this bracket, influencers will have to strike a balance between organic and sponsored posts in order to sustain the trust of their followers and avoid being perceived as spammers. As a consequence, they will limit the number of brand collaborations and instead increase their costs to maintain their earnings.
Brands will be willing to shell out more money on influencer programmes only if they are able to extract real value out of it - engagement as opposed to reach. Key metrics they will look into will include number of users engaged (RT, shares), customer acquisition (website visits, lead conversion, churn reduction, amongst others) and earned media.
Twitteratis ruled influencer programmes in 2015. However, Instagrammers and YouTubers will be most sought after in 2016 as real-time visual content drives maximum engagement. New social platforms like Periscope, #fame and Snapchat will see increased adaption as they encourage real-time sharing of user-generated content.
Experiencing the product and sharing personal stories around this would drive influencer marketing in 2016. Businesses will give additional creative freedom to influencers so that they can create personalised content for their followers instead of bland product/service reviews.
What do you think about these trends? What is your prediction for Influencer Marketing in 2016?
Irfan Khan is the CEO at Blogmint. Blogmint is Asia's leading automated platform that connects brands and bloggers. It helps brands identify and engage targeted influencers to create powerful social and video content.