tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/influencer-marketing Latest Influencer marketing content from Econsultancy 2017-09-14T14:26:39+01:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69418 2017-09-14T14:26:39+01:00 2017-09-14T14:26:39+01:00 The FTC begins cracking down on influencers who violate its rules Patricio Robles <p>Last week, the FTC <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/09/csgo-lotto-owners-settle-ftcs-first-ever-complaint-against">announced</a> that two influencers active on YouTube, <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69392-amazon-turns-twitch-into-an-influencer-sales-platform">Twitch</a>, Twitter and Facebook had settled charges that they "deceptively endorsed the online gambling service CSGO Lotto...while failing to disclose they jointly owned the company."</p> <p>In addition, the FTC says that the influencers, Trevor 'TmarTn' Martin and Thomas 'Syndicate' Cassell, paid other influencers to promote CSGO Lotto without requiring them to disclose that they were paid.</p> <h3>A notable first</h3> <p>This is not the first time that the FTC has taken action over influencer marketing rule violations – it previously won a settlement with Lord &amp; Taylor over the retailer's Instagram influencer marketing efforts – but it is the first time that the FTC has gone after influencers themselves for violations.</p> <p>"Consumers need to know when social media influencers are being paid or have any other material connection to the brands endorsed in their posts," FTC acting-chairman Maureen Ohlhausen stated in a press release. "This action, the FTC's first against individual influencers, should send a message that such connections must be clearly disclosed so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions."</p> <p>While this settlement is somewhat unique in that the influencers targeted owned the service they were promoting without disclosure, the FTC appears to be making it clear that it is now going to more aggressively pursue influencers for violations of its rule. Indeed, in its press release announcing this settlement, the FTC revealed that it has sent warning letters to 21 of the 90 influencers it contacted in April.</p> <p>"The warning letters cite specific social media posts of concern to staff and provide details on why they may not be in compliance with the FTC Act as explained in the Commission’s Endorsement Guides," the press release explained. "For example, some of the letters point out that tagging a brand in an Instagram picture is an endorsement of the brand and requires an appropriate disclosure."</p> <p>One would assume that if any of the 21 influencers the FTC contacted do not respond or don't allay the agency's concerns, new charges could be forthcoming.</p> <h3>A reminder for brands too</h3> <p>On one hand, the FTC's latest enforcement action is good news for brands, as it indicates that the FTC is willing to go after individual influencers and not just brands, who are the bigger financial targets. On the other hand, the FTC's move could signal that the agency is stepping up its enforcement efforts, which means that the entire influencer marketing ecosystem will be under more scrutiny and violations of the FTC's rules will carry with them a greater and greater risk of punishment for both influencers and brands.</p> <p>The good news is that as the FTC ups its enforcement, it is providing more guidance about what influencers and brands need to do to stay on the right side of the rules. For example, the FTC has also announced updates to <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking">its enforcement guides</a> which were last updated in 2015.</p> <p>The new information in them covers a number of topics, such as the obligations of foreign influencers, disclosure of free travel and whether disclosures must be made at the beginning of paid posts. It also adds platform-specific disclosure guidelines for Instagram and Snapchat.</p> <p>Among the notable additions:</p> <ul> <li>"Tagging a brand you are wearing [in a photo] is an endorsement of the brand and, just like any other endorsement, could require a disclosure if you have a relationship with that brand."</li> <li>"There is a good chance that consumers won’t notice and understand the significance of the word 'ad' at the end of a hashtag, especially one made up of several words combined like '#coolstylead.' Disclosures need to be easily noticed and understood."</li> <li>"The use of '#ambassador' is ambiguous and confusing. Many consumers are unlikely to know what it means. By contrast, '#XYZ-Ambassador' will likely be more understandable (where XYZ is a brand name). However, even if the language is understandable, a disclosure also must be prominent so it will be noticed and read."</li> <li>"Keep in mind that if your post includes video and you include an audio disclosure, many users of [platforms like Instagram and Snapchat] watch videos without sound. So they won't hear an audio-only disclosure. Obviously, other general disclosure guidance would also apply."</li> </ul> <p><em>For more on this topic, read:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/measuring-roi-on-influencer-marketing"><em>Measuring ROI on Influencer Marketing (subscription required)</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69209-six-inconvenient-truths-about-influencer-marketing"><em>Six inconvenient truths about influencer marketing</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69196-11-impressive-influencer-marketing-campaigns"><em>11 impressive influencer marketing campaigns</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4583 2017-09-05T12:42:00+01:00 2017-09-05T12:42:00+01:00 Snapchat: How brands are getting creative on the service <p><em>Snapchat: How brands are getting creative on the service</em> looks at how leading brands are using image sharing and messaging service Snapchat in <strong>creative and pioneering ways</strong>.</p> <p>Launching in 2011, Snapchat now has more than 166m daily active users, and is particularly popular among younger users (Generation Z and millennials). This, along with its <strong>highly visual interface and storytelling tools</strong>, make the mobile-first platform attractive to marketers looking to <strong>engage younger audiences</strong>.</p> <p>This report offers valuable insight into just some of the ways marketers can use Snapchat's features, and should give some indication of the importance of <strong>'mobile moments'</strong> to marketing and engagement in the future.