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There's a paradox to connectivity: as much as we're now tuned into each other's lives through social media, they are the lives we want to showcase and not necessarily the lives we already live. Users follow the stories of influencers and social media personalities for their expertly curated visual aesthetic, backed by the assurance that the human on screen is an opinionated and decision-making being. Whoever this person is, he or she may juggle a growing family resembling one's own, or supplement a witty fashion blog with a collection of daily outfit photos. Someone's wildly adventurous, sepia-toned life is addicting to look at during my morning commute and dull moments in conversation; this is the world of influencers.

Navigating the Ever-Changing World of Influencer Marketing

As a brand, nothing seems more tedious and time consuming than scrolling through social media and trying to discover the ideal influencers that can boost your content and presence. It's even more tedious to find influencers you love who are willing to work with your budget. 

 As the graph displays, influencer marketing is getting more expensive. 

As the graph displays, influencer marketing is getting more expensive. 

INCREASE IN INFLUENCER MARKETING

From a cost per engagement standpoint, the cost of working with influencers has increased over the last few years. In fact, in 2018 we've already seen a 35% increase from last year, with the current average across all industries being $0.18 per engagement.

The reason for the price increase is simple: More and more brands feel the need to include influencer marketing as a staple component of their marketing campaigns. As demand has risen, so too has the presence of influencer agencies who naturally seek higher and higher rates for their clients. 


$2 BILLION SPENT ON INFLUENCER MARKETING IN 2017, AND IT IS EXPECTED TO GROW TO $10 BILLION BY 2020

Source: AdWeek


WHAT WE'VE DONE IN RESPONSE

As influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity, so too will influencer platforms like Cohley. One of the most well-known influencer platforms is Revfluence, who pride themselves on helping brands connect with a wide variety of influencers. Revfluence guides brands with what the fair rate is for each individual influencer based on each influencer's engagement and follower count.

This sounds good in theory, but in reality what it means for their customers is that predicting expenditures is almost impossible and they'll end up spending more money on the campaign than they would have if they'd running that same campaign on Cohley. 

Rather than follow suit, Cohley helps clients set compensation thresholds up front so that brands can;

a.) Forecast total expenditures

b.) Spend a lot less money for equal or better results

c.) Work with people who are genuinely interested in working with them vs. making that decision based purely on compensation details

It's a simple concept, but for us it's all about providing clients with the optimal campaign setup that brings them the best possible results for the lowest total investment. Just because influencer compensation is going up doesn't necessarily mean that you need to invest more to get the same results. Consult our Customer Success team for campaign pricing thresholds that she/he think will achieve your goals and reap the benefits from there. 

Click here to view some of our influencer's featured content.

How We've Addressed the Issue of Fake Followers on Cohley

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This past week in Cannes, France, Unilever CMO Keith Weed drew a hard line in the sand on the subject of influencers who've purchased fake followers. He vowed that all of Unilever's powerful brands, Dove, Axe and Talenti among them, will all avoid collaborating with influencers who've purchased fake followers 

“The key to improving the situation is three-fold,” Weed said. “Cleaning up the influencer ecosystem by removing misleading engagement, making brands and influencers more aware of the use of dishonest practices, and improving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact.”

His deep feelings of frustration on the subject were made loud and clear throughout his speech, and I understand where he's coming from. Flagging influencers who've purchased fake followers and verifying each influencer's audience has been an important part of the Cohley platform for quite some time. 

We both monitor this information across our influencer base and display these metrics so that our customers can clearly see this data for themselves. See below:

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The Audience Credibility percentage tells you what percentage of their followers are real. If that number is below 90%, we've got a problem and we'll act swiftly to flag and remove that influencer from the network.

The Trending Engagement metric is also an important piece of the equation; By looking at each influencer's last 15 posts rather than their entire body of work, we can give clients a much more accurate predictor of how a potential collaboration between them and the influencer will perform in the near future. Historical data is great, but it doesn't always provide actionable insights that can help brands be more successful with influencers. 

“This is a deep and systematic issue, an issue of trust that fundamentally threatens to undermine the relationship between consumers and brands,” Weed went on to say.

Cohley can help you avoid these pitfalls and take the guesswork out of your influencer efforts. 

You can read the full article in AdWeek here

All Things Influencers, Ep. 4 with Influencer Jeff Mindell

In this episode of the All Things Influencers podcast presented by Cohley we interview Jeff Mindell, who's an LA-based influencer with all the charisma in the world. Jeff creates a ton of content alongside his wife Kelly, who's a prominent blogger and social personality herself (studiodiy.com).

His one year old son Arlo gets in the mix, too. We talked to Jeff about setting personal boundaries with his audience, how his content has morphed as his life and the priorities within have changed and Jeff also identifies some commonalities between what's gone particularly well in his most successful relationships with brands. We hope you enjoy!

