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Inside the blogger’s mind: how influencer marketing changed in 2017

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A new survey of 586 bloggers and vloggers, examined the current state of influencers: their habits, attitudes, and blogging practices and how each shifted in the last year — from influencers becoming more professional to their ever growing relationship with PR.

Every year, blogging keeps gaining in popularity and, for this reason, influencer marketing is an essential tool for brands trying to push their products to consumers who are more and more skeptical of traditional marketing strategies.

The research, conducted by Vuelio and Canterbury Christ Church University, provides many valuable insights into how brands can understand and work in more effective ways with influential bloggers.

The success and ROI of influencer marketing are often hard to measure, but some studies have found that influencer marketing drives 11 times higher sales than more traditional forms of digital marketing.

Professional Blogging is on the Rise

The biggest change in blogging from the last year to this year is the increase of bloggers who are commercializing and monetizing their blogs. Although most (34%) still blog as a hobby, those who see it as their main source of income jumped from 8 percent to 12 percent and those who see blogging as their main source of income in the future rose from 13 percent to 18 percent.

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Another clue that points to an upswing in professional blogging is the frequent interactions and negotiations between influencers and PR professionals. Most influencers (35%) say they are approached by brands 7 or more times a week.

Although influencers are being pitched to very often by PRs, the bulk of these influencer and brand interplays fail to produce any published content — 70 percent of bloggers reported that only one pitch or less a week actually produced any branded content on their blog.

The primary reason marketing influencers turned PR pitches down and didn’t turn them into posts on their blog is their personal opinion of the brand, coming in at 61 percent of respondents. The next highest is the potential interest of their audience in the given brand, at 24 percent.

The blog topics that received the most pitches were lifestyle, fashion and beauty, parenting/family, food, and travel.

In general, most bloggers still report having a good relationship with brands and PRs, up from 73 percent to 75 percent from last year. And on top of this, the bigger the audience a blogger has, the better their view is of PRs, which may be due to an increased reliance on PRs to help produce content for their blog, as professional bloggers with larger audiences post much more frequently than bloggers who do it as a hobby.

Compensation is a continuing roadblock in PR and influencer relationships. Most influencers (58%) feel that they should be paid for any brand mention whereas 71 percent of “PRs expect bloggers to support their brand for little in return,” both an increase from the previous year.

The number one roadblock cited by influencers when dealing with brands in 2017 was PRs failing to get details right and breakdowns in communication.

Credibility, Above All

There is ample evidence that two of the most valuable and cherished traits an influencer has is authenticity and transparency. Both of these are what builds an influencer’s credibility and trusted following that breeds successful influencer marketing.

The findings from the Vuelio study, are further evidence of this. As already mentioned above, most bloggers turned down pitches because of their and their audience’s potential opinion of a given brand. A hint that influencers understand the value of independence and credibility. This finding also probably means that many pitches are being declined because they are not personally targeted at suitable influencers but are, more likely, blanket pitches to many bloggers.

Over 80 percent of bloggers agree that any paid post or sponsorship of their blog should be disclosed to their audience in order to maintain transparency.

Even though bloggers place a very high value on their credibility, most believe that they lack the same credibility as traditional journalists. But over half of the surveyed bloggers (54%) feel like this will change and influencers will be more trusted than journalists in the future.

Blogging’s Changing Landscape

Over the last year, blogging demographics, habits, and topics changed in meaningful ways.

Unsurprisingly, the blogs that received the most pitches; lifestyle, fashion and beauty, parenting/family, food, and travel were also the most blogged about topics. But fashion and beauty took a huge hit from last year, dropping from 31 percent in 2016 (tied with lifestyle as the most blogged about) to 20 percent in 2017. One of the leading reasons for this shift is the migration of beauty and fashion bloggers to more visual mediums like Instagram and Pinterest to post their content.

Parenting/family saw the largest blogging gains from 16 percent to 31 percent, while lifestyle remained the top blogged about subject at 34 percent.

