5 Things to Consider When Identifying Talent for Your Influencer Marketing Campaign

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When it comes to developing and executing a successful influencer marketing campaign, identifying the best possible talent is of utmost importance.

Not all influencers are created equal, and it’s important to look beyond the number of followers.

Here are five things to keep in mind when selecting talent for an influencer marketing campaign:

Avoid big names unless you’re looking for a long-term brand ambassadorship

Flashy personalities are nice, but clout comes with a cost. Top, short-tail, influencers are in high demand, which means they can command a premium. They also often work with an army of agents and managers, making it challenging to engage with them quickly or for smaller activations.

If you’re looking for a true brand ambassador for the long term, it makes sense to go with a top influencer, but if not, you can get substantially more value working with mid-tail and long-tail influencers.

Mid-tail influencers are much easier to work with from an operational and costing standpoint than their top-tier counterparts and tend to have substantially higher engagement rates, thus generating more value on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per engagement basis. They’re ideal for campaigns focused on reach, views and engagement, while still producing an excellent quality of content.

Long-tail influencers, also referred to as micro-influencers, are a great option for smaller brands with limited budgets looking to dip their toes into the pool of influencer marketing. While this group, by nature of being smaller, has less demand than its short-tail and mid-tail counterparts, it actually tends to have the highest CPMs and CPEs due to a high cost to engage in proportion to their reach.

However, micro-influencers are more likely to sign off on usage rights for little or no additional compensation, making them ideal for initiatives that require creating and owning the usage rights to a large amount of content.

Make sure you pick influencers who sincerely align with your brand

Without a strong cohesion between the influencer and the brand, you risk having your message come across as inauthentic and possibly also disingenuous. It’s important that the influencer creates content and messaging that will resonate with your audience.

Reaching the right audience with the wrong message is useless. For example, if you have a fitness brand looking to enter the CrossFit space, you have to ask yourself if you want a fitness influencer who actually focuses on training and CrossFit techniques or one that just takes selfies at the gym.

Psychographics are more important than demographics

Your audience’s attitudes, interests and aspirations are much more important than its age, gender or ethnicity. When you segment your audience based on psychographic characteristic rather than traditional demographics, you can tailor your content and messaging more appropriately.

For example, let’s say a bicycle manufacturer is promoting a new outdoor bike. Targeting by age or gender isn’t nearly enough or that helpful. You want to reach consumers that are interested in bicycle riding, enjoy outdoor activities and are willing to pay a relatively large amount for the product.

Focus on engagement first and foremost, as engagement is what validates reach

If an influencer has millions of followers but inconsistent engagement, that’s probably not the best influencer for your campaign. You can reach 40 million people, but if no one engages with your content or the engagement rate is below what the average should be, it means you reached the wrong audience.

Pay attention to contextual engagement

Contextual engagement is key, and only the most-savvy advertisers really focus on it. The absolute most important thing to you as a brand when selecting talent for an influencer marketing campaign should be how each influencer’s audience will receive your brand’s message.

For example, let’s say an organic skincare brand decides to work with a wellness influencer because her average engagement rate is 4 percent. That might sound like a good number, but if her engagement rate drops to 1 percent when she talks about the importance of maintaining a consistent skincare routine, she is probably not the right influencer for a skincare brand.

When done correctly, influencer marketing can yield tremendous results in terms of growing and engaging with a brand’s target audience—and it all starts with identifying the right talent. Keep the aforementioned points in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to implementing a successful influencer marketing campaign.

Source: http://www.adweek.com/digital/eric-dahan-open-influence-guest-post-identifying-talent-influencer-marketing/

Beyond the Dashboard

Influencer marketing dashboards aren’t very dynamic.  Most, at best, provide advertisers with a recap of the influencers’ posts only after they’re published.  But successful a influencer marketing strategy takes more than just a slick dashboard.


At InstaBrand, we understand the importance of keeping our clients involved in the process.  This is why we are rolling out a new dashboard with features designed to power collaboration and enable quality control, giving them transparency and control over their branding through influencer partnerships.

These features include:

Influencer selection:

We’re giving you more control when it comes to selecting influencers. Until now we’ve selected influencers based on your criteria, and with great success. However, with our update dashboard, you can choose from a list of possible influencers, and prioritize your favorites before we move forward with the campaign.

Content Approval:

We’re putting the power of quality control back into your hands and turning influencer campaigns into a creative collaboration between you -- the brand -- and social influencers. Now you can work across multiple teams to provide feedback, make comments, and have final approval of all content before the it goes live.

Improved Reporting: 

Our updated reporting provides powerful analytics with actionable data including social metrics by platform and performance; great for A/B testing and campaign optimization on the fly. You’ll also get a breakdown of results against guaranteed deliverables, so you can see exactly how well your campaign did compared to the expectation.

With these tools, we are able to augment the value we get from utilizing big data, by putting the human element back into influencer marketing. We’re trusting the wisdom of what we’ve learned as a leader in the influencer marketing space: Campaigns yield the best performance and engagement when the content is authentic and the brand story is well integrated.

Why Instagram Carousels are a Game Changer for Influencer Marketing

Instagram has been one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing over the past few years due to its visual nature, ease of content discovery, and constant deployment of content-creator friendly features.  For example, Instagram has taken on longer form video via the addition of 1 minute video, gifs via Boomerang, bookmarking (similar to a Pinterest ‘Pin’), Story content a-la Snapchat, and now album-like storytelling via its latest feature- Carousels.

With instagram Carousels, users can better convey their experiences via Instagram’s classic feed.  It works by allowing users to share multiple (up to 10) images or video in a single carousel for their friends and followers to swipe through.

“You no longer have to choose the single best photo or video from an experience you want to remember” Instagram writes.  By allowing users to post more, it allows users to be more engaged with the platform by removing the fear of over posting and flooding their followers feeds.

In regards to influencer marketing, this means that influencers are now able to tell a more in-depth and descriptive story and therefore have more flexibility over where and how they integrate branded content, as opposed to being constricted to one image or video at a time.

“An area where we see huge potential for Carousels is in experiential marketing via influencers” writes our CEO, Eric Dahan. He continued, “A current drawback of experiential marketing via influencers on Instagram is that there has always been a trade-off between immersive content that is short lived (via Stories) or long-living content that is not nearly as immersive. With Carousels, we don’t have to make that trade-off anymore.”

If Instagram can get users not only engaging in carousel content but also creating it, Instagram will change how advertisers and brands measure success on the platform when it comes to influencer marketing.

To learn more about how your brand can integrate carousels with influencer marketing, contact us!

5 Tips To Help Find The Perfect Influencer For Your Business

As your customers turn to social media to direct their buying decisions, your business might begin to feel the strain on your bottom line if you rely on traditional marketing campaigns.

Over the years marketers have seen a declined effectiveness of mass marketing campaigns. This is because customers are weary of many traditional marketing techniques, and are putting more trust in their social network and opinions of trusted online influencers.

Instead of relying on mass marketing tactics, large businesses are turning to digital relationships and word of mouth to drive future profits. It is no secret that word of mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing. Many studies show that word of mouth marketing help drives about 20-50 percent of all purchase decisions (source).

Influencer marketing captures the benefits of word of mouth marketing and the power of relationships and applies the benefits of this strategy to the digital marketing landscape.

An influence marketer is someone who is seen as a thought leader and a trusted source in a particular market segment (deeper explanation). These influencers usually have common traits throughout their online presence:

  • Large online following on networks you want to penetrate.
  • Highly engaged with their audience and relevant business sectors.
  • Produce quality content about their area of interest.
  • Precise follower segments you are trying to reach.

If your business is struggling to capture more market share, you could be missing out on the benefits of influencer marketing. However, before you choose an influencer marketer to increase the exposure of your brand, you will want to follow a few basics to choose the right influencer.

Finding The Right Influencer For Your Brand

Influencer marketing offers many benefits for your business through sales and long-term interaction with your target audience.

