State of Influencer Engagement – New Study by Augure
For the second consecutive year, Augure has just published the results of its annual study on the state and the practices of influencers relations. Over 600 professionals in communications and marketing, in 32 countries and 30 industries, participated.
This year, as an author and influence marketing specialist, I have had the pleasure and privilege of being included, for both markets; for the French market, Mounira Hamdi (LabCom), Fadhila Brahimi (FBassociés) and Camille Jourdain (Over-Graph), and for the English market with Brian Solis (Altimeter Group), Chad Pollitt (Relevance) and Jeff Bullas (JeffBullas.com). This is quite a great honor for me to be among this select group of social media influencers.
1 – Web Strategies in Influence Marketing
The first observation that emerges from the Augure study is more than 90% (93%) of respondents agree that using influence marketing in social media gives them better results in terms of visibility and recognition. A jump of 24% compared to last years results when less than 70% satisfied respondents. Of these, 3 out of 4 respondents consider that the commitment to be an influencer is very (or rather) effective to generate new sales, and as many (76%) for customer loyalty.
¨Digital influencers are the new celebrity. But that doesn’t mean that influencer engagement is limited to traditional promotion and endorsements. In fact, many digital consumers rely on the experiences and insights of their peers to make decisions about brands and products. The bottom line is that influencers act as strategic resources to consumers seeking direction. This is why brands must engage them to serve customers. In the cases where brands do so, Augure learned through its annual research on the subject, that engagement contributes directly to business goals. From awareness to sales to loyalty, digital marketers see results. But, it takes vision and work to inspire meaningful engagement in ways that people trust and follow¨, explains Brian Solis.
2 – Identifying Relevant Influencers is the Main Challenge for Brands
Again this year, the study shows that the major challenge for brands in planning a marketing campaign remains: how to identify the most relevant influencers (75%), determine the most appropriate strategies (69%), and measure the results (53%). However, other challenges are now presenting themselves to those responsible for communications and marketing:
– Follow-up activities of the influencers (32%)
– Find sufficient budgets to implementation the campaigns (26%)
– Automate the process of engagement or interaction (26%)
– Find and train qualified personnel (8%)
As I said in the context of the study, I think it remains a challenge for brands to identify the influencers because it involves a long process. We must consider several factors, and that inevitably leads to the use of multiple channels and multiple tools.
3 – Content is at the Center of Relations with Influencers
In the new study, Augure reveals some interesting data on the impact of influencers in content marketing strategies. According to different usage scenarios analyzed, the study demonstrates that brands and organizations favor collaboration and content influencers as ambassadors of their contribution; 59% of respondents prioritize the creation of content, while 67% favor the promotion of content.
Corporate communication and positioning SEO receives, respectively, 32% and 23% of the responses while crisis management only 14%. In contrast, committed relationships with influencers remain a priority for respondents product launches (59%) and event promotion (45%). Last year 76% of respondents favored new product launches with influencers.
¨An influencer recognized in his area of expertise is readily engaged in the promotion of value-added content for its professional credibility in the dissemination of a new product. For the brand, it is also a credibility lever that will strengthen its expertise¨ to recall Fadhila Brahimi.
¨In a perfect world our interactions with influencers would impact all of the situations mentioned. However, that’s not always the case. We find that approaching influencer marketing with the intention of earned content promotion (that is, by collaborating with influencers on the creation of content) is the most effective at impacting all (or most) of the categories included in the survey¨, added Chad Pollitt in the study.
4 – Twitter is the Preferred Channel for Relationships with Influencers
The study from Augure also reveals interesting data on platforms that encourage companies and professionals in their campaigns relationships with influencers. The results show that 54% of respondents prioritize blogs, while 42% still prefer traditional media. However, a large majority favor social platforms, Twitter leading the way with 68%, followed by Facebook (51%), Instagram (24%) and LinkedIn (20%). In 2014, only 29% considered Facebook for relations with influencers.
¨Social networks, especially Twitter, are the most appropriate channel to deploy campaigns with influencers. Persuasion mechanisms are subtle and based on several levels, but it is essential to choose the chat channels¨, explains Camille Jourdain.