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Men bloggers were much more likely to cover a vast range of topics compared to women, who primarily focused their blogs on lifestyle, fashion and beauty, and parenting/family.

Overall, bloggers are posting significantly fewer posts than in 2016 with much more adopting a one post per week strategy — up from 24 percent in 2016 to 38 percent in 2017. The one blog post per week preference held true across all categories except for lifestyle, which was most likely to publish three times a week, and parenting/family, which most likely posted four times a week. Influencers whose main source of income came from blogging posted many more posts than those who did it as a hobby.

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When it comes to promoting their blogs, marketing influencers are still using the mainstays of social media to push their content. Twitter continues to be the main promotional tool for bloggers (94%) followed by Facebook (89%) and Instagram (79%). The biggest changes were Google+ falling from 57 percent to 44 percent and Bloglovin’s massive jump from 1 percent to 50 percent.

Influencer marketing

Effectively Branding in the Age of Social Media Influencers

Harry Suresh

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branding-social-media-influencers

Many brands find navigating the influencer marketing landscape to be relatively difficult due to the novelty of this new marketing concept. As a result, we discuss three most fundamental techniques and strategies for effective branding on various social media platforms.

1. Metrics and data

Social media influencer landscape seems like the Wilde West of marketing. Nobody is exactly certain where this relatively new marketing trend is going. Various marketing platforms and agencies are claiming to be an influencer marketing experts, that are capable to take your brand to the next level. In such an uncharted territory, it is important to stick with quantifiable metrics and data when it comes to making decisions about a solid social media influencer marketing campaign. The ROI of an influencer marketing strategy should always be the primary indicator.

A lot of SMEs and small brands want to skip the basic principles and simply move on with the vanity of shiny numbers of paid influencer traffic. However, research has shown that regardless of what you were told, there is no quick fix to branding or marketing your product, unless you are a large and well-established company willing to shell out a large sum of money to big-name agencies to get it done.

2. Personable experience

Having a brand that is easy to identify with and the one that offers organic connections and personable content is the number one and one of the most fundamental steps in effective branding on social media. Organic is the key. Nowadays consumers are tired of mega corporations and big name businesses pushing their products again and again on Youtube, Facebook, Amazon or other platforms.

Consumers are tired of feeling used or being shamelessly marketed to just for these big brands to reach their bottom lines. A modern consumer wants organic and real connections from personable businesses. Brands that offer organic connections and have a strong presence on the social media tend to perform better, sell more and are way ahead of their competitors.

In the age of social media influencers, it’s crucial that brands are bringing something up through service to their consumer base, because this is one of the main ways that successful businesses are able to achieve exponential growth. Individuals flock to brands which they feel they can gain something from, learn something from and get a product or service that is specifically tailored for them. This expectation can’t be changed by a single tweet or Facebook post from a successful social media influencer.

3. Logo system

Logo is one of the most important elements when it comes to brand recognition. Whether it would be advertised on the billboard in the middle of a city or asking social media influencer to promote your brand, logo is the first thing that consumers will notice.

A video produced by Vox media, “What makes a truly great logo”, explains in detail how a simple mark ends up meaning something big. Furthermore, it suggests that using an unified logo system is the most trendy and universal approach to brand your product or services on multiple social media platfroms.

Trekking through the uncharted territory of social media influencers may feel a bit overwhelming for brands, both new and established alike. It is important to take a look at quantifiable metrics and data in order to make business decisions about your branding. Do your due diligence and research before blindly trusting baseless claims from the endless number of “influencer marketing experts” in your niche.

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Influencer marketing

10 Influencer Marketing Tools to Amp Up Your Social Media Presence

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July 31, 2017. Influencer marketing has grown at a staggering rate over the past few years and looks primed to become the primary marketing strategy for businesses, both large and small, as more and more companies look to build their brand reputation and stay competitive in the social media age.