However, influencer marketing can be a wasted investment if you do not choose the right influencer marketer for your brand. Here are a few suggestions to consider before you hire an influencer marketer.

Context Of Engagement

The most important thing to consider when choosing an influencer marketer is their contextual fit with your brand. Identifying the context that a potential influencer plays in the market is vital because this will determine how relevant their audience interests are to your brand.

Just because an influencer you are considering has millions of Instagram followers, your brand needs to decide if that person’s expertise aligns with the products and services your business offers. For example, while Kanye West is a popular music and popular culture influencer, a large brand like Microsoft might not choose Kayne to promote Windows 10. This is because Kanye’s brand does not have authority in the area of computer software.

Another aspect of context to consider is the audience of an influencer. If you are trying to raise awareness for prune juice, your business should not choose a YouTuber influencer who plays Battlefield. This is because the audience who watches Battlefield on YouTube are likely not in the market for prune juice.

Actionability

Working with an influencer who can prompt their audience to take action is an important part of an influencer marketing campaign. While influencers shouldn’t force their ideas on their audience, they should have a connection with their sphere of influence in such a way that empowers their audience members to take action based on the products and services they promote.

If you want your influencer marketing campaign to be profitable, then your business needs to partner with an influencer who can sway their audience towards your brand. While there is no perfect way to predict or measure the impact that an influencer will have you can look at the Click Through Rate of specific links on past campaigns.

Engagement

The goal of an influencer outreach campaign is based on relationships. A post on Instagram won’t last forever, but a relationship an influencer builds with their audience provides the basis for a lucrative partnership with your brand.

The most valuable influencers are highly connected to their audience. An influencer who has an audience base who considers them a trusted friend will be more influential than someone who has large following but lacks meaningful engagement with their audience. The number of followers and subscribers an influencer has on their accounts won’t accurately indicate how engaged their audience is.

Unless an influencer is directly selling products, it will continue to be difficult to attribute sales to an influencer. However, when choosing to partner with an influencer marketer your brand should look to some key metrics, including:

  • Likes, Comments, Retweets, and Shares on relevant posts.
  • Comments and interactions at the bottom of blog posts and videos.
  • Clicks on trackable links displayed on specific posts.
  • Response rates by the influencer marketer to comments left by their audience.

Quality Of Content

When you partner with an influence marketer, you have to be willing to give up a certain level of control over your message. This is because you need to ensure that the voice and personality of the influencer are not diluted. When your brand integrates influencer marketing into your marketing mix, you are looking for an influencer to promote your brand through their personality to their audience.

Since you will be giving some control of your brand’s message you want to be sure that the influencer creates and promotes high-quality content. The key to a successful influence marketing campaign is to allow the influencer to set up their content or else the message won’t feel authentic. The good thing is that influencers know how to create content that works well on their respective channel, but it is still important that your marketing team agree that the quality of content produced by an influencer meets your brand’s voice and branding guidelines.

Professionalism

Last but not least, before choosing to partner with an influencer you will want to make sure they are professional and serious about their craft. There are lots of individuals who have strong followings on social media, but they could also lack consistency and communication your business expects.

Research elements like response time, dependability, and past experiences of an influencer so you determine the best influencer for your needs. There are different ways to validate how professional influencers are, but having insight like the tools provided in our platform, can give you the best way to vet influencers before signing a deal with them efficiently.

Leverage Data To Connect With Your Customers

If you are ready to grow your market and reach new customers, then influence marketing could provide you with the edge you need in a competitive marketplace. However, as with any business decision, you need to find the right criteria to maximize benefits for your business. Our industry-leading influence marketing platform will give you the insights you need to ensure your influence marketing campaigns are a success!

How Brands Can Harness the Power of Links in Instagram Stories

If you’re not already familiar with Instagram’s Snapchat-aimed Stories update, you should be.  With over 500 Million active users on its platform, Brands, Publishers and Influencers alike are constantly discovering new ways to engage with Instagrammers on the Mobile giant. 

With Stories, Instagram offers a “front page” of disappearing Snapchat-like full screen content that lives at the top of all users’ feeds.  I predict Stories, with their gated, extremely consumable format, will soon dominate the way Instagrammers interact with brands on the mobile app.  And this newcomer is only getting more sophisticated.

Recently, Instagram upped its bid into Stories by allowing users to add clickable tags and to this content.  Tapping a handle tagged inside an Instagram story now takes a user to that person’s page – a feature that previously only lived in the comments. 

Obviously, influencers will be capitalizing on the changes, and will be discovering a plethora of new ways to harness them for the good of their sponsors over the coming months.  It makes sense – 750,000 users follow Todrick Hall, who sends them to Fiat’s page via a link in his story.  That much we can expect (and have seen).  But how can brands follow suit? 

Here are some creative and powerful ways I’ve come up with to supercharge your brand’s Instagram by enriching your Stories with links and mentions.

1. Promote your Storytellers

It’s no secret: Influencer marketing has become a key tool in any solid marketing suite, and the growth of its popularity only seems to quicken by the second.  In a recent Adweek survey, most marketers said they plan to spend between 50,000 and 100,000 per influencer program in 2017. 

But money isn’t all that influencers are in it for – their brand growth is of equal or greater value.  The recent addition of mentions to Instagram stories offers a unique win-win to brands and moguls alike. 

Brands can tease interesting content on their own feed – say, a Q&A, a contest, or some behind the scenes exclusive.  By using mentions, they can then direct users to an Influencer running point on content and messaging.  And vice versa.  Users are driven in both directions and content is shared as a conversation

Users who want the full experience will need to engage with every page involved – and mentions make the process natural.  This diversion from standard campaign formats we’ve previously seen on Instagram will end up driving much more traffic for all.  Taking

2. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

Why should this be so attractive to marketers?  With powerful influencers becoming more and more in-demand, they can begin to pick and choose their sponsorships

Brands, take note: treat your influencers like your customers.  The more engaging your campaigns are, the more they will be inclined to advocate for you in the future.  A conversational format is one way for them to get to know your brand in a non-transactional, yet professional way that also decreases the chance of alienating their own native following. 

3. Q&A back and forth

The same goes for Q&A by both internal and external thought leaders and experts.  Is there a member of your company who is (or deserves to be) an influencer in their own right?  Use the power of the conversation to make sure your followers are intertwined. 

The more users engage with a prolific representative of your brand, the stronger your brand grows.  It’s all about interconnectivity.

4. Involve the community

One way that top accounts are engaging with their followers is the promise of exposure.  Contests, Q&A’s, and time-sensitive hashtags can be the highlight of your user’s social experience for that day. 

Take J. Crew’s #ShinyPonies campaign, for example.  From a community perspective, posting a picture of your favorite shoes in accordance to a contest’s rules is a small price to pay for the chance to be recognized by a community you care about (and grow your own following in turn).  User-generated content promotes on- and off-line engagement with your products – by taking the same approach on stories, you will capitalize on those who don’t take the time to scroll through their entire feeds. 

Your contest will live on right at the top of Instagram, where eyeballs go first.  And turnover is quick.  No drawn-out RFP process necessary.

TIP: When running a contest over Instagram Stories, a Brand should absolutely make it known ahead of time that winners will be announced and featured in Stories – and then follow through. 

The promise of more followers to the average user makes that #OOTD contest all the more attractive, so give ample notice.  Those who browse casually through your stories will catch your feature and be more inclined to join in for next time. 

5. Megaphone your entire brand suite

Remember when I mentioned interconnectivity?  That should go for the multiple products, companies, and accounts your brand is associated with.  Have a new fashion line you want to promote?  Mention it.  Running a social good campaign? 

Tag it and send your followers on a journey that makes your company story more and more a part of their own.

6. "See More” – turn your story into a Performance Marketing Campaign

With the Mentions update also comes the addition to link to external content.  This could have incredible clout for fashion brands to link out to the products they showcase on their Stories. 

Rolling out to verified brands and influencers, the feature allows users to swipe up to “See More” at the bottom of their screen, taking them wherever the poster desires.  As we discussed in our last post, Shopper Marketing is on the rise in Instagram, and performance-based initiatives are slowly working their way into the Social Interaction behemoth. 

