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Influencer Marketing in 2019: How Brands Can Stay Ahead of the Curve

Unless you have worked remotely with no internet access, you will have definitely seen the buzzword “influencer marketing” in the past year.

Simply look at an influencer’s social media profile to see them being wined and dined or whisked away to lavish holidays by brands who are vying for exposure to their thousands of followers. Anne Malambo, outreach manager for Feel Good Contacts, explains for CEO Today.

This all comes at a price. Companies will routinely spend hundreds, if not thousands of pounds for a review or partnership – and this doesn’t come without risk. To choose just one, L’Oreal faced infamous backlash for dropping one of their influencers from a campaign following ‘racist’ comments.

We all know that a bit of bad press won’t stop companies from playing in this prolific industry. Forbes found that 79% of marketing decision makers have invested in influencer marketing this year, and 43% plan to invest even more than they did last year. Meaning that if you want your brand to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to have to think tactically:

Forbes found that 79% of marketing decision makers have invested in influencer marketing this year, and 43% plan to invest even more than they did last year.

First things first: play by the rules

Seeing ‘ad’ in an influencer’s social media post drastically decreases consumers’ purchase intentions. However, the lucrative nature of the influencer marketing industry has lead to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) releasing a new set of guidelines to protect consumers from being unknowingly sold to. For something to be treated as an advertisement, the influencer has to have been paid – through money, free products, services, hotel stays, and holidays – and a brand must have editorial control over the post(s).

Control is having a say in what the influencer posts. This can be as little as having specific words, phrases, key messages of hashtags that they must include in their content. If a brand reserves the right to approve their content – even if they don’t ask for changes – then this would also count as control. Ultimately, if a company could ask for changes or for them to not post the content, then this would also be seen as control.

There must be a clear link to your brand

Influencer trips are getting more and more lavish as brands compete for their attention. It’s all well and good to take a bunch of influencers to the Maldives, but if they, or their followers, don’t know why or what they’re there for, then you might have blown your marketing budget for the whole year with little ROI. Before embarking on an elaborate campaign, you must consider how this fits in with your marketing strategy and its correlation to the core product or services. The better the connection, the more memorable to the influencers, therefore likely that they’ll remember to tell their audience about the amazing brand that took them out and educated them on their great products or services.

It’s all well and good to take a bunch of influencers to the Maldives, but if they, or their followers, don’t know why or what they’re there for, then you might have blown your marketing budget for the whole year with little ROI.

Don’t forget the little guys

In light of Instagram’s recent crackdown on influencers who buy fake followers, partnering with those with the most followers should be avoided.

Instead, 2019 is the time to pay attention to micro-influencers. These are (even more) normal people, like your neighbour, with 1-10k of highly engaged and loyal followers who are more likely to believe what they recommend over the JennaMarbles and KSIs of the industry. Going into the new year, micro-influencers are the more competitive way to increase brand exposure and purchase intentions amongst your target audience – and they’re cheaper to partner with too.

You’ll find them at industry conferences and events, hoping to network with brands like yours to boost their career. They can also be found commenting on the social channels of more successful influencers in a similar industry to them, inviting them to check out their blog post on the same topic or products. Once you’ve found them, don’t just send them a blanket email – write a considerate and friendly message that emphasises how working together will benefit both parties mutually.

You’ll find them at industry conferences and events, hoping to network with brands like yours to boost their career.

Conclusion

Creating enduring relationships with influencers within our industry is an integral part of my role within Feel Good Contacts. Considering the controversy around the industry, we can expect more headlines of brands and influencers being exposed for unethical practices. By following the regulations and tactfully picking the influencers that you engage with, you can however avoid your company being in the middle of the next social media firestorm.

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