</p> <h2><strong>What you'll learn</strong></h2> <ul> <li>About River Island’s use of location-based in-store filters</li> <li>How the Electoral Commission used the service in an attempt to drive registrations among young voters</li> <li>About Marriott’s foray into creating ‘Snapisodes’</li> <li>How luxury fashion house Burberry has experimented with offering exclusive Snapchat content</li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4581 2017-09-05T10:33:00+01:00 2017-09-05T10:33:00+01:00 Adidas: New rules of social engagement <p><em>Adidas: New rules of social engagement</em> is part of a series of brand strategy briefings examining the marketing strategies and tactics of the most popular and searched-for brands. As part of this series, Econsultancy curates a selection of brand case studies and stories to help you improve your modern marketing efforts.</p> <p>Adidas understands the need for existing and new customers to have <strong>meaningful experiences</strong>, whether they are coming to the brand from a fashion perspective or with a more serious interest in health and fitness. To engage these different types of <strong>digitally agile customers</strong>, adidas crafts <strong>social campaigns both across visible platforms and dark networks</strong>, which we consider in this Brand Strategy Briefing.</p> <h2><strong>What you'll learn</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Insight from adidas’ VP of Digital Strategy and Delivery, Joseph Godsey, on how the brand is creating valuable customer experiences via social</li> <li>Adidas’ recent activity using dark social</li> <li>How the brand is combining chatbot technology with Facebook Messenger to engage consumers</li> <li>Specific social media wins from the adidas Originals team</li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69392 2017-09-04T15:00:00+01:00 2017-09-04T15:00:00+01:00 Amazon turns Twitch into an influencer sales platform Patricio Robles <p>Even to this day, there are still <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2014/8/25/6066509/why-it-makes-sense-for-amazon-to-buy-twitch">different</a> <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/amazons-970-million-purchase-of-twitch-makes-so-much-sense-now-its-all-about-the-cloud-2016-3">theories</a>, but whatever Amazon was thinking at the time, it is now aiming to use Twitch to drive sales for its retail empire.</p> <p>On Thursday, in the lead up to the PAX West video game conference, Twitch announced a new program under which users who stream through Twitch will be able to feature products they like and receive a commission from Amazon for sales they refer. As Bloomberg's Spencer Soper <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-31/amazon-turns-thousands-of-twitch-streamers-into-product-pitchmen">detailed</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The Gear on Amazon feature will let Twitch streamers showcase their favorite products as a widget on their page. Viewers who click the widget are routed to Amazon, where they can buy the streamer’s favorite items. The streamer gets a commission of as much as 10 percent on each sale, Amazon said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Currently, Twitch has over 100m monthly visitors and claims to reach more than half of all millennial males in the U.S. More than 2m of its 10m daily active users actually broadcast their own streams and nearly half of Twitch users consume more than 20 hours of content on the service weekly.</p> <p>Put simply, even though Twitch is niche, it boasts a ton of highly-engaged users and now Amazon is going to try to turn some of the most prolific into salespeople.</p> <p>According to Tobias Sherman, who used to head the esports division of entertainment agency giant WME-IMG, Twitch's influencers "are a massive market."</p> <p>"They are the same as sports figures in being able to convert eyeballs and fans into dollars and cents. Everyone plays games and it tethers everyone together," he explained.</p> <p>Twitch's Gear on Amazon program will be open to tens of thousands of Twitch users who are members of its partner and affiliate programs. These, like the YouTube Partner Program, are designed to reward popular content producers with the ability to earn money for publishing their content on Twitch.</p> <p>Gear on Amazon could make participation in these programs far more lucrative. After all, popular Twitch streamers who are able to take advantage of their influence to help sell physical products for which they receive commissions of up to 10% could find that affiliate commissions add up a lot more quickly than ad revenue shares do.</p> <h3>Amazon's influence on influencer marketing</h3> <p>It seems there are few markets that Amazon doesn't have a hand in, and the ecommerce giant is clearly interested in putting its imprint on the influencer marketing space.</p> <p>Gear on Amazon is the second program Amazon has launched this year that seeks to turn influencers into affiliates. In April, the company <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68961-amazon-tries-its-hand-at-influencer-affiliate-marketing/">launched a beta of an invite-only Amazon Influencer Program</a> "exclusively designed for social media influencers with large followings and a high frequency of posts with shoppable content." </p> <p>Influencers who participate in the Amazon Influencer Program get the opportunity to curate their favorite products on an Amazon-hosted page that has a vanity URL. As TechCrunch's Sarah Perez described it at the time, "Basically, it's a more exclusive step up from Amazon Affiliate linking, and offers a better browsing experience."</p> <p>While it remains to be seen whether or not Amazon will actually find success trying to merge influencer and performance marketing, there are a growing number of reasons to believe that performance marketing will indeed become a more prominent part of influencer marketing. These reasons include:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/measuring-roi-on-influencer-marketing">Measuring the ROI of influencer marketing</a> continues to be a challenge for many marketers.</li> <li>Fees charged by top influencers have been skyrocketing, causing some marketers <a href="https://digiday.com/marketing/confessions-social-media-exec-no-idea-pay-influencers/">to question</a> whether the costs can be justified.</li> <li>Emerging threats <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69343-are-marketers-underestimating-the-fraud-threat-to-influencer-marketing">such as fraud</a> could undermine the market.</li> <li>Big platform owners like Facebook <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69355-is-facebook-preparing-to-tax-influencer-marketing-campaigns">could seek to tax</a> influencer marketing campaigns on their platforms, increasing costs. </li> </ul> <p>Tying influencer compensation to sales could help address many of the challenges the influencer marketing ecosystem is facing and if any company is capable of pushing the ecosystem in this direction at scale, it's Amazon.