The only hurdle is user experience.  By integrating links with stories, Brands and Influencers alike will be using the utterly tempting “See More” CTA to take the work out of navigating off-app to relevant shopping carts and lookbooks.

The math is now entirely simplified: See that dress she’s wearing?  Click once and you can get that much closer to rocking it even better (while checking out other products).  No more disconnect.

The more and more I investigate Instagram’s Stories update, the more it truly bears all the markings of a “front page”.  The content is snackable, varied, and up-to-the minute.  With solid new functionality rolling in at a staggering pace, Marketers would be wise to adopt these recent changes in both their Performance and Brand marketing strategies.  And as always, Watch the Influencers.  You might pick up another winning tip or two.

What Instagram Shopping Means for Influencer Marketing

Many companies that have tried to tackle social commerce over the past few years have came and faded out.  Companies like The Fancy for example, created an excellent discovery experience for unique and high luxury items but the site failed to really leverage social interactions to drive real everyday purchases from its users.

Fast forward to today, and there is real hope for social commerce through the 800-pound gorilla in the social mobile space, Instagram.  As a social platform, Instagram may seem like an unlikely candidate to succeed in the commerce space as historically (relatively speaking) social platforms have not had much success integrating commerce into their ecosystem.   However, Instagram is different.  Instagram is uniquely positioned because more than just a way to interact with friends or keep on-top of trends, Instagram is the world’s visual content sharing and discover engine making it the perfect fit for brands to share. Coming from the fashion industry, I have seen a transition away from brand websites being the host of their lookbook to Instagram becoming the new home where their lookbooks lives.  This means that a brand’s website is nothing more than a shopping cart and checkout button. To date, the flow from a brand’s Instagram profile to a purchase has been clunky at best requiring users to go the brands bio, leave the app, click to that they’re leaving the app, launch a browser, wait for it to load, and then navigate a site.  By making posts shoppable, Instagram isn’t trying to change user behavior it’s just further simplifying an existing one.

So the big question- what does this mean for influencers?  Influencer marketing to date has been benchmarked by upper funnel KPIs such as reach, views, and engagement/interactions.  Publishers, creative companies, and PR shops have quickly accepted and adopted these benchmarks for measuring success.  However, the digital media buyers and DR shops have been left scratching their heads a bit when it comes to upper funnel KPIs that are more focused on brand building than conversions. This may all change as making Instagram shoppable means that advertisers will have a more direct funnel meaning more of what influencers achieve will be more visibly attributable to brands’ bottom lines. 

 

What does this mean for brands?  Though people won’t buy CPG brands like Coca Cola online, this may open up the door to a new set of clients who have been strictly conversion focused to more heavily invest in Instagram, and in interaction drivers like influencers.  This could mean that influencer marketing will be a more viable option for those obsessed with direct response marketing and tracking.

 

Tracking individual influencers performance will still be difficult. Unless influencers are selling products directly from their own content, attribution for a brand will still be difficult.  There is no way currently of telling which influencer drove a specific user to a brand’s account let alone a purchase.  Additionally, Instagram’s API doesn’t offer data to any third party on the identity of specific users that are following influencers or brands and definitely doesn’t offer transparency into sales data.

 

How could this affect influencer pricing? From a marketing standpoint, influencers do much more than simply drive traffic, they build brand equity and establish brand positioning. This means that the dollar value of the sales they generate isn’t inclusive of all the value they create and they therefore can’t not be compensated simply based on sales generated on a given day. However, the additional transparency will lead to some adjustment towards influencer pricing. Many influencers who have based their pricing on assumption and bias will likely have to decrease their rates.  Others who may be under charging may find that the added transparency may justify an increase in their rate.

 

Instagram’s recent entrance into the social commerce space is a great first step towards monetizing the platform in a way that’s organic and unlike ads, doesn’t take away from the user experience.  Influencers aren’t going anywhere and for Instagram and platforms like it, influencers are key content creators that add value by keeping users engaged. In terms of what Instagram can do to better leverage influencers, anything that allows influencers to better monetize their audience will keep influencers tied to the platform.

‘Dashboards are not real technologies’: Influencer marketing technology is a hot mess

As social media influencers become more appealing to marketers, a slew of tech startups have emerged promising they can help agencies and brands reach those social stars and run effective campaigns with a simple dashboard.

Big agencies like RPA and Mindshare are leaning on these vendors to quickly set up and run campaigns. “[Back in 2006] it took about one-and-a-half years to get an influencer campaign on the ground,” said Joey-lyn Addesa, senior director of social strategy for Mindshare’s North America operations. “The beauty of using technology platforms to identify influencers is that it makes [influencer marketing] very turnkey. Now we can get influencer programs live in a matter of weeks.”

But underneath the dashboards, there’s a big issue: The influencer marketing technology space is fragmented, with few players able to offer full-stack capabilities from a great search tool to an influencer marketplace to good listening and reporting features, said Mike Dossett, manager of digital strategy for RPA. While RPA has been working with more than a dozen influencer vendors in the past year, it doesn’t have an agency-wide solution.

“We choose vendors on a campaign basis. The selecting process is labor-intensive,”said Dossett. “The lack of standardized pricing, measurement and features is a real logistical challenge and a real performance challenge.”

Chris Tuff, evp and director of business development and partnerships for 22squared, feels the same pain as his team looks to move influencer outreach in-house with influencer marketing software. Most vendors, he discovered, cannot provide accurate reporting metrics like scale reach and quality of the audience, and they lack the ability to identify specific influencers in specific segments.

“Be a painkiller, not a vitamin,” said Tuff. “I don’t understand why so many vendors are over-complicating things that are not priorities, like fake influence scores,” like, for example, Klout scores.

After examining 133 influencer technology companies, marketing consultancy Lighthouse3 found that a mere 27 percent were able to deliver on all five of the following: identifying an influencer, connecting with the influencer, engaging with the influencer for unpaid activity, recruiting them for a paid campaign and offering reliable reporting mechanisms like reach, engagement and sales.

“Dashboards are not real technologies,” said Mia Dand, CEO for Lighthouse3.

Many players are just spreadsheets with a user interface over them claiming to be influencer networks, point solutions, or they are focused only on a single social media platform, added Promise Phelon, CEO for influencer technology TapInfluence.

The lack of exclusive relationships between influencers and influencer vendors is one of the major reasons why most startups that want to simplify influencer marketing with dashboards are flawed. Most influencers are loosely “represented” by dozens of vendors under non-exclusive agreements, so the process for going from influencer selection to completed project can vary greatly between vendors. This contributes heavily to the poor standardization of process, contracts, costs and logistics across vendors, RPA’s Dossett explained.

“As a result, automation is a much bigger challenge. The looser the formal connection between vendor and influencer, the bumpier the process becomes,” he said. “It becomes incredibly manual and time-intensive for the agency, brand, vendor and influencer.”

As Doseett described, influencer marketplaces — where brands propose a project brief and a fee on an opt-in basis, and influencers that meet the requirements accept the fee — are much more streamlined. But the drawback is that brands and agencies have less oversight or creative control beyond the brief.

“There will always be the tension between the desire for creative guidance and approvals, and more scalable influencer automation,” he said.

 

Source:  https://digiday.com/marketing/dashboards-not-real-technologies-influencer-marketing-technology-hot-mess/

Why Instagram Stories is a Game Changer

A couple weeks ago Instagram launched Stories, a Snapchat-like feature that combines static images and video into a slideshow format. Instagram Stories doesn’t include the flash of geofilters, lenses, stickers or even function as well as the Snapchat counterpart. But for influencers, none of that matters because one of their favorite Snapchat features is available on their favorite social platform.

 

Snapchat is a fun platform and great messaging tool. While it’s made some effort toward being a content platform, the Discover channel is designed to facilitate the discovery of content by publishing partners. Snapchat does not, however, enable organic growth for individuals and social media influencers. The only way to find and connect to another user is if you know their handle or if they’re already in your contacts.

