Is there such thing as enough brand awareness? Do companies ever reach a level of success where they can stop attracting new audiences? We don't think so.

Finding relevant audiences is getting harder, as the population's use of media grows. Marketers found they were spending more and more, but getting less back. That frustration was the birthplace of influencer marketing platforms.

In this piece, we're diving deeper into the influencer marketing platforms pool. Read on to learn everything you need to know about influencer marketing in 2017.

What is Influencer Marketing?

For those new to the subject, we'll do a quick introduction. Influencer marketing is the new way of doing celebrity endorsements. The only difference is that the influencer isn't always a celebrity.

In the past, celebrity endorsements showed up on products but now everything is on social media. Instead of putting an athlete's face on a Wheaties box, that athlete would Instagram a picture of the box.

The challenges facing influencer marketing platforms are reminiscent of old celebrity endorsements. Yet, there are even more difficulties with the complexity of social media.

Difficulties aside, influencer marketing platforms saw a huge amount of success in 2016. Though their definition is ever changing, they're predicted to do just as well this year. Learn why below.

Influencer Marketing Platforms in 2016

Influencing marketing made headlines in 2016 and not just for being successful. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission started cracking down on businesses. The FTC had a problem with the way companies were using a compliance loophole.

You may remember an early 2016/late 2015 example of this issue with the Kardashians. Many of them were promoting a fitness tea on their Instagram, but not saying the posts were sponsored.

The FTC saw influencer marketing as advertising, but companies weren't disclosing it. In everyday terms, they thought businesses and influencers were tricking the public. The FTC believes in "truth in marketing" and wanted companies to admit to sponsored posts.

Some companies got slapped with major fines for not identifying their influencer advertisements. Everyone was shocked with the fines since influencer marketing is such a new market. Critics of the FTC think a warning would have been more appropriate.

What do the 2016 legal cases mean for 2017 influencer marketing platforms? They make it harder for businesses and influencers. Now, influencers have to find a natural way to work a mention of a paid sponsorship in each post.

Businesses have to calculate how much business each post creates and track it. Marketing directors have to go out of their way to find regulation information. Then, they have to manage each influencer to make sure they're mentioning sponsorship in each post.

Since the FTC started cracking down in 2017, it's a learning market. There are businesses who think they're complying that receive FTC fines. The moral of the story from 2016? Make sure you do your legal research before investing in influencer marketing!

How to Avoid Fines in 2017

Before we begin this section, we want to mention that we are not attorneys. Our recommendations come from other expert marketers in the field and discussions. We are not responsible for any advice and encourage you to find a lawyer before creating any campaigns.

Tips for Staying on the FTC's Good List

Any and every mention of a product on social media that wasn't done by your official marketing team must be marked. That means any time an influencer says anything about your products, they need to create a #ad or #sponsored. It's also reasonable to ask your marketers to state brand affiliation on each post.

#Sponsored

Most influencer marketers do so like this, "#sponsered by ABC media, all opinions are my own". Having your influencer add that their sponsor didn't tell them what to say is important. If they don't, both of your reputations could be on the line.

The admittance of sponsorship needs to be clear and not buried in other text. The FTC will not let businesses get away with one #sponsored in the middle of a list of ten hashtags.

Obviously, marketers and influencer aren't loving these new requirements. They make it harder for influencers to seem like organic brand ambassadors. The public accuses both parties of being sellouts and that can quickly ruin a reputation.

Stay Honest

For influencers, honesty is key with the FTC. They have to be truthful in their opinions and actually use the product (at least once). They need to make it clear how they are being compensated as well. Did they receive the product for free? At a discount?

That needs to be disclosed. However, the influencer doesn't need to be obsessive about mentioning it. One sentence in a video is enough, as long as it's clear and obvious to the viewer.

To avoid any questions, we recommend mentioning product sponsorship by the halfway point. Whether spoken in a video or in Instagram captions, it's safe to assume people won't watch/read all the way through.

