Here at Pop Pays HQ, our customers are constantly asking us to show them better data around the organic Instagram influencer programs they are running through our platform. Before we go any further, we need to set the record straight: if your influencer marketing strategy is that a one-off organic Instagram influencer campaign will yield a measurable ROI, your strategy is misguided. Sure, there are examples of “viral” influencer activations – Fyre Festival for example- but, striking gold with influencers in this way is not the norm. The industry needs to move beyond viewing influencers on Instagram as a media buy and understand the true benefits of partnering with influencers on Instagram.
Influencers are an excellent tactic for brand awareness programs. Working with our partner, GroupRFZ, we recently ran a study looking at increased purchase intent for an exposed and non exposed audience for a top pet food brand. The results are compelling. There was a clear impact on purchase intent for the product in the exposed vs. control group. The exposed group had a statistically significant 21-point lift in purchase intent after running the influencer campaign. Other top of funnel metrics, like ad recall and unaided awareness were impacted positively. While this is just one data point, it’s hard to ignore the indicators that Instagram influencer programs can consistently have the biggest impact at the top of the funnel.
If we establish that the most accurate KPIs for Instagram influencer campaigns are brand awareness metrics, like engagement and reach, we wanted to look inward at our network of over 60K creators and influencers to understand data trends over the last year. As brands continue to invest in Instagram – with even more investment expected on the network into the future- it’s a core tenet of our platform to provide transparent data so that our customers can make the most informed decisions for their brands. Below are 2 key takeaways from our research, and four recommendations for your Instagram influencer strategy moving into 2020.
Organic engagement and views (impressions) for Instagram feed posts is declining
Since the launch of Stories in 2016, Facebook and Instagram have been pushing this placement as the new content format. This strategy is either paying off, or Instagram users are simply spending less time exploring feed content.
If we look at ‘likes’ on our communities’ content, we see a clear picture with data.
‘Likes’ on content steadily increased and then reached a peak in 2019 and have been dropping steadily since then. There could be many reasons for this decline. One hypothesis is shifting Instagram user behavior that is pointed more at engaging with Stories vs feed posts. There is a theory out there that hiding likes will increase feed post volume, which would make sense based on the data we are seeing. Another could be a general decline in Instagram’s user base – as a business they have faced a challenging year.
There’s no denying it, impressions on Stories is increasing
*Note that in our data, we have a data gap, which explains the dip in July.
Across our community we are seeing more people view Stories. However, as you can see, the impression level is nowhere near the average impressions on feed posts (20-30K on feed posts vs 2-3K on Stories). Because Stories disappear after 24 hours, and, as far as we know, are less bound by the changing algorithms, the data tells the story we would expect. Stories are getting more and more eyes, but the level at which they are being viewed is nowhere near the slightly more evergreen and algorithmically impacted feed posts.
Four recommendations for your 2020 Instagram influencer marketing strategy:
Build Long-term Relationships
If you want to have a strong organic impressions, look at building long-term relationships with Influencers that can post across feed and Stories. We believe that the success of brands like Glossier is repeatable, however, this strategy needs marketers to move beyond the single campaign approach and look for brand advocates who know your product and have an authentic relationship with their followers.
Invest in organic Stories
Don’t expect the same level of impressions. When measuring engagement look beyond replies and include swipe up links, tap backs and exits to fully understand the impact organic Stories have on an influencer’s audience.
Move beyond an organic only strategy, and start putting paid behind Influencer posts with whitelisting. Brands that whitelist Influencer posts see better results, and can extend the life of their content using powerful paid tools to hit their target audiences with authentic native content.
View content as a KPI
At the end of the day, content is a need for modern marketers and the scale is only going to continue to grow. Treat influencers as a top of the funnel tactic – focusing on reach, purchase intent and brand affinity, and use the resulting content across your own channels. Influencers and creators, are the most efficient & effective source for content to deliver on social and beyond.
Want to learn more about how Popular Pays can power your marketing in 2020? Reach out for a demo.