tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/influence-measurement Latest Influence measurement content from Econsultancy 2017-07-25T16:48:32+01:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:RoundtableEvent/889 2017-07-25T16:48:32+01:00 2017-07-25T16:48:32+01:00 Measurement & Analytics <p>This roundtable discussion will give attendees the chance to share their key challenges, headaches, and success stories around measurements and analytics. It provides an opportunity to learn from industry peers, with the aim of providing inspiration for your own measurements and analytic efforts.</p> <p>According to Econsultancy research, almost two-thirds of businesses (64%) do not have a documented data analytics strategy while just over half (52%) do not measure their ROI from analytics investment. Clearly work needs to be done to improve this situation.</p> <p>This roundtable will give attendees the chance to discuss their current data &amp; analytics challenges, as well as sharing success stories and offering each other practical advice. Discussion points will be guided by delegates on the day, but could include:</p> <p>- which tools are most useful and effective? Which should be avoided?</p> <p>- how to secure senior buy-in and sufficient resources.</p> <p>- what does a modern data team look like? What roles are required?</p> <p>- the dreaded GDPR. What steps should marketers be taking to move towards compliance?</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69209 2017-06-30T10:43:00+01:00 2017-06-30T10:43:00+01:00 Six inconvenient truths about influencer marketing Patricio Robles <h3>1. Calculating ROI can be difficult</h3> <p>As Rakuten Marketing MD and Econsultancy contributor James Collins <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69164-should-sales-be-used-to-measure-the-roi-of-influencer-marketing/">recently noted</a>, “influencer marketing is often about raising awareness through aspirational content, with a view to generating purchases further down the line, rather than pushing immediate sales.”</p> <p>But for brands spending growing amounts of big bucks on influencer marketing campaigns (according to research from Linqia, marketers will spend $50,000 to $100,000 per influencer marketing campaign this year) justifying that spend increasingly requires more than faith that it will produce a return down the line. </p> <p>Unfortunately, a recent Econsultancy report <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/measuring-roi-on-influencer-marketing/">revealed that measuring ROI on their influencer initiatives is the biggest challenge for 65% of marketers</a>. While measuring ROI is hardly a challenge exclusive to influencer marketing, given the growing cost of influencer marketing campaigns, it's getting harder and harder for marketers to brush the ROI question aside.</p> <h3>2. Engagement doesn't necessarily translate to efficacy</h3> <p>Part of the ROI calculation challenge is that some of the most easily tracked metrics in influencer marketing campaigns are related to how much followers engage with sponsored content. But likes, retweets and comments aren't always meaningful metrics and don't even necessarily mean that an influencer's followers have truly engaged with the branded content.</p> <p>At a minimum, companies should use benchmarking to assess whether or not the engagement their campaigns is generating is in line with what they expect based on an influencer's non-paid content, but it's not clear that marketers are even doing this.</p> <h3>3. It's hard to assess audience quality </h3> <p>Fake accounts, often created by automated means, have for years been a thorn in the side of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While it's impossible to pin down exactly how many fake accounts exist, even if a relatively small percentage of the accounts on these platforms are fake, that represents tens of millions of fake accounts, if not more.</p> <p>By some estimates, even some of the biggest influencers on these platforms have fake followers well into the double digit percentages, which can equate to anywhere from tens of thousand to millions of fake followers. Even though in most cases this almost certainly isn't intentional, it's a problem given that the most popular influencers are setting their prices based on their total audiences and marketers can't really be sure whether the number of useless accounts following a particular influencer is 1%, 10%, 25%, etc.</p> <p>Beyond fake accounts, it's even more difficult to assess the quality of an influencer's legitimate audience. How many followers are active? How many are truly fans of the influencer? And so on and so forth.</p> <h3>4. You can't control how people will react</h3> <p>The concept behind influencer marketing – that brands benefit by positive associations with high-profile individuals on social media platforms – isn't an invalid one, but that doesn't mean that campaigns are guaranteed to produce positive reactions.