That isn't the official legal policy, but it is better to be safe than get thousands of dollars in fines. Yes, the new influencer marketing platforms are complicated, but they're still effective. We're exploring how next.

Pro's and Cons of Influencer Marketing

Even with the 2017 stricter regulations, many companies are seeing success. Influencer marketing platforms create tons of sales for businesses and increase brand awareness. In 2017, influencer marketing is still a good idea, as long as you're careful.

Pro's of Influencer Marketing Platforms

Increased Sales

Data finds that products advertised by influencers create twice the sales as ads. Experts attribute this to the fact that consumers trust other's opinions 92% more. Of the increased sales, a good brand ambassador retains those clients.

Does Your Audience Targeting for You

A well-chosen influencer has the exact audience you want already following them. This means your marketing team can concentrate on creating content instead of research.

Their tone and posts already have your target audience's attention. Catering to them should be easy. Just make sure the audience engages with your influencer. There's no point in hiring someone with tons of followers who passively scroll by.

Cons of Influencer Marketing

High Maintenance Method

Working with an influencer isn't something that you can put on the back burner. You and your influencer need to be in constant contact, planning for the future. If you liked one of their posts, let them know what aspects you liked most.

Staying in constant contact with a marketer will make sure you're always on the same page. This will mean appointing that duty to someone on your marketing team. Some businesses choose to hire an influencer marketing manager or agency.

Results Over Time

When you start with a brand influencer, it can seem like the influencer marketing platforms aren't working. If you're feeling this way, keep being patient. It's normal for influencer marketing platforms to not show results for a few months.

While you're in this building period, it's essential that your message stays consistent. You don't want to post more than what is absolutely necessary. Your influencer should ease his or her followers into the idea of your brand.

Sometimes, the partnerships seem like they aren't working out. There are certainly influencers and businesses that don't work out but don't give up. Influencers need to find a natural way for their brand to mesh with yours.

Establishing this in a natural way takes time. Give your influencer lots of feedback and respect their creative process.

Picking Your Influencer

Now that you have all the considerations for influencer marketing platforms in front of you, you can make a decision. Is an influencer the right choice for your business? For most companies, the answer is yes, but be sure you have the resources it takes.

Do Your Research

Before you contact any potential influencers, do in depth research on their impact. Look for things like their ratio of followers to followed and the average number of likes. You want to pick someone who's followers regularly comment and engage.

Then, check that your influencer isn't sponsoring too many other products. Some companies prefer their influencers to be well-versed in sponsorships. Others like to be the influencers only sponsor.

Invest at least a week in exploring your influencer marketing platforms. The last thing you want is to approach someone and have it blow up in your face. We're not making that up, bad sponsorships do happen.

Discuss Legal Repercussions

If you're using a micro-influencer or they are new to the market, discuss FTC guidelines. Most likely they'll have an idea of what they are, but don't take any chances. Find requirements that you both agree on. The best method is for both parties to meet with a lawyer or agency and go from there.

Influencer Marketing in 2017

Before you go out and start your influencer search, keep 2016's mistakes in mind. It's fine for you to make your own strategies and rules, but don't go looking for FTC loopholes. If this is your first dive into influencer marketing platforms, get more information.

Companies who plan their influencer marketing platforms with care will see its impact. If you'd like to discuss your campaign further, our experts are ready to help.

Let us know who your dream influencer is below and we'll see what we can do!

Brandon Brown

Brandon Brown

Brandon Brown is the CEO of Grin, an influencer marketing software solution for brands. Grin’s software helps customers identify, recruit & activate the world’s most engaging influencers. Prior to Grin Brandon led marketing for the #1 energy drink market in the world, Los Angeles & Orange County, at Red Bull North America. He is an expert in consumer marketing and has extensive experience working with with the worlds largest brands to reach consumers through influencers, athletes, musicians and artists.

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