When looking back at the origins of influencer marketing, bloggers play an integral role in the ecosystem. You could rely on your favorite blogger for the best holiday recipes, where to find gifts for your young ones, and life hacks or DIY projects to fill your weekend. These bloggers grew their presence on Facebook and Twitter to promote their posts on the new channels as their audience migrated to social media. The commoditization of high quality photo and video content from our smartphones enabled the spread of these creators to networks like Instagram and YouTube, thus leading to the birth of influencers as we know them today.
Now, influencers are able to express and share their creativity on new channels with ease, and these new channels are gaining popularity fast. Networks like TikTok and Twitch are showcasing creators’ talents with new features like integrating ‘sounds’ and sharing with live engaged audiences. When there was concern of TikTok’s fate looming in the news, new networks like Triller gained momentum, and the top creators are moving their profiles to these new networks.
Channels for influencer marketing must contain three key elements that make them ideal for creator and brand collaborations:
1. Profile – The social media network or channel must support an individual creating their own profile that expresses their unique brand and identity.
2. Audience or Subscribers – The creators need to be able to have an audience or subscribers that can follow them as they share new content and information.
3. Engagements or Views – Followers of the influencers must be able to engage with the content from the creator and close the feedback loop, thus allowing the top creators to grow as they learn about their audience’s interests.
So, which networks – that you are likely already using regularly – have these three key ingredients present in their ecosystem without an abundance of brand activity or influencer collaborations yet? Here are three channels to keep an eye out for:
1. Reddit – While Reddit may not be the first network that comes to mind for influencer marketing, the mechanics are surely there – as is the traffic. In 2020, Reddit saw a staggering 21 billion average screen views per month and an increase in video content by 38 percent since 2018. While ‘influencer’ is still not a term commonly used on the social network, influential users become moderators of popular threads or subreddits. A Reddit moderator we spoke to, who asked to stay anonymous, shared that “the key to sponsored content is that it can’t look, feel, or sound like an ad – it needs to feel organic and highly targeted to the audience.” In 2019, 15 percent of U.S. male adults were Reddit users and 8 percent of U.S. female adults used the platform. This platform is certainly worth consideration for brands looking to break away from the clutter on mainstream channels and explore an influencer marketing strategy that incorporates Reddit. Influencer marketing creates the opportunity for popular Redditors to share relevant sponsored content with an audience that will find the content engaging, authentic, and interesting – as long as the sponsored post is in-line with the rules and guidelines of the Subreddit and with proper disclosure!
2. LinkedIn – Like the other social media channels, LinkedIn has a massive user base, at 171 million in the U.S., and its numbers continue to grow, with an increase in Q1 2020 sessions of 22 percent year over year. Similar to other platforms, individuals create a profile and share their personal brand, but the approach on LinkedIn differs slightly in that most users feature their true identity on LinkedIn, instead of a creator or influencer persona. Like the other social networks that it is often grouped with, LinkedIn features posts, a news feed, likes, comments and views – so the influencer marketing mechanics are there. However, given that “four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions at their companies,” according to their marketing page, LinkedIn is positioned best for B2B advertising rather than the typical B2C influencer marketing we see today. Despite that, there are tactics that the B2C brands can leverage to reach business-minded consumers or niches like “tech consumers.” LinkedIn does have its own influencers which create the top, most-viral content, but this list is limited and not as attainable for the micro- and macro-influencers that amass followings on other social networks.. In 2019, LinkedIn was voted the most trusted network, so we anticipate that brand collaborations that we are accustomed to seeing on the other social network feeds, will make their way over to LinkedIn soon enough.
3. Podcasts – A potentially less obvious but as appropriate influencer marketing tactic is podcasts. They have been gaining tremendous popularity and we are seeing a shift of more mainstream celebrities featured on podcasts or even hosting their own. According to The Infinite Dial, in 2017, 40 percent of Americans 12 or older had listened to a podcast, compared to 55 percent in 2020. Similar to their roots in radio broadcasting, successful podcast hosts are signed to a major network. Kelly Dillon of Kicking Back with Kelly shares that “it’s hard to get signed by a network since there are strict minimums, such as requiring a podcast to meet 50,000 downloads a week.” The podcast ecosystem is starting to see more individuals create their own podcasts from scratch, similar to the rise of micro-influencers in the early days of Instagram, and collaborating with brands at a very competitive rate. With the early indicators present, we anticipate seeing more influencers or creators becoming podcast hosts, weaving sponsorships into their casts naturally and organically from other channels like Instagram. An example of how they do this is by sharing promo codes to drive conversions and prove ROI for their brand collaborations.
It is most important to pick the social network that matches both your brand and the objectives of your influencer marketing campaigns. As influencer marketing on these networks mature, keep an ear to the ground on how campaigns on those channels diversify the ROI equation and if they could become a fit. Our innovation, strategy and services teams will continue to keep a pulse on these networks and any other newcomers while monitoring where influencers go as the early adopters and trailblazers of social media trends.