Why influencers gain more power
Influencer Marketing is always suspected of being a short-term hype. In this article you will learn why this is not the case and how the market is developing in this respect.
Influencer Marketing becomes mainstream
Influencer Marketing has become an integral part of digital marketing and will continue to gain in importance. That Influencer Marketing is one of the most important marketing trends is also shown by the current Goldmedia study, in which market figures and forecasts for Influencer Marketing in Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland (DACH) were determined for the first time.
The study defines influencers as digital opinion leaders in social media with at least 10,000 followers. Based on scenario analyses, the study provides market figures and forecasts from 2017 to 2020, analyzing the various revenue sources in influencer marketing, the importance of the individual social media platforms and success and growth factors:
- Current sales: In 2017, 30,000 German-speaking digital opinion leaders already achieved sales of 560 million euros.
- Success and growth forecast: According to the Goldmedia forecast, the market volume for influencer marketing in the DACH region will grow to 990 million euros by 2020 on the premise of continued professionalization of the industry and a positive overall economic development. This means an annual increase of around 20 percent. Influencer Marketing would thus increase to almost one-sixth of TV advertising revenues.
- Sources of revenue: Influencers generate the largest turnover with directly remunerated, sponsored postings (photos, videos, stories). There are also various other monetary and non-monetary revenues. These include revenue sharing under affiliate marketing agreements or products, travel, etc. made available free of charge.
- Platforms: Influencers on YouTube and Instagram generate the highest revenues, followed by Facebook and their own blog. Well over half of the revenue from sponsored posts is generated here.
Source: Study Influencer Marketing in der DACH Region, Goldmedia
The study clearly shows that influencers are not a temporary phenomenon. Influencer Marketing is currently leaving the experimental phase and is becoming an integral part of the marketing mix. However, further professionalisation of the players, standards and processes is necessary for the continuous growth of the industry. This also includes focusing the content of influencers and labelling advertising content. This is the only way to maintain authenticity and credibility as the influencers' most important capital.
Differences in the reach and influence of influencers
A person's "digital influence" results from their "social capital". According to Brian Solis' current approach, three factors in particular determine the social capital of an influencer:
- Reach: The reach is measured quantitatively, e.g. in follower or number of subscribers, and evaluated qualitatively in image and credibility of the person.
- Relevance: The degree of a person's thematic authority in a particular subject area and the confidence of the followers in the statements of the influencer define the relevance factor.
- Resonance: Resonance describes the commitment, i.e. the number and intensity of interactions and comments "followers" make towards the "influencer".
From this, different groups of influencers can be derived and distinguished:
- Nano-influencer: The nano-influencer is to be understood as an opinion leader in a limited social group to which special knowledge or experience is attributed in relation to certain topics. Thus, the nano-influencer has only a small or limited range, but a high authority and very often also a very high commitment in its social group (e.g. brand fans, brand advocates).
- Micro-Influencer: Micro-Influencers are topic experts with follower numbers in the four- or five-digit range. These include above all bloggers and "special interest" youtuber or topic/industry experts on Facebook. All of them are characterized by high credibility and authority in one subject area and achieve a high level of commitment from their fans. A commitment rate of 25 to 50 percent is assumed here.
- Macro influencers: Macro influencers have a number of followers in the six- and seven-digit range. The growing reach naturally also leads to a growing distance to the influencer and reduces the exposure rate to 5 to 25 percent. Very large accounts often deactivate the message function and no longer respond to comments. Bonding and trust are therefore increasingly based less on subject-specific authority but rather on a general private brand image. In order to maintain the connection to the follower, the influencer focuses on topicality and thus a high frequency of postings.
- Mega-Influencers: Mega influencers include celebrities and stars who manifest their popularity in the social media with followers in the seven-figure range. At 1 to 5 percent, the commitment here is only minimal.
This distinction is important for companies seeking to work with influencers. In order to find the right influencer, they have to ask themselves whether they want to increase brand awareness through high reach or whether they want to create a real connection between people and the brand through high authority and commitment.
According to Stefan Ramershoven, Managing Director of kjero GmbH, only 43 percent of people trust mega influencers, but around 72 percent trust micro influencers from their own circle of acquaintances. With 100-2000 "small" influencers, therefore, much more effective campaigns can sometimes be set up than with a few mega influencers. If the budget allows it can also be driven on both tracks. Macro influencers are lighthouse projects that can generate extreme reach, while micro influencers are very strong in the field of engagement.
The number of followers is therefore only one criterion. Even if important CIOs and CEOs follow the influencer, it can do a lot more for a company. A company would therefore do well to check engagement rates and the fan base in advance using specialized tools.
Mega-Influencers: Mega influencers include celebrities and stars who manifest their popularity in the social media with followers in the seven-figure range. At 1 to 5 percent, the commitment here is only minimal.