 

In other words, for influencers, building an audience on Snapchat was a painstaking process, driven in large part by Instagram. Where Snapchat is a closed system that requires the help of external networks, Instagram has a functional search feature that enables discovery by username or hashtags. Ultimately, the advantage has always been Instagram’s since Snapchat growth was largely dependent on Instagram influencers.

 

With the addition of Stories on Instagram, influencers no longer have to worry about splitting their audiences. Rather than trying to driving traffic to a closed system where content is ephemeral, influencers on Instagram have more options for how to package content -- static image, video, or both -- and focus on one platform as their visual media channel.

 

Some influencers on the InstaBrand network have been reporting view rates on Instagram Stories up to four times higher than Snapchat stories. Likewise, Nike reported 800,000 views within the first 24 hours of posting an Instagram story after the feature rolled out, versus 66,000 views for a similar story on Snapchat. This further confirms that Instagram is the more established platform with the bigger reach.

 

There will be many influencers who remain loyal Snapchat users. However, others find that Instagram is the platform with the biggest reach, the better engagement, and the better way to connect with and build community. And ultimately, when it comes down to favoring one platform over the other, influencers lean toward Instagram because it facilitates growth and community.

 

For Snapchat, this may mean slower growth in the coming months. However, rather than trying to compete directly with Instagram, Snapchat could use this challenge from Instagram as an opportunity to reconnect with its roots as a messaging app. If the successes of WhatsApp, Line and Kik are any indication, messaging apps have excellent staying power because of their utility as communication tools.


But for Instagram and the influencers who use it, Stories is definitely a winning feature.

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Here's Why Influencer Marketing Is As Powerful As TV Ads During Sports Events

While marketers are reallocating their TV ad dollars to digital, their demand for commercials during live sports events shows no sign of declining. In fact, according to Kantar Media and MoffettNathanson Research, 37 percent of network TV’s ad revenue was generated from sports programming in 2015, which is an 8 percent jump from 2012. In comparison, ad sales from non-sports units have slumped during the same period.

The popularity of live sports advertising is best manifested in the spiraling cost of a 30-second spot during Super Bowl: the price has grown 75 percent in the last decade, reaching a whopping $5 million price tag this year.

Sports watching is a real-time, in-the-moment viewing experience, and that’s why live sports is so lucrative. People almost never record sports shows and watch them later, therefore ads served during commercial breaks are much more likely to be seen.

This is a deal-breaker for advertisers whose concern over ad viewability continues to rise. More importantly, live sports watching is inherently interactive, contrary to the typical “laid-back” TV viewing model. This means that advertisers will be able to target not only a large audience tuned in at the same time, but also a highly engaged one ready to consume content.

However, reaching the TV sports audience is knowingly expensive. Are there any alternative “skip-proof” advertisements that brands can leverage to have the same level of impact? Digital media entities have been pushing above and beyond to create ad units that address the viewability issue, from interactive display ads that demand user actions to auto-play pre-roll video ads.

In spite of these efforts, less than half of total ad impressions in 2014 were viewable according to Comscore’s data. To make matters worse, ad blocking software is shown to be used by 40 percent of the U.S. population and Apple recently rolled out an optional ad-blocker app that wipes out mobile ads.

What about ads on social media sites? Display ads, video pre-rolls, and promoted posts on social platforms have been gaining traction in recent years as people spend more and more of their time social networking. Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube have all pledged to charging advertisersonly on viewable ads. However, each platform has a very different definition of what counts as a “view.”

For instance, Facebook considers a display ad as viewable the second it loads on a user’s screen, no matter how long it’s been displayed or whether it’s displayed in its entirety; while Twitter ads are counted as viewable only when a user interaction occurs. In addition, as social platforms get increasingly aggressive about their advertising models, so does the concern over ad quality and user experience. According to eMarketer’s 2014 survey, 50 percent of female social media users ignore ads they come across. Earlier this year, Digiday has also reported that 75 percent of Snapchat users drop off after three seconds of seeing ads.

Influencer advertisements, on the other hand, solve both the problem of viewability and ad disruption. When ad is the content and content is the ad, brands will not only avoid wasting their money on skipped ads, but also maximize their return on ad dollars by gaining the same, if not higher level of audience engagement as the organic content would.

More importantly, social media users crave content produced by their beloved influencers just like sports fans anxiously wait for their favorite teams’ next games. In this sense, influencer marketing is like the new TV ad during live sports, albeit it integrates seamlessly with the content it sells off of. With live-streaming social apps like Periscope and Meerkat popping up and existing social platforms building out live-streaming features, there will be more ways for brands to collaborate with influencers in creating “DVR-proof,” “skip-proof,” and exclusive content that captures a large yet engaged audience.

This article originally appears on Social Times

Influencer Q&A: Jack Juliar @Jackjunk

Hello readers! This time we caught up with cool kid Jack Juliar of @jackjunk and got to know a bit more about his life. We love the easy-breezy style of his Instagram photos -- even though he is humble enough in saying that he is "still trying hard to create" one unique aesthetic, we'll agree to disagree! Read on to find out more. 

1. How Did You Get Started With This Hannah Montana-Esque "Double Life" Of Yours?😂

I Got Started With This Hannah Montana "Escapade" Around The Time I'd Gotten My First IPhone. I Think I Really Understood The Reward Of Sharing And What The Internet Has To Offer, But Before That, I Bet My Friend And I Could Get More Followers Than Her.😉 

2. Do You Think Being An Influencer/Photographer Helped You Be A Better Communicator?

I Definitely Think It's Forced Me To Grow As One -- I Am Currently Studying Communications And Studio Art In College So I'm Excited To See Where That Will Take Me. 

3. How Do You Think Your Major Is Influencing You As An Influencer?

Overall I think it just helps amplify what I've taught myself through media and really helps me embody what it is (that I am) trying to do in my personal life in whatever situation i happen to find myself in.

4. How Do You Balance School, Your Accounts, And Your Social Life?

It Kind Of Becomes A Big Cluttered Mess But I Think Because I've Been Doing It For So Long I've Discovered Tips And Tricks To Maintain A Healthy Balance.

5. Care To Share Your Tips And Tricks?

Life is one big balancing act -- so I have two Instagrams set up -- one for public use and another private one for myself so I can upload an image and get the feel of what it's going to be like before I post it on my public account.

6. You Spend A Lot Of Your Time At Home, NYC, And LA, What's Your Favorite Part About Each City?

The People! I've Been Really Lucky When It Comes To Traveling Because I Always End Up Meeting Such Smart Creative People And The Beaches Never Hurt. 

7. How Would You Describe Your Aesthetic? And, Where Do You Get Your Inspirations For Your Photos?

Honestly, I've never been very good at this question, at this point in my life I think I am still trying really hard to create it and become more intentional with what I do. But for now, I just like what I think looks good -- hahaha. 😎

 