Nowadays, celebrities, Instagram stars, and internet personalities command large swaths of loyal audiences who listen to what they say, dress how they dress, and buy the things they buy. For this reason, brands are starting to recognize the power of leveraging these influencers and their audiences to sell their products and increase their brand awareness.

And the rise and successes of influencer marketing are well documented. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub 2017 Study, influencer marketing is the fastest growing customer acquisition method and also has a $7.65 average earned media value per $1 spent.

Needless to say, tools that help brands capitalize on influencer marketing’s ability to build brand reputation and reach new audiences are invaluable.

Here are the top 10 new tools to improve your influencer marketing campaign:

1. Mention Influencers Dashboard

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Mention is a powerful tool to take your influencer marketing up a notch — think of it as your brand’s Influencer marketing command center. Mention’s software excels at helping businesses identify and reach out to influencers who mention their products on the web and social media directly through an intuitive dashboard. It also monitors who competitors are using as their go-to influencers.

2. Publicfast 2.0

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Somewhat similar to Mention, Publicfast 2.0 is an influencer marketing platform that brings brands and influencers together to build successful influencer marketing campaigns. Once a brand creates an advertising campaign for their product, they can use Publicfast 2.0’s heavily filterable list of social media influencers to find and connect with an influencer that matches their campaign’s need. The site also has a social media analytics page that lets brands monitor the ROI for their campaigns.

3. Insense

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Insense is for companies who want a more targeted approach to influencer marketing. Rather than spending millions on a campaign and possibly failing to reach their audience in a targeted and cost-efficient way, Insense lets advertisers analyze influencer’s audiences by location, age, gender, and interests. This, in turn, allows the brand to make an educated decision on how targeted the campaign will be to an influencer’s specific audience.

4. Reelio

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Used by brands, agencies and publishers, Reelio is an influencer marketing platform that helps brands find the right influencers (at the right price), track ROI and scale their influencer marketing efforts. Uniquely, Reelio has a featured creator tool that helps marketers find creators who produce quality brand partnership work, based on their previous performance with Reelio. Their workflow management system also helps simplify the complex process of influencer marketing.

5. Dovetale

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Dovetale, like many of the tools above, offers an all-in-one platform to manage influencer relationships and see detailed analytics like demographics, engagement, and location of an audience. But that’s not all. Dovetale stands out from the others with an innovative image algorithm that lets brands find influencers by entering a desired image description and follower count as well as an image they like the look and feel of. The algorithm then gives the brand a list of influencers who post pictures that fit its influencer marketing campaign.

6. Assembly

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Assembly, an advanced analytics software, focuses on giving brands in-depth data on campaigns and streamlined influencer management systems in order to make the influencer marketing process as seamless as possible. The platform also has intuitive ROI tracking to make sure your marketing money is being optimized.

7. Influential

Influential utilizes IBM’s powerful AI technology to become the only AI powered influencer platform. The technology matches brands with influencers based on “demographics, psychographics, contextual relevance.” Influentials invite-only influencer network is made up of only the top 1 percent of influencers on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and Youtube.

8. Julius

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Julius is a heavily data-driven platform that helps match brands with the right influencer. Unlike most of the other platforms mentioned, Julius relies on real people to do research on over 70,000 of the top influencers on social media, resulting in a much more curated experience. The researchers examine an influencer’s content, past brand affiliation, audience, and much more to determine a fit.

9. Pitchbox

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Pitchbox’s innovative keyword search tool makes it a breeze for brands to find prospective influencers to suit their influencer marketing projects. The software also gives companies customizable and personalized email outreach and an organized management client, which turns building a marketing strategy and coordinating with team members an efficient process.

10. BuzzSumo

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BuzzSumo’s comprehensive platform lets companies easily discover and understand influencers for their preferred niche. The strength of BuzzSumo’s powerful influencer search engine lies in its unique ability to filter by topic, location, reach, activity, influence, as well as many other parameters. The platform also allows brands to see detailed descriptions on an influencer’s sharing habits — such as which topics, links, and domains do they share most.