How influencers tick
Brandnew IO - the first influencer agency in Europe to connect brands and influencers via a technology platform - together with Jung von Matt and Facelift has investigated the question of what is important to influencers. The study "Inside Influencer: The new brand ambassadors and what moves them" asked 1,200 influencers worldwide. These were people who became known exclusively through their Internet activities, i.e. not celebrities from TV, music or film who used their Internet presence to enhance their image.
Motivation: One of the main characteristics of this generation of influencers is that not making money comes first. The desire to live out one's own creativity and passion and make a difference is considered more important: 60 percent want to make a difference, almost 50 percent want to build up an online reach and increase their own popularity. The money earn ranks on place 4 with 45 per cent, followed by further reasons.
Authenticity: The most important asset of influencers is their credibility. As a result, 70 percent of respondents answered the question of what followers value about their own actions as follows: "That I am authentic, honest, funny, open and willing to convey things the way I see them."
Payment: Nearly 20 percent of influencers only receive benefits in kind, 33 percent earn less than $500 per campaign and 28 percent between $500 and $1000. Only 0.7 percent receive between 10,000 and 25,000 US dollars, more than 0.3 percent of influencers. This means that about 17 percent are between 1000 and 10,000 US dollars.
Success of a campaign: Influencers are less concerned here with "sales" or "brand mentions" but primarily with impressions, traffic, likes, comments and the sharing of contributions on other social channels.
Collaboration: The most important criterion why influencers choose to work with companies is the brand itself. The relevance of the brand and the money are just behind it. The participants in the study were also asked about the "biggest mistakes" made by companies in their cooperation. The lack of remuneration takes first place here with 72 percent, followed by too strict content rules (48 percent). 41 percent say brands expect too many channels and 36 percent find timing too tight. The prior coordination of contents comes to about 27 percent. 73 percent would also like to become more involved in the creative process, as they do not want to present just one product. 68 percent want to work as brand ambassadors and thus work for this brand for longer.
Source: Study Inside Influencer, Brandnew IO
What companies should consider
In addition to selecting a suitable influencer for the company, the study recommends valuing influencers, rewarding them appropriately and controlling them less. They should rely more on their creativity and intuition as they know their followers better. Failure to do so can harm both the influencer and the brand. If brands interfere too much, it ruins the authenticity of the influencers they have built up by posting to their followers.
The Instagram campaign of the Coral detergent brand has shown what can go wrong with influencer product placements. Under the hashtag #coralliebtdeinekleidung the company had put models, musicians and bloggers quite clumsily with the colorful detergent bottle in scene. As a result, the campaign was honored by the Internet community with the title "The most embarrassing instagram campaign of the year" and accordingly reaped a lot of mockery and malice. The campaign "Milka schmeckt wie" (Milka tastes like) had a similar fate.
One brand that has worked very successfully with influencers is Sinalco. In December 2017, for example, a competition campaign for the online Advent calendar attracted two and a half times more participants than a year earlier via display advertising. Four opinion leaders from the lifestyle, food and fitness sectors staged the prizes in their Instagram postings and stories and invited their followers to participate in the Sinalco Advent calendar. According to the company, the campaign reached a total of 1.2 million contacts. The interaction rate was an above-average 5.6 percent.
Influencer Marketing in the B2B area
Another area in which Influencer Marketing has not yet received much attention is the B2B sector. An expert from the own industry can be a valuable partner with his expertise and opinion strength, be it to promote an existing product or as support in innovation marketing. The easiest way to find B2B influencers is to scan social media platforms for relevant keywords and hashtags. Their feeds and postings make it easy to see whether the influencer is dealing with a topic relevant to the company.
However, multipliers who have already committed themselves to a competitor's product should be avoided. Similarly, experts should not necessarily be on the payroll of a company in the same industry. It should also be noted that the influencer will not advertise the product directly in order not to lose its credibility.
Transparency in influencer marketing
A study by data scientist Orestis Chrisafis found that the labelling of sponsored posts recorded a statistically relevant 9 percent increase in engagement rates over unmarked posts. Contributions marked as advertising therefore have no negative consequences for the commitment, but rather positive ones.
However, there is still a lot of surreptitious advertising about postings that are not marked as advertising. From a legal point of view, this can result in penalties of up to 20,000 euros for the influencer according to the media law. Furthermore, the loss of credibility is at stake and the image of the company suffers if surreptitious advertising is discovered. Companies and influencers will therefore make their partnerships increasingly transparent. Instagram already has the "Branded Content Option" for example.
Conclusion: Strategically aligning influencer marketing
The role of influencers in the marketing mix will continue to grow in the future. In particular, the millennial generation can be reached through this channel. Many companies are now increasingly hiring external specialist service providers to strategically plan the campaign and to find and care for suitable influencers. Platforms such as kjero, Linkilike or Reachhero can be used to address nano- and micro-influencers, i.e. influencers with a smaller range but higher credibility and a higher commitment rate. For successful influencer marketing, not only the number of followers plays a primary role, but also a number of other factors such as the correct selection of influencers and the integration of influencer activities into the overall strategy.
Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.