From the Influencers

Influencer Marketing's Growth Felt Throughout 2016

December 28, 2016

Marketers throughout most every industry realized one thing in 2016, or so a report from Linqia suggests, and that one thing was “people take the word of influencers in a market very seriously.” As a result, it was clear that influencer marketing delivered a lot of value in 2016, and in 2017, it likely won't be any different.

Influencer marketing, for those not familiar, involves the word of social media influencers—those with fairly pronounced followings in social media operations from YouTube to Twitter and beyond—delivered to those who follow the influencers on various channels. This breed of marketing has been shown particularly valuable as the potential targets not only take it seriously, but also actively seek it out, something that isn't commonly done with other forms of marketing.

Since influencer marketing is so valuable, it's also frequently used; 86 percent of those who responded to a Linqia study noted that influencers were already part of the marketing picture. Ninety-four percent noted that influencer marketing was proving an effective part of the overall strategy, and it's common knowledge that effective marketing is marketing that's often reused.

Further benefits include access to sources of “authentic content,” as well as “authentic, easily-discoverable product reviews.” Influencer marketing users also discovered sales, engagement and traffic driven with the method, as well as the huge plus of accessing a market that doesn't typically trust traditional advertising, having been exposed to it for years and having built up a healthy skepticism in response.

That's not to say there weren't challenges, including determining return on investment as well as some Federal Trade Commission (FTC) -related issues. Time taken to manage such programs and choosing just which among a growing number of influencers to work with were also problems. Regardless of the challenges, spending is expected to rise as well, with 58 percent of respondents planning to spend at least $50,000 on the field.

It's still a new field, so getting hard numbers and convincing hidebound budget decision makers to free up cash for this kind of marketing can be difficult. Failing to be an early adopter here, however, could be a costly mistake; if the best influencers are already hooked up with brands, breaking one of these loose to work with a new brand may cost a lot more than getting in early would have cost.

This explains why ROI is so hard to determine; what is “return”? There's a lot of ambiguity still in this market, and waiting for concrete evidence to set may mean opportunities lost.

Edited by Alicia Young

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