</p> <p>For example, Marigold, a prominent dairy and beverage company in Singapore, learned that the hard when when it used three influencers to promote its Marigold Peel Fresh juice drink. One of the influencers, Naomi Neo, who did not disclose that she was being paid by Marigold, claimed that she “always [carries] around a carton of my favorite MARIGOLD PEEL FRESH juice.”</p> <p>That claim was, for obvious reasons, <a href="http://mothership.sg/2016/05/internet-person-says-she-carries-1-litre-carton-of-marigold-peel-fresh-everywhere-she-goes/">met with extreme skepticism</a> and lots of negative comments on social media and the web – probably not what Marigold was looking for.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7191/neo.jpg" alt="naomi neo" width="615" height="424"></p> <h3>5. Influencer relationships can go south, and quickly</h3> <p>Influencers are human beings and thus not infallible. That means influencer relationships are fraught with many of the same risks as typical celebrity endorsements.</p> <p>In a worst-case scenario, brands associated with an influencer could suffer some level of embarrassment if the influencer becomes the subject of a public firestorm.</p> <p>Case in point: after a Wall Street Journal article highlighted a number of anti-Semetic videos posted by PewDiePie, YouTube's biggest homegrown star, brands that had been involved with him, <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/disney-severs-ties-with-youtube-star-pewdiepie-after-anti-semitic-posts-1487034533">including Disney</a>, made the decision to cut ties. </p> <p>While it's unlikely that the PewDiePie association will have a lasting negative impact on a brand like Disney, the fact that it had to end the kind of long-term influencer relationship that is most likely to pay dividends demonstrates just how hard it can be to bank on internet stars as reliable partners.</p> <h3>6. Disclosure is still an issue</h3> <p>In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is ramping up its efforts to ensure that influencers are adequately disclosing when they are being paid to promote products and services for companies. </p> <p>While in theory it should be easy for marketers to require that the influencers it works with are following the applicable rules, and platforms like Instagram are aiming <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-14/instagram-to-make-it-clearer-when-influencer-posts-are-paid-ads">to make it even easier</a>, the FTC <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/04/20/ftc-instagram/">is still finding dozens upon dozens of instances of violations</a> of its rules. Even following the FTC's letters, a number of watchdog groups <a href="https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/303461/celebrities-still-fail-to-disclose-instagram-ads.html">discovered that</a> many of the influencers the FTC warned are not disclosing when they are posting content for brands.</p> <p>Ultimately, if brands aren't proactive about making sure the influencers they work with are following the rules, it's likely that the FTC will be forced to take enforcement action, action that could carry with it fines for brands.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69197 2017-06-23T09:24:15+01:00 2017-06-23T09:24:15+01:00 “It was a great campaign. It cost me $2M”: A discussion on EMV and social media measurement Nicolas Chabot <p><strong>Me:</strong> I would love to understand how you measure success on social and especially on your influencer programmes.</p> <p><strong>CMO:</strong>  Ideally, we’d like to find a simple and easy number that management can relate to, and we are looking to use Earned Media Value as a core KPI to measure success there, including on influencer relations. We see that some of our competitors even use EMV in their communication with financial analysts.</p> <p><strong>Me:</strong> Really? Interesting. It sounds like an updated Advertising Value Equivalent from the PR world. At a time when leading communication associations such as AMEC are now officially discarding AVE, is it not contradictory to push an equivalent metric into the new digital world ? </p> <p><strong>CMO:</strong> I understand your challenge. EMV however is seen as a simple, understandable number that is also easily comparable among brands or regions. We really need some way to quantify all this great organic content the teams are generating, and we believe it’s a good and easy way to put a value on it all. It also gives a sense of ROI to the investment we make to grow our earned media presence.</p> <p><strong>Me:</strong> Measuring success of your brands on social in a consistent way is indeed absolutely critical.  It’s interesting you say ‘value’. But thinking about how you typically measure success on communication activities - if someone asks you about your latest TV campaign, would you typically respond: “Yes, it was great! It cost me $2M”?