How AI and Data Are Impacting Influencer Marketing Right Now
September 29, 2021
Influencer marketing is here to stay. In fact, it’s not only growing—it’s evolving. Two-thirds of companies with more than 100 employees will use influencer marketing in 2021. But, those companies who are strategically leveraging influencer engagement best aren’t simply blindly throwing money at the effort. Instead, brands are now using data and AI to optimize their influencer marketing spend in an even more targeted way. Here’s how the smartest businesses out there are using AI and data to their advantage.
One of the most important ways influencer marketing has benefited from the data revolution is in the diverse array of influencers called upon. Brands once believed that attaching the biggest names to their product resulted in the most sales. However, this didn’t prove to be the case.
Above all else, the audience that responds to influencer marketing craves authenticity. They want to know that the influencer pitching a product or representing a brand is a credible source of information. And if that person doesn’t meet the needs of the target audience, that group no longer trusts the brand or the influencer. It’s a lose-lose scenario.
Smart marketers have pivoted toward targeting micro-influencers — influencers that aren’t very well-known but have tons of credibility in specific market segments. Instead of shooting for the stars, they’re instead targeting relevant individuals within niche communities that have a reliable and relevant voice. These influencers might not have the massive followings of the Kardashians or Charli D’Amelio, but they speak the language of a specific audience, and that audience is motivated to buy as a result.
This shift has been a cost-effective one for marketers. Influencers with as little as 1,000 followers can become the face of a marketing campaign, as long as those 1,000 followers are passionate and are motivated consumers. The data backs this as a sound and prudent approach. In fact, micro-influencers have three times the engagement rates of mega influencers. Brands can use these lesser-known influencers to get their desired results at a fraction of the cost of the big names, while simultaneously bolstering their credibility within these niche communities.
Return on Investment
As is the case with digital marketing as a whole, influencer marketing benefits from its ability to provide clean ROI measurements. While it might seem like an obvious use of data, tying influencers to revenue is a relatively new phenomenon.
Think of all the times you saw a celebrity appear in a commercial. How much is that star actually convincing someone to buy a product? It’s impossible to tell. The company could have a goldmine on its hands, or it could be wasting money on a celebrity to promote a product that sells itself quite well. The brand itself had no idea, so it kept paying the celebrity.
Now, thanks to data, online brands can see exactly how much their influencer marketing is paying off. Marketers can evaluate influencer campaigns separately from all other types of marketing they may be executing, and they can see exactly how much revenue is a direct result of influencer marketing. At long last, marketers can see how much those celebrity endorsements really mean in terms of the bottom line.
Or, at least most marketers can. A whopping 33 percent of marketers still aren’t measuring their influencer marketing ROI. That’s a tremendous opportunity for the other 67 percent of marketers that are paying attention — especially because 48 percent of marketers believe that influencer marketing has a ROI that exceeds other forms of marketing. Those are the marketers who are getting the most out of influencer marketing by targeting the right influencers, with the right followings, to send out the right message to the right demographics. If you don’t know your influencers are hitting their mark, you’re wasting your money and your time.
We all know people who play up certain aspects of their lives to get clout on social media. But what if there were entities that had massive followings on social media, but didn’t actually exist?
This is an actual thing in the modern world. The rise of AI-based virtual influencers not only show that it’s possible to master social media, but to cultivate an engaged following that’s well aware that what they’re seeing isn’t entirely real.
Virtual influencers are essentially computer animations of actual people. And while it might come as a surprise, these virtual influencers are doing what actual influencers are supposed to do — gain followers, establish credibility and promote products intelligently and authentically. One virtual influencer, Brud, is worth $125 million.
Virtual influencers won’t be replacing actual influencers anytime soon. But they’ve absolutely earned their seat at the table. Why? Because virtual influencers provide entertainment and education, which is what social media is all about. While young audiences crave authenticity, they also want to be part of something fun and exciting. The best influencers provide that — even if they’re not real.
Influencer AI vs. Social Media AI
An underrated battle in the marketing world is the ever-raging war between the brains behind influencer marketing and the social media platforms on which influencer marketing takes place. The evolution of technology has given rise to an often tenuous relationship between the two parties, each of which believes they should be entitled to a bigger piece of the influencer marketing pie.
In 2017, influencer marketing agency Amra & Elma found a way to break down Instagram images using AI. Doing this allowed them to analyze the nuances of photos that got significant engagement and, therefore, which untapped resources could be used as influencers. However, once Facebook got wind of this, they changed the API of Instagram, prohibiting Amra & Elma from using AI to this degree. Instead, they, along with all other influencer marketing agencies, had to go back to the drawing board and refine their approach.
This is just one example of the never-ending battle between social media and influencer marketers. Each side attempts to use technology to its advantage, only to be thwarted by the other side, ostensibly in a money-saving initiative.
However, the end result of this battle is that marketers and brands constantly get new tools and services to utilize on social media platforms. The constant innovation helps everyone involved. Brands get the most out of their influencer marketing ad spend. The influencers themselves get exposure and opportunities. And lastly, consumers are made aware of the products they care about, presented directly to them by the voices they’ve come to value.
AI and data have transformed influencer marketing in recent years, and they will continue to do so for years to come. Cutting-edge marketers will use these developments to their advantage and will continue to refine their approaches to influencer marketing. Contact us at Commit Agency today to ensure you’re getting the most out of your influencer marketing strategy.