Arielle Charnas of Something Navy wearing the Something Navy X Treasure & Bond line in an Instagram post.

The work for an influencer is never finished. As the role of creators continues to evolve and rise in relevance, brands and marketers are shifting their approach to the formerly — and frequently — underestimated segment.

In #Hashoff’s semiannual report about the segment’s climate, 150,000 of the content marketing firm’s opt-in influencers shared input on the space. Within the report, influencers warned against being swayed by the quantity instead of the quality of creators’ following and engagement, aiming to secure full-time status, and their preferred platforms.

Here, Joel Wright, Hashoff’s cofounder and president discusses the report’s findings and actionable steps for marketers to incorporate into upcoming campaigns and strategies.

WWD: How do you see the role of the influencer evolving over the next year?

Joel Wright: The role of the influencer will continue to grow, as brands continue to allocate more marketing dollars to this channel. But how these creators interact with brands will continue to evolve, especially when it comes to standardizing payment for content.

As our latest report shows, over 54 percent of influencers polled want to be doing this full-time, but payment structures vary greatly. Seventeen percent said that they ask for “as much as they can get” while another 18 percent said they ask their peers. Further, as the ability to measure ROI improves, I would expect to see some kind of standardization start to materialize based on reach and other KPIs. How this system develops will be one of the challenges for this ecosystem in 2018.

WWD: What brands are doing influencer partnerships well?

J.W.: The brands that are doing it well are the ones taking time to listen to what influencers have to say but also know what kind of content they want. In other words, the influencers have the creative freedom to be authentic towards not only the brand, but to a specific community, with a brand that is very prescriptive on the kind of content they are looking for that will seem natural and authentic while driving brand metrics.

WWD: Why has Snapchat fallen out of favor for influencers — were there factors other than Instagram Stories?

J.W.: Instagram and Facebook remain the leaders of the pack because they have provided influencers and brands with special tools and data to support their craft. This goes beyond any one feature, be it stories or direct messages, which Snapchat also has.

Instagram as a platform has a different attitude toward fostering influencer marketing. These platforms, and YouTube, are giving brands and influencers access to sophisticated audience and engagement data to help creators improve their work over time. As the report shows, a solid 34 percent of influencers are spending four to seven hours a day on social media, but still find it hard to maintain a presence on multiple platforms. Meaning that if influencers have to pick, they are naturally going to gravitate to the platform that provides them with the most tools.

WWD: Creators want to become full-time influencers, but strive to remain authentic. How can brands best appeal to these divergent priorities while securing top talent?

J.W.: The two elements aren’t necessarily conflicting but rather mutually supportive. For influencers to become full-time requires them to only promote products that they themselves would use. The appropriate analogy would be a feature film writer. They write because they are artists and highly skilled at their craft, just like creators.

In both professions, being discovered and turning it into a career is part luck, but mainly sheer determination. Advertising, for creators, is just the start and a way for them to pay the bills while doing what they love. This speaks to the authentic nature of influencers as a marketing channel. The best strategy for brands to secure top talent is to have the best technology at their fingertips to pre-screen influencers, to understand their style before approaching them and then having the right platform in place to manage and maintain long-term relationships.

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