How To Succeed On Snapchat

Despite the fact that its content has only a 24-hour-shelf life, Snapchat is an important tool for marketers on social media. The photo- and video-message-sharing app is not only the most popular social network among teens but also the platform driving the most engagement. While Instagram posts and Facebook updates are sandwiched in between different feeds of content, Snapchat “snaps” are full-screen--a one-on-one interaction that demands users’ full attention.   Also, unlike Facebook and Twitter, which count three seconds of autoplay as a view, Snapchat decided to base views on a click. What’s more, video ads are placed within the context of user-generated content, with the option to skip. Users aren’t shy about skipping either. According to Digiday, at least one brand experienced a sharp drop in engagement beyond the first three seconds of a 10-second-video ad on Snapchat. The truth is, completion rates for Snapchat vary depending on the creativity of the ad. Most brands that try to be native--organic to the platform--have higher completion rates. In other words, respect and understanding for the platform are crucial for achieving the kind of engagement brands are hoping for. Taco Bell was one of the first brands to take advantage of Snapchat’s early advertising offerings, featuring pictures from Snapchat users when it unveiled its new dollar menu in 2014. The fast-food franchise has adopted the spirit of Snapchat’s experimental nature with short-form video stories and even hired an in-house team dedicated to creating content for the platform. GrubHub also is know what it’s doing with Snapchat. The food-delivery service has been on Snapchat since 2013 and was smart enough to hire an influential artist, Michael Platco, to create content for its profile. One of GrubHub’s most successful campaigns was the use of the Stories feature to send users on a promo code scavenger hunt that also engaged followers in their own creative exercise. GE is a third example of a brand absolutely killing it on social media, and Snapchat is no exception. The company made its Snapchat debut with a campaign for Mission Sneakers, and when it launched Emoji Science with Bill Nye last year, one of the challenges was for followers to send snaps of their favorite emoji in return for a video. It was an innovative move from the 123-year-old company. So what’s the key to successful marketing on Snapchat? • Brand, know thyself: In each of the cases above, the brand was true to itself. GE is making a name for itself with its geeky and inventive antics. GrubHub turned a promo code into a creative adventure. These are examples wherein the brand had a clear vision of who it was, and the content reflected this confidence. • Engage the audience creativity: Getting the audience involved is almost a sure-fire way to facilitate an audience feedback loop that also results in the creation of user-generated content. While GE made the relatively simple request that followers Snap a favorite emoji, hiring an influential Snapchat artist is a pretty genius move on the part of Taco Bell. • Keep it simple: Successful Snapchat content has something else in common: It’s simple. Sometimes big brands can get caught up in creating perfectly edited, slick campaigns. But that slick production isn’t what captures audience attention. Instead, simple content honors both the medium and its young audience. This article originally appears on CMO.com.

Despite the fact that its content has only a 24-hour-shelf life, Snapchat is an important tool for marketers on social media.

The photo- and video-message-sharing app is not only the most popular social network among teens but also the platform driving the most engagement. While Instagram posts and Facebook updates are sandwiched in between different feeds of content, Snapchat “snaps” are full-screen--a one-on-one interaction that demands users’ full attention.  

Also, unlike Facebook and Twitter, which count three seconds of autoplay as a view, Snapchat decided to base views on a click. What’s more, video ads are placed within the context of user-generated content, with the option to skip. Users aren’t shy about skipping either. According to Digiday, at least one brand experienced a sharp drop in engagement beyond the first three seconds of a 10-second-video ad on Snapchat.

The truth is, completion rates for Snapchat vary depending on the creativity of the ad. Most brands that try to be native--organic to the platform--have higher completion rates. In other words, respect and understanding for the platform are crucial for achieving the kind of engagement brands are hoping for.

Taco Bell was one of the first brands to take advantage of Snapchat’s early advertising offerings, featuring pictures from Snapchat users when it unveiled its new dollar menu in 2014. The fast-food franchise has adopted the spirit of Snapchat’s experimental nature with short-form video stories and even hired an in-house team dedicated to creating content for the platform.

GrubHub also is know what it’s doing with Snapchat. The food-delivery service has been on Snapchat since 2013 and was smart enough to hire an influential artist, Michael Platco, to create content for its profile. One of GrubHub’s most successful campaigns was the use of the Stories feature to send users on a promo code scavenger hunt that also engaged followers in their own creative exercise.

GE is a third example of a brand absolutely killing it on social media, and Snapchat is no exception. The company made its Snapchat debut with a campaign for Mission Sneakers, and when it launched Emoji Science with Bill Nye last year, one of the challenges was for followers to send snaps of their favorite emoji in return for a video. It was an innovative move from the 123-year-old company.

So what’s the key to successful marketing on Snapchat?

• Brand, know thyself: In each of the cases above, the brand was true to itself. GE is making a name for itself with its geeky and inventive antics. GrubHub turned a promo code into a creative adventure. These are examples wherein the brand had a clear vision of who it was, and the content reflected this confidence.

• Engage the audience creativity: Getting the audience involved is almost a sure-fire way to facilitate an audience feedback loop that also results in the creation of user-generated content. While GE made the relatively simple request that followers Snap a favorite emoji, hiring an influential Snapchat artist is a pretty genius move on the part of Taco Bell.

• Keep it simple: Successful Snapchat content has something else in common: It’s simple. Sometimes big brands can get caught up in creating perfectly edited, slick campaigns. But that slick production isn’t what captures audience attention. Instead, simple content honors both the medium and its young audience.

This article originally appears on CMO.com.

Influencer Q&A: Jade Sheldon @Jade_melissa

Anyone who takes just a glimpse of Jade's Instagram page will be instantaneously enthralled by her crisp, artsy and ethereal style. Her photography makes you go "wow, that's so beautiful," but also gives you a sense of serenity and peacefulness that are much needed in our modern busy lives. Below, get to know Jade and see how she has managed to craft her unique voice as a social media influencer and digital creative. 

1. Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself. How Has Your Home Base Portland Influenced You As An Artist And Instagrammer? I am a freelance artist, photographer, social media influencer, blogger and occasionally a model. I am a Portland native, and have lived around the Portland area my whole life. I received my Bachelors in Fine Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Illustration and additionally hold a Masters of Arts in Education from Pacific University. I appreciate a perfectly poured macchiato. I love to travel and explore new places. Makeup and fashion are one of my hobbies among reading and cooking.  Portland is so much smaller than big cities like London, LA and New York that you are really able to focus on your own work and not worry about comparing yourself to others. I think what I am doing is diverting from the norm of what everyone else in Portland is doing.  

1. Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself. How Has Your Home Base Portland Influenced You As An Artist And Instagrammer?

I am a freelance artist, photographer, social media influencer, blogger and occasionally a model. I am a Portland native, and have lived around the Portland area my whole life. I received my Bachelors in Fine Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Illustration and additionally hold a Masters of Arts in Education from Pacific University. I appreciate a perfectly poured macchiato. I love to travel and explore new places. Makeup and fashion are one of my hobbies among reading and cooking. 

Portland is so much smaller than big cities like London, LA and New York that you are really able to focus on your own work and not worry about comparing yourself to others. I think what I am doing is diverting from the norm of what everyone else in Portland is doing.

 

2. How Has Your Illustration Career Helped You As An Influencer, And Vice Versa?

Many people consider themselves to be some form of a photographer these days, but among those people not many can say that they have dedicated their lives to honing one particular skill. My illustration career has been a lifetime in the making -- it differentiates me from other multitalented creatives and gives voice to the things that I cannot always capture in a photograph. Even at the age of three I used to follow my parents around with paper and crayons in hand asking what I should draw. 

 

3. How Did You Develop Your Personal Style Of Photography And Instagram Palette? 

All of it was very intuitive. I learned the more you pick up your camera, your pens, your brushes, the more your artistic style will begin to shine through. 

4. From #JadeReads To #JadeIllustrates, How Much Of Your Content Is In-The-Moment Versus Planned Out? 

I don't usually plan for my content to be a particular way. Most of it is in the moment, I see something I like or I'm on an adventure and I want to capture a part of it in a photo. For #JadeReads, its mostly in the moment. I am able to engage my followers who are lovers of the written word.  #JadeIllustrates is more planned because most of it is commissioned work, which tends to be a process. I plan by showing my finished illustration work through the tag when I'm finished or nearly finished with the piece. 

5. Your Advice To Aspiring Social Media Influencers?

Devote time to doing it everyday. Devote time to being creative everyday. Don't shy away from contacting those you admire or look up to and asking them for advice. People won't know you or your work unless you are putting yourself out there. Don't let fear of failure stop you. Don't let that voice in your head say "well, no, maybe a year from now after I've honed my skills I'll share my work.' No. Share it now and be proud of what you are doing now. 

6. What Has Been Your Favorite Part About Working With InstaBrand?

Everyone I have worked with at Instabrand is so enthusiastic, and encouraging. They really have trust in me to deliver content that is true to my aesthetic and meets our mutual clients needs. 

