Influencer Marketing: 14 Things To Know In 2019 ( Part 2)

Did you know that a 7-year old kid named Ryan who has a popular channel named Ryan ToysReview on YouTube took the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ annual list of the highest-earning YouTube accounts in 2018? In our previous blog, we discussed the rising popularity of brand collabs between Instagrandmas and grandpas which in a way suggests that businesses are looking beyond millennials ! Let’s dig deeper into more trends here –

9) Numbers alone won’t help in the selection of influencers 

Finding the right influencer to deliver your brand’s message is a key factor in delivering the right message to your audience. But it remains a key challenge for marketers to find the right influencers. The number of likes and followers to measure the relevance of an influencer holds no water, especially in the age of bot and click farms that can fraudulently generate hundreds and thousands of them in a jiffy. 

So, how are brand marketers zeroing in on the right influencers? In a report from Celebrity Intelligence, titled Influencing Beauty over two-thirds of the respondents said social media analytics, including audience insights and engagement metrics, have proven the most useful in establishing authentic partners.

While there’s no debating the fact that numbers matter, but brands can’t make decisions based solely on numbers alone. They have to look beyond the follower count and engagement metrics and evaluate the real reasons they might want to align themselves with an influencer. They have to focus on factors like the person’s real interests, content themes, and values of the influencer. They have to evaluate whether the influencer represents those lifestyle characteristics that are important and relevant to the brand? Or does the influencer promote and engage in activities and causes that the brand supports? Here’s an interesting read on what happened when Volvo Cars collaborated with Chriselle Lim, a fashion influencer, to promote their eco-friendly car wash.

When Volvo Cars launched an eco-friendly car wash solution in the USA, its campaign was around the cause of water conservation instead of product promotion. It rolled out a #DrivingDirty campaign, where the company challenged consumers to stop washing their car:
At Volvo, we’ve always stood for what matters to people. Saving water matters to us all. So whether you drive a Volvo or not, please help conserve water. Turn your dirty car into a badge of honor by writing #DRIVINGDIRTY on it nice and big. Ten post it online to get your friends and family involved too. We also know sometimes you just have to wash your car – like for dates and job interviews. So we introduced Consciously Clean: a waterless carwash solution that makes it easy to keep your car clean and your conscious cleaner.
To spread its message and reach a broader audience, Volvo collaborated with influencers and one of them was Chriselle Lim, a fashion influencer with over a million Instagram followers. Her feed, usually is filled with photos of her family, travels, and fashion trends. However, when she posted a photo promoting the eco-friendly car wash, negative comments flooded in. You can find it all here
Lim’s loyal audience was young and fashionable women who could relate to her thoughtful advice on fashion and being a mom. And Volvo thought that through her they could reach a broader and a completely new audience. But they didn’t realize that her audience  would call her out on the post as they thought it was done solely for financial gains

10) Influencers working as real partners 

In the early years of influencer marketing, the relationship between a brand and an influencer was seen in a transactional approach. Brands provided the influencers with product samples and the influencers featured these products in their content in a positive way. Typically, the role of influencers in many ways was limited to the top funnel of the customer journey. These dynamics still exist; however, we are seeing an emerging trend of influencers playing a direct role in sales. For example, Maybelline New York ran a successful live streaming event featuring celebrity Angelababy on social media app Meipai selling 10,000 lipsticks in 2 hours. Another famous example is that of Chinese fashion blogger Becky Li who sold 100 limited-edition Mini Cooper cars in just 5 minutes via the popular Chinese WeChat app. 

Influencers are looking for meaningful relationships with brand. They don’t want their roles to be simply limited to content creators – they want to get actively involved with brands as real partners. For example, L’Oréal Paris has a long-term collaboration with a few top-ranked influencers whom the brand calls its  “beauty squad”. They are the brand ambassadors of L’Oréal who publish “how-to” guides, give tips on L’Oréal platforms, and participate in new product development. The results of such kind of relationship-based approach are impressive – L’Oréal’s Beauty Squad has seen its followership increase from 4.6 million to 6.3 million in just 12 months. 

Similarly, MAC Cosmetics partnered with 10 beauty influencers from 8 countries to co-develop a new line of lipsticks for each of their country’s local consumer markets. Each influencer worked closely with MAC Cosmetics labs to create their own colors and packaging for the launch. The brand regularly shared BTS clips of the group’s lipstick creation process from their lab on their Instagram stories and Snapchat.

research by HBR found that 

Influencers appreciate it when their style and voice are taken seriously by the brand. As Annie (a beauty and lifestyle influencer, with 12,000 followers on Instagram) told us: “Surprisingly, over time I became friends with all the brands I collaborate with… actually not with the brands but with the people who are in charge of these brands.” What’s happening here is a process in which the brand and the influencer get to know and trust each other through a highly customized communication.

11) Brands partnering with local influencers 

In 2017, Airbnb launched its #LiveThere contest in India. The contest winners visited their favorite destinations with popular celebrities – Nikhil Chinapa in Thailand; Anusha Dandekar in Milan; and Radhika Apte in London. These celebrities shared insights based on their respective interests to help the winners experience these cities like a local. Nikhil Chinappa shared insights on how to best enjoy music and adventure in Thailand, Anusha Dandekar gave insights into the hidden fashion hubs in Milan, while Radhika Apte suggested the best way to experience art and theatre in London. #InMilan with @VJAnusha received 3.2 Million+ views on Facebook; #InThailand with @nikhilchinapa received 1.7 Million+ views on Facebook; and #InLondon with @Radhika_Apte received 1.6 Million + views Facebook. 

Local influencers are increasingly becoming a critical aspect of global marketing strategy as they have a local online fan following with regard to their particular area of expertise and they are at a much better position to influence the actions/decisions of their audience than a global influencer can do. 

The voice from the local level can be even more important than the global players — people connect more to their local influencers — as the Millennial generation is extremely interested in authentic messages. That’s why the voice of people who are authoritative and have their own point of view on a special topic is where Millennials will go to listen who are interested in that topic — they won’t necessarily only turn to a mainstream global influencer.

Bruna Scognamiglio, Vice President Global Influencer Marketing for Gucci Beauty

12) Quality content is still the king. Also, new storytelling formats to gain traction 

In a survey by Socialbakers, it was found that sponsored & non-sponsored content by influencers receive nearly the same engagement. What matters is the story told in the right way. 

Marketers are exploring new formats other than sponsored Instagram posts to leverage the power of influencers. For instance, Mercedes Benz created a 360-degree video featuring the Instagram-famous wolf dog, Loki, and his owner Kelly Lund. The video shows Kelly Lund drive a Mercedes through Crested Butte, Colorado and giving the audience a glimpse of the snowcapped mountains laden with evergreen trees through Loki’s eyes.

Scotch whisky brand, Lagavulin, released a video starring Nick Offerman where he’s seen silently sipping whisky in front of a fireplace for a full three quarters of an hour in total silence. A clever spin on yule log videos, the video was aimed at creating a connect with a whole new demographic of digital natives through YouTube. It garnered 2m views in just one week, and the brand’s YouTube channel subscribers increasing from 5.5K to 23K due to the campaign. It even won a Shorty Award for Best Influencer Marketing Campaign.

13) More collabs for cause marketing

Kantar’s Purpose 2020 study found that brands that consumers perceive as having a positive impact on society grow at 2x the rate of other brands. We’ve seen influencer campaigns promoting different causes or standing for something such as Nike’s collab with Colin Kaepernick, CoverGirl hiring James Charles ( who at that time had 400,000 followers on Instagram) as its first cover boy, and L’Oréal Paris partnering with transgender model Hari Nef for its True Match foundation line.

And these cause marketing campaigns aren’t one-time events with short-term goals. In February this year, Nike unveiled “The Kaepernick Icon Jersey” with the sporting goods giant saying “The Kaepernick Icon Jersey is a celebration of those who seek truth in their communities…and those who remain true to themselves.”

14) Kids as influencers to target the younger generation

There are 50 million kids aged 11 and under who represent $1.2 trillion in annual buying power ( *Source – Digitas Perspective, “The Next Generation of Consumers” ).  A study from Facebook has shown that

  • 64% of parents say their kids play a key role while the family zeroes in on a vacation destination.
  • 62% of parents of teen children believe their kids have more influence on their buying decisions than they had over their parents before them
  • 71% of parents believe their kids influence on how much they spend on products.

The influencer marketing industry is expected to be worth $5 billion to $10 billion by 2020, and kids are increasingly becoming an important part of the influencer marketing landscape because they can relate better to kids than a scripted or overly cliched & promotional traditional TV advertisement would. Brands such as Target and Walmart are partnering with kid influencers to launch new collection of toys and apparels. Target’s kids’ apparel and accessories brand named Art Class was designed by kids including influencers such as Loren Gray ( at the time of design was 15 years old and had 6.5m Instagram followers) and Nia Sioux ( at the time of design was 16 years old and had 4.5m Instagram followers). Each influencer used Instagram to tell the audience how much fun they had working with the retailer to create looks that’re original. Ryan of Ryan Toysreview launched Ryan’s World, a toy and apparel collection sold exclusively at Walmart. 

The Takeaway

Authenticity is the key – users are reluctant to trust online communication from brands: up to 25.2% of U.S. Internet users blocked ads on their devices in 2018. Brands are realizing it and are trying to find and collaborate with the right kind of influencers to put forth their brand messages. Also, influencers and brands will be looking for more win-win relationships, where influencers work as real partners with the businesses and not merely as a tool to promote brand messages – we will be seeing more influencers co-designing products and participating in conversions and sales in a more direct way.