Influencer marketing is booming. It seems like everywhere you look on social media, a new influencer is cropping up and making brand deals. There is a lot to be gained from working with influencers.
A recent study of social media users found that over 50% of users prefer getting product information from influencers and other users rather than straight from brands or advertising. And 34% of users have found a brand solely because of an influencer post.
We previously gave you some best practices for working with influencers, but the nature of brand-influencer relationships is constantly changing, and so are the social media platforms they work with.
In this 2020 edition, we’re going to look at what’s new in social media influencer marketing, including updates to Facebook and Instagram, and guidelines for influencer marketing in the new decade.
The 2020 Influencer Marketing Updates You Need to Know
In response to the rise of influencers, Facebook and Instagram are making it easier for users to create and share content.
Their latest updates focus on helping influencers and content creators rather than traditional advertisers.
Influencer Marketing on Facebook: What’s new
Facebook has traditionally been less popular than Instagram for influencer marketing, but they’re rolling out some updates to encourage creators and support influencers.
Facebook Live, for example, now lets users broadcast live video on multiple platforms at once and is also now available on Facebook Lite (the new Android version designed for 2G networks and areas with slow or unstable internet connections); so Live streams can be seen by more audiences around the world.
If you work with an influencer and use Facebook Live, both updates mean a huge increase in the potential reach of your video.
Users hosting Watch Parties can now tag branded content partners, and both partners can access metrics from the Watch Party. If you host a Watch Party with an influencer, both of you will be able to see, for example, how many people watched for at least 60 seconds.
Facebook’s latest updates make it easier for influencers to extend their reach and for brands to collaborate with influencers via live video and Watch Parties.
Influencer Marketing on Instagram: What’s New
With Instagram TV (IGTV), users can now create videos up to 60 minutes long, depending on the size of the account. This opens up a lot of opportunities for influencer marketing.
On, IGTV The influencer could host full tutorials of your products, run a ‘how-to’ series, or do in-depth product reviews.
FOREO, for example, worked with beauty influencer Zoe Sugg. She used IGTV to go through her evening skincare routine, featuring FOREO products.
Users can also now schedule posts for Instagram and IGTV up to six months in advance. This feature means brands and influencers could plan a publishing schedule to release regular collaborative content.
IGTV and post scheduling both open up new possibilities for your influencer marketing strategy. You can now work together to create new types of content and plan ahead to release content on a consistent basis.
5 Guidelines for Working with Influencers in 2020
With these new updates, it’s time to rethink how your brand is working with influencers.
Here are 5 guidelines to help you plan your 2020 influencer marketing strategy.
1. Choose Your Influencer Wisely
Not every influencer will be a good fit for your brand. You need to choose someone who is related to your brand or product in a clear way. If you sell makeup, for example, a travel influencer is not your best bet, even if they have a high number of followers.
The influencer should also be someone who your target customer respects. It doesn’t matter how many followers someone has. If those followers aren’t likely to be interested in your company, then the influencer’s support won’t lead to much engagement or conversions.
This platform is specifically designed to help partner influencers with related businesses.
Within the tool, you can define your intended audience and it will search for influencers with a similar audience.
2. Use the Latest Collaboration Features
The Quiz sticker allows you to ask multiple-choice questions on your story, which users can tap to answer. The ‘chat’ sticker makes your story a vehicle for a live chat, which users can join by tapping the sticker.
Encourage influencers to use the Quiz sticker to get feedback on types of content or which products their viewers prefer. Then you and your influencer could use this info to guide future post creation.
You could use the Join Chat sticker to hold a sponsored Q&A with the influencer.
These new features allow for more interaction with followers, which benefits both you and your influencer partner.
3. Make Influencer Interests Work for You
Since the rise of Glossier, influencers have started trying to release their own brands (influencer-to-consumer, or ITC). But just because influencers are now launching their own businesses doesn’t mean collaboration is off-limits.
You have two main options, depending on where the influencer is in their personal brand development.
If the influencer has started creating products, you could connect your brand with theirs. A collection is when an influencer creates a limited edition line of products under their own brand name and sells it through your store.
Even once an influencer creates a complete ITC brand, you can still collaborate. You can sell their product in your stores as an official partner, the way Nordstrom did with Ankari Floruss.
If your partnership with an influencer helps them get their product off the ground, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to continue promoting your products.
