The Tipping Point of Influencer Marketing

When we first launched the first version of Traackr in 2009, influencer marketing barely existed as a marketing practice. A lot has changed in four years… Let’s take a look at where we are today, what we see happening in agencies and brands and what it means to you.

Where we are: market, players, technology all ready

The level of technology readiness is now such that marketing professionals have all the tools at their disposal to conceive, execute and measure elaborate influencer marketing programs. We have definitely noticed more and more customers using a combination of complementary digital marketing tools most adequate to the campaign they develop.

Early practitioners of influencer marketing have often moved up in their organization or have been brought in to lead the practice in a new firm. We have worked with many of these change agents and they have been key ambassadors to the expansion of influencer marketing in their organization (and ALWAYS bringing Traackr along with them :).

The market itself has matured and we have clearly moved away from the idea that social media success was to be measured in Likes and Followers. Most actors now recognize the difference between generating real influence and buying perk programs, and that influencer marketing success is primarily achieved by working hard and working smart and measured in dollars earned and saved.

What we see: agencies paving the way, brands leading it

Leading edge marketing agencies were among the first adopters and innovators in influencer marketing and much of the innovation still comes from those who experimented early. What we’re observing in the last 6 -12 months is the patience of brands wearing thin and pushing less innovative agencies into influencer marketing or aside.

Brand adepts of influencer marketing are also very quick to recognize a much broader field of applications than the buzz generating campaign often pitched on by their agencies, and develop new programs rooted in cultivating deeper connections with influencers for content marketing, market research, or even recruiting purposes. For more on these creative use cases, see our Guide to Influencer Marketing.

We’re also noticing that the more savvy brands and agencies are starting to bring together the various elements of their digital marketing strategy rather than deal separately with influencer marketing, content marketing, SEO, social engagement marketing, and advertising spend. This practice of integrated marketing yields greater results and better ways to measure impact.

What it means to you: cost of inaction > cost of action

If your company is “not ready yet” to start developing an influencer strategy, make sure that when assessing whether or not timing is right, you look at the other side of the equation: the cost of inaction. We’re starting to see customers come to us because they’ve determined the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of running an influencer marketing program.

As you ramp up your influencer marketing, experimenting will be more important than getting it right. Unless you’re extremely lucky, it will probably take a few rounds before you fine tune your programs to be most effective for your organization. This means the more you wait and plan, the further you delay the necessary feedback loop. My advice: fail fast, measure and iterate.

If you’re already an experienced practitioner of influencer marketing, you have a dual responsibility:

  1. Keep experimenting and pushing the boundaries of the practice as much has yet to be invented.
  2. Share, teach and learn: the faster influencer marketing spreads through your organization and beyond, the more smart marketing dollars will become available.