All Things Influencers Podcast, Ep. 3 feat. Nau Clothing's Vicki Vassil

Hi All! This episode was a fun one to record, mostly because Vicki is super entertaining to listen to and has a really great perspective on the influencer marketing space. On the one hand, she talked about how valuable repurposing the content that influencers create is for Nau. On the flip side, she also talked about how influencers don't have to perfectly match the brand's aesthetic; If there's a piece of them that's consistent with Nau and they think they can create great content that fits their personal brand, she really lets influencers run with it. 

We hope you enjoy the episode, thanks for listening! 

All Things Influencers Podcast, Ep. 2 feat. Melissa Teng

In episode 2 of the All Things Influencers podcast Tom interviews Melissa Teng, who's a phenomenal influencer based in Minneapolis, MN. The full interview is definitely worth a listen, but a few of the highlights are below; 

  1. As Melissa's social presence has grown, she puts a lot more thought into which brands she decides to work with. She asks herself whether or not she’d a) buy the product herself and b) that their brand values line up with her own.  
  2. Managing her timing is a major struggle and she emphasizes quality over quantity.
  3. Open mindedness and flexibility around her content is super important component for her, doesn’t like to feel stifled by strict brand guidelines and putting trust in her to create great content is a perfect start to a long-term relationship. 

All Things Influencers Podcast, Ep. 1 feat. UNTUCKit's Oriana Sengos

 

In episode one of the All Things Influencers Podcast our cofounder Tom Logan interviewed Oriana Sengos, who's the Social Media Manager at UNTUCKit. UNTUCKit is a rapidly growing clothing company that started with men's shirts and has since expanded into more men's clothing, women's and even a freshly minted kids line. 

Tom asked Oriana why influencers play an important role in UNTUCKit's aggressive growth strategies, what makes a great collaborations (and what doesn't) along with how she sees the space evolving.

A few of her key takeaways are below...

FOR BRANDS

  • She sees influencers adding legitimacy and validation to the UNTUCKit brand
  • Influencers help UNTUCKit reach audiences through highly trusted sources
  • They rely heavily on influencers to help them fulfill their constant need for fresh content

FOR INFLUENCERS

  • For influencers, a positive attitude goes a really long way
  • Clear communication can make or break the relationship

Decentralization as the New Norm

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Throughout the course of history, entire industries and segments of the US economy have consistently proven that drastic change can occur swiftly and definitively.

Take the shift that’s occurred in the news industry. The explosion of the Internet has given a prominent share of voice to bloggers, online-only publications and normal people capable of making coherent arguments. The 24-hour news cycle and the rise of alternate platforms like Twitter have decentralized the way people receive their news.

Now take mega companies like Uber, Airbnb and Alibaba, who have played massively disruptive roles in their respective industries. Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Airbnb, the world’s largest hospitality provider, owns no real estate. Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer, possesses no inventory.

You see where I’m going with this. There’s an undeniable shift towards decentralization across industries that have remained static for decades. Bitcoin falls into this category too, as it’s functioning as the world’s largest bank with no actual cash.

So how can marketers adapt their marketing efforts to align with this global shift?

Instead of fighting the concept of decentralization, you can embrace it. Content generation is an ideal place to start. The rise of user generated content (UGC) and influencer created content (IGC) have begun to replace larger and larger percentages of brands’ content, and that trend is projected to gain traction.

The International Data Corporation predicts that by 2020, 50% of content will be created outside of in-house marketing teams. That’s a staggering statistic but it makes sense, 2018 is the year that Millennials will grab the baton as the generation with the most spending power.

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Millennials crave authenticity, and even the most traditional of brands can come to grips with giving up some creative control and empower influencers and everyday people, who have become modern day visual storytellers, to help tell their brand story via both photos and videos.

In the coming decade the best brand stories won’t be created in corporate boardrooms. They will be created by real people, in the real world, who tell a real story. 

The Real Value Of Influencer Collaborations? Think Long Term.

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This article first appeared in Forbes. To read the Forbes version, click here

Collaborating with influencers on sponsored content has made its way from a sub-strategy to a standalone entity for brands. The stats back it up: Forbes reported at the beginning of 2017 that 84% of marketers planned on working with influencers in the next 12 months. While that’s a staggering number, the way that marketers measure the success of these collaborations remains inconsistent.

What is it that constitutes a successful collaboration? Is it a boost in followers? A fleeting spike in traffic to the website? Is assigning a CPM or a “media value” the best way to measure it? Is it bottom-line sales? Some brands are just happy to know that their brand is being showcased in front of a targeted audience.

All of these components are important, and I don’t mean to trivialize them, but if they’re the only things you're focused on you’re being shortsighted. The value of the influencer-generated content (IGC) and the reactivation of it across marketing channels is criminally underrated and should be a central component of brands’ influencer strategies.