5 Notable Influencer Marketing Campaigns in 2015

Check out InstaBrand's feature on Shots Magazine, a United Kingdom-based marketing and advertising publications. Hear what our CEO Eric Dahan has to say about influential digital creatives and the booming influencer marketing industry. 

If you think influencer marketing was a big buzzword for 2015, all signs point to continued growth in this highly effective form of social media marketing. Indeed, this past year was the big break for many social media influencers, both in terms of their independent projects as well as working with big brands. Here are some of the most creative brand-influencer collaborations in 2015: 1. CapitalOne On Instagram When Instagram opened its platform to advertisers this summer, CapitalOne was among the first to take advantage of the opportunity to take the “What’s in your wallet?” slogan to a new audience. But instead of just repurposing branded visuals on Instagram, CapitalOne took a different approach -- for five weeks, the credit card company gave control of its Instagram account to five influential users to share snapshots of what was in their wallets. Some of the images from those five weeks were turned into ads and posted to both the influencer and Capital One accounts. This kind of campaign from a finance company is very rare in influencer marketing, but the results speak for themselves. According to AdWeek, ad recall among Gen X and Baby Boomers increased 16 percent, and 25 percent among those 45 and older. Among millennials, Capital One brand favorability rose three percent. 2. Volvo Under The Radar Volvo is no stranger to social media marketing. In fact, last year the commercial featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme went viral and won a Webby award. This year, Volvo sought out car enthusiasts to help promote its 60th anniversary event in the U.S. Rather than focusing on the most popular social media influencers, Volvo targeted experts, or “validators,” across multiple social media platforms who had “real influence on purchasing.”  To make this campaign work, Volvo dived deep into social media data to identify influencers by location, demographic and other relevant profile info, including an affinity for Volvo cars. Then they chose approximately 200 influencers to seed content and let the influencers put their twist on it. The result was a multi-channel campaign that spanned Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. 3. Cisco Targets Influencers On Vine Vine is largely the domain of funny shortform video. However, this year, Cisco teamed up with the social video site to tell accessible stories about the complex topics of data security and technology. Instead of working directly with influencers, Cisco’s goal was to use Vine as a platform for reaching a new audience of tech influencers.  While not in the typical comedic style of Vine, Cisco’s campaign included short animated videos that included characters like “Analytics Man.” Cisco also used the campaign to direct people to useful and relevant content about security and analytics. 4. Reynolds’ Clever Cookbook If there’s one thing people love on Instagram, it’s food porn. Reynolds took advantage of this fact to turn its account into an “Endless Table” by piecing together a set of stunning food photography. Each image is linked to an influencer account with ingredients, recipes and step-by-step instructions. Since launching the “Endless Table” on Instagram, Reynolds has turned its entire account into an endless stream of interconnected seasonal dinner tables with dishes both unique and traditional. And to pull it off, Reynolds worked with popular bloggers and Instagrammers including Joy Baker and April Bloomfield. 5. Wendy’s On Epic Livestream On YouTube Livestreaming rose to the fore of digital and social media this year, thanks largely to the influence of mobile streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat. However, instead of experimenting with the new platforms, Wendy’s teamed up with popular YouTubers, Rhett & Link (of Epic Rap Battle fame) to promote its summertime drinks.  The campaign was made for engagement: People visited a microsite where they were asked questions about their favorite food, colors and music, and the YouTube duo churned out 30-60 second skits based on the answers. The campaign was so popular that viewers whose questions got booted from the queue turned to Twitter to complain. Yet Rhett & Link didn’t miss a beat -- they went ahead to create videos just for this group of people. 

If you think influencer marketing was a big buzzword for 2015, all signs point to continued growth in this highly effective form of social media marketing. Indeed, this past year was the big break for many social media influencers, both in terms of their independent projects as well as working with big brands.

Here are some of the most creative brand-influencer collaborations in 2015:

1. CapitalOne On Instagram

When Instagram opened its platform to advertisers this summer, CapitalOne was among the first to take advantage of the opportunity to take the “What’s in your wallet?” slogan to a new audience. But instead of just repurposing branded visuals on Instagram, CapitalOne took a different approach -- for five weeks, the credit card company gave control of its Instagram account to five influential users to share snapshots of what was in their wallets. Some of the images from those five weeks were turned into ads and posted to both the influencer and Capital One accounts.

This kind of campaign from a finance company is very rare in influencer marketing, but the results speak for themselves. According to AdWeek, ad recall among Gen X and Baby Boomers increased 16 percent, and 25 percent among those 45 and older. Among millennials, Capital One brand favorability rose three percent.

2. Volvo Under The Radar

Volvo is no stranger to social media marketing. In fact, last year the commercial featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme went viral and won a Webby award. This year, Volvo sought out car enthusiasts to help promote its 60th anniversary event in the U.S. Rather than focusing on the most popular social media influencers, Volvo targeted experts, or “validators,” across multiple social media platforms who had “real influence on purchasing.” 

To make this campaign work, Volvo dived deep into social media data to identify influencers by location, demographic and other relevant profile info, including an affinity for Volvo cars. Then they chose approximately 200 influencers to seed content and let the influencers put their twist on it. The result was a multi-channel campaign that spanned Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

3. Cisco Targets Influencers On Vine

Vine is largely the domain of funny shortform video. However, this year, Cisco teamed up with the social video site to tell accessible stories about the complex topics of data security and technology. Instead of working directly with influencers, Cisco’s goal was to use Vine as a platform for reaching a new audience of tech influencers

While not in the typical comedic style of Vine, Cisco’s campaign included short animated videos that included characters like “Analytics Man.” Cisco also used the campaign to direct people to useful and relevant content about security and analytics.

4. Reynolds’ Clever Cookbook

If there’s one thing people love on Instagram, it’s food porn. Reynolds took advantage of this fact to turn its account into an “Endless Table” by piecing together a set of stunning food photography. Each image is linked to an influencer account with ingredients, recipes and step-by-step instructions. Since launching the “Endless Table” on Instagram, Reynolds has turned its entire account into an endless stream of interconnected seasonal dinner tables with dishes both unique and traditional. And to pull it off, Reynolds worked with popular bloggers and Instagrammers including Joy Baker and April Bloomfield.

5. Wendy’s On Epic Livestream On YouTube

Livestreaming rose to the fore of digital and social media this year, thanks largely to the influence of mobile streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat. However, instead of experimenting with the new platforms, Wendy’s teamed up with popular YouTubers, Rhett & Link (of Epic Rap Battle fame) to promote its summertime drinks. 

The campaign was made for engagement: People visited a microsite where they were asked questions about their favorite food, colors and music, and the YouTube duo churned out 30-60 second skits based on the answers. The campaign was so popular that viewers whose questions got booted from the queue turned to Twitter to complain. Yet Rhett & Link didn’t miss a beat -- they went ahead to create videos just for this group of people. 

Influencer Q&A: Paulo Del Valle @Paulodelvalle

1. Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself. What Was Life Like Growing Up In Rio De Janeiro? I'm a 26-year old photographer and instagrammer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I started photography because of Instagram and a few years later it made me a professional and gave me amazing experiences. Today I work with many brands on Instagram and also traveling around the world promoting tourism destinations. Growing up in Rio was really good, since it's a beautiful city, with amazing landscapes, which has always inspired me to go out and enjoy it. Today I get to capture it with my camera and share it with hundreds of thousands of followers.

1. Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself. What Was Life Like Growing Up In Rio De Janeiro?

I'm a 26-year old photographer and instagrammer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I started photography because of Instagram and a few years later it made me a professional and gave me amazing experiences. Today I work with many brands on Instagram and also traveling around the world promoting tourism destinations. Growing up in Rio was really good, since it's a beautiful city, with amazing landscapes, which has always inspired me to go out and enjoy it. Today I get to capture it with my camera and share it with hundreds of thousands of followers.

2. How Did You Develop Your Personal Style Of Photography And What Inspires You? 

I've always been passionate about traveling and also enjoying nature. These are two things that drive me and inspire me to be a better photographer. I'm always looking for new places to visit and experience.

