Instagram has long been a marketer’s best friend, but for real estate agents and business owners, the true impact of social media influencing is only being realised now as data and e-commerce capabilities interact.
In a blog post titled “The Influencer Strikes Back”, KPMG senior adviser for customer, brand and marketing Andrew Baxter has commented that while most marketers have long championed the effectiveness of influencers at advocating for brands, many CEOs and boards have been less convinced.
It makes sense, because their measure of marketing investment success is sales, not likes.
But with more than two-thirds of consumers believing what brand advocates on social media say about the brands they are touting, as well as the age-old adage of word of mouth being the most effective way of communicating with customers, Mr Baxter said there’s growing evidence of the return on investment of influencer marketing.
The platform that’s utilised options and capabilities for influencer marketing the most effectively is Instagram, according to the brand and marketing expert.
The application “quickly became the preferred choice of social media channel for brands and influencers” across the western world, Mr Baxter said.
“The data that was available showed that it drove the most engagement per post compared to any other social network,” he outlined, before citing a 2015 Forrester report that said the engagement garnered on the platform was 10 times more than Facebook, 54 times more than Pinterest and 84 times more than Twitter.
But even then, “there was little information on who specifically was engaging with those posts in terms of gender, age and where they were from, let alone the link to sales”, Mr Baxter explained.
It’s a challenge all major social media channels have grappled with; how do you provide data attributing its use by consumers to their purchase of a product or service?
For Instagram, the issue of data began to change in 2017, when the platform allowed brands to be tagged in posts.
More recently, a functionality update on the channel meant brands can now see audience demographics of those engaging with the posts, and have the ability to boost influencer posts that are working for the intended audience.
Another revolutionary update has provided people with the ability to embed links on an image or video to direct people to buy a product online.
“Consumers can now click on the image and buy the product directly without leaving Instagram, closing the loop on the attribution of social influencer marketing to sales,” Mr Baxter said.
“It effectively turns Instagram into another e-commerce platform,” the brand and marketing expert explained.
He said in the past six months, almost 60 per cent of people have purchased a product after a recommendation by an influencer.
In addition, Mr Baxter cited the launch and success of online platforms and marketplaces like TRIBE, theright.fit and Scrunch that match brands with influencers, and their ability to automate much of the process involved, as proof that influencer marketing works.
“Australian brand YouFoodz recently utilised one of them to work with more than 1,000 influencers to create almost 6,000 pieces of content,” he commented.
“In doing so, they reached 26 million customers, and the sales resulted in a 12-time return on their investment,” Mr Baxter continued.
The success of companies such as YouFoodz is not isolated.
The marketing expert pointed to a recent poll of marketing professionals by Tomoson in the US that found businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
“And Edelman is on record as saying that the US influencer marketing industry will be worth $10 billion in 2019, and the Chinese influencer economy is worth more than $100 billion,” he said.
“For marketers, the promise and popularity of influencer marketing is now being backed up with proven returns when used well.”