I've noticed some trends in influencer marketing as I've worked with bloggers and blogger outreach for brands in many niches.
I'm seeing more affiliate managers and brands reach out to influencers and bloggers.
3 Trends in Influencer Marketing
Separate Treatment of Bloggers and Media
Hopefully this trend catches on in a bigger way, but “at the Fall 2016 Tommy Hilifiger fashion show in New York, Instagram influencers will have their own special photo pit.” That means they had a separate space to take photos. Which is really smart because they're not the same and it scores points with influencers who extend the reach of the show by sharing live updates. Plus, they're celebrities too.
The move will also ensure that the top Instagram influencers will have a perfect view of his show. And that’s genius, considering many fashion bloggers have more followers than traditional media outlets (where the traditional photo pit images usually appear).
Whenever I do events, I request that we don't invite media but that it's just bloggers and other social media influencers. While there's some mixing for the most part each group keeps to themselves. Tend to ask different questions. For example, with a plastic surgeon event I attended. Bloggers wanted the language to focus on the benefits and putting everything in relatable terms.
I can't welcome this trend enough. I'm seeing brands wake up to the fact that bloggers and regular media are equal but different. They shouldn't always be thrown into the same space together and if they are there might need to be some education.
I did blogger outreach for Roots Tech last year and there was a central media space on the trade floor where celebs and VIPs could get interviewed. It was also a spot for bloggers to congregate as well as take part in interviews. The problem was, the bloggers were taking selfies with the celebrities. Actually TOUCHING them. The mainstream media wasn't keen on that. They complained, in their words, “they're not media trained!” The guests loved it from everything I saw but in the traditional world you keep more personal space and you don't take selfies.
At restaurant openings, I ask the owners to either close off the restaurant or have bloggers in a room together rather than mixed with everyone else, including media.
Brands and Networks Open Private Facebook Groups For Influencers
I've seen more and more brands and affiliate networks start Facebook groups aimed at influencers. Bloggers are highly sought after. At my affiliate marketing conference, ShareASale CEO Brian Littleton told us the reason they are sponsoring so many blogging conferences is because their clients want to work with bloggers. He has a private Facebook group too. CJ has one and a team dedicated to recruiting and working with bloggers by giving them pre-approval to programs and in some cases, higher commissions. As far as I know those are the only affiliate networks with their own Facebook group.
Facebook groups are a great way to communicate with bloggers.I'm seeing so many pop up now. You can provide training, ideas on how to promote your products/services and allow bloggers to network with other bloggers. They're sharing editorial calendars, offering sponsored posts and discounts, as well as helping affiliates get approved for affiliate programs. The groups are also helpful – we get to see what other affiliates are doing. That's new too – many affiliates are very tight-lipped about what they're doing but bloggers tend to be more open.
I find these Facebook groups for bloggers so helpful. I think Etsy in particular should start a private Facebook group for affiliates/bloggers. So should Affiliate Window. They're so much better than emailing back and forth because the whole group can chime in and help each other.
I love private Facebook groups I'm in and hope this trend continues. If I were an affiliate manager I'd start one today.
Sponsored Post Campaigns – with Affiliate Links Allowed
Overall businesses want to work with bloggers – it's a great form of content marketing – like this example of Penelope Trunk promoting a mattress on her blog. She has a loyal following and she can so effortlessly weave a mattress into a story about habits. In fact, bloggers carried the initial Kickstarter campaign for Purple mattress, with a single post from a blogger driving more than $20k in sales. When working with bloggers, that's a dream come true. It can work and it can pay off big time.
More businesses want to work on an affiliate marketing model where there is no initial payment up front. In fact, I've never seen more interest in all the years I've been following the industry. Many of my clients hope for that or some variation of it.
In the extreme, a blogger only gets paid if the promotion works and the product sells. That means all the risk is with the blogger. Most bloggers want both an up-front payment AND a percent. That way if it doesn't resonate with their audience they still get paid. It also means that the blogger will make it a priority (get it done). Otherwise you're at their mercy.
If a blogger is a good fit and has a loyal following, you want them to blog about your business. However, bloggers are like you, are always trying to find what works best. The problem is, blogger networks cannot guarantee sales, nor do they ever want to.
At Affiliate Summit this year, Kelby Karr of Type-A Parent made it clear that you're hiring bloggers to get brand exposure and content. Of course that's too much risk for a network to take on because it's not your fault if the product doesn't sell. Still, I cringed just a little only because affiliate marketing by definition is pay for performance. Which means you only get paid if you sell. Still, if you want bloggers, you might need to compromise.
My discussion on this point got a big response on Facebook. I'm curious to hear yours.
What influencer trends have you seen?