Just be wary of influencers whose products are in direct competition with yours.
4. Listen (and Talk) to Your Influencer
Collaboration is a key part of a winning influencer marketing strategy. You are the expert on your brand, and they are the expert on the audience you’re trying to reach.
If you strategize with your influencer, you can figure out how to best represent your products to their followers.
Give them brand guidelines to follow so their content stays true to the image and voice you’ve created for your company. For example, are they allowed to swear when they make branded content? If not, the influencer needs to know.
At the same time, ask about what works with their audience.
Find out what kind of content performs best with their followers, and whether they think one line of your products might work better than another. The influencer knows their audience best, so your partnership will be more successful if you give them some creative freedom.
5. Follow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines
The American Federal Trade Commission recently released an update to its guidelines for social media influencers. It is aimed directly at influencers, emphasizing that:
Influencers have to disclose any time they are endorsing a product because of a paid partnership or personal affiliation with the brand.
That includes family relationships and free products, as well as paid sponsorships.
Most of the FTC guidelines are requirements that influencers need to follow when creating their content, but it’s good for you as well, as the sponsor, to be aware of them and to check that your influencer partner is following the rules.
To know more about how to be compliant with the Federal Trade Commission guidelines for influencer marketing just keep on reading or (if you are impatient) click here.
Make 2020 Influencer Marketing Trends Work for Your Business
Influencer marketing is even bigger moving into 2020 than it has been in the past.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are focusing more and more on creators and content instead of traditional advertising, and their new updates reflect this change in focus.
These five guidelines will help you navigate the changing world of influencer marketing and make the most out of working with influencers.
Use our tips to create mutually beneficial relationships with influencers in your field and increase the reach of your brand.
Before embarking on any marketing campaigns or outreach programs, take a look at the guidelines that influencers and marketers both need to know.
by Ana Gotter
Forget “experts.” Now everyone wants to be referred to as an “influencer.” Social media and internet influencers range from cult industry bloggers to YouTube stars to local Instagrammers with shockingly impressive follower counts. They can all help you promote your business.
There’s a lot of benefits to influencer marketing, especially if you’re able to build relationships with influencers that your audience is already engaged with.
While it seems as easy as reaching out via a private message and inviting them to your business for a tour, product sample, or a few freebies, influencer marketing can actually be a little more complicated than that on the legal side. The importance of understanding influencer guidelines is clear, but both brands and even some influencers are often unsure of what they have to disclose when and how to do so.
The FTC has clear rules about influencer marketing, as do many social media platforms. There’s also the classic code of ethics that you need to watch out for; if you’re caught pulling what your customers perceive to be cheap tricks, you can kiss the impact of your campaign (and some of the trust from your loyal customers) goodbye.
Who Counts as An Influencer?
Before we start actually discussing influencer guidelines, it’s not a bad idea to disclose who counts as an influencer.
As we touched on above, this is actually a pretty loose definition. It doesn’t help matters that plenty of people are giving this title to themselves, diluting the term even further.
Influencers don’t actually have to be a famous-for-nothing-Kardashian level celebrity, with millions of followers (though they certainly can be).
“Micro-influencers” also fall under this category and can be just as effective for promoting your business; these are bloggers or social media users who have at least 10-15k followers, but those followers are incredibly engaged. Micro-influencers are often experts in a niche field.
Think a slightly smaller-scale version of Jon Loomer for Facebook Ads, and you’ve got the idea.
At the end of the day, anyone who can impact and influence others’ decisions in an area– whether due to expertise or their sheer number of followers– counts as an influencer.
If you’ve either hired someone outright to promote your product by personally endorsing it, comped them a product or service for free in exchange for a review, or are offering them affiliate sales, you need to follow legal influencer marketing guidelines.
It’s easy to think that the FTC focuses on big-money advertisements like hundreds of thousand dollar commercials and product placement on shows. In reality, they actually monitor social media just as carefully.
While sure, it’s possible for some people to get away with sneaking a few things past them due to the sheer volume of content on social platforms, you should never try to. It’s a huge risk, and FTC regulations are in place for a reason.
If moral code isn’t enough for you, keep in mind that the FTC is increasing its attention on social media.
Last year, they actually ran campaigns designed to inform big influencers and marketers about the guidelines they have set in place for influencer marketing, sending out letters to a large number of individuals in both categories.
