Affiliate marketing is somewhat of a fluid industry. Nothing ever stays the same, and there are constant developments in digital that can complement your affiliate marketing efforts.

Influencer marketing is becoming a much more established marketing technique in the affiliate world, with companies allocating funds towards celebrity endorsement of their products. Affiliates who ignore the strategy will find themselves lagging behind others who are more innovative in their approach, however the strategy may not be all it is said to be.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Let’s start with the basics.  Influencer marketing combines the traditional marketing method of celebrity endorsement – however in a modern content-driven marketing campaign. Brands pay celebrities to post about their products on their social media, which as a result, can attract significant exposure for the brand.

Mega influencers like Selena Gomez and Kylie Jenner have been known to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars just to feature a product on their pages.

75% of all marketers have claimed that they have spent some of their marketing budgets on influencer marketing – and 40% of Twitter users have stated that they have purchased something based on a Tweet they have seen from someone else.  

The reality is most people will have encountered and engaged with influencer marketing at some point without even knowing it.

How to Make the Most of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t something that you can just throw yourself into – just like with any kind of marketing – you need to create a solid strategy, put together a plan, a budget and spend considerable time on research.  

You need to make sure that you put a schedule in place with influencer marketing.  Does your influencer conduct regular calls or newsletters? Make sure those dates are in sync with your PR and advertising schedules.  It can’t be the be all and end all of your campaigns, it should work as a healthy addition to your overall plan.

You also need to be aware that influencer marketing isn’t about quick and easy payouts.  Similarly to social media and content marketing – it’s an organic approach which can take a little bit of time to kick in – but when it does, it yields great rewards.  The function of this kind of marketing is to establish you as an industry leader and becoming a thought leader. That isn’t something that can be done instantly, it requires time.

What Doesn’t Work

The harsh reality is, not many brands can afford the kind of exposure generated by celebrity endorsements. What we’re seeing is more platforms popping up to connect influencers with brands that can afford their sponsored posts.

With these platforms, you need to find the right influencer for your brand – there can’t be a one size fits all approach.  If you push out generic content without tailoring it to the influencer, it won’t work.

You also can’t only look at the number of followers or how popular an influencer is.  The end goal is always to get a reaction from prospective players – so popularity may not always mean a good ROI – don’t forget to do your research effectively.  

Pitfalls to consider

What we have seen in recent years is some brands getting themselves into bother by using influencer marketing. Ladbrokes Coral and some of the stars of Geordie Shore entered into an affiliate partnership, however this was also seen to fall into the realms of influencer marketing. The ASA deemed that the reality stars’ posts should have been marked as sponsored, otherwise they would potentially be misleading their audience.

With a combined follower count of 15.3 million, the Geordie Shore stars in question were warned that the ads were irresponsible and appealed to a large portion of their audience that were under the age of 18. This is just one of the issues that arises when looking at influencer marketing. The demographic that the strategy attracts is namely, the tech-savvy, pop-culture focused millennial generation.

This obviously places an obstacle on the types of products that can be endorsed, or possibly on who is doing the promotion. The likes of Kim Kardashian have come under fire for promoting dietary supplements to an audience that is largely under the age of 18. This of course attracted a large media backlash.

What affiliates need to be aware of, therefore, is compliance. Marking the post as an ‘ad’ is now a must, but serious consideration of the intended audience is something to be looked at.

Using tools like Social Blade can also give you some more insight on the audience of an account. But what you do need to be careful of is that you are not allocating large portions of your budget for influencers to advertise to fake followers. That simply won’t help your brand at all. To put this into perspective, it is estimated that up to 20 per cent of  mid-level influencers’ followers are likely to be fraudulent, according to a Points North Group study.

A quick upshot of followers can be the result of news coverage, a viral article or purchased followers, do your research before you do a deal. Carefully assess the engagement levels that these influencers have for another clue as to whether they’re worth partnering with. As this phenomenon has become more popular, it’s becoming more important to assess each potential partner carefully.

Is this something you need to be looking into?

The influencer market has clearly boomed in the last few years, and is continuing to do so. With that said, the strategy is something that you should be aware of. But as the spotlight continues to shine on the industry, rules and regulations are more than likely going to follow.

Moving forward into 2019, it is likely that the influencer market will continue to grow. But the way in which endorsement is used will likely differ to previous years. Promoting diet products or betting services to younger audiences is only going to attract negative press – affiliates should possibly look into endorsing products that promote wellbeing and healthy lifestyles if they want to attract high volumes of traffic.

While you must exercise extreme caution with this form of marketing, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dip your toes in the water to try it. The strategy most definitely has its benefits, especially if you can afford to have big influencers on your payroll. And with the younger generation becoming more absorbed into the world of pop-culture and celebrity gossip, the trend won’t likely be disappearing any time soon.