By Terry Tateossian, founding partner of Socialfix Media, MIT blockchain and AI-certified consultant, speaker and activist.
With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is a promising social platform to capitalize on and generate leads and sales. Marketers who use Instagram enjoy multiple benefits such as insights and feedback from customers, high engagement rates, trackable leads and the opportunity to reach untapped audiences that others are missing.
At the same time, marketers seeking to make their presence on the global platform often face challenges in using Instagram to their business’s advantage. With Instagram influencer marketing, in particular, there are a few challenges and problems that have become prevalent with time, from finding the right influencer and keeping track of their activities to spotting imposters, measuring performance and managing marketing expenses.
1. Finding The Right Influencer
Identifying the right influencer is one of the greatest challenges that marketers face. According to the Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2021, 56% of brands say it is fairly difficult to find the right agent of influence while 22% state it is very difficult. While the report shows there was a slight improvement in the statistics over 2020, the majority of marketers are still struggling to find an ambassador who is a good match for their target market.
To begin with, influencers often post about a range of topics that interest them. This can be travel, fashion, living with diabetes or the pandemic puppy boom — plus anything else that captures their attention. An influencer can be a father, pet lover, travel aficionado, sports star and foodie at the same time. Would you categorize them into parenthood, lifestyle or sports, and should you be focusing on categories in the first place? Also, is it better to use an influencer platform showcasing thousands of different profiles or a talent agency that is plugged into the market? There is no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the right influencer and the choice depends on niche, budget and whether what you need is marketing at scale.
2. Spotting Imposters And Fake Activity
Influencer fraud falls into two categories: imposters and fake followers. Imposters are Instagram users who pretend to be influencers. They give the impression of being authentic by posting high-quality images and using fake followers. As they have no influence over users, they are unlikely to deliver results.
Fake followers are used by both imposters and real influences seeking to increase the size of their audience. Common tactics also include buying comments, likes and story views from click farms and engaging with Instagram comment pods.
Influencer fraud is a major challenge for Instagram marketers. According to The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report, 68% of marketers have experienced some form of influencer fraud, up from 63% in 2019. A 2019 report by Mediakix also shows that spotting inauthentic engagement and fake followers is the No. 1 challenge for 50% of Instagram marketers.
So, how can you tell if followers are real or fake? Red flags include very few, irrelevant or “spammy” posts and comments, an unusual follow-to-engagement ratio and limited profile information.
3. Keeping Track Of Influencer Activities
Keeping track of activities helps brands find out whether and to what extent influencers are reaching out on their behalf. Yet, monitoring activities can be difficult when businesses are looking to market a wide range of products or are working with multiple influencers covering a broad range of topics.
Fortunately, there are some tools to use besides creating a spreadsheet to keep track of messages and influencer activities. Using marketing software is one way to both identify impactful ambassadors and collaborate on and track deliverables. Another approach is to ask your influencer to promote a special product or offer a coupon code to their followers or subscribers. That way you will be able to distinguish sales and leads generated by your influencer campaign from marketing to the wider audience.
4. Measure Campaign Performance
A 2021 report by Linqia shows that measuring performance and ROI is a top concern for 65% of marketers. About half of respondents (51%) also say that it takes a significant amount of time to run influencer campaigns.
The key to measuring performance is knowing what goals you are trying to achieve. If it is lead generation, you may want to track the number of new email subscribers. If you are looking to improve brand awareness, track performance indicators such as impressions and page views.
5. Managing Marketing Expenses
Influencer costs are on the rise, and managing marketing expenses is a concern for 38% of brands, per the 2019 Mediakix report mentioned above. Coupled with growing demand, the fact that tools and platforms have evolved and become more sophisticated also drives up costs.
One way to go about managing expenses is to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Measuring ROI will help you to be more selective and prudent in the use of resources when partnering with platforms, agencies and influencers.
Also, the more followers your influencer has, the higher the marketing costs are going to be. Other factors that impact rates are where ads are cross-posted and promoted, the amount of effort required, how many posts you need, and if you want posts with audio, videos and images.
As a relatively new addition to digital advertising, influencer marketing is still facing a number of problems. Leading challenges are finding the right influencer and keeping track of activities, spotting fraudulent practices, measuring effectiveness and rising influencer costs. Yet, knowing the challenges that brands face when aiming to boost visibility and follower engagement prepares marketers to respond accordingly. After all, brands face challenges all the time but how they react to them determines whether they are successful.