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69394 2017-09-01T12:18:43+01:00 2017-09-01T12:18:43+01:00 10 stupendous digital marketing stats we’ve seen this week Nikki Gilliland <p>Please enjoy.</p> <h3>McGregor generates the most social media engagements</h3> <p>He might have lost in the ring, but data from <a href="http://www.4cinsights.com/news/" target="_blank">4C Insights</a> has revealed that Conor McGregor was victorious in generating online media conversation.</p> <p>McGregor saw more than 3,294,078 Facebook and Twitter engagements on fight night, which includes tweets, retweets, replies and likes. In comparison, Mayweather generated 2,986,484 engagements, highlighting McGregor’s ability to generate mass hype and media discussion.</p> <p>The fight amassed 889,705 engagements on Facebook and Twitter in the week leading up to it, before a massive surge on the night itself saw engagements rise 605% to 6,280,562.</p> <h3>Small businesses falling behind on digital transformation</h3> <p><a href="https://www.g2crowd.com/blog/small-business/introducing-crowd-views-iii-small-business-technology/" target="_blank">G2 Crowd</a>’s third quarterly report has revealed that small business owners are failing to effectively market their businesses in a digital world. Research found that 24% of businesses are still largely investing in either newspaper ads and/or billboards, while only 19% of respondents are spending money on Google AdWords. </p> <p>That being said, the report suggests that technology is an area of focus for small businesses interested in scaling growth, with 47% planning to increase IT spending this year.</p> <h3>Number of hours spent checking email decreases 27%</h3> <p>According to Adobe’s third annual <a href="https://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2017/08/consumers-are-still-email-obsessed-but-theyre-finding-more-balance.html" target="_blank">email survey</a>, people are checking their work and personal email less frequently than they were in 2016.</p> <p>The overall number of hours spent on email per day decreased 27% from last year. Specifically, there was a 28% decrease in consumers checking email messages from bed in the morning, with more than a quarter of consumers now waiting until they get to the office to check their inboxes. </p> <p>The report also suggests one in five consumers never check email outside of normal work hours, and nearly half don’t or rarely check while they’re on holiday. </p> <p>However, this is not the case for millennials. More than half of 18-24 year olds still check their email while in bed in the morning, and 43% of millennials aged 25-34 admit to doing the same.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8676/Adobe.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="311"></p> <h3>Google and Alexa make up 90% of voice commerce market share</h3> <p>The news that Amazon and Google are joining forces could mean big things for voice commerce, according to insight from Walker Sands.</p> <p>Currently, 24% of consumers own a voice controlled device, while 20% plan to purchase within the next year. Together Google and Alexa make up approximately 90% of the market share. </p> <h3>US social ads failing to drive conversions</h3> <p>Research by <a href="https://civicscience.com/facebook-ads-affect-purchases-snapchat-twitter-instagram-combined/" target="_blank">CivicScience</a> has found that ads on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram are failing to convert users. </p> <p>In a survey of over 1,900 US consumers, just 1% of respondents aged 13 and older said they have previously made a purchase based on a Snapchat ad, and only 4% said they have bought anything after seeing an Instagram ad. Overall, 45% said that they have never purchased anything based on ads they saw from social media sites, and over a third said they don’t use social media.</p> <p>Facebook was found to be the most influential channel for purchasing behaviour, with 16% of consumers buying a product based on a Facebook ad.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8675/CivicScience.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="394"></p> <h3>Personalisation brings footwear brand 64% increase in ROI </h3> <p>Dune London has revealed that it’s seen a 64% increase in return on investment per customer after personalising its media to real people, in partnership with <a href="http://info.conversantmedia.eu/dune-london" target="_blank">Conversant</a>.</p> <p>Instead of targeting segments or cookies, Dune tailored messages to individual customer’s specific needs and interests. This involves showing complementary products post-purchase, and tailoring ads according to what kinds of products a customer tends to browse and buy the most.</p> <p>As well as a 64% increase in ROI per customer, personalisation also led to a 33% increase in messaged conversion rate.</p> <h3>Push notifications boost in-app spending by 16%</h3> <p>According to <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/leanplums-analysis-reveals-push-notifications-increase-in-app-spend-16-and-drive-96x-more-users-to-buy-300510182.html?tc=eml_cleartime" target="_blank">Leanplum</a>, push notifications can lead to a significant increase in mobile conversions.</p> <p>The Insights to Mobile Revenue report states that push notifications can boost in-app spending by 16% – driving nearly 10 times more users to make a purchase compared to those who did not receive one.</p> <p>Research also found that promotional push notifications sent on a Saturday resulted in over twice as many purchases than notifications sent on Thursday. Meanwhile, push notifications sent during the late afternoon lead to 2.7 times more purchases than any other time of day.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8674/Leanplum.JPG" alt="" width="500" height="509"></p> <h3>One in nine marketers will spend more than £100,000 on influencers in the next year</h3> <p>New research from Takumi has revealed that one in nine marketers plan to spend in excess of £100,000 on influencer marketing in the next 12 months.</p> <p>39% of professionals say they will spend up to £10,000, while a further fifth predict their budget to fall somewhere between £10,000 and £100,000. In contrast, just 4% say they plan to forgo influencer campaigns entirely. </p> <p>This shows the extent to which influencer marketing has grown in popularity, with 26% of marketers now believing it is a more effective way to target consumers than traditional advertising. 43% agree that it is more effective, but only for millennial audiences.