When Kylie Jenner casually mentioned she was quitting Snapchat last year, its share price dropped 6% ($US1.3 billion) overnight . But while not every influencer has as much clout as Kylie Jenner, there’s no doubt that they hold considerable sway over audiences in today’s digital world. And astute marketers are not just sitting up and taking notice, but investing in their services.
There’s a lot of emerging evidence of influencers’ transactional pull. A recent study into influencer marketing by Rakuten Marketing surveyed 500 Australian consumers and 100 marketers and found that 73% of Australian consumers have purchased something recommended to them by an influencer.
While this figure indicates a strong success rate, the study also found that on average, Australian marketers anticipate influencer campaigns to increase by over $320,000 this year for high-tier and celebrity influencers, and as much as $232,000 for micro influencers, pushing the average allocation of influencer programs within total marketing budgets up to 38%.
An influencer’s value
Influencer marketing is commonly used by marketers as a tool to drive discovery of new brands and products, or to build brand and product awareness. So it’s no shock that 54% of Australian consumers identified ‘discovery of new brands and/or products’ as the main reason why they follow influencers and of them, 40% discover new products and brands through influencers weekly, 15% daily and 29% monthly.
When we dig deeper, marketers can determine precisely where consumers see value in the influencers they follow. Most pertinently, the study revealed a large proportion of consumers follow influencers to seek their recommendations on new brands and products, with 50% of Australian consumers claiming this is of high importance to them.
In particular, consumers indicated that they heavily rely on influencers for gift-giving inspiration around key shopping periods such as major holidays, birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and weddings or other special occasions. These insights present an opportunity for marketers working on price-led campaigns to incorporate influencer marketing into their strategy to increase overall effectiveness.
Interestingly, the study also showed influencers’ insight is of second most importance to consumers, with 51% indicating they use influencers to learn about how to use products. Influencer marketing has the ability to simplify complex information and communicate a message to consumers in an interactive, personalised way that extends beyond two-dimensional ad formats.
While 70% of marketers indicated they could identify the sales driven by a particular influencer marketing campaign, nearly half expressed the desire for greater measurement of impact. By clearly identifying the purpose behind influencers in your marketing campaign, whether it be brand awareness, informational, or part of a price strategy, marketers will be able to better determine the value influencers bring in.
Getting the basics right
The survey also revealed how Australian consumers are engaging, what types of influencers they follow and what type of content they’re consuming - valuable information for any marketer. When considering where to distribute content, social and video giants still reign supreme. Instagram (68%), Youtube (64%) and Facebook (59%) are the most popular platforms to follow influencers on. Engagement with influencers drops considerably amongst other platforms, with Snapchat garnering 25%, Twitter 24%, Pinterest 17% and blog sites 16%.
When determining what type of influencer to engage, consider that entertainment influencers (music, TV, movies) are the most popular types of influencers to follow (56%), with celebrities (45%) home/lifestyle (42%) and fashion & beauty (41%) also in demand. Outside of Australia, consumers are interacting with international influencers predominantly from the US (57%), UK (58%) and Canada (28%). Obversely, 21% of American consumers and 17% of British consumers are following Australian influencers.
In terms of content format, consumer preference lies with recorded video (66%) and still images (64%) rather than written content (38%) and live streams (38%). Surprising, considering the recent investment by social platforms into live streaming. Consumers prefer sharing recorded video and still images too, due to their engaging and memorable attributes.
Consumers can spot a phoney miles away With the increased disclosure of sponsored content, the smoke has cleared and the mirrors shattered - transparency is on the rise and consumers are becoming increasingly critical of the content they’re consuming.
Now more than ever marketers need to focus on creating authentic, high-quality creative content that is not only in tune with the influencer but also their following. Platforms seem to be encouraging this shift towards authenticity too, with rumours recently emerging of Instagram trialling the removal of the like button. As We Are Social’s MD Suzie Shaw put it , “making likes private could actually make influencers more authentic, and therefore more appealing to brands”.
The survey revealed that consumers believe authenticity in influencers derives from good taste or recommendations (50%), passion about a topic (49%), benefits them personally (39%) and their core values align (36%). With 42% of consumers indicating they would unfollow an influencer if they post something that doesn’t align with their core values and opinions, there’s definitely a risk of a negative impact for brands if they miss the mark and choose the wrong partner.
Achieving peak influence
The survey showed that 85% of Australian consumers indicated they’ve been inspired to purchase something from an influencer. But as previously mentioned, only 73% of consumers have actually completed an influencer-based purchase. This means there’s room for improvement by at least 12%. Whilst there’s no one simple solution, studies such as these allow marketers to better understand Australian consumers so that they can tighten up their marketing strategies.
Marketers need to be clear about what value influencers are bringing into the mix. They need to adapt to consumption habits in order to reach their target audience at the right place at the right time. And decision makers need to make smart choices about who they choose to work with - it’s not just about how many followers an influencer may have or how many engagements they drive. To achieve peak influence it’s about taking the time to match quality content with quality audiences.