Instagram Explodes as an Influencer Outreach Platform

Instagram Explodes as an Influencer Outreach Platform

Marketing Social media

Influencer outreach is alive and well. Recently, Adweek reported on Instagram’s Ashley Yuki, Instagram’s interests products lead, who said that 69 percent of Instagram users come to the app to interact with celebrities, and 68 percent visit Instagram to interact with influencers.

Instagram’s Growing Presence

This is major news, given the growth Instagram has been enjoying. According to statistics portal Statista, the number of monthly active Instagram users exploded between January 2013 and June 2018, from 90 million to 1 billion. And as digital marketing agency Omnicore reports, as of September 2018, daily active Instagram users had reached 500 million. Other telling stats from Omnicore include:

  • Six in ten online adults have Instagram accounts.
  • 6 million Instagram users are from the United States.
  • 80 percent of Instagram users come from outside the United States.

When you do the math, one thing becomes clear: Instagram users represent a large market. It’s a market with an interest in celebrities. And that’s a powerful endorsement for the practice of influencer outreach.

Bad Press

The revelation is especially timely given the black eye influencer outreach suffered early in 2019. Twin documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, Fyre Fraud, which aired on Hulu, and Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, on Netflix, discussed how influencer outreach was used to promote the festival as a cool, sexy event, only for the Fyre Festival to fall apart due to poor planning and unprofessional, unethical behavior. The strategic campaign ramping up to the event included spending millions on flying celebrity models down to the Bahamas so that the influencers could take pictures of themselves frolicking in paradise and post about the upcoming Fyre Festival. Additionally, on December 12, 2016, 63 influencers simultaneously posted an orange tile graphic to social media with the hashtag #FyreFest. That effort earned more than 300 million impressions in 24 hours.

The influencers were paid well for their troubles. Kendall Jenner, for example, earned a $250,000 fee, and no influencers brought in less than $20,000. But model Emily Ratajkowski was one of the only influencers to designate her post as an #ad, drawing criticisms that Fyre was misrepresented from the get-go. Post-festival, the backlash was fierce. Wired published a piece in May 2017—“Blame the Fyre Festival Fiasco on the Plague of Celebrity Influencers”—and The New York Times predicted “The Rise and (Maybe) Fall of Influencers.”

On the Rebound

FTC crackdowns, however, have subsequently had a positive impact on the credibility of influencer outreach. In a survey of 287 U.S. marketers, Influencer Marketing Hub found a huge change in attitude following the Fyre Festival debacle: “Less than half of our group (132 people) admitted they hadn’t paid much mind to the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations [regarding transparency of paid endorsements or other “material connections”] before Fyre Fest. In the wake of the fallout, though, and with the FTC already cracking down before Fyre Fest imploded, every single one of them stated that maintaining compliance will be a top priority.”

The Power of Micro-Influencers

The bottom line? Influencer outreach isn’t going anywhere. We recommend that businesses take a serious look at influencer outreach as a way of building their brands. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to pay celebrities to build excitement: many brands are now turning to micro-influencers to drum up awareness. Well-known locally but not necessarily nationally for fitness, lifestyle, and other interests, micro-influencers typically enjoy more than 1,000 but much less than 100,000 followers, and hold sway in specific cities or regions. Consider individuals like Brendan Lowry, a Philadelphia-based micro-influencer with about 30,000 Instagram followers: his feed bursts with photos of the city beside sponsored posts endorsing local companies. If you can connect with people like Lowry, who maintain a high profile in a specific market, you may not get as much reach nationally, but you can get significant reach in specific markets that are of interest to you.

Influencer outreach is still relevant. And by doing some smart, targeted research, companies can find influencers across different markets who will be most effective for their needs. For more insight, contact True Interactive.

 

 

 

 

 

Why 2018 Is the Year of Influencer Outreach

Why 2018 Is the Year of Influencer Outreach

Marketing

Influencer outreach took a major hit in 2017 through some dubious events such as the collapse of the Fyre Festival, which relied on influencer outreach to lure tourists to a disastrous music festival. But influencer outreach is alive and well and will continue to thrive in 2018. Why? A few reasons stand out:

  • Businesses are feeling new pressure to rely on influencers. As reported recently, Facebook announced that the world’s largest social network is devaluing content from businesses in users’ news feeds and amplifying content from people. Brands that publish content on Facebook are looking for ways to rely on people to tell their stories, which, of course, includes influencers.
  • People still tend to trust other people more than they do brands. Time and time again, consumers, especially millennials, say they place higher levels of trust in other people than they do businesses, including word-of-mouth recommendations and online peer reviews.

In 2018, I expect to see more reliance on influencers, but not necessarily more spending. Instead, businesses will get more micro-targeted with influencer outreach in 2018, segmenting audiences more carefully and building outreach around influencers who index high in popularity and credibility with those audiences even if those influencers lack national cache. Influencer outreach will become more targeted and scientific, relying on tools that make the process more precise and measurable.

