Why Businesses of All Shapes and Sizes Need Influencer Marketing in 2019

[Image via Eventbrite blog]

By now you’ve likely heard of influencer marketing — you know, that thing where brands pay $2,500 to a blogger with 800K followers for a single Instagram post that takes place on a beach in Spain, with no elaboration on data and metrics, and promises that the brand exposure will be  “worth it.” Also, he doesn’t respond to email but solely communicates via IG messaging two weeks after you initially reach out.

Except real, effective influencer marketing is nothing like that. Well, unless you’re promoting consumer products to beach-goers in Spain, that is. (And the two week, IG-only response time is an actual problem in the industry!)

When we think of influencer marketing, we think of new media: Instagrammers, Youtubers, and other popular bloggers. However the term influencer marketing encompasses traditional media outreach, as well as other outreach tactics like live events. In fact, 65% of multi-national brands will increase influencer spending in the next 5 years resulting in 10 billion ad spend.

In August on our blog, we reviewed how major brands like WeWork, Thrillist and A+E Networks are using Instagram specifically in creative ways to engage new audiences. We’ve found that while there is a heavy focus on integrating social media into a core PR/marketing strategy for these companies, they are all intertwined with a real, in-person live event strategy as well.

How can your company capitalize on influencer marketing in 2019? First, let’s define what influencer marketing actually is.

Image via Adobe blog

How do you define influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is so much more than just Instagram or Youtube. Anyone who has an audience following is considered an influencer. This could be a news journalist or political pundit on Twitter, or an expert chemist who maintains a blog on healthy skincare and body products. Marketers and public relations firms who work with influencers are targeting an audience by proxy — meaning, they are actually targeting the influencer with a cohesive brand message, and therefore translating that message to the influencer’s broader audience.

In other words, it’s like meta marketing. And it can be very powerful for brand perceptions, digital audience growth, and ultimately future sales.

What are micro-influencers versus major influencers and which one is better for my business?

Depends on who you ask really — but lots of people would roughly calculate a micro influencer as someone with 100K to 500K followers, and anyone with 500K+ as a major influencer. There’s a ton of breakdown in-between these segments, however. Specifically, we’re seeing the rise of the “nano-influencer” — people with less than 50K followers who have a very strong engagement rate.

Which ones are better depends highly on what your business is an your objectives. As an example, an Instagram post by Kylie Jenner will run you a cool $250,000 per post, however her following is strong, engagement is strong, and ultimately will give your brand a national, major presence. The downside with using major influencers is that, despite a strong engagement, it’s typically lower than the micro-influencers because they have a broad audience that isn’t well-defined by demographics or buying patterns.

Micro-influencers, on the other hand, tend to have built very strong relationships with a smaller audience that is well-defined and more easy to target. Consider a “mommy blogger” located in Austin, Texas with a strong creative slant toward jewelry reviews. This is a PR channel that will be very relevant for the right consumer jewelry brand targeting moms in Austin, for example.

Influencer marketing dominates B2C marketing strategies; but what about B2B companies?

While it’s true that most marketing on Instagram is in the consumer product space, influencer marketing as a more broad term is something that should be implemented by every company going forward, regardless of industry or vertical. There are simply too many blogs and outlets out there today that specialize in topics, and it would be a faulty PR move not to capitalize on it.

At Werner and Media, our specialty focus is on media placements for our clients, whether traditional media, or an influencer marketing campaign.

An example of a great B2B strategy that we use is creating a live, in-person event experience (such as a seminar on an industry topic,) that invites an influencer or blogger to “take over” the client’s social media for the day — whether that’s live streaming the event for them and commentating through out it, or posting Instagram stories for them. It’s fun and also three fold: the client gets great social media material, exposure to the influencer’s audience, and potential customers at their in-person seminar.

What are some current issues facing the influencer marketing industry?

The industry as a whole is rife with fraud, full of fake followers and fake engagement rates, and influencers who don’t respond to you until weeks after your initial outreach to them, (are you sensing my frustration? Influencers: you’re leaving money on the table!)

Most importantly is understanding how fake followers, retweets and like ultimately affect the brand’s that pay influencers for engagement.

Image via New York Times Interactive

What’s the solution to this? Hire a really keen PR firm! No, seriously — it’s just one of the those things, at this point in time, that you either need the right technical stack, a good eye and intuition, or possibly a bit of all three to really nail down the influencers who are actually worth their weight in clout. Setting up a small initial campaign with an influencer that has been well-vetted and researched, as well as measuring the impact is a good way to start.

What are some influencer marketing trends going into 2019 that marketers should be aware of?

Immersive “Instagram” experiences are huge. If you’re able to hire an artist to do an awesome installation on-site, the people will come. You might even be able to sell tickets and break even on the whole thing.

Candytopia's NYC immersive experience.

Zooming out, the broader idea is: how do I get my digital audience to interact with me in real life? As mentioned before, a good route for B2B companies are seminars and workshops, but don’t shy away from doing something fun if it makes sense!

This was an immersive art gallery experience by Mozilla in 2017 that examined data privacy (and the abuses of it) via artistic installations. As someone who saw it in person, it was really cool! They had guest speakers and a “data detox” kit for sale that would allow attendees to mindfully close up their leakage of personal data online.

We’re not a regular PR firm, we’re a cool PR firm. Werner and Media is a marketing and PR agency focused on partnering influencers and brands in perfect campaign matrimony. We help brands tell their stories to new audiences, educate influencers and content creators, and create campaigns with impact. For more information, check out our solutions for brands here, or follow us on Twitter.