Influencer marketing has risen to the forefront of marketers consciousness recently. Everyone seems to have an influencer marketing campaign.
Influencers are capitalising on the trend too. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, there were nearly 13 million brand-sponsored posts on Instagram in 2017 alone.
We seem to notice influencers everywhere -- particularly when we see live video trends across social channels. And brands have taken advantage of this.
Many brands have looked to influencers to promote their products in a seemingly 'natural' way -- so that it comes across as a genuine recommendation.
This method had proved to be a much cheaper marketing strategy than PPC (Pay Per Click) or advertising. But are these influencers good value for the money?
London, UK-based content marketing agency Kaizen conducted some research into 2000 pieces of content across the travel industry, ranging from interactive tools, non-influencer articles, videos and influencer posts.
It looked at 1362 infographics, 64 interactive tools and guides, videos, influencer-written articles, and others to find out what makes any given piece of content successful.
It found that across all the metrics influencer posts performed poorly. The study shows that influencer marketing is ineffective for brands' online ranking.
This is true even for social share content, which has traditionally been a strength for influencer campaigns. Social shares are where influencers are generally deemed to excel, yet the reliability of success was 8 points lower.
Comparing content from the travel sector on factors like URL Ratings, the number of referring domains and social share counts, the study revealed the best form of content for visible results is interactive content.
Despite interactive content being the most effective format, when compared with infographics there were few examples of interactive content produced across the industry -- marginally more than the number of videos produced.
Expecting influencers to share your content -- even amongst successful pieces is not successful.
Interactive content gained an average of 4136 social shares. Influencer posts gained an average of only 151.8 social shares, compared to non-influencer posts which gained an average of 1384.7 social shares. Videos gained an average of 1221.5 social shares.
However, there is some hope. Content titles that contained 'question words': how, what, where, why, who or when seem to perform better -- with 'how' performing best. Unsurprising when how-too guides proliferate across sectors.
If brands want to use influencers as a form of content marketing, and move further up search rankings, influencers are the worst way to spend their budget.
Whether or not influencers can boost brand awareness, companies need to consider whether the huge budget needed for influencers can validate the investment needed to adjust their site ranking.
As the audience becomes more savvy, marketers need to smarten up too -- so that they do not throw their scarce marketing budget away on channels that do not work for them.
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