3. How Much Of Your Content Is In The Moment Vs Planned Out? Do You Shoot On IPhone Or Camera? 

Most of my content is planned out, but I also love shooting something unexpected, and it happens quite often. Usually I imagine a scene and then I make it happen a few days later, with the help of my friends. I take my photos with a Canon 6D.

4. What's Your All Time Favorite Image That You've Shot?

That's really hard to answer. I've been to so many places that is really hard to choose one. I guess I could maybe say the most place I've ever been to? I'm not sure if I mad my favorite shot there, but I'm sure I made my favorite shots as a whole. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, in Abu Dhabi, was the most amazing place I've ever seen, which allowed me to take so many beautiful photos, like this one:

5. What's The Best Compliment You've Received On Your Work?

I guess one of the biggest compliment I can get is knowing that I inspire a lot of aspiring photographers out there, from all around the world. It's amazing to think that people see me as an example of sucess and want to follow my path and l get inspired by me everyday. That makes me so happy!

6. What Is Your Advice To Aspiring Photographers?

If they want to follow the same path I did and become an influencer, they have to know beforehand that it could take a while and that it requires passion. They must have passion for it because that's what makes us do our best and always try new things, so we can evolve. Social media requires a lot of dedication, so that means hours on the platform replying comments, liking and supporting other fellow photographers, because networking is really important as well. Make sure to post only the best you create and always have something to say, because the storytellers are those that give meaning to those beautiful pictures and are able to talk to their audience.

Seven Important Influencer Marketing Events In 2015

2015 was a busy year for the influencer marketing world, which is poised to burgeon into a multi-billion dollar business. As the social space gets increasingly crowded and brands face growing competition in attracting user attention, teaming up with influential digital creatives has become an essential component to the marketing playbook of today's savvy advertisers.  Here are seven important influencer marketing industry highlights from 2015: 1. Influencer Marketing At A Tipping Point? According to a study from Augure, 75 percent of marketers are working with influencers, nearly half of which consider the practice “very effective.” The same study also noted that many marketers still struggle to identify the right influencers for their campaigns as well as the most useful metrics for measuring the efficacy of their campaigns. 2. Influencer Marketing Gets ROI Validation One of the biggest challenges in social media marketing is validating the return on investment. This year several studies came out to answer this challenge. Tomosen conducted a poll and discovered that influencer marketing led to high quality leads and an average of $6.50 return for every dollar invested. RhythmOne (1R) also released a benchmarking report, indicating that advertisers earned an average of $9.60 for every $1 invested. 3. The Industry Will Continue To Grow The success marketers have seen with influencer marketing in 2015 has led them to allocate more budget into this highly effective advertising channel. Several studies have also come out to indicate such trend. For instance, according to research by Zefr, more than half of marketers will increase spending on influencer partnerships in 2016 and 20% of them will include influencer marketing in their top priority list. This data point is echoed in the Augure Study, which shows that 74% of marketers will invest more into influencer marketing.   4. What Do Influencers Want?  It should come as no surprise that influencers and marketers are motivated by different things. According to CrowdTap research, influencers are most likely to work with brands that offer creative freedom, competitive compensation and respect them as they would any other publishers. Unfortunately, marketers think Influencers are happy to share quality content with their audiences and grow their influence. Newsflash for brands: If you’re using someone else’s influence they’re not seeking the benefit of more exposure by working with you. 5. Influencers Gone Main Stream A study by Variety has shown that YouTube stars are more trusted and well-liked than traditional Hollywood celebrities by millennials and digital natives. Indeed, social media celebrities went mainstream this year, from inclusion in the #YouTubeAsksObama event, to taking on acting roles infilms and TV shows, to Forbes rolling out the first ever ranking of the highest paid YouTube stars. 6. Full Disclosure Is Fully Necessary It hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows for the influencer marketing industry. Paid product endorsements have long been a heated issue on the internet. This year the controversy came to a head on YouTube when one network was fined by the FTC for failing to make the necessary disclosures about paid influencer campaigns. 7. New Platforms On The Rise While YouTube has become part of the media establishment, brands and influencers alike have been experimenting with newer platforms as well. Mobile live-streaming is one such new frontier, with Nestle becoming the first brand to run a sponsored influencer broadcast on Periscope. And despite the challenges getting hard data, Snapchat hasproven itself a coveted influencer marketing channel among brands.

2015 was a busy year for the influencer marketing world, which is poised to burgeon into a multi-billion dollar business. As the social space gets increasingly crowded and brands face growing competition in attracting user attention, teaming up with influential digital creatives has become an essential component to the marketing playbook of today's savvy advertisers. 

Here are seven important influencer marketing industry highlights from 2015:

1. Influencer Marketing At A Tipping Point?

According to a study from Augure, 75 percent of marketers are working with influencers, nearly half of which consider the practice “very effective.” The same study also noted that many marketers still struggle to identify the right influencers for their campaigns as well as the most useful metrics for measuring the efficacy of their campaigns.

2. Influencer Marketing Gets ROI Validation

One of the biggest challenges in social media marketing is validating the return on investment. This year several studies came out to answer this challenge. Tomosen conducted a poll and discovered that influencer marketing led to high quality leads and an average of $6.50 return for every dollar invested. RhythmOne (1R) also released a benchmarking report, indicating that advertisers earned an average of $9.60 for every $1 invested.

3. The Industry Will Continue To Grow

The success marketers have seen with influencer marketing in 2015 has led them to allocate more budget into this highly effective advertising channel. Several studies have also come out to indicate such trend. For instance, according to research by Zefr, more than half of marketers will increase spending on influencer partnerships in 2016 and 20% of them will include influencer marketing in their top priority list. This data point is echoed in the Augure Study, which shows that 74% of marketers will invest more into influencer marketing.  

4. What Do Influencers Want? 

It should come as no surprise that influencers and marketers are motivated by different things. According to CrowdTap research, influencers are most likely to work with brands that offer creative freedom, competitive compensation and respect them as they would any other publishers. Unfortunately, marketers think Influencers are happy to share quality content with their audiences and grow their influence. Newsflash for brands: If you’re using someone else’s influence they’re not seeking the benefit of more exposure by working with you.

5. Influencers Gone Main Stream

A study by Variety has shown that YouTube stars are more trusted and well-liked than traditional Hollywood celebrities by millennials and digital natives. Indeed, social media celebrities went mainstream this year, from inclusion in the #YouTubeAsksObama event, to taking on acting roles infilms and TV shows, to Forbes rolling out the first ever ranking of the highest paid YouTube stars.

6. Full Disclosure Is Fully Necessary

It hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows for the influencer marketing industry. Paid product endorsements have long been a heated issue on the internet. This year the controversy came to a head on YouTube when one network was fined by the FTC for failing to make the necessary disclosures about paid influencer campaigns.

7. New Platforms On The Rise

While YouTube has become part of the media establishment, brands and influencers alike have been experimenting with newer platforms as well. Mobile live-streaming is one such new frontier, with Nestle becoming the first brand to run a sponsored influencer broadcast on Periscope. And despite the challenges getting hard data, Snapchat hasproven itself a coveted influencer marketing channel among brands.

How Brands Partnered With Influencers For Holiday Push This Year

Influencer marketing made a big splash in 2015 as it became known as one of the most effective ways to reach social media audiences. From product launches to sales promotions to brand building, advertisers are finding influencer content an integral part in virtually all aspects of marketing activities. This year's holiday shopping push is no exception. Here are some of the most creative and notable brand-influencer collaborations of the season: Aldo: #InspiredXAldo Instagram has become a niche for fashion and beauty brands, but shoe and accessory brand Aldo wanted to go beyond fashion with its#InspiredXAldo campaign. Instead of working with Instagram models and fashionistas, Aldo partnered with influencers from different disciplines to demonstrate how fashion trends inspire personal style and that inspiration can come from anywhere. In addition to photographs of the influencers in their creative element, each influencer curated collections of their favorite seasonal items. Aeropostale: #FreeYearOfAero In an effort to reconnect with its target teen audience, Aeropostale teamed up with Vine influencer Logan Paul for an epic Black Friday helicopter tour from Scottsdale, Arizona to Los Angeles, California. Paul, who has more than 8 million followers on Vine, documented his tour with high-quality videos as he touched down at Aeropostale locations to deliver passes worth a #FreeYearOfAero clothing. While Aeropostale has been named one of the most powerful brands on social media, the best part of the #FreeYearOfAreo campaign with Paul was bridging the gap between the digital world and the brick-and-mortar retail locations.    