¨The live broadcast of an event is the 2nd flagship of active Internet users. Twitter is, for this reason, the most acclaimed by social media communications and traditional media to take the pulse of essential topics and push current topics in the trends (Trend Topic). Because it is public, concise and conducive to responsive, Twitter is a powerful tool for word-of-mouth¨, adding Fadhila Brahimi.
5 – The Main Motivation for Brands to Word with Influencers: Community and Content Quality
For over 55% of respondents, the study also found that the possibility of obtaining greater visibility and increasing community are the main motivation for brands when working with and influencers. The quality of content remains an important criterion (45%) but loses some of its importance in comparison with last year (59%). Shaping its image (29%), getting different benefits (25%) and making money (24%) then follow. Quality of the experience ends the list with 22%.
¨Influencers are very attentive to the needs of their community because they maintain a special relationship with their members. Any intended collaboration must be able to serve both the influencer and its community, hence the need to co-build communication messages with the influencer concerned so that it adheres to the values of the brand, its products or services¨, says Mounira Hamdi, co-founder of LabCom.
¨Most marketers say that content is king. I say that’s BS. The audience is king, and he who has the audience is the king maker. Influencers that subscribe to this way of thinking want to access as many audiences and audience members as possible, with the hope of growing their own audience. All of other ¨motivation¨ is just icing on the cake¨, said Chad Pollitt, co-founder of Relevance.
6 – Collaborate with Influencers at Events or on Blogs
After the participation of influencers / ambassadors at various corporate events (70% of respondents), the blog posts are proving the most valued content by brands in their influencer marketing campaigns (69%). Whether articles where bloggers are invited to write, interviews or simple mentions by influencers, several different types of content are as effective for businesses and organizations, according to data from the study of Omen:
- Video 44%
- Webinars 32%
- White papers / studies 29%
- Infographics 27%
- Press releases 26%
¨ By accompanying attractive content, images, photos or graphics, but also live via Periscope, for example, for off-line events, brands have the opportunity to attract the attention of more influencers¨, supports Camille Jourdain.
7 – The Compensation Paradox
Given the growing importance of influencers in Web marketing strategies / social media companies and organizations, the study from Augure also looked at the business model associated with relationships with influencers, and asked the question: Should we pay influencers for their collaboration? Nearly 70% of respondents said no. Overall, one in three respondents never pays influencers with whom he collaborated, while just over a third (36%) do so occasionally. By comparison, in the United States 54% said they regularly pay their influencers.
¨It seems that most brands don’t want to pay for ¨influencer marketing¨. Because they think they’re not getting the same results that could be had with the right approach ¨and¨ compensation. That attitude is ad-hoc, amateur and arrogant. You pay for TV, you pay for Facebook advertising, you pay for Google AdWords don’t you? Influencers have worked hard for years to ¨earn¨ influence, and they should be paid for that. Not given baubles!¨ insists Jeff Bullas.
8 – Public Relations Takes Control of Influence Marketing Campaigns
The public relations officer stands still with 28% who believe this is the right person to be in charge of the relations with influencers. However, the results are very mixed, and there is a greater involvement of business leaders in influencer marketing campaigns. With 17% of respondents, business leaders are on a par with the community managers.
As I point out in the Augure study, I think that the influencer campaigns must develop with everyone in the company, starting with the leaders, who are able to share the values and culture of the company. But each team member must also contribute; the head of public relations marketing manager, through the manager in charge of communities and content marketing. And when it comes to larger organizations, we also integrate those responsible for sales, customer service, and even product development.
9 – Moving Towards a Growing Investment in Relationships with Influencers
The conclusions this study reaches are very positive about the future influence of marketing in social media. A company’s relations with influencers have produced fruit, and 74% say they want to increase (33%) or maintain (41%) their dedicated budget for their influence marketing strategy.
However, as Arnaud Roy who directed this study wisely emphasizes, one must take into account the great disparity between the intentions of US respondents and European respondents: among respondents who plan to increase their budgets, 60% are United States and Canada, while only 20% comes from Europe.
This is just some of the interesting information that emerged from the Augure study. To deepen and further analyze the results, and the differences between markets, sectors and sizes of business, you can download the complete study: http://www.augure.com/blog/state-influencer-engagement-20150618