Guest Post by Ryan Stern
For the world’s leading brands, influencer marketing is now a top investment and a multichannel discipline that spans far beyond sponsored social posts. The practice is more precise and measurable than ever, which should give marketers the confidence to level up their 2020 influencer programming game.
A recent report from Collectively offers actionable insights to jumpstart strategy development and push beyond go-to approaches like events or gifting. In this article, we’ll discuss four of the most important innovative influencer marketing programs and data-backed trends informed by our research.
Look beyond Instagram
89% of marketers told us it was the influencer platform they invested in most in 2019. Less crowded (and potentially less expensive) influencer spaces outside of Instagram present opportunities to connect with new audiences and expand results.
- Private forums like Facebook Groups remain a relevant way to engage creators. In a survey of 500+ creators, we learned that 61% maintain a Group connected to their content business. As of this year, brands can now directly engage in Groups, so it’s a great time to build out an approach.
- TikTok is the platform marketers are most interested in testing this year—the platform stole the show at Vidcon in 2019. Its playful vibe and disruptive, personalized feed has spread like wildfire throughout Gen Z culture and is picking up speed among older generations, too.
- Podcasting is a rapidly growing medium that has strong parallels to influencer marketing, with its personality-centered format, niche audience distribution, and product endorsements by hosts. Explore sponsorship opportunities on influencer hosted shows and take advantage of the audio channel’s longer shelf life.
Focus on content creation
70% of marketers say influencer content performs as well as or better than brand produced content.
- Leverage influencers outside of social media. 37% of creators we spoke to were asked to perform as a model or actor in brand-produced video or print campaigns. Consider using influencer content and/or likeness in less common places like email marketing, point of purchase, print, or catalog, and in radio, podcast or voice-activated tools.
- Diversify your production methods by cultivating relationships with creators whose content is in-line with your brand’s. Don’t be afraid to occasionally skip distribution on influencers’ channels—45% of influencers told us they created content for an assignment that didn’t include posts on their channels.
- From new lip balm concepts to protein bar flavors, collaborating with influencers at the product level creates a new, exciting offer for your customers and creates a compelling narrative for 360° marketing campaigns. Tap into influencers’ creativity for product development and incentivize them to drive results with unique commission models.
Access customer feedback through influencer communications
94% of influencers told us they use Instagram Direct Messages to support their content businesses.
- Listen and learn—experiment with Stories strategies and let influencers bring your brand into informal conversations. 88% of influencers use DMs to chat with fans and 38% of influencers receive daily DMs about products they’ve endorsed.
- Research: From IRL focus groups to kickstart campaign development to creating virtual research panels among influencer audiences—consider creators a resource for consumer insights. With new Instagram Stories features like quiz and polling stickers, customer attitudes and preferences can be relayed with a quick tap.
Practice “influence media” with the principles of paid social
61% of our clients invest in boosting influencer content through our paid social offering.
- A new cornerstone of the industry, amplifying influencer posts takes campaigns further by driving reach, engagement, click-through or conversion. But the practice is experimental at best—70% of marketers told us they are not yet regularly amplifying influencer content on their own.
- Our clients at Collectively are seeing a return on ad spend anywhere between 2-12x when leveraging our boosting service on Facebook and Instagram.
We hope our insights inspire you to try something new in 2020 and encourage you to think about more innovative influencer marketing programs this year and beyond. After all, you fought hard for the budget and searched high and low to find the perfect creators who fit your brand. A data-driven strategy and forward-thinking influencer brief will get you the right results.
Check out Collectively’s “Influencer Marketing in 2020” and sign up to download the report for free.
Ryan Stern is the CEO/Co-Founder of Collectively Inc.—a San Francisco and New York-based influencer marketing agency. Collectively’s pioneering approach helps brands connect with the most creative voices on social media with the best idea, tools, and talent. Under Ryan’s leadership, Collectively has been recognized as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies for Marketing and Advertising and a finalist for Digiday’s Content Marketing Agency of the Year. The company’s work has been recognized by the OMMA Awards, Digiday Awards, Glossy Awards and Webby Awards.
Photo credit: @aubriepick