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Influencer marketing is growing by leaps and bounds, but not in the segments we expected

Marija Vorkule
A. W. Olsen & Partners project manager

Are influencers a cliché outgoing trend of 2019? What does it mean to 100% use content produced by influencers, and what kind of effective output can it give? Should you believe in intuition or numbers? How carefully should you create a lookalike audience? Targeting experts, producers, and, of course, opinion leaders discussed these and other issues at the InstaDay Instagram Conference held in the Skolkovo Technology Park. The following is an extract from the speeches and discussions of professionals in digital marketing.

Influencer marketing is not just growing, but growing at an accelerating pace. Obviously, influencer mania will stay for at least another year, since the volumes of advertising purchased from opinion leaders only increase from year to year – an average by one and a half to two times a year. For example, according to Getblogger.ru, the largest Russian blogging platform, the influencer marketing segment has grown byabout 6 times over the past 2 years.

In 2019 in Latvia, influencer marketing was undertaken by enterprises with quite difficult Instagram specifics – banks, manufacturers of products for the B2B sector, medical centres and many others. Undoubtedly, in our country this type of advertising is only gaining momentum, despite the fact that many are sick and tired of the word “influencer”. Nevertheless, influencers came to stay, although in the near future slightly other personalities will appear on the scene.

Mommy blogs are no longer in trend, as well as interior design.There was a time on Instagram when it was simply overstuffed with advertising for children’s products, entertainment, and topics related to parenting. And while discussions about babies will never become less relevant, advertisers’ interest in mom influencers has decreased by 3%. It should be noted that the number of bloggers communicating on this topic has decreased too – by 10%, to be exact. Probably, the bloggers have their children grown up, while young mothers are no longer as inclined to exhibitionism in this matter as before. However, things are much more threatening with the design: the number of bloggers in this segment has decreased by 22%, and the interest of advertisers has decreased by 18%. I suppose that in Latvia this topic will be relevant for some time to come, since K Senukai and Ikea came to our market not so long ago and they still have something to say. However, in in this part of the world a decrease in interest in this issue is expected as well, especially in the context of the fact that financial analysts predict the onset of the crisis in the nearest future.

Speaking of finance and other topics unusual for Instagram: over the past year, the number of opinion leaders communicating on financial literacy, family budget, banking services and business has grown by 42% and the interest of advertisers – by as much as 149%! Gadgets and technology are ranked the third in the top of the fastest growing blog topics: there are 55% more bloggers and 99% more advertisers. Video games are also not far behind – the growth among bloggers is 49%, and the growth of interest among advertisers is 67%. Finally, health: an arcane topic of medical services has become a more popular subject for communication: advertisers’ interest has grown by 64%, and the number of people who want to talk about this topic has grown by 47%.

We see the same thing in Latvia: bold conversations on the topic of aesthetic and even intimate procedures are increasingly common, advertisements for dental clinics have intensified in the profiles of influencers, and the question of visiting psychotherapists has been raised. More and more famous Latvian figures are explaining the complex nuances of banking and financial issues, doing reviews of gadgets and antiviruses, and even communicate on the environmental friendliness of a particular type of food packaging.

In a nutshell, fashion and beauty traditional for Instagram remained in the background. Timidly, communication about pets is gaining momentum (+22% among content creators and +15% among brands) and, which is especially pleasant, about literature (+15% among bloggers and +16% among advertisers). The segment of education, music and cinema, as well as travel is not so actively, but still growing.

In fact, there is nothing mystical about these changes: the fact is that Instagram’s audience has grown. The majority (50%) of Instagram audience are users aged 25 to 44.[1]In addition, they have a stable and independent income, which means that they, of course, are interested in travel, movies, music, pets and how to efficiently and intelligently manage their own finances and the family budget as a whole, what products and in what packaging buy, what to do with the first wrinkles, which dentist to go to and how to cope with the bats in the belfry that came from childhood.

The popularity of such traditionally male themes as video games and gadgets is also not surprising: after all, about a half (48%)[2]of Instagram users are representatives of the sterner sex.

Below is a complete table of segment growth or degradation:

Subject matter Growth in number of bloggers Growing interest of advertisers
Business/Finance 42% 149%
Humour 63% 128%
Technics/Gadgets 55% 99%
Video games 49% 67%
Health 47% 64%
Travels 17% 34%
Food/Drinks 14% 33%
Music/Cinema 18% 24%
Auto/Moto 25% 24%
Sports 11% 22%
Fashion 5% 21%
Society -16% 19%
Home/Repair 2% 18%
Books 15% 16%
Pets 22% 15%
Creativity 4% 13%
Beauty -1% 10%
Education 7% 7%
Children -10% -3%
Design -22% -18%
IT -28% -32%

Source: Getblogger.ru

It should be noted that the more advertising an opinion leader publishes, the less effective is cooperation with him/her, because his/her subscribers become less involved. You, too, go to the kitchen when ads are shown on TV. Choose communicators and blog segments that are not oversaturated with advertising – in so doing, product placement will look more natural and will attract more attention from the audience. Of course, this does not mean that a food blogger should start communicating on the topic of gadgets, but …

Everyone knows: you need to work with micro-influencers. It will be sad for those bloggers who have been increasing and increasing the number of subscribers in the hope that they will earn their first million on advertising at last, and suddenly find that there comes a time when advertisers’ interest is falling. Even if in Russian reality 100,000 followers become a critical border, in Latvia it could well be 40-50 thousand subscribers. Or even 30K.