</p> <p><strong>CMO:</strong> No, of course not! We would use “target coverage” and “repeat” as core KPIs to measure the efficiency of the media plan and then awareness and attribution as key outcomes for example.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/6972/sharp-1844964_1920-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="" width="470" height="314"></p> <p><strong>Me:</strong> That seems to make sense. So I am wondering why you would try to measure your success on social media through a measure of cost? How can costs be a success measure then? To compound this; EMV is not a real cost, It supposed to be the equivalent cost of purchasing such content whereas the value of such content lies in the fact you cannot buy it. </p> <p><strong>CMO:</strong> And what about paid posts where we can actually ‘buy the content’? </p> <p><strong>Me:</strong> OK, so…. practically, how would you calculate EMV? What is your methodology for putting a $ to a retweet or an Instagram post? Are you assuming that $ value is identical for all your brands?  </p> <p><strong>CMO:</strong> The methodology seems a little unclear to be honest, and does seem to change wildly month on month, which makes benchmarking difficult. Some vendors seem to be able to come up with standardised numbers to value a publication or an engagement. In the end the important thing is that the same approach is used across all competing brands so that our “share of EMV” remains a valid concept.</p> <p><strong>Me:</strong> I can understand how a single metric would be useful internally, but it concerns me that some companies would communicate a KPI to financial analysts that they wouldn’t be able to explain, even on a “market share” basis.</p> <p>On the same topic, I was reading a post on LinkedIn the other day by a marketing executive at a global car company, quoting “I normally value a “like” on Facebook or Instagram around €0.3-0.4, while I give more value to a “share” because it generates more engagement among other users so I value it around €2-3”.</p> <p>Does this mean that if I like or share an influencer post, I immediately create €2-3 of value ? If yes… I want that money!</p> <p>(laughs)
</p> <p><strong>CMO:</strong> Well, yes, it guess it’s not real $. It is a “theoretical value”. But what would you recommend as a valuable way to measure success on social media then?</p> <p><strong>Me:</strong> When we work with clients, we help them develop their measurement framework using the <a href="https://amecorg.com/how-the-barcelona-principles-have-been-updated/">Barcelona principles</a> and AMEC’s recommendations. In particular we try to focus on the impact of communication. We’d generally advise against single ‘black box’ metrics that aren’t clearly understandable. </p> <p>For influencer programmes, we believe “engagement” is a very strong proxy of impact for example. But this metric only makes sense if you track it in the overall context of the objectives of your brand: are you trying to build awareness? Advocacy? Generate traffic to your web assets? Leads for your sales team? It’s not an easy or quick conversation, but one we’d love to have ;)</p> <p><strong>CMO:</strong> I see.</p> <p><em><strong>More on social media measurement and influencer marketing:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-rise-of-influencers/">The Rise of Influencers</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69144-measuring-social-media-roi-case-studies-stats-that-prove-it-s-possible">Measuring social media ROI: Case studies &amp; stats that prove it’s possible</a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69096 2017-05-19T11:08:00+01:00 2017-05-19T11:08:00+01:00 Four reasons luxury brands are embracing influencers Nikki Gilliland <p>The <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-new-face-of-luxury-maintaining-exclusivity-in-the-world-of-social-influence/">‘New Face of Luxury’</a> report – published by <a href="http://www.fashionmonitor.com/#/">Fashion &amp; Beauty Monitor</a> in association with Econsultancy – delves into this topic, exploring why luxury is embracing this growing trend. To whet your appetite, here's just four reasons.</p> <h3>1. Social media makes luxury accessible</h3> <p>There’s no doubt that social media has made luxury more accessible and appealing to everyday consumers. Now, shoppers aren’t required to enter a store to browse, meaning they can interact with and experience high-end brands on an entirely new level. </p> <p>Of course, the open and large-scale nature of social means that brands runs the risk of appearing less exclusive – perhaps a reason why the industry has been reluctant to forge relationships with social influencers up until more recently.</p> <p>Despite almost two-thirds of luxury brands being active within influencer marketing, 46% admit their influencer programme is a year or less than a year-old. Meanwhile, a further 28% say they have only used influencer marketing for two years or so.</p> <p><strong><em>Do you currently use influencer marketing as part of your marketing strategy?