The future of the economy? Everyone is an influencer. – Edge

The future of the economy? Everyone is an influencer.

Creators are rewarded by the brands they love for authentic content that performs. The future of work is here. Accelerated by COVID, content creators have become the latest and most genuine form of media distribution.  Influencers are now production studios. Armed with high definition camera phones, quality sound, and drones, enabling them to produce quality… Continue reading The future of the economy? Everyone is an influencer.

Creators are rewarded by the brands they love for authentic content that performs. The future of work is here. Accelerated by COVID, content creators have become the latest and most genuine form of media distribution. 

Influencers are now production studios. Armed with high definition camera phones, quality sound, and drones, enabling them to produce quality content without the expensive production fees and team.

Brands want to work with their community. If you have advocates who promote your product, you want to incentivize them to continue to create on your behalf. 

How does a brand monitor the performance of its star creators, though? Nike has had some success with their brand ambassador program. However, their program isn’t capable of determining the real success of any ambassador campaign since it relies on trackable links and a rigorous pre-approval process.

The future of influencer marketing isn’t in affiliate links. It’s performance-driven, and the community itself creates the majority of content. Those who work in brand protection or brand security are in for a seismic shift in how they view the ways their products and services can be displayed and communicated with to the world. 

Every person with a social account (at least those that aren’t bots in disguise) has a following that engages with them. That person can influence these followers. Consumers rely on these social platforms for a lot of what they wish to purchase. Social platforms are bricks and mortar; your Instagram or YouTube is your shop window. 

Not only do 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, but 40% had also purchased something after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube or Instagram. If consumers feel confident about an influencer’s recommendation, they are more likely to make a purchase.

Scalability and measurement are the issues. The issue with rewarding members of the community as brand ambassadors or influencers has always been scale. Say I am a brand, and I want at least 1m people to see a YouTube video with my content on it. It’s much easier to find one influencer that averages 1m views per video than to find 1,000 people who average 10k views. 

The process of content validation is too slow, too inefficient. Today, marketers have had to stay up until 03:00 a.m. to watch a Twitch stream and validate if their clients’ logo was placed properly and for the agreed amount of time. That’s bad enough to do for one streamer; imagine having to do it for thousands.

We don’t have to imagine; this is what is happening. Massive agencies hire teams of grads or outsourcing to people to manually validate when content has gone live and if it complies with the brief. 

The second issue with working with “micro influencers” is that the reporting mechanisms that we rely on today are also not scalable. Almost all brands or agencies, from global media buyers to 10 person talent management companies, collect campaign performance data in a Google spreadsheet. The way they get the performance data? They ask every single influencer in the campaign for a screenshot of every single social platform that they posted to. 

The human being then has to copy and paste this data into the spreadsheet manually. At this point, it’s up to the individual brand or agency to decide what they do with this data. From first-hand experience, we can confirm that this is often the last time that the team or their staff will look at this data. 

This means that we don’t use this data to optimize price for future campaigns or understand which influencers had the best performance and reached the desired target audience most efficiently. 

February 2021 alone saw Twitch’s biggest ever month for active streamers, with approximately 9.52m people going live on their platform. Estimates say that as many as 37.8m influencers exist today, with the number increasing drastically since the start of lockdown. 

Better data and smaller influencers are the solutions.

With the hero influencers getting more bookings and their audiences growing weary of #ad posts, brands are looking for new channels to distribute their media and drive conversions. 

The holy grail is when a brand can determine who the media has reached and, as a result, the number of conversions. 

This has also been impossible to date since the data around influencer performance is so poor. Often, marketers just report on vanity metrics like reach, views or total engagements. 

To date, the problem with getting better data and working with smaller influencers has been bandwidth. The appetite for marketers and brands is there. The smaller the influencer is, the more likely it is that their audience will engage and make a purchase. 

Nano influencers, who have less than 10K followers, have the highest average engagement rate with 4% across all feed posts and sponsored ones. On the other hand, Macro influencers — those with between 500K and 1M followers — have an average engagement rate of 1.3%, which is 3x lower than Nano influencers.

How do we deliver these solutions?

The answer in a single word? Technology.

Technology is almost always the solution to problems with scaling. A computer can do the work of 100 humans; this is what influencer marketing needs.

If we have 1,000 YouTubers creating videos with 10,000 views each, you are going to need a team of humans to validate:

  1. Did all thousand YouTuber’s post with the correct caption, thumbnail and hashtag? 
  2. How did those posts perform? Which audiences did they reach? 

The time required makes a massive influencer campaign like this prohibitive. Not many have the necessary resources to deliver. However, marketers everywhere know that the ability to activate a community rather than a creator presents a host of ancillary benefits – virality, authenticity, diversity of content, and, ultimately, conversion rate.

The only way to deliver mass influencer campaigns is to use technology. The next wave of influencer marketing will be nano influencers, where every campaign is validated and reported on by tech. 

Looking further into the future, we’ll see an entire creator economy based on users being rewarded for the commerce they drive for the brands they work with. Why do you need a year-long contract and an agent to be a brand ambassador for Nike? Why can’t I just make a video of my best basketball content wearing my favourite Nike gear where I get paid by Nike for every 1000 impressions, 100 engagements and 2% of all sales driven by click-throughs. 

This is the next generation of influencer marketing. Everyone’s an influencer. Edge is excited to enable this process.

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