After being seduced by the illusion of the popularity of viral content from macro-influencers, and the opportunity to rapidly reach new generations on popular platforms, businesses and organizations are beginning to become disillusioned. With the revelation of false recommendations from vloggers and ¨influenceratis¨, and the intervention of the FTC, the trust of connected consumers has been undermined.
According to research, almost 30% of businesses and organizations surveyed last year estimated they lost money with their influencer marketing campaigns because they were poorly targeted. Lately, they’re finally recognizing that they’ve bet on the wrong horse. In fact, despite their recent experience, most companies still face challenges identifying the right influencers for the objectives of the campaign, finding and implementing the appropriate tactical commitment (69%), and measuring campaign performance (53%).
What could change again in 2017…
Companies face several challenges in 2017. To regain the trust of consumers, companies will need to focus on developing more sustainable relationships with real community opinion leaders and micro-influencers. The quality of the connected consumer’s experience (Generation C) must be prioritized above the product then the social mindset of the brand will become the message.
Brands to integrate social selling ideas
To regain the trust of cheated consumers, businesses will definitely need to integrate the marketing concepts of social selling. In their marketing strategies, they will have to replace the 4 P’s (Product, Price, Promotion, Placement) for the five C’s of social media influence marketing: Community, Context, Content, Collaboration and Conversion. To meet the expectations of connected consumers, their approach must guide the process of buying.
Companies will increase the resources dedicated to social networks
In the social marketing evolution, the biggest changes are at the level of public relations and customer service. Better informed and educated, connected consumers are demanding personal relationships and transparent and honest brands. Several major brands, such as Marriott Hotels now involve several departments in content creation and influencer relationships, as demonstrated by the study of Augure / Launchmetrics firm in 2015 State and Practices of Influencer Relations.
The new role of PR is to consolidate the team around the message
Public relations remain central in these marketing strategies on social networks, but now involve all team members around the message and social vision of the company. The primary role of public relations will be to consolidate the team and external collaborators and to act as a coach in relationships with influencers communities. Ambassador recruitment in business and management education programs also fall under the new responsibilities of public relations.
The new leaders become more involved in relationships with influencers
As we saw over the course of the year, the new leaders of Generation X, who gradually took over for the retired boomers, continue to be more involved in strategies and influencer relationships. Consumers demand connection to management that is able to make decisions to meet their expectations. In this sense, the leaders will become even more directly involved in interventions on social networks.
Awareness programs and employee advocacy explode among businesses
Already several brands and organizations have turned to company ambassadors to optimize and amplify their message on social networks. According to recent studies, the content shared by employees gets 8 times more commitment than the content published by companies or organizations (SocialMediaToday). Several major brands, such as L’Oreal and Telus have created awareness programs in their companies, and have promoted the creation and dissemination of content on social networks.
Organizations appeal to experts for content co-creation
To ensure a higher level of engagement, companies must bring real added value to their community with quality content that will help them stand out. To meet the expectations of connected consumers, who now demand greater transparency (especially after the YouTube scandal of false recommendations) organization should turn to experts and opinion leaders whose credibility and reputation is unscorched. With specialized content, niche brands will be clearly defined.
Brands seek more collaboration with micro-influencers
According to the recent study from Markerly, the engagement rate on new platforms like Instagram decreases in proportion to the size of the audience of influencers: the ratio of engagement with micro-influencers (who have fewer than 1,000 subscribers) is 8 times higher than the macro-influencers (who have more than 1million subscribers) which drops to 1.7%. Disappointing, misleading and ephemeral results obtained from the macro-influencers will force businesses to seek further collaboration micro-influencers to convey their messages.
Companies assert their independence by becoming their own media
Brands understand the importance of becoming their own media company and are increasingly acquiring related service companies to get there. Some will use newsrooms (or war rooms) to perform competitive intelligence and manage their activity on different platforms. Others will build production studios to create enriched content for influencers and ambassadors (as L’Oreal and Marriott Hotels). Brand journalism will become a strong, new trend.
Quality of the user experience is the focus of concern
The quality of relationships with influencers and the experience online users will become more important in marketing strategies. To effectively respond to the expectations of consumers, social media community team members will directly interface with influencers and ambassadors. In this context, connected consumers (Generation C) will prove they are the true influencers of social media. Personalized offers will become the main concern of brands.
Data analysis will help to customize the message
In the effort to personalize the message, companies will seek to better understand the behaviors and motivations of the connected consumers (from boomers to the millennials), by examining and understanding user data. The proper analysis and interpretation of this data will become an essential skill for each member of the team, and they will better guide the targeted audiences of influencers and ambassadors.
AR technology will still promote interactive content and social gaming
Mobile applications of social gaming, combining with augmented reality and geolocation, continue to gain popularity with users, always in search of entertainment and interactive experiences. A mass phenomenon in social networks will allow developers to monetize their applications faster and will also allow local businesses to use the opportunity to initiate proximity marketing campaigns. Pokemon Go became the first game to quickly reach an income of more than $500 million.
Instant and ephemeral content gradually lose their interest for brands
During the next year, the new platforms for sharing content like Snapchat and Instagram continue to increase their subscriptions to young audiences and increase advertising revenues (nearly $ 1billion is predicted in 2017 for Snapchat). However, instant and ephemeral content will gradually lose interest for users, and more brands seek more substantial and long-form content. Besides, we’ve already begun to see a disinterestedness of new generations for these platforms, and the utilization rate and engagement on these platforms is constantly decreasing (down 40% for Instagram).
Native advertising and sponsored content will blend more naturally with editorial content
To effectively respond to filter applications and ad blocking, and adopt a less intrusive approach better meet the new rules issued by the FTC, companies will integrate native advertising and sponsored blogs in their editorial content. Brands will cease to speak of themselves. Instead, they will make sure ambassadors and influencers do. Natural fusion sponsored content and native advertisements will become important in the confluence of marketing business strategies we been talking about.
Brands and organizations will rely more on Paid, Owned, Earned Media mix-marketing (POEM)
To increase and optimize the impact of their influencer marketing campaigns on social networks, companies will opt more for a media convergence strategy. They will combine paid media (advertising, sponsored blogs) with media they own and operate (websites, social media pages) and harvest the impact they deserve through social networks (shares, comments). A combined strategy will allow them to assess their global return on investment (ROI).
Is there the moment of truth for social media influencer marketing?
After the bitter betrayal of consumers cheated by ¨influenceratis¨ and the big brands that have played the game of astroturfing and false recommendations, companies will have to turn towards sustainable and profitable relationships with micro-influencers. They will need to adopt an easy social selling approach that better corresponds to consumer expectations, and involves all the resources of their organization in their strategy. Above all, they finally demonstrate greater transparency and learn to distinguish between celebrities and macro-influencers, niche influencers and micro-influencers. And perhaps, ultimately, influence marketing in social media will finally know the moment of truth and reach a new level of maturity.
What do you think? What are the trends that you observe for the next year? Share your experience of social media influencer marketing, by commenting on this article.