In addition, brands that do partner with high-profile influencers should invest more time and energy vetting them, giving them the same level of rigorous review that they would give a new hire. We’ve seen a number of instances of high-profile YouTube celebrities embarrassing themselves with reckless behavior and remarks. All it takes is one foolish incident for an influencer to destroy their credibility. Businesses are well advised to review influencers’ social media personal track record, including their personal content on their socials.

Finally, understand how to work with influencers. Know their rules of engagement and research how they can be most effective for you. Influencers who are big on Instagram might be the best choice for supporting, say, an event, whereas bloggers who write longer-form content might be more appropriate for product announcements or news events that require more thoughtful analysis.

For more insight into influencer outreach, read this True Interactive post. And contact us for more insight into building your digital brand.

 

How to Do Influencer Outreach Right

How to Do Influencer Outreach Right

Social media

The credibility of influencer marketing has taken a big hit thanks to the ill-fated Fyre Festival. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The disastrous festival in the Bahamas was one of the biggest news stories of the past week and certainly one of the biggest of the year in the media/entertainment industry. Fyre was supposed to be a new Coachella Festival for millennials but instead collapsed under the weight of its own mismanagement. As was widely reported, the event organizers convinced concertgoers to fork over hundreds and thousands of dollars to fly to the Bahamas with the promise of a weekend of luxurious lodging, celebrity-chef prepared food, and cool music. Instead, attendees encountered primitive living conditions and chaotic mismanagement. The event was quickly canceled and guests flown home.

In light of the fiasco, the role of influencer marketing has been heavily scrutinized and criticized. As it turns out, many concertgoers were lured to the event by social media posts from many notable millennial influencers including Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski. Fyre paid hundreds of influencers to promote the event on their Instagram accounts, but the influencers failed to disclose that their posts were promotional. In fact, the celebrity endorsers were given free flights, tickets, and accommodations for their posts, and their failure to disclose the paid nature of their relationship is in direct violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s rules. No wonder an Adweek article asked, “Will the effectiveness of celebrity influencers take a hit?” and the Bitly blog asked, “Will influencer marketing to down in flames?

But influencer marketing can achieve great returns if done in an inspiring way. Marketers shouldn’t abandon influencer marketing but rather understand how to avoid their pitfalls. Ironically the Fyre Festival actually demonstrated just how powerful influencer outreach can be. Here are some tips for doing influencer outreach well and with integrity:

  • Choose an influencer who aligns well with your brand and audience

If you have the budget, you might be tempted to incorporate a celebrity into your marketing campaign. After all, big-name celebrities provide instant recognition. But it’s more important that you work with an influencer who aligns well with your brand. An influencer’s name recognition is less important than their ability to build trust and a comfort level with your audience. A food brand might be better off working with niche food bloggers who are well known to their customers rather than a nationally known celebrity who has little to do with fine dining. An influencer who builds trust with your audience will build trust in your brand.

  • Be realistic

The Fyre Festival influencers did their jobs. They used their reputations and leveraged their many social media followers to create tremendous buzz for the event. But the Fyre Festival wasn’t prepared to handle all the attention they received. How about you? Will your product, event, or experience be ready to handle the attention that influencers are capable of giving you? Don’t hire influencers unless you can handle the demand for your services and products that good ones will certainly generate.

  • Be transparent

An influencer should be honest about the promotion, which, as noted, was a major problem with the Fyre Festival. The lack of transparency left Fyre’s customers feeling deceived by both the influencers and the festival. And the influencers’ posts also falsified the experience, leaving attendees angered when arriving in the Bahamas. The goal of influencer marketing is to build communication and a relationship between the brand, the influencer, and the consumer. When trust is broken between this group, the brand is deeply affected. These kinds of problems can be avoided if you make it clear to influencers that they are required to disclose the promotional nature of their content. Moreover, give influencers clear guidelines for how they are to exercise transparency, for instance, by using the hashtag #promotional in a social post. And monitor how the influencers represent your brand. If the influencers make mistakes and fail to exercise transparency, make sure they correct their mistakes.

  • Give influencers the right content

You want influencers to talk about you and share your story using content that reflects your brand. Doing so does not mean having to pay influencers. For instance, bloggers appreciate interesting story ideas and content. If you’re launching a new product or service, paying bloggers may not be right move. Rather, inviting influencers to test your product – like a resort inviting travel bloggers to spend a night checking out the experience – can be far more effective and generate genuine buzz.

The Fyre Festival’s underdeveloped strategy for use of influencers can be seen as a cautionary tale for all future brands when incorporating influencer marketing. However, influencer marketing can be successful so long as the audience, influencer, and content are well formulated and used to build a relationship with your audience.

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