So, what is happening now: the growth of advertisers’ interest in micro-influencers with the number of followers up to 5,000 amounted to as much as 48%, and for owners of 5-10 000 subscribers the things are even better – interest in them grew by 49%. Those with 50-100,000 followers are stagnating: interest in them has neither increased nor fallen, but among the owners of 100-500K subscribers the number of advertisers has fallen by 20%. Things are even worse for those having million-plus followers: interest in them fell by 35%.

Firstly, this is due to prices – there are no so many brands that can afford the advertising for the owner of million-plus subscribers. Secondly, there are some questions to the quality of the audience. Even if you do not raise the issues of “dead souls”, also known as bots, not every brand would want to advertise to such a diverse audience, among which there may by not so many “target” ones. It’s the same as buying a banner on the main street in the city. Such advertising, of course, is good in its own way … However; advertisers go for bloggers on social media not for it, but for an audience segmented by interests and demographic indicators. Thirdly, the notorious involvement: the larger the number of subscribers, the smaller their number of those who sees the post, and interacts with it, and this is the fact.[3]

However, it is noteworthy that in each of the segments of bloggers there is an increase in their number, and this is huge. This means that there are more and more people who want to “saddle” the trend and make money on it. In addition, a very serious profession of the future – content creator – is clearly emerging.

Which bloggers have been chosen in 2018-2019:

Number of subscribers Increase in the number of bloggers in 2018 Increase in the number of bloggers in 2019 Increase or decrease in advertiser interest
0-5К 52% 76% 48%
5К-10К 47% 70% 49%
10К-20К 45% 60% 32%
20К-50К 43% 55% 26%
50К-100К 50% 50% 0%
100К-500К 65% 52% -20%
500К-1КК 80% 67% -16%
1КК+ 91% 59% -35%

Source: Getblogger.ru

Separately on the quality of bloggers. In brief: 70% of bloggers fail to qualify for Getblogger.ru, the largest platform for selecting opinion leaders for brands. In a situation where brands are increasingly interested in working with micro- and nano-influencers, there is simply no need in the purchase of bots, likes and comments. In addition, the number of marketers and PR professionals is growing, who, nevertheless, can use analytical programs or at least ask for a screenshot of audience statistics from a blogger. In a word, it’s time to forget about cheating.

Another nuance at the stage of selecting an influencer is its style of communication with subscribers. This, oddly enough, also affects the image of the advertiser. Does he/she respond to comments? What style and tone? If the influencer is boorish, then, of course, it is better to refuse cooperation with him/her.

Know-how from Skolkovo: 100% of the benefits should be squeezed out of cooperation. Many brands buy ads from bloggers or give them a product to test, but do not publish the feedback received on their profile or page. It’s their loss: an experimental verification showed that the profit from advertising such reviews exceeds investment by 11 times.

I’d also like to dwell on the presentation by targeting expert Alexander Sokolovsky who once again expressed the essence of effective corporate communication with one simple phrase: do not believe in intuition, believe in numbers.

Before you begin planning communication in general and advertising and targeting in particular, you need to comprehend your audience. No need for speculation about what it is. A study is needed, which, moreover, needs to be done regularly. You need to know your customer – age, gender, place of residence, hobbies, income, having children, level of education and position, field of professional activity, status of personal life, favourite coffee, film, book, etc. – you need to know EVERYTHING.

The more we know, the more efficiently we use the marketing budget. How many brands do such research and how often they do it? Many, saving money, refuse to study and take up communication right away. I allow myself to revise the famous phrase of Bill Gates: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d invested it in PR” – if you have a dollar, invest it in the study of your customer, otherwise you risk throwing your already limited budget into the trash, not really getting any profit of it.

The data obtained, among other things, can be effectively applied when creating a lookalike audience. Especially if the bill data are entered – then Facebook will attract the most beneficial audience for the brand. According to the targeting expert, many people upload data on Facebook that are too scanty, consisting of almost only emails, and therefore they are surprised that there are no sales: “Give Facebook as much data as possible and the results will greatly surprise you.”

In other words, in any field of communication, pride of place goes to analytics.