There’s no denying that the world of Instagram influencing is big business. If you’re not already established or you’re working hard to build up your audience as an influencer, you don’t need me to tell you that it’s not an easy climb.
Social media platforms like Instagram have changed a lot over the last few years, and it’s more difficult than ever before but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, especially when you know the tricks and tips that will help you succeed.
It’s these tips for Instagram influencers that we’re going to be focusing on today.
Instagram brands are looking for influencers that are in alignment with their mission and purpose, as well as influencers that can represent their business in the best way. This has led to a rise in automated, data-driven technology that is being added into the influencer vetting process.
With 63% of marketers set to increase their marketing budgets when it comes to influencer marketing, there’s no doubt the industry is still growing, so it’s time to get on and make things happen.
What is clear is that the Instagram world is constantly evolving and the number of brands and agencies getting involved is increasing rapidly. This can make it hard to keep up.
In this article, we have pulled together five influencer marketing trends for 2020 you need to know to ensure you’re maximising your chances for success.
1. Avoid Using Fake Bots and Spam
I get it. Social proof is one of the best ways to grow, and if someone stumbles upon your page and sees you already have 100k followers, then yes, they’re probably going to be more likely to follow your account. However, this comes with drawbacks.
If you have 100k followers who are legitimate followers and people who have liked your page and interact with your content, you’re all good. If you’re using bots and fake accounts to get this kind of activity to trick people into thinking you’re a popular page, you’re going to be kicking yourself in the long run.
Fake followers and spam bots can really knock an influencer’s campaign off track. It is one of the reasons that it is so important to really vet influencer partners before starting a campaign. Businesses will be checking and vetting you to see whether your page activity is real because they want real results in their marketing campaign.
Even if you bought a ton of followers a few months ago, have legitimately grown since and now don’t fake followers, even the slightest sign that you have can be enough to put a paying business off. It’s not worth risking so just don’t do it.
It is so easy these days to buy fake followers to appear to be an influencer, when in fact the engagement and loyalty from fans is not established. Spotting fake followers and less than authentic engagement is a huge priority for marketers.
The reality is that this will become obvious when working with an influencer, as those fake followers will not deliver the return on investment expected. By then, however, the marketer will have handed over the money, which is why vetting influencers has become such a priority.
Brand accounts and marketers are become much better at the way they approach and negotiate deals with influencers and are much more astute at knowing what to expect, which means they are more aware of the warning signals.
The removal of “likes” on Instagram may help with this problem, as influencers are having to focus on quality content to drive engagement.
2. Build Long Term Relationships
There’s a saying in the business world that it’s much easier to keep a customer than to find a new one, and this is true for influencers. Don’t try and get as many contracts and clients as you can, because while it may seem exciting to be working with all these businesses, they’re only going to run you into the ground, and you’ll overwhelm your audience.
Instead, try to focus on nurturing long term relationships and collaboration with business is becoming vital for brands in 2020. Built upon trust and mutual interest, brands are moving away from paying influencers for a single post in favour of a longer-lasting connection.
By working together on the longer-term, brands can set their expectations and develop a deeper understanding of what works and what is less successful in campaigns. A strong relationship also provides security for the future with on-going endorsements at their fingertips.
Collaboration also helps build audiences, as it establishes trust and credibility with the influencer’s fans. This, in turn, encourages a natural loyalty for the brand.
Another benefit is that influencers are more inclined to engage with the brand and create higher-quality content if they have a longer-term investment in the relationship. It gives them a stronger incentive to perform.
Take a look at the partnership between influencers like David Dobrik and Seatgeek; a ticket sales website in the US. David has incorporated the Seatgeek brand into his content, usually using the money Seatgeek has paid him to create elaborate content, such as buying his friend’s brand-new sports cars, much to the delight of his audience.
Having a partnership like this can be highly beneficial to both brand and influencers, and it’s well worth focusing on this way of doing business where possible. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t have one-offs here and there, but long-term partnerships are always going to be the way to go.
3. The Rise of Female Gamers
We know that online gamers can create a huge, loyal fan base, and is easily one of the most popular forms of content in the world. One MOBA video game known as League of Legends hosted their World Championship back in 2019 and attracted more viewers than Super Bowl, so there’s no denying this is an industry that both businesses and influencers need to be thinking about. The top gamers are clear targets for markets, as they hold huge influence over the younger audiences, and it’s not uncommon to see content creators on other platforms, such as YouTube or Instagram, diversify and stream live.
An increase in streaming for gamer channels has meant that they attract bigger audiences than ever before. This means that non-gaming brands are becoming more interested in sponsorship deals with this formerly niche market. It’s widely untapped and there’s huge potential right now to connect with large audiences that have never existed before.
