The recent furore over the Kardashians’ lack of transparency on Instagram has provided food for thought.
Influencer marketing with celebrities seems like a bit of a minefield; PewdyPie and Warner Bros being other high profile transgressors.
So, do mid-level influencers offer greater value through their passion and trustworthiness? Is transparency and engagement achievable?
I asked a few questions of Barbara Soltysinska, founder & CEO of IndaHash, a platform that connects mid-level influencers with brands, both for re-posts and re-grams, but also as a way of generating content.
As a player in this space, what is your advice to influencers about flagging up sponsored posts on Instagram?
The power of digital influencers lies in their authenticity. And key to an authentic and meaningful engagement between an influencer’s audience and a brand is honesty.
A brand co-operation should look native to the rest of the content on a page/feed at first glance.
But if it is not flagged appropriately as sponsored content and only becomes apparent later down the line, there is a chance that the audience will react negatively – damaging the brand and souring the relationship between influencer and fan.
Therefore, influencers need to abide by the current regulation and flag all commercial agreements or sponsored content to protect their personal brand in the longer term.
All Indahash posts are tagged #ad or #spon to make it clear it is commercial content.
What are the benefits (other than price) of working with mid-level influencers?
Mid-level influencers enjoy much higher levels of engagement when compared to the top tier influencers or celebrities.
This is thanks to proximity – smaller influencers have a closer network of followers and can relate to them on a more personal level.
Relationships are easier to nurture and so their audiences tend to be highly engaged and interested and share common interests and outlook to the influencer.
Audiences perceive mid-level influencers who “specialise” in their passion points as being more authentic, and so have a greater level of trust in them and the content they share or brands they recommend.
Diverse creativity and wider distribution
As it is low-cost to work with mid-level influencers you can work with many more within the same campaign budget.
Potentially this means a greater range of posts, photos and videos – all native, authentic to their audience and beautiful!
This is a great opportunity for brands to disseminate their message more widely and, with the Indahash platform, the copyright for branded content generated by influencers remains with the brand and could be reused across digital marketing channels.
Influencer generated content – is this a reliable source for bigger brands?
Off course! Maybe even the most reliable.
Influencer-generated content is the most authentic content a brand can get; user-generated content is inherently more trustworthy than packshots and TV commercials.
Influencers give products and services context and a native, natural environment – a home!
They also help shape the typical user image, product usage image and brand as the influencers’ personal brand traits become associated with the brand’s in a halo effect.
This is typically done with the brand in the background rather than front and centre, so it’s less disruptive and more realistic and authentic.
How are brands measuring success? How do we move on from vanity metrics?
Direct sales and conversion measurement can be difficult as influencers excel in raising awareness, shaping brand image or consumer engagement which are “soft metrics”.
The best way to measure is proper perception research both pre- and post-campaign. We provide metrics on reach and engagement levels as well as detailed information on the performance of every influencer and post.
Influencers themselves don’t always operate as a strict ecommerce performance business so we provide the tools to do so and give the client/brand the information they need to feel confident in an influencer strategy.
More subjectively, but importantly, we know that many products that are shown by our influencers often just disappear from the shelves and we can also see evidence in some of the comments left by the audience beneath posts.
What’s next for the IndaHash platform?
To date, we’ve focused on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as the best performing and most marketer-friendly platforms.
Snapchat is our next target and eventually we want to roll out our service across all social media platforms and look at opportunities across these.
For example, we recently developed a product around Instagram Stories which is proving very popular with clients. We’ll also look at developing our video offering too.
Since launching in January we are now in Poland, all German-speaking countries, the UK, South Africa with the US firmly in our sights.
We are already running campaigns globally but we will be looking to expand our on the ground presence in multiple markets over the next few years.
Econsultancy subscribers can download The Rise of the Influencers, a report published in association with Fashion & Beauty Monitor.