Ross Candido: The evolution of influencer marketing

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“As influencer marketing has matured, various trends, challenges and opportunities have emerged.”

By Ross Candido, Vice President ANZ and SEA, Meltwater

Influencer marketing has undergone a remarkable transformation since its inception. In 2022, the influencer marketing market was valued at USD $16.4 billion, and projections suggest it will surpass $21 billion this year. 

In fact, 93% of marketers have already recognised its impact and embraced influencer marketing as an integral part of their brand strategy, as it offers enhanced metrics to track ROI, allowing brands to focus on deeper engagement metrics beyond just “likes” and “followers”. 

But with this growth comes change. As influencer marketing has matured, various trends, challenges and opportunities have emerged.

1. The rise of micro influencers and platform diversity

The growing number and popularity of micro and nano Influencers signifies a significant shift in the influencer marketing landscape. These smaller-scale influencers have cultivated a highly-engaged and trusting audience. One of the key advantages of collaborating with micro and nano influencers is their ability to foster a sense of trust and authenticity within their communities, as their content is perceived as more relatable and credible, which in turn can translate into increased trust in the products or services they are promoting.

It is also key to ensure influencers’ audiences strategically align with the campaign’s goals, ensuring that the campaign resonates authentically with the right audience. These influencers often have a deeper understanding of their followers’ interests and preferences, allowing for more precise targeting. Selecting influencers whose audience mirrors the target demographic or customer base of the campaign can significantly enhance its effectiveness and ROI.

Similarly, platform diversity is also increasing and providing new opportunities to reach brands’ audiences. The key is meeting your audience where they are. For example, Australia has the highest monthly usage of TikTok globally with users spending nearly 30 hours per month on the platform.

2. Authenticity and long-term partnerships

Investing in long-term partnerships is also essential to create consistent brand narratives to deliver more impactful campaigns. Brands are seeking lasting relationships with influencers for more organic content, managed via influencer CRMs for transparency and lasting endorsement by moving away from one-off campaigns to longer term engagement..

Authenticity is paramount when it comes to influencers, which longer-term and genuine partnerships help foster.

Regulatory guidelines also ensure transparency around sponsored content. Australia’s legal framework is quite strict, and we are pleased to see organisations such as the Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCO) committed to standardising influencer marketing as it evolves through best practice, transparency and industry education.

3. The need for specialist tools

The ongoing social media fragmentation and rise of real-time data and content, paired with the growing number of influencers, channels and platforms makes it a more complex environment to navigate. Marketers need better tools to ensure they are identifying the right audience, influencers who align with their messaging and values as well as measure and manage the relationship in a way that is directly attributable to spend and success metrics.

Agencies have adapted to this in a number of ways including establishing dedicated influencer marketing departments and implementing specialist tools to help track creators across multiple platforms with access to ongoing measurement and key social insights to inform their campaigns effectively.

By partnering with platforms that offer advanced analytical tools and automating once manual processes, more than 80% of employee operational efficiency in creator management is optimised across the influencer management’s lifecycle according to recent Forrester research.

According to the report, organisations can also quickly determine the most relevant creators amongst a myriad of content creators, improving results by three times. 

In addition, a data-driven approach to influencer selection results in more impactful campaigns, improving purchase intent and favourability metrics, and delivering a 50% ROI. Brands can also ensure their content is on-brand and compliant with regulations, avoiding $1.4 million in business risk.

4. Content and measurement

We are currently going through an age of content explosion, combined with a shift in generational behaviour on how that content is consumed and drives behaviour, therefore understanding how you can generate more value for your business in this space is key.

Determining ROI has traditionally been a challenge in advertising. Digital marketing initially offered exciting potential in identifying and tracking individual users. But the move towards a cookie-less landscape, combined with increasingly stringent consumer privacy laws, has shifted the goal posts once more. 

Instead, marketers must continue to innovate when it comes to reporting and attribution by managing and monitoring influencer performance and impact over time.

For example, Meltwater recently partnered with a vegan vitamin drink brand, pinpointing the most relevant health and fitness influencers whose audiences closely mirrored the target demographic. The brand engaged 52 influencers and supplied each with a unique discount code they could share with followers.

Through these codes the campaign was able to attribute 1,800 conversions to the influencers, generating a total revenue of $132,000. This revenue far exceeded expenditure on product production. It has also left the brand with a roster of proven ambassadors to cultivate as long-term brand champions and leverage for future campaigns.

Influencer marketing’s rapid growth and effectiveness in driving ROI underscore its pivotal role in modern brand strategies. Adapting to emerging trends and leveraging specialist tools is crucial for success in this dynamic landscape, ultimately strengthening trust and the value of genuine influencer partnerships, and maximising campaign success.

Top image: Ross Candido

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