</p> <h3>‘In the moment’ searches are on the rise</h3> <p><a href="https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-immediate-need-mobile-experiences/?utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=promo&amp;utm_team=twg-us&amp;utm_campaign=20170829-twg-micro-moments-email-B&amp;utm_content=cta&amp;mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWlROaE16STJaVE00TkdJdyIsInQiOiI3cVpldDV6cml6S1wvbHlhM0t1SjJzckdyUVZseGQ1NmtjeVwvUmtQXC9mYUVQTmExOEJOZFRNUWJmRkxVcUR0Z0JmcDZNaGMrbFVWNzlDQ2dxYjNia0hjc2FXeEZqd2IwUHFOdVo5N3p5Zk1QM0MxdjBXU1NxUktkNDZ1dVdQWlM0aSJ9" target="_blank">Google research</a> has found that consumers are more impatient than ever before, with increasing expectations for brands to immediately meet their needs. </p> <p>Searches related to ‘same-day shipping’ have grown more than 120% since 2015. Similarly, searches for ‘open now’ have tripled over the past two years, while searches for ‘store hours’ have dropped.</p> <p>Lastly, Google found that travel-related searches for ‘tonight’ and ‘today’ have grown more than 150% on mobile, reflecting consumer demand for spontaneous and in-the-moment bookings.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8673/Open_Now.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="454"></p> <h3>Consumers more likely to make frivolous purchases on touchscreens</h3> <p>A <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969698917300024" target="_blank">new study</a> has revealed that consumers are more likely to make purchases when browsing on a touchscreen device, especially when it comes to things they don’t necessarily need.</p> <p>This is because touchscreens create more experiential thinking in users, while desktops evoke rational consideration. </p> <p>An experiment found that participants were more inclined to buy a restaurant gift card than a grocery gift card on a touchscreen, while desktop users favoured the opposite. In this sense, desktop elicits a similar response to shopping in-store, where a series of logical steps means we are less likely to be driven by emotions or impulse.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69365 2017-08-25T16:07:56+01:00 2017-08-25T16:07:56+01:00 Five steps to successful B2B influencer marketing Maz Nadjm <p>The brands that historically have embraced the power of influencers’ endorsements to reach consumers have been mainly active in the B2C space, but we are now witnessing a shift, with more and more B2B companies taking a similar approach.</p> <p>Tech giants like Salesforce and ‘new kids on the block’ like Canva hired evangelists <a href="https://twitter.com/ValaAfshar">Vala Afshar</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/GuyKawasaki">Guy Kawasaki</a> respectively to explain to the world how their products change people’s lives. Similarly, smaller brands with savvy B2B marketers in their ranks are putting more value in the currency of influence by building relationships with their industries’ leaders.</p> <p>To replicate these brands’ success for your own business, the first step is to understand what we actually mean when we talk about ‘influencers’.</p> <h3>Who are influencers?</h3> <p>According to Ryan Williams, creator of <a href="http://www.influencereconomy.com/">The Influencer Economy</a>, an influencer is “someone who can create a movement around their idea through collaboration, community passion and a shared vision”, and “can change a small idea into a world-changing idea, seemingly overnight”.</p> <p>To do so, influencers regularly create and share content on their social channels that can shape the thoughts, behaviours and actions of numerous people.</p> <p>This is a gold mine for B2B brands because when a company leverages an influencer’s channels to authentically connect with audiences, the impact they bring can be much more effective than other marketing efforts.</p> <p>Why? For two key reasons; influencers operate with the universal currency of trust, and trust, to put it simply, converts into brand engagement.</p> <p>As consumers, we probably all agree that we trust humans far more than faceless corporations, and this applies to B2B brands too. On the other hand, potential B2B buyers who feel a “high brand connection” are 60% more likely to consider, purchase and even pay a premium than “low brand connection” competitors.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8489/b2b_influencers.png" alt="" width="650" height="325"></p> <h3>How can you get started?</h3> <p>While engaging with influencers may seem like a daunting task, the following five steps can help you get started, regardless of what your budget is:</p> <h4>1. Build the story you want to tell</h4> <p>To leverage the power of your influencers, the first thing you need to do is to build your own values and messages. This is what's called brand storytelling, and it involves articulating the narratives of your company: Why did you set up the business? How did you get started? What is the product or service you’re selling and who is helping you build it?</p> <p>When building your brand story, it’s important you keep your customers in mind to reflect how your mission fits into their lives. If you’re unsure of where to start from, watch this inspiring Ted Talk by <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action">Simon Sinek </a>on the importance of the ‘why’.</p> <h4>2. Find the right influencers</h4> <p>Once you have your brand’s unique story, it’s time to find the right influencers. These will be the people who share your passion and expertise across key categories that relate to your business.</p> <p>For example, if your product is a social selling platform, look for people who are expert on the topic and have first-hand experience with social selling either as salespeople or for having implemented successful social selling programmes at their company.</p> <p>Another great way to find relevant influencers is to look at whom your customers are engaging with on social media. The more you listen to their conversations and understand what they care about, the easier it will be for you to figure out who they (and your prospects in the same industry) will find influential.</p> <p>Finally, something important to understand is that influence is not about vanity metrics like followers, likes or impressions. In fact, most of the potential influencers in B2B environments are highly niche-focused. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but it may be more effective to spend time looking for the right influencer than to pay a stellar celebrity that has no direct experience in your industry to endorse your product.</p> <h4>3. Learn to listen, before you ask</h4> <p>Once you’ve matched your brand values with those of an influencer, create content that is going to get their attention. It’s possible you’ve already crafted these messages for your customers, and that their interests coincide with those of your influencers, but it’s also very likely that they’re completely different.