What to watch out for this year
Influencer marketing began life as a secret weapon. Then it became a trend and even a hype, and was perceived as such by some marketing companies. But what about now?
Influencer marketing has finally entered the mainstream. This is particularly evident if you take German television in general and the TV series Der Bachelor in particular as a benchmark: Several candidates in the latest series were introduced as “bloggers” or “YouTubers.” The market is oversaturated, both in terms of supply and in terms of demand. Many companies are trying their hand at influencer marketing – in whatever way they can. Many bloggers or social media channel managers are trying to earn money as influencers – in whatever way they can. With a lack of professionalism on both sides, successful campaigns are the exception rather than the rule. Tools that automatically match advertisers and influencers may increase the number of campaigns, but certainly do not raise the level of quality.
Last year saw numerous campaigns in Germany involving unimaginative product placement, as evidenced by the Instagram campaigns by Coral, the laundry detergent brand of Unilever, and Milka: Influencers, most of which female, pose covered in mud in front of a washing machine clutching a bottle of laundry detergent or hold a random chocolate bar in front of the camera, coupled with the hashtag #coralliebtdeinekleidung (#corallovesyourclothes) or #milkaschmecktwie (#milkatasteslike).
The era of such campaigns should now be at an end. 2018 will hopefully be the year in which awareness of influencer marketing grows. Brands and matching influencers will enter into long-term partnerships and produce authentic content. Ideally, both sides should also continue to develop the campaign moving forward. A prime example of such a partnership is the cooperation between German Youtuber Bianca “Bibi” Heinicke and drugstore chain dm. The pair created the brand Bilou, which includes a range of products such as shower gels with fragrances such as Tasty Donut and Creamy Mandarin.
Influencers are increasingly becoming brand ambassadors, as we are accustomed to from the TV – they will be in the limelight more and also be seen on TV more frequently. But these kinds of partnerships are by no means a bargain: Increasing quality also means increasing costs.
Popularity is contagious: Micro-influencers, who specialist in specific areas such as extreme sports or certain diets, are also becoming more prevalent. They may have fewer followers, but in their area of expertise they often achieve a greater share of interested users compared to influencers operating in popular areas such as fashion or fitness. In addition, partnerships with micro-influencers come at a lower cost, but also can be associated with a higher workload in terms of selecting and managing partners.
Here are three things companies should watch out for if they want to succeed with influencer marketing:
- Authenticity is the key. Often repeated but still true – but how can a marketing company determine whether an influencer is authentic or not? A glance at an influencer’s content and the responses of his or her follows can provide a few hints.
- The influencer and the brand must share the same target group, otherwise the campaign will not work and both sides of the partnership lose out in terms of credibility.
- The partnership must be designed to be as personal and transparent as possible. Clear and definitive guidelines are important so that both partners know exactly what they have to produce. However, these guidelines should be adapted to fit each influencer.