</em></strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6188/do_you_use_influencer_marketing.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="668"></p> <p>That being said, many luxury brands are recognising that, if they are able to find the right balance, channels like Instagram and YouTube can be used to create content that reflects the lifestyle and interests of the core consumer. Which in turn, is also promoted by influencers. </p> <h3>2. Mid-tier influencers offer authenticity</h3> <p>Alongside a growing cynicism over celebrity endorsements, there’s been the realisation that the biggest social influence does not yield the best results. In fact, <a href="http://markerly.com/blog/instagram-marketing-does-influencer-size-matter/" target="_blank">research</a> suggests that as an influencer’s follower count increases, the rate of engagement with their followers decreases.</p> <p>As a result, luxury brands have begun to embrace mid-tier or micro-influencers, with 40% of respondents saying that mid-tier influencers hold the most appeal.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6189/Mid-tier_influencers.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="432"></p> <p>This is because mid-tier influencers are dedicated to building active and engaged communities of followers who value their voice and trust their judgements on brands and products. In contrast, much like celebrities, top-tier influencers or those with mass audiences might have less control or come across as less authentic.</p> <h3>3. Enthusiasm for content-focused campaigns</h3> <p>So, how exactly are luxury brands collaborating with influencers?</p> <p>Interestingly, it appears that a growing focus on content promotion and distribution is informing campaigns – over and above product launches. While 74% of luxury brands say that influencers play a “critical” or “very important” role in product launches, 71% say the same for content creation and promotion.  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6190/role_of_influencers.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="542"></p> <p>This shows that the real value of influencer marketing does not necessarily come in big brand campaigns – but subtle and original content. This tends to align with the opinions of influencers themselves, who typically feel that creative freedom and involvement is needed for the partnership to be worthwhile and successful for both parties.</p> <h3>4. Greater focus on ROI</h3> <p>With increasing investment, it’s naturally important for luxury brands to want to measure return. Unfortunately, this remains one of the biggest challenges, with the sheer amount of social and online data making it difficult to drill down to a single influencer, product or campaign.</p> <p>That being said, it is an area of growing focus. 62% of luxury brands say that revenue generation is an important measure of success, while just 44% of non-luxury brands place such value on conversion figures. 79% of luxury brands also measure the success of influencer collaborations through web traffic generated, closely followed by the number of times content was shared.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6191/ROI.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="479"></p> <p>Another positive is that social media channels are becoming increasingly trackable, with the use of affiliate programmes and conversion pixels, and with Instagram in particular introducing shoppable links.</p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p>So, will luxury brands continue to invest in influencer marketing in future? With 66% of luxury brands saying that they expect their budget to increase "moderately" or "significantly" over the next 12 months, it appears so.</p> <p>Despite some existing reservations about retaining exclusivity and aspiration, the bravest brands are proving this is possible to uphold, providing the collaboration is a good fit.</p> <p><em><strong>For more, download the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-new-face-of-luxury-maintaining-exclusivity-in-the-world-of-social-influence/">New Face of Luxury Report</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3225 2017-03-21T12:44:29+00:00 2017-03-21T12:44:29+00:00 Web Measurement and Analytics <p>If you are to get the best results from your website, leveraging digital insight is essential. This course focuses on using web analytics and other data sources to improve results from your website through analysis of site visitor characteristics and behaviour.</p> <p>You'll learn how to produce a plan to develop the most appropriate metrics, tools and digital marketing improvement process for your organisation.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3175 2017-03-21T11:34:15+00:00 2017-03-21T11:34:15+00:00 Intensive: Mastering Analytics <p>Develop your analytics strategy and gain practical skills in measurement, interpretation, optimisation and prediction.