Influencers want more influence.
As the Voice of Influencers, a new report by Fashion Monitor and Econsultancy shows, bloggers are wielding an increasing amount of power, and want more, including controlling the narrative of a campaign.
Picking up where Fashion Monitor and Econsultancy’s February’s Influencer Marketing report left off, the new survey looks at the market through the influencers’ eyes.
More than half of influencers, 55 percent, said that identifying, contacting and engaging with a brand that’s a good fit is a difficult and time-consuming task. About, 79 percent believe brands don’t understand who they’re trying to engage with or what the influencers stand for.
Today’s influencers are independent and discerning. Their work is aligned to their interests and they’re not afraid to walk away from a paycheck if they don’t believe in the product. About 56 percent said a brand’s ethos, values and the issues it supports are considerations when deciding on companies to work with. Almost half cited personal development as being of utmost importance, above monetary reward, which was a primary motivation for just 12 percent.
“What’s at fault is the quick fix,” said a spokeswoman. “Brands want to work with bloggers and go with someone with high numbers. An authentic partnership is when it’s actually real. It’s not just a monetary reward.”
Influencers are frustrated that brands don’t have a more altruistic outlook. About 74 percent said that despite market maturity, it’s still a numbers game, where their reach and follower figures are most important to brands, while 54 percent feel they’re being judged on their number of followers above context.
Instagram is the channel of choice for 74 percent of respondents, easily surpassing the blogosphere, which only 45 percent cited. YouTube is even farther down the influence food chain with 16 percent.
An overwhelming majority — 93 percent — want brands to let influencers control the narrative of a campaign. This would be a steep change for fashion and beauty companies, which are notably possessive about brand image.
Influencers do their homework: 60 percent said they assess a brand’s reputation before starting a business relationship.
The survey broke influencers into four groups: those with a niche, yet highly engaged following, 34 percent; megastars with a strong online network, wide audience and high reach, 25 percent; targeted voice of the industry, 21 percent, and small, but strong emerging social media presence, 20 percent.
According to the survey, 78 percent of respondents are earning some form of income from their activities as influencers. Here’s how various activities ranked in terms of income: sponsored posts or blogs, 83 percent; one-off social media posts, 70 percent; integrated campaign-specific contracts with a mix of posts, social and appearances, 52 percent; events, 36 percent; on-site advertising, 32 percent; content promotion/distribution, 32 percent, and yearlong contracts, 17 percent.
As weaving influencers into brands’ various forms of messaging becomes more prevalent, experts warned about relying too heavily on sponsored posts and product endorsements. “[Consumers] are noticing very overtly paid-for endorsements,” said Emma Gregson, director of ITB. “It’s a challenge for brands to create not just another influencer campaign. That irritates people.”
As social “likes” and comments are one of the easiest metrics to track, it’s no surprise that 70 percent of influencers cited this as a mark of a successful brand collaboration. Repeat and consistent business from a brand was next, followed by monetary rewards for your work, 42 percent; feedback, 42 percent; revenue generated for the brand, 41 percent, and press coverage of a campaign, 24 percent.
The fees charged by influencers varies widely, with the largest group, 34 percent, asking between 200 pounds or $244 at current exchange, and 500 pounds or $609 for a sponsored post. The biggest group, 33 percent, would charge 5,000 pounds, or $6,093, to 10,000 pounds, or $12,185, for a yearlong contract.
The survey said there may be a steep learning curve for brands ceding control over their image to influencers, especially fashion and beauty firms, which may have to learn to accept “selfie” posts on Instagram as a form of advertising or marketing.