With the huge expansion of online video and, in turn, a growing fragmentation of audiences across the web, influencer marketing has become a powerful way for brands to maintain visibility online. Last week, I spoke at Digital Shoreditch on the topic of influencer marketing to address exactly why it’s had a surge of investment from brands and what the opportunities are. So here is my view on why influencer marketing has become a popular way to connect with consumers and what new opportunities there might be in the future as this space evolves.
According to Social Media Today, 74 percent of global marketers plan to use influencer marketing as part of their strategy in 2015. This is a huge growth area of the marketing mix and, by encouraging third-party endorsement, brands can connect with highly engaged audiences. This is particularly true of youth audiences who are marketing-savvy and don’t want to be spoken-at by brands, but instead crave meaningful and engaging online experiences. Influencer marketing enables brands to do just that: deliver authentic and credible branded content in the audience’s own language and environment.
Video, in particular, has a crucial role to play when it comes to the growth of influencer marketing, thanks to the rise of the vlogger. For brands, collaborating with YouTubers is integral to reach digital natives. YouTube is at the heart of how millennials consume and communicate content. It also gains a greater reach as the YouTube community is highly engaged; they share, like, and comment on videos, further extending the conversation and reach of the content.
An example of how YouTubers have been integrated successfully into a brand campaign is Turkish Airline’s #FortuneTraveller campaign. The campaign used popular vloggers to amplify the airline brand’s “Widen Your World” key message. It saw Turkish Airlines picking ten of the top YouTubers from around the world, each of whom created videos documenting their journeys to Istanbul and then onto another global destination. This innovative use of influencers to create content that truly resonated with its target audience led to the airline becoming the most subscribed airline on YouTube.
While YouTube has a huge role to play in influencer marketing, the growth predicted by Social Media Today’s research will not come from one platform alone. Online video is continually evolving, particularly as young consumers flock to mobile-first platforms like Vine, Instagram, and, more recently, Snapchat. As a result we are seeing brand’s attention shifting to consider alternative platforms where influencers are gaining traction.
Snapchat is a particularly interesting case in point due to the transitive and ephemeral nature of “snaps.” Consumers are actually more likely to engage with branded content through features like Snapchat Stories, where content lives on the platform for a 24-hour period. The increase in engagement levels and reach of newer video platforms has resulted in influencers moving between platforms. For example, prominent YouTuber, Casey Neistat, has looked to Snapchat for brand partnerships and recently produced bespoke content for Marriott hotels on the platform.
The proliferation of online video platforms doesn’t signal the end of YouTube, but it does make influencer marketing more complex for brands to navigate. It seems that most brands dip their toes into the potential, rather than taking the full plunge. With so many platforms, cliques of content owners, and complicated pricing models, brands can find it hard to effectively incorporate cross-platform strategies into their marketing spend.
For the evolution of influencer marketing to continue we need a centralized marketplace where brands and influencers can meet and transact, to give more transparency. While brands have found ways to work with the current system, to become a fully mature part of the marketing mix we need to move away from a service-based model and look to new technology to bring together brands and influencers, unlocking the future potential of this medium in the process.
Guest post by Johanna Bergqvist, global business director for brand solutions at Rightster. OnlineVideo.net accepts guest posts based upon their usefulness to our readers.