- Sixty-five percent of surveyed multinational brands plan to increase their influencer marketing spend over the next 12 months, and 86% report the goal is to improve brand awareness, according to a study by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) made available in a news release. Seventy-four percent of makreters plan to use influencers to reach targeted and new audiences, and 69% will use them to improve brand advocacy.
- In choosing influencers to work with, "quality of followers" was cited as the most important criteria for 96% of brands. "Credibility and reputation" was identified by 93%. Transparency is another key issue for marketers, with 71% reporting that how the relationship with influencers is disclosed is a vital part of the selection process. Instagram was the most popular platform for influencer strategies, used by 100% of survey respondents, followed by Facebook (85%) and YouTube (67%).
- WFA plans to work with brands, including Unilever, to create best practices to help brands create effective influencer strategies. Hashtags, descriptions in the posts or videos, paid partnership labels and verbal mentions were the top ways brands identified and disclosed relationships influencers. A flat fee per post or free products for posts were the top methods for paying influencers, followed by fee-based performance, free products to test or free products based on performance.
As online and social influencer marketing pushes past its "Wild West" phase, marketers are examining their partnerships with greater scrutiny and more often pushing for quality over sheer quantity of followers. Like many digital advertising channels, influencer marketing is viewed to have become rife with fraud and also bought followers, so the WFA findings around a demand for greater transparency and proper relationship disclosure are unsurprising. There's also the specter of stricter regulatory oversight from agencies like he FTC if players in the space don't become diligent in identifying murky practices.
Unilever has recently made moves to try and become a leader in cleaning up the channel. In June, at the Cannes Lions advertising festival, the CPG giant announced that it would cut ties with influencers that buy followers in an effort to boost transparency in its advertising. The company said it spent "tens of millions" on influencer marketing last year and still expects that number to grow.
Marketers are expanding their influencer strategies to better reach younger, digitally-native consumers like millennials and Gen Zers, who are the largest user groups of platforms like Instagram and often find influencer marketing more engaging than traditional brand advertising. Research by Fullscreen and Shareablee shows that millennials and Gen Zers trust what influencers say about a brand over what a brand says about itself. While reputation and follower quality are important, the groups found that mid-level influencers, or those with between 250,000 and 19 million followers, were the most trustworthy and credible, ahead of celebrities and micro-influencers.
Brands, including Nike, Mars, L'Occitane, Birchbox and HelloFresh, have been bringing their influencer marketing strategies in-house to have more control over campaigns and their influencer partnerships. Measuring influencer effectiveness, however, has broadly been an ongoing struggle for marketers. The key performance indicators used to measure campaign performance were reach and views, engagement, traffic, earned media and audience sentiment, according to the WFA.