“An increase in streaming for gamer channels has meant that they attract bigger audiences than ever before,” suggests Mandy Bothwell, a marketing blogger at Assignment Service and OXEssays. “This means that non-gaming brands are becoming more interested in sponsorship deals with this formerly niche market. It’s widely untapped and there’s huge potential right now to connect with large audiences that have never existed before.”
With this rise in popularity, the industry has seen a big surge in female gamers especially, who now hold nearly a third of YouTube gaming audiences. The leading female gamers have a combined subscriber count in excess of twenty million people. According to Google data, the female gaming community has grown by 19% in the last year, a number that’s only increasing.
As the balance of female and male gamers is starting to equalise, there is more potential for brands to create strategies that appeal to both genders in the same industry. We have seen this already with campaigns from brands like PlayStation, who have used both male and female influencers.
This means influencers, both male and female, should be focusing on reaching out to their audiences and, whereas the gaming industry predominantly focused on male gamers, should now start thinking about how they can become more inclusive.
4. Content Quality and Safety
Influencer marketing can be unreliable from time to time and the industry has seen this over the past few years with slip-ups. Either an influencer has made a mistake or created questionable content that not only makes them look bad, but also the brands they’ve been working with.
When you look at big YouTube influencers (who also run marketing campaigns with brands on their Instagram accounts) such as Logan Paul and PewDiePie, (which have in excessive of 200+ million followers across multiple platforms and have been accused of anti-semantic claims, and posting incredibly inappropriate content, such as Paul’s vlog video to the ‘Suicide Forest’ in Japan, where he posted footage of a dead body.
The unpredictability is inevitable because influencers are only human, as are their audience. A post may leave fans feeling ripped off, or influencers may breach FTC guidelines, but problems are bound to arise. In fact, the FTC claims that around 93% of all influencer posts could not be compliant due to the language they use, and making it unclear whether their content is genuine or an ad.
This is vital because consumers and followers, especially younger, more impressionable audiences because selling someone something when they don’t know their being marketed to simply isn’t fair. This has spawned the rise of hashtags like #ad and #partnership which influencers should be using when creating marketing posts.
Safety is a huge concern for brands and trying to reduce the impact of the potential problems is a priority. As a result, brands are not only vetting the influencers, but also the content they create. They don’t want to associate themselves with an influencer that produces content that could harm their image, or cause reputation damage.
“Safety is a huge concern for brands and trying to reduce the impact of the potential problems is a priority,” says James Hewitt, a business writer at Academized and Top UK writing services. “As a result, brands are not only vetting the influencers, but also the content they create. They don’t want to associate themselves with an influencer that produces content that could harm their image, or cause reputation damage.”
This is another reason why brands are increasing efforts to build longer relationships with influencers that do match their values and the audience they want to target. When they find the right person, who is creating content that protects brand safety, they want to keep working with them.
In our current marketing landscape, the right fit can be the difference between a brand succeeding or failing, so brands are going to continue to put more emphasis on quality content and the right relationships.
5. Monetization Is Diversifying
Social media stars have enjoyed a great revenue stream from influencer marketing for years and platforms are starting to recognize the importance of improving monetization options. As an influencer, it’s important to make sure you’re researching to see what opportunities are available to you when it comes to monetization.
For example, back in 2018, YouTube introduced a paid subscription model for their content creators, which allowed fans to pay a fee of $4.99 a month to be able to access exclusive content. Influencers have also created merchandising and products to sell as an additional source of revenue.
A paid subscription model has also been launched on Facebook, allowing businesses another revenue source outside of ads. Influencers have also turned to crowdfunding as a way of raising capital. From cookbooks to health and fitness programs, creators are finding more opportunities to monetize than ever before.
Brands should pay attention to this influencer trend, as it will impact how they can work with influencers in the future. Creators seem less interested in sole sponsored posts and are looking instead to create multiple streams of revenue from their work. This means that they are seeking to build deeper working relationships with brands.
As a result, the most successful influencers are starting to become more selective in confident in choosing the brands that they build relationships with. It has become equally as important for influencers to choose the right product and service for their audience as it is for the brand to pick the right influencer. This is why the relationship is fundamental for 2020.
With more revenue channels available, this gives you the opportunity to not just jump at the first chance of working with the first partnership that comes your way, but rather being able to select the right businesses to work with that can propel your business forward into the realms of success, not just being a money grab opportunity.
Don’t forget to think outside the box. The new Instagram Shop feature is a great way to create your own products, such as merchandise, that you can sell directly to your followers, but you could really sell anything you want. Get creative and the payoff could be huge.