</p> <p>Therefore, it’s absolutely key that you spend time understanding what your influencers care about, and that you use this information to fine-tune some of your messages to their interests. Otherwise, it will be difficult to get them to spread the word for you.</p> <h4>4. Focus on adding value</h4> <p>A great way to connect with your influencers without making a big dent in your marketing budget is by engaging with them on social media. Start by liking their content, sharing it and commenting on those posts that are relevant to your business and audience.</p> <p>You can also ask them whether you can share their insights with your customers and audience. A great way to do so is to create content like infographics, quote cards or videos based on information they’ve shared, and to ask them whether you could include it in your next newsletter or social media post.  </p> <p>Once you’ve built a rapport, and provided your content is relevant to them, they’ll almost certainly begin to engage with you back.</p> <h4>5. Nurture a culture of sharing</h4> <p>When you have established a relationship with an influencer, consider empowering your whole team – especially your most active salespeople – to share the content you have created around the influencer’s activity (whether it is an interview on your company blog, an infographic or a simple link to their latest article).</p> <p>This will help you generate additional reach for your company’s content, while increasing the influence of the industry expert you have built a relationship with in a very ‘human’ way.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8490/b2b_influencers_2.png" alt="" width="650" height="325"></p> <p>In a nutshell, an influencer marketing strategy should start from your own brand. Make sure your values are clear, and your mission is articulate. Once you have this, find people who are actively and passionately talking about the issues your company cares about, and make sure you and your team engage with them through relevant content on social media.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, check out these Econsultancy resources:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/measuring-roi-on-influencer-marketing"><em>Measuring ROI on Influencer Marketing</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-voice-of-the-influencer"><em>The Voice of the Influencer</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69353 2017-08-21T15:30:00+01:00 2017-08-21T15:30:00+01:00 Forget fake reviews: now you can buy fake customers Patricio Robles <p>As <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/08/16/see-the-hipsters-lined-up-outside-that-new-restaurant-this-app-pays-them-to-stand-there/">detailed by</a> The Washington Post's Peter Holley, Surkus, a two year-old startup founded by a former Groupon employee, has built an app that allows businesses to connect with and pay local individuals to come to their store or event. </p> <p>For instance, a new restaurant could pay Surkus to ensure that there's a line out the door when it hosts its opening. Or a nightclub could pay a couple dozen beautiful people to show up on a Friday night in hopes that it will lure in other club-goers. And so on and so forth.</p> <p>For individuals, the proposition is simple: "Go out. Have fun. Get paid." And its proposition for businesses is even more alluring: we'll guarantee people show up without the rigmarole and risk of marketing.</p> <p>As Stephen George, Surkus's founder and CEO explained, "[Businesses] hire promoters and marketers and PR agencies to connect, but it's a one-sided interaction that involves blasting out a message to get people engaged, but they don't necessarily know if that message is being received."</p> <p>Surkus says its "crowdcasting" model solves that problem and claims that "top brands, ad agencies, nightclubs, events [and] venues" have tapped its network, which now tops 150,000 members, to populate more than 4,000 gatherings.</p> <p>It offers businesses targeting capabilities based on an algorithm that looks at age, location, style, interests and Facebook Likes. Those selected who agree to show up check in to a location or event using the Surkus app. Geolocation is used to ensue that they stay as long as they're contracted to and Surkus keeps track of its members with a reputation score.</p> <p>Businesses pay anywhere between $5 and $100 per person to create a crowd, with the average price per person being between $25 and $40.</p> <h3>A legitimate shortcut, or a new form of snake oil?</h3> <p>Not surprisingly, not everybody is a fan of Surkus's crowdcasting model. The most obvious shortcoming: the vast majority of the people being paid to show up are only showing up because they're being paid, so the line out the door is nothing more than a fleeting illusion.</p> <p>"I understand the need for quick results and attendance and that sometimes brands need people lined up at their door," Kerry O'Grady, a professor at New York University's School of Professional Studies, told The Washington Post. "But what does that do? It's not going to do anything if they just want to get paid to party and have no attachment to the brand itself."</p> <p>Others take issue with the ethics of Surkus. </p> <p>According to The Washington Post, "During events, participants are asked to remain discreet about the origin of their invitations." In other words, those being paid to show up at a business through Surkus aren't supposed to disclose that they're being paid to show up.</p> <p>If the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67923-influencer-marketing-is-becoming-a-joke-what-can-brands-do-about-it">requires influencers to disclose when they're being paid</a> to post on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, why shouldn't the same transparency be required here?</p> <h3>So are there legitimate crowdcasting applications?</h3> <p>One could argue that Surkus's form of crowdcasting isn't all that different than, say, a restaurant offering free food or a hefty discount to lure people through its doors. But that argument doesn't appear so convincing. After all, even if a restaurant offers free food or significant discounts, it still has to convince individuals that the free or discounted food is worth showing up for and eating. </p> <p>In the opinion of this author, businesses large and small would be wise to think twice before paying to merely <em>look</em> successful for a few hours. Not only is it ethically dubious, it could be a dangerous crutch that can encourage businesses to abandon challenging but strategically crucial parts of the marketing process.</p> <p>For instance, if a business never learns what its true target market is and how it needs to position itself to appeal to that target market, how can it ever expect to thrive?