It’s both a benefit and a downfall of working in social media: things are always changing and evolving. It can be exciting, but overwhelming. Between new platforms and changes to existing platforms, it can be hard to keep up with all of the updates happening across the world of social media, especially when they are happening almost daily.
So let’s just stick to one platform for the time being, the one that rules them all when it comes to influencer marketing: Instagram. Studies have shown us that Instagram reigns superior in social channels when it comes to running influencer campaigns, so it’s important to keep up with anything and everything on Instagram’s platform to understand how any of these changes can potentially affect the influencer marketing industry.
Are Likes going away?
Is it ever going to happen? We’ve been hearing about the potential disappearing of likes on Instagram for a while now, and whether it happens or not, it’s good to be prepared for what this will mean for your campaigns. The idea of likes going away is a scary thought, especially since most agencies associate likes with engagement, which is how most measure the potential outcome of a campaign as well as the final results. Likes going away doesn’t mean the influence is going away, just the way we currently measure it. And luckily, likes alone do not define influence.
In case this does happen, you may want to turn to an agency or a technology-enabled service, like us. Influencer agencies and platforms have data from months and even years, in order to prove which influencers have high engagement and which don’t, regardless if you can see their likes or not. Many providers have also built close relationships with influencers and will be able to gain access to that influencer’s stats once posts are live. Just because we don’t see those double taps, doesn’t mean their audience isn’t being influenced by your product. But you will need a team to monitor closely and set better expectations for anticipated engagement.
How to Deal With “The Algorithm”
It’s always a top trending topic on Twitter when Instagram decides to change anything, even if it’s something as minuscule as the color of their logo. So when Instagram decided to run their feeds based on relevancy rather than as an actual timeline, the entire platform seemed to freak out. As with most social media changes, users will protest for a week or so then eventually it becomes the norm. Having the feed and stories based on relevancy doesn’t have to be a bad thing; sure some posts get missed, but an influencer’s most engaged audience will see their posts as one of the first ones on their feed, regardless if it was posted at two in the morning.
But the algorithm is changing constantly, and in more ways than one. Because of this it’s becoming harder to predict how well a campaign will perform. Maybe an influencer has an average of 1,000 engagements on a sponsored posts, but when yours runs, you only see around 500. The content of the image and caption could be more or less the same for higher engagement posts. So why did it underperform? Perhaps it got mixed up in one of Instagram’s timeline experiments. It’s important to be aware that although IG remains superior, it is not a perfect platform, and they have the right to run tests any day they want, including on the day you launch your huge influencer campaign. So it’s important to plan to over-deliver on your campaign to prepare for any change in their system.
The same goes if you are preparing to run any sort of promoted post. Promoting an influencer’s post on Instagram can be very tricky and the outcome can be nearly impossible to predict. We’ve seen virtually identical promoted posts range in engagement from 60,000 likes to 3 million. If you have the budget and time to experiment with promoted posts, it can be worth it. But it’s a tricky place to hold high expectations.
IGTV vs Stories
Remember when IGTV was supposed to be this new competitor to YouTube? I think we can all see that didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. Many influencers still leverage their IGTV channels, but you have to do the research to see if it’s worth it. In general, large, celebrity influencer IGTV channels are performing well, but the mid-level influencer videos are underperforming.
Stories, however, have proved to be worth the effort. And influencers are starting to realize the major effect Stories can have on campaigns. Just think: a year ago an influencer would throw in a couple Stories for free, but now they can cost you more than an in-feed post (and it can be worth it)! With Instagram’s algorithm, many viewers are seeing Stories before every scrolling down to see posts. You also have an advantage when it comes to link clicks and conversions. Reading a caption, then going back to a profile then clicking on a link in a bio, is a few more unnecessary steps than simply just swiping up on an influencer’s story. The downside to Stories is that content approvals can take more time and many brands are still wary of the more casual nature of a Story versus a post.
It’s increasingly important to keep up with FTC guidelines and regulations. These can change without you even realizing. You know you have to have #ad in a post, but did you know it now needs to be above the fold? (And what is the “fold” on an Instagram caption?) This is another reason it could be best to turn to an influencer marketing provider whose job is to keep up with regulations from all applicable federal agencies and apply and monitor them during the entirety of your campaign. if you are a highly regulated industry, such as pharma or finance, keeping up-to-date is absolutely critical. You know more than anyone how language can land you in hot water, so control over the content is paramount. Taking time to catch up with any new rules of FTC, FDA or the SEC can save you a call from the executive suite in the future.
It’s A Lot To Keep Up With
It can seem like a lot to keep up with, but what fun would social media be if it was all the same all the time? In the influencer marketing industry changes will happen even when you least expect it. So be flexible during the planning and execution of campaigns when posts are showing lower than expected engagement. Leverage Stories to supplement campaigns, even though their engagement is less predictable than posts. Last, federal agencies have finally accepted that influencer marketing is here to stay, so new guidance and rules pop up monthly – stay on top of them! Learn to embrace and plan for the unpredictability and your campaigns will outpace those of your competitors every time.