</p> <p>The volume of data, analytics tools and different sources relevant to digital is ever-increasing and getting value from that data requires a focused and structured approach.</p> <p>This three day course will arm you with the practical knowledge and skills you need to transform this wealth of data into increased performance and better strategic decisions. </p> <p>The Mastering Analytics Intensive covers the full analytics journey from planning measurement and data collection through to the practicalities of analysing, optimising and predicting behaviour.</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Econsultancy’s intensives are three-day programmes offering you a deep dive into specific digital disciplines. The intensives offer the practical training without the need for long term commitment.</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;"><strong>Intensives</strong>: </p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Are led by practitioner trainers</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Include access to resources to support the training</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Allow delegates to implement and evaluate what they’ve learnt through ‘homework’ and trainer feedback after training</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3174 2017-03-21T11:33:08+00:00 2017-03-21T11:33:08+00:00 Intensive: Mastering Analytics <p>Develop your analytics strategy and gain practical skills in measurement, interpretation, optimisation and prediction.</p> <p>The volume of data, analytics tools and different sources relevant to digital is ever-increasing and getting value from that data requires a focused and structured approach.</p> <p>This three day course will arm you with the practical knowledge and skills you need to transform this wealth of data into increased performance and better strategic decisions. </p> <p>The Mastering Analytics Intensive covers the full analytics journey from planning measurement and data collection through to the practicalities of analysing, optimising and predicting behaviour.</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Econsultancy’s intensives are three-day programmes offering you a deep dive into specific digital disciplines. The intensives offer the practical training without the need for long term commitment.</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;"><strong>Intensives</strong>: </p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Are led by practitioner trainers</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Include access to resources to support the training</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Allow delegates to implement and evaluate what they’ve learnt through ‘homework’ and trainer feedback after training</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3171 2017-03-21T11:29:32+00:00 2017-03-21T11:29:32+00:00 Google Analytics <p>Research by Econsultancy has shown that over 70% of companies now use Google Analytics systems to report online performance. However, frequently once the tool is in place there seems to be a "what next" moment.</p> <p>This practical, small group workshop will help you to get started with Google Analytics, offering you plenty of practical tips and shortcuts.</p> <p>You'll learn how to get useful information from the tool so you can begin optimising your site, online marketing and content.</p> <p>Your website will also be viewed by an industry expert, who will make recommendations as to the best starting points for your own analysis.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68782 2017-02-10T11:36:23+00:00 2017-02-10T11:36:23+00:00 Three ways brands are using emotional analytics to connect with customers Tamara Littleton <p>But now it’s time for the next step.</p> <p>Emotional analytics allows brands to connect with people on a deeper, more personal, level. Unlike sentiment analytics, which simply allocates responses into broad positive, neutral or negative categories, emotional analytics tells brands what people are feeling and why. This, I think, makes all the difference.</p> <p>I might take to Twitter after a bad experience with customer service, and while the post could be defined as negative in a sentiment analysis report, how useful is that “negative” tag to the brand? My post will be lumped in with tons of other “negative” posts, depleted of all context which could make it actionable for the brand.</p> <p>Without deeper context, the brand can’t solve any problems. It can’t see that certain business practices make me frustrated, or that many other customers are experiencing a similar frustration for the same reason.</p> <p>Brands that don’t know why a customer feels the way they do can’t tailor their products and services to meet specific needs and wants.</p> <h3>How emotional analytics delivers results</h3> <p>By using emotional analytics, brands can see if there’s a disconnect between the emotions that we want the brand to create, and those that real customers are experiencing.