Working with social influencers has become commonplace for brands over the past few years, particularly in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle sectors.

In fact, with consumers now preferring the authentic voice of the influencer over even the biggest brands, we are beginning to see a shift in power, with influencers desiring greater control and even more autonomy.

The Voice of the Influencer’, a new Econsultancy report published in association with Fashion & Beauty Monitor, delves into this topic.

Here are a few key takeaways from the report, detailing how brands can strengthen and enhance influencer relationships.

Most influencers have other jobs

Only a fifth of the respondents to our survey rely on influencer marketing as their sole income.

This is largely down to the sample set, but it also reflects the fact that there are a huge number of people supplementing their income by monetizing their social media activity.

Almost half of respondents (44%) have full time jobs alongside their work as influencers, something which brands should bear in mind when organising events.

Sponsored posts offer the biggest monetary gain

The ‘Rise of Influencers’ report from earlier this year showed that brands consider content promotion and distribution to be a top priority. 

Interestingly, however, just 32% of influencers agree that this produces a monetary return for them.

Conversely, a sponsored post or blog appears to be the biggest generator of income, with 83% of respondents engaging in this activity.

With influencers now earning more than ever, insight suggests that the popularity of one-off contracts could be down to affordability, with brands requiring high impact for less money.

Brand reputation is more important than budget

While brands might have traditionally called the shots, it is interesting to note how influencers are becoming increasingly aware of the reputation and values of the brands they choose to work with.

With 43% of influencers saying that budget and the ability to pay a competitive rate is an important factor for working with a brand, this shows that money is still of importance. 

However, 60% now say that brand reputation and heritage is the deciding factor, and 65% say it is the products or services they provide.

Unlike previous years where exposure might have been the end goal, establishing longevity and authenticity is now a top priority for influencers, with a continued career path now possible.

YouTuber Fleur De Force recently commented on this at the Festival of Marketing, saying: "I always insist on trying the product first so I know its quality.

"A majority of my content is around beauty, so a lot of it comes down to quality of the product.

"There are obviously huge brands that I love and it’s really exciting to get approached by them, like Estee Lauder.

"But when it comes to new brands you have to just do your research about the company and test the products to see if you like them."

Building a personal brand is the future focus

Further to this, it appears that the biggest focus for influencers in 2017 will be building a personal brand. 

Essentially, this means only partnering with brands that can offer a specific relevance to their audience.

Second to the 44% that cite personal branding, 18% say that building long-term relationships is the second biggest priority for the future.

For brands, this means having the confidence to hand over even more creative control to influencers, with the quality of the content overtaking quantity - and even reach.

For more on this topic, download the new Voice of the Influencer report.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 13 October, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Shane Barker, Digital Strategist at Shane Barker

Love these stats, Nikki! All of these points could be really helpful for brands that are on the lookout for potential influencers to work with. Hopefully these insights will also be a reminder to brands that influencers are people too, and not just another "marketing tool." I especially love seeing the stats about influencers caring more about a brand's reputation and products/services than their budget. This proves to me that influencers care a lot about authenticity and trust. I think your readers would love to read my blog post about influencer outreach: https://shanebarker.com/blog/influencer-outreach-campaign-tips/. It goes over some useful tips to help them approach influencers the right way. I've also included some outreach tools and templates they can use.

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