Influencer marketing made a big splash in 2015 as it became known as one of the most effective ways to reach social media audiences. From product launches to sales promotions to brand building, advertisers are finding influencer content an integral part in virtually all aspects of marketing activities. This year's holiday shopping push is no exception. Here are some of the most creative and notable brand-influencer collaborations of the season:

Aldo: #InspiredXAldo

Instagram has become a niche for fashion and beauty brands, but shoe and accessory brand Aldo wanted to go beyond fashion with its#InspiredXAldo campaign. Instead of working with Instagram models and fashionistas, Aldo partnered with influencers from different disciplines to demonstrate how fashion trends inspire personal style and that inspiration can come from anywhere. In addition to photographs of the influencers in their creative element, each influencer curated collections of their favorite seasonal items.

Aeropostale: #FreeYearOfAero

In an effort to reconnect with its target teen audience, Aeropostale teamed up with Vine influencer Logan Paul for an epic Black Friday helicopter tour from Scottsdale, Arizona to Los Angeles, California. Paul, who has more than 8 million followers on Vine, documented his tour with high-quality videos as he touched down at Aeropostale locations to deliver passes worth a #FreeYearOfAero clothing. While Aeropostale has been named one of the most powerful brands on social media, the best part of the #FreeYearOfAreo campaign with Paul was bridging the gap between the digital world and the brick-and-mortar retail locations.

 

 

KMart: #ShoppingIsFunAgain

Like Vine, there are no official advertising products on the mobile live-streaming app Periscope. However, that doesn’t stop brands like KMart from experimenting on the platform. As part of a campaign to revitalize its signature “blue light special” sale, the discount retailer partnered with influencers on Periscope and Snapchat to post videos live and in-store. According to WiFi data published by Digiday, the promotion resulted in nearly 30,000 engagements, and mobile use of the KMart app increased 600 percent over the Black Friday weekend.

Bulgari: A Glamorous Roman Holiday

Luxury Italian accessory brand Bulgari decided to take consumers on a Roman holiday with an interactive microsite featuring Roman monuments and a scavenger hunt for Roman treasures. A companion campaign featured three influential fashion bloggers on a “Glamorous Roman Holiday” together. Other bloggers also documented their Roman experiences. The Bulgari campaign demonstrates the power of using narrative to create aspirational brand connection. While Bulgari worked with influencers to reach social media audiences, it was the brand’s own authentic love for its Italian hometown that really shone through.

Influencer Q&A: Emma Appleton @Openmysoul

Emma Appleton's Instagram handle @openmysoul says it all. Emma opens her heart and soul through each and every one of her posts. Emma describes her feed as an open book to what her life is like, and that's what her followers love most. Her honesty about her life is shown through every picture and caption. Honesty can be hard to find, but Emma proves that it can still be there. We got to chat with Emma and she shared with us her life to us a little bit more. Check out Emma Appleton below!  

 

(1) Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself. What Has Your Life Been Like Growing Up In London? I didn't actually grow up in London; I was born in Newcastle, and then my family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where I really grew up. Geneva was a beautiful and very privileged place to be a child- I learnt to ski when I was 3 and became adept very quickly and went to a lovely English school. We moved back to England when I was 8, and we actually live just outside of London, but London is much easier to map than Surrey is for all my overseas followers! I am lucky to live very close to the capital, and try to make as many trips as I can, as I love the city so much! In regards to myself, I am quite an old soul, and have often felt quite apart from my peers, save for a few special people. I currently am studying Law at the University of Oxford since this October, which is all kinds of crazy! I love autumn, fresh flowers, coffee, going for adventures by myself, James Bay, reading and sincerity in people. (2) Your Instagram Feed Is Extremely Personable In Expressing Your Every Day Life. What Inspires Your Relatable Posts? I often get complimented for the honesty and open-ness of my account, which just seems like second nature to me! I've never been good at keeping secrets/things hidden, and I like to say it how it is, which is evident in my comments. The Instagram community that I have created around my account is truly amazing, and there are some really lovely and wonderful people out there, who give out such support and help if ever I share that I am feeling down. Without sharing bits of our lives, we are all just another stranger behind a username. Obviously, no one online really knows who I am, but I think being personal, honest and relatable helps people to start to get to know me. I suppose that desire to share is simply what inspires me! 

(1) Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself. What Has Your Life Been Like Growing Up In London?

I didn't actually grow up in London; I was born in Newcastle, and then my family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where I really grew up. Geneva was a beautiful and very privileged place to be a child- I learnt to ski when I was 3 and became adept very quickly and went to a lovely English school. We moved back to England when I was 8, and we actually live just outside of London, but London is much easier to map than Surrey is for all my overseas followers! I am lucky to live very close to the capital, and try to make as many trips as I can, as I love the city so much! In regards to myself, I am quite an old soul, and have often felt quite apart from my peers, save for a few special people. I currently am studying Law at the University of Oxford since this October, which is all kinds of crazy! I love autumn, fresh flowers, coffee, going for adventures by myself, James Bay, reading and sincerity in people.

(2) Your Instagram Feed Is Extremely Personable In Expressing Your Every Day Life. What Inspires Your Relatable Posts?

I often get complimented for the honesty and open-ness of my account, which just seems like second nature to me! I've never been good at keeping secrets/things hidden, and I like to say it how it is, which is evident in my comments. The Instagram community that I have created around my account is truly amazing, and there are some really lovely and wonderful people out there, who give out such support and help if ever I share that I am feeling down. Without sharing bits of our lives, we are all just another stranger behind a username. Obviously, no one online really knows who I am, but I think being personal, honest and relatable helps people to start to get to know me. I suppose that desire to share is simply what inspires me! 

(3) How Do You Balance Your Life As A Social Media Influencer While Trying To Be A Typical Teenager?

If I'm honest, Instagram has never taken up too much of my time! I have always been very studious and devoted a lot of my time to my school/university work, and my family. Most of my friends don't even know that I have this account, as I created it as a side project, which grew very quickly and was suddenly successful! I am very much a standard teenager- I spent a large part of the last couple weeks of university being hungover, I make mistakes, I can be immature and say the wrong things at the wrong time, and being an adult still terifies me slightly! Obviously, now that I have started to collaborate with brands more, it takes up a bit more time, but in general, I do not go out of my way to take photos. I think that is what makes my account appealing and honest- I photograph what I do in my normal, everyday life. I try not to create a facade and just do things 'for the gram'. So, in that respect, it really isn't that difficult to balance my personal and online life! Although, I can be quite useless at replying to emails on time, which is something I am working on!

 

(4) You Have Over 77,000 Followers At Just 18 Years Old. How Has Becoming A Social Media Influencer Impacted Your Life?

Again, instagram hasn't massively changed anything about my life. I suppose it has opened my eyes to the beauty in what is around me more, as I am always looking to snap what is around me and make it appealing. I have also 'met' some really lovely people on Instagram in all different corners of the world. However, saying that, if I did not have this account, I would not have created my blog, nor would I have had the wonderful opportunities to collaborate with some of the fabulous brands that I have been lucky enough to work with. It does still amaze me that I have this amazing platform and support base from so many people whom I have never met!

(5) What Type Of Message Do You Want To Send To Your Followers?

Instagram is such an amazing platform to express myself, and influence others. I think my main message is to stay true to who you are, that it is okay to feel upset and sad, you are never alone, be a good person, look after your health and body, be aware of other people and their feelings, don't try to grow up to fast, enjoy the simple things in life, and never miss an opportunity to spend a morning in bed!