If you’re marketing a brand today, you’ve likely considered what role influencer marketing plays in your plan. In fact, according to Forbes, brands are projected to spend USD15 billion on influencer marketing in 2022 alone.

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in; influencer marketing is for every brand, and it works. The strategy and platform choice will just ultimately look different,” says Ben Jeffries, CEO of Influencer.com

A global leader in influencer marketing, Influencer.com combines strategic creativity, data, and technology to provide global advertisers with successful marketing campaigns on social media with scalable workflows and actionable insights. Jeffries and his team work with brands such as Google, Mars, and Alibaba. 

Jeffries offered his insights on what all brands and companies should keep an eye on now and into the future.

“It doesn’t matter what industry you are in; influencer marketing is for every brand, and it works,” says Ben Jeffries, CEO of Influencer. ”
— Ben Jeffries share twitter

It’s nothing new

Growing up, Jeffries recognized the power of celebrity marketing, citing the impact of rapper 50 Cent’s connection to Vitamin Water, which Coca-Cola bought. When it came time for Jeffries to market his streetwear company, Breeze[1] , he wanted to harness the marketing strategy he’d seen be so successful, but he didn’t know any celebrities.

Still, there were people who were celebrities to him, who weren’t to others; people who were reachable on a smaller scale. He tapped those micro-celebrities (now more commonly known as micro-influencers or micro-creators) on Twitter and offered them his clothing and payment in return for posts. He eventually amassed a network of hundreds of brand advocates using this approach. Pivoting his professional goals to that of influencer marketing savant rather than apparel, he started offering this service to other brands.

“I’d basically adapted what was previously celebrity marketing, made it more niche, accessible and attainable with influencer marketing,” he says. Social media opened doors not only for creators and micro-creators to forge successful careers but also for the brands that want to get in front of more people authentically.

It strengthens your overall marketing strategy

Influencer marketing, Jeffries argues, creates a network of brand ambassadors who elevate a traditional advertising strategy.

“It enables you to have multiple advocates of your business at scale. You are ensuring that you can have a hundred people in a room, all talking about how much they love your brand and services,” he says.

Another benefit is the sheer number of assets that creators produce through brand partnerships. This expands the impact beyond social media.

“It’s all about scalability; creative voices at scale and content at scale. You’re getting it from loads of different perspectives,” he says.

Jeffries explains that while traditional creative agencies may produce 50 assets from the same shoot for a brand, with creators, you have 50 different people producing 50 different types of content, which brands can use for anything from billboards to commercial spots to paid digital ads.

It’s more than JUST a tool for awareness

While harnessing influencer spheres can get your brand in front of a lot of people, there are real ROIs and different ways to leverage the talent and work creators bring to the table.

“A lot of brands perhaps see advertising on social as more a top of the funnel/mass awareness piece,” Jeffries says. “But depending on the strategy used, you can deliver an awareness campaign, a consideration campaign — more when you’re understanding if you’ve changed the intent of a person — and a conversion campaign.”

At Influencer.com, Jeffries and his team work with IBM Watson to better understand sentiment analysis, which shows positive, negative, and neutral sentiments as well as key themes and topics within a post’s comments. So, if you have 50 creators posting and on their 50 total posts, youmight have 50,000 comments, Influencer.com helps brands understand what those 50,000 comments are saying. 

That information, along with conversion data, allows brands to track installations, downloads, and sales, providing more actionable insights for future campaigns.

Authenticity is key – and is changing how creators and brands do business

Jeffries says authenticity may be the most important thing about influencer marketing, noting the influencer and brand values must align. He adds, “As more brands have flooded into the space, creators don’t want to be seen as advertising a hundred different things.”

What does this mean? Jeffries says we are seeing, and will continue to see, more and more creators will work with fewer brands but for longer-term partnerships where they are much more involved in the overall marketing strategy and even company at-large. These longer-term partnerships create deeper values- and interest-based campaigns and can take the form of creators having their own collection in a store, virtual or brick-and-mortar, or a custom product dedicated purely to them.

“At Influencer.com, when we are presenting and creating a short list of creators for brands, we always ensure the creators are representative of the diverse makeup of the region.” ”
— Ben Jeffries share twitter

Diversity should be baked into every campaign

In any campaign you run from an influencer marketing perspective, it’s important to have diversity of thought both in terms of creative and targeted audience.

“At Influencer, when we are presenting and creating a short list of creators for brands, we always ensure the creators are representative of the diverse makeup of the region.”

Any content produced should include different perspectives and representation, with an overall goal of inclusion, but it’s equally important that it is then pushed out to diverse audiences because that will only benefit your brand more. 

First party data and analytics are more important than ever

“You want to work with platforms and agencies who have those relationships where they can tell you all information about creators themselves from which ones are vegan to which wear glasses,” Jeffries says. “But you also need the first party data direct from those creators on their analytics.”

To effectively run a campaign, he says, you need live insights. From story views to how many followers tune in for live events, the only way brands can learn how to better optimize around a campaign is to work directly with the influencers or the platforms that have API relationships with social networks.

Live and online shopping will continue to grow

Live and online shopping in the influencer marketing space is not like the QVC television shows of days past.

“Where influencer marketing has changed the game is that the person selling to us is someone who we know, someone we’ve chosen to be interested in,” says Jeffries.

He points to companies like TikTok and Meta making big investments to help brands ‘get on the live shopping train,’ by allowing creators to come into their studios, receive training, and produce content for live shopping experiences with their partnered brands. 

Be prepared to test out new platforms quickly – yes, that means the metaverse

In just three years, TikTok has gone from a little-known social media platform to a major player. According to Hootesuite’s 2022 Social Trends survey, 24% of marketers consider it an effective avenue to reach their business goals, compared to just 3% in 2021 — a 700% increase in one year.

“Ultimately if you can test and learn and be earlier adopters, you can help shape things versus trying to eventually get onto the bandwagon later where the cost per mile will be so much higher,” Jeffries says.

So, what’s next? Jeffries sees the metaverse as a great thing for the future of influencer marketing as it creates even more of a segmented sphere for them to interact with followers.

“What we are seeing is creators having the ability to foster closer, more highly engaged relationships with their audience. By creating things like NFTs and tokens that give their followers deeper access, where they can feel like super fans.”

At the end of the day, Jeffries says, brands must remember that influencer marketing is simply word-of-mouth marketing. The key thing is to have a suitable test size when trying new platforms to give yourself a chance for success.

“In the past, people have tried to test with small budgets, and they don’t see the success they want. But think about how influencer marketing works: You need as many people as possible to be talking to get that effect. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, but there has to be a suitable investment to match the strategy choice for your brand.”