A weekly wrap-up of valuable insights from the world of visual content, social media, and influencer marketing.
Picture a Perfect Reality
Fashion Week has just wrapped and all of that fabulousness is fleeing the city, leaving New York a cold, barren style-free wasteland. The impact will last, however, certainly on the fashion industry and how they’re using social media platforms. Anyone who’s eaten outside of their home is surely aware of the power that Instagram and other visual content networks exercise on the dining scene. Now, the circle is complete, with restaurateurs and designers shaping the eating experience specifically to get more shares on social networks, and thus to build buzz, branding and awareness. Bethany Biron, writes in Glossy about the influence of social media on fashion, and specifically, showcases like Fashion Week: From designers opting to eschew runway shows altogether in favor of showing collections on Instagram, to creative directors ditching models to cast influencers in their shows, Instagram’s impact is ubiquitous. Even the hordes of bloggers mobbed by street style photographers, wielding both professional cameras and iPhones, is indicative of the power of Instagram as a marketing tool for fashion brands and fashionistas alike.
Will we get to a point where all of life’s commerce-related experiences are designed and optimized for maximum likeability on social media? Will travel companies and hospitality venues now art-direct the scene around your beach chair to encourage a viral Instagram story? Perhaps there will come a time when resorts will pre-Photoshop with filters that gray sky so the sun is shining in our snaps. After all, the Hong Kong tourism authorities have already set the stage for optimizing the environment for better photos.
Brands see value in putting their best face forward because the stakes are now so high for social media success. Companies of all stripes, including huge CPG players, view content engagement as critical to their marketing programs. We’ve seen that engagement with earned media can be powerful for creating and targeting audiences through paid media as well. Post-Fashion Week, with the holiday season fast approaching, marketers are seeing the benefits of being camera-ready all year long.
Closing the digital discover-to-buy pathway is a priority for marketers and we’ve seen many find Pinterest to be a critical step on that path. This week, Rani Molla published an interview with Pinterest President Tim Kendall, who emphasized his company’s capabilities helping consumers “browse to buy.” According to Kendall, 97 percent of searches on Pinterest are unbranded, meaning that people don’t go there knowing what they want to buy; they go to discover what they want to buy. “We believe we have to give away value to make the ecosystem work between us and retailers and consumers before we start to think about reaping and taking value ourselves,” he said.
Someone who is just browsing is at a great point in the marketing funnel for a brand, and is one of the most valuable people you can target. We certainly see the browsing itself evolving, with new audio and visual technologies helping people navigate and discover content and products. Pinterest is currently one of the most valuable platforms for product discovery, and they’ve recently hit 200 million active users.
The Affluence of Influence
As the fashion industry clearly recognizes (see above), influence on social media networks plays a huge role in getting brands engaged with. According to Recode, a marketing agency released a report this week examining the perceived value different “tiers” of influencers can have for a brand. Whosay looked at influencers in five tiers based on an influencer’s total followers. Tier 1 celebrity endorsers like Munn, DJ Khaled or Jada Pinkett Smith weren’t always the best bargain, despite boasting an average of 7.4 million followers. Posts shared by mega celebrities like these generated a lot less organic engagement (likes, comments and shares) than influencers a few tiers down. The sweet spot: Influencers in tiers 2 and 3 with fewer followers than the Olivia Munns of the world, but that are still much more popular than most everyone else on social media, including micro-influencers.
The prevailing idea here is that marketers need to get savvy about influencer campaigns and the value that authentic, genuine or celebrity endorsement can have for various campaigns. This week, ZDNet’s Eileen Brown wrote about the tools ShareIQ developed help marketers get real data and insight about ROI and the true value of influencer programs: “Brands are looking for a higher degree of clarity about the true nature of influencers' relationships with audiences. They want to know exactly who is sharing content, how, and why content it is being shared, and they want to get a true measure of value for the influencer marketing budget.”
As we’ve talked about before, where there’s money at stake there can be transparency issues. Lucia Moses has a “Confessions” interview in Digiday with an anonymous influencer who talks about the use of bots by influencers to increase their perceived likes and engagement on platforms such as Instagram. As with any marketing program, the onus is on the brand to do their diligence, work with trusted partners, and dig deep in the data of their influencer programs to be sure they’re getting ROI.
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