If you are a marketer in a brand or planner in an advertising agency, I guess you hear the term “influencer” or “influencer marketing daily. But the trend of influencer marketing has been changing constantly. Suppose you have already adopted many influencers in your campaign. In that case, you might already be paying attention to new tactics — for example, micro/nano influencer, employee influencer, live streaming, virtual influencer, and so on.
I work for a digital agency in Japan, and I have to say many brands and agencies still focus on the number of followers.
On the other hand, some agencies have started to pay attention to a different metric other than the number of followers. Given such a trend, I strongly feel that we are already in the middle of a reform.
Many brands and even agencies still search for new influencers based on how many followers they have. But a particular agency tries to recognize the change in the user’s mind, attitudes, and activities by monitoring and analyzing big data on social media. As a result, they can discover the ideal influencers who have solid brand advocacy and significant influence on their followers. Furthermore, they insist that they can measure the campaign’s impact beyond vanity metrics like impression and engagement rate.
As far as I can tell, many marketers have a positive attitude toward this new policy. Of course, such an idea is still just an ideological theory, and it might take a while until they can get it done. The most crucial social media platform in this field is Instagram, but there are many technological challenges like API limits there.
What will we see in the near future?
I guess the so-called social media influencers who have hundreds of thousands of followers and some kind of charisma would continue to play an active role in this field. At the same time, I believe that many brands are starting to pay attention to loyalty to their brand, and they are trying to have a good relationship with such influencers and even fans from a long-term perspective. Unfortunately, many consumers are already fed up with fraud and fakes. As many industry players have been warning the market so far, authenticity and transparency are undoubtedly essential to influencer marketing.
Almost all brands own official social media accounts nowadays. Usually, followers on the account voluntarily follow the brand’s social media. In other words, such followers are interested in the brand, though the degree of brand loyalty depends on each person. If the brand can discover users with high loyalty among their followers, compelling and fresh marketing tactics would be possible. The following are examples:
- Limited campaign (approaching loyal users sooner than others)
- UGC/IGC (Influencer Generated Content)
- User Interview
- Product development, etc.
As I listed above, there are many tactics for collaborating with loyal users. The most critical one among these is to recruit them as futuristic influencers. If brands give limited information and unique opportunities to core fans, such users will become powerful influencers and play essential roles in the brand’s marketing strategy. Some might call them ambassadors, but I think the value of influencers and brand ambassadors is essentially the same.
Of course, there are still problems there. First, it is not easy to quantify someone’s degree of brand loyalty. More than anything else, it will take a long time to nurture someone. We shouldn’t forget that brands need to invest a lot based on a long-term perspective.
Now, many brands are struggling to find excellent influencers. But many brands will search for budding influencers with brand advocacy and nurture them in the not-so-distant future. At that time, “co-creation” must be a more important term than anything in the influencer marketing field. Not only in advertising but other influencer roles can also increase their value.