From Celebrities to Customers: Influencer Marketing in a Post-Covid World
Influencer marketing used to be limited to celebrities and a very select group of bloggers. But as social media usage has grown (there are now 4.48 billion people using it worldwide, every single day!), so has the number of influencers. Influencer is a broad term, defining anyone with at least 1k followers who has built a community of followers and has the ability to sway purchasing decisions.
Instagram is often credited with launching the influencer – did you know it was one of the first platforms to establish links between brands and influencers? With 500 million daily active users, it currently boasts the most influencers (reports suggest there are nearly 37 million influencers using the photo sharing app, accounting for nearly half of all influencers).
Brands were quick to recognize the role Instagram played in brand awareness and product discovery: 70% of businesses currently use it as a key marketing channel for commerce, and influencer marketing has become a key component of virtually every marketing strategy. This year, 55% of marketers plan to use Instagram for influencer marketing, and they’re putting big money behind it: the industry itself is expected to hit $13.8 billion this year, more than double what it was 2 years ago!
Influencer Marketing in a Post-Covid World
While influencer marketing has enjoyed a major growth spurt since its advent in 2016, there has been a marked shift in most ecommerce brands’ influencer marketing strategies over the past year, due to the change in the way business was conducted during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. With stay at home orders in place, brands not only found themselves entirely reliant on digital platforms to connect with their customers, they also had fewer resources to produce content. Necessity being the mother of invention, brands made do with limited resources available, turning to UGC and more lo-fi content to fill the void where in-house produced photoshoots would have been.
At the same time, influencers who made their living traveling around the globe on aspirational vacations also found themselves grounded at home, producing the same type of homemade content. The result? Covid-19 ushered in a new era of less polished Instagram content. And interestingly enough, customers, stuck at home themselves and craving authentic human connection, found this new content more relatable and authentic than the heavily edited, meticulously produced photoshoots of pre-pandemic. This created an opportunity for a remarkable touchpoint because as all marketers know, authenticity always reigns supreme.
The Rise of Micro and Nano Influencers: Bigger Isn’t Always Better
As the type of content shifted, so did influencer partnerships. While influencer partnerships are on the rise, brands are now more focused on micro and nano influencers and less on mega and celebrity influencers. The industry defines micro influencers as having 10k-50k followers, and nano influencers as having 1k-10k followers.
When you expand the definition of influencer to include anyone who has at least 1k followers, the number of potential influencers is suddenly exponentially greater than what it was just a few years ago, when partnerships were exclusively based on follower count. This opened up a world of opportunity for more influencer partnerships. Whereas follower count used to be the benchmark for determining a potential influencer partnership, now brands look to engagement rate, where mega influencers typically fall short.
Why sponsor a post by a superstar with millions of followers when you can partner with a micro or nano influencer with a smaller, but far more directly-engaged following.
Take the example of Tayshia Adams, co-host of The Bachelor and a mega influencer with 1.8 million followers. Her sponsored post with Nivea USA received an engagement rate of 1.8%, which is typical for a “celebrity for hire” post. Now compare that with a micro-influencer customer post from a partnership with Australian brand Famous Footwear. While the following is much lower, the authenticity is much more apparent as indicated by the 10.5% engagement rate it received.
It comes as no surprise that, according to a recent study, over 80% of businesses consider engagement rate to be the most important influencer metric. As many brands have discovered, micro and nano influencers tend to have better engagement rates, ROI, and produce more authentic content.
Not only that, they are much less costly to work with. Mega influencers, with hundreds of thousands if not millions of followers command exorbitant fees for an Instagram post, but micro and nano influencers aka your “average Joe” influencer, are oftentimes perfectly happy to partner in exchange for product or a discount code. As a result, it’s much more impactful (and cost effective) to partner with a handful of smaller influencers instead of one mega influencer, and marketers are pivoting their strategies accordingly.
According to a recent poll, they’re investing 47% of their influencer spend behind micro influencers, but only 23% to mega influencers and celebs. But the shift to micro and nano influencers also brings a new challenge: it can be incredibly time consuming and arduous to vet these influencers manually, often requiring hours spent scrolling through Instagram and DM-ing for outreach, and even then, most marketers aren’t entirely sure they’re the right fit.
A study recently revealed that only 39% of US marketers are confident in their ability to identify the right influencers for a campaign. So what’s the solution? Build an army of advocates with your own customers! Not only are they already familiar with your products, odds are they’re already sharing about your brand on Instagram. It’s just a matter of connecting, unlocking their social data, and reaching out.
How Gatsby Can Help
Gatsby provides key data on your customers' level of influence, so you can quickly identify who’s most influential (aka your best bets for partnerships). Not only that, we’ll let you know when they tag or mention your brand, and share the KPIs of those posts, including the best predictor of a good ROI: engagement rate. Through Gatsby, you can also automate influencer campaigns with your customers, allowing you to seamlessly initiate partnerships from initial outreach to tracking.
And if you’re short on time, don’t miss out on collecting valuable data during the upcoming BFCM rush: Here’s the quick and easy way to collect handles by adding data collection to your Post Purchase/Thank You/Order Confirmation Page.
Let us know if you have any questions!