</p> <p>All of this said, there <em>are</em> legitimate applications of crowdcasting. For example, a research firm used Surkus to find 750 people to watch a new movie in Los Angeles and New York. In practical terms, Surkus was used to build a focus group.</p> <p>When well-designed and well-constructed, focus groups can be incredibly valuable and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63566-10-interesting-internet-marketing-statistics-we-ve-seen-this-week/">they're arguably underutilized today</a>, so for businesses attracted to the concept of crowdcasting, it's worth considering that this might be where the real value exists.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69355 2017-08-21T13:30:00+01:00 2017-08-21T13:30:00+01:00 Is Facebook preparing to tax influencer marketing campaigns? Patricio Robles <p>Currently, influencer marketing is one of the few digital channels in which brands don't have to pay the dominant players for access to an audience. Yes, there are agencies that help facilitate deals between brands and influencers, as well as influencer marketing platforms that largely automate transactions. And some brands even ink deals directly with influencers.</p> <p>But running an influencer marketing campaign on Facebook or YouTube, for instance, doesn't require a brand to pay Facebook or Google. That, however, could soon change as Facebook has announced a new feature that will let influencers tag the Facebook Pages of the brands they're posting sponsored posts for. As part of this, brands will not only gain the ability to view analytics data for those posts, but they'll be able to pay to boost them beforehand.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8362/20483604_1494627323927227_1784157374995496960_n.png" alt="" width="561" height="251"></p> <p>As Digiday's Yuyu Chen <a href="https://digiday.com/marketing/influencer-marketing-facebook-get-expensive/">explains</a>, "At first glance, it seems like Facebook is simply making it easier for advertisers to run paid promotion for influencer marketing, but the worry from execs is that Facebook's algorithm will gradually suppress influencer posts if brands don't boost them."Matt Britton, the CEO of influencer marketing firm Crowdtap elaborated:</p> <blockquote> <p>Most brands are using influencers on Facebook to rely on their following base for organic reach. But now, in order for brands to support influencer posts, they have to pay to play. This means that organic reach doesn't matter anymore, and influencer marketing will not be the same.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ouch.</p> <h3>What about Instagram?</h3> <p>Facebook owns Instagram, one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing, and for obvious reasons has increasingly sought to create a unified ad platform through which companies can easily create and execute campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram.</p> <p>As such, it's not a stretch to speculate that any move Facebook makes to monetize influencer marketing on Facebook could and probably would eventually be replicated on Instagram, and vice versa.</p> <p>Interestingly, a potential precursor to Instagram influencer monetization came last month when Instagram <a href="https://business.instagram.com/blog/tagging-and-insights/">announced</a> a new feature that allows influencers to tag their sponsored posts. Using the feature, influencers can identify the account of the brand that is sponsoring the post. In doing so, the brand is granted access to view the Insights for the post. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8361/18900289_103795446893725_6064813118410719232_n.jpg" alt="" width="440" height="783"></p> <p>While presented as a way to "[bring] more transparency to commercial relationships on Instagram," it's not hard to see how Instagram could eventually use the feature to monetize paid posts the same way Facebook is.</p> <h3>How expensive is too expensive?</h3> <p><a href="https://lonelybrand.com/blog/influencer-fees-per-post-2017/">According to</a> the 2017 NOTICE Influencer Marketing Study, the fees charged by influencers increased 250% year-over-year in 2016. Forbes <a href="https://digiday.com/marketing/confessions-social-media-exec-no-idea-pay-influencers/">says</a> that influencers with millions of followers can earn more than $100,000 per sponsored post on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.</p> <p>But influencers, like the brands operating on these platforms, don't actually own their audiences. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube own those audiences and with the flip of the switch, they can reduce organic reach and force influencers and the brands they work with to pay up.</p> <p>If and when that happens, it could dramatically affect the cost of influencer marketing campaigns, which some are already questioning. Last year, Digiday <a href="https://digiday.com/marketing/confessions-social-media-exec-no-idea-pay-influencers/">published an interview</a> with an unnamed social media executive who confessed that brands are not only in many cases throwing "too much money" at influencers, but that the returns simply aren't there.</p> <p>He made a bold prediction – "influencers are going to start disappearing" – and explained:</p> <blockquote> <p>Brands are going to start realizing the amount of followers you have doesn't mean shit. Just because photos look good and have 200,000 followers means nothing. You can't rely on content creators all day long. For the influencers, their entire business is about relationships and friendships. Someone was at Vice, so uses their friend to do photography. Someone knows someone else at Instagram so gets featured on the trending page. We live and die by these platforms today. </p> </blockquote> <p>Even for those who disagree about the fate of influencers and the billion-dollar business they've built, it's hard to disagree with the last statement – "we live and die by these platforms today" – and it would seem that it's only a matter of time before the platforms, knowing this, are going to look to get a piece of the influencer marketing pie.</p> <p>Depending on how hungry they are, influencers and brands might need to renegotiate the terms of their relationships.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69343 2017-08-16T15:03:00+01:00 2017-08-16T15:03:00+01:00 Are marketers underestimating the fraud threat to influencer marketing? Patricio Robles <p>And in recent years, the rise of the programmatic has created a significant new ad fraud front. As Jeremy Hlavacek, VP of Global Automated Monetization at The Weather Company, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68578-the-weather-company-on-programmatic-ad-fraud-and-how-extreme-conditions-affect-business">explained</a>, "Companies running the exchanges have perhaps been a little bit liberal in terms of who they let into that exchange."