Why the obsession with an influencer’s reach is over – and where to target instead

Why the obsession with an influencer’s reach is over – and where to target instead Aaron Brooks is the co-founder of Vamp, a global mobile content and influencer marketing platform. Vamp connects the world's biggest brands to their closed community of creators for powerful social campaigns. Clients such as Adobe, Estée Lauder, Huawei and eBay have achieved great results with the high-quality content created by Vamp's influencers.

With new opportunities, such as Instagram’s branded content ads and shoppable posts, the influencer space is changing rapidly. Vamp hosted a survey with 124 marketers to find out how they collaborated with influencers, what they prioritised and where they had found success. The results showed that the biggest changes in influencer marketing hasn’t been the hiding of likes or cracking down on fake followers, it’s the monumental shift in marketers’ priorities.

Finally they are realising that when it comes to influencers, the quality of their content trumps their follower count. In Vamp’s survey, 43% of marketers said that the quality of an influencer’s content was their prime concern when choosing a collaborator. That’s over their relevance, engagement or reach – which actually came last.

It’s been a long time coming. Brands used to chase influencers with large followings, paying over the odds for access to their audiences. It set the tone for the whole industry. The sliding scale by which influencers were paid and the shortcuts some creators took to falsely inflate their following with bots.

But the industry is evolving and marketers are learning from their experience. Results come from quality creative, shared by relevant advocates, with engaged audiences – not necessarily the reach of a campaign. Marketers are now favouring influencers that have close connections with their followers, as this suggests a high level of trust between them – ultimately leading to strong engagement. It has become increasingly important that brands reach out to more targeted audiences, rather than the masses.

Algorithms ignore mediocrity

A key driver of this shift has been the change in social algorithms, which have made it harder for brand’s ads to be seen. One of the things we do know about the Instagram algorithm is that it prioritises quality content. Images and videos that other users have spent time with and engaged with.

In such an oversaturated, competitive space. Only the most beautiful, imaginative and exciting content has the opportunity to cut through. You can’t trust mediocre content to stop social users in their tracks. They’ve seen it all before and the bar is set far too high.

If you invest in a quality content creator, not only do you have a better chance in your content being seen, engaged with and remembered, but you’ll be left with an asset that you can re-purpose. In the same survey, 84% of marketers said they had re-used influencer-generated content in everything from social ads to out of home.

Micro-influencer merit

Another reason the obsession with reach is waning is the merit of micro influencers. With their smaller audiences, they can’t offer the same levels of reach that big name influencers can. But they do offer a smaller price tag – and impressive results.

With micro influencers representing niche interests, every brand has the opportunity to find highly relevant collaborators. Influencers can feel more relatable and campaigns can feel more authentic. While ‘authenticity’ has become a bit of a buzzword in the industry, it is an essential component of influencer marketing. Marketers are favouring influencers with engaged audiences because this close connection with their followers usually leads to higher levels of trust, better engagement and higher conversion rates.

Of course reach remains an important attribute for some. For awareness spreading campaigns, it’s an essential deliverable. However, there are now far more sophisticated ways to achieve it than hiring the influencers with the highest follower count.

Brands can now boost influencer’s posts through Instagram’s Branded Content tool. If influencers use the Paid Partnership tag – and link their account to the brand – marketers can then amplify that post. They can show it to social users that fit their specific customers profiles, even if they don’t follow that influencer. This specific targeting is a highly effective way to have your content seen by the right people – not just lots of them.

Marketers shifting priorities are a natural progression within the industry as we learn more about what works and refine strategies. Micro influencers have been gaining popularity for a while now but this renewed focus on quality and creativity will see the sector prosper further.

Read more: It's finally time to ditch the vanity metrics – and focus on these measurements instead

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