We recently had the opportunity to attend an event put on by the IAB that focused on Influencers and User Generated Content. We’ve done our fair share of influencer campaigns and seen what a great partnership with a true influencer can do for a brand, but we also know that not every person with a large number of followers is actually an influencer. Here are our three of our top takeaways from the conference.
the influencers that will make a difference care about the partnerships
Sissy Sheridan is a 15-year-old singer, actor, and influencer that knows her audience. While her follower numbers may not be as high as some other influencers, much of that is purposeful. She is focused on having followers who actually care about the things she talks about and would actually be buyers of the things she promotes. If she’s working with a brand partners to promote a clothing line geared towards young teenagers, it doesn’t help her, or her brand partners, if she has a bunch of middle-aged followers who would never buy the product. She pays attention to her analytics, knows what resonates with her audience, and the proof is in her engagement metrics on each post.
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Another influencer panelist, Liz Joy of Pure Home Joy spoke about how she wants to share her metrics with brands. And that’s a really good litmus test for brands working with influencers – if you feel like you’re chasing metrics or not getting a clear and detailed snapshot of their audience makeup (demographic, geographic, what content resonates with them) then they probably don’t have as much influence as they claim. Another thing she said is that she wanted to be included in the creative conversation around the brand. When an influencer knows their metrics and what will resonate with their audience it only makes sense in opening up the conversation to leverage their creativity and knowledge.
influencer disclosure and Compliance
On a panel with Mamie Kresses from the FTC there was an interesting discussion around disclosure of the relationship between influencer and advertiser. “Material connection” was a key topic with the material connection being anything that is free or of value provided to the an influencer by a brand would fall into the category and therefore need to be clearly disclosed. It’s not enough for someone to just the hashtag “#ad” or “#sponsored”, it shouldn’t be buried amongst other hashtags or not visible in the first two lines of text. The use of those specific hashtags isn’t required, as long as it’s clearly obvious in the text that what an influencer is posting about it was given for free. Video should have an audible voice that says a paid promotion and also be mentioned in the description and title to be safe. Disclosures can also be made on images as long as there is enough contrast that the text is legible.
The bottom line, like with many things, is be transparent and use common sense. You can always refer to the FTC Endorsement Guidelines if you are unsure. And they mentioned that they actually do check and respond to each and every email they get, so don’t be shy about reaching out to them if you have a questions.
direct-to-consumer brands ARE IMPACTING brand preference
The IAB also spoke about recently unveiled recent research that they conducted around direct-to-consumer brands and how they are impacting long established brands. Separating out “Disruptor Brands” (the DTC brands) vs. Incumbent brands, one of the most interesting insights they uncovered is that Disruptor Brand consumers are “nearly twice as likely to choose brands to express” who they are. If you are on the brand side, you should be looking at your core values and also making sure that you have clearly defined what your self-expressive benefits of your brand are.
71% of disruptor brand consumers say they usually share online about brands
That’s 2x more than Incumbent Brand consumers, which makes providing a great customer experience that much more critical. The Disruptor Brand consumer also expects that great experience to be available to them whenever they’re ready to engage with a brand, on any device, with nearly 2/3 of them saying the ability to engage 24/7 is important that’s a 39% difference vs Incumbent-only shoppers.
You can find their full research deck at Disrupting Brand Preference.
A lot is changing in the influencer space. The platforms don’t want to get cut out of the financial side of influencer/brand partnerships and influencers are feeling the impact of that on their audience numbers. The tools are getting more sophisticated to track who is actually an influencer vs. who just has a lot of followers. For brands working with influencers, there is still is a lot of manual work that needs to be done to have a truly great partnership with an influencer beyond a post here and there. Once again, quality will win over quanity.