By now you may either know an influencer, or have heard of influencer marketing. You may even be following a few and have seen them promote products which may have at one point piqued your curiosity and even helped you trust their recommendations more… or stop following them because you’re annoyed.
Either way, influencer marketing has become a mainstream strategy for driving earned media via trusted experts within niche categories like beauty, fitness, and food.
The social media phenomenon of influencer marketing has become a bit more transparent for brands. One of Facebook’s robust advertising platform has just rolled out a new feature that allows the ability to boost third party influencer posts in the feed in September, 2017.
Last March, 2017, Facebook started requiring influencers to tag brands in paid sponsored content posts, which gives marketers the ability to amplify content that their brands are tagged in and also to authorize which creators are allowed to do so. This means the targeted audience will see the post as originating with the influencer rather than the brand. Before the change, marketers could only boost sponsored posts by sharing the post first.
Facebook’s latest update can be seen as an attempt to attract brands interested in influencer marketing by giving them more control over tracking influencer campaigns, especially around campaign spending.
There has already been some criticism that Facebook’s move is a revenue generating ploy to find another way to make money at the expense of brands that want to run influencer campaigns.
Now it’s fairly obvious that Facebook will profit from its new amplification features, but I would make the argument that the platform changes will help brands run much more transparent and effective influencer marketing marketing campaigns. And here is why:
More enhanced targeting and metrics for influencer-generated content
Facebook’s changes will allow brands to drive even greater value from influencer-generated content. Up until a few months ago, marketers were only able to capitalize on Facebook’s targeting capabilities for ads and other branded content. When an influencer used to post about a brand on Facebook, the company or brand had to be okay with one of two scenarios:
- Either the post would reach the influencer’s network
- Or the brand could essentially repurpose that post as brand-generated content
What has now changed is that brands now have the option to scale the reach of influencer-generated content directly to their target audiences. It’s up to advertisers to boost the content and they’ll have the authority to hand-pick and authorize who can tag them, to protect their brand from being misrepresented.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but in light of research showing how much more effective user-generated content is at driving engagement than brand generated content, this change could help marketers to achieve significantly better results. A study by Adweek found that as high as 86 percent of marketers are utilizing influencer marketing – with half of them planning to increase their investment year-over-year.
As brands start testing the performance of amplifying influencer generated content posts, it’s certainly possible that some may shift some of the marketing budget resources from investing in brand generated content to boosting influencer generated content.
On the measurement side, brands can access data around engagement, reach, total spend, and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) to measure the effectiveness and ROI of the influencer generated content they may choose to amplify.
Having greater insights into influencer generated content performance, paired with the ability to then scale the reach and frequency of delivering that content, introduces scale and targeting to influencer marketing that brands big and small have never had access to before this.
Brands can now extract more value from influencers of all sizes
But, so who’s actually an influencer? An influencer is someone:
- Who is an authority or a subject matter expert in a given topic/industry
- Has an active fan following on social media
- Advocates the goodness of a product/service offered by a specific brand
- An influencer is someone who is trusted by a massive fan following who accept his/her opinions and suggestions verbatim
When you hear the word ‘influencers’ you may usually think of celebrity endorsers like Kim Kardashian, Mark Wahlberg or Selena Gomez that have millions of followers and get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for one post. Brands may be working with influential bloggers to spread word about their products or services.
However, celebrities are only a fraction of the influencers out there. If you’re looking to have influencers promote your brand, I suggest you start with ‘micro-influencers’. Who are up and coming social media power users who work or specialize in a particular vertical (yoga, fitness, beauty, etc) and frequently share social media content about their interests.
Unlike traditional “influencers,” micro influencers typically have a more modest follower base usually in the thousands or tens of thousands, but their average posts receive a healthy amount of engagement relative to the size of their follower base.
Through Facebook’s new amplification feature, brands could increase the leverage of micro-influencer posts by ensuring that they are viewed by an even wider audience.
Minimal risk of Facebook killing sponsored influencer posts
During a recent Facebook earnings call, the company said it is at peak ad load, so it told investors that will continue to seek out new ways to grow revenue and monetize it’s platform like there Watch on Facebook live streaming sporting event partnerships.
But the company will not likely do this at the expense of the News Feed engagement. Although there was some recent news controversy of Facebook testing in certain countries of removing publishers from the News Feed unless they pay.
Facebook is still dependent on influencers’ content and audience command to drive News Feed engagement. Killing content from this audience risks alienating them, which is why I think this probably will not happen.
Let’s also remember that Facebook is only one social media channel, and marketers influencer strategies shouldn’t be based on the reliance of only one channel.
I suspect that most established advertising agencies will not have to change their approach substantially to managing influencer marketing campaigns on Facebook because they rarely recommend solely using Facebook alone as the platform for influencer posts. Instead, it usually is part of brand awareness media mix that often involves a small investment in paid influencer promotions.
In order to come up with a solid influencer campaign approach, brands need to consider the different benefits of discovering and activating influencers across all social platforms – Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, and Pinterest – as well a different customer touch points, from websites to remarketing emails.
I think combining influencer content with Facebook’s audience targeting capabilities maybe a new holy grail of marketing, increasing transparency and efficiencies in paid media spend and improved measurement of being able to judgement of effect this kind of marketing really is.
As Facebook has become only second Google in commanding digital ad spend, by proving its targeting capabilities to advertisers and platform value to its users. I am sure a data company would not invite marketers to use a pade media product without doing extensive testing to see whether it drives return on investment for companies.
This update has sparked many questions around the future of influencer marketing on Facebook (and elsewhere). The next terrain to watch will be Instagram, which has emerged as the number one channel for influencer marketing in many verticals and is, of course, owned by Facebook.
With each update, I have noticed pros and cons, but in the end, this industry is still evolving and growing. In 2018, I would love to see Facebook — and Instagram — get a better handle on detecting fake followers and activity on their platforms.