</p> <p>A brand’s marketing team may want to promote the brand as inspirational and exciting, but how can it tell if it’s really delivering on this? Emotional analytics looks at how people are feeling, examines what topics they are having feelings about, and allows marketers the chance to change the narrative. </p> <h3>Three ways brands use emotional analytics</h3> <h4>1. Personalisation </h4> <p>As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, <a title="campaignlive.co.uk" href="http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/easyjet-transformed-customer-data-emotional-anniversary-stories/1414488">EasyJet</a> used emotional analytics to discover what its customers felt about previous journeys they had taken.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3819/easyjet_20_years.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="450"></p> <p>It then used these insights to send customers personalised emails featuring their own history with the airline.</p> <p>These emails were opened 100% more than regular email campaigns, with the word “love” being the most common word used by recipients to describe how they felt about it.</p> <h4>2. Compliance</h4> <p>Bloomberg allows its clients to track the emotion in text and voice communications, helping them <a title="informationweek.com" href="http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/businesses-harness-emotional-analytics-for-gains/d/d-id/1324970">prevent market abuse</a> and remain compliant.</p> <p>Think of all the times that we don’t say what we mean. When we say we’re fine, when really were angry. By analysing our emotional responses, brands have a better chance of spotting any hidden meaning behind our messages.</p> <p>Businesses can apply this technology to their own internal communications and identify irregularities before they become problems.</p> <h4>3. Improved experience </h4> <p>We’re starting to see more <a title="insider-trends.com" href="http://www.insider-trends.com/is-emotion-tracking-the-next-big-retail-trend/">wearables</a> that track our emotional responses. For retailers, these offer a way to improve and tailor their in-store customer service – from sending assistance to frustrated shoppers to knowing which customers would be more open to special offers.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3820/feel_wristband.png" alt="" width="700" height="349"></p> <p>When <a title="wgsn.com" href="https://www.wgsn.com/blogs/ebays-pop-up-tracks-shoppers-emotions/">eBay</a> launched its pop-up store in late 2016, it wanted to track how people felt when they shopped for Christmas gifts. The answer? Stressed. 88% saw their heart rate jump by 32% during their shopping experience.</p> <p>Ebay wanted to use this data to take the stress out of shopping, and use the emotional insights to show shoppers what products they had connected with. The ecommerce giant tracked this data using wearables and in-store experiences, but it could gather the same sort of data online using emotional analytics.</p> <h3>Emotional analytics: using humans to turn emotion into action</h3> <p>From managing a crisis to refining a customer’s retail experience - if you understand the emotion that your brand elicits from a customer, you can take positive action.</p> <p>Using human insight to get under the skin of the data means you can turn analytics into action, transforming your marketing, customer service and experience to resonate with customers. You can win not just their heads, but their hearts. </p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68747 2017-01-30T11:47:08+00:00 2017-01-30T11:47:08+00:00 From buzzword to bullsh*t: celebrating 144 years of ‘influencer marketing’ Ian McKee <p>Yeah, you read that right — 1873. Jules Verne, a hugely influential author, was known to be writing another adventure novel <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_placement#Origins">when he was lobbied by transport companies for mentions</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps if Jules had been a millennial, then ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ would have been an Instagram Story featuring definitely-not-awkward contract-fulfilling selfies taken on the Orient Express. </p> <p>I’m sure the world would have been a richer place. </p> <h3>New tricks for old dogs</h3> <p>You can see my point, through the dripping sarcasm — <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-rise-of-influencers/">influencer marketing</a> is not a new thing. </p> <p>In the decade I’ve been in PR, I’ve been involved in activity that today you might term ‘influencer marketing’ from day one. And I’m a relative whippersnapper compared to the transport industry lobbyists of the 1870s. </p> <p>It goes like this — this person holds sway over our audience. Give them free stuff, or some other compensation, to talk about our brand. Bingo, consider that audience influenced. </p> <p>Coining new terms for old tactics is something we love doing in the internet age. Look at fake news (or, propaganda), <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63722-what-is-native-advertising-and-do-you-need-it/">native advertising</a> (what we used to call advertorial) and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/content-marketing-and-strategy">content marketing</a> (all marketing involves content, people). </p> <p>Just because the media has changed immeasurably doesn’t mean the ways we use it have. And influencer marketing is another buzzword coined more for tech companies to sell software than it is to describe anything new. </p> <h3>Rule of diminished returns</h3> <p>Which isn’t to say it’s not of value. There’s a reason marketers have been using this tactic for over a century. </p> <p>However, gaining buzzword status has inevitable negative effects. Just as in B2B content marketing when it started getting harder and harder to attract attention to your latest white paper, if everyone’s employing the same tactic then the rule of diminishing returns comes into play. </p> <p>In the case of influencer marketing, if it continues to grow there are only two routes we’ll plausibly go down.</p> <p>The first is a world where literally everyone’s an influencer to some degree. Like in the Black Mirror episode <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5497778/">Nosedive</a>, whether you can live in a certain place, buy your coffee from a certain café or do a certain job will all depend on your influencer score. Social media armageddon, basically.</p> <p>The second (and far more likely) outcome is a backlash. Consumer cynicism reaches the point where your average Instagram user can spot a plug from a mile off, and the returns of influencer marketing are significantly diminished. </p> <p>I think it’s fairly obvious that we’re approaching the second outcome right now. Stories like <a href="http://digiday.com/agencies/confessions-social-media-exec-no-idea-pay-influencers/">confessions of a social media exec on influencer marketing</a>, or from the other side, Bloomberg’s <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-11-30/confessions-of-an-instagram-influencer">confessions of an Instagram influencer</a> show the cracks are forming. </p> <h3>Gaming the system</h3> <p>Of course, I’m aware of the long tail argument — don’t pay over the odds for a superstar ‘influencer’, go with the person that has 10,000 genuinely engaged followers, or even 1,000 but they’re all actual friends and acquaintances. </p> <p>There’s Brian Solis's ‘<a href="http://www.briansolis.com/2012/03/the-pillars-of-influence-and-how-to-activate-them-in-business/">Pillars of Influence</a>’ — reach, relevance and resonance. Make sure your strategy is balanced. </p> <p>The problem is that at the moment, consumers are becoming more cynical, destroying the trust that these pillars are founded on. And this is not helped by the fast-growing phenomenon of the self-made influencer — those that are gaming the system. </p> <p>As any social media guru knows, you can game followers, likes and shares, and plenty of self-proclaimed ‘influencers’ are doing just that. All this makes it harder for any software tool to tell true influence.</p> <h3>Human intuition</h3> <p>Cue influx of software vendors protesting that their tool is super intelligent and can weed out the bogus influencers. </p> <p>I’m sure some of them do, to some degree. But just as in the earlier days of influencer marketing when it was just choosing which media outlets to send a product to, human intuition and experience come into play. </p> <p>I would always tell clients that when choosing media targets that circulation (reach) was one metric, audience (relevance) was another, but so was our own intuition and knowledge. And not just in ‘resonance’ — that should come from the story, the message, or the content. </p> <p>I’m talking about understanding who really knows what they’re talking about and commands attention on a topic. </p> <p>For this there’s no substitute for reading, interacting with and working with the media full time. And the same applies whether you’re talking about a steel industry trade mag or a health and fitness Instagrammer. </p> <h3>‘Influencer marketing’ won’t die</h3> <p>As much as I wish the buzzword would disappear, at the very least the practice will continue. But hopefully it will be <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/05/26/more-must-be-done-to-educate-brands-on-online-ad-rules-says-asa/">under better-observed regulations</a>, and with growing consumer cynicism the market will bottom out to a more measured approach. </p> <p>If you’re planning an influencer outreach programme anytime soon, obviously you won’t just cream off the top 10 Instagrammers using a relevant hashtag. But hopefully, you also won’t just use what your fancy software’s proprietary algorithm tells you are the top 10 either. </p> <p>By all means take those factors into account, but also spend time reading and reviewing content, understand the audience you want to reach and work transparently with people you know they’ll trust. </p>