The influencer marketing industry is in flux. We are seeing influencer engagement rates hover at all-time lows, while paid media spend on boosting influencer posts are surging. As a result, influencers are increasingly being used as an extension of a company’s performance media strategy rather than strictly a public relations tactic like years past. Instagram’s test of hiding “likes” also further incentivizes brands to allocate paid media support behind their influencer posts. This will likely mean we’ll see a continued shift away from these vanity metrics —  likes and follower counts — as more brands focus on actual sales. As the industry moves towards leveraging creator content as a core component of a paid media strategy, it is imperative for creators and brands to focus on generating content that not only looks great but also performs well and drives conversions. 

Creating quality content that works harder

The modern consumer is looking for more relevant and personalized content, and influencers have become the most cost-effective and scalable way to create that content. More brands are now turning to these influencers, especially micro-influencers, to tell the brand’s story in a more human and approachable way. Arecent survey found that roughly four in 10 direct-to-consumer shoppers said that influencers make them more interested in a brand. With this blended influencer media approach, brands can reach a specific target audience through a relatable voice, while driving great engagements and conversions that are complementary to traditional forms of paid social.Interestingly, the content itself has also changed over time as the social media landscape has evolved. The best influencer content tells a story that inspires, connects, and engages the audience in a genuine way, and gives the brand context within the influencer’s life. A common misconception is that influencers can only influence their followers. This has been proven false through a myriad of data we’ve gathered here at Lumanu connecting influencer impressions to e-commerce conversions at clients like Rent the Runway and M.Gemi. As we move to a world where an influencer’s role as a relatable content creator is more important than their role as a familiar face, the best influencers are the ones who can create high-quality content that is more than just selfies and lifestyle images. Specifically, the best influencers are posting more videos and carousels. Some influencers are even providing their brand partners with raw media assets and full permission to create entirely new media like canvases, albums, and slideshows to be posted as whitelisted ads. We are also seeing an increase in the quality of content as influencer performance is being measured by more than just likes and comments. As brands shift their focus away from these vanity metrics, they will look at how their content marketing strategy is actually impacting their bottom line. 

The future of marketing

Marketers are turning to digital creators to power the future of marketing. Instead of paying a creative agency and working through an ad network, brands can work directly with the digital creators who have already fostered a community with their target audience. Brands can further their reach and influencer marketing ROI by putting paid media behind their influencer posts so that content reaches audiences beyond their organic followers, to consumers who can be most impacted by effective and relatable storytelling.The influencer industry is also shifting in an effort to combat influencer fraud and fake followers, problems that have rendered traditional influencer marketing ineffective at truly influencing consumer behavior. Within the broader digital marketing industry, we are seeing an increased demand from advertisers to find novel ways to reach their target customers and captivate them with fresh content that stands out versus their competitors. We are encouraging brands to move away from viewing influencer marketing as an “organic word of mouth marketing channel.” Those days are gone. 

Create more relevant Instagram content

Influencer marketing has now transformed into influencer media, and influencer creatives should be held accountable to the same standards and benchmarks as other forms of creatives. Creator content needs to work harder at creating and building an engaged community. Data from Lumanu suggests the most valuable content (posts that drive conversions) is in the form of carousels, slideshows, and videos. In addition, copy that works well on organic content aimed at followers often needs to be tweaked to perform well when aimed at larger audiences. To achieve more relevant Instagram content, brands must invest in a holistic and comprehensive strategy in helping their influencer partners create content that can be impactful beyond the influencer’s followers.  
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