Influencer Marketing: More than a Pretty Face

by Todd Grossman

Evaluating how companies are evolving influencer marketing strategies in 2019, leading social listening and analytics platform Talkwalker conducted a global survey of more than 800 marketing and PR professionals. The 2019 Influencer Marketing report illustrates findings that point to an inevitable maturing of influencer marketing, but finds that many experts suggest that brands will need to significantly improve the authenticity and evaluation of their investments.

One key takeaway from the report is a newfound focus on authenticity over appearance and on quality over quantity when it comes to selecting mutually beneficial promotional partnerships between influencers and brands.

You can’t just pick a celebrity you like and hope for the best,” says Brittany McKone, vice president of analytics at Weber Shandwick. “It is important that we use data and analytics to find the right influencers and measure that it is successful, so marketers continue to see real results.”

After several recent influencer marketing shams and scams — from the high-profile fraud of the Fyre Festival and the “luxury” campaign from Payless to the “pay but no play” antics of Luka Sabbat — brands and influencers alike are more focused on making sure their ideals and values are in sync more than ever before. For example, Nike’s sales reportedly jumped 31 percent following its ad campaign highlighting the civil rights activism of Colin Kaepernick, proving that the right influencer pairing can measurably resonate with a brand’s target audience.

“The top brands are collaborating with influencers [on] the most innovative and exciting ways to grab attention. This will provide an actual competitive advantage,” says Harry Hugo, co-founder of the Goat Agency and board member of the Business of Influencers.

However, there’s still a big problem to be solved: finding the best way to measure the impact of an influencer campaign, when aesthetics can often affect more than a brand’s bottom line.

One big gap we see is between intent and impact. In our survey, 69 percent of respondents said influencer marketing is among their top priorities for 2019, and 61 percent said they plan to increase their influencer marketing budget this year. But nearly 40 percent also said measuring the ROI of these campaigns is a major challenge. This shows that, while brands are eager to leverage the power of influencers, many of them haven’t yet developed a reliable measurement and management strategy, which makes planning and tracking these types of campaigns more difficult.  


Todd Grossman is CEO of the Americas with Talkwalker, a social listening and analytics company that provides companies with an easy-to-use platform to protect, measure and promote their brands worldwide, across all communication channels. Talkwalker’s state-of-the-art social media analytics platform uses AI-powered technology to monitor and analyze online conversations in real-time across social networks, news websites, blogs and forums in 187 languages. It is also the home of Talkwalker Alerts, a free alerting service used by more than 500,000 communications and marketing professionals worldwide.

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