It’s not uncommon for brands to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on professional photo and video shoots. Somehow, they still find themselves starving for content. On top of that, many see their stock creative growing stale and underperforming. Turning to lower-priced influencer content and empowering highly creative influencers to be visual storytellers on behalf of the brand can not only fill the content gap but also boost content performance.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by 2020, 50% of brand content will be created outside of in-house marketing teams. This isn’t a coincidence.

Instagram powerhouse Triangl Swim is an example of a brand effectively reactivating influencer content. They've consistently leaned on a trusted group of influencers that they refer to as "Triangl Girls,” and their Instagram feed is jam-packed with aspirational photos from influencers wearing their swimsuits on exotic beaches around the globe. They also have a section of their website that highlights a sampling of photos from the Triangl Girls, giving their site a much more authentic, millennial-friendly feel.

Bohemian lifestyle brand Free People recently executed a campaign called #LoveYourParks in which they had influencers like@chelseakauai document their visits to national parks. They then took that content that originated on the influencers' Instagram accounts and reactivated it on their own Instagram profile, encouraging their followers to contribute their own content for a chance to win free stuff.

The most common pushbacks from marketers on the subject of reactivating influencer-generated content are the following:

1. "We lack creative control of influencer content"

2. "The content quality isn’t up to par, and we don’t trust influencers do to a good job”

3. "The influencers we work with are too expensive"

First, consider that having “creative control” may not be necessary. Start by building trusted relationships with influencers who are thoughtful, creative, and have taken the time to understand your brand’s aesthetic. If you’re looking for specific things in the content, lay them out in a brief for the influencer to review prior to creating it.

Avoid the urge to be a complete control freak, but don’t shy away from providing them with feedback on how you’d like them to alter or refine their work in an ongoing relationship. They appreciate the feedback.

In regards to the video or photo quality being lower quality in comparison to professional content, consider the success of user generated content (UGC). Studies have shown that ads featuring UGC have up to 4X higher click-through-rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average ads. Those are powerful figures. AdWeek recently reported that 85% of users surveyed find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos.

The power of UGC, which is by definition not professionally produced, is well documented and understood. So why not just use UGC and skip the influencer content? Here are few reasons:

• With UGC, you can’t control the inbound flow of content and which products are being featured

• Small brands don’t typically garner enough UGC, while big brands have too much to sort through

• On average, only 1 in 10 UGC photos is considered “usable”

Influencer-generated content perfectly bridges the gap between UGC and professionally produced content.

On the influencer pricing front, you can shift the perceived value of influencer collaborations by thinking about both the long-term benefits of collaborations (content acquisition) as well as the short term (follower growth, web traffic, etc). It should be considered “working spend” because the content is being pushed out to each influencer’s audiences. When influencers speak to their audiences, they tend to listen.

Consider working with micro-influencers who have smaller social followings, but are still quite capable of creating high quality content. While sponsoring an Instagram post with Gigi Hadid has obvious appeal, consider opting for 40 to 50 collaborations with micro-influencers for the same cost.

It’s time to move away from the myopic emphasis on the upfront benefits of influencer collaborations. Make it clear in your negotiations with influencers that you'd like extend the content, and be prepared to pay more for it. It’s well worth it, and you’ll be spending a fraction of the cost of professionally produced photo and video content. From there, reactivate it across all of your marketing channels. Stop being shortsighted and open your eyes to the momentous long-term value of influencer-created content.

Introducing Pre-Influencers, from Cohley

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As influencers start to demand more and more for collaborations, now’s a great time to take a step back and think about what you’re really looking to achieve with your influencer marketing strategy. If influencer content is of any interest to you, keep reading!

As we’ve continued to see the space change we’ve been thinking of an innovative approaches and products to set our clients up for success. Our Pre-Influencer product, called Neemo, helps brands find influencers before the rest of the world becomes aware of their existence. The tool streamlines the entire process of discovery and content creation so you can fill the void between user generated content (UGC) and expensive professionally produced content.

The combination of our unique algorithm that analyzes pivotal data points and vetting each Pre-Influencer, we’ve compiled a wide range of people more driven by a desire to build their personal brand than by monetary compensation. This provides an inexpensive opportunity to control the inbound flow of content and the chance to build long-term relationships with future influencers.

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Our expectation is that Cost Per Engagement (CPE) will continue to rise, and consumers will continue to trust influencer recommendations. We think that brands will utilize the Pre-Influencer tool to create content for every marketing channel. This will include putting influencer generated content on websites, digital and banner ads, marketing emails and print ads.

Simply put, influencers generated content can be a perfect bridge between user generated content and professionally produced content. Let us show you how.