Is it just me, or does it feels like influencer marketing has really grown up this year? We seem to have gotten over the novelty factor and are now using the channel much more thoughtfully. Still, I was surprised to read the global influencer market is worth an estimated $1 billion and expected to double in the next 12 months (!). Then again, Kylie Jenner makes an estimated US$1 million per sponsored post on Instagram. So yeah, this is probably worth exploring.

As follower counts go down, engagement goes up.

What we’re seeing

One of the more noticeable shifts is the increasing use of micro-influencers. These are people with extremely specialised interests combined with follower counts of less than 10,000 which, weirdly, is where the value is. In a recent study by Ad Age they found that as follower counts go down, engagement goes up. People feel more connected when they’re one of 23 commenters as opposed to one of 23,000.

The other big shift is that you don’t have to be rolling out an ‘influencer campaign’ in order warrant using influencers. Micro-influencers are a handy tool to amplify and seed campaigns of any sort. The trade-off is reach - they have less of it which means you need to use more of them. It's at this point you want to be working with an influencer agency.

What you need to know

Watch out for influencer fraud. Unilever's chief marketing officer Keith Weed brought this issue to the fore in Cannes this year when he called for urgent action against any influencer found to be buying followers or clicks. This is another reason to go through an agency. We work a lot with our pals at The Social Club who arrange for signed contracts and declarations with all of their influencers ahead of every campaign. They also engage them through a proprietary platform that ensures transparent reporting.

What we’re thinking

While the Influencers space is maturing, it’s also still pretty young and evolving in fascinating ways. One of my favourites is the recent trend in CGI influencers. Lil Miquela is a fully rendered, 19 year old robot from LA. Her 1.3 million followers heart and comment on her highly enviable non-existence as if she were any other instagram celebrity, mainly due to the restraint of her creators, who despite having the ability to shop her into any scene imaginable, instead opt for mirror selfies and pictures of her breakfast. It’s all so very... grammy.

Lil Miquela is a fully CGI rendered, 19 year old robot from LA.

And while not CGI, Lil Mayo got a recent boost to his 1.8 million followers after being snapped at a party with Rihanna. The twist? He’s a rubber alien.

Why is this important?

Rubber aliens aside, influencers are a useful channel for amplifying a campaign. They’re an exercise in authenticity and transparency. And done right, it should make your brand feel more human - which is always a good thing.



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