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Costs Are Soaring: The Current State of Influencer Marketing In 2017

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Influencers are charging more, but is it money well-spent?

Influencer marketing is big business — and it’s only getting bigger. According to a survey by Tomoson, influencer marketing is the fastest growing online customer acquisition channel, and a survey by Linqia shows that 48% of marketers plan on increasing their influencer marketing budgets in 2017.

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The True Power of Influencer Marketing

So, why is influencer marketing growing so fast? The answer lies in the power of earned media. Earned media is built on trust, communities and relationships—whereas traditional marketing relies heavily on paid media. Are you more likely to visit a new restaurant after a recommendation from a friend, or from seeing an ad? It’s no surprise that 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, above all other forms of advertising.

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Source: Titan SEO

And, paid media isn’t just less trustworthy than earned media, it’s also actively ignored. In 2016, there was 30% increase in the use of online ad blockers worldwide. So, as paid media becomes less effective as time goes on, influencer marketing will continue to become more important to business success. But not everyone’s happy about it.

The Frustrating Problem With Influencer Marketing

The confusion around how much to pay influencers seems to grow in unison with the industry’s boom. In a study by The Internet Creator’s Guild, an educational YouTube channel with 2M+ subscribers admitted that, “even after doing a bunch of deals I still feel kind of cheated. We are not exactly cheap, but I still feel that I don’t know what we are worth and other people get more.”

And, in an anonymous interview with Digiday, a social media exec said, “We threw too much money at them and did it too quickly. So in 2014, they were making $500 to show up and take some photos. Then it became $1,500. Now it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars,” going on to say, “We have no idea what to pay them. That’s the problem.”

A young industry in a state of exponential growth has no standard rates or rules. It’s the Wild West of marketing.

So, How Much Do Influencers Earn?

With some influencers swapping promotion for freebies, to YouTube’s top earner Pewdiepie, earning a whopping $15M in 2016, it’s far from a one-size-fits-all industry. Still, understanding ball-park figures can be a good place to start. Here, Captiv8 breaks down the average earnings for influencer posts across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram:

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But while many marketers are targeting the big players, it’s actually the micro-influencers who have better engagement rates—and who therefore, produce the largest ROI.

Micro-Influencers Are More Effective Than Larger Accounts

Micro-influencers have thousands or tens of thousands of followers, instead of hundreds of thousands or millions. They’re trusted leaders, with die-hard communities, usually operating in a niche. Just look at these two graphs from Markerly, showing the relationship between Instagram followership and engagement:

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As counter-intuitive as it seems, the more followers an influencer has, the less engaged they are.
For this reason, it’s far more effective to partner with a group of micro-influencers, than a single big-hitter. Markerly goes on to suggest, “We believe influencers in the 10k-100k follower range offer the best combination of engagement and broad reach”. So, why do businesses continue to throw money at the larger accounts?

Businesses Are Partnering With Influencers To Build Their Brands

According to a global research study by Traackr, businesses are looking to use influencer marketing to improve brand advocacy, expand brand awareness and reach new targeted audiences.

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A survey by GroupHigh, showed that calculating ROI is the biggest challenge marketers face in influencer marketing. Add in the confusion surrounding how much to pay influencers, and businesses will struggle to predict how much to invest in an influencer campaign.

So, It’s More Important Than Ever to Demonstrate ROI

Ultimately, as the use of ad blockers continues to rise, and earned media continues to overtake paid media, influencer marketing is only going to become more critical to business success.

With businesses increasing their budgets, and influencers increasing their prices, it only becomes more important for businesses to have a clear path to ROI, before looking to partner with influencers.

Social-reach and views might look great, but if businesses don’t strive to ensure that these turn into clicks, sign-ups, measurable social buzz (like comments and shares), or revenue, the bubble of influencer marketing will burst.

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