They even sent follow-up warning letters to at least 21 influencers who didn’t heed the original warnings to remind them that, yep, they’re serious, and they’re watching.
Influencer Marketing Rules From the FTC
Influencer marketing guidelines need to be followed on all platforms. This includes email marketing campaigns, blog posts, and, of course, social media.
These are the guidelines you always need to be conscious of…
Influencers shouldn’t talk about their experience with a product or service if they haven’t actually tried it, or used it as they say.
Influencers must disclose relationships between themselves and the marketer or brand if it’s sponsored content.
You’ll often see “This was a sponsored post from Fenty Beauty, but the opinions are entirely my own,” or #sponsoredpost appearing on content.
If an influencer is paid to review a product but had a horrible experience, they can’t say that it was wonderful.
Brands shouldn’t intentionally utilize influencer campaigns that don’t allow for disclosure.
Basically, things as paying influencers to publicly “like” a post are not allowed.
YouTube influencers must put the relationship/endorsement disclosure in the actual video.
According to the FTC’s official influencer guidelines, it’s not enough to just put it in the description because it’s too easily missed. The same is true for other video content on social media.
Disclosures on social media campaigns should appear before where the fold, or the “click to read more” button, would appear.
On Instagram, if you aren’t using the Sponsored Post feature, you need to make sure that the disclosure appears prominently in the first few words.
Disclosures need to be easily noticed and understood.
Using a “#sponsored” on Twitter will work as long as it’s at the front of your hashtags instead of being buried deep, and as long as it’s not combined with other words to make it more difficult to notice like “#McDonaldslovessponsored”.
Facebook Influencer Marketing
Facebook and Instagram have both released branded content tools on Facebook.
This serves two purposes. It makes it easier for brands to track the impact of the influencer campaign. It also alerts viewers that the content is, in fact, a sponsored post.
You cannot use the branded content tool to tag brands without their prior consent (doing so can get your account banned).
Instagram Influencer Marketing
Instagram can be more difficult for influencers trying to follow guidelines, despite the fact that it’s one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing.
It’s predominantly a visual campaign, and people don’t always pay attention to the text. Even if they do, there’s only so much room in the description before the “read more” CTA cuts things off.
So how do you make an influencer’s disclosure of sponsored content clear immediately? The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) says that influencers can add a small text overlay disclosure on the image. This is an option, but fortunately Instagram created its own sponsored content tool to help prevent the need for that.
Only certain influencers have access to Instagram’s own branded content tool, which allows influencers to clearly disclose the sponsorship without it affecting the aesthetics of their photo or description. It works on both Stories and newsfeed posts.
Hopefully, we’ll see a larger rollout of this tool (or the ability to request access like on Facebook) relatively soon.
What Brands Need to Do?
In some ways, businesses have it easier than influencers in this area.
If a business runs a marketing campaign, for example, that prominently features an influencer (as opposed to sharing the influencer’s content and acting like they had nothing to do with it), it’s assumed that most customers will know that this is a sponsored endorsement. It is, after all, coming from the brand; of course, it’s trying to sell something.
While this is easy, brands and marketers need to make sure that influencers are following the guidelines and rules of both the FTC and the individual platforms that they’re appearing on.
It’s a good idea to monitor the influencers and their posts about your business closely, and to go over these guidelines and your own expectations long before the posts ever go up. After all, even though you may not be the one creating the content, your business can be directly and severely affected if the influencer goes rogue.
The one big rule that brands need to be particularly cognizant of is to not intentionally use unrepresentative testimonials to mislead customers.
You can’t, for example, show testimonials of three different influencers who have claimed to lost 10 pounds on your detox tea in just two weeks on your site and not make it clear that results may vary, and explain what those results may be. These testimonials, when shared on the brand’s accounts, must include the range of results that customers can realistically expect.
Influencers can do a lot to help your business, and being an influencer may literally be the basis of their business.
In order to stay in the goodwill of your customers, social media platforms, and even the FTC, remember to follow all influencer marketing guidelines to maintain transparency and authenticity.
Your influencer campaigns will be much more successful as a result, and you don’t risk losing customers’ trust. Once you lose it, after all, it can be almost impossible to gain it back.
What do you think? Do you use influencer marketing for your business? Have you followed these guidelines? Are you an influencer who regularly posts sponsored content? What’s your experience with these guidelines? Let us know in the comments below!