</p> <p>The complexity and opaqueness that is often present in the programmatic ecosystem has led to inventory spoofing and unauthorized sellers, among other things, problems that the industry is now trying to stamp out with solutions <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69231-ads-txt-a-new-standard-for-fighting-inventory-spoofing-unauthorized-sellers-what-you-need-to-know">like Ads.txt</a>.</p> <p>Driven in part by fraud concerns, marketers have been turning to alternative types of digital advertising, such as native ads and influencer marketing, which appear to be less vulnerable to fraud.</p> <h3>But are they <em>really</em> less vulnerable to fraud?</h3> <p>Influencer marketing agency Mediakix has sparked headlines by demonstrating just how easy it is to scam in the now billion-dollar influencer marketing business.</p> <p>In <a href="http://mediakix.com/2017/08/fake-instagram-influencers-followers-bots-study/">a blog post</a>, it explained how it created two fake Instagram accounts, one, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/calibeachgirl310/">@calibeachgirl310</a>, using photos of a model obtained during a one-day photo shoot and the other, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/wanderingggirl/">wanderinggirl</a>, using stock photos. It then purchased followers for these accounts, at a cost of $3 to $8 per 1,000 followers.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8303/calibeachgirl.jpg" alt="calibeachgirl fake insta" width="615" height="611"></p> <p>Initially, Mediakix limited the number of followers it purchased to 1,000 followers per day because it was "concerned that purchasing too many followers at the onset would result in Instagram flagging the account" but it discovered that it was able to add up to 15,000 fake followers at once "without encountering any issues."</p> <p>Finally, Mediakix paid around 12 cents per comment to generate fake comments on its accounts and between $4 and $9 per 1,000 likes to generate fake likes. For each photo on its fake Instagram account, the agency purchased between 500 and 2,500 likes and 10 to 50 comments.</p> <p>The real fun began once the two fake accounts had 10,000 followers. "Once we hit this threshold, we were able to sign the accounts up for a wide range of [influencer marketing] platforms," Mediakix explained. And it started applying for opportunities on these platforms.</p> <p>Ultimately, before Mediakix revealed its findings the fake influencer accounts were successfully able to land two paid brand deals for each account under which the non-existent influencers were "offered monetary compensation, free product, or both." </p> <p>For obvious reasons, Mediakix's experiment is raising eyebrows as it demonstrates that with modest effort and investment, it's possible to create out of thin air "influencers" who don't really exist and therefore aren't likely to influence anybody.</p> <p>While this kind of fraud does not affect the upper echelons of the influencer marketing world, where high-profile celebrities <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68953-can-pharma-companies-effectively-use-influencer-marketing/">like Kim Kardashian</a> are said to rake in five and even six figures per sponsored post, the implications are increasingly important. As Mediakix explained:</p> <blockquote> <p>Brands and advertisers eager to reach audiences on popular social media channels and seeking quick entry into the influencer marketing space, are turning to platforms, automation and micro-influencers in hopes of making the media buying process more turn-key and easier.</p> </blockquote> <p>By automating their influencer marketing efforts and working with so-called <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/67807-is-micro-influencer-marketing-viable">micro-influencers</a>, marketers risk falling victim to the kind of fraud that Mediakix has demonstrated is not just theoretically possible but can be successfully executed in the real world.</p> <p>While this doesn't mean that marketers should avoid influencer marketing, or automation and micro-influencers, it is a reminder that the fraud risk is not limited to a few digital channels. Indeed, <em>all</em> channels are vulnerable.</p> <h3>Where the dollars flow, fraud will go.</h3> <p>As a result, marketers will need to be more vigilant about how they plan and execute their influencer marketing strategies. And just as many are starting to demand more of their vendors in other channels, such as programmatic, they would be wise to demand that the influencer marketing agencies and platforms they work with don't ignore this threat.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69334 2017-08-16T11:03:00+01:00 2017-08-16T11:03:00+01:00 Lessons in brand building from Deliciously Ella Nikki Gilliland <p>So, how has Deliciously Ella gone from being yet another food blog to an example of great success? Here’s just four lessons we can learn.</p> <p><em><strong>But before we start, it's worth pointing out that Ella Mills is one of our speakers at the <a href="https://goo.gl/nJMlTI" target="_blank">Festival of Marketing</a> in London on October 4/5 (the best marketing event you'll go to).</strong></em></p> <h3>Creating a point of difference</h3> <p>In 2011, the diagnosis of a chronic illness spurred Ella Mills to transform her diet - a decision which also lead to the creation of a blog as a place to share her recipes online. While the motivations behind the project were very much centred around health (and Ella’s own journey) – it soon started to generate wider interest.</p> <p>Deliciously Ella was able to separate itself from other food blogs early on by creating a point of difference – the creation of a philosophy around food, and one that centres around eating in order to feel good both physically and mentally. Ella has since come under criticism for perpetuating the ‘clean eating’ myth (more on that later) – but it’s important to remember that it was a time before the trend was popular. It was also before <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68409-four-key-trends-within-the-world-of-influencer-marketing/" target="_blank">influencer marketing</a> was actually 'a thing'.</p> <p>By promoting food as a lifestyle – and not just the recipes themselves – Ella was able to build a strong brand image from the get-go. This differentiated her from other food bloggers, and helped establish more of a meaningful connection with the public in comparison to chefs like Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8267/DE.