Over the next couple of months ZINE will be asking and answering some of the biggest questions the influencer marketing industry faces this year and beyond.
We've already made good progress in the form of our 2019 influencer marketing survey which is due to close early next week (you can still have your say here), but today I wanted to bring you something a little different.
This week we decided to catch up with our very own CEO Caroline Duong, to get her take on the influencer marketing industry of both today and tomorrow.
Why did you start ZINE?
I more or less stumbled across the industry, when my good friend (and now chairman of ZINE) brought up influencer marketing. I began researching the space trying to understand how it works and was surprised to find that most brands are completely in the dark with regards to the audiences they actually reach through influencers. Whilst most data, especially for blogs, is available, there was no way to access that information easily. Coming from a finance background, I envisioned something like a Bloomberg for influencers, and that’s how ZINE started.
Why has influencer marketing exploded in the past few years?
There are many drivers, the biggest however is probably the way we - and above all millennial - consume content these days. Print has been on a downwards spiral for many years, and digital continues to be on the rise. People watch YouTube instead of TV, they look to Instagram for shopping inspiration from their favourite influencers and brands instead of buying glossy magazines. The convenience of getting to a product or website straight from the content you’re looking at can’t be beaten and helps converting prospects to customers faster than via most traditional advertising.
What common mistakes do you see brands new to influencer marketing making?
Most brands feel they should see instant returns on their influencer campaign, eg. a significant sales uplift. Influencers are instrumental across the entire sales funnel, from awareness to purchase. Like any marketing strategy, influencer marketing requires some calibration. There is no one size fits all campaign, and your creative direction and influencer selection should be reflected in your campaign goals. Related to this is another massive mistake a lot of brands make: heavily branded content and very strict guidelines. No one likes a picture of an influencer holding up a product next to their face - and this is clearly reflected in engagement rates.
What do you think is the most important metric for campaign success?
That very much depends on the goal you’ve set for the campaign! Something brands sometimes forget about I feel. If you want to target sales, make sure you use the right medium and tools to track it. If you are looking for an uplift in followers, keep an eye on your follower stats. But above all, share your goals with the influencer (according to a recent survey, 30% of influencers said brands don’t share their campaign objectives with them).
Why is measuring influencer marketing ROI such a tricky question?
The majority of influencer campaigns are on Instagram still (over 50% according to a recent survey) where it is difficult to track clicks through to the website from an in feed post. Users view a post, click on the brand tag and from there go on to the brands website. The original source, eg. influencer, is lost in that process. Also, the benefit of influencer marketing is a mix - awareness and content creation are also part of the equation, not only sales. Someone who may have first become aware about your brand through an influencer, could become a customer months later through direct traffic on your website. It’s one of the biggest challenges to track this journey from social to online or even offline sales in the industry today and it’s very similar to the challenge of tracking online to offline traffic and conversions.
In your experience, what can brands do to get more value from their influencer collaborations?
Don’t push it, look for influencers that are genuinely excited about your product or service. If you have to pay up significantly to convince an influencer to work with you it’s probably not right (see Snapchat in the news recently). 75% of influencers say they put more effort into a campaign if they are passionate about a brand, opposed to 25% saying they put more effort into paid collaborations as brands who pay them expect more. Talking to the influencer directly will help you evaluate if they’re genuinely excited and also allows you to form a long term relationship with them.
What will have the biggest impact to influencer marketing in 2019?
Increasing awareness and education in the industry. A few years ago, influencer marketing suddenly became the hottest topic in town and everyone was rushing to push their product to the most popular on social media. Now, marketers are more cautious, have more experience and as budgets increase, require hard numbers and results. The shift towards using tech and data to vet influencers will change the shape of the industry and how influencers and brands work together.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge to influencer marketing in the coming years?
This or that
- Selecting influencers based on data or creativity?
Depends on my goal! If I look for great content, creativity - if I look to reach potential customers, to drive awareness or sales, data.
- Fake followers or Verified Reach
- Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad
- Blog or Instagram
- Dinner or drinks?
Dinner (which should come with drinks!)
- iPhone or Android
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I'm Head of Marketing at ZINE where I am helping peers and customers who want to revolutionise their influencer marketing strategy. I love food, fitness and Min Pins.