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Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for brands, but too often companies neglect a key component – good relationship management.

Many marketers today increasingly  build campaigns around influencers. These are people who have engaged followings and know how to use that engagement to encourage followers to try certain brands. The US Adweek recently said “influencer marketing has become an essential aspect of most companies’ marketing programs.”  According to the MIT Sloane Summer 2019 Review, Julius, an influencer marketing platform, has just published its 2019 benchmark report  which shows that 86% of people surveyed (including brand managers and people at marketing agencies) said they planned to spend serious marketing dollars on influencers this year. 63% of businesses that have dedicated budgets specifically for influencer marketing plan to increase their budget over the next year. Some experts predict the influencer marketing industry will reach US$10 bn by 2020 — $2.38 billion will be spent on Instagram alone this year. Statistics compiled by the US Digital Marketing Institute  show that the majority of teenagers trust influencers more than traditional celebrities, and 40% of consumers have purchased a product directly after seeing it in an influencer marketing campaign on Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter. Estimates suggest that businesses generate on average US$6.50 in revenue for each $1 investment in influencer marketing, it is easy to see how it is quickly becoming one of the most widely adopted customer acquisition methods for marketers.

Of course, successful influencer marketing is not about finding just anyone who is “Twitter famous.” It begins with finding the right person — someone whose audience, capacity for storytelling, and personal brand align with the marketing campaign and messaging, or in our case the e-shops. Influencer marketing research shows that “micro-influencers” — those with a follower range from 10,000 to 50,000 — can often have an optimal impact because they are more likely to engage with followers and to have an audience specifically interested in topics and products they choose to highlight. But, the Report points out, influencers have impact because they produce authentic, engaging content. If they post parroted talking points about a product, they lose the authenticity that their followers count on. So it is important to let them develop content that tells a story for their audience in their voice when highlighting the brand.

If the brand requires strict adherence to very specific messaging, it may be better to look for other internal or external campaign solutions, rather than influencers.

The report also shows that the position of influencer requires hard work to be successful. Most influencers have multiple clients — research shows that 46% had 7 or more clients in the last 12 months. To maintain their audiences, most are constantly working to churn out engaging, meaningful content in varying formats and styles. Like any freelance or contracted worker, the last thing they need is added friction and bureaucratic hassle when partnering with a new company. So the report suggests that when starting a partnerships aim to make the agreement as smooth as possible, remember that you are connecting with someone who has worked hard to build a community, and ensure they get paid promptly within deadlines. These actions can make a huge difference when engaging a social media influencer.

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