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="742"></p> <h3>Building a personal connection</h3> <p>Since 2012, the Deliciously Ella blog has generated over 100m hits and its related recipe app, which launched in 2014, went straight to number one in the charts. </p> <p>Deliciously Ella’s social media following has undoubtedly contributed to this level of success, with Ella focusing on building a community online based on a personal connection with her audience.</p> <p>Instead of simply posting images or recipes, Ella often personally replies to comments, which encourages a continual cycle of communication and engagement from followers. This personal connection is also elevated by the <em>kind</em> of content Ella posts – offering snapshots and insights into her own life as well as the food she eats.</p> <p>This promotes a sense of authenticity, with the audience latching on to Ella’s personality and entrepreneurial journey at the same time. Of course, the rise of health and fitness content in general has also contributed to her success, but while similar bloggers or content creators might have dipped in popularity, Ella’s social following has since increased.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8264/Deliciously_Ella_Insta.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="676"></p> <h3>Targeting different consumer groups</h3> <p>Deliciously Ella has slowly turned from a blog into a business in the past few years, with the app, cookbook, delis – and finally – a range of snacks cementing it as a brand. </p> <p>However, the target market for each product is not necessarily the same – neither is the consumer always dedicated to the vegan or whole foods lifestyle.</p> <p>While Ella has undoubtedly tapped into this niche consumer group, the brand also targets a wider and more mass-market audience. For example, while the Deliciously Ella snack range is sold in places like Holland and Barrett and traditionally healthier food outlets – they are also available in Starbucks. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8266/Starbucks.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="460"></p> <p>This decision was met with some criticism from Ella’s audience, a lot of which stems from controversy over Starbucks’ affiliation with Monsanto – a supplier that uses GMO ingredients. However, Ella has defended the decision, maintaining that it’s based on the fact that the change is needed in mainstream outlets, and that “the majority of people want easy options and won't (otherwise) seek things out.”</p> <p>The fact that Deliciously Ella’s product is able to be sold in both health-food shops and by mainstream brands is also due to how the product is marketed – not as a serious or worthy health food, but an option which just so happens to be sort-of-good for you. The packaging and design of the product is bright and appealing to the eye, with personal touches such as Ella’s signature and language such as ‘my recipe’ evoking an <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67874-the-rise-of-the-artisanal-tone-of-voice-among-brand-marketers/" target="_blank">artisinal nature.</a></p> <p>Interestingly, Ella’s delis have recently undergone a rebrand, changing from the previous name of ‘The Mae Deli’ to join the Deliciously Ella umbrella - with the aim of making the brand name even more recognisable.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8265/DEliciously_Ella_Deli.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="533"></p> <h3>Responding to criticism</h3> <p>In 2016, food writer and former GBBO winner Ruby Tandoh mentioned Ella in a widely-shared article about the dangers of ‘clean eating’. Calling out the irresponsible nature of the term – in that it signifies any other kind of eating as dirty – it spurred on a wave of backlash against the ‘wellness’ trend.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">the unhealthy truth behind wellness <a href="https://t.co/rhIMLz32qZ">https://t.co/rhIMLz32qZ</a></p> — Ruby Tandoh (@rubytandoh) <a href="https://twitter.com/rubytandoh/status/731071539039375360">May 13, 2016</a> </blockquote> <p>Instead of shying away from the controversy, Ella chose to accept an invitation to appear in the documentary <em>Clean Eating, The Dirty Truth</em> – which subsequently aired on the BBC. As well as distancing herself from the term ‘clean’, it is clear from this that Ella has learnt and subsequently adapted to the shift in feeling from both her audience and the public. Her latest book urges readers ‘not to preach’ – and points out the dangers of categorising food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.</p> <p>You could say that Deliciously Ella is somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place – never going to satisfy hard-core health advocates, nor going to be mainstream. However, she is a good example of how to recognise and respond to critisicm as well as the changing needs of the audience – helping to improve positive brand perception in the process. </p> <h3>In conclusion…</h3> <p>So, what can we learn from Deliciously Ella’s success? Here are a few key takeaways.</p> <p><strong>Build a brand philosophy – not just a product</strong>. It’s possible to generate a decent amount of interest solely through the product alone (healthy recipes, in this case), however, it is often the values that surround the core product that truly drives success. </p> <p><strong>Use social to build meaningful connections.</strong> Real success on platforms like Instagram often stems from being able to create a community online – which means liking, commenting, responding, and engaging with followers on a consistent basis. </p> <p><strong>Be consistent in your branding</strong>. Brand values are important, but a visual representation of these can also be highly effective for increasing awareness. Ella’s positive and non-worthy outlook is represented in the brand’s cheerful design and packaging.  </p> <p><strong>Respond to criticism</strong>. Recognising and <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/66380-how-brands-can-say-sorry-like-they-mean-it" target="_blank">adapting to criticism</a> is one of the most effective ways to counteract negativity – and even turn around the audience’s perceptions.</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69311-six-lessons-we-can-learn-from-the-best-stationery-brands-on-instagram" target="_blank">Six lessons we can learn from the best stationery brands on Instagram</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/66534-three-lessons-all-retailers-can-learn-from-amazon" target="_blank">Three lessons all retailers can learn from Amazon</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63893-seven-twitter-q-as-and-the-lessons-that-can-be-learned" target="_blank">Seven Twitter Q&amp;As and the lessons that can be learned</a></em></li> </ul>