Philip Ellis
News & Views
3 challenges facing influencers right now

According to a recent report by WhoSay, influencer marketing is more effective than other forms of social media advertising, maximises ad dollar performance, and increases brand love. But it’s not without its obstacles, either. Here are three issues facing influencers and marketers alike.

Influencers are reconsidering Snapchat

Last week, Bloomberg reported that ephemeral messaging platform Snapchat is losing a considerable number of its high profile users to rival networks. Influencer posts on Snapchat dropped by 20 per cent in Q2 of 2017, while on Instagram they went up by 11 per cent.

Snapchat is, innately, one of the least influencer-friendly platforms; to find a user you need to know their exact username, and Snap makes no real efforts to source talent at events like VidCon. So it makes sense that YouTube and Instagram are where influencers are focusing their efforts.

“There is a considerable investment of time, energy and resources that influencers must undertake in the content development process alone, and these individuals understandably require a worthwhile return for their efforts,” writes AdWeek’s Holly Pavlika. In AdWeek’s recent poll of 600 influencers, almost 70 per cent stated that they had put at least one social platform on “pause” to focus on creating content elsewhere — and 46 per cent said Snapchat would be their first choice to put on ice.

“Agencies everywhere are just waiting for Snapchat to come out with more functionality and capabilities and transparency for influencer campaigns,” says Erin Dorr, VP of Digital Strategy at MSL Group. Snapchat is slowly warming up to the idea of embracing influencers, finally making verified accounts available to creators on its platform, but it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to draw back talent that has already received a warm welcome on Instagram.

Watchdogs are cracking down on undisclosed sponsored content

It has been common practice for a few years now to label a paid-for post with #ad or #spon, but some influencers are still failing to clearly identify sponsored posts, or disclose when they have been paid to endorse a product.

Regulatory bodies the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the United Kingdom and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States are both stepping up their efforts to enforce “clear and conspicuous” labelling of all sponsored influencer posts. They are paying close attention to marketing posts which make certain claims (or even inadvertently appear to make such claims) about the health or nutritional benefits of a product.

Instagram is keen to comply with marketing watchdogs, announcing recently that influencers will be able to label “sponcon” with a clearly visible Paid Partnership tag.

There are still no standardised metrics

While the appeal of working with influencers to reach their vast numbers of subscribers is evident, marketers still struggle to gage the effectiveness of influencer campaigns. 38 per cent of marketers say they are unable to tell whether influencer campaigns drive sales, according to research from Rakuten. 86 per cent admit they don’t understand how influencers work out their rates, but 47 per cent say they would happily pay more if they were able to see the impact across the consumer journey.

Metrics, then, are key. A number of content marketing firms are working on measurement and analytics tools to track user activity, from their initial engagement with a post through to purchase.

It is important to remember, though, that measuring the effectiveness of an influencer campaign goes beyond sales; much of the time, marketers approach influencers to help improve site traffic, brand awareness and overall reach.

“It would be a mistake for any business to commoditise any partnership or campaign that has an influencer at the heart of it as it’s more than just shifting product,” says Lillian Betty, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Time Inc. “It’s about brand identity, keeping the right sort of company and